A Snapshot of New Food and Beverage Trends

What new products have you been noticing in the marketplace?  Here’s an overview of the latest trends identified  by Prepared Foods , along with some of my own observations.

Shots for Health

Promises of better health and more energy are coming in smaller packages these days.  First it was energy shots.  Now it’s all about health in a mini bottle.  Lifeway Foods Inc. released a line of shots that claim to improve immunity, digestion and heart health.  The  3.5oz Lifeway BioKefir shots have 60 calories each and promise more than 20 billion units of live and active probiotic activity, which the company says is twice the amount found in other regular kefir varieties.

lifeway shots

Latest Buzz Words: Pure and Artisan

The simplicity trend has sprouted a new word that is increasingly found on food labels:  pure.  I guess the word is intended to conjure up images of real, less processed, natural and “clean” (another big buzz word). Some examples include  Pure Bars, Crystal Light Pure Fitness, Silk Pure Almond Milk and even the chewing gum I just bought Dentyne Pure (although that’s more about purifying your breath).

crystal_light_pure_fitness_01cherry-cashew-pure-barThe term “artisan” is also coming on strong.   It’s not so much a nutrition-focused claim, but the description might have a bit of a health halo — helping to position the product as close to homemade, local or prepared with care.

284839-Fresh_ExpressChiquita Brands International Inc. is adding the moniker to its Fresh Express line of salads. This four-unit line aims to “bring the taste of the four seasons with ingredients cultivated by artisanal growers.”  The packaging touts “grown in small crops” to communicate the artisanal approach.

The varieties include some lesser-known greens, such as the Sierra Crisp lettuce with mild red baby butter lettuce (complemented with herbs parsley and chervil).  The Wild Rocket Zest salad blends peppery Wild Rocket (a variety of arugula) with such complex greens as mustard and Tatsoi.

7e19d258f7524b969ea7307b828f23fcArtisan is a term that’s now all over Starbucks.  Have you noticed?  That’s how the coffee chain describes its breakfast sandwiches and snack plates — including this fruit, nut and cheese artisan snack plate.

Crunch Time

parfait-300x251The increased interest in health and wellness has not diminished the demand for indulgences, and products that can combine the two trends have proven particularly successful. Yogurts and yogurt drinks, for instance, have seen U.S. sales grow 32% since 2004 to reach $4.1 billion in 2009.

To capitalize on the popularity of yogurt fruit parfaits in foodservice outlets from McDonald’s to Panera Bread, Breyers Yogurt Company has introduced YoCrunch Fruit Parfait, which the company claims will provide a foodservice-like layered fruit, yogurt and granola parfait. Available in blueberry, peach and strawberry varieties, the treat has a visible layer of fruit, topped by vanilla low-fat yogurt and a top layer of crunchy granola, but it has a calorie count of 120 calories, well less than the 310 found in Panera Bread’s yogurt fruit parfait.

Whole Grain Gains

Americans fall far below the recommended amounts of whole grains and many food companies are reformulated products to help close this whole grain gap.  Kraft Foods, for instance, will double the amount of whole grain currently found across its Nabisco portfolio. Original and Reduced-fat Wheat Thins have already seen their whole-grain content rise to 11g, from 5g per 31g serving. Between now and 2013, Nabisco will increase the whole-grain content of Original Wheat Thins to 22g (from the current 11g), Wheat Thins Toasted Chips to 17g (from the current 5g) and Honey Maid Original Graham Crackers to 20g (from the current 5g).

Tell me if you’ve tried any of these products, or let me know what trends you’ve spotted lately.

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