Hitting the Shelves: New product trends
Nuts to YouIt seems like just about every snack product these days in the U.S. comes in a container that is easily transportable. Given that trend, plus the good press that nuts have been receiving of late, it is no surprise to see nuts in a plastic canister that fits conveniently in an automobile cup holder.
Diamond Walnut Growers (Stockton, Calif.) has extended its line with a series of products under the Emerald label that come in those packs. They come in eight varieties: Deluxe Mixed Nuts, Mixed Nuts, Whole Cashews, Cashew Halves & Pieces, Dry Roasted Peanuts, Cocktail Peanuts, Old Fashioned Honey Roasted Peanuts, and Dry Roasted Almonds. These nut varieties contain heart-healthy, unsaturated fats that do not raise cholesterol levels, the company says, and retail between $2.69 and $4.99. A special, 4.5oz., “mini” size is available in convenience stores.
In the ClubGeneral Mills (Minneapolis) has done something quite interesting with its shelf-stable meal kits. In supermarkets, the company sells Betty Crocker meal kits, some of which also include the meat. It recently introduced, for example, a Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo which includes cans of Progresso-branded sauce with chicken, pasta, and seasonings.
In club stores, however, the choice is a bit different. Here is where the company is leveraging its Progresso brand, with a twin-pack of a Progresso-branded skillet entrée. Interestingly, this club store product does not include meat. It currently comes in a Garlic & Herb Chicken Penne variety, which includes pasta, mushrooms, olive oil, and sun-dried tomatoes in the box.
Pod PeopleThe latest news in coffee and coffeemakers in the U.S. is the concept of the pressure-brewing system that requires coffee “pods” rather than loose, ground coffee. While this concept has been in Europe for a while, both Procter & Gamble (Cincinnati) and Sara Lee (Harrison, N.Y.) have partnered with appliance manufacturers to offer systems that take the coffee pods to produce what they say is a superior cup of coffee.
Procter & Gamble's product, Folgers Home Café, uses Folgers or Millstone coffees. Each pod produces a single cup of coffee; a box of 18 pods costs about $4, making it most definitely a gourmet cup of coffee. It will be interesting to see if the concept takes off in the U.S. as well as it has in other parts of the world.
Smart StuffPepsiCo (Purchase, N.Y.) continues to extend its low-carb offerings, this time with products under the Quaker brand. New are Quaker Q-Smart snack bars and rice snacks. The rice snacks are similar to rice cakes, in a small, bite-size form. The bars are like other bars on the market, in that they come in multipacks of individually wrapped bars.
The bars have only 3g of “impact” carbs and are trans-fat free, the company says. Currently, two flavors are available: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Almond. It is unclear why PepsiCo did not choose to take its Edge sub-brand (which appears on Frito-Lay snacks and Pepsi-Cola) to the Quaker product, as it would reinforce a family of products. However, what the company has done is to choose a brand name that can be a low-carb brand today and perhaps a brand that has a different health and wellness focus in the future, if need be.
SidebarThe use of the word “wellness” (often denoting a well-balanced, healthy and sometimes fortified product) remains very much in vogue in Germany. It has been used in a number of products including yogurt, juices, water and meats. The latest wellness-marketed product is a range of fruit spreads from Schwartauer Werke. Claimed to be the first to contain fructose and high levels of vitamin C and fiber, the spreads have a high fruit content, 30% fewer calories than regular products, and make good use of wellness-oriented ingredients. Varieties include Wellness Multivitamin, an exotic fruit spread with pineapple, apple, banana, pear, mango and peach; Wellness Rote Multifrucht, a berry mixture of strawberries, redcurrants and boysenberries; Wellness Kirsch Acerola, a combination of sour cherries and the vitamin-rich acerola cherry; and Wellness Aloe Vera with 10% aloe vera pulp, 6% wheat dextrin and concentrated acerola juice, and 5g of fiber per 100g of product.
Goat's milk remains a somewhat niche and specialty product, particularly in the U.K. Now, however, a new company called Feldy is trying to improve its fortunes by targeting it at dogs. Under its Top Life Formula brand, the company has introduced a vet-formulated pure goat's milk product for canines. Fortified with glucosamine and green tea extract and supposedly easily digested by dogs, it is packaged in a 200ml carton.
Two underused adult flavors have appeared in the European yogurt market. In Germany, Nestlé has introduced under its Lünebest brand, a new selection of natural summer yogurts on a layer of fruit sauce. It includes a variety sitting on a layer of peach iced tea flavored sauce. In Switzerland, Unilever has extended its Becel Pro-activ line of functional, cholesterol-lowering products with the addition of a Mocca coffee flavored yogurt variety.
The dynamic ice cream market continues to innovate. In China, the Viennetta take-home ice cream gateau brand from Wall's (Unilever Bestfoods) is attempting to target the impulse segment and make portion-control more convenient. The brand has been extended into a mini format, packaged in a single-portion, 90g plastic tub.