Product Spotlight

Kashi Pocket Bread sandwiches

The days of scanning fast food menus and vending machines for lunch options are long gone. Today, consumers have a variety of healthier and more satisfying options.

The newest addition to the line up of better for you, on-the-go options? Kashi Pocket Bread sandwiches - hitting retail stores this month.

These frozen handheld pocket sandwiches heat in the microwave in four minutes, says La Jolla, Calif.-based Kashi (owned by Kellogg Co.). The heated pockets are all-natural and formulated with Kashi’s signature Seven Whole Grains & Sesame blend as well as vegetables, sauces and marinated chicken or turkey.

“At Kashi, we understand that people want foods that are not only quick and easy to prepare, but that also taste great and provide positive nutrition,” says Sarah Lowrey Ceccarelli, Kashi brand manager and nutritionist.

Each sandwich contains 21 grams of whole grains, four grams of fiber, between 10 and 15 grams of protein and 400 milligrams of ALA Omega 3 fatty acids. The sandwiches also are trans fat and preservative free.

Ceccarelli recommends consumers add a fresh salad or piece of fruit to make the pocket sandwiches an especially well-rounded lunch or snack.

“The pocket bread sandwiches are simple to prepare, which makes them a great choice for a quick lunch or in between errands,” she adds.

The pocket breads come individually packaged and cost $3.49 each. Varieties include:

Turkey Fiesta: Southwestern flavor includes a sauce with a hint of jalapeno as well as turkey, black beans, roasted corn and red onions.

Veggie Medley: A vegetarian option with roasted red peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli and white beans with a balsamic vinegar and basil sauce.

Chicken Rustico: A white wine tomato sauce with roasted garlic, parmesan cheese, marinated chicken, spinach and crimini mushrooms.

Supplier Spotlight

The G. Mondini EVO X-Series from Harpak Inc.

At a time when more consumers are choosing to eat at home, Harpak Inc., Easton, Mass., has something to help food companies produce more product at lower cost. The exclusive U.S. distributor of G. Mondini packaging equipment, Harpak, has introduced the G. Mondini EVO X-Series, a high-speed multi-lane tray sealer.

“This X-Series multi-lane tray sealing system reflects five years of research and development,” notes Senior Vice President Kevin Nolan. “G. Mondini recognized processors’ increasing demand for greater line capacity and efficiency.”

 Notes Vice President of Marketing Heidi Harlfinger, “This X-Series multi-lane tray sealing system has greatly increased a customer’s production capability. Other in-line systems are single or double lane machines with limited capacity. Depending on package size, the new X-Series system can produce up to 400 units per minute - including trays, cups, bowls or other packages.”

Harpak says servo technology enables the EVO to produce modified atmosphere packaging at a faster rate. Moreover, the machine’s “inside cut” application creates packages that are both more economical and attractive. Below-the-flange sealing allows for new and innovative lidding solutions. Beyond sealing at high speeds, Harpak can apply either snap “in” or “on” the top of rigid recloseable lids.

Recognizing other concerns, G. Mondini has designed all EVOs for quick changeovers and sanitary wash down. Sleek design features also mean the unit takes up less valuable floor space. “Mondini and Harpak have created a unique system that offers high capacity, turn-key production lines to our customers,” says Harlfinger. “A single supplier for these complex lines allows the customer a single point of contact for the development of their production/packaging line. And Harpak not only manages the integration of the primary and secondary components of a line, but also the ancillary equipment.”

Harpak offers topping dosers, piston fillers, lobe fillers and volumetric pocket filers. The multi-lane tray sealing system works alone or in tandem with Harpak’s full line of high-speed robotics, cartoning, case erecting, case packing and sleeving solutions.

Consumers choosing more "better-for-you" foods, fewer diet products

Eating better-for-you foods - rather than dieting - appears to be the weapon of choice against the battle of the bulge, according to the NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y. NPD reports that the percentage of adults on a diet has decreased by 10 points since 1990 while the percentage of Americans eating healthier has increased.

“While dieting for both women and men remain huge markets, they are not growing markets, says Harry Balzer, a vice president with NPD Group and author of Eating Patterns in America. “The desire to lose weight really was a ‘90s trend. Today, consumers appear to be making healthier food choices.”

NPD’s National Eating Trends data suggests that - at least once in a two-week period - more than 70 percent of Americans are consuming reduced-fat foods and more than half of them are eating reduced-calorie, whole grain or fortified foods. In addition to these foods, other better-for-you items consumed include diet, light, reduced-cholesterol, reduced-sodium, caffeine-free, sugar-free, fortified, organic and low-carb varieties. The average American, according to National Eating Trends, has at least two better-for-you products each day.

More new products boast eco-friendly claims

As more Americans express environmental concerns, processors are taking steps to convey eco-friendly product attributes. According to the Mintel Global New Products Database, Chicago, the number of new products with an environmentally friendly claim has grown substantially during the past five years. In 2002, only five such products were launched, but in 2007, there were a staggering 328. This was an increase of nearly 200 percent from just the year before.

“We’re seeing rapid growth in new products with environmentally friendly traits,” says Chris Haack, senior research analyst. “More than ever, shoppers want to purchase goods that help protect and preserve the world around them. Manufacturers have responded with everything from recyclable packaging to products that maintain the body’s health to entire brands that support environmental causes.”

According to Mintel, people especially look for eco-friendliness when shopping for household paper products (66 percent), food (57 percent) and energy efficient appliances (48 percent). The environment, a desire for pesticide-free foods and the rising costs of energy are driving people toward greener purchases. One new trend observed by Mintel involves foods that are not necessarily organic or natural, but address other environmental concerns. For example, some companies use Green Energy Credits logos on packaging, while others support major health associations.

Mintel estimates that almost 200 million Americans buy “green” products. Price, perceived value and convenience drive these purchases as more and more people take on a green lifestyle.

Developing a new product? Here are some of your consumer insights...

With budgets strained to the breaking point by skyrocketing gas, energy and food prices, American consumers are feeling the pinch and are re-evaluating what they buy and where they shop. That’s the conclusion of Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, which just released “Times & Trends: Competing in a Transforming Economy.” IRI says its report combines findings from its Economic Trend Database, AttitudeLink consumer surveys, Economic Shopping Behavior Longitudinal Database, InfoScan reviews and AllScan Convenience Store Tracking Service.

Key findings suggest that:

  • Escalating prices have bred exceptionally high price sensitivity, driving declining demand across multiple categories, growth in private label, trial of lower-priced brands and accelerated channel migration;

  • Long-standing consumer purchase drivers - including convenience and health and wellness - are losing some momentum. Consumers are foregoing ultra-convenience and some shoppers are unable to afford healthier foods;

  • Consumers are increasing purchases of basic ingredients and meal components due to reduced restaurant spending and they are decreasing purchases of “non-essentials.”

Just the facts

First it was beef, then it was pot pies and now tomatoes are the latest food to suffer from Salmonella-related scandal. No wonder consumers are concerned about food safety.  A recent 1,000-person study found that76 percentof those surveyed are more concerned about the foods they eat than they were five years ago.  Participants were especially worried about beef recalls (78 percent) followed by chicken recalls (67 percent).
Source: Deloitte Consulting

  Gluten, soy, nuts - the list of potential allergens goes on. In fact, it’s become such a concern in the food industry that Packaged Facts predicts the food-allergy and intolerance product market will reach$3.9 billionthis year. Meanwhile, Mintel estimates the gluten-free food and drink market alone will reach $1.3 billion by 2010 - up from $700 million in 2006.
Source: The Wall Street Journal

  According to The Nielsen Co.’s recent analysis of macroeconomic variables, historical trends and consumer behavior, consumer packaged good products that are mostrecession-proof (or least vulnerable to a recession) include: seafood, dry pasta, candy, beer and pasta sauce. Among those products most vulnerable to a recession are: carbonated beverages, eggs, cups/plates, food prep/storage items and tobacco.