Not So Soft

Pepsi-Cola North America has introduced Tava. The zero-calorie, sparkling beverage reportedly was inspired by distinctive fruit flavors.

Free of caffeine as well as calories, Tava is enhanced with vitamins E, B6, niacin and chromium, and it targets “Primetimers”--men and women 35-49 years old, the company notes.

The company further describes the flavors of Tava as inspired by “the most intriguing fruits the world has to offer.” Flavors in the line include Mediterranean Fiesta, a black cherry citrus; Tahitian Tamue, a tropical berry blend; and Brazilian Samba, a mix of passionfruit, pineapple and lime.

“[Tava] scored well above average in consumer testing among the Primetimer audience," says Frank Cooper, vice president of flavored carbonated soft drinks, Pepsi-Cola North America. “They want to explore and discover new things, but are also acutely aware of the amount of calories they consume. Tava allows them to have a calorie-free beverage experience that is rooted in the fun of bubbles.”

Bar None?

Garden of Life’s new Perfect Weight America fucoProtein bar contains fucoxanthin, a natural compound found in brown seaweed. The marine thermogenic burns fat and boosts metabolism, the company reports. At the product’s launch, the company’s CEO managed to take quite a shot at the competition.

“Many protein bars are glorified candy bars with little nutritional value,” said Jordan Rubin. “Not only are fucoPROTEIN bars a nutritious choice, because they are made with organic ingredients instead of high-fructose corn syrup, soy protein and artificial sweeteners, but they can also boost metabolism and assist with weight management.”

The bars are made with native whey protein, raw wildflower honey, acacia and chia seeds, which expand in the stomach and result in a feeling of satiety for hours, the company reports

To the Dogs

Cott Corporation received notice of a reduction of shelf space and merchandising support for Wal-Mart’s private-label carbonated beverages in the U.S., which Cott notes, would be “significant to Cott’s business plans.” The company was quick to note that the 2008 programs were not yet finalized.

However, with a potentially huge loss of business, Cott is diversifying and has literally gone to the dogs. Fortifido is Cott’s fortified water for pooches, an effort to capitalize on the $40 billion pet industry.

This is not simply water. Cott’s R&D experts promise fortified water with real functional benefits. Some 18 months of development have resulted in four varieties: Healthy Bones fortified with calcium (and a peanut butter flavor); Healthy Skin with zinc (and a parsley flavor); Fresh Breath with natural spearmint; and Healthy Joints with amino acids and minerals.

Weighty Matters

A recent survey has found more than one half of women actively manage their weight most of the time or more often, yet they also do not fully comprehend the calories they consume. The Dannon Light & Fit Calorie IQ survey found more than a third of women report skipping meals several times a week or more often.

In addition, one third of women reported they would give up sex for one month just to lose a few pounds.

The survey also found quite a degree of confusion about essential nutrients. It found 63% of women think they get enough calcium, and 73% believe they get enough vitamin D. However, USDA and Institute of Medicine research has found less than half of women get enough vitamin D, with 80% falling short on calcium consumption.

Meal replacements also have proven an option for a quarter of women, with 10% choosing dessert in place of a meal, 9% consuming a diet soft drink and 6% opting for potato chips or French fries.

Slow Ride

According to Technomic Inc., the 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains saw slower growth rates in 2007, posting 5.1% annual sales growth. Systemwide sales for the top 500 chains rose to $223.6 billion in 2007, a $10.7 billion increase over the prior year.

“As the U.S. economy continued to struggle against rising fuel prices, increasing cost of labor and commodities, and menu price increases, the top 500 restaurant chains’ sales growth declined to 5.1%, vs. 6.1% in 2006,” said Ron Paul, president of Technomic. “Current economic conditions have caused many chains to scale back their U.S. unit expansion, with unit growth rates for 2007 of 2.4% compared with 3.8% a year ago.”

Limited-service beverage, bakery café and chicken categories continued to see significant growth, with Starbucks, Panera Bread and Chick-fil-A delivering estimated 2007 sales growth of 21.5%, 17.6% and 16.1%, respectively. McDonald’s sales exceeded $28.7 billion, but its growth was only around 6.1%.

In the growing “other sandwich” segment, Subway saw 6.4% sales growth to reach total sales of $8.2 billion. Recent years, however, have not been kind to Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers: once ranked as the third-largest restaurant chain, it now stands fifth, behind number-three Starbucks and number-four Subway.

Limited-service chains grew at a rate of 5.4%, with the Asian sub-segment hitting 11.6%. Panda Express sales topped $1 billion, thanks to a 15.1% growth.

Asian also proved strong in the fast-casual segment, with P.F. Chang’s Pei Wei concept growing 16.8%. Mexican options also performed well, with Qdoba Mexican Grill and Chipotle Mexican Grill posting systemwide sales growth of 42.9% and 26.2%, respectively.

Four chains with estimated sales over $2 billion managed double-digit growth in 2007: Starbucks (21.5%), Jack in the Box (10.4%), Chick-fil-A (16.1%) and Panera Bread (17.6%).
For more information on “The 2008 Technomic Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report,” contact Chris Urban at 312-506-3929 or


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  • Wixon Inc. named Judson McLester its corporate chef.
  • PALATINIT of America has officially become BENEO-Palatinit Inc. 
  • Ladd Seaberg is stepping down as chief executive officer of MGP Ingredients to be succeeded by MGPI president Tim Newkirk, who has also served as chief operating officer of the company since May 2006. In other news, the company promoted Monte Ackerman to plant manager at its Pekin, Ill., operations. 
  • Burdock Group opened new headquarters at 801 N. Orange Ave., Suite 710, Orlando, Fla., 32801.
  • Roxlor International LLC and Keratec Limited formed a strategic partnership to further the development of Keratec’s Cynatine FLX and Cynergy NK products. Roxlor will take over the worldwide marketing of the brands as well as the production of the powder forms of the ingredients. In addition, Roxlor and Proviant Technologies formed a strategic partnership to further the development of Proviant’s 6 OXO and 11 OXO products.
  • Danisco has attained long-term access to two highly documented probiotic strains in a new license agreement with Fonterra. The agreement also marks Danisco's launch of the strains, marketed as HOWARU Bifido and HOWARU Rhamnosus, on the dietary supplement market.
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  • Chef Justin Young has been named the new executive chef of Kraft Food Ingredients.