To the Max

Rumors have been circulating for months about the beverage giants’ plans to augment their carbonated soft drinks with healthy benefits. Pepsi-Cola North America will introduce Diet Pepsi Max nationwide in June. Designed “for adults to get them through the day,” the zero-calorie soda has extra caffeine, as well as ginseng, and is sweetened with a blend of aspartame and acesulfame potassium.

The company is targeting diet drinkers between 25 and 34, as well as those in that age group who are making the switch from regular cola to diet.

Diet Pepsi Max joins Diet Coke Plus, which debuted in April. This zero-calorie soft drink promises to be a good source of vitamins B3 (15% of the Daily Value), B6 (15%) and B12 (15%), as well as the minerals zinc and magnesium (10% of the Daily Value for each of the latter two).



Driving a Stick

Stick forms of chewing gums have not exactly received the majority of innovative efforts in recent years, as manufacturers have turned to tab-style and pellet gums. However, Wrigley is set to jump on the stick.

This summer, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company will launch 5, a sugar-free stick gum promising mouth-freshening, long-lasting flavors, as well as “invigorating sensations you can feel as you chew.” The three flavors—Rain (a spearmint flavor), Cobalt (peppermint) and Flare (cinnamon)—will launch in 15-stick envelopes, a first for the chewing gum segment. Likewise unique about the product is its appearance: it contains a thin flavor strip overlaid on a thicker layer of gum. The flavor strip will break down to provide an initial burst of flavor.

Heralding the new product as the “most exciting development in sugar-free stick gum since the launch of Extra more than 20 years ago,” Wrigley claims research shows Americans prefer stick gum to pellets, the gum of choice for Europeans and others.



Hundreds More

As mentioned in last month’s column, the hundred-calorie pack craze is expanding far beyond its original snack routes and firmly into other areas of the grocery store.

Now, it has penetrated the ice cream aisle, thanks to releases from Good Humor-Breyers and Kemps. The former is introducing four 100-calorie ice cream options: single-serving cups in two flavors—Cookies & Cream and Vanilla Fudge Swirl; ice cream sandwiches in vanilla and vanilla/chocolate; ice cream bars made with reduced-calorie and low-fat ice cream covered with Klondike chocolate; and fudge bars.

Kemps likewise has four 100-calorie frozen novelties: mini cones in the company’s sundae flavor; mini vanilla nuggets (vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate); mini vanilla ice cream sandwiches (vanilla ice cream between chocolate wafers); and mini chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches (chocolate chip ice cream between chocolate wafers).



Could developers turn pizza into the unthinkable—a health food? Food chemists at the University of Maryland claim they have found a way to do just that.

The researchers say they have managed to enhance the antioxidant content of whole-grain wheat pizza dough by baking it longer and at higher temperatures, as well as giving the dough plenty of time to rise. The addition of fatty toppings like cheese, pepperoni or sausage could well negate any health benefits added by the antioxidants, researchers note. Using whole-wheat dough, antioxidant levels increased 60% with longer baking times and 82% with higher baking temperatures, depending on the type of wheat flour and the antioxidant test used.



Tea Totally

Lost in the wake of the growth in coffee consumption has been a distinct proliferation in iced tea drinkers. The NPD Group reports servings of coffee at commercial foodservice outlets of all forms and types have grown by 12% since 2001. During that time, servings of iced tea have also grown by 12%, putting both at 37% for the year ending in November of 2006.

While the increased coffee consumption is entirely a result of its growth in the quick-service restaurant segment, according to NPD, iced tea has seen its popularity emerge in quick-service and casual dining formats. Iced tea has grown particularly over the past few years, the group reports. “From an incremental standpoint, servings of iced tea have grown by nearly 500 million since 2004.”

The consumption rate of iced tea matches that of traditional coffee and continues to grow. In the past, coffee has been the preferred morning beverage, with iced tea largely a lunch and dinner option. However, recent trend data suggest iced tea servings have increased over all dayparts, with the fastest growth seen at morning meals and evening snacks—both of which have been behind the growth of coffee.

Iced tea servings have grown among nearly all age groups, with particularly strong growth among those under the age of 18. Servings to teenagers have increased by double digits.

As Bonnie Riggs, restaurant analyst for The NPD Group, notes, “Iced tea has fared well with little marketing attention from restaurant operators. What might the potential be if efforts were made to tout the perceived health benefits (antioxidant/cancer fighter), its interesting flavor potential (blueberry, mango, etc.) and its perceived calming properties for today’s stressed-out consumers, while still being cool and refreshing? Restaurant operators could be missing an opportunity to capitalize on changing beverage preferences among teens.”



For more information about the report, contact Caryn Portnoy with The NPD Group, 516-625-2443 or caryn_portnoy@npd.com.



Transcending

The elimination of trans fats from restaurants continues to be a hot topic in cities around the country. California and Illinois are two states currently mulling a ban, and city legislators likewise are debating the topic. All of which begs the question of what exactly the consumer believes.

A survey by Lightspeed Research finds that 62% of U.S. respondents believe the removal of trans fats from restaurants will lead to healthier diets for the populace. The poll included responses from 101,467 U.S. adults, 21% of whom also suspect removing trans fats from restaurant food will increase the price of the product.

Some respondents feared the taste consequences of removing trans fats from food, though it was an opinion shared by relatively few. Only 15% of men feared for the taste, and 10% of women have that worry. In terms of age demographics, younger adult consumers (those between the ages of 18 and 24) believe foods without trans fats will not taste as good.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of that group believes the removal of trans fats will impact the cost of foods available in restaurants. Seniors, on the other hand, were less likely to worry about the cost: only 17% feared a price increase with a trans fat decrease.



THE IN BOX

For daily industry news updates, see the homepage of www.PreparedFoods.com and www.NutraSolutions.com.

  • Givaudan entered into a multi-year research and development collaboration and licensing agreement with Redpoint Bio Corporation (formerly known as Linguagen).

  • Cargill entered the omega-3 food ingredient business and hired David Lewis as omega-3 product manager.

  • Wixon Inc. promoted Leda Strand to director of Technology Applications & Industrial Ingredients. The company also named Jill Sonntag senior food technologist—Technology Applications & Industrial Ingredients.

  • Naturex opened a subsidiary in the U.K., Naturex UK Ltd. The company also received France’s National Ambition award in the “Special” prize category.

  • InterHealth Nutraceuticals’ senior vice president of research and development, Debasis Bagchi, co-edited two scientific textbooks published by CRC Press, Obesity: Epidemiology, Pathophysiology and Prevention and Anti-Angiogenic Functional and Medicinal Foods. 

  • Enzymotec announced that CardiaBeat won the NutrAward prize at SupplyExpo 2007. 

  • Griffith Laboratories USA named Jennifer Convery as general manager.

  • P&G Food Ingredients launched its website this week—www.pgfoodingredients.com.

  • Tate & Lyle ANZ Pty Ltd expanded its product portfolio to include a broader range of Tate & Lyle specialty food ingredients, assuming responsibility from Danisco for the distribution of Krystar crystalline fructose in Australia and New Zealand and managing the distribution of Tate & Lyle food ingredients (including modified starches, polydextrose, sweeteners and acidulants) in New Zealand.

  • Monsanto and The Solae Company announced an agreement to develop and market omega-3 products for a rapidly growing market that industry experts predict could grow to as much as $7 billion by 2011.

  • Hormel Foods Corporation named Dennis L. Boik director of environmental sustainability.