On your marks...snack makers target the 2008 Olympics

By Lindsey Partos

- Last updated on GMT

On the eve of the 2008 Bejiing Olympics opening ceremony, snack makers and bakeries seeking golden sales target the athlete-watching consumer with a range of product launches set to hijack the Olympic fever.

Trading on the sporting message from the Olympics, and the rigorous trend for health-orientated foods, a recent set of product launches range from wholegrain breads to nut snacks.

According to data from market trackers Mintel, UK firm Sunscoop has brought a mixed nuts and raisin product to market endorsed by UK Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson. Nuts, particularly premium varieties such as almonds and cashews, are enjoying mushrooming popularity on the back of reported health benefits.

The 'Colin Jackson Natural Nut-Trition Mixed Nuts & Raisins' brand is 'Colin's first nut range' and has been launched in association with the Wales-based nut company.

Indeed, slotting into the snacks category, Sunscoop has rolled out a variety of different products that hook up with the 'Colin Jackson' range. Also available in the line are roasted cashews and roasted peanuts.

And as the sporting profile of the Olympics and the health trend of the 21st century fit neatly hand in glove, the US Orowheat brand, and the 'official bread supplier' of the US Olympic team, has brought to the bakery shelves its €2.16 'Whole Grain 9 Grain' bread.

Manufactured by Martek Biosciences, the product, that bears the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games logo, boasts an array of health orientated ingredients - from rolled oats to wheat bran and whole wheat flakes - proffering cardiovascular and brain and nervous system gains.

Found in products such as whole wheat, oatmeal, popcorn and brown rice, whole grains consist of any grain that has retained its starchy endosperm, fibre-rich bran and its germ after milling.

Recent research has boosted their ingredient appeal for bakers, with growing evidence suggesting they provide vitamins, minerals and high levels of antioxidants. Further, the grains have also been shown to help reduce the risk factors for a number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Straddling this new science, the US government advised in its 2005 Dietary Guidelines that Americans should consume upwards of three ounce-equivalents of whole grain products per day. And as a result, products making whole grain claims have began to wash over the supermarket shelves.

In a further roll-out that pitches the Olympics with whole grains, Orowheat recently launched 'Double Fiber English Muffins' - again bearing the 2008 Olympic logo - made from whole grains.

Claiming to boost fibre intake for the consumer, the product attests to contain 32 per cent daily value of fibre. Also available are 'Double Fiber Mini Loaf' and '7 Grain Mini Loaf.'

Made by US firm Bimbo Bakeries, also an 'official bread supplier' of the US team, the Orowheat-branded Double Fiber Mini Loaf claims to contain 48 per cent of the daily recommended value of fibre.

Moving away from health and towards snacking indulgence, according to Mintel's new product development database Hungarian firm has repackaged its Ziegler János Cho Coin milk chocolate coated biscuits with a new look featuring Katalin Kovács, a Hungarian Olympic champion.

Elsewhere, the Khong Guan Biscuit Factory recently launched its Khong Guan Malkist Crackers with Abon (Beef Floss).

Emblazoned with the 2008 Olympic logo, the Indonesian snacking product retails for €0.29.

Finally, the ultimate Chinese-inspired snack: the rice cracker.

Chinese firm Hubei Fuwa have brought their Fu Wa Rice Crackers to market. Fu Wa, an 'official cracker supplier of the National Olympics Games Centre, reports that their rice cracker - that contains rice, white granulated sugar, edible palm oil, potato starch, salt, monosodium glutamate - retails at €0.9, in 500g packs.

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