BOCA RATON, FLA. — Major food and beverage companies are investing in "free." Forthcoming product launches from leading brands claim to be free of gluten, soy, dairy, artificial colors or flavors, bioengineered ingredients, antibiotics and added growth hormones.
Executives discussed product innovation during the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference, held Feb. 16-19 at the Boca Raton Resort and Club. In addition to free-from attributes, many new items feature organic ingredients, plant-based protein, global flavors and convenient formats.
One brand espousing such claims is Kellogg Co.’s Kashi. In an effort to restore growth in the business, an admitted “source of weakness” for the Battle Creek, Mich.-based company in recent years, Kellogg is introducing a spate of “progressive, pioneering innovation” across Kashi’s cereal and snacks portfolio, executives said during the company’s presentation. Forthcoming launches include a line of Kashi Savory Bars in three varieties, including quinoa corn and roasted red pepper, basil white bean and olive oil, and chickpea curry and chili. Kashi Teff Thins, a range of savory, gluten-free crackers, will debut in such flavors as red sea salt, lemon chickpea chili, and tomato lentil barbecue. Also on tap is a line of organic powder blends featuring 15 grams of protein and organic super greens and fruits.
Elsewhere in Kellogg’s portfolio, the Morningstar brand also is undergoing a transformation.
|Paul Norman, senior v.p. and president of Kellogg North America
“We’re bringing innovation, so no longer just meat substitutes,” said Paul Norman, senior vice-president and president, Kellogg North America. “We’re now bringing meal starters, we’re bringing protein-packed veggie bowls to play, and we’re also making sure we deal with all needs, including organic, vegan, etc., in terms of the portfolio we offer.”
Making a splash at WhiteWave
Product development at WhiteWave Foods, Denver, is driven by consumer demand for products with simple ingredients or suited for special diets. The latest addition to the Silk lineup of dairy alternative products is Nutchello, a range of nut-based beverages in three varieties, including toasted coconut and cashews, rich dark chocolate and walnuts, and caramel almonds and cashews. WhiteWave also is expanding its International Delight coffee creamer portfolio with new Simply Pure varieties, featuring five simple ingredients, including sugar, milk and cream.
“At WhiteWave we constantly strive to understand what motivates consumers across multiple trends and categories,” said Gregg Engles, chairman and chief executive officer, during the company’s presentation. “We’ve built a portfolio that is aligned with these trends and provides consumers with innovative, great-tasting food and beverage choices that meet their growing interest in nutritious, flavorful, convenient and responsibly produced products.”
What’s cooking at Campbell
Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., has set forth new product development requirements for food and beverage products sold in North America.
|Denise Morrison, president and c.e.o. of Campbell
“We call it the no-go list — no artificial flavors or colors, no added preservatives, and no MSG,” said Denise Morrison, president and c.e.o. of Campbell Soup, during the company’s presentation. “These ingredients will not be used in any new product we are creating in the Americas division, and we will continue to look for ways to reduce our use of high-fructose corn syrup.”
Coming soon from Campbell’s Bolthouse Farms brand are new salad dressings, including salsa verde avocado and creamy roasted garlic varieties, and new protein shakes in such flavors as banana honey almond butter, coconut and strawberry. Campbell Soup is expanding its 1915 line of premium cold-pressed juice beverages with organic, plant-based protein varieties.
“Beyond the fresh space, we are pursuing innovation to accelerate growth in other aspects of health and well-being, including center-store categories,” Ms. Morrison said. “We will continue to expand into mainstream organic and pure and simple offerings in the second half of this fiscal year with Prego Farmers Market sauce, V8 Veggie Blends and three new varieties of Goldfish made with organic wheat. And we are extending our Plum portfolio with easy prep meals, baked snacks and even Plum Organics infant formula.”
McCormick courting millennials
McCormick & Co. aims to capitalize on consumer interest in organic ingredients. The Sparks, Md.-based company is set to introduce a line of organic recipe mixes later this year, following the successful launches of gluten-free mixes and mixes without artificial flavors and MSG.
Forthcoming innovation expands McCormick’s wet sauces and marinades offerings. This year, the company will unveil Grill Mates 30-minute marinades, Kitchen Basics organic stock, and Thai Kitchen organic coconut milk. Executives expect McCormick’s portfolio will appeal to millennials.
“Millennials are looking for a signature touch, and they view seasoning as a performance art,” said Lawrence Kurzius, president and c.e.o. of McCormick. “Millennials’ cooking skills and interests are better developed than their age cohort 30 years ago, and they rely less on meal kits and prepared foods.”
On tap from Tyson
Concepts within the innovation pipeline at Tyson Foods will take the Springdale, Ark.-based company in many different directions. The company is focused on moving such traditional brands as Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farm and Ball Park — which the company acquired when it purchased Hillshire Brands in 2014 — into adjacent categories. In July, for example, a frozen stuffed hash brown product will be introduced under the Jimmy Dean brand. That same month Jimmy Dean will introduce a frozen frittata that will be marketed as a healthier handheld item and sold under the Delights sub-brand. The company is expanding the Ballpark brand with such frozen options as pulled pork, pulled chicken, flame grilled beef and bacon meatballs, and steakhouse-style beef. Also in July, new Hillshire Snacking varieties will debut. Asian Fusion features yakitori chicken, sriracha cheese, sesame crackers and a chickpea and coconut cashew medley; Rustic Harvest has smoked chicken, cranberry white cheddar cheese, multigrain crisps and cider spiced mixed nuts; and Southern Summer includes beer summer sausage, pepper jack cheese, cornbread crackers and barbecue ranch mixed nuts.
In addition to support and promotion of the brands acquired via Hillshire, Tyson Foods is focused on refreshing the original Tyson brand. The first innovation to be launched under the refreshed brand will be Tyson Tastemakers, which is a curated line of dinner experiences that may be made fresh at home. The Tastemaker project will enter a pilot stage later this year via ecommerce, said Sally Grimes, chief growth officer and president of Tyson’s International business unit.
Andy Callahan, president of retail and packaged brands for Tyson Foods, called the initiative a “launch and learn” and said it will bear some resemblance to such programs from Blue Apron or Hello Fresh. Initial varieties available through the program include a garlic and herb boneless pork loin; ancho pasilla carne asada; Thai basil boneless chicken breast; tandoori chicken thighs; beef sirloin roast; pork carnitas tacos; and Korean steak tacos.
“The concept gives the consumer a quality fresh meat with unique culinary flavors that is ready for them to apply the finishing touches,” Mr. Callahan said. “It creates a quality experience for the consumer.”
Another new offering under the refreshed Tyson banner is Tyson Naturals, a line of frozen chicken products made with simple ingredients.
“We know consumers want real natural ingredients and healthier breadings, so we’ve launched a new Tyson Naturals line that includes gluten-free options, whole grains, and no antibiotics ever,” said Sally Grimes, chief global growth officer and president of Tyson’s international business segment, during the company’s presentation. “And then we removed the bread altogether. Grilled chicken nuggets are gaining popularity right now in quick-serve restaurants. So we’re launching an offering in retail to deliver a healthier twist on a family favorite, with 50% fewer calories. And again, no antibiotics ever.”