Beefing up the convenience factor
Jack Link's Inc., Minong, Wis., revolutionizes the dinner hour with an innovative new twist on an American favorite , ground beef. Made from lean cuts of 100 percent beef, Jack Link's Fully Cooked Ground Beef is pre-cooked, pre-drained, packaged in a 10.6 oz. shelf-stable pouch and ready to use. The package (equivalent to a pound of fresh, uncooked ground beef) is retorted, or heated to an internal temperature of 250 degrees F to render it sterile, then aseptically sealed in the plant. All pouches are stored for 10 days, while samples from each batch are tested in a climate-controlled lab. Retort packaging does not change the nutritional value of the meat. No preservatives are added, the meat is not irradiated and the shelf life is 18 months. "Today's consumers are often pressed for time and are continually looking for meal options to simplify their lives without compromising flavor and value," says CEO Jack Link. "It's comforting to know this product will allow consumers to feel good about what they are serving their families while dramatically changing their meal preparation time. Our goal is to help consumers spend more time enjoying their family meals than preparing them." Convenient enough to go from kitchen cabinet to table in 60 seconds, the pre-cooked ground beef is available in three varieties -- Lightly Seasoned, Mexican Style and Italian Style -- at Wal-Mart Supercenters and other retailers nationally. Suggested retail price is $3.49 to $3.99.
Energizing the nutrition bar category
Sales of energy and nutrition bars are up about 14 percent for the past year, to nearly $600 million, according to Information Resources Inc. Hackettstown, N.J.-based Masterfoods USA, formerly known as M&M/Mars, wants a piece of that action. Masterfoods launches Snickers Marathon, 2-oz. energy bars available in Multi-grain Crunch and Chewy Chocolate Peanut. Chock full of chocolate, peanuts and caramel, they taste much like the company's flagship Snickers bar. Developed with the help of nutritionists, Marathon is fortified with 16 vitamins and minerals and contains about 10 grams of Quadratein, a unique four-protein blend of soy, whey, casein and peanut protein. Marathon provides less than 30 percent of calories from fat (the majority unsaturated) and consists of 15 to 20 percent protein and 50 to 60 percent carbohydrates, consistent with the dietary recommendations of the Institute of Medicine. Masterfoods touts Marathon as "a convenient, long-lasting energy bar that offers consumers the familiar taste of Snickers in a high-performance energy product." Its price point is below the $2-plus of other nutrition and energy bars, giving it a competitive edge. Suggested retail price is $1.49.
Jelly Belly rolls out gumballs
Jelly Belly Candy Co.,Fairfield, Calif., rolls out JB Gum, 1-in. and 1/2- in.-round gumballs with some of the most popular Jelly Belly jelly bean flavors. Since gum is a $2.8 billion dollar business and America has the largest number of gum chewers in the world, it's a great way for Jelly Belly to expand its brand. JB Gum is packaged five to a cello tube or by the pound. Flavors include: Tangerine, Juicy Pear, Very Cherry, Blueberry and Watermelon. Watermelon is particularly fun because it is red on the inside with a deep green shell inspired by the fruit itself. "Jelly Belly beans are famous for their flavors," says Peter Healy, vice president of marketing. "Now it's time to do the same thing for gum. Jelly Belly flavors in the shells and centers is a first for gum. It will bring a whole new experience to anyone who enjoys gum." Suggested retail price for the tube is 89 cents to 99 cents, or $7 to $8 a pound.
There's a new dog in town
The average American eats 60 hot dogs a year. Burnsville, Minn.-based Lettieri's Authentic Foods has created Wrap Dogs!, a grab-and-go hot dog option for convenience stores and grocery delis that combines microwavable baked bread from Lettieri's with hot dogs from Kraft Foods' Oscar Mayer brand. Wrap Dogs! are unique in that they arrive in microwave- or oven-ready packaging that protects and preserves product taste after zapping. They are available in four varieties including: Beef Frank, Jalapeno & Cheese Sausage, Maple Flavored Sausage and Smokie Link with Cheese. "Lettieri's is known for its freshly made, high-quality, flavorful and innovative convenience foods," says Tino Lettieri, president and founder. "After many months of recipe development, research and evaluation, and collaboration with Kraft, we have developed an original product that meets our high standards and provides a sales-generating solution for our customers." Suggested retail price is $1.99
Low-cal smoothie hits the spot
Kraft Foods, Northfield, Ill., debuts Jell-O Smoothie Snacks, a smooth and creamy treat made with real fruit and milk in portable, ready-to-eat snack cups. January dieters might want to check them out. Each cup is low in fat and contains only 100 calories. Lighter than pudding and sweeter than yogurt, Jell-O Smoothie Snacks are available in Strawberry Banana, Mixed Berry and Peach Mango. The refrigerated 4-oz. cups are a perfect snack for both adults and children. Suggested retail price is $2.89 for six cups.
Indulgent and low-carb ice cream
CoolBrands International Inc.,Ronkonkoma, N.Y., joins with Atkins Nutritionals Inc. to manufacture, sell and distribute an extended line of low-carb Atkins Endulge Super Premium Ice Cream. Atkins Endulge products, which include pints, ice cream bars, and fudge bars, are formulated without sugar and contain up to 85 percent fewer net carbs (carbohydrates that affect blood sugar) than other super premium brands. Pint varieties include: Vanilla, Chocolate, Vanilla Fudge Swirl, Butter Pecan, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl. Bars are available in Vanilla Fudge Swirl, Chocolate Fudge Swirl, Peanut Butter Swirl and Chocolate Fudge. Suggested retail price is $3.99 for pints and $5.79 for six bars.