Out in the Stix

Efforts to improve the nutritional aspects of tried-and-true snacks have taken on many forms in recent years, from complete reformulations to minor overhauls to reduced amounts in 100-calorie packs to combinations of any and all of these. However, a launch from Procter & Gamble completely remakes one of its iconic brands.

Pringles are the well-known, stacked potato crisps, but Pringles Stix are an all-crispy, all-crunchy, baked-cracker stick. The baked-wheat, crispy-cracker sticks are available in four flavors: crunchy wheat, vanilla, honey butter and pizza.

Furthermore, the portion-controlled snacks have only 90 calories per pack and 0g of trans fat. As Bryan Hamilton, North America brand manager for Pringles, notes, “Stix has been released in select regions, and the feedback has been tremendous. People really do enjoy a convenient, portion-controlled snack…”

Full of Bagels

Kraft Foods has launched Bagel-fuls, bagels with cream cheese already inside them, preventing the need for cleanup or preparation. The company notes the vending-oriented product has a refrigerated shelflife of 14 days.

These bagels are filled with Philadelphia cream cheese and are purportedly part of Kraft’s strategy to bolster its position in the cheese business. A Kraft spokesperson noted marketing efforts and sampling campaigns will target busy consumers, particularly women. The grab-and-go Bagel-fuls eliminate the need for consumers to use portion-control cream cheese and utensils.

The new line joins a rather robust frozen breakfast market, one valued at approximately $1.4 billion in annual sales and growing at a yearly 3% clip.

OJ in HD

PepsiCo’s Tropicana Products has introduced Tropicana Pure Valencia 100% orange juice, the first of its kind from the company. Described as the most premium juice Tropicana has ever offered, Tropicana Pure Valencia is purportedly crafted from the top 3% of the company’s Florida orange harvest; fewer than 15% of Tropicana’s 400 groves qualify as potential sources of Valencia oranges for the new juice.

Tropicana notes Valencia oranges have a “deep, rich color; exceptional juiciness; and succulent taste.” They spend more than a year ripening on the tree, enhancing their sweetness. As Susan Logue, Tropicana’s director of Juice Development, explains, “Tropicana Pure Valencia is fruit juice in HD [high-definition]. From the vivid color, bold aroma and rich, complex flavor, this juice delivers a delicious sensory experience for the juice lover, and it elevates the fruit juice category, much like HD televisions did for electronics.”

Milk and Nutrient Intake

According to a study, children consuming either flavored or plain milk have a higher intake of nutrients that are low in their diets. In addition, the report finds, these children also have a lower or comparable body mass index (BMI).

The study, appearing in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, examined 7,557 American children between 2-18 years old who consumed flavored milk (with or without plain milk), exclusively plain milk and no milk. Children drinking flavored and plain milk had “significantly higher” intakes of vitamin A, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium than non-milk drinkers. Among 12-18-year-old girls, average calcium intakes by milk drinkers (plain and flavored) were nearly double the calcium intakes of non-milk drinkers.

Saving Time

A troubled economy and technological advancements are leading consumers toward increased coupon usage, explains a survey from ICOM Information & Communications. Some 1,529 U.S. consumers responded to the ICOM survey, and 67% reported they are much more likely or somewhat more likely to use coupons during a recession--45% were much more likely, and 22% were somewhat more likely.

Over the past 10 years, the average coupon redemption rate has fallen to less than 1%--from 1.6%. According to ICOM, “Historically, coupons represent a key area in which manufacturers operating in economic hard times have not cut back. In the weakened economy of 2001, ICOM tracking showed a significant increase in the number of coupons consumers redeemed each week.”

“The consumer incentive certainly is there,” said Peter Meyers, ICOM marketing vice president. “Look at it this way: households of two adults and two children who use coupons wisely can save 25% on their grocery bill annually, without cutting purchases. That saves $2,400 a year based on a typical $800 a month grocery spend, which outstrips the $1,800 economic stimulus check this family has coming from Washington.”

Technology may play a role in the increased usage. Some 58% of respondents would increase their coupon use, if they could download a coupon from the Internet and have it automatically connected to an electronically swiped frequent shopper card. Simply put, such technology is more convenient to the consumer: it prevents the need for clipping and saving a coupon.

Some 77% of consumers between 18-34 are much more or somewhat more likely to use coupons, if given access to this paperless technology. Of the 35-54 age group, 63% are more likely, and 47% of those 55 and over are more likely.

Boom Time

A new study of Baby Boomers reveals a first glimpse at the expectations for the generation in its 70s. Steve French, managing partner of the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), explains that Boomers will still have a significant degree of spending power (more than $2 trillion, in fact); however, he believes the group will fundamentally shift their buying patterns.

“Primary beneficiaries will be responsive companies that can deliver Boomers’ pragmatic value and style,” he notes, “such as restaurants offering smaller-portion Boomer specials centering on healthy, organic food…This evolving market, in essence, will be rooted in sensible luxury.”

“This generation is a moving target, continuing its lifelong tradition of shaping industries and challenging the status quo,” says Dr. Carol Orsborn, co-chair of Fleishman-Hillard (FH) Boom.  “However, now the key is to think of Boomers at 70 not so much as revolutionaries, but as ‘retrolutionaries.’ By this definition, retrolutionaries are the vast majority of Boomer-aged consumers who are aiming to get their monetary expenditures in better alignment with values formed at earlier stages in their lives. Think the 2016 version of Birkenstocks and VW in the 60s and 70s: living affordably, but with style.”

However, not all Boomers may be able to enjoy that style. Only 41% of Boomers believe they have a secure, financially sound plan for retirement. Nevertheless, they believe they will have an average of 22% of their income remaining to spend on discretionary expenses; this is after paying basic living expenses.

Men Menu

The NPD Group reports more men are cooking than “any time in history.” However, women still prepare the majority of dinners: 78% of the meals prepared in the home. In 2007, though, men prepared 18% of all in-home dinners, an increase over the 14% they fixed in 2003. The NPD Group studied national eating habits in 2,000 households, and it found younger men who live in a household with others are cooking most frequently. Of men under the age of 25, 67% of them will prepare at least one of the next 10 meals.

“There has been a steady rise in the number of men cooking at home over the last four years, and while 18% of men cooking dinner at home may not sound significant, it is a historical high,” opines Harry Balzer, vice president for the NPD Group and author of its annual Eating Patterns in America. “Saving time and money are the primary motivators behind nearly every behavior shift in our eating habits. Men cooking make life easier for the primary meal preparer.”

The increase in males preparing dinner has likewise increased the frequency of year-round grilling. Some 38% of the surveyed households say they grill at least once in a two-week period. As of 10 years ago, that number was 31%.

In Box

* Enzymotec announced the opening of a U.S. subsidiary, to be managed by Elzaphan Hotam, previously the company’s vice president of business development.
* Land O’Lakes Ingredient Solutions announced the addition of Paul Ajemian as the group’s Northeast Sales account manager.  
* Cargill's polyols plant in Blair, Neb., received a "superior" rating from the American Institute of Baking for the fifth consecutive year.
* Wixon launched a new brand promise and enhanced service capabilities. The new brand promise is “Service Driven Culinary Science.” Wixon also broke ground on a culinary center (the Wixon Innovation Center) to create, test and demonstrate food specialties and to develop new meat products.  
* Burke Corporation named Lisa Kalla north central regional sales manager, based in St. Cloud, Minn.  
* Sargento Foods Inc. promoted Elaine Bruesewitz to senior tax director, Keith Kehl to Safeway Team Leader and David Burnside to senior national account manager and added Clay Vue as senior project engineer within the Engineering Department, Steve Abrahamian as national accounts sales director, Glenda Murray as development chef in its R&D department, and Rick Menefield as manager of customer research within the consumer products division (CPD).
* WILD Flavors Inc. acquired American Purpac Technologies, a subsidiary of Hendricks Holdings.  
* Alan Baker joined MGP Ingredients Inc. (MGPI) as a specialty starch sales representative. The company promoted George Kelley, Jr. and Jennifer Peltzer to the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) staff, Kelley as ERP business manager and Peltzer as ERP system manager.
* Proliant Dairy Inc. hired Gene Enneking as plant manager for its new dairy plant in Melrose, Minn.
* Alfred L. Wolff GmbH signed an agreement with A2 Trading Ltd. for the European sales of the hydrocolloids guar gum, locust bean gum, xanthan, tara gum and carrageenan as well as of shellac, damar and copal resins. Silliker acquired 80% of the Portuguese company EGI, specializing in food microbiology testing.
* Setaram Inc. acquired Hy-Energy LLC.
* Kalsec Inc. and Connell Bros. Co. have agreed to expand their collaboration in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Louisiana Sugar Refining LLC has broken ground on its new million-ton-per-year sugar refinery at the facility site adjacent to Cargill’s 200-acre riverfront complex in Reserve, La.  
* Richard Rosendale, executive chef and owner of Rosendales, earned the certified executive chef (CEC) designation from the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
* Sartori Foods broke ground on its new cheese converting facility in the new South Industrial Park in Plymouth, Wis.
* Duda Farm Fresh Foods expanded its fresh-cut operations in Oxnard, Cal. The new plant, built in partnership with Western Precooling Systems Inc., will double the production capacity for Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ fresh-cut celery operation in California.
* CHS Inc. acquired Legacy Foods LLC. CHS will operate the business as part of its oilseed processing group, managed by Dennis Wendland, senior vice president of oilseed processing.  
* Atwater Foods LLC and Cherry Country FruitWorks LLC have merged to form Shoreline Fruit LLC, including the formation of a corporate headquarters in Traverse City, Mich.
* Knouse Foods launched its new website designed to meet the specific needs of foodservice professionals--www.knousefoodservice.com.
* The American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) announced the promotions of three staff members: Lucas Darnell as vice president for Member Services, Elise Cortina as director of Public and Industry Affairs and Jason Bassett as director of Legislative Affairs.  
* AACC International announced Khalil Khan is president-elect of the association and will begin serving the term at the conclusion of the AACC International Annual Meeting, September 21-24, 2008, in Honolulu.
* Organic Milling added three management positions: Bruce Olsen as president, Tony Sabatino as general manager of the Valdosta, Ga., cookie and cracker plant, and Doug Nietering as director of private label sales.
* The Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance (MISA) elected Scott Gregory as chair, Shawn Nicholas as vice-chair, Janet Bergeron as past chair and Scott Scriven as board liaison. New directors elected included Einar Einarsson, Dennis Hicks, Mark Koopman, Chris Mason and Gil Williams.
* Dunkin' Brands Inc. announced Cicely D. Simpson will join the company in the newly created position of director, Federal & State Government Affairs.
* Novus International Inc. launched a new version of its global website, www.novusint.com.
* John Salzano is the new national sales manager at iTi Tropicals Inc.
* The Soyfoods Council added the first of a series of monthly podcasts to its website--www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com.
* The Brewers Association (BA) seated a new board of directors at its first meeting together in late February. The new officers are Rich Doyle as board chairperson, Nick Matt as vice chairperson and Mark Edelson as secretary/treasurer.
* Starbucks Coffee Co. is introducing a line of premium chocolate inspired by the company's coffee as well as Tazo teas. The line is from Artisan Confections Co., a subsidiary of The Hershey Co.