Product Spotlight
Van’s Stuffed Sandwiches
An on-the-go meal that’s both hearty and all-natural? Consumers used to have a decision on their hands...

Product Spotlight

Van’s Stuffed Sandwiches
An on-the-go meal that’s both hearty and all-natural? Consumers used to have a decision on their hands: it was either an all-natural vegetarian sandwich or a cheese and meat stuffed hot pocket made with mainstream ingredients, says Jay Orris, director of marketing for Healthy Food Holdings, Boulder Colo. But that all changed with the debut of Van’s Stuffed Sandwiches, a new line of all-natural hand-held sandwiches launched byVan’s International, Vernon, Calif. (purchased by Healthy Food Holdings in 2006).

“We looked at the stuffed sandwich category, which is over $1 billion, and - knowing that 30 to 40 percent of consumers are interested in the natural, organic category - there’s an intersection there,” says Orris. “It’s a big category and there clearly are people interested, so we wanted to give them an alternative.”

Van’s says each sandwich has 8 to 10 grams of protein and is made with hormone-free pork. In addition, all varieties are antibiotic-, nitrite- and nitrate-free. “Van’s is very focused on getting things right - we’ve made a commitment to the consumer that what Van’s is offering is a better for you option than what conventional products are offering,” says Orris, adding that, “The target [for the Stuffed Sandwiches] is mostly moms 30 to 45 with families … looking for something that’s a more natural product they can feed to their kids.”

Van's new stuffed sandwiches come in two breakfast varieties and two anytime varieties: Sausage, Egg & Cheese, Western Style Egg & Cheese, Ham & Cheese and Uncured Pepperoni Pizza.

“We’re not a diet or nutrition facts company - we’re an ingredient panel company,” Orris notes. “We’re not so focused on low fat or low cal - our focus is making sure that we bring the ingredients to consumers that have that natural or organic benefit.”

Van’s also offers frozen waffles in a number of varieties. Both the sandwiches and waffles are for sale at natural-channel retail stores and some mainstream retailers as well.

Supplier Spotlight

Anchor Packaging’s Incredi-Bowls
Sometimes it pays to think small. At a time when consumers are clamoring for more quick and convenient grab-and-go soups and sides, Anchor Packaging has revisited its popular Incredi-Bowl container. The St. Louis firm has launched three single-serve containers that are ideal for in-store deli departments, c-stores, restaurant take-out counters and other applications.

Anchor’s original Incredi-Bowl line included 12- and 16-ounce containers. New 4800 Series products are bowls in 5-, 8- and 10-oz. portions - just right for single-serve hot sides and soups as well as other hot or cold foods.

“Our three new classic black bowls share a single clear, vented, anti-fog lid for excellent food visibility, making these Incredi-Bowls ideal for increasing visual appeal,” notes Greg Roder, director of sales, food processors. “And a secure-snap closure ensures a leak-resistant container that transports soups, gravies and other high-liquid items safely.”Anchor says it offers alternative closures, including a high clarity PET over cap lid, for non-microwaveable applications that can be used with or without heat-seal films. Officials note, too, that 4800 Series Incredi-Bowls offer the same-diameter bowl with three different ounce capacities - allowing versatility with one carrier plate footprint.

Adds Roder, “The Incredi-Bowl is competitively priced with other soup bowls that have far fewer performance capabilities. The Incredi-Bowl line is made of reusable and recyclable No. 5 PP (polypropylene). Microwave-safe and dishwasher safe, all of our polypropylene take-out containers provide an added bonus to consumers who can reuse the bowl again and again, before recycling.”

Show spotlights new organic foods

The All Things Organic Conference & Trade Show, April 26-29 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, will spotlight new organic retail products and product development trends. Organizers say the exhibition will have several themed “showcase” areas including those touting new products, “organic for kids” and organic private label offerings.

On Sunday, April 27, celebrity chef and Food Network star Bobby Flay will discuss (1) foodservice trends, (2) how best to respond to customer and consumer needs and (3) what’s ahead in foodservice. Another keynote speaker, John Moore, will discuss how to create, champion and implement branding and marketing ideas. Moore formerly was director of national marketing for Whole Foods Market. He also was a corporate retail marketing manager for Starbucks Coffee.

Sponsored by the Organic Trade Association (OTA), All Things Organic will be co-located with the Spring Fancy Food Show and the U.S. Food Export Showcase in an event billed as “The Global Food & Style Expo.” OTA projects that annual organic food and beverage sales during 2007 grew 18 percent to $19.7 billion.

Study: Health-oriented consumers prefer artisanal foods over "local"

Although “local” foods have generated publicity, new research suggests that consumers actually prefer artisanal foods - products viewed as unique or distinctive. The Natural Marketing Institute, Harleysville, Pa., last year asked members of its LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) consumer panel to rank various product attributes. In order, their responses favored artisanal foods, followed by fair trade, organic and local.

“The concept of buying local has received a great deal of media attention,” said NMI Managing Partner Steve French. “It was interesting to discover that of the four choices presented to them, consumers ranked it last, and that artisanal was by far the most important criteria. This observation points out the need to stay abreast of ever-changing consumer trends.”

Consider new products for growing African-American market

Packaged Facts, New York, projects that the buying power of 39 million African-Americans in the United States will reach $1.1 trillion by 2012.

“The African-American cohort continues to be a significant consumer segment that in some ways exercises more economic clout than the ever-popular Hispanic one,” says Tatjana Meerman. “African-Americans’ purchasing behaviors can differ in many ways, ranging from what is bought at the grocery store to clothing style and magazine preferences. Marketers should pay attention to these differences to execute marketing campaigns that target the many segments of this important demographic cohort.”

Convenience food growth prompts Hormel expansion

Citing increased demand for convenient meals, Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., said it expects this summer to begin building a 327,000-square-foot plant in Dubuque, Iowa. Total estimated cost for project is $89 million.

“Consumer demand for shelf-stable microwave meals is exploding,” said Jeffrey Ettinger, Hormel chairman, president and chief executive officer. “This investment will allow us to increase our production capacity and continue our leadership position through innovation and new products.”

Hormel already offers a diverse shelf-stable entrée line including Hormel Compleats microwaveable entrees and Hormel Kids Kitchen entrée cup products. Hormel said it expects the Dubuque facility - located close to Hormel’s primary grocery products distribution center - will be operational by November 2009.

In other news, Hormel said it will introduce Dinty Moore Big Bowls, microwaveable meals in a larger 15-ounce bowl. Varieties include Traditional Beef Stew, Chicken and Dumplings, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, Italian Stew with Meatballs and Southwest Chicken Stew. Suggested retail is $2.49.

Just the facts

On average, food travels 1,500 milesbefore it ends up in your mouth, according to Paul W. Birkeland, president of Integrated Renewable Energy. In addition, some studies estimate that more than 40 percent of the trucks on American highways are involved in food transport.
Source: Seattle Post Intelligencer

Tart cherries may be jam packed with positive health benefits - in addition to great taste. Scientists at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center found that rats given whole tart cherry powder mixed in with a high-fat dietgained less weight, had lower levels of cholesterol and fewer indications of heart disease and diabetes, than rats who did not receive the cherry powder.
Source: Innovations Report

Adults who eat an apple a day really might keep the doctor away. A recent study indicates that adults who eat apples, applesauce and/or apple juice have less risk of metabolic syndrome including -30 percentdecreased likelihood for elevated diastolic blood pressure and a 36 percent decreased likelihood for elevated systolic blood pressure, and a 21% percent reduced risk of increased waist circumference.
Source: U.S. Apple Association