CHICAGO — Thomas’ Bagel Thins from Bimbo Bakeries USA and Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips were among the top 10 New Product Pacesetters for 2011, according to SymphonyIRI Group.

With first-year dollar sales of $73.6 million, Thomas’ Bagel Thins were the No. 2 item on the 2011 New Product Pacesetters list, trailing only P.F. Chang’s Home Menu products, which brought in $101.6 million during their first year on the market. Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips, meanwhile, ranked No. 7 with dollar sales of $50.6 million.

“When we think about what hit the mark with consumers in 2011 … it was really your ability as manufacturers to deliver to us products that appealed to almost everybody or products that really had a niche appeal,” Larry Levin, executive vice-president of consumer insights for SymphonyIRI, said in an April 17 webinar presenting the New Product Pacesetters. “Consumers want cost-effective dining alternatives, whether it’s at home for indulgence or it is on-the-go coffee. We have more and more needs to eat at home and use our home as the entertainment centerpiece. Restaurant-inspired flavors and foods are really making their way into our kitchens and into our pantries so people are able to indulge without the cost of going out.”

Grain-based foods figured prominently in SymphonyIRI’s list. In addition to Thomas’ Bagel Thins and Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips, noodles, pasta and rice are part of the P.F. Chang’s Home Menu and Lean Cuisine Market Creations ($48.6 million) lines, and M&M’s Pretzel candies were the No. 5 ranked item with sales of $58.4 million.

Other top New Product Pacesetters included Oscar Mayer Selects from Kraft Foods Inc. at $69.2 million; Folgers Gourmet Selections K-Cups at $58.4 million; Sun Drop from Dr Pepper Snapple Group at $55.8 million; Gold Peak Chilled Tea at $44.3 million and Bailey’s Coffee Creamer at $44.2 million.

“The Pacesetters of today, having beaten the new product odds regardless of a difficult and complex environment, are truly remarkable,” Mr. Levin said. “It all begins with really listening and responding to consumers. Those manufacturers that are taking the time to gain an intimate knowledge of the needs and wants of their consumers are cracking the code on true innovation.”

Coca-Cola Co.’s Powerade Ion4 sports drink ($190.5 million) topped the 2010 New Product Pacesetters list. Other products on last year’s list included Chobani Greek Yogurt ($149.4 million); Wonderful Pistachios of Paramount Farms ($114.1 million); Glaceau Vitaminwater Zero ($110.3 million), another Coca-Cola brand; and Nature’s Pride brand bread ($80.8 million), Hostess Brands, Inc.

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. The SymphonyIRI data does not include Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

In addition to the individual Pacesetters, SymphonyIRI also tracked group product usage. In 2011, two consumption groups saw their pace of innovation fall: breakfast solutions, which fell to 16% in 2011 from a 2002-2011 average of 23%, and sweet snacks, which fell to 6% from 12%. Salty snacks moved up to 12% in 2011 from 11% as the 2002-2011 average.

SymphonyIRI said it would be “closely monitoring trends in these typically high-innovation categories.”

The most common wellness-related benefit among 2011’s New Product Pacesetters was natural and/or organic ingredients. For the year, 23% of the top food and beverage launches were more natural/organic, which compared with an average of 19% between 2002-2011. Meanwhile, 20% of the top launches touted high fiber/whole grain, up from the average of 16%. Boosted by the launch of a line of gluten-free bread during 2011, the per cent of Pacesetters offering a gluten-free claim was 6%, which compared with 1% between 2002-2011.

“Beyond manufacturers introducing new gluten-free products, there are other manufacturers, including Frito-Lay, adding a gluten-free label to appropriate existing product lines to raise awareness among consumers actively seeking gluten-free products,” SymphonyIRI said.