Protein bars, popcorn bowls make I.R.I. Pacesetters list

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — Nature Valley Protein Bars from General Mills, Inc. and Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Bowl from ConAgra Foods, Inc. were among the top 10 New Product Pacesetters for 2012, according to Information Resources, Inc. (I.R.I.).

With first-year dollar sales of $95.7 million, Nature Valley Protein Bars were the No. 8 item on the 2012 New Product Pacesetters list, just ahead of Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Bowl, which brought in $92.1 million during its first year on the market. The No. 1 food and beverage brand during the year was Dannon Oikos yogurt, which had sales of $283.8 million.

This year’s list was a change from 2011, when grain-based foods figured prominently in I.R.I.’s list. The top 10 New Product Pacesetters for 2011 included P.F. Chang’s Home Menu products ($101.6 million), Thomas’ Bagel Thins from Bimbo Bakeries USA ($73.6 million), M&M’s Pretzel candies ($58.4 million), Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips ($50.6 million), and Lean Cuisine Market Creations ($48.6 million) lines.

Instead, the 2012 list was dominated by beverages, including 6 of the 10 largest launches.

“The class of 2012 I.R.I. New Product Pacesetters is remarkable for many reasons,” said Susan Viamari, editor of “Times & Trends,” I.R.I. “These products are bringing consumers increased value at a time when value is more critical than it has been in recent history. They are doing this by harnessing many and varied ingredients and technologies to deliver products that do things better with less effort; taste better, with enhanced nutritional value; and bring excitement, without breaking the bank. These products are leading the C.P.G. industry into tomorrow. And, they are delivering growth for the manufacturers that bring them to market.”

I.R.I. said the top food launches were heavily peppered with on-the-go options, with many offering multiple benefits.

“Nature Valley Protein Bars, for instance, offer the delicious taste of nature in a handheld bar packed with 10 grams of protein,” I.R.I. said.

Among the top food and beverage brands, average year-one dollar sales for the top-100 brands were $43.4 million. New food and beverage brands addressed long-standing trends around wellness, indulgence and convenience.

To be considered a New Product Pacesetter, a product must reach $7.5 million in sales during its first year on the market after reaching 30% distribution.

Breakfast solutions were identified by I.R.I. as a category receiving a boost from consumers’ demand for nutritional products. In addition to Dannon Oikos Greek yogurt, which was the Top New Product Pacesetter, other products I.R.I. noted as being successful in 2012 included Eggos Wafflers and Kind Plus snack bars.

The most common wellness-related benefit among 2012’s New Product Pacesetters was real/100% real. For the year, 41% of the top food and beverage launches were more real/100% real.  Meanwhile, 37% were considered a good source of vitamins and minerals, 33% contained less calories/sugar, 30% were more natural/organic, 30% were a good source of protein, and 30% touted fiber/whole grain.

“In 2012, one-quarter (27%) of I.R.I. Pacesetter food and beverage brands offered healthier-for-you benefits,” I.R.I. said. “Some of these brands are taking out less desirable attributes, such as thinkThin, protein bars that are sugar free. Others are adding attributes that boost nutritional value and/or satiation power. For instance, South Beach Diet bars are packed with protein and fiber to stave off hunger and leave you feeling energized and satisfied when you’re eating on the run. And, a number of Pacesetters, including Fiber One Brownies and Coffeemate Natural Bliss, put a healthier spin on indulgence.”

Several grain-based foods products made I.R.I.’s list of Rising Stars, including Special K Pastry Crisps, belVita Breakfast Biscuits and Doritos Jacked chips.
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