Shots for Health  
Health and wellness remain among the industry’s most dominant trends, as consumers continue to seek products that assist with immunity, heart health and digestion, among other conditions. Lifeway Foods Inc., well-known for its kefir beverages, has released a line of shots specifically designed to address many of these issues.

The probiotic, 3.5oz Lifeway BioKefir shots have 60 calories each and promise more than 20 billion units of live and active probiotic activity, which the company claims is twice the amount found in other regular kefir varieties.

The shot line includes BioKefir for Immunity, in Pomegranate/Blueberry and Kiwi/Passionfruit varieties, which provide 100% of the RDA for vitamin C per 3.5oz serving; BioKefir for Heart Health, in Blackberry and Black Cherry flavors, featuring an antioxidant blend including resveratrol; and BioKefir for Digestion, a vanilla-flavored shot promising a probiotic formula to soothe upset stomachs and other digestive issues. 

Artisan Salad?
The term “artisan” has become almost synonymous with high-quality, gourmet breads and baked goods, and to some degree, coffees and cheeses. Seldom, however, has the selling point been noted outside of those circles, but Chiquita Brands International Inc. is attempting just that.

The company is adding the moniker to its Fresh Express line of salads. This four-unit line aims to “bring the taste of the four seasons with ingredients cultivated by artisanal growers.” The “artisan” term is not simply marketing fluff, however. The company notes each salad incorporates lesser-known greens, such as the Sierra Crisp lettuce with mild red baby butter lettuce (complemented with herbs parsley and chervil), while Wild Rocket Zest blends peppery Wild Rocket (a variety of arugula) with such complex greens as mustard and Tatsoi.

Crunch Time
The increased consumer concern about health and wellness has not diminished the interest in indulgences, and products that can combine the two trends have proven particularly successful. Yogurts and yogurt drinks, for instance, have seen U.S. sales grow 32% since 2004 to reach $4.1 billion in 2009. 

To capitalize on the popularity of yogurt fruit parfaits in foodservice outlets from McDonald’s to Panera Bread, Breyers Yogurt Company has introduced YoCrunch Fruit Parfait, which the company claims will provide a foodservice-like layered fruit, yogurt and granola parfait. Available in blueberry, peach and strawberry varieties, the treat has a visible layer of fruit, topped by vanilla low-fat yogurt and a top layer of crunchy granola, but it has a calorie count of 120 calories, well less than the 310 found in Panera Bread’s yogurt fruit parfait.

Graining Ground
As Americans continue to consume less than recommended amounts of whole-grains, manufacturers continue to increase the whole- grain content of their respective brands. Kraft Foods, for instance, has announced ambitious plans for the whole-grain amounts in its Nabisco cracker brands.

The company will double the amount of whole grain currently found across the Nabisco portfolio. Original and Reduced-fat Wheat Thins have already seen their whole-grain content rise to 11g, from 5g per 31g serving. Between now and 2013, Nabisco will increase the whole-grain content of Original Wheat Thins to 22g (from the current 11g), Wheat Thins Toasted Chips to 17g (from the current 5g) and Honey Maid Original Graham Crackers to 20g (from the current 5g).

What is Cooking?
A recent Harris Interactive poll of 2,503 adults attempted to gauge American opinions on cooking, specifically who enjoys the process and to what degree. Nearly four in five U.S. adults (79%) noted they enjoy cooking, but only 30% said they “love to cook,” although 49% reported enjoying cooking when they have the time. Some 14% do not like to cook at all, while 7% do not cook.

Demographics played a distinct role in cooking preferences, too. Of those over the age of 65, 33% love cooking, an opinion shared by 28% of Baby Boomers. Nearly a third (32%) of men said they love cooking, as opposed to 28% of women, which Harris Interactive’s report notes is “perhaps because the daily chore of cooking dinner may not fall on (men’s) shoulders.”

How much cooking are Americans doing? Some 41% are preparing meals at home five or more times per week, with 29% doing so 3-4 times per week. While 19% of U.S. adults prepare a meal at home only once or twice a week, 11% report they rarely or never prepare meals at home. When cooking at home, 22% often cook only for themselves; 76% often cook for their family; and 22% often cook for friends.

Among the group that prepares meals at home, 81% note they cook a dish they know “very often.” Prepared foods also play a role in meal preparation; 75% of respondents very often or occasionally use pre-prepped and/or frozen ingredients and kitchen appliances, such as microwaves and toaster ovens, both to speed the process and reduce cleanup time later. pf

* Ocean Spray’s Ingredient Technology Group (ITG) launched an all-new website (
* Cognis added Christine O’Neil as the director of sales, Nutrition & Health, N.A.
* Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited acquired the exclusive global marketing and distribution rights to GAT Food Essentials’ (GAT) Omega-3 microencapsulation-emulsion technology.
* Comax Flavors unveiled a newly enhanced website ( in support of its recent branding renovation. The new site focuses more completely on the company’s consistent vision and commitment to flavor innovation.
* Sargento Foods Inc. appointed Michael Heim as senior national account manager for its foodservice division. 
* Flavor & Fragrance Specialties has redesigned its website (