September 2005 New Food Rollout

New products from Sara Lee Bakery, Kellogg, Liberty Richter, ConAgra/Hunt’s, Moet Hennessy and General Mills.

By Diane Toops, News and Trends Editor

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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."

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