Product Spotlight: Kraft Bagel-fuls

What’s even easier to grab and go for breakfast than a bagel and cream cheese? How about a bagel with the cream cheese already inside it?

Bagel-fuls - a new frozen breakfast product from Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. - now makes a plate and knife unnecessary for the “most important meal of the day.”

“Convenient and portable breakfast items are increasingly important for consumers with busy lifestyles,” says Basil Maglaris, Kraft’s senior manager of corporate affairs. “Bagel-fuls is ideal for busy consumers - especially busy women - looking for a delicious, warm breakfast that can be enjoyed on the go.”

Kraft describes Bagel-fuls as “all-in-one bagels filled with Philadelphia-brand cream cheese.” They feature an easy grab-and-go shape, rather than the traditional round bagel shape. Although the product will be merchandised in the freezercase, it can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and can be served straight out of the refrigerator or heated in the microwave or toaster.

“As part of Kraft’s three-year turnaround plan, we are reframing our product categories to better meet consumer needs,” Maglaris explains. “One way we’re reframing our offerings is to offer quick meal solutions - like Bagel-fuls - to increasingly busy customers.”

In addition, Kraft says Bagel-fuls are a good source of calcium and seven other vitamins and minerals. Each Bagel-ful is 200 calories or less and six grams of fat or less.

Kraft plans a national grocery store roll-out of five varieties starting this April. Varieties include: Original (plain bagel/plain cream cheese), Cinnamon (cinnamon and brown sugar bagel/cinnamon cream cheese), Whole Grain (whole grain bagel/plain cream cheese), Strawberry (plain bagel/strawberry cream cheese) and Chive (plain bagel/chive cream cheese).

Both Original and Cinnamon also are available to foodservice providers and for vending and c-store channels.

Maglaris notes, “Bagel-fuls will be introduced through an integrated marketing campaign including national TV advertising, a New York City launch event, a 20+ city local market sampling tour and in-store sales promotions.”

At retail, Bagel-fuls will be sold in 10-oz. boxes, each containing four 2.5-oz. servings. The suggested retail price is $2.39.

Equipment Spotlight: Blentech Corp.'s HydraTherm

There’s possibly no other machine like it. Using a full absorption method, the HydraTherm from Blentech Corp., Rohnert, Calif., can continuously cook rice, small grains and even short pastas. There’s possibly no other machine like it. Using a full absorption method, the HydraTherm from Blentech Corp., Rohnert, Calif., can continuously cook rice, small grains and even short pastas.

Blentech says it developed HydraTherm in partnership with a Japanese customer that was concerned about waste water. After researching the issue, Blentech created HydraTherm with precise controls so that the only water used is that required to hydrate the product for target hydration (and precise yields). This translates to no waste water to clean.

“Precise control is important because hydration water is critical for cooked rice quality -- as all types of rice have different stages of hydration," says Nick Tetlow, Blentech sales manager. "This is particularly important with value-added dishes involving Asian ‘sticky’ rice, Spanish rice, flavored rice, Basmati pilaf and similar grain products.”

Blentech says its full-absorption method meters a combination of hot water and steam through different zones to achieve a customer-defined hydration and quality level. This full hydration eliminates starch-laden effluent, a costly by-product of conventional excess-water rice cooking systems. Tetlow notes Blentech's HydraTherm mixes as it conveys, so processors can prepare flavored rice or small grains with liquid and particulate ingredient additions without dilution.

The HydraTherm will cook all varieties, from Arborio to Wild Rice – including Basmati, Jasmin, CalRose, Texas Long Grain and short-grain glutinous (sticky rice, such as Akita Kamachi). Production rates range from 300 pounds per hour to 4,500 pounds per hour depending on grain variety and hydration levels, with pre-rice washing and soaking systems.

“The HydraTherm is PLC-controlled and completely automated so a single operator can manage the entire system," Tetlow adds. "The PLC controls the intermeshing agitators to convey the rice forward, whilst gently mixing the rice so that all kernels are evenly heated and hydrated, without creating shear and causing starch release. The PLC-based recipe program precisely controls the rate of water addition at the different hydration zones to achieve end user-defined cook yields.”

Refrigerated, frozen among 2007's "most successful" new products

Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, used its 2008 IRI Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit in Orlando to release the annual “New Product Pacesetters” report - a look at those brands and new products beating the odds for success during their first full year of sales.

Among the top 10 performers during 2007 (ranked by annual sales) were Birds Eye Foods’ Steamfresh frozen vegetables ($87 million), Dannon Co.’s DanActive probiotic dairy drinks ($63 million) and Dannon’s Activia light yogurt ($62 million). IRI said its data reflect total “year one” dollar sales across food, drug and mass channels, excluding Wal-Mart.

“These brands are case studies in how to surpass abysmally low new product success rates in the CPG marketplace, where less than 5 percent of new brands reach $50 million in year one sales,” said Anne Berlack, IRI’s executive vice president of Business and Consumer Insights. “The New Product Pacesetters report highlights not only the brands that won over consumers but also what distinguishes them from the thousands of other products available on store shelves today.”

PLMA's Sharoff: Time for more private label innovation

Speaking at a processor’s annual leadership meeting, Private Label Manufacturers Association President Brian Sharoff said retail managers and manufacturers need to become more innovative with new products. “In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, private label programs must go beyond the ‘me-too’ mentality that seldom ventures far from the standards set by big national brands,” Sharoff told Bay Valley Foods executives. “Private label needs to focus more than ever on building a new product development capability that effectively responds to the changing needs of American consumers.”

Sharoff later added, “To realize the full potential of store brands, manufacturers and retailers must become more innovative and creative. Some private label programs are already adopting this new approach. You can see it in Safeway’s O organics and Eating Well health-oriented ranges, as well as Kroger Co.’s licensing agreement with Disney for children’s products, and the steady stream of creative new food products offered by Trader Joe’s.”

Experts say most new products aren't memorable

More than three-quarters of 1,000 U.S. consumers couldn’t recall a new product introduced during 2007, according to research by Information Resources Inc. (IRI), New Products magazine, comScore and Schneider Associates. These researchers suggest that only 23 percent of study respondents could even remember a new product introduced last year.

Speaking to MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, New Products Editor Joan Holleran noted, “The [new product] message isn’t getting through. It’s like consumers are saying: ‘Could you spend a little more on research and development, instead of creating line extensions?’”

Added Char Partelow, IRI’s senior vice president for business and consumer insights, “Companies need to be more savvy about marketing their [new] products. You need to be where [consumers] are.”

Among the top five most memorable new products (in order) were Apple’s iPhone, Microsoft’s Windows Vista, Febreze candles, Domino’s Oreo Dessert Pizza and Alli, an over-the-counter diet aide. What did these products have in common? Experts said one similarity was that their marketing approach was broad - extending beyond common media - to include targeted blogs, word-of-mouth programs and PR-generated coverage.

Study: New product activity helps top line, hurts bottom line

A study analyzing inventory levels and productivity at top retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers - including Wal-Mart, Costco, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Hershey, Colgate and Unilever - found that CPG manufacturers failed to significantly reduce system-wide inventory levels, despite investments in advanced supply chain planning and tracking tools.

As reported by IndustryWeek, Archstone Consulting, based in Stamford, Conn., found that new product introductions designed to increase top-line growth have made continuous cost and inventory reductions challenging for both CPG companies and retailers. New product introductions in the CPG industry reached 1,700 in 2006, representing growth of more than 25 percent compared to the three preceding years. A similar growth rate was predicted for 2007.

Noted Archstone’s David Sievers, consumer products and retail practice leader, “If retail spending weakens further in 2008 - given our uncertain economic environment - we predict increased focus on inventory levels across the supply chain as products sit on shelves or in distribution centers longer.”

Just the facts

Organic household penetration has increased, according to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), a Harleysville, Pa.-based marketing and consulting firm. Fifty-nine percent of households have integrated organic products into their lifestyles compared to57 percentin 2007. Further, households “devoted” to the organic lifestyle grew to 18 percent in 2007, according to NMI’s research.

Source: Natural Marketing Institute

A recent study reveals that U.S. consumers are making fewer shopping trips in order to cut back on transportation costs and other economic pressures. While most retail channels sawshopper frequencydecline or remain flat -- superstores, which allow consumers to combine several shopping trips into one stop -- showed growth in shopper frequency.

Source: Nielsen Consumer Panel Services

Consumers think that the U.S. economy currently is experiencing or soon will experience an economic downturn or recession, according to a recent study. Forty-three percent of consumers said that the U.S. economy is currently experiencing a downturn and36 percent said that we were heading for one, while 9 percent said they do not expect a recession to occur and 12 percent said they don’t know or aren’t sure.

Source: The NPD Group