October 31/Deerfield, Ill./Prepared Foods E-dition -- Today’s consumers continue to seek grocery products containing more bold and layered flavors, and manufacturers have responded by adding more unique and global ingredients to some of the most basic products.


There was a time when condiments were produced with just basic ingredients, such as ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce. Recently, American ketchup maker Heinz launched a Hot & Spicy Ketchup made with TABASCO Sauce, and Dave’s Gourmet has introduced a Habanera & Honey mustard, while famous manufacturer Fauchon Paris has added Cognac and Champagne flavored mustards.

One of the emerging trends in the snacking industry is the variety of trail mix products. Several manufacturers produce products that focus on the consumer’s senses of taste -- all of them: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umani. Umani is known as savory -- which is described as a meaty taste. Some examples are cheese products, nuts, soy sauce, tomatoes, beans and grains.

SunRidge Farms recently launched a line of trail mix products which provide the consumers a balance of tasty flavors as well as good nutrition. One of the products, the Cranberry Jubilee Mix, includes such ingredients as pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, dried cranberries, papaya and raisins, a mixture which provides a good source of fiber, iron and nutrients.

Another example is the line’s Wild Ginger Harvest Mix, made of roasted cashews, papaya, crystallized ginger, roasted tamari almonds, dried cranberries, pineapples, papaya, apricots, chocolate chips, and raisins. The Zen Party Mix, a combination of nuts and spices, resembles an energy bar-style mix. The ingredients include roasted tamari almonds, Asian Chili crackers, roasted and salted sesame sticks, and roasted and salted pecans.

Taking a stroll down the neighborhood grocery store aisles looks like a gourmet carryout specialty store. Even large national grocery chains have gotten on the bandwagon and spruced up their display shelves and even their private label packaging -- which now looks similar to some of the gourmet manufacturers packaging/designs.

Generic-looking private label packaging and food products appears to be gone for good. One of the industry leaders in gourmet private-label food and beverage products is Trader Joe’s. This retailer line of savory products continues to expand by including lots of global flavors and traditional recipes to make its signature products. Recently, Trader Joe’s launched a 16-ounce package of Korean style soy garlic chicken wings. There is also a popular product item called Trader Giotto’s Mushroom Ravioli with a Mushroom Truffle Sauce, packaged in a 16oz bag.

Comfort with a Twist
Hancock Gourmet Lobster Company has taken one of America’s favorite dishes, macaroni and cheese, and added lobster to it, the result of which has proven to be one of the company’s best sellers. Sold in grocery stores across the country, the product is called Port Clyde Lobster Mac & Cheese and comes in two sizes, a 2.5-pound casserole pan and two 9oz containers. The ingredients include pasta-shaped shells, mascarpone-cheddar sauce, Maine lobster, panko bread crumbs, herb butter, lemon zest and parmesan cheese.

The Lean Cuisine frozen entrée line has a line of chicken rolls called Casual Cuisine Spring Rolls Garlic Chicken. There are two 8oz rolls per package, and ingredients include white meat chicken, spinach, carrots, modified corn starch, onions, caramelized onions, garlic puree, Parmesan cheese, cheese cultures, cheese, sugar, salt, methyl cellulose – the wrapper, water, enriched flour, soy bean oil and salt. A Butternut Squash Ravioli is also available under the Lean Cuisine brand, comprising butternut squash, snap peas, a creamy sauce, walnuts and carrots.

Garlic to onion, cheese to mushrooms, such components and flavorings add savory notes to finished products and draw in consumers when added to the labels from meals to soups, sauces and side dishes. pf