Product Spotlight

Gluten Free Cafe Frozen Entrees

According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, approximately one in every 133 people has Celiac Disease, an intolerance for foods that contain gluten. Others give up on gluten for other reasons.

“Some people are also giving up gluten because they associate it with causing other health related problems such as migraines, chronic fatigue and depression,” says Kim McGowan, senior brand manager, frozen foods at The Hain Celestial Group Inc., Melville, N.Y.

Traditionally, gluten-free dieters have been limited in their menu options, but this fall, Hain Celestial launched Gluten Free Café, a line of frozen meals “developed completely for those with gluten intolerance.”

“Our Gluten Free Café items were developed to make dining delicious, nutritious, more convenient and affordable for those who are gluten intolerant,” says Elaine Giordano, associate brand manager. “We are the only line of all natural gluten free frozen food entrees that are fortified with vitamins, minerals and a prebiotic; and certified by the Gluten Free Certification Organization.”

All four varieties are made with all natural ingredients and are fortified with vitamins B1, B2, B3, Folic Acid and vitamin D, as well as minerals such as iron and calcium. The meals also contain inulin, a prebiotic fiber to support digestion.

In order to get the word out about the new products, Giordano says Hain Celestial is directly working with the gluten-free community through support groups, newsletters and associations.

A Gluten Free Café Web site will go live on December 1 to educate consumers about the products’ nutritional information and ingredients.

“The Hain Celestial Group promotes a healthy way of life. That includes products that are all natural and free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives with no genetically engineered ingredients, no hydrogenated oils and no trans fat,” Giordano adds. Coupons and advice from gluten free lifestyle expert Danna Korn also will be available on the Web site.

The meals come in three vegetarian varieties - Pasta Primavera, Asian Bowl and Fettuccini Alfredo - and a protein-based meal, Lemon Basil Chicken.

“Our biggest challenge was making our Gluten Free Café frozen items at an affordable price point,” Giordano says. “We are committed to launching gluten free frozen foods at affordable prices - unlike other gluten free goods that carry high price tags.”

The microwavable meals are sold in single-serve 9.2-ounce trays and have a suggested retail price of $4.99 to $5.49.

Supplier Spotlight

Dorner’s Z-Frame for QWIK Conveyor 5200 Series

Dorner Manufacturing Corp., Hartland, Wis., used the recent Pack Expo/Process Expo exhibition in Chicago to unveil its latest new product: a Z-Frame for the company’s popular QWIK Conveyor 5200 series.

Officials say the Z-Frame allows end-users to quickly and easily change product heights on QWIK conveyors without conveyor-to-conveyor transfers. In addition, the new Z-Frame is integrated into a single conveyor system, allowing users to avoid added costs associated with additional pulleys and drives.

“The Z-frame is an ideal addition to our QWIK conveyor platform,” says Glenn Schulz, Dorner vice president of engineering. “Our customers now have virtually limitless combinations of straights, inclines, declines and curves - which translates into important manufacturing flexibility. With our QWIK conveyors, end-users can truly rest assured knowing they’ll be able to build and modify their system to meet changing line requirements.”

Schulz says Dorner’s QWIK conveyors (introduced in fall 2007) are designed to change as quickly as manufacturing needs. They may be easily reconfigured using just a few basic tools and are available in a variety of sizes to fit numerous applications. QWIK conveyor features and benefits include:

- Modular, 15-degree curve segments for quick and easy reconfiguration;

- Completely contained belt, which eliminates centenary sag and reduces pinch points;

- Integrated low-voltage, wireway with snap-in cover;

- QWIK Slots for fast and simple mounting of controls and accessories;

- Patented sprocket alignment key for quick belt assembly;

- Air and wiring management systems, which speed system set-up;

- Conveyor lengths of up to 100 feet;

- Conveyor speeds of up to 250 feet per minute;

- Unmatched delivery speed (product ships five days after order is placed).

Retail observers: "Consumers too stressed to remember new products"

Rising food and gas prices, fear of economic recession and attention-grabbing political campaigns all captured consumers’ attention during 2008 - leaving very little room left for notable new products. That’s the bottom line assessment from the seventh annual Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey (MMNPL), conducted by research firms Schneider Associates, Mintel International and Information Resources Inc.

In fact when asked about new products from 2008, 69 percent of consumers surveyed could not remember a single new item launched during the year. Even the year’s most memorable new product - Wii Fit - was recalled by 22 percent of respondents in aided recall.

“2008 was a year of distractions, with the average American’s attention pulled in many different directions simultaneously,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of Trend Insight for Mintel, Chicago.

Echoing Dornblaser’s point, Char Partelow, senior vice president-Panel Consulting Group with IRI, also based in Chicago, said:

“Because many people can only afford the basics, they’re sticking to what they know - products and services that bring them comfort. We found that ‘a trusted brand name’ ranked as the number one quality respondents looked for when buying new products. Many Americans are simply less interested in ‘risking it’ on a new product.”

Staying with what they know likely explains the prevalence of familiar food and drink brands on the MMNPL survey winners list. Of the products most frequently remembered in aided recall, five were twists on familiar foods and drinks: Bud Light Lime, McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Biscuit & Sandwich, Kraft Mac & Cheese Crackers, Gatorade G2 and Yoplait Fiber One.

“Consumers recalled new products launches from brands they know and love,” said Julie Hall, vice president for Schneider Associates, Boston. “Kraft and Bud Light are trusted brands that gave people a new variation on something familiar.”

Schwan, NutriSystem ink new product deal

The Schwan Food Co., Marshall, Minn., said its Schwan’s Home Service business will develop and distribute NutriSystem Select, a new line of frozen foods within NutriSystem’s weight loss and weight management program.

Joe Redling is chairman and CEO for NutriSystem, Horsham, Pa.

“Moving into the frozen food category and expanding our customer base through Schwan’s home delivery infrastructure is intended to solidify our position as a major player in the weight loss category.”

Said Greg Flack, Schwan CEO, president and COO, “We are pleased to announce this new business alliance with NutriSystem as it offers our companies an innovative solution for the consumer in the weight loss market. The partnering of our companies affords us the ability to unite and optimize our individual expertise together in order to deliver great-tasting, healthful products for the consumer with the convenience of home delivery.”

Schwan expects to begin offering the new line in the first quarter of 2009.

Mintel predicts tomorrow's flavor trends

Tomorrow’s new products won’t be bland, mild or boring. Mintel, a Chicago supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, has forecast the following flavor trends for 2009.

1.Persimmon: This unique, exotic fruit is poised for greater food, beverage exposure. It’s sometimes blended with more common fruits, such as a Japanese yogurt featuring white peaches, persimmon and apricots.

2.Starfruit: Another fruit known for distinct flavor and shape, starfruit already is showing up in chutneys.

3.Lavender: Lavender appears ready to spread beyond home and personal care products into foods and beverages (such as chocolate) where it adds a naturally soothing, aromatic quality.

4.Cactus: Already a popular flavor in Latin America, one new offering in Mexico pairs cactus and corn in a tortilla.

5.Chimichurri: Recognized for its clean, clear flavor, this Latin American sauce is popular on grilled meats.

6.Peri-Peri: This African hot sauce already appears in U.K. restaurants.

7.Masala: On the heels of curry comes masala, another popular Indian-inspired flavor.

Technomic: new products drive spike in October menu activity

Foodservice market researcher Technomic Inc., Chicago, said that despite declining sales and cost-cutting measures, chain restaurants introduced a record 547 new menu items in October.

“With consumers cutting back on eating out, restaurants needed to find new ways to bring customers through their doors,” said Bernadette Noone, Technomic senior program manager. “Many chains are using limited time offers (LTOs) as a cost-effective way to trial new items before doing large roll-outs.” cutting measures, chain restaurants introduced a record 547 new menu items in October.

Citing its MenuMonitor survey of the nation’s top 250 chain restaurants, Technomic said restaurant operators identified 157 new foods as “back on the menu,” another 197 as LTOs and 193 items as new. The total number of new offerings, 547, was 40 percent higher than the 2008 monthly average to date. cutting measures, chain restaurants introduced a record 547 new menu items in October.

By category, the largest numbers of new October items involved lunch/dinner entrees (273 items) followed by desserts (96), appetizers (49), breakfast entrees (48), non-alcoholic beverages (29) and adult beverages (20). Side dishes (17), healthy items (12) and add-ons (3) rounded out the list. In terms of flavor, notable October menu flavors included pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, pecan and chipotle.

Just the Facts

Lots of people have an excuse to indulge this holiday season - they already are eating healthy. Of those consumers surveyed by the American Dietetic Association, more than56 percentsay they are eating more whole-grain foods, while 50 percent are eating more vegetables. Forty-eight percent are eating more fruits and 42 percent are eating more chicken.
Source: The American Dietetic Association, ‘Nutrition and You: Trends 2008”

What’s for lunch today? According to a recent survey, fewer consumers are dining out at quick-serve restaurants. A new report from M/A/R/C Research indicates that48 percentof consumers have eaten fast food less often over the last three months. The majority of those that increased fast food intake said they chose QSRs because they were convenient and allowed them to save gas.
Source: M/A/R/C Research

According to a recent survey, 40 percent of moms say they are currently “stressed” about their family life, while 30 percent say they are “happy with the way things are.” In the “State of the American Mom 2008” report,75 percentof moms said they have been using leftovers more this year in an effort to save money.
Source: Marketing to Moms Coalition