Energy Drink, Soda or Both?

PepsiCo has introduced Mountain Dew MDX Energy Soda, the first combination carbonated soda and energy drink from a major beverage manufacturer. While still offering the familiar citrus flavor of Mountain Dew, the drink has a “Power Pack” of ingredients (a combination of ginseng, guarana, taurine and D-ribose).

It is available in both regular and sugar-free variety, providing a higher level of energy than regular soda, which is quite interesting, as Mountain Dew already has a high caffeine count for a non-cola product. This introduction most certainly paves the way for competing companies to follow PepsiCo's lead.

Cinnabon in Coffee

New from Brain Twist is its Cinnabon Caramel Nut Latte, described as a premium coffee drink. This introduction is notable, as it expands the Cinnabon brand into yet another sector in the food and beverage industry.

The launch is part of a partnership between Brain Trust and Coca-Cola Consolidated. Premiering at retailers throughout the Southeast, Cinnabon coffee drinks will be found in three flavors: cinnamon vanilla latte, caramel nut latte, and expresso and cream.

The past few years have seen Cinnabon in such products as General Mills' Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and Betty Crocker line of desserts, ConAgra's Orville Redenbacher popcorn, and Schwans Bakery's Mrs. Smith's Special Recipes line, making it one of the most versatile brands to originate from a foodservice franchise to date.

Creativity in Ketchup (Parents Beware!)

In an attempt to lure in the younger consumer, H.J. Heinz Co. has introduced Silly Squirts 100% Tomato Ketchup. The ketchup is housed in a bottle that not only has a small-grip package for little hands, but three drawing nozzles to illustrate designs on food (Draw--one narrow, round hole; Splat--five narrow, round holes in an X shape; and Double Double--two small, square holes).

Heinz always has catered to the younger crowd, whether it be through interactivity like Silly Squirts or fun colors--remember Easy Squirt Colored Ketchup? The company also attracts parents, as shown in a product recently launched in Malaysia--Heinz Tomato Ketchup Plus is a ketchup aimed at children and enriched with vitamins A and C.

Oreo Without the Sugar Buzz

Kraft's Nabisco Oreo brand is well known for changing colors and flavors and, more recently, its nutritional content, with carb-friendly and reduced-fat varieties introduced in the past year.

The past six months alone have seen Oreo included in an extension of Pillsbury's Ultimate Dessert Kit line, as well as incorporated into one of the varieties of Nabisco's ChocoStix bars. The latter are wafer sticks formulated with real chocolate. In addition, the powerful Oreo brand has found its way into confectionery aisles in the form of Nabisco Oreo Chocolate Candy Bars.

Now, the company has reformulated the brand once again to include a sugar-free variety which touts the absence of trans fat and cholesterol. Interestingly, Kraft also recently launched a Sugar Free Oreo variety under its Nabisco Snackwell's brand. The two offerings have the exact same nutritional content, as well as the same serving size, leaving product watchers to ponder the difference, if there is any. Are the two positioned or sold differently? Is one going to replace the other?

Chocolate Cravings for a Cause

Masterfoods' M&M's Milk Chocolate Candies are now available in shades of pink and redesigned packaging to show the brand's support in the fight against breast cancer.

For each 14oz. bag ($2.29) sold, $0.35 will be donated to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, with a $0.50 donation from the sale of every 21.3oz bag.

This particular type of launch is a great example of “cause marketing,” which often involves on-pack claims supporting various causes and/or organizations (as well as percent donations from sales of the product). Such a product not only shows consumers the company is involved in a certain cause, such as breast cancer, but also allows consumers to “wear the cause on their sleeves.”

Global Trends

Carbonated soft drinks normally are not considered a healthy option, as the typical high sugar content is a concern to many parents. However, in Australia, P&N Beverages has introduced Fuze Carbonated Passion Fruit Drink, containing 99% fruit juices, enriched with natural flavors and vitamin C, with no added sugar and no preservatives. The high juice content could make this an interesting product for concerned parents, as it suggests healthier connotations than standard soft drinks.

Molkerei Lanz in Switzerland has introduced an innovative pack for Lanz Jogurt Yo Drink, making it ideal for traveling consumption. The liquid is available in a double-ended container--a cross between a pot and a bottle. At one end, the pack is covered with a foil opening, enabling the yogurt to be eaten with a spoon, whilst on the other is a plastic screw cap, for easy drinking on-the-go.

Del Monte, best known in the U.K. for canned staples (such as fruit and vegetables) and shelf-stable fruit juices, is continuing to introduce more premium-positioned products. Only recently, it ventured into the fruit smoothie market, and the company now has developed chilled, fresh products in transparent packaging to show the quality of ingredients. The new line, which was on display at the Anuga trade show, includes fruit snacks in exotic varieties, such as Sunshine Fruit Snack with pineapple, mango and kiwi, as well as a new Snack Salads range. The salad range is said to feature the tastiest leaf salads and comprises: Chicken Caesar; Greek Salad; Tuna Nicoise; Penne Pesto; and Chilli Prawn varieties.

Most canned foods sold in Japan (including pet food)--with the exception perhaps of imported large-sized canned fruits or sauce--feature easy-to-open lids with pull tops. However, even easy-to-open lids can prove difficult, especially for elderly consumers. This is something to be considered when developing packaging for products, particularly in Japan, where a recent census showed more than 25,000 people over 100 years old, many of whom would no doubt benefit from safer-to-handle canned products.