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.
Bolthouse Farms roots for more veggies
A year after being purchased from Campbell Soup by a private equity firm led by its former CEO, Bolthouse Farms is — quite literally — returning to its roots.
The company started out as a carrot farm more than 100 years ago. Its new line of Bolthouse Farms Wunderoots Carrot Swaps helps put carrots at the center of the plate for any consumer interested in eating less processed plant-based cuisine. The new line includes Carrot Dogs — whole carrots with seasoning and flavors to make them taste like hot dogs or sausages — and kits to cook Carrot Fettuccine and Riced Carrots.
These new products featuring the orange root vegetable come in many varieties. Carrot Dogs, which are sold in 8-packs along with other meat substitutes, come in Classic American-Style, Chorizo-Style and Sweet Italian-Style. Carrot Fettuccine kits include the carrot “noodles,” plus sauces including Marinara, Spicy Thai Basil and Red Coconut Curry. The Riced Carrot kits also include a sauce: Sesame Stir Fry, Green Chile or Yellow Coconut Curry. The fettuccine and Riced Carrot products are sold in the produce section.
Turning vegetables into substitutes for traditional starchy products has been a trend in recent years, but no brands have really focused on carrots. There are only a couple similar options on the market: Green Giant has a frozen carrot noodle product, and a few smaller brands have created riced carrots. As for carrot hot dogs, there are hundreds of recipes online and a few vegan restaurants make them, but there has been no CPG option available until now.
But if any vegetable is ripe to be turned into healthy substitutes, it’s the carrot. According to the Produce Managers’ Association, carrots are the 4th most popular vegetable in the United States, with 60% of all households buying them in 2019. Since carrots are a known and well-liked veggie, there may be less consumer hesitation to try different kinds of products made from them.
Consumers tend to see conventional hot dogs and sausages as some of the most processed foods in the store. And while other plant-based varieties may tout clean labels, many of them are still highly processed. It’s nearly impossible to get a less processed substitute than a carrot dog, which still actually looks like a long, thick carrot.
Bolthouse Farms is smart to use its expertise in the orange root vegetable and make a CPG version of an internet-popular vegan recipe. After all, being a first-mover with a unique veggie-forward product has been known to start a trend among CPG brands.
— Megan Poinski
Takis spices up the nut category
The brand known for its fiery rolled tortilla chips is branching out into peanut snacks.
Takis is launching peanuts wrapped in a coating of its spicy seasonings that it calls “double crunch technology,” according to a release. The new Takis Hot Nuts come in three flavors that use lime and chili pepper seasonings: Fuego, Flare and Smokin’ Lime.
The company, which is owned by Barcel, said that 2020 has been a lucrative year for the brand with double-digit growth. Its Takis snacks are one of the fastest growing brands in the tortilla category, the release said. Takis chips, which come in six flavors, were invented in 1999 in Mexico and launched into the U.S. market in 2006.
Sandra Peregrina, marketing manager for Takis, said in the release the popularity of its Takis flavor pushed them to launch the nuts. Peregrina said the company couldn’t pass on the “opportunity to once again disrupt the market of salty snacks.”
Now could be a good time for this launch given the fact that during the pandemic consumers have been stocking up on salty snacks. In recent years, more reports have shown customers are increasingly on the go and snacking has become an all-day practice.
But Takis will have competition from other major nut companies with spicy varieties. Planters and Blue Diamond offer several different spicy selections, but Takis signature flavor could draw in fans of the brand and make it stand out.
For years, companies have turned to spicy food innovations as hot flavors have become more trendy. The growing popularity of spice helps the Takis brand, and these new nuts are advertised for those who really love heat — the company said its Fuego flavor is like “eating fire.”
— Lillianna Byington
Smithfield brings power to convenient breakfasts
While a lot of attention has recently been focused on new plant-based offerings, large meat companies are doing their best to latch on to hot trends of their own.
Smithfield Foods is rolling out new Power Bites, a microwaveable cup with bite-sized breakfast combos made of sausage, egg and cheese for consumers on the go or at home. The product, which hits shelves this fall, is available in three flavors: Homestyle, Western Style and Meat Lovers.
"Today's ever-evolving environment continues to shape consumers' eating habits, and now, more than ever, people want easy options and the ability to enjoy flavor-filled meals or snacks on their terms," Eric Gibson, director of marketing at Smithfield Foods, said in a statement.
The Smithfield Power Bites fits into several trends among consumers today. They're portable and each cup takes only 45 seconds to microwave. Every container has 17 to 19 grams of protein per serving and contains no MSG or artificial ingredients.
Smithfield is not the first CPG company to latch onto the portable bowl for breakfasts or snacks. Kraft Heinz introduced Just Crack an Egg in 2018 as a convenient and fresh way to break into the breakfast space. The product, a disposable cup of diced vegetables, breakfast meat, cheese and potatoes, is sold in the refrigerated section next to the eggs — the only ingredient that needs to be added to the product. Tyson's Jimmy Dean line also has similar offerings available.
While the pork producer and food-processing company does a lot of work behind the scenes, Smithfield owns several brands that are well-known to consumers, including Eckrich, Nathan's Famous and Farmland. Power Bites will no doubt expand the reach of the Smithfield brand beyond the meat section while increasing its presence in the refrigerated section.
— Christopher Doering