The elf is the oven
Lumistella Co.’s The Elf on the Shelf is a Christmastime tradition for millions of families around the world. This holiday season, Hometown Food Co. is introducing three limited-edition Pillsbury Funfetti The Elf on the Shelf Cookie Mixes. They are hot cocoa cookie mix (chocolate cookies with marshmallows and red sprinkles), sugar cookie mix with candy bits (red and green sprinkles) and sugar cookie mix with peppermint candy cane sprinkles. The mixes retail for $2.50 to $5 per 15-oz. box, which makes 30 to 34 cookies.
“Funfetti has been inviting families to share in the joy of baking delicious treats together at home for the holidays, so we are excited to be partnering with the iconic Christmas brand,” says Dan Anglemyer, chief operating officer at Hometown Food Co., a Chicago-based company formed by Brynwood Partners in August 2018. The portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the Pillsbury brand’s shelf-stable baking products, including Funfetti, along with the Hungry Jack, Arrowhead Mills, White Lily, Jim Dandy, De Wafelbakkers and Martha White brands. Hometown expanded its portfolio of brands in January 2023 by acquiring the Birch Benders brand.
Pickles in your ketchup
Obsession with pickles is at a high, with 73% of Americans reporting that they enjoy the taste of pickles, according to an October 2023 report from Datassential. Also, Heinz ketchup and pickles have been enjoyed on burgers and hot dogs across America for more than 150 years. So Kraft Heinz Co. decided to put them together in one bottle with new Heinz Pickle Ketchup.
Over the past decade, the brand has embarked on an innovation expansion, doubling down on more nuanced flavor profiles and elevated dipping experiences. Pickle Ketchup will begin rolling out on shelves in the U.S. in early 2024. It is currently already in select retailers in the United Kingdom and will expanding globally in the coming year.
Sports nutrition in fun flavors
Optimum Nutrition, a global sports nutrition brand and part of Glanbia Performance Nutrition, has four new, limited-edition flavors intended to shake up what has become a boring chocolate and vanilla category. The new Gold Standard 100% Whey flavors are Cinnamon Roll and Fruity Cereal. One serving provides 24g of high-quality protein, offering consumers a flavorful way to reach their daily protein goals and fuel their post-workout or support muscle recovery. The powders can be mixed with milk or water, or incorporated into a smoothie. A 2-lb., 30-serving tub sells for $49.99.
The new Amin.O.Energy flavors are Citrus Spritz and Tropical Sunrise. One serving provides 100mg of caffeine from natural sources (green tea and coffee bean extract) for energy and focus and 5g of amino acids and electrolytes for hydration. An 8.5-oz., 30-serving tub sells for $29.99.
Flavor-packed frozen snack bites
Farm Rich is rolling out three new frozen finger foods exclusive to Walmart stores nationwide. Breaded Goat Cheese Bites feature a blend of goat cheese, mozzarella and cream cheese in a crispy breaded coating. Each four-piece serving has 10g of protein and 150mg of calcium. The 16-oz. package includes a side of hot honey dipping sauce.
The Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers have a sweet and savory flavor profile. They are breaded red peppers with a zesty cheddar cheese filling. Each 16-oz. carton has about five four-piece servings inside.
The third addition to Farm Rich’s Chicken Bites line is new Thai Style Chili Chicken Bites, which are all-white meat chicken fritters coated in breading. The consumer tosses them in the sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce that comes in the box. One serving contains 10g of protein. All of the new snacks can be prepared in a conventional oven, toaster oven or air fryer. They are priced around $6.68 at Walmart.
Growing lamb meat at retail
It’s been 30 years since Niman Ranch, a business of Perdue Farms, launched its lamb program through a partnership with McCormack Ranch in Northern California. Niman Ranch lamb is known for its high quality and sweet and subtle flavor that restaurants across the country feature as a branded menu item. As with the company’s beef and pork programs, the animals are Certified Humane and raised sustainably by independent family farmers and ranchers with no hormones or antibiotics ever.
To celebrate the three-decade milestone, the brand is rolling out its first value-added lamb products. Gyros is a blend of lamb, beef and spices, including pepper, oregano, marjoram and thyme. The merguez sausage is stuffed in natural lamb casings. It has a North African flavor profile with a blend of three different paprikas, harissa and cumin. Both are designed to be sold from the frozen specialty retail case.
These two new offerings tap into American eaters’ craving for global spices and new flavors to wake up their tastebuds. According to research from the American Lamb Board, gyros are America’s second favorite lamb dish behind only lamb chops, and the amount of merguez sausage found on restaurant menus has increased 10% in just the past year.
European plant-based meat enters U.S. retail
Following the success of Tindle in U.S. foodservice and in supermarkets across the UK and Germany, the company is now making its plant-based chicken alternative available for shoppers in select U.S. retailers on the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast, including grocery store chain Giant Eagle and online delivery service FreshDirect. This marks the first time that U.S. shoppers can find Tindle products in their grocery aisles.
The five varieties are “chicken” nuggets, patties, popcorn, tenders and wings. The product is made with only non-GMO ingredients. The base is texturized protein made with soy, wheat gluten and wheat starch. That base gets its flavor from a proprietary ingredient called Lipi, a combination of sunflower oil and natural flavors designed to simulate chicken fat.
In early autumn, the company rolled out Tindle Breakfast Sausage for foodservice, its first entirely U.S.-designed product. The patty features the traditional and nostalgic flavor profile of a classic American breakfast meat by combining sage, black pepper and other savory spices. One serving contains 8g protein and 4g fiber.