Product Spotlight

BelGioioso Unwrap & Roll

You might compare BelGioioso Cheese Inc.’s new Unwrap & Roll Fresh Mozzarella roll or Prosciutto and Basil roll to a blank canvas. That’s because, the Denmark, Wis., company says customers can use these new products to express their creativity.

“Chefs and operators are looking for new, easy ways to develop menu items using fresh ingredients,” says Jamie Wichlacz, BelGioioso marketing manager. “During the development of the Prosciutto and Basil roll we realized that there are a variety of filling combinations that complement fresh mozzarella. Unwrap & Roll allows them to be creative and develop fresh menu items that fit the need of their customers.”

The rolls are 12-oz. each and come packaged eight to a case. Chefs and operators simply unroll the sheets and add ingredients such as pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, cured meats, fresh herbs or grilled vegetables. Then the rolls can be sliced and plated with salads, pastas, entrees or appetizers.

The company launched Unwrap & Roll at the American Culinary Federation’s national meeting this summer in Las Vegas.

“Attendees agreed that there are endless uses for Unwrap & Roll,” Wichlacz says. “Some had the opportunity to experiment with the product. They shared ways of using the product that we never envisioned such as … layering in lasagnas, panini and pizzas, wrapping it inside a roulade or creating a layered Caprese salad.”

The company adds that the all-natural cheese is made from fresh cow’s milk and contains no preservatives. The Prosciutto and Basil roll combines fresh mozzarella cheese with aged prosciutto and fresh basil pre-rolled and ready to slice and serve.

“The Unwrap & Roll will make it easy for chefs and operators to create signature applications,” Wichlacz adds. “Ingredients can be seasonal, regional or appropriate for any theme. … The swirl effect created by the rolling of the cheese and ingredients adds color and dimension to any dish.”

Supplier Spotlight

Alcan Packaging’s stand-up microwave steaming pouch

You say “po-taa-to,” I say “po-tay-to.”

Of course, the pronunciation really doesn’t matter. What really mattered this year was that Alcan Packaging Food Americas, Chicago, helped H.J. Heinz Co. develop the optimal microwave steam-cooking pouch for a new Ore-Ida product.

Alcan’s John McCurdy, business development manager, Food & Specialty Flexibles, says Alcan last fall was finalizing work on packaging materials and systems to create a high-performance steam-in pouch. At the same time, Heinz was seeking a packaging partner for its new Ore-Ida STEAM N’ MASH mashed potatoes product.

After the two companies found each other, the real work began.

“When we were awarded the business in December 2007, we were delighted, but knew we faced a challenge,” McCurdy adds. “Ore-Ida wanted production to start this May, which required incredible speed to market.

“While we were very pleased with our material’s performance and our venting technology in testing, we needed to ensure our structure withstood every demand of commercial application. Artwork needed to be developed and finalized in the process, as well. We were able to pull off a well-organized launch because we had terrific partners in the Ore-Ida team at Heinz.”

No less challenging was the application involving potatoes versus so many par-cooked vegetable offerings on the market.

“What makes this package unique is the performance level necessitated by the long cooking cycle of the product,” McCurdy notes. “Unlike other steam-in-bag applications that reheat par-cooked vegetables, these potatoes need to be completely cooked in the microwave – a process that takes about 10 minutes. In that time, the bag and its contents can become pretty hot. We developed a lamination uniquely suited to the higher temperatures attained in the longer cooking cycle."

How does the story end? McCurdy said Alcan met its May production deadline and that the product went into national distribution, starting this July.

“According to reports from the Ore-Ida brand team, trade reception has been phenomenal,” McCurdy says.

Heinz: Health and wellness, new products will be key for 2009, 2010

Addressing the annual shareholder’s meeting, H.J. Heinz Co. Chairman, President  and CEO William Johnson said the Pittsburgh-based company will drive growth through increased new product innovation, particularly that which addresses health and wellness. Likewise, the company will pursue strategic acquisitions and growth in emerging markets.

On the subject of health and wellness, Johnson said Heinz will continue to focus on “lifestyle” offerings (including reduced sodium, reduced salt formulations), children’s nutrition and weight management.

“Combined, our Weight Watchers Smart Ones and Weight Watchers from Heinz brands represent almost $1 billion in sales and together are among the fastest growing equities in the company,” Johnson said. “Smart Ones is rapidly becoming a lifestyle brand with an increasingly loyal consumer base and we continue to explore new meal occasions including the recent launch of Smart Ones Morning Express, a line of four hand-held breakfast sandwiches and quesadillas.”

Shifting to the broader topic of new products, Johnson noted: “Two of our newest innovations in the U.S. build on insights gleaned from extensive research, which revealed that consumers wanted added convenience while still feeling like they are an integral part of the meal preparation process. Ore-Ida Steam n’ Mash potatoes and T.G.I. Friday’s Complete Skillet meals satisfy both requirements.”

In other comments, Johnson noted that the four-item line of frozen Smart Ones Fruit Inspirations was on track to generate $40 million in sales during its first 12 months of distribution.

A peek inside Pinnacle Foods' new product process

More than ever, innovation will drive growth at Pinnacle Foods, the $1.5 billion parent to such well-known brands as Swanson frozen entrees, Aunt Jemima frozen breakfasts, Van de Kamp’s and Mrs. Paul’s frozen seafood and Lender’s frozen bagels.

In a recent interview, CEO Jeffrey Ansell toldUSA Todaythat Vlasic pickles and Mrs. Butterworth’s products were the company’s fastest growing brands in 2007. He said that reviving such iconic characters - among the many in Pinnacle’s portfolio - is “an important strategy” while Pinnacle continues work on both new products and upgrades that address health and wellness, convenience and packaging appeal.

Here’s how a few of the company’s frozen brands have addressed …

Packaging:Pinnacle gave Swanson a retro TV dinner look by adding an old television image and the words “Original TV Dinner” on the front panel.

Health and wellness:   New offerings and improvements include whole-wheat Lender’s bagels, Aunt Jemima frozen breakfasts with whole-grain pancakes and French toast and Swanson Hungry-Man dinners with grilled entrée selections.

Convenience:   Pinnacle developed Duncan Hines Oven Ready frozen, ready-to-bake brownie and cookie mixes. They’re packaged to go straight from the freezer - in their own packaging - and into the oven. Also new are Aunt Jemima pancakes, which are formulated to remain “light and fluffy” out the microwave, so consumers “can have a Sunday breakfast on a Monday” in just 30 seconds, said Chris Treston, former Aunt Jemima marketing director and Pinnacle’s current price strategy director.

General Mills, Nestlé to share new product, package insights

How do some of the nation’s largest CPG companies integrate consumer insights and trends research into new product development? Officials with General Mills Inc. and Nestle USA (Beverage Division) will address that topic duringBrandPackagingmagazine’s annual “Packaging That Sells” conference, Oct. 2-3, 2008, at Chicago’s Drake Hotel.

General Mills’ Lisa Osborne, manager of Consumer Insights, In-Context Experimentation, will share her company’s “in-context” philosophy, practical steps, applied principles and actionable business outcomes.

Osborne tellsBrandPackaging, “At General Mills - through our in-context qualitative research - we are able to connect with consumers and uncover what packaging ‘pops’ at shelf and why various design elements stand out to gain shoppers attention.”

Nestlé’s Joanna Yarbough, Beverage Division packaging manager, will discuss how Nestlé worked with Jamba Juice Co., , to translate the popular retailer’s equity into bottled, branded smoothies and juices. Joining Yarbrough will be Peter Clarke, president and founder of Product Ventures, a ,

Visit or for additional conference and speaker details.

Don't discount nutrition information, labeling in new package design

Nearly two thirds (65 percent) of U.S. consumers notice nutritional information on food packaging more often now than they did two years ago, according to an online poll by The Nielsen Co. The Schaumburg, Ill., market researcher also noted that about one in five U.S. consumers always check the nutritional information on food packaging and 42 percent check it when thinking of buying a product for the first time.

“Given that so many consumers are taking time to read nutrition labels, there is a marketing opportunity for food manufacturers to provide consumer-friendly information on labels that may entice shoppers to switch brands at the point of purchase,” said Deepak Varma, senior vice president for Nielsen Customized Research.

Just the facts

Noticing more sugar-free products on grocery shelves? It’s not just your imagination. Frequency and awareness of diabetes is on the rise in the U.S. Today, an estimated24 million people- or 8 percent of the population - are diabetic. In addition, the number of undiagnosed diabetic cases fell 5 percent from 2006 to 2007, meaning that diabetes awareness is on the rise.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

With rising prices at the gas station and at the grocery store, it’s not just lower income families that are having trouble making ends meet these days. According to recent research, 24 percentof consumers making between $55,000 and $99,000 per year say they are having difficulty buying the groceries they need. Meanwhile, 56 percent of those making $35,000 per year or less and 44 percent of those making $35,000 to $54,900 say the same.
Source: Information Resources Inc.’s “IRI Times & Trends Special Report: Competing in a Transforming Economy”

Have you had your beets and cinnamon today? In a recent issue of the New York Times, Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, was asked to name the top 11“best foods you aren’t eating”that are available at most grocery stores. On the list: beets, cabbage, Swiss chard, cinnamon, pomegranate juice, dried plums, pumpkin seeds, sardines, tumeric, frozen blueberries and canned pumpkin.
Source: The New York Times