Dipping In 

The U.S. Food Channel has identified chips and dips among the nation’s 10 most popular snack trends to watch in 2011. However, these may not be the chips and dips that first spring to mind; in fact, healthier, spicier dips are predicted to surge beyond the traditional chip-and-dip varieties.

Tyson Foods Inc. is among the companies looking to capitalize upon the expanded notions of dipping. Its Any’tizers QuesaDippers are “protein-packed snacks” featuring two salsa dipping sauces. The Tyson snacks combine flour tortillas, white-meat chicken with taco or fajita seasoning and Monterey Jack cheese, packaged with Zesty Garden or Cilantro Lime salsa packets.  

...For Ice Cream

Ice cream remains popularamong consumers looking for a treat, and, per the USDA, premium and superpremium quality ice creams comprise 41.4% of the category’s total dollar sales, far surpassing light (7%), reduced fat (0.7%), low-fat (3%) and non-fat (2%) varieties.

While sales of ice cream continue to grow, consumers are increasingly concerned about the impact the treat is having on waistlines. In response, manufacturers are introducing ice creams which perhaps may not be healthy, but are at least less nutritionally hazardous. One such launch has come from Iskream Inc. Its titular product is described as “the first line of low-fat, naturally sweetened ice creams,” derived from a boutique creamery in Connecticut.

Sweetened with rebiana, Iskream’s ingredient list includes Madagascar vanilla, Dutch cocoa and whole berries among its three flavors: Berry Good, Chocolate Brownie and Vanilla.

Slim Chance

Pepsi has introduced a new, slimmer version of Diet Pepsi. The “taller, sassier new Skinny can,” as the company describes it, is just over six inches tall and had its debut at New York’s Fall 2011 Fashion Week in February. A company spokesperson commented, “Our slim, attractive can is the perfect complement to today’s most stylish looks. We’re excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world.”

The concept met with mixed reaction during its Fashion Week test. While some brand experts praised the new design, there is concern the company might want to avoid the sales pitch of skinny being better. In fact, the National Eating Disorders Association noted it has taken offense at the can. Pepsi, in an e-mail retort, noted, “We are sensitive to this interpretation, and that is definitely not our intent.”

Crafty Cookies

An online survey by Wilton Enterprises has found nearly half of respondents (46%) believe cost savings is a plus when it comes to baking at home vs. purchasing baked goods, an 18% jump from the food crafter’s last survey in 2008.

Cookies remain the most popular baked-at-home treat, a favorite of 82% of respondents, but showing distinct gains were cakes (rising 17%), brownies (up 18%) and cupcakes (jumping 15%). While “holidays” are the most popular reason for baking (per 78% of the respondents), some 49% note their first choice for a party dessert is a decorated cake. pf

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

* The World Tea Expo will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, June 24-26; conference registration and details are available at www.WorldTeaExpo.com.

* MGP Ingredients Inc. launched a newly designed website (www.mgpingredients.com) to “strengthen online communications capabilities as an essential part of the company’s digital and overall business model strategy.”

* Sensient Food Colors made a capital investment to add aseptic packaging capabilities.

* Avesthagen Limited announced completion of a landmark project for the development of AvestaDHA, a vegetarian source of DHA (docohexanoic acid) omega-3 essential fatty acid.

* Saputo Inc. signed an agreement to acquire Fairmount Cheese Holdings Inc., the parent company of DCI Cheese Company Inc.

* Nutraceuticals International LLC has officially launched its newly designed website, www.nutraintl.com.

* Algatechnologies announced its AstaPure® brand has obtained generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status from the FDA for use in food and beverages applications.

* Corazonas Foods announced a new partnership with CoroWise.

* The Food Source Intl. Inc. hired Denise Serafim as new head of R&D and chief flavor chemist.

* Stratum Nutrition’s chitin-glucan fiber ingredient, Artinia, has received self-affirmed GRAS status.

* Autocrat LLC entered into a partnership with an investment group led by Trent Capital Partners and Argosy Private Equity.

* Mitch Finn joined SK Food International in its business development department.

* Frutarom Industries Ltd. agreed to acquire East Anglian Food Ingredients Ltd. (EAFI) for approximately $4.8 million.

* DuPont Teijin Films announced a strategic relationship with Olek Group, a food innovation and marketing agency.

* David Jukes is now president of Univar Europe.

* Premier Foods has sold its Quorn operation to Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group.