A Real Eye-opener

For the last 10 years, Sun Roma (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) has been processing, canning and devising commercial applications for new strains of tomatoes. The company has had a successful venture with the golden roma tomato, which can be found canned at many supermarkets and is also used in foodservice venues.

Now, the company has devised a new format for the vine-ripened tomatoes—as a cocktail mix. Available to select foodservice outlets on the West Coast is Sun Roma SunnyMary Mix, a non-alcoholic golden tomato cocktail mix. The bright color is a real eye-opener and an unexpected variation from the commonplace red bloody Mary. The all-natural juice is infused with lime, celery and pepper and can be consumed alone as a juice or blended with the usual suspects as a mixer. While currently available to foodservice operators, retail markets are being developed for the product.

Flavorful Snacking

New and tasty snack products are emerging in the U.S., leaning toward the gourmet market. From Enchanted Foods (Port Townsend, Wash.) comes a two-for-one snack idea called Sunakin Seeds. It is a blend of sunflower kernels and pumpkin seeds all coated in a maple vanilla flavor.

Also hitting stores from Eat Your Heart Out! Snacks (New York) are freeze-dried green soybeans available in salsa, Indian spice, and sweet & sour flavors. For those looking for snack bars, Matthews, N.C.-based Mount Govarden Products launches Boomi Bar, a Pistachio Pineapple vegetarian snack bar. It also contains honey, dates, apples and cashews. Also available is an Almond Plus Protein variety said to be gluten-free and providing 12g of protein.

New Dinner Samplers

Contessa Products (San Pedro, Calif.), known for its shrimp products, is branching into other protein groups with the recent launch of two stir fry-style microwave-ready meals. The low-fat, complete meals can be prepared in less than 10 minutes and come in two fish-free varieties: Beef Stir Fry, with beef, sugar snap peas, teriyaki sauce, broccoli, baby corn and an assortment of other traditional vegetables; and Chicken Chow Mein, featuring white-meat chicken, noodles, Oriental sauce, and vegetables. Each 2-lb. package serves three and retails for about $5.

Also expanding its line of prepared meals is Nestle's (Glendale, Calif.) Stouffer's line, which presents its Italian Style sub-brand, featuring several new dishes, including Cheese Stuffed Rigatoni & Ravioli and Roasted Chicken Ravioli, which retail at about $3 each.

A Welcome Extension

Some 32 years after the introduction of the ubiquitous meal kit brand Hamburger Helper, and 20 years after the last big extension Chicken Helper (1983), General Mills (Minneapolis) now adds Pork Helper. Pork Helper Pork Chops & Stuffing and Pork Helper Pork Fried Rice are now available in supermarkets.

The kits, like the rest of the Helper line, require the addition of the meat—the recipe suggests about 1.25 lbs— cubed into bite-sized pieces. General Mills has also recently released a line of meal kits under the Old El Paso brand, including Soft Taco Dinner and Soft Taco Bake, a Mexican-style casserole kit.

Veg-out With Flavor

For vegetarians, life without meat is getting a little tastier. In recent months, several companies have launched mass-market meat substitute products. Portland-based Gardenburger, the mother of the palatable veggie burger, just added BBQ Chik'n, two chicken-free soy patties in a sweet barbecue sauce. The products are pre-cooked and can be prepared in a number of ways, including by microwave, conventional oven and grill. With this addition, the Gardenburger line now has 16 SKUs, including Meatless Meatloaf, GardenVegan, and Meatless Herb Crusted Cutlet.

The line now also features an eclectic package design that really makes it stand out in the freezer case. Other line extensions come from Riverside, Conn.-based Quorn in the form of Naked Chicken Cutlets, Beef Style Dogs, and Sausage Style Links. The new products in the line, which are made from a myco-protein, can be prepared on the grill, which is unusual for a meat substitute. Lightlife Foods (parent ConAgra—Omaha, Neb.) recently reformulated its Smart Dogs! line so that they can be prepared on the grill as well.

Sidebar: GlobalTrends

Energy-boosting ingredients continue to appear within the chocolate confectionery sector. Past launches have included Cadbury's Boost with guarana, as well as Milka Energy with dextrose from Kraft Jacobs Suchard. Now, Alfred Ritter in Germany has developed an energy-boosting line within its Ritter Sport chocolate tablet range. The new line is called Active Crunch and comprises three varieties: Guarana Crunch with stimulating guarana; Müsli Crunch with four grains; and Nuss Crunch with nuts and cereals.

In South Africa, Khoisan Tea is attempting to target children with its latest flavored rooibos tea range. The range includes such varieties as Bubbly Gum and Vanilla Gorilla. Rooibos is a naturally caffeine-free tea variety grown in South Africa, with a sweet taste and low in tannin.

Vodka and rum remain the most popular spirits used in the flavored alcoholic beverages (FAB) market. However, developments in the Asian market could inspire the use of newer spirits. For example, two recent introductions in Thailand use rice wine. Holly Hock from Chantal Comte is made with a blend of rice wine and blueberry juice, and Sato'za from Sato Foods Industries is made with rice wine and tropical fruit juice.

Two new interesting products from leading brewers are to be launched in the U.K. to cater to Britons' love for beer. Foster's is gearing up for the barbecue season with a novel packaging concept for its Foster's brand. The new CoolKeg product comprises a 60-second self-cooling and self-dispensing, 35-pint keg of beer. The cooling system works because of a natural reaction between the mineral zeolite and water, which are both contained in separate layers in the keg's lining. Once the keg has been chilled, it remains cold for up to 12 hours without the need to be stored in the fridge. Consumers will have to pay a £30 ($47) refundable deposit for each keg, as it is returned to the brewery to be refilled before being redistributed on the market. The other U.K. beer launch seems to be catering for young consumers. New from Kronenbourg is Deco, a beer-and-absinthe drink concept comprising a small bottle of Kronenbourg lager with a shot of absinthe attached. The 45% alcohol by volume (ABV) absinthe is to be consumed first, followed by the 5% ABV lager as a chaser.

Launching a New Product? If so, contact Allison Enright at Mintel International Group, 213 W. Institute Pl., Suite 208, Chicago, IL 60610. Call 312-932-0600, fax 312-932-0474 or e-mail aenright@mintel.com. Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group.