Going Smooth

8th Continent (Minnetonka, Minn.), the soy milk company joint venture between General Mills (Minneapolis) and Solae (St. Louis), has finally branched out from plain and flavored soy milk to offer juice smoothie beverages. The company says the product is made with real fruit juice and provides 6g of protein per serving. Flavors available are Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry, and Tropical.

What is interesting about the line is that it comes in one-liter bottles only, not in single-serve bottles. That is the route that 8th Continent has taken in the past, in that it first introduced its products in multi-serve sizes, then later added single-serve sizes.

Crossing Over

Hershey (Hershey, Pa.) is joining the ranks of confectionery companies offering products that blur the lines between confectionery and other products. The company has expanded its line of plain Hershey's chocolate bars with two varieties that contain cookie bits. Cookies 'n' Chocolate has chocolate cookie bits in creamy milk chocolate, while Cookies 'n' Mint has those same cookie bits in mint milk chocolate. Both are labeled as being limited edition bars.

Do not be surprised if more companies in the U.S. go the same route as confectionery companies in Europe, with more limited edition varieties popping up.

Tea for Two

Ocean Spray (Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass.) continues to expand its product offerings around the world. In the U.S., the latest offering is a Juice & Tea blend. The company claims to have found the perfect balance of real juice and the crisp taste of tea. Four flavors are sold: Cranberry, Wildberry, White Cranberry & Peach and Diet Wildberry. The drinks are 10% fruit juice, as is most of the Ocean Spray line.

The Diet Wildberry variety is the company's first foray into diet juice drink territory and contains 10 calories and 3g of carbohydrates per 8oz. serving. Ocean Spray claims an “innovative sweetening system” enhances the diet version's flavor, and a look at the ingredients legend shows sweetening notes through the addition of aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame potassium, as well as a number of juices from concentrate.

Crossing Lines

The hot and spicy flavor of hot wings and the cool, piquant flavor of blue cheese normally are associated with Hooters (Clearwater, Fla.) hot wings rather than crackers. That Keebler (Elmhurst, Ill.) has taken those flavors to its Cheez-Its cheddar crackers is a bit unusual. Something else unique about these crackers is that they are not sold in the typical-shaped box. This box is more square-shaped and reminiscent of a frozen meal or hot snack box.

The product itself also is a bit different, as it is a twisted stick-type snack rather than a cracker-shaped snack. It serves as another example of how cracker companies are continuing to encroach on snack company offerings.

Chips Go Low-carb

It probably was only a matter of time, but now PepsiCo (Purchase, N.Y.) has introduced some of its flagship snack brands in low-carb versions. Called Edge, the chips (Tostitos and Doritos so far) have 6g net carbs, and this feature is prominently flagged on the label. They also contain 3g of fiber per serving, which is higher than others in the line.

The company says it uses soy protein and oat fiber as ingredients that help bring down the carb totals. What is particularly interesting about the line is not so much that they are low-carb snacks, but that the sub-brand, Edge, also is used on the company's not-yet-introduced mid-calorie cola. Pepsi Edge is said to have 50% less calories, sugar and carbohydrates than regular Pepsi.


For added consumer choice when dispensing table sauces, Unilever Bestfooods has created a novel multi-functional spout dispenser for its Calvé branded, American-style sauce for potato chips/fries. The new 500ml, upside-down plastic bottle features a Double Flip-Cap, which can be opened independently. One half of the cap has a small, narrow nozzle to dispense a thin stream of sauce (for garnishing and decorating), and the other half has a larger star-shaped nozzle (to dispense more sauce). Furthermore, both dispensers can be used together for a “super” serving of sauce. The product has been introduced in the Netherlands.

In Japan, a novel approach has been used to add more flavor to sausages. New from Nippon Meat Packers are pork chipolatas that contain gelatinized soup inside (presumably for extra flavor). Furthermore, to give a softer texture, the sausage skin is steamed instead of dried.

Global brands, particularly within the savory snacks market, continue to add a local twist with flavors. PepsiCo's Lay's potato snack brand is a key example. In Asia, the brand has appeared in popular local flavors including rice and seaweed. Now, another popular local flavor, green tea, has been added to the list. Sencha Green Tea has been introduced in Thailand and is marketed as offering classic Japanese-style flavor.

Fruity flavors continue to be added to Nestlé's KitKat countline, in an effort to maintain brand interest and add value. The latest limited-edition variety appearing in South Africa is Summer Pine, comprising crisp wafer fingers covered with pineapple-flavored milk chocolate.

Glico Dairy Products in Japan has introduced a new yogurt that meets the demands of consumers seeking both healthy and indulgent foods. The company has introduced a probiotic yogurt with bifidobacterium, made with whole blueberries (a valuable source of antioxidant polyphenols), plus five fruit juices (lemon, apple, raspberry, grapefruit and passionfruit), finished off with white rum. It is packaged in a 100g plastic pot, with the fruit-based sauce held in a separate cup attached to the bottom of the pot, for consumers to mix in as they wish. A strawberry variety also is available.