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.
Get your Sunday fix: Chick-fil-A coming to grocery stores
Chick-fil-A fans now have a reason to go to the grocery store.
The chicken sandwich giant will start selling its sauces in bottles as a pilot in Florida, marking the company’s first endeavor into retail sales. The 16-ounce bottles of its Chick-fil-A and Polynesian Sauces — the company’s two most popular dips — will hit shelves starting in April at roughly 1,800 Publix, Target, Walmart and Winn-Dixie stores in the Sunshine State. Chick-fil-A said it will gauge the success of the pilot before determining whether to do a national rollout later this year.
Chick-fil-A is hardly the first fast-food company to enter the grocery aisle. A walk through the supermarket reveals several shopping carts' worth of restaurant-branded products including Arby's Seasoned Curly Fries, TGI Friday's Potato Skins, Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix, P.F. Chang's Coconut Curry with Chicken & Noodles and Taco Bell tacos and sauces. There's also Cheesecake Factory's Grand Cheesecake selection, McDonald's ready-to-drink McCafé Frappes and Olive Garden's Italian salad dressing.
For grocers and restaurants, there are mutual synergies to having a popular brand like Chick-fil-A in the supermarket. Restaurants are able to expand their reach and keep their brand name top-of-mind in the hope that consumers who see it on the shelf will want to visit the brick-and-mortar location later. Supermarkets also benefit by having a unique product that attracts shoppers, especially if the item is available for a limited time or in a small quantity.
GlobalIcons, a California company that helps businesses expand the reach of their products through licensing deals, told Food Dive last year 90% of restaurant brands in the grocery aisle have entered the retail market during the last six years — a trend that shows no sign of abating. In a 2015 study, GlobalIcons found sales of these products totaled $4.4 billion, and that restaurant brands in stores have exploded from fewer than 10 in 2000 to more than 50 at the time of the report.
“Everyone is trying to get the customer and it’s hard," Jeff Lotman, CEO of GlobalIcons, told Food Dive. "If you are going to start a brand ... why does licensing even make sense? It’s faster, let’s face it. Because you have that brand recognition, you don’t need to go spend the amount of media to build it.”
— Christopher Doering
Drumstick dips into a new breed of cookies and cream
As Americans reach for frozen comfort food, a new spin on cookies and cream ice cream from Nestlé's Drumstick has everyone’s desires covered.
The new Crushed It! Line from the iconic ice cream cone treat replaces the peanut-covered chocolate coating the treats are known for with a crushed cookie coating. The brand is also extending into ice cream bars with the same cookie coating.
"The Drumstick brand is constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation, from our unique coatings, flavors and textures to our product formats," Joanna Komvopoulos, Drumstick brand manager, said in a press release. "Knowing that Cookies 'N' Cream is a favorite flavor for so many Americans and a staple in sundae shops around the world, we developed Drumstick Crushed It! and doubled down on the experience by amplifying the melt-in-your-mouth cookie coating with our new Cookies 'N' Cream and Vanilla Fudge flavors."
Drumstick has an established lineup of flavors for its ready-to-eat ice cream cones, mostly featuring a hard candy shell around the ice cream. This cookie coating is made from a new proprietary technology and, according to the press release, melts in consumers’ mouths.
While Nestlé can use any sort of confection to cover their Drumsticks (and they have tried other options during the brand’s 92-year history) crushed cookies is a good choice. After all, cookies and cream ranks third among Americans’ favorite ice cream flavors, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. (Vanilla and chocolate have the top two spots) The flavor, said to have been invented more than 40 years ago at the dairy bar at South Dakota State University, is sure to remain popular.
With temperatures turning warmer and Americans looking for comforting treats, Drumstick’s new product launch is well timed.
— Megan Poinski
Cow-free cream cheese
Treeline is hoping that consumers go nuts for its three new cream cheeses.
Treeline Treenut Cheeses is launching into the plant-based cream cheese space with a new line of cashew cream cheeses in plain, strawberry and chive and onion flavors.
The company draws on traditional dairy-cheese making processes by fermenting cashew nuts with a probiotic known as L. acidophilus. The products are kosher, soy-free, gluten-free, paleo-friendly and provide dietary fiber.
These new cream cheeses will fit in with Treeline’s portfolio of other dairy-free aged nut cheeses and soft French-style cheeses. The products can be found in more than 3,000 grocery stores nationwide.
According to recent data from the Good Food Institute, dollar sales of plant-based cheese grew 18% in 2019 and 51% over the past two years. Treeline said in an email to Food Dive it is one of the companies benefiting from that category growth.
“A plant-based cheese that’s worthy of any artisanal cheese platter and pairs well with good wine, Treeline can also hold its own as a substitute to dairy-based cheeses in any recipe,” the company said.
Treeline has growing number of competitors in the plant-based cheese segment though, including Miyoko's Kitchen, Kite Hill, Punk Rawk Labs, Daiya, Dr. Cow Tree Nut Cheese, Vtopian Artisan Cheeses, Heido Ho! Organics and Tofurky's new plant-based cheese brand Moocho. Plant-based cheesemaker Parmela Creamery even raised $1.25 million last year to grow brand recognition. But Treeline’s more unique chive and onion and strawberry cream cheese flavors could help it stand out on the shelves.
In addition to more consumers showing interest in plant-based dairy products, Treeline could have another advantage. USDA found in recent years that nuts have fewer calories than originally thought, which could attract more health-conscious customers.
— Lillianna Byington