Compleat Thinking

A number of shelf-stable, microwaveable meal introductions have come and gone over the years. Some have met with success, but others have fallen by the wayside—the casualties of overblown consumer expectations or the simple inability to deliver on the promises of taste and/or convenience. Nevertheless, the microwave meal segment is sizable: $452 million and increasing at double-digit rates, according to Nielsen Scantrack Data. A segment of that size seemingly would be well-served, but that is not the case, according to Brett Asay, brand manager with Hormel Foods: Asay notes an underserved but growing category niche in speedy, portable and satiating meals. In response, Hormel is reintroducing a concept under the new name Hormel Compleats. The 20-item line, formerly known as Hormel Microwave Trays, is entirely shelf-stable and has tripled in sales over the past three years. It registers as the fastest-growing product in the company’s consumer product division.



Sweet Release

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the amount of sugar in their diets, and parents in particular have been finding low-sugar alternatives to children’s favorite beverages. According to a Nestle Nesquik survey, six out of 10 moms are concerned about the amount of sugar in their children’s diets. As a response, Nestle has announced its Nesquik Powder has 25% less sugar than other powder and syrup brands, promising to be a way for moms to encourage kids to drink more milk. However, reduced-sugar options are not solely the domain of child-oriented products. In fact, one recent launch couples that feature with one of the most popular ingredients in recent years: antioxidant-rich pomegranate. Old Orchard Brands has expanded its Healthy Balance line of low-sugar fruit juice cocktails with the introduction of Healthy Balance Pomegranate. It claims 75% less sugar, carbohydrates and calories than leading pomegranate juices.



Hard Water

Bottled water has been among the hottest segments of the beverage category in recent years, with near double-digit volume increases over the past six years, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation. As that group noted in its 2006 report on the market, “The category is growing…forcefully on a global scale, but in the U.S., volume is unparalleled.” Americans consumed 26.1 gallons per person in 2005, drinking more bottled water annually than any beverage other than carbonated soft drinks, and more recent statistics say that gap has closed considerably.

So, with that level of market penetration, where else can water go? Diageo North America, for its part, is taking spring water into decidedly more adult territory. The company’s Smirnoff Source is a premium malt beverage combining pure spring water with a malt-based alcohol. Available currently in the Northeast, the 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) beverage has fewer calories and a lower ABV than most popular domestic beers.



Halal Demand

Advertising agency JWT is predicting the market for halal foods will grow substantially. According to Marian Salzman, JWT executive vice president, the global halal food market is worth $580 billion annually.

“As it grows, we envision aisles in the supermarket dedicated to halal foods, in much the same way as kosher and ethnic foods, such as Indian and Spanish, do today,” Salzman forecasts. “To be truly global, food marketers have to cater to the Muslim population. There are significant opportunities for major marketers to build relationships with them, especially in the areas of prepared, convenience and pre-packaged halal meals.”

The agency’s study found 44% of Muslims agreeing with the statement, “Most products and brands do not understand my needs.”



Who's Counting?

With the concerns about the obesity and overweight rates in the country, it is no surprise that Americans are dieting; however, the number of consumers who claim to be on some form of diet may be an eye-opener. Further surprising could well be the fact that the vast majority have no idea how many calories they should consumer per day. The second annual Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation finds 56% of Americans are trying to lose weight. The survey likewise reports nine of 10 consumers do not know how many calories they should consume in a day.

The survey regards the results as one of six “diet disconnects” among the 1,000 American adults questioned. The seemingly contradictory notions include:

  • Some 70% of those trying to improve the healthiness of their diet are doing so to lose weight, yet only 11% know the number of calories they should consume per day.

  •  84% are physically active for health benefits at least once a week; however, 44% of those who are physically active do not “balance diet and physical activity” to manage weight.

  •  Breakfast is important to 90% of Americans, but only 49% eat the morning meal every day.

  •  The types and amounts of fats in Americans’ diets are up from a year ago (72% versus 66%), with less trans fats being eaten; however, consumers are not sure which fats are healthy: for example, respondents are trying to consume less polyunsaturated fats, which are regarded as beneficial to health.

  •  More than 70% of consumers are trying to eat more carbs like fiber and whole grains. On the other hand, more than 50% remain concerned about the amount of carbs they consume.

  • According to respondents, functional foods can benefit heart health (80%), improve digestive health (76%) and improve physical energy or stamina (76%). Unfortunately, more than 50% of Americans say they do not currently consume foods or beverages that convey those benefits.

    For a copy of the entire survey, visit www.ific.org/ research/foodandhealthsurvey.cfm.



  • THE IN BOX:

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

  • The board of directors of David Michael & Co. announced the hirings of John Kling as production superintendent; Yuko Noda as processed flavors chemist; Sonia Ortiz in the Technical Department as a flavor lab technician; GuoYing Yang as food technologist; Li Ying as quality control manager; Lucy Tian as manager of sales and marketing; Li Hong as food technologist with David Michael Beijing; and Ixel Castillo in the Quality Control area of David Michael de Mexico.

  • ORAFTI Active Food Ingredients appointed Tim Van der Schraelen as marketing & communication manager, as well as Dominic Speleers and Charles Degard as managing directors.

  • D.D. Williamson hired Sandra Nelson as technical coordinator, D.D. Williamson (U.K.) Ltd.

  • Cargill Specialty Canola Oil signed a long-term lease to open a specialty canola research farm in Aberdeen, Saskatchewan. 

  • LycoRed Ltd. appointed Sochim International SpA as its strategic partner for the sale of the LycoRed product line into the Italian dietary supplement market. Also, the company named Udi Alroy as vice president of global marketing and sales.

  • TIC Gums recently completed an audit from the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) and the company’s manufacturing plant is now halal-certified.

  • A group of investors led by FITE (First Israeli Turnaround Enterprise) Mivtach Shamir Group and Ori Yehudai acquired a controlling interest in Solbar Industries Ltd.

  •  E. Ray Murphy has joined Casa de Oro Foods LLC as CEO. 

  • GELITA AG elected Christoph Kirsch, Günther Niethammer, Jörg Siebert and Konstanze Koepff-Röhrs to its supervisory board.