A Newfound Treasure

According to Information Resources, white chocolate is the fastest-growing sector within the chocolate category over the past year. This factor has been duly noted by Masterfoods, which has released, for the very first time, white chocolate M&M’s candies in the U.S. This treat has been dubbed White Chocolate Pirate Pearls, and it is presented in conjunction with the summer release of the next installment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The M&M’s carry a custom pearl color blend, including cream, white, light blue and pastel yellow candy shells. To reflect the tone of the movie, the candies also feature pirate images imprinted on them, such as pirate ships and nautical spyglasses. The chocolate treat’s packaging showcases the popular M&M’s characters donning a selection of pirate costumes alongside Captain Jack Sparrow. Expect the use of white chocolate to continue to grow not only within the confectionary sector, but also in other consumable categories.

First Draught

Joint ventures are quite popular in the packaged goods industry, giving two brands the opportunity to create one exceptional product. Attempting to capitalize on this possibility, Kraft Foods has presented one of its latest co-branded entries—Guinness Bull’s-Eye Premium Barbecue Sauce. The new product sees Bull’s Eye brand barbecue sauce made with the world-famous Guinness brand draught beer. It blends brown sugar and spices and is said to be ideal for flavoring chicken, ribs and anything else that is grilled. Guinness has also been used in other consumable products in the industry, including bread mixes and savory spreads. Expect this distinct flavor to be used in a variety of other items.

Siding with Veggies

In the global battle for better overall health and wellness, one thing is clear: a balanced diet is essential. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, a healthy plan emphasizes fruits, whole grains, lean meats and vegetables. Many companies are releasing new products that will help support the guidelines; Unilever Bestfoods is doing this with its Knorr Sides Plus collection. The line comprises flavorful rice-and-pasta dishes that deliver two full servings of vegetables per pack. Free of artificial flavors and trans fat, the side dishes are suitable for either microwave or stovetop cooking. Eating these dishes will allow consumers to get nearly half of the recommended amount of vegetables in one meal. The Cheddar Rice variety is a rice-and-pasta blend in a cheddar cheese sauce with broccoli and carrots. It is housed in a flavor-seal pouch.

Wholesome Goodness from Chocolate

While recent antioxidant buzz has focused primarily on fruits such as pomegranate and açai, chocolate is quickly gaining strong notoriety in the antioxidant arena. Hershey’s Whole Bean Chocolate Squares highlight the natural flavanol antioxidants found in pure chocolate with natural cocoa. These chocolate squares are made using the whole cocoa bean, and it is a mildly sweet milk chocolate with 40% less sugar than the leading milk chocolate. Also containing 7g of inulin fiber, this chocolate, when consumed moderately, claims to be suitable for consumers who want to reduce sugar and increase fiber. For further education, the packaging features a chart that displays the antioxidant capacity of selected foods, including this whole bean chocolate.

Ethical Products

According to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), ethical products are those designed to appeal to certain moral or socially acceptable principles which address issues such as employee working conditions, community development, fair trade and environmental sustainability. As indicated in the accompanying chart, the total number of food and beverage products carrying the ethical claim has increased in the U.S. by 73% from Q1 2006 to Q1 2007. An average of 67 ethical products being launched per quarter is indicative of the growth of this particular trend.

Certified fair trade products are committed to providing fair wages and good employment opportunities to economically disadvantaged farmers around the world. While the fair trade market remains fairly small, it continues to expand in terms of product offerings and geographic coverage. In addition, the customer base for fair trade is increasing, with the emergence of a growing number of consumers whose purchasing decisions are shaped by a range of ethical considerations.

Coffee remains the most successful fair trade offering; however, other launches are noted in the confectionery, frozen dessert and soft drink sectors. Steaz Energy Drink from the Healthy Beverage Company, for instance, claims to be the first functional energy drink that is fair trade-certified and organic.

Sustainable packaging (such as compostable packaging and refills) is fully biodegradable and usually made from vegetable extracts. These package types are less harmful to the environment and are primarily popular in the non-food sectors.

However, sustainable packaging is being used more often to package soft drinks, produce, some convenience foods and even tea. All in all, products that have little or no negative impact on the eco-system and those that “give back” will continue to prosper.


“Purple foods” are a big trend in Japan and some parts of Asia Pacific, where foods of a purple color are marketed and consumed for their high content of anthocyanins, which are the substances responsible for the purple color and known to be powerful antioxidants. This trend has not yet caught on in the rest of the world. However, in Italy, Unilever has released Purple Cream Soup made with red chicory under the Findus That's Amore brand. Red chicory is naturally rich in anthocyanins, and the back of the pack educates consumers about the antioxidants. At the same time, the range is marketed not only on the merit of the ingredients, but based on colors, and an orange and a white variant are also available.

In another area, what results from mixing milk with beer? Bilk! To boost the ever-declining consumption of milk in Hokkaido, the small off-license Nakahara store co-developed Bilk, which is a low malt beer made from 30% milk (from the local community of Nakashibetsu) combined with Abashiri Beer. Launched this February in Japan with a suggested retail price of 380 yen ($3.14), it is currently available only by mail order. The beer was made with technical consulting from Tokyo University of Agriculture. The packaging also features peaceful cows grazing in a field—not exactly common for a category that targets adult crowds. The graphic is clearly in line with the new formulation offered. Milk is an important source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Adding it to beer is a new way to help increase milk consumption in the general population, while still allowing consumers to enjoy their favorite leisure beverage.

The purchase power of teenage girls is strong, and many manufacturers continue to develop products that target them. Recently in Sweden, Unilever released Raspberry Ice Cream Lolly with Glitter Make-Up under the Girlie brand. It comprises an 80ml star-shaped raspberry ice cream on a hollow stick containing glitter. The glitter-filled stick doubles as a shiny body makeup for girls. All about accessories and latest trends, teenage girls can snack on an ice cream lolly that will reward them with a new piece of cosmetic paraphernalia to put in their handbag.