Natural Order
Pepsi has announced a number of new offerings that will capitalize on the desire of many consumers to avoid high-fructose corn syrup. The first ventures, Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback, will be available nationwide for eight weeks beginning April 20. “At the same time,” notes Nicole Bradley, spokesperson for PepsiCo, “select markets will see the soft drink giant test Pepsi Natural, a carbonated soft drink with natural sugar and a glass bottle.”

Bradley further noted that the two Throwback varieties “will be offered at the same price as regular Pepsi and regular Mountain Dew.” Both are formulated with sugar and follow on the company’s sugar-sweetened tests elsewhere in the world, notably Pepsi Raw in the U.K. and Pepsi Retro in Mexico.

Pepsi Natural will be a “premium cola made with all-natural ingredients,” including natural sugar, natural caramel and natural apple extract for color. It will be available regionally in the Midwest and on the West Coast.

Just Enough
The boon in the bottled water segment would at first have seemed hardly good news for manufacturers. After all, the value-added component of the product is slim. However, one segment of the beverage industry has seen bottled water as quite the opportunity.

Beverage mixes have been appearing more in recent years, frequently in small sizes for adding to a 16oz bottle. However, with consumers increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of product packaging, companies are again innovating.

Flavrz, for instance, is a concentrated, liquid drink mix that is added to seltzer, tap or filtered water, to eliminate the waste associated with individual plastic bottles. Mixed to taste, it can be made by the pitcher or by individual glass or reusable bottles, the company notes.

In the Bag
American consumers have been embracing ethnic cuisines in foodservice venues for years, but with a down economy, those with adventurous palates are forced to find new means of diversifying their meal options. Manufacturers, however, are recognizing the need to provide such diversity for home preparation.

Kahiki Foods, for instance, has launched a diverse selection of new products that are bagged for convenience and multi-use options. All-natural Tempura white-meat chicken is available in four flavors: General Tso’s, Sweet & Sour, Crispy Honey and Mandarin Orange. Preparation time is eight minutes in a conventional oven. The line promises 0g of trans fat and no MSG or artificial additives. The packages also include signature sauce packets for dipping, providing the consumers customization options as well as convenience.

“Consumers are telling us they are looking for value and the best way to stretch their meal planning, without sacrificing quality and convenience,” says Tim Tsao, vice president of Sales & Marketing with Kahiki Foods.

All is Fair
Cadbury plc has announced it will be the first major confectionery brand to offer fair trade chocolate. Currently, plans call for the Cadbury Dairy Milk product to bear the fair trade mark on U.K. and Irish items by the end of this summer.

The move will result in a significant boost to certain suppliers, as the confectionery giant notes it will triple sales of fair trade cocoa for cocoa farmers in Ghana. Working with the U.K.-based Fairtrade Foundation, Cadbury notes its Dairy Milk in the U.K. and Ireland is only the beginning of its fair trade ambitions. The company is planning a phased roll-out of the certification process across other Cadbury Dairy Milk varieties and other Cadbury businesses across the world.

Harriet Lamb, chief executive of the Fairtrade Foundation, notes, “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to certify Cadbury Dairy Milk, enabling all those who buy it to make a real difference for cocoa farmers with every purchase.”

Counting Costs
New York City restaurants with 15 or more units are now required to disclose the calorie content of menu items.

According to Technomic Inc., 86% of the city’s restaurant-goers were surprised by the calorie count information, and 90% found the calorie count to be higher than expected. The result is 82% of respondents note the calorie disclosures have affected their orders, with 60% saying it has affected where they choose to dine. 

Technomic has also discovered what it terms is an emerging “kid-adult” fusion trend, promoting adult-style offerings to children in greater numbers. Kid-adult menus target young people with smaller portions of premium steaks, fresh fish, locally sourced healthy food items and bolder ethnic flavors traditionally found on more grown-up menus.

Technomic’s “2009 Kids’ Marketing & Menu Report” analyzed the children’s menu category in the 250 largest chain restaurants, as well as leading emerging chains and independents. As Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic, explains, “Parents who value these attributes in food are beginning to steer their children away from mac-and-cheese and chicken finger entrées in favor of fresh seafood, baked or grilled chicken, organic vegetables and premium cuts of meat.”

Marketing to children has proven a successful strategy for limited-service and full-service restaurant chains, which have utilized such approaches as menuing combo meals, toys and prizes, websites with online activities, birthday clubs and play areas. Full-service chains, in fact, notably promote family-sized, to-go meals, but, more importantly, 78% of the top 250 chain restaurants in the U.S. have menus specifically for children. The most popular entrées on those lunch and dinner menus are the time-honored pasta, sandwiches and chicken, with barbecue, honey mustard and sweet-and-sour sauces imparting flavor and serving to differentiate the offerings. Technomic has noticed a surge in healthy offerings, as well, with an increase in the number of listings of vegetables and fruits, healthy beverages and smoothies, and items described as natural or organic.

For more information on the New York City restaurant user survey, contact Bob Goldin at 312-506-3936 or For more information on the “Kids’ Marketing & Menu Report,” contact Naomi Van Til, 312-506-3844 or