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The May 6-8 Food Marketing Institute FMI Show may have been the end of an era. After 31 annual events, the last 23 in Chicago, the show will be changing its location, format and frequency next year. With 13 of the 20 largest food processors skipping the show this year, perhaps the writing was on the wall.
The annual spring celebration of new grocery products nevertheless was resplendent with 30,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors spread among five shows. In addition to mainline FMI grocery show, the event also housed the Fancy Food Show, All Things Organic, United Fresh Marketplace and U.S. Food Export Showcase, as it has for the past four years.
Missing this year from the main show (for the first time) were Tyson, Pepsico, ConAgra, Kellogg, Cadbury Schweppes and Cargill. Dole, Hormel, Maple Leaf, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sara Lee, Smithfield and Swift skipped this year and last year.
Next year, the grocery show will keep the same format – billed as “FMI Show Plus Marketechnics” – but it will be in Las Vegas May 5-7. The following year it will be replaced by the FMI Leadership Education Forum in Dallas, with those two formats alternating. Different locations are being considered, and FMI officials say it’s likely one of the shows will return to Chicago.
The United Fresh Marketplace will follow FMI to Las Vegas next year. On the other hand, All Things Organic Conference and Trade Show, Spring Fancy Food Show and National Assn. of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) U.S. Food Export Showcase will return to Chicago in late April 2008.
Health and wellness, energy enhancement and upscale ingredients (all in convenient formats) were the most notable trends at the FMI show.
Ensconced in the largest booth at the show, Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. showcased more than 70 new foods and beverages in a novel, Internet-based, interactive, virtual world it called Second Life.
Although three in four Americans haven’t heard of probiotics, which help support digestive health, Kraft rolled out LiveActive Cheese Sticks and Cheese Cubes with probiotics … and Breakstone's and Knudsen LiveActive Cottage Cheese with prebiotic fiber are coming in September. Calorie-watchers can satisfy their snack craving with Jell-O Fruit Passions Cups (individual 6 oz. cups combine sugar-free Jell-O gelatin with a full serving of fruit) and South Beach Diet Chicken Salad Kits, where you simply mix up Louis Rich chicken, Kraft dressings, Kraft cheese, Planters nuts and fruit.
One of the most popular destinations in the Kraft booth was DiGiorno Ultimate Pizza, a superpremium pizzeria-style pie with crushed vine-ripened tomatoes, julienne vegetables and specialty meats and cheeses. Baby boomers enjoyed Kraft’s homage to mac and cheese with adult version Kraft Bistro Deluxe Pastas – made with sundried tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms and Asiago cheese. Philadelphia Cracker Spreads, with an actual crunch of natural cheeses, herbs and vegetables for premium snacking, also were a hot commodity. Oscar Mayer Deli Creations Hot Sandwich Melts are microwavable sandwiches that combine Kraft dough technology with brands like Oscar Mayer meats, Kraft cheeses and Grey Poupon mustard.
A neat innovation is Oscar Mayer Center Cut Bacon in Stay Fresh Reclosable Tray, developed after consumers asked for it. Kraft also expanded its Oreo franchise with Nabisco Oreo Cakesters Soft Snack Cake, Oreo crème sandwiched between two chocolate cakes for more indulgent consumers.
Minneapolis-based General Mills is on a rollout as well. Healthier options include Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt with Optibalance, a blend of cultures and natural fiber for digestive health, and Go-Gurt Fizzix fizzy yogurt snack in a tube in three intense fusion flavors. Although targeted to tweens, that fizzy experience is fun for geezers as well. Green Giant Health Blends – Healthy Weight, Healthy Vision and Immunity Boost – are microwavable frozen vegetables.
General Mills also partnered with the Curves fitness franchise for four Curves weight management products (two cereals and two chewy granola bars). Also new are General Mills’ Fiber One bars with 35 percent of the DV of fiber; Cascadian Farm organic Purely Steam Frozen Vegetables, and Organic Chewy Granola and Vanilla Chip Bars; and Muir Glen Chef Inspirations, canned organic soups. Coming in July is Cheerio’s Crunch with Oat Clusters and whole grain Chocolate Chex cereals.
And while there was no Betty Crocker Cookbook this year, that General Mills division debuted Betty Crocker Microwaveable Warm Delights Minis (only 150 calories). A more indulgent offering was Simply Bake Bars in Turtle Supreme and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk.
Unilever USA, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., added three new flavors -- Caesar Delight, Asian Silk and French Flair -- to its Wishbone Spritzers line, and soon will be extending it’s Bertolli Dinner for Two Meals options (think Mediterranean).
Camden, N.J.-based Campbell Soup Co.’s Pepperidge Farm brand unveiled four Artisan bread varieties: Sourdough Petite Loaves, Rosemary Olive Oil Petite Loaves, Hearty Wheat Rolls and French Demi-Baguettes
Sunsweet Growers Inc., Yuba City, Calif., makes munching fun with Sunsweet Ones, individually wrapped California prunes, and Sunsweet Premium Varietal Berry Blend (wild Blueberries, Bing Cherries, Raspberries, Cranberries and Red Tart Cherries), which combine sweet and tart flavors. Also yummy are Sunsweet PlumSweets, dark chocolate-coated antioxidant-rich plum bites.
Snyder’s of Hanover, Hanover, Pa., introduces whole grain snacks including MultiGrain Sunflower Chips, MultiGrain Cheese Puffs, MultiGrain Pretzel Nibblers and MultiGrain Tortilla Strips, shaped for dipping in Jalapeno Red, Savory Blue and Flaxseed Gold.
Coming in July from Nestle USA are Cappuccino Sticks and Edy’s Slow Churned Ice cream bars. Hershey, Pa.-based Hershey will debut Hershey’s Ice Breakers Energy Mints (Restore and Energy) in September and Reese’s Whipps, a candy bar with 40 percent less fat in October.
Make an extra nutritious omelet with Liquid Omega-3 Egg (100mg of omega-3 in each serving) from Rogers, Ark.-based CCF Brands. CCF also debuted one of the most unique products at the show -- Piggies 'n Pancakes on a Stick -- a microwaveable breakfast sausage on a stick wrapped in a maple flavored pancake. Another innovative idea is the non-traditional southern, all natural Sir Francis Bacon Peanut Brittle, made with artisan smoked bacon and U.S.-grown Spanish peanuts, on display at the Atlanta-based National Peanut Board booth.
Demand for organic herbs and spices in the home led to the development of 21 Gourmet organic options from McCormick & Co., Hunt Valley, Md. Other new products include: Chai Spice Blend & Far East Sesame Ginger Blend; Sliced Garlic; Grill Mates Cinnamon Chipotle Rub and Seafood Rub; Grill Mates Baja Citrus Marinade; McCormick Slow Cookers, Potato Steamers, Potato Seasonings; Old Bay Rub and Seafood Steamers; McCormick Seafood Steamers and Seafood Rub; and new reduced sodium products – Zatarain’s Rice Mixes and Bake & Crisp and Grill Mates 25% Less Sodium Seasonings. McCormick cleverly put four spices in separate compartments of the same shaker in Traditional (Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Italian Seasoning and Garlic Salt) and Italian (Oregano, Sweet Basic, Garlic Powder and Red Pepper).
Ruiz Foods, Dinuba, Calif., added El Monterey Southwest Taquitos (zero grams trans fat). Its taquitos won the American Culinary Institute’s Chef’sBest Award for great taste. As demand for convenient authentic Latin foods continue to grow for both mainstream and Hispanic consumers, Miami-based Nueva Cochina Foods Inc. introduces Nueva Cochina, a line of all-natural, preservative free soups, seasonings and rice dishes designed for gourmet palates.
General Mills’ ethnic offerings focused on convenience with Old El Paso Chicken Soft Taco Dinner Kit, Old El Paso Fresh Mexican Style Salsas and its first Asian line, Wanchai Ferry Chinese Dinner Kits, which contain Jasmine rice, sauce and seasonings (just add the chicken). Simply Asia, Union City, Calif., acquired by McCormick in July of 2006, debuts Stir-Fry Meal – shelf stable meals with everything but the meat and chopsticks, available in Toney Teriyaki, Mandarin Orange and Spicy Kung Pao.
Los Angeles-based Melissa’s rolls out Melissa’s Salsa Kit (three Roma tomatoes, one shallot, two garlic cloves, one lime and one jalapeno pepper) in a clamshell package and Melissa’s Guacamole kit (two avocados, one Roma tomato, one shallot, two garlic gloves, one lime and one jalapeno pepper). Just combine the fresh ingredients for homemade salsa and guacamole (instructions included).
Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., in partnership with Greek foods manufacturer Euphrates debuts organic Oikos, authentic Greek yogurt in Plain and Vanilla flavors. Australia-based Crikey’s has moved stateside with its traditional Australian pocket pies enjoyed at games, delis and bakeries. A category leader in down-home, Southern-style heat and serve products, Glory Foods, Columbus, Ohio, introduces Savory Sauerkraut, Sauerkraut with Apples, Dirty Rice and Creole Rice to its canned foods line.
Espo’s Cucina Dolce Inc. Denver, wowed the attendees with Espo’s Gelato, original Italian-style gelato in dairy and non dairy versions with pure fruit and all-natural ingredients, and it’s lower in fat than most gelatos found in the U.S. Contessa Premium Foods, Los Angeles Harbor, Calif., added four varieties – Mongolian Beef, Vodka Penne, Jambalaya, and Beef Bolognese -- to its Convenience Meal line. Incidentally, in November the company will open the first “green” food manufacturing plant in the world in Commerce, Calif.
Campbell Soup Co. expands its lower sodium platform with 14 new soups seasoned with natural sea salt. Other healthy options include V8 V-Fusion Light juice drinks with less sugar, V8 100% Vegetable Juice with 19 percent less sodium and Prego Heart Smart sauces made with 25 percent less sodium (coming in September). All will feature the American Heart Association heart-check mark. The Original Soupman, New York, creators of the Zagat-rated soups of Al Yeganeh, who inspired the soup man on the TV show “Seinfeld,” introduces Minestrone, Tomato Basil, New England Clam Chowder, Broccoli Cheese, Italian Wedding and Organic Butternut Squash in handy heat and serve refrigerated soup pouches.
Inspired by an authentic Mexican recipe, Milwaukee-based debuted Miller Beer rolled out Miller Chill, a chelada-style light beer brewed with a hint of lime and salt cleanses the palate when paired with spicy fare. For those with celiac disease or who follow a wheat-free or gluten-free diet, Anheuser-Busch Inc., St. Louis, introduced Redbridge, a lager brewed from sorghum.
Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. debuted Diet Coke Plus, which contains 10 to 15 percent of the daily requirement of niacin, zinc, magnesium and vitamins B6 and B12 but has no calories. It does not replace Diet Coke, rather offers another option for Coke drinkers. Diet Nestea White Tea Berry Honey is a mouthful, but this zero-calorie product capitalizes on the popularity of white tea.
Minute Maid Enhanced Juices, a line of 100 percent OJ with added functional ingredients, is available in Multi-Vitamin and Active with glucosamine hydrochloride for achy joints. Cucumber Mojo White Tea from Fully Loaded Tea, Vancouver, contains crunchy cucumber and carrot pieces, and Tomato Rebel Black Tea has tomato pieces and basil leaves. Its Fully Loaded Tea, black and green caffeine-free teas, are made with superfoods such as goji berries, seabuckthorn berries and lingonberries. And then there is Mega Beet, new beet juice offering from Luvli Juices, Boston. Nexcite, an herbal energy beverage, containing damiana, ginseng, guarana, mate and schizandra, arrived from Sweden-based Nexcite for women only.
According to Mintel Global New Products Database), close to 200 new energy drinks were introduced in the U.S. market in 2006. They are proliferating in 2007 as well.
4C Foods Corp., Brooklyn, N.Y., served up Totally Light2Go Energy Rush, a lightly carbonated caffeinated energy drink sweetened with Splenda and packaged in convenient packets you add to a half-liter bottle of water. Stonyfield Farm brings Shift, an organic energy drink targeted to active teens and young adults, to the marketplace. It’s rich in protein, vitamins, contains acai and ginseng.
Beverage Concepts LLC, Calabasas, Calif., tops the charts with Jimmy Hendrix Liquid Experience, a new energy drink (with caffeine, taurine and CoQ-10), packaged in a commemorative aluminum bottle. A portion of every sale will be donated to MusiCares, the Recording Academy foundation.
The average consumer drank about 21 gallons of bottled water last year, according to Beverage Digest. In fact, Americans drank more bottled water than they did milk, and nearly as much as beer.
Kraft Foods rolled out Fruit 2O vitamin-enhanced waters, including: berry pomegranate Immunity, raspberry Energy, strawberry-tangerine Hydration and tropical fruit blend Relax, all targeted to 30- and 40-something males. It joins Fuel 2O, an energy water launched earlier this year for teen and 20-something males. Both Fruit2O and Fuel2O are enhanced with antioxidants, vitamins, caffeine, electrolytes, chamomile and hibiscus. And Kraft’s Crystal Light On The Go Enhanced Soft Drink Mix packets are another option for water guzzlers. Just pour a packet into a 16.9 oz bottle of water and shake.
Seattle-based Jones Soda introduces Jones 24C mega multi vitamin enhanced water in a variety of flavors. Coca-Cola Co.’s Dasani Plus is a vitamin enhanced water with no calories in Kiwi Strawberry, Pomegranate Blackberry, Orange Tangerine. Nature 101, Hayward, Calif., says its Vitamin & Fiber Water contains invisible dietary fiber strands. Irreverent Liquid Salvation Inc., Lake Tahoe, Nev., exhibited Liquid Salvation Ultra Hydrating Water in a flask-like plastic container. The company uses a patented, electrolyzed process that de-ionizes purified water and breaks down the surface tension of the water molecules for “optimal hydration.” Its original Liquid Salvation has been a big hit in nightclubs, ski resorts, music festivals and sporting events.
With kids in mind, General Mills’ Green Giant and Nickelodeon Vegetables (low-fat blends) frozen options debut, along with a kid-friendly educational initiative to make eating healthy www.mightygiants.com. TVH Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, introduces Fruispy, a dried fruit snack made with cell membrane rupture technology, which enhances nutrient absorption. Flavors include Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe, Grape and Pineapple.
Wild Waters Inc., Hingham, Mass., targets kids 5-12 with Wild Waters, all natural vitamin and mineral flavored waters in six flavors.
Birchwood Foods, Kenosha, Wis., rolls out Disney Mickey Burgers, patties shaped like Mickey’s head (ears and all).
And don’t forget Fido and Fifi. Dogs Well, Beverly Hills, Calif., introduces fortified Vitality (flaxseed), Happy Hips (glucosamine and chondroitin) and Breathies (mint and parsley) all natural duck breast treats for dogs; plus Vitakitty (flaxseed oil) and Happy Hips (glucosamine and chondroitin) made of all natural chicken breast for cats. Homestyle Select, a line of fresh refrigerated meals for dogs, debuted from Secaucus, N.J.-based Freshpet. And you can send greeting cards to your dog pals (made of natural rawhide and pet-safe non-toxic ink) courtesy of CrunchKins, Rancho Mirage, Calif. They were on display in the pressroom, and looked so good, journalists had to be stopped from sampling them.
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