The freezercase represents a new frontier for Newman’s Own, the Westport, Conn.-based natural foods processor and marketer. But there’s nothing new about the philosophy behind the 25-year-old company’s new Thin and Crispy Frozen Pizza - its first foray into frozen food.

Product Spotlight

Newman’s Own Thin and Crispy Frozen Pizza

The freezercase represents a new frontier forNewman’s Own, the Westport, Conn.-based natural foods processor and marketer. But there’s nothing new about the philosophy behind the 25-year-old company’s new Thin and Crispy Frozen Pizza - its first foray into frozen food.

“For 25 years, our consumers have loved our all-natural products that help make delicious meals. So, we figured, why not make it easier and provide the whole meal!” says Mike Harvard, vice president of marketing.

The pizzas, which cook in 10 to 12 minutes, are made from all-natural ingredients including flax-seed crusts, uncured pepperoni, all-natural cheese and white-meat chicken. No artificial ingredients are used and they have zero grams of trans fats. In addition, the company says each pizza has fewer calories and carbohydrates per serving compared to “regular” crust pizza.

“We chose pizza as the entry point to the [frozen meals] category to complement our core strength with baby boomers and children of baby boomers with an all-natural, convenient and quality frozen pizza product that we knew would be embraced by these target consumers,” Harvard adds.

Varieties include Supreme, Four Cheese, Roasted Garlic and Chicken and Uncured Pepperoni. The pizzas are available in five test markets for $6.49 to $6.99 each. Pizzas are between 12.3-ounces and 14.7 ounces and come individually boxed. Packaging features an “all-natural look” that is cohesive with other Newman’s Own branded products.

Says Harvard, “This is the first frozen product for Newman’s Own and is being introduced now as part of the long-term strategic growth plan for Newman’s Own as the company enters the frozen meals category, a $10 billion market.”

He outlines the following goals for the pizza line: (1) Drive growth in revenue and proceeds for charity; (2) enhance relevance with consumers in reference to quality and convenience; (3) increase core strength with baby boomers and engage younger consumers; (4) provide a gateway to convenient frozen meals.

Supplier Spotlight

Hench Control Inc.’s new Operational Service Agreement program

Sometimes the best new products aren’t exactly products, per se . . . they’re services. Just askHench Control Inc.When new management took over this Hercules, Calif., business in 2007, the team believed its products - industrial refrigeration and energy management control systems - were second to none.

That said, one of the primary objectives this year has been to strengthen Hench’s customer communication and service. This summer that led the team to launch an Operational Service Agreement (OSA), a proactive, preventative maintenance and monitoring program.

Matt Chang is Hench’s vice president of marketing.

“We have an in-house tech center with expert technicians completely dedicated to energy management and how the Hench system maximizes the thermodynamic balance of our customers’ facilities,” he says. “These technicians monitor each facility once every week for a period of time - in real time - and review the trending from the previous period to not only fine tune our system but also to make recommendations, verify all set points, look at spikes, question machinery on local and basically do preventive maintenance. Then, we send out weekly reports related to energy use, savings and trending.”

Hench’s OSA plan consists of an Energy Report, an Operational Report and a Security Report.

The Energy Reportillustrates findings and makes dollars-and-cents recommendations to optimize the energy management system. These “energy savings” and “saving opportunities” are illustrated and break out into categories such as compressors, condensers, evaporators and other peripherals (including charging equipment, pumps, etc.). The report also measures the amount of carbon dioxide that is reduced by utilizing the energy management system.

The Operational Reportduplicates information found in the Energy Report, except for disclosing monetary figures. The report serves as a to-do list for the operator and maintenance personnel.

The Security Reportlogs when anyone accesses the system. Moreover, it notes how long the interaction took and what they were doing. This is critical in today’s environment, especially if there are multiple operators using the system.

Another important OSA feature is that all software upgrades and equipment replacement are automatically covered and included.

“This way, a facility will always have the latest and greatest new options for trending - or features such as an AlarmPager, Load Shedding, Power Cost Optimizing, etc.,” says Chang. “It also includes a replacement on all future parts for equipment.”

After what officials describe as a “soft launch” in 2008, the OSA program already is a success and bound for wider use in 2009. Customers currently using the program include Unilever, Sysco, VersaCold/Atlas (cold storage), Nestlé Canada and McLane Co. Inc. (distribution).

“We want to be accountable and develop an active relationship with our customers,” Chang concludes. “This way, our technicians are dedicated to their own customers and get to know their operations and personnel very closely. The key thing on the performance side is to ensure that everything is performing at its peak level and the energy savings are being maximized. The new OSA monitoring program takes care of this.”

ADS honors new Kraft packaging ...

Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., earned the 2008 “Package of the Year” award from The Association of Dressings and Sauces (ADS), which recently held its annual meeting in Naples, Fla. Kraft earned recognition for its pourable salad dressing bottle with side curves. David Ervin, marketing director-Kraft Salad Dressing, said the new contoured 8-ounce, 16-ounce and 24-ounce bottles also feature flip-top caps and clear labels. Most importantly, they require less plastic and have resulted in “a significant packaging material reduction,” he said. “Our optimized bottle design has also delivered additional sustainability benefits, including improved inbound transportation efficiency by 18 percent by allowing a great number of bottles per truckload and implementation of reusable totes for inbound closures -- eliminating the need for nearly 4,000 corrugated totes annually.”

... and new products from Cains, Ventura

Flavorful new Asian-inspired products also earned recognition at ADS’ annual meeting. Members awarded the “2008 Dressing of the Year Award” and the “2008 Sauce of the Year Award” respectively to Cains Foods L.P., Ayer, Mass., and Ventura Foods LLC, Brea, Calif. Honored as the best dressing was Cains’ Naturally Delicious Asian Sesame Vinaigrette. Ventura won best sauce honors with its Marie’s Sesame Ginger Dressing.

“Consumers are seeking new, exotic dressing flavors, such as Asian, Mediterranean or Tuscan,” noted Jim Stangl, Ventura’s executive vice president of manufacturing. “There has been tremendous growth in Asian-inspired cuisine and it was evident in our research that there was a real demand for a great tasting Sesame Ginger that was versatile enough to use as both a dressing and a dipping sauce.”

ADS members submitted award nominations and then voted after a blind taste test during the group’s May technical meeting in Memphis, Tenn. In each case, members voted for the dressing and sauce with the best overall taste.

Special R&D round-up

Nestlé, Unilever in the news

Nestlé S.A.,Vevey, Switzerland, said it opened a US$9.8 million research and development center in Beijing, Nestlé’s second R&D center in China and the company’s 24th worldwide. Officials say the new center will concentrate on food safety and quality, as well as nutrition and life sciences research, food technology, processing and packaging. Nestlé said its China researchers will collaborate with Chinese universities and research organizations in part, to research “benefits of traditional Chinese ingredients, as well as the ways that these and other ingredients can be included in foods and beverages in a bio-available form.” . . . Unilever PLC,London, opened a Centre of Excellence Assembled Foods, a global product development center, in Cisterna, Italy. The facility employs 50 researchers who will concentrate on more value-added, prepared foods including: selection and protection of high quality ingredients, product and process design, downstream product assembly and freezing and worldwide trend and product scouting.

National research center news

Dole Food Co.Chairman and owner David Murdock last month opened the $1.5 billion North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC), in Kannapolis, N.C. The 350-acre campus features three buildings including a 311,000-square-foot Core Lab (offering specialty equipment and labs for rent to campus tenants), the University of North Carolina Nutrition Research Institute Building and the North Carolina State Fruit and Vegetable Science Institute Building. Among 16 private companies joining the campus is PepsiCo, which said it plans to open a 4,000-square-foot lab within the Core Lab building. . . . More than 300 people also attended the October opening of theRutgersFood Innovation Center (FIC) in Bridgeton, N.J. The facility features a 23,000-square-foot food business incubator and processing facility. FIC is part of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers University. . . . ThePort of Columbiaat Dayton, Wash., said it plans to establish Blue Mountain Station, the “world’s first organic eco-food park,” somewhere in the state of Washington. Developers say the goal is to “create a cluster of artisan organic food processing companies” that will establish a unique manufacturing base and also enhance the area’s growing wine and food tourism industry. Officials note that Washington’s state Department of Agriculture and Washington State University are making major commitments to the organic industry.

Scientists look at satiety

TheAssociated Presssaid scientists at theInstitute of Food Research(IFR) in Norwich, England, are experimenting with foods that trick the body into a feeling of “satiety,” or fullness. Food expert Peter Wilde said researchers are focusing on the body’s mechanisms for digesting fat. Specifically, they are coating fat droplets in foods with modified proteins from plants so that it takes longer for enzymes break down fat. The goal, meanwhile, is to release a hormone that suppresses appetite.

Just the facts

Is eating out an option? According to a recent study,8 percent of Americans say eating out is a necessity. The report divided consumers into three categories: “Wanna Go,” “Gotta Go” and “Never Go.” The “Gotta Go’s” said the current economy makes them more likely to order less expensive meals and cut back on the “extras.” Meanwhile, one-fourth of the “Never Go” group said they prefer restaurants that serve familiar food, prefer to eat at home and don’t go out unless highly recommended.
Source: GfK Roper Report

Food companies are concerned about the impact of the current credit crisis. Some believe the credit crisis will have “very little” or “no impact,” but74 percent anticipate “moderate” to “great impact” on their company’s business and/or operations. More than 80 percent believe that the current economy will have a “direct impact on the overall food and beverage industry.”
Source: Clear Seas Research

What are consumers really thinking when it comes to breakfast, lunch and dinner? A new study of Americans’ eating patterns reports that: Stopping at restaurants for breakfast hit a new high this year; Americans arelosing interest in losing weightas dieting hits a new low this year; Probiotics is the "new" health topic while concerns about trans fat fades; and winter is becoming a new grilling season.
Source: NPD Group