Erratum: In our June issue, I reported that each flavor of Island Breeze by Bacardi, the first lite spirit, has 48-68 calories per 1.5-oz. serving. My apologies to Andy del Rosal, the developer of the great-tasting line, who worked most diligently to keep all three flavors at only 48 calories. —Diane Toops
White bread gets a makeover
Call it stealth health, as Sara Lee Food & Beverage, the North American retail food division of Chicago-based Sara Lee Corp., launches Sara Lee Soft & Smooth, whole grain bread that looks, smells and feels like white bread (it really does). Now, consumers who love white bread, particularly kids, can get the health benefits of whole grains but don’t have to give up the taste and texture they love.
Sara Lee Soft & Smooth, made with a blend of enriched flour and whole grain, contains 8 g of whole grains per two-slice serving; 3 g of fiber per serving, the same amount as 100 percent whole wheat bread; and is a good source of vitamin D, calcium and folic acid — all without trans fats or artificial colors or flavors. The flour reportedly is ConAgra’s Ultragrain White Whole Wheat.
"Health experts are calling for more whole grain consumption, but we know more Americans eat white bread than any other kind of packaged bread and won't sacrifice that taste and texture," says Bill Nictakis, president, Sara Lee Food & Beverage's U.S. Fresh Bakery unit. "Using a flour blend to ensure the taste and appearance of white bread is the best way to reach a large cross-section of white-bread consumers and really drive whole grain consumption. Sara Lee Soft & Smooth delivers on this delicate proposition. That's why we say the future of whole grains for many Americans is white bread."
Of the 5 billion lbs. of packaged fresh bread sold in the past year in America, 47 percent of sales were white bread, the largest-selling segment, while enriched wheat and whole-wheat sandwich breads accounted for 27 percent of sales, according to Information Resources Inc., as of June 12. Wide-pan bread loaves (particularly popular on the West Coast) accounted for 13 percent of sales, and other varieties — rye, pumpernickel and cinnamon and raisin breads — made up 13 percent of sales.
"With the USDA's recent recommendation for Americans to make half their grains whole, many consumers are searching for a way to do just that, but without sacrificing great taste,” says Frances Coletta, R.D., Ph.D, director of product nutrition at Sara Lee Food & Beverage. Consumers are used to thinking about transitional products in the dairy aisle — moving from whole milk to 2 percent milk to skim milk,” she adds. “Sara Lee Soft & Smooth can help many consumers make the transition to whole grains without shocking their taste expectations."
Suggested retail price for the 20-oz. loaf is $1.99.
More flavor options for the Special K Challenge
Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg Co. launches Special K Fruit and Yogurt, the fifth extension in the popular line. Low in fat (1 g per serving) and calories (120) and trans-fat free, the cereal is made with crispy whole grain wheat and rice flakes and features two different types of oat clusters: one of oats and fruit and one of yogurt-coated oats.
Special K Fruit and Yogurt can be enjoyed as part of Kellogg’s two-week Special K Challenge, which promises that by eating two bowls of cereal a day — one at breakfast and one as a replacement for either lunch or dinner — participants can lose up to six pounds. It also is a good source of 10 vitamins and minerals, including more than one-third of the suggested daily allowances of thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, iron and folic acid.
Suggested retail price for a 12.8-oz. box is $3.79.
Convenience any culture can appreciate
Asian food strives for a balance of flavor, aroma, color and texture. The ancient Chinese principle of two opposing forces in balance — yin and yang — is best exemplified in Pan Asian cuisine, properly balancing cool and hot, sweet and sour, spicy and subtle.
Consumers are concerned with another balancing act: hectic schedule and quick meal preparation. To accommodate them, Liberty Richter, Saddle Brook, N.J., launches KA-ME’s Noodle Boxes, authentic Asian noodle dishes ready in just two minutes. Packaged in distinctive, microwaveable cartons reminiscent of an Asian take-out box, the line is available in three varieties — Pad Thai (Thailand), Honey Soy Ginger (Japan) and Peanut Satay (Malaysia). An added bonus is the fresh-packed Thai or Hokkien noodles are vacuum-sealed in separate pouches, as are the sauces, which contain fresh vegetables.
In Japanese, KAME means turtle. According to legend, turtles can live more than 10,000 years, and they are happy years. To children, the turtle represents kindness, gentleness, honor and friendship.
“We recognize consumers are becoming more savvy about ethnic foods, Asian being no exception,” says senior brand manager Martin Salerno. “The allure of Pan Asian foods is their diversity, but also the extraordinary flavor profiles unique to each culture. We developed our KA-ME noodle meals with a very tight focus on authentic, premium ingredients. The noodles are fresh-packed, not dried, so they retain their full flavor and shape, and the sauces contain ingredients that are readily associated with each country’s culinary traditions.” And he adds, “But what sets our product apart is the two-minute cook time. That’s a convenience any culture can appreciate.”
Suggested retail price is $3.49 to $3.79.
Hunt’s in the thick of it
For the 97 percent of American households who like to slather on the ketchup, Omaha, Neb.-based Con Agra Foods Inc. jumps into the thick of things with a new, thicker Hunt's ketchup.
"Americans told us they value thickness in ketchup and use it as one of their barometers of taste. We delivered our thickest formula ever," says Valerie Sheppard, vice president, marketing. "We want people to try Hunt's again, for the first time. We're confident that, given the chance to taste our new ketchup, people will love its new thickness and great taste. And we're backing our commitment up with a guarantee."
In TV spots, the ketchup shown not dripping when put in a strainer is revealed to be Hunt's, and ketchup-lovers are encouraged to "Pour it on Thick," complemented with a print mail-in taste guarantee certificate.
"In recent years, we've brought new ketchup fans into the Hunt's family, and our ketchup has been known for its taste," Sheppard says, noting that volume sales grew nearly 3 percent and market share increased over the past year to solidify Hunt's position as one of the leading national ketchup brands. "Now, with its new thickness, we're confident Hunt's will become the favorite ketchup for millions more Americans."
Hunt's also has an upside-down squeezable bottle with a vacuum-action Always Clean Cap that makes it easy to squeeze out as much Hunt's Ketchup as needed. The patented Easy Grip bottle is ergonomically shaped to fit easily in big and little hands. No waiting, no shaking.
Suggested retail price is $1.33 for 24-oz., $1.89 for 36-oz. and $2.39 for 46-oz.
Moet Hennessy, New York, set out to make the greatest luxury rum on Earth. The result is 10 Cane, light, golden-hued rum with a smooth, velvety texture (reminiscent of Cognac), fresh sugar cane flavors and a subtle hint of sweetness. Traditionally, sugar canes were harvested in bundles of 10, hence its name. The aroma is pear with a hint of vanilla typical of sugar cane.
Most rums start with molasses — a by-product of mass sugar production — and use cane that is meant for sugar, not rum. 10 Cane uses only the first pressing of hand-harvested Trinidadian sugar cane grown specifically for the product; the rest is discarded. The pure cane juice undergoes a slow, meticulously controlled fermentation process. Small batches are distilled in French pot stills and aged for six months in French Limousin oak barrels.
Incidentally, 10 Cane is handled very gingerly as it leaves home. “We prepare every bottle for its journey from Trinidad,” according to Moet Hennessy. “We gently rock, burp and massage them to sleep; then we run them to the trucks before they wake up.”
Suggested retail price is and $42.99 for a liter bottle.
Lucky unveils line extension
With a little help from Minneapolis-based General Mills, Lucky the Leprechaun, spokescharacter for Lucky Charms cereal, unveils his first line extension in 40 years — Chocolate Lucky Charms cereal.
Chocolate Lucky Charms combines scrumptious chocolate taste with whole grain oats to create a magically delicious cereal for kids and adults. Like regular Lucky Charms, Chocolate Lucky Charms contains Lucky's eight magical charms: hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, pots of gold, rainbows and balloons. It also features the great taste and nutritional benefits of regular Lucky Charms and is a good source of calcium and whole grain and 11 other essential vitamins and minerals.
"Lucky Charms has been a family favorite at the breakfast table for 40 years,” says Jon Horn, associate marketing manager. “With the introduction of Chocolate Lucky Charms, we are excited to offer a new breakfast experience with the same colorful fun of Lucky's magical marshmallows in a chocolaty cereal."
Suggested retail price for a 14.25 oz. box is $3.97