Product Spotlight

Oscar Mayer Mini Hot Dogs

They say that size doesn’t matter. However, anyone who has enjoyed eating finger-food or nabbed mini “fun size” chocolate bars on Halloween knows that - at least in some cases - smaller is better.

Perhaps this explains why Oscar Mayer Foods, Madison, Wis., launched Mini Hot Dogs to celebrate its 125th anniversary. Each mini “snack size” hot dog weighs about one-half ounce.

“The Mini Hot Dogs are packaged in a convenient, stand-up refrigerator pouch with an easy-to-use resealable sliding zipper,” says Sydney Lindner, associate director, Corporate Affairs, Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer’s parent company. “Just warm them in the microwave for under a minute and you’ve got a great after-school snack with the goodness of protein.”

Mini Hot Dogs come in two varieties: Mini Beef Hot Dogs and Mini Cheese Hot Dogs. Both varieties come in stand-up pouches of approximately 20 mini dogs. The hot dogs are “sure to be a hit with both moms and kids,” Lindner adds. “They’re easy to prepare and a great after-school snack.”

The Mini Hot Dogs can be found in supermarket refrigerated meat cases and retail for $2.89 a bag.

Meanwhile, the hot dog isn’t the only miniaturized Oscar Mayer icon. To promote its newest product, Kraft also downsized the Oscar Mayer “Weinermobile.” Lindner says a new Mini Wienermobile uses a BMW Mini Cooper ‘S’ chassis, stands 15 feet long, 8 feet high and weighs 3,400 pounds. By comparison, the standard Weinermobile is 27 feet long, 11 feet high and 8 feet wide and weighs 14,050 pounds.

Although Oscar Mayer has expanded its Weinermobile “fleet” 11 times since 1936, this is the first Mini Weinermobile, Lindner notes.  

Supplier Spotlight

Huhtamaki’s Velocity packaging system

At a time when sustainability and “green” issues are gaining speed in the marketplace, Huhtamaki, Desoto, Kan., has a packaging system with an apt name: Velocity. A new package from Oberto Sausage Co. provides an example. The Kent, Wash., meat company processes and distributes individually-wrapped Oh Boy! Oberto Beef Jerky sticks to retail stores nationwide.

“Oberto was interested in improved retail graphics presentation and sustainable packaging benefits for this growing, individually wrapped beef jerky stick market,” says Penny Staats, marketing manager for Huhtamaki’s Consumer Goods Division. “The Velocity container display format supports strong graphics presentations, effective product display through window effects on the container and easy open-and-reclose consumer conveniences.”

Meanwhile, the Velocity system offers Oberto sustainable benefits on multiple levels. For starters, officials say the engineered polypropylene (PP) container provides needed package integrity and product safety without “over packaging.” Moreover, the PPmaterial could be recycled.

And because the finished container is lighter than many other paper or rigid plastic alternatives, this container is more efficient to ship by comparison. There are even more behind-the-scenes benefits. Oberto is involved in a Huhtamaki Systems program whereby containers (round, in this case) are formed inside Oberto’s plant - upstream from the production line - on a Huhtamaki in-plant machine.

"The components for these straight-sided canisters are sent to the producer flat and ready to be formed on demand before they are filled on the production line,” said Staats. “This process can lead to reductions in fuel, transportation and warehousing costs versus other packaging options.  Moreover, this efficient use of the space by shipping flat components - compared to pre-formed goods - could increase by as much as 90 percent in comparison.”

For the record, officials say Huhtamaki’s Velocity containers use PP sidewalls that are formed around mandrels on the forming equipment - very similar to paperboard equipment - also designed, built and supported by Huhtamaki. The sidewalls are pre-printed on six-color, off-set lithography presses, with 100 percent ink coverage possible on opaque and clear sheets.

Huhtamaki Systems solutions are applicable for rigid paperboard, rigid plastic and some molded fiber packaging applications. Staats says Huhtamaki’s Velocity container also would be ideal for many refrigerated product applications, including cultured dairy products.

New breakfast products? Starbucks touts better for you

This month finds Starbucks stores nationwide offering six new breakfast items including hot oatmeal; an energy bar; a whole-grain apple bran muffin (with fruit pieces); a multi-grain roll (served with almond butter and strawberry preserves); a whole-grain fruit pastry and a “Power Protein Plate” with hard-boiled egg, small whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter, Cheddar cheese wedge, apple slices and grapes.

“Food has been our Achilles’ heel,” said founder and CEO Howard Schultz, in an interview withUSA Today. “This [move to revamp breakfast, lunch and dinner menus] is as big an initiative as anything we can do.”

Nebraska honors "Best New Beef Product" from Tyson Food Service

A Yankee Pot Roast from Tyson Food Service earned best new product honors from the Nebraska Beef Council (NBC). The group recognizes new, creative and different beef offerings with high sales potential. Tyson’s Yankee Pot Roast won the “Consumer/User-Friendly” category (retail or foodservice items) for entries that can be prepared in 20 minutes or less by a consumer or restaurant operator. Entries also have to involve value-added beef that is either ready-to-serve or ready–to-cook.

“Our judging committee applauds Tyson Food Service for the creation of Yankee Pot Roast, which we believe not only has exceptional taste but has the versatility to be quite useful to foodservice operators everywhere,” said Ann Marie Bosshamer, NBC executive director.

In recognition, NBC said it will award Tyson Food Service up to $20,000 in marketing dollars to promote the new offering.

Next big thing: Energy-infused food ...

Now that we’ve seen energy-infused drinks, are foods next? You bet, writes global trend watcher CScout Inc. The firm’s New York office recently profiled several caffeine-infused offerings, including Engobi snack chips (Rudolph Foods Co.), NRG Phoenix Fury potato chips (Golden Flake Snack Foods) and Sumseeds sunflower seeds (Dakota Valley Products).

Writes Cscout’s Cate Trotter,“This trend shows that consumers may be distinguishing between somewhat unhealthy stimulants, which they desire, and high sugar content in drinks, which they do not. Stimulants could be infused into many other foods - breakfast foods may be a particularly good candidate, including energy-giving cereals, breads and spreads. There may also be an opportunity in the sports or bodybuilding market to develop very specific functional meals, for example a pre-gym meal of chicken infused with taurine to boost performance and results.”

... about to get bigger, observers say

From 2003 to 2008, the retail energy drink market grew 400 percent to $4.8 billion, according to Mintel, Chicago, a global trend tracker. As energy-related drinks become commonplace, Mintel also sees the trend transitioning to foods.

“Energy bars are familiar to many Americans but other energized foods- such as candy, chips, milk and cereal - are definitely not,”says Krista Faron, one of Mintel’s senior new product analysts.“We expect the concept of ‘energy’ - both physical and mental - to greatly influence food product development.

“Energy is poised to take food in a new direction, giving consumers who need a boost many different ways to get it. From natural energizers like Omega 3s or antioxidants to foods that are fortified with energizing ingredients, we are seeing ‘energy’ emerge as a core benefit in new food products.”

Small business site talks up European tastes, trends

Entrepreneur.comrecently profiled five European tastes and trends that U.S. business owners may want to consider. One of them is “sous vide” (under vacuum), which entails cooking food in airtight bags in below-boiling temperatures for long periods of time. Afterward, the food may be frozen and later reheated by simply boiling the bag. Started in France, the process can make food more tender and help it retain its flavor.

Among U.S. processors using a sous vide format is Cuisine Solutions Inc., an Alexandria, Va.-based company that was one ofRefrigerated & Frozen Foods’ “Ones to Watch” in October 2007. also profiled olive oil “on tap,” gastropubs (drinking establishments becoming equally known for high-quality food), designer mixed drinks and pay-at-the-table credit payment technologies.  

Just the facts

Cheers to your health! Driven by the health and wellness trend, superpremium juices have grown to a more than$660 millionindustry. A recent study reports that the superpremium juice sector - including 100 percent natural juices fortifying with “superfruits” and antioxidants - increased by 12.8 percent last year.
Source: Beverage Marketing Corp

Rising food costs or not,79 percentof American adults said they do not want to sacrifice on the quality of the foods they buy. In addition, according to a recent survey, 70 percent of adults said they would prefer to buy natural or organic foods if prices are comparable. Still, 37 percent said they look for lower cost items and 40 percent said they were using coupons more frequently.
Source: Whole Foods Market

Mushroom burgers? This no-meat sandwich alternative may become a more common menu item for those watching their weight. John Hopkins University researchers gave one group of volunteers lasagna, sloppy joes, chili and napoleons prepared with mushrooms and gave another group the same meals prepared with meat for four consecutive days. They found that mushroom eaters reduced daily calorie and fat intake by420 calories and 30 grams, respectively. Meanwhile, participants found the mushroom dishes to be palatable and filling.
Source: Appetite, July 2008