The average American eats about 124 lbs. of potatoes per year, and now Minneapolis-based General Mills makes it easier than ever this holiday season to prepare them with the launch of Betty Crocker Seasoned Skillets, the first skillet-style, brown-and-serve potato dish.
Simply add water, heat, mix in the seasonings, brown and serve to four or five people. Ready in about 15 minutes, they are available in three varieties: Traditional Recipe, Roasted Garlic and Herb and Hash Brown.
"With Seasoned Skillets, consumers can prepare delicious potatoes in 30 percent less time than it takes to prepare scratch skillet potatoes, without the hassle of washing, peeling and slicing, and still deliver the same great flavor to their dinner table," says Scott Berg, associate marketing manager.
Suggested retail price is $1.89.
Beef up the dog
Giving hot dog lovers more beef for their hot dogs, Ball Park, a division of Sara Lee Food and Beverage, Downers Grove, Ill., rolls out Ball Park Top It! -- hearty beef chili toppings that make every hot dog a "big taste" experience.
Available in three flavors: Classic Beef Chili with Beans, Classic Beef Chili Without Beans and Spicy Beef Chili Without Beans, Ball Park Top It! chili toppings are made with fresh ingredients, including beef, diced tomatoes, bell peppers, pinto beans, onions and a blend of spices.
Each easy-to-open and microwave-ready pouch of Ball Park Top It! is ready in 60 seconds and contains enough chili to boost the flavor of four hot dogs.
"We know that hot dog lovers are looking for flavorful, convenient products that will add the right kick to their hot dog experience," says Steve Clapp, vice president, Ball Park. "Although ketchup and mustard are the most popular toppings for hot dog lovers, chili actually ranks high among consumers who like to take their hot dog toppings up a notch."
Suggested retail price is two for $3.
Starbucks perks up ready-to-drink iced coffee
Seattle-based Starbucks Coffee Co. launches its ready-to-drink Starbucks Iced Coffee in two varieties in the U.S. through the North American Coffee Partnership, a joint venture with Pepsi-Cola Co.. The addtion creates a new coffee refreshment segment within the more than $800 million overall ready-to-drink coffee category in the U.S.
Starbucks Iced Coffee, a cold coffee drink made with Starbucks Italian Roast and just a touch of milk and sweetness, is available in two varieties - Iced Coffee Italian Roast and Iced Coffee Italian Roast Light. In developing the new Iced Coffee, the North American Coffee Partnership looked to trends and customer preferences within the overall coffee category. According to the National Coffee Drinking Trends report, published by the National Coffee Association of the U.S.A., the majority of customers want a coffee beverage with a simple, high-quality, full-coffee flavor and light dairy and sweetness, which until now has been largely unavailable in the U.S.
Two other products - Starbucks Strawberries and Crème Frappuccino crème drink, a blend of real strawberries and low-fat milk, and Starbucks DoubleShot Light, a blend of espresso and a touch of cream, but with lower fat, calories and sugar than Starbucks DoubleShot - also rolled out.
"Opportunities for Starbucks to introduce innovative and exciting ready-to-drink products to our customers allow us to extend the Starbucks Experience to them any place and anytime they choose," says Gerry Lopez, president, Starbucks Global Consumer Products. "Expanding Starbucks ready-to-drink offerings both in the U.S. and internationally helps to strengthen the Starbucks brand and reinforces our reputation and commitment to innovation, as well as coffee quality and expertise."
Suggested retail price is $2.25.
Potato chip flavors zing
Brewster, Ohio-based Shearer's Foods Inc., introduces two unique trans fat-free kosher kettle potato chip flavors - Shearer's Sweet Wasabi Mustard Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, a flavorful blend of wasabi with a generous squeeze of mustard, and Buffalo Wing Bleu Cheese Kettle Cooked Potato Chips, bold and spicy, softened with a hint of crumbled bleu cheese.
Suggested retail price is 99 cents for 2.75 oz. and $2.99 for 9 oz.
Del Monte, San Francisco, introduces the first line of USDA-certified organic pickles in five varieties -Sweet Bread and Butter Chips, Dill Burger Slices, Kosher Dill Whole Pickles, Kosher Dill Baby Pickles and Kosher Dill Spears.
"Our new Del Monte organic pickles are produced using environmentally friendly farming practices, without synthetic chemicals or genetically modified ingredients," says Jeff Tuttle, chief marketing officer of M.A.Gedney Co., Chaska, Minn., producer of the pickles.
Suggested retail price for Gedney and Del Monte organic pickles ranges from $3 to $5 per 24-ounce jar.
Flavored pork options
Smithfield, Va.-based Smithfield Packing Co. introduces three new flavors to its line of Marinated Pork Tenderloin. Currently available in stores across the eastern U.S., including Hannaford, ACME, Sweetbay, Giant Eagle and Stop and Shop, the flavors include Sesame Ginger, Tangy Mustard and Smoky Grill.
All Smithfield pork is produced using a new tumbling process that improves the products' taste by allowing spices to penetrate more deeply into the meat and distributes flavors more consistently. Cooking time is 20 minutes per pound in the oven or on the grill.
"We have conducted extensive research and consumer testing to determine that these flavors are ones requested and desired by our customers." says Eric Esch, director of marketing. "What's more, our research has revealed that marinated pork users significantly prefer flavored pork using the tumbling process versus the more traditional spice application process."
To develop the new flavors, Smithfield reviewed the hottest flavor profiles and cuisine styles throughout the foodservice industry. The company then turned to the most popular flavors sold by leading brands in the bottled marinade segment. The result was more than 100 flavors for marinated pork, from which 12 finalists were selected for consumer taste panel and appearance tests.
Suggested retail price is $5.99 to $6.99 a pound.
Line up for panini sandwiches
Nestle's Stouffer's, Cleveland, rolls out tasty microwaveable Corner Bistro panini sandwiches. Smoked Turkey Club; Grilled Chicken Italian; Philly-style Steak and Cheese, and Southwest-style Chicken are available from Stouffer's, while Lean Cuisine offers: Chicken Club; Chicken, Spinach and Mushroom; Southwest-Style Chicken, and Steak, Cheddar and Mushroom.
A special grilling tray, which grills the bread in the oven while the toppings heat, prevents the bread from getting soggy.
Suggested retail price is $3.09.
Green tea with a twist
BPW (Beverage Partners Worldwide), a joint venture between The Coca-Cola Co. and Nestlé, Atlanta, introduces Nestea Green, iced tea featuring peach and diet peach flavors.
In addition, the 50-year old brand gives a flavorful makeover to its ready-to-drink iced tea product line with new Nestea Lemon and Diet Lemon formulas, and the return of the classic Nestea brand.
"Tea drinkers will really enjoy the new Nestea products, and the flavored green teas will certainly appeal to active adults who seek refreshment and healthy benefits in their beverage selection," says Brand Manager Abigail Berens. "The green tea used to make Nestea Green iced teas has antioxidant properties which are associated with good health."
In addition to the improved Nestea flavors, Nestea will now be offered in popular 12-packs of 0.5-liter PET bottles, as well as 20-oz. PET bottles, 12-oz. cans, 12/12-oz. Fridge-Pack cans and 2-liter bottles.
Suggested retail price for Nestea Green iced tea is $6.49 for the 0.5 liter, 12 pack PET and $1.29 for the 20-oz. PET.