The Slow Lane

Summer is quickly approaching and with it comes those hot days when a cool ice cream cone or novelty is the greatest thing in the world to most children. The only drawback has been the melting and resulting stickiness.

Popsicle ice pops may have found a solution to those two problems, though. Popsicle Slow Melts are made with a proprietary recipe and formulated to last longer than regular pops. As Julio Del Cioppo, Popsicle’s director of marketing, notes, “Kids love to see their tongue turn red when they eat a cherry Popsicle, but moms…have told us they melt too fast. With the introduction of Popsicle Slow Melt, some of our pops will be longer-lasting and cause less mess.”

The company is also debuting Popsicle Natural Colors and Flavors, promising to be the first novelty brand with natural colors and flavors. The natural move will be seen across the company’s line, including Fudgsicle and Creamsicle varieties.



In the Dough

Sandwich melts have long been a staple of sandwich chains around the country, but convenient, prepared versions of them have yet to make significant in-roads into the home kitchen. A recent package innovation may serve to change that.

Oscar Mayer Deli Creations use a microwave receptor tray to create hot, “restaurant-quality” sandwich melts in around 60 seconds. The Kraft Foods product includes bread and Oscar Mayer meats, as well as Kraft condiments Grey Poupon mustard and Kraft steak sauce.

The quality melt is possible thanks to QuiltWave, a packaging that heats the bread to a soft yet warm consistency, while melting the cheese and warming the meat. The technology’s laminated quilts or pockets expand when exposed to microwave energy and provide close contact with the food product. Purportedly, it puts the hot surface immediately next to the food, driving away moisture and heating the bread.



Fresh and Fruity

Anheuser-Busch has embraced fruits in recent months, both for flavoring advantages and for more nutritional pursuits. First, the company has extended its energy drink offerings to present 180 Red with Goji. The beverage has a slightly sweet cherry taste, balanced with a subtle tartness, but the true selling point likely will be the Goji berry juice. This small “superfood” is said to contain one of the highest antioxidant levels of any fruit.

Meanwhile, the company has augmented its Michelob Ultra products with fruit flavors. Michelob Ultra Fruit Infused Beers are pilsner-style beers with a hint of real fruit in flavors such as pomegranate raspberry (a berry aroma with a hint of pomegranate), lime cactus (“an exotic fruity bouquet with a clean citrus finish”) and Tuscan orange grapefruit (a “complex citrus aroma with fresh juicy orange notes and a slight pink-grapefruit finish”). They are limited-time offerings, however; the 4.2% alcohol by volume (ABV) drinks will only be available until Labor Day.



Trans-formers

Foodservice’s retreat from trans fat continues. Buca di Beppo, a 92-unit chain of Italian restaurants, has eliminated trans fatty acids from all of the oils it uses for cooking, including its fryer oil. Instead, the units have switched to a non-hydrogenated trans fat-free cooking oil made from a blend of cottonseed and canola oil.

Likewise, KFC and Taco Bell have dropped trans fats from many of their offerings. According to Taco Bell, all 5,600 of its U.S. restaurants have switched to cooking oil free of trans fat. KFC, meanwhile, says all 5,500 of its U.S. restaurants no longer fry chicken in oil with trans fat, having switched to a new soybean oil. The new cooking oil will be more expensive but has not changed the fried chicken’s flavor, the company notes.



THE IN BOX:

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

  • Tate & Lyle officially opened its new sucralose facility, which has now begun the process of ramping-up to full capacity. This process is expected to take 12 to 18 months.

  • InterHealth Nutraceuticals Inc. named Gary Shap director of sales for the U.S. and Canada.

  • Mastertaste Inc. appointed Colin Garner to director of global business development for its Natural Products Division. The company also announced the re-launch of its enhanced website, www.mastertaste.com.

  • In the article “Snack Break” from the March issue of Prepared Foods, the report “2006 Eating Patterns in Canada” was published by The NPD Group.

  • Palatinit GmbH named Tonja Lipp technical sales manager for Palatinit of America, its North American subsidiary.

  • The National Starch and Chemical Foundation announced that Sarah Britton is the recipient of the first William H. Powell Scholarship.

  • Solbar Industries Ltd., Israel, expanded its marketing team in North America with the addition of Fred Kosanke and Paul Hargarten.

  • The National Organic Standards Board voted at its spring meeting in Washington, D.C. to exclude cloned animals, their offspring and any food products from cloned animals from the organic sector.

  • Cargill’s Oliggo-Fiber inulin has been approved for use as a dietary fiber in Canada. This means Health Canada does not object to the classification of Oliggo-Fiber inulin from chicory as dietary fiber for labeling purposes in Canada.

  • Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited signed a joint venture collaboration agreement with Alicorp S.A.A., Peru’s leading edible oils and food manufacturer. The result of this collaboration is that Ocean Nutrition Canada will open an omega-3 fish oil manufacturing facility in Peru.

  • Tate & Lyle acquired an 80% participation in the German specialty food ingredients group GC Hahn for $158 million.

  • Dairy Management Inc. and leading researchers from its six national dairy foods research centers and USDA will present "The Dairy Management Inc. National Dairy Foods Research Center Program: Responding to Industry Needs for New Technologies, Products and Markets” at the ADSA annual meeting on Monday, July 9, 2007, at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, visit www.innovatewithdairy.com.

  • D.D. Williamson and colorMaker successfully petitioned the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) for the placement of natural colorants onto the national list of ingredients approved for use in foods labeled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” D.D. Williamson’s Margaret Lawson, vice president of Science and Innovation with the company, received the prestigious Distinguished Achievement Award from the Southern California Institute of Food Technologists Section (SCIFTS). The company also announced the recent hiring of three new associates: Jennifer Guild as global food science and regulatory manager, Jody Renner-Nantz as food science chemist and Richard Wiebke as global quality manager. Metro United Way announced that local manufacturer D.D. Williamson & Co. Inc. reached the highest per capita giving of the largest, local United Ways, which raise $25 million or more per year in the Louisville area and would rank among the Top 20 companies in the entire U.S.

  • The Hershey Company and Barry Callebaut announced a strategic supply and innovation partnership, enabling the companies to work together to drive long-term growth in the global chocolate market. Under the agreement, Barry Callebaut will construct and operate a facility to provide chocolate for Hershey’s new plant in Monterrey, Mexico. Barry Callebaut will also lease a portion of Hershey’s Robinson, Ill., plant and operate chocolate-making equipment at the facility.

  • Todhunter Foods & Monarch Wine Company will now be known as Imperial Brands Gourmet & Specialty Division due to the recent acquisition by Imperial Brands, Inc.

  • An Organic Valley founding farmer and Organic Valley board president Wayne Peters received the cooperative's highest honor, the Ray Hass Organic Pioneer Award.


  • Weight for Health

    Information Resources Inc. (IRI) has released its annual list of New Product Pacesetters. While new product activity has been busy over the past year, that has not translated into tremendous sales. In fact, sales success has changed little during the past decade, and less than 5% of new products reached $50 million in first-year sales.

    The most successful new foods and beverages suggest the “eat healthy” message has firmly gotten through to consumers. Leading the pack was Kraft’s South Beach line with $231 million over its first year. The South Beach products clearly indicate a consumer concern with weight management, but they also focus on nutrition, including whole grains and “good fats” in the brand’s marketing strategies.

    Weight concerns clearly weighed in favor of many of this year’s top 10, notably Coke Zero (which tallied $121 million in its first year), Lean Cuisine Paninis frozen entrées from Stouffer’s and two ice creams—Breyer’s Double Churned and Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream. Promising half the fat and a third fewer calories than the company’s regular line, the latter generated $229 million in year-one sales.

    Another pair of products in the top 10 managed to focus more clearly on health. Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Bread featured whole grains and garnered $81 million its first year—good enough for the eighth spot—while a Dannon product turned attention to gut health. Dannon’s Activia yogurt added probiotics, featured a marketing campaign which clearly and unequivocally touted regularity—and managed to rake in $128 million in year-one sales.

    For an in-depth view of the full “Times & Trends” report, click on http://us.infores.com/page/news/times_and_trends.



    Cheeseburger in Paradise

    Hamburgers are one of the most popular foods in America; more than 40 billion are consumed every year, according to Johnny Rockets restaurants. With that many beef-filled bites annually, the restaurant chain opted to ask consumers about their hamburger preferences and habits.

    The National Hamburger Month Consumer Survey (performed, appropriately enough in May—National Hamburger Month) found 70% of respondents preferred cheeseburgers to hamburgers. Some 74% of men want cheese on their burgers, compared to 67% of women. Other favored toppings included ketchup (63%), mustard (50%) and mayonnaise (42%), but innovative toppings are coming to the fore, including chili and onion rings (both at 6%) and barbecue sauce (7%). Less than 2% of respondents wanted their hamburgers plain.

    If not consuming hamburgers, what do consumers prefer? Asked to name the food of choice for a summer barbecue, 35% said a burger, 26% wanted steaks, 24% craved chicken and 10% looked for a hot dog.

    Acccording to the “18th Annual Weber GrillWatch Survey,” American consumers most often grill hamburgers (the choice of 64%), followed by steak (46%), chicken pieces (40%) and hot dogs (34%). Even the fifth and sixth favorites managed double-digit percentages: ribs (14%) and bratwurst (13%). Asked to identify their all-time favorite foods to grill, the respondents' choices altered a little: steak was the preference of 34%, with poultry at 13%, hamburgers (12%), ribs (7%) and pork (5%).