A Little Spritz

When the low-carbohydrate trend began to fade, so did some of the hopes for the dressings segment. The prevailing logic had been that the rise in protein consumption would benefit dressings and their use as marinades. With carb-counting diminished, the segment continues to seek new ways to attract consumers.

In terms of the category itself, “low-in...” claims continue to build steam, and more products with added health benefits (such as cholesterol-lowering and heart-healthy options) have emerged.

Now, Unilever has embraced packaging innovation to reach the consumer. Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers are light-tasting dressings in three flavors—Italian, Balsamic Breeze and Red Wine Mist—in a spray bottle. Unilever notes this gives salad lovers greater control over the amount of dressing desired. In addition, the company says each 7oz bottle will dress more salad than a typical bottle double its size.

Pom-pom Squad

According to Mintel's Global New Products Database (GNPD), 41 beverages featuring pomegranate have been introduced (as a new product, new variety or range extension) since January of last year. Among them was an entire range from Odwalla, whose PomaGrand line merged pomegranate juice with wild berry extracts, all promising to be “less tannic than other pomegranate juices.”

In addition to juices, however, pomegranate flavor is in an increasing number of alcoholic beverages. Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc. claims pomegranate liqueur is the next major category in the spirits world. The company's Pama Pomegranate Liqueur promises to be both sweet and tart when it launches nationwide later in the spring.

Pomegranate also features prominently in a new range of slightly sweet premium alcohol beverages from an Anheuser-Busch sub-unit. PEELS from Peels Beverage Company is a range of colorfully bright beverages flavored with 100% fruit juice, and 100% natural. With 5% alcohol by volume, the products target women with four flavors: Blueberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Passion Fruit, Pear Lemon and Cranberry Peach.

Fresh Minting

Bottled waters continue to add flavors, with fruity notes making particular inroads in the U.S. and around the world. While lemon, apple, peach and orange may be the most common introductions, more exotic flavors are not hard to find.

Pepsi Gamex added a Sun Light range of flavored water in Mexico, featuring such varieties as Guanabana, Jamaican Hibiscus, Toronja Grapefruit, and Kiwi and Strawberry. Meanwhile, in the U.S., spearmint has been added as a flavor option in an all-natural mintwater from Metromint. The company claims mintwater combines the properties of functional and flavored water. The new variety promises to: be subtler than the previously introduced peppermint water, while still providing an instant cooling sensation; calm the nerves; freshen breath; and, thanks to the product's natural menthol, reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and clear congestion related to colds and allergies.

Gumming it Up

In last month's issue, this column noted how researchers with the U.S. Army are working to develop plaque-fighting chewing gums for soldiers in the field. Now, word comes that Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has launched a multimillion-dollar, multi-year effort to prove the healthful benefits from chewing gum.

As reported in the Chicago Tribune, the Wrigley Science Institute will be an international advisory panel of scientists and research experts, all seeking scientific proof of anecdotal evidence of chewing's benefits. Wrigley is quick to note the scientists are independent of the company and their work (performed at laboratories elsewhere and not at Wrigley's new research center) will be published in peer-review journals.

What benefits are first on the docket? Researchers will investigate the physiological and psychological benefits from gum, including tension relief, weight management, cognition and focus.