Snack brands catering for specific markets, rice-based FABs, functional dairy products and energy-giving or low-carb confectionery are among the recent highlights from the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).
When it comes to savoury snack flavours, manufacturers are increasingly thinking locally and catering for regional tastes. For example, the Pringles brand from Procter & Gamble has appeared in a number of local flavours such as curry in the UK (where curry is a favourite dish), and Funky Soy Sauce in Japan.
The latest example of this trend comes from PepsiCo, which has already introduced a variety of local flavours for its various snack brands. These include seaweed flavoured Lay's potato crisps in Thailand and China, and seaweed flavoured Doritos corn snacks in China.
Now, the Doritos brand is continuing with its think local theme with the Turkish introduction of A la Turca corn chips, specially designed for Turkish tastes. They contain poppy seeds and have a dried tomato flavour.
Ever soy good
Dairy product producers are also pushing the boundaries of their popular brands, many of them moving in fact into non-dairy alternatives. Danone, the French food group, is no exception, with its second attempt to gain a foothold in the growing market for soya-based products.
Danone first entered the soya yoghurt-style dessert market back in the late 1990s with the French introduction of Sevea, a 100 per cent vegetable soya and oat based yoghurt-alternative, free from cholesterol and gluten. However, the product was soon withdrawn following concerns over GM foods and its links with soya. Now, Danone is having another stab at launching a non-dairy product, this time in Spain. New there is a Danone Bio Soja functional range with Essensis active bifidus in regular, peach and red fruit varieties.
Another interesting functional launch has appeared in Italy. It has been introduced under the Zen Linea Salute brand by Techno-Foods and comprises a creamy, strawberry flavoured yoghurt which is claimed to be naturally rich in CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and omega-3. It is said to be a unique yoghurt, produced with 100 per cent Jersey cow's milk coming from the Zootecnica Adelaide Company.
There is still plenty of room for innovation in the more traditional dairy product sector, it seems, with the GNPD reporting on a number of new cheese products aimed at consumers in the US.
Angel Technology has created a cheese which is said to reduce cholesterol levels - all milk fats are removed from the cheese before the curdling process, and the cheese is said to be high in polyunsaturated (good) fats and phytosterols.
Meanwhile, the Pasture Pride brand has been extended to include a product made using milk free of hormones, antibiotics and pesticides. Varieties include colby, muenster, and juusto (described as a buttery bread cheese).
Finally, BelGioioso Cheese has launched Parveggiano, a vegetarian, animal rennet-free cheese aged for ten years.
FAB-ulous rice drinks
Vodka and rum remain the most popular spirits used in the FABs market. However, developments in the Asian market could inspire the use of newer spirits. For example, two recent introductions in Thailand use rice wine. Holly Hock from Chantal Comte is made with a blend of rice wine and blueberry juice, and Sato'za from Sato Foods Industries is made with rice wine and tropical fruit juice.
But FABs are not the only drinks products being given a makeover this month, according to GNPD. That traditional British favourite - beer - is being given a new twist by market leader Scottish & Newcastle, whose Kronenbourg subsidiary has launched Deco, a beer and absinthe drink concept comprising a small bottle of Kronenbourg larger with a shot of absinthe attached. The 45 per cent ABV absinthe is to be drunk first, with the 5 per cent ABV lager then drunk as a chaser.
There are plenty of novelties in the soft drink sector this month as well. In Mexico, for example, Grupo Empac has introduced OK Light, a super-concentrated liquid beverage mix. Five 10ml ampoules of flavour come packed in a carton, each making 1.5 litres of product. Flavours include tamarind, orange, grapefruit and lime.
In China, meanwhile, a company called Vedan Food is making it easy to carry water around with the introduction of It's Mine!, a still drinking water packaged in a 400ml bottle with an attachment on the neck which enables it to hang around the waist or on a belt.
The US market is frequently a hotbed of innovation, and this month is no exception with the launch by Dream Foods of several premium and organic juice products there.
Volcano Orange Juice is made from the juice of rare blood red oranges harvested in Sicily near the Mt. Etna volcano. Also from the company comes a pure lemon juice, meant to be used as a mixer, which contains pure lemon oil in the cap to provide an extra zest of real lemon. Volcano Lemon Burst is not-from-concentrate and packaged in a lemon-shaped squeeze bottle.
Tea drinkers in South Africa have also been given something new to try this month with the launch of a range of flavoured teas by Khoisan Tea. The range, which is targeting children in particular, includes some fun and interesting varieties such as Bubbly Gum and Vanilla Gorilla. All are made from rooibos, a naturally caffeine-free tea variety grown in South Africa with a sweet taste and low in tannin.
Summer means salads, and one Canadian company has launched a new product designed to liven up what can often be a very uninspiring meal. Trophy Foods' Salad Sensations is a line of seasoned Salad Almond Toppings designed for consumers on the go who want to make meals more healthy and interesting. Salad Sensations are available in four flavours including Garlic Caesar, Bacon & Cheddar, Tomato & Basil, and Teriyaki.
Summer is also a time when dieting becomes even more important, as we try to squeeze into last year's swimming costume. But for those people who want to lose weight without giving up all their favourite sweet foods, help may be at hand.
In the US, for example, a new product has been launched called SoYummi Gummi Sours, made with organic agave fruit juice and non-GMO soy ingredients and coming in three fruit flavours, while sugar-free pioneer Russell Stover Candies has launched a range designed for low-carbohydrate dieters, including mint patties and toffee squares, which contain zero sugar carbohydrates.
Another company, Innovative Candy Concepts, has added Sinfully Delicious Candy Bites to its line up. Tagged as 'guilt free', the line is described as 'real desserts without all the calories'. The soft candies contain only two calories each and are fat- and sugar free. Flavours include key lime pie, mocha butterscotch sundae and Southern peach cobbler.
In the chocolate confectionery sector, the emphasis has been more on energy boosting rather than weight loss in recent months, with products such as Cadbury's Boost with guarana and Milka Energy with dextrose from Kraft Jacobs Suchard already on the market.
The latest addition comes from Alfred Ritter in Germany which has developed an energy-giving line within its Ritter Sport chocolate tablet range. The new line is called Active Crunch and comprises three varieties: Guarana Crunch with stimulating guarana, Müsli Crunch with four grains and Nuss Crunch with nuts and cereals.