2006 FMI Show Full of Innovative Products

The annual FMI show provides a look at the many innovative products hoping to find space on the shelf.

By Diane Toops, David Feder and Dave Fusaro

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Whole grains, too, had their proponents. ConAgra’s Ultragrain flour for the past year has been a hit with processors. Now the company offers a similar blend of white and whole wheat flour for home cooks under the Healthy Choice brand.

Tyson Foods launched All Natural Marinated Fresh Chicken (no artificial ingredients, no added hormones or steroids), Trimmed and Ready Chicken (less fat and skin) and its Natural brand Certified Angus Beef (no hormones or antibiotics and fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet). General Mills introduced Caribou Coffee Chewy Granola Bars, made with soy, sunflower, almond and peanut ingredients. And for chocoholics on a healthy watch, Hershey debuts Hershey’s Extra Dark in three flavors: Pure Dark Chocolate, Pure Dark Chocolate with Cranberries, Blueberries and Almonds, and Pure Dark Chocolate with Macadamias and Cranberries.

Convenience

Convenience is always No. 1 for the consumer. Here are two choices for breakfast: Bravo!’s Milk & Fruit Breakfast Blenders and ConAgra’s Egg Beaters Ham & Cheese omelet in a carton.

Marie Callender's Crock Pot Meals
ConAgra created higher-end Crock-Pot meals under the Marie Callender’s brand.

For dinner, ConAgra moved its Crock-Pot bagged meals to a higher plane with Marie Callender’s Crock-Pot Meals and Soups. General Mills’ Betty Crocker Seasoned Skillets bring spuds to new flavor heights, and Green Giant’s Just for One Vegetables is a great way for a person to incorporate veggies into a healthy individual snack.

When seconds count: Pillsbury rolled out Microwave Buttermilk biscuits, Butter Tastin’ Biscuits and Soft White Dinner Rolls in resealable bags. Just pop one in and it’s ready in seconds. Forty-five seconds is all it takes for McCormick’s microwavable Finishing Sauces and 60 seconds for its Zatarain’s ready-to-serve complete meals with meat. Tyson’s Heat ’N Eat packages of chicken and beef are ready in six minutes.

They may look like boullion cubes, but Unilever’s Knorr brand Mini Cubes of Garlic and Onion are a super new option. ConAgra married savory flavors (real cheddar cheese and buttermilk ranch flavor) with popcorn in its Orville Redenbacher’s Shakeables. Everything you need is in the bag for Bake-at-Home Apple Crisp from Peterson Farms, Shelby, Mich., from one pound of peeled and sliced apples to the topping.

Kraft’s Grate-It-Fresh Parmesan Cheese Grater grates fresh cheese with every twist. Also grating and grinding were Tone Brothers’ Spice Island adjustable gourmet grinders and McCormick’s Gourmet Collection Grinders in exotic flavors such as Smoked Flavor Sea Salt, Tellichery Black Peppercorns, Peppercorn Melange, Roasted Garlic and Sea Salt, Italian Herb Blend and Crushed Red Pepper. The glass bottles will look great in the kitchen or on the dining room table.

Here’s a product that raised a lot of eyebrows. If Hamburger Helper isn’t fast and easy enough, General Mills showed a prototype of Hamburger Helper Microwave Singles. Everything’s in the shelf-stable pouch, including the freeze-dried cooked ground beef. Just add water and microwave for 4-6 minutes. And it tasted pretty good, one of our editors said after cooking it at home.

Drink to energy and health

Coca-Cola’s Dasani Sensations puts a new twist on water, the fastest growing beverage category, combining fruit taste, no calories and some fizz for fun.

Coffee showed up in several forms. Sampling was brisk for new Coca-Cola Blak, a carbonated fusion blend of Coke and coffee. A similar drink was sampled by Jump Innovations. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters claims to have the world’s first organic coffee soda: Double Bean Elixir. Froid, a Frappuccino-like drink made with coffee, milk, sugar and maltodextrin, was an organic option from Froid Coffee Co.

Snapple White Tea
White tea was ubiquitous. Cadbury Schweppes stretched its Snapple brand into bagged teas.

Tea took on a healthy halo as Unilever’s Lipton Premium Teas with real pieces of fruit debuted in pyramid-shaped bags. Cadbury Schweppes’ Snapple brand offers Snapple White Tea in bags.

While green tea and white tea showed themselves to be still-growing categories, the suddenly ubiquitous açai berry was one of the stars of new flavors. Bossa Nova found the right balance in its juice formulations to make the recently unknown tropical actually taste good, especially via its mango-açai blend.

Pomegranate, too, continued its run, showing up in numerous beverage products but even in ice cream. Sheer Bliss “ultra super premium” ice cream mixes the tart fruit with dark chocolate chips and packages it in a 16-oz. tin.

Old Orchard mixed pomegranate with black currant juice. Nectar Island blended it with raspberry and blueberry. Odwalla did it with berries and mango. Frützzo Natural Juice showed a full line of pomegranate blends.

Generally speaking, pomegranate, cranberry, plum, blueberry, raspberry, cappuccino, açai, guava, lime, cinnamon, caramel and savory flavors all found some spotlight.

All things organic

With the widespread interest in organics, the Organic Trade Assn.’s “All Things Organic” show was a happening place. Bigger and better this year than last, it was always crowded.

Nspired Natural Foods Inc. accomplished the hat trick of appeal with its O’Coco’s organic chocolate crisps. About the size and weight of a thick potato chip, the product weighs in at just 90 calories per 0.7-oz. pack; it tastes great, packing a lot of chocolate flavor per bite; and the packaging is eye-catching.

Even the hard stuff can be organic. U.K. company Organic Spirits Ltd. poured Juniper Green London Dry gin. The blended Scotch whiskey, Highland Harvest, could easily vie with the best blends Scotland has.

The fact that most products at All Things Organic also boasted kosher certification, too, verifies the magnitude of this merging of the two biggest growth categories in food and beverages.


More on the web

A full report on the Unilever survey “Winning the Hispanic shopping trip” is available by clicking here.

David Feder, editor of Wellness Foods, takes a more detailed look at the healthy and organic products at www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2006/110.html or at www.wellnessfoodsonline.com.)

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