A Spray Away

The spray concept is not a new idea in the retail food industry. Butter-flavor sprays suitable for both cooking and baking hit the market years ago, and manufacturers have applied even more innovation to the concept since. Introductions such as Unilever BestFoods’ Salad Spritzers allow consumers to sufficiently flavor salads to suit individual tastes without fuss and product waste.

Now, David Burke’s Flavor Spray allows for an even more individually tailored dining experience for consumers. This extensive collection of sprays includes everything from classic and exotic flavors (like tomato basil and teriyaki) to sweet and fruity flavors (including marshmallow and mango). The FDA-approved line is free from fat, calories, cholesterol and carbs, making it easily adaptable to any specific diet plan. The sprays can eliminate the need for toppings, dressings, gravies and sauces for a variety of meal occasions.

Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

Considered timeless in the U.S., peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been a treat for children and adults alike for decades. The two flavors paired together have a classic taste and have been seen in the consumer packaged goods industry in various formats.

In 1999, J.M. Smucker launched its Uncrustables, a sealed and frozen crustless sandwich filled with either strawberry or grape jelly and peanut butter. Now, the flavor combo can be found in VitalNRG’s latest nutritious snack. The Jojo Bar is a gourmet bar made from raw ingredients including organic peanuts and cranberries. Bearing the tagline “Healthy living begins with real food,” the product is free from wheat, gluten, artificial preservatives, sweeteners and trans fat. The Jojo Bar was created totally void of high-heat processing, which some contend can ruin healthy nutrients found in food.

Sweet Ambitions

Frito-Lay’s Sun Chips are known for multi-grain ingredients and savory flavors such as Harvest Cheddar and Garden Salsa. The brand has been experimenting with different approaches in the U.S. recently, including a 100-calorie pack option and, more recently, a limited-edition variety. The latter is in the form of a new effort to incorporate sweet flavors into Sun Chips, traditionally known for savory profiles. Cinnamon Crunch is the first sweet attempt for Sun Chips since 1999, when Apple Cinnamon and Honey Nut varieties were launched. The new Cinnamon Crunch version claims to blend the line’s signature multi-grain taste with sweet cinnamon.

Raising Awareness

Amid rising concerns over obesity and closely related heart health, organizations and manufacturers are launching initiatives to promote health awareness and good eating habits. Campaigns are even targeting children to further reduce the onset of obesity and heart disease. The Child Nutrition (CN) Labeling Program, for instance, is a voluntary federal labeling venture to promote nutritious meals and snacks to children. The CN initiative is conducted by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the USDA.

One product touting the CN label is from Eden Valley Farms—Smart Bites Oven Bake Chicken Nuggets. Made from 100% breast meat, these chicken nuggets are trans fat-free and low in fat and sodium. The packaging suggests that the product be baked instead of fried. Consumers should expect to see an increase of similar products in coming months.

Part of the Processed

Of late, natural products have displayed strong growth in the consumer packaged goods industry, especially in food and beverages. In the U.S. alone, the retail sector of the natural products industry recorded sales of $41.5 billion in 2005, according to Mintel’s “2006 Natural Products Marketplace” report. The common claims associated with this trend are all natural, organic and no additives/preservatives (as the products are minimally processed, environmentally friendly and free of artificial ingredients and chemicals). As cited in the chart below, these three claims were associated with over 5,500 products in 2006, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). This growth could be due in part to consumers actively seeking wholesome lifestyles, which results in the purchase of natural products—from household items to consumables.

Another contributing factor to these products’ popularity is the obesity epidemic. Few topics in recent years have received as much national and even global attention as obesity. The issue has broad outreach, as it affects not only adults, but also young people. In the case of children, the significant attention to childhood obesity has ignited major movements, beginning with meal programs and environments in schools—for instance, the new practice of reporting students’ body mass scores to parents in select states, as reported in the New York Times (January 2007). These “report cards” intend to warn and/or educate parents about their child’s potential weight problems.

In the home, lack of time is a subtle factor in the obesity struggle, as it affects shopping habits, eating habits and regimens. Manufacturers have presented preliminary solutions by launching healthier meals on the go, such as the Smart Bites chicken nuggets.

Expect a greater availability of these types of products in mainstream channels, including supermarkets and mass merchandisers. Wal-Mart, for instance, expanded its collection of organic packaged foods to now include milk, fruits and vegetables. According to a Food Marketing Institute (FMI) study, 50% of supermarkets are experimenting with natural and organic formats.


With the New Year, “new you” campaigns are all over the media; consumers attempt to lose the weight gained during last year. Daily-dose yogurt shots are a convenient way to improve consumers’ diets. In the Netherlands, Campina released a yogurt drink under the Campina Optimel Control brand. Prepared with skimmed yogurt and sweeteners, this functional dairy drink contains fractioned vegetable oil (made of natural plant extracts) that suppresses the appetite. This ingredient has been seen in yogurt drinks, but it is interesting to see it in a mainstream brand, which is also part of the “Ik Kies Bewust” campaign (for healthy and balanced eating, as well as informed consumer nutrition).

Similarly, in Ireland, Glanbia Consumer Foods released Lose Weight Health Shots under the Yoplait Essence Lose Weight brand. This product provides a concentrated boost of natural milk calcium that claims to enhance weight loss when dieting. Information on the package claims the product gives “272mg of calcium to increase intake to levels shown to lead to significantly increased fat loss, when combined with a reduction of 500 calories in your daily diet.” Interestingly, the product does not promise weight loss in itself, but it is to be used in conjunction with a calorie-controlled diet.

In Japan, Kirin (with its beer manufacturing expertise) and Yakult (with its world-renowned research on probiotic bacteria) worked together to launch Bbcube under the Kirin Well-Foods brand. These crispy cubes contain Yakult’s bifidobacteria and Kirin’s beer yeast dietary fiber, which supplement each other for healthy gut flora. The cubes are individually wrapped to protect the bifidobacteria from oxygen.

Traditionally, sake is served warm, but in the last 40 years or so, sake has become a more refined drink due to advances in production techniques for cooler drinks. However, Godo Shusei in Japan has introduced Kunpuku Blowfish Fin Sake, which sticks to the traditional warm-serving style. Interestingly, it comes in a self-heating pack not unlike some on-the-go coffee cups or soups and takes three to five minutes to heat. The pack also includes a slice of dried blowfish fin, added to give the drink an authentic, traditional flair.