Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can't write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Badass wants to kick some butt with its alkaline water
Badass immediately grabs a consumer’s attention with its name. It’s now hoping its sustainably produced water will kick a little butt, too.
Badass, which was launched in April, is a pure alkaline water that is naturally nutrient-rich and stocked with organic minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfates, manganese and bicarbonates.
Unlike other brands that use filtered tap water and add nutrients, Badass said its water comes from melting glaciers that collect them over time as the liquid moves through the mountains. The water then emerges from a mountain spring where it is packaged.
"I wanted to create a brand that has the same emotional connection as Redbull, Rockstar and Monster do but at the same time give you the best source of energy,” Adi Chhabra, founder of Badass, said in an email.
Badass also touts its sustainability, which is increasingly valued by consumers when deciding what products they decide to buy. The brand eschews plastic in its packaging and its aluminum cans are BPA-free. It will need these product attributes as it goes up against a number of other premium waters already on store shelves.
In 2018, Technavio analysts projected the global functional water market will post a compound annual growth rate of nearly 9% through 2022. With beverage companies looking to boost sales of functional offerings, it's no wonder many businesses are bulking up their presence in this space or, like Badass, making a big splash of their own.
Nestlé acquired Essentia Water, the leading alkaline water brand and the No. 1 selling bottled water in the natural channel, in March for an undisclosed sum. Beverage competitor Keurig Dr Pepper purchased premium water brand Core Nutrition for $525 million in 2018. Coca-Cola has Smartwater, and PepsiCo owns Lifewtr in the trendy functional premium water category.
— Christopher Doering
Australia's Jada stirs things up with plant-based meat mixes
Just add water and oil, stir, shape and cook: Anyone with a hankering for plant-based meat can now whip up their own with two new mixes from the Australian condiments company Jada Spices.
Porkless Mix offers the “subtly sweet and savory taste of pork,” according to the manufacturer, and can be cooked up into shapes such as crumbles, sausage links, meatballs or cutlets. Mediterranean Chick'n Mix can be shaped into chicken breasts, added to gyros or rounded into balls as a falafel substitute. The products join Jada’s Plant-Based Unseasoned Chick'n Mix, which was featured on Season 12 of Shark Tank.
The mixes contain ingredients such as textured wheat protein, pea protein and fiber, and nutritional yeast, and deliver 21 grams of protein per 125-calorie serving. They are also said to be high in vitamin B12 and free of soy, sugar, preservatives and cholesterol. Each 5-ounce-plus box makes the equivalent of one pound of plant-based meat.
The mixes are sold online at Jada’s site and Amazon with a suggested retail price of $8.99. Plant-Based Unseasoned Chick'n Mix is also available at Whole Foods Markets in Florida.
Jada was founded by Khasha Touloei, an Australian doctor in training who gave a better-for-you makeover to his country’s favorite umami seasoning: chicken salt. The mix of dried, salted and granulated chicken is popular on french fries and popcorn, among other dishes. Touloei developed a low-sodium, MSG-free, vegan version of chicken salt — a blend of sea salt, turmeric, onion and garlic powders and other flavors — which also is included as a seasoning in the new Plant-Based Mixes.
Despite the proliferation of ready-made plant-based meat substitutes on the market, one can see the appeal of mixing up your own analogs. Consumers are already warmed up for cooking at home thanks to the pandemic, and a mix would allow them to further customize their protein through seasonings, sauces and shapes.
A boxed mix could also help remove the high-tech, secret lab sheen that meat alternatives have for some consumers. Being able to smell, feel and control the end product gives back some semblance of control, and the product’s shelf stability offers a certain ease that refrigerated and frozen alternatives do not.
Jada has cast its net wide in terms of a core consumer — it positions the Plant-Based Mixes as an answer to anyone from vegans to the health-conscious to on-the-go moms. To make a dent in the $1.4 billion plant-based meat market, however, it will need to win these shoppers over, and show them the benefits of doing it yourself.
— Samantha Oller
Torani allergen-free flavoring allows everyone to go nuts
Hazelnut is a popular flavor in coffee and confections, and Torani has now made it so even people with nut allergies can enjoy it.
The California-based flavoring company, known for adding a zip to all sorts of beverages, just launched a nut-allergen free chocolate hazelnut sauce. Torani says its Puremade Chocolate Hazelnut Sauce is the only one of its kind that uses the nut as a primary flavor, but does not contain the nut allergen.
Torani doesn’t go into detail about how they were able to remove the allergen from the sauce, but that it was done two years after the product development had started. The company’s food scientists were able to create the allergen free sauce in their home kitchens during the pandemic.
“I followed Torani’s Gold Standard Process and experimented with various cocoas to find the perfect fit,” Principal Scientist and Sauce Innovation Master Domenico Milano said in a written statement. “After some trial and error, I moved away from regular cocoas to create something extra special and developed a unique cocoa system based on nuttiness, hazelnut quality, and milk chocolate profile. The final product marries well with coffee or over ice cream and fresh fruits.”
Hazelnut is a tree nut, making it one of the nine major allergens in the United States. According to statistics from Food Allergy Research & Education, about 3.9 million people in the U.S. have a tree nut allergy. It’s the fourth most prevalent allergy in the nation, with more people unable to eat tree nuts than soy, egg and wheat. It’s the second most common food allergy in children, according to Kids With Food Allergies, and only about 9% of children grow out of this allergy.
But hazelnut is also extremely popular. Not only is it the key ingredient in Ferrero’s iconic Nutella spread, but it’s a nut that consumers consider healthy. A 2017 survey reported by Capital Press showed 47% of people considered hazelnut “very healthy” — double the response from the previous year — and almost half of consumers surveyed said they had eaten hazelnuts in the previous month.
Finding a way to make a nut flavoring allergen free could be a game changer for many different products. It’s not clear if the method Torani undertook could be used for other hazelnut flavor applications. Others are working on making typically allergenic food safe for all. Ukko, a food tech platform, uses artificial intelligence to try to determine the proteins that cause allergic reactions. They are currently working on developing a non-allergenic treatment for peanut allergies, as well as non-allergenic gluten proteins for flour.
The allergen-free nut flavoring isn’t Torani’s only launch to kick off the summer. The company is also introducing two new flavors: Mexico-inspired Torani Puremade Mangonada Syrup, combining the sweetness of ripe mango with the spice of chamoy and Tajín; and Japan-inspired Puremade Black Sugar, with the earthy taste of raw sugar cane.
— Megan Poinski