Marketwatch -- September 2007
In the ShowerFor several years, the pomegranate has generated a tremendous amount of buzz. Study after study touted its healthy properties as it found its way into various and sundry items across the retail spectrum, not to mention its incorporation into beverages in both retail and foodservice. As time has passed, it still holds sway in a number of formulations, but developers appear to be moving on to other fruits of interest. The acai berry has been seen widely in new products, and now, NBI Juiceworks has introduced a juice incorporating a better-known but rarely seen fruit.
Sun Shower 100% Pure Pressed Nectarine Juices promise the fresh summer taste of nectarines all year round. The company claims the juices are less acidic than ordinary orange juice, while containing 20% fewer calories per 8oz serving—not to mention two servings of fruit. Other benefits include potassium, vitamin C, antioxidants and phyto-nutrients.
Mini-sizingServing sizes have been a topic of serious debate in the industry for years, and of late, mainstream media have likewise jumped on the bandwagon. Many have derided the industry, particularly restaurants, for skewing consumer perceptions about portion sizes.
Recent years have seen some restaurants and retail products address these notions head-on, most notably the “Right Portion, Right Price” menu at T.G.I. Friday’s. Few, however, have gone quite as far as Heinz has with its new addition to its Weight Watchers line.
A response to Simmons consumer research, which finds 21.6% of adults eat several small meals throughout the day, the Weight Watchers SmartOnes Anytime Selections are described as the “first line of mini-meals in the frozen nutritional category.” Seeking to help consumers “balance busy schedules with the desire to eat well,” the products are available in two flavors: Chicken and Cheese Quesadilla and Calzone Italiano.
Harvest TimeEarlier this year, PepsiCo introduced Flat Earth, a line of fruit and vegetable crisps that managed to introduce a half-serving of fruits or vegetables in a snack format both familiar and convenient to American consumers. No large-scale competitors have emerged since, but there have been notable efforts to improve the healthiness of Americans’ favorite snack.
Under its Nabisco banner, Kraft Foods is introducing Garden Harvest Toasted Chips, which promise to have 60% less fat than leading regular fried potato chips. The chips are baked with 100% whole grain and claim to provide “a good source of dietary fiber.”
Similar to the Flat Earth products, Golden Harvest chips are made with real pieces of fruits or vegetables and provide a half-serving of fruits or vegetables in each 1oz serving. The Nabisco products come in four varieties: tomato basil, vegetable medley, apple cinnamon and banana.
Playing TapsPepsiCo announced that it will provide consumers with more information about the source of the water used for its Aquafina line. The bottled water labels will read “Public Water Source,” rather than the “pure water, perfect taste” verbiage that had appeared. The move comes after months of campaigning by Think Outside the Bottle. With this success, do not expect the campaign to rest on its laurels, especially considering it says “up to 40% of bottled water uses tap water as its source.” The campaign’s director regards Pepsi’s response as “an important first step.”
U.S. consumers spent $11 billion on bottled water in 2006, with Aquafina accounting for $1.3 billion. Pepsi was quick to note that, while Aquafina uses public tap water, it undergoes a filtration process prior to bottling.
Presumed GuiltyThe obesity epidemic and associated health ills may have Americans feeling guilty about consuming their favorite dessert treats, but a recent survey suggests consumers manage to ignore those guilty sentiments when it comes to ice cream. More than two thirds of U.S. adults (67%) believe full-fat ice cream is worth the guilt, according to survey by Harris Interactive conducted for Denali Flavors. Nearly three quarters of men (73%) and a full two thirds (66%) of women would prefer to consume full-fat ice cream than full-fat varieties of other snacks—cookies, chips and candy among them.
“Ice cream has traditionally been about treating oneself, and this study suggests that consumers are willing to indulge,” explains Neal Glaser, president of Danali Flavors, adding, “In some ways, the findings are surprising in light of the success of low-fat varieties of decadent ice creams.”
More than half of respondents (52%) do not believe decadent flavors of ice cream (such as rocky road and moose tracks) can be low in fat and still taste good. Nevertheless, blind taste tests have indicated that the average consumer cannot tell the difference between low- and full-fat ice creams currently on the market.
Low-fat ice cream was the fastest-growing ice cream category in 2006, according to the International Dairy Foods Association (IFDA), yet the USDA notes full-fat varieties accounted for 63.8% of the frozen dessert market in 2005. The IFDA estimates the U.S. frozen dessert market is valued at more than $21 billion.
The SourceNearly three quarters of American consumers believe it is important that they know the country of origin for all of the products they purchase; however, when it comes to food, the number is even larger—85%, according to a new Zogby Interactive poll. That same survey found 94% believe they have a right to know the country of origin of the foods they purchase. Admittedly, knowing the country of origin likely would have no actual bearing on the safety of the food, but 90% of respondents believe “knowing the country of origin will allow consumers to make safer food choices,” says the Zogby poll.
Congress is considering expanding country of origin labeling beyond seafood to include meat, produce and other foods. A great majority of Americans support mandatory labeling: 88% want all retail foods labeled this way. Currently, the country of origin is checked at least some of the time: 37% said they check “most of the time,” while 34% check occasionally. Some 11% always check, 14% rarely do, while 4% never bother.
Only 5% disagreed with mandatory country of origin labeling for foods. Of these, 63% say compliance would be too expensive and risked increasing food prices. Some 27% believe it does not matter what country supplies the food sold in the U.S., while 2% believe such labels could be unfair to foreign competitors.
The Zogby Interactive survey of 4,508 adults nationwide was conducted July 17-19, 2007, and carries a margin of error of +/- 1.5 percentage points.
For more information, contact Fritz Wenzel, Zogby’s director of communications, at 315-624-0200, ext. 229.