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 the leftovers pulled from our inboxes.
Fritos salutes veterans
It’s one thing for food brands to honor veterans with product launches, patriotic labels and donations to advocacy groups.
It’s quite another to create one product for every veteran who has ever served the United States. Just in time for Memorial Day, Fritos is partnering with nonprofit group Carry the Load to create 22 million specialty bags — one for every person ever to serve in the U.S. military — honoring the nation’s heroes. The PepsiCo-owned snack brand is also donating $100,000 to the group to support members of the military, veterans, first responders and their families.
Last year, Budweiser launched a new beer, Freedom Reserve Red Lager, which was inspired by a recipe the company said was found in George Washington’s military journal. The brewer had veterans — whose signatures were featured on the bottles — make the beer, and a portion of the proceeds were donated to Folds of Honor, a nonprofit that gives educational scholarships to military families.
The beer helped boost sales for the alcohol giant, according to a transcript of an earnings call. It’s a strategy the company has often been successful with, using patriotic labels and making donations to Folds of Honor.
It’s not surprising for Fritos to go big with support for the military. Its parent company PepsiCo has an annual nationwide campaign called the Rolling Remembrance Relay. It raises money for the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, which provides college scholarships for those whose parents were killed in military service. This year, several veterans who drive Pepsi’s trucks took an American flag originally flown on a Blackhawk helicopter in Afghanistan in 2012 from coast to coast, starting in Seattle last month. Drivers also visit students benefiting from the funds to thank them for their families' sacrifices.
The relay finished up at PepsiCo’s corporate headquarters in New York on Thursday. And while PepsiCo’s annual relay is not advertised to consumers on its packaging or specifically featured in marketing, the flag-carrying drivers hold events across the nation to rally support and raise money.
— Megan Poinski
Ferrero sweetens product offerings with spin on iconic classics
Ferrero International has been bulking up its offerings in recent years through a series of high-profile M&A deals, but the global confectionery company best known for Ferrero Rocher, Nutella and Tic Tac is tapping into its iconic legacy brands in a bid to boost sales and widen its growing footprint in the U.S.
Ferrero this week said the internationally popular Kinder Bueno — a milk or white chocolate-covered wafer with hazelnut filling and drizzled with dark chocolate — is coming to the U.S. in November. The Italian confectioner also will roll out a boxed chocolate assortment of premium candies called Ferrero Golden Gallery Signature. And Tic Tac is launching X-Freeze, a spin on its classic mint that is bigger, sugar-free and lasts longer than the original product. Ferrero Golden Gallery Signature and Tic Tac X-Freeze will be available nationwide in September.
"We're a company that has a reputation of tending well and being good stewards of brands,” Paul Chibe, president and CEO of Ferrero North America, told Food Dive.
In recent years, Ferrero has been rapidly growing in the U.S. In 2018, it spent $2.8 billion to purchase Nestlé's U.S. confectionery business — a deal that added more than 20 American candy brands including Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, 100 Grand, SweeTarts and Nerds to the fold.
And earlier this year, Kellogg agreed to sell its cookie business and a host of other snacks and baked goods — a collection that included Keebler and Famous Amos — to Ferrero for $1.3 billion.
But for the family-owned Ferrero — which traces its roots back to war-ravaged Italy in 1946 — to establish a more meaningful presence in the U.S., analysts say the company will need more than just M&A. Ferrero will need to keep growing and innovating the lineup that has been a stronghold in premium candy sales for decades. Its newest product offerings do that by taking candy brands already well-known by consumers and adding new versions to the market place.
“I do think there are opportunities for growth, particularly behind firms that are investing behind product innovation,” Erin Lash, a director of consumer equity research at Morningstar, told Food Dive.
— Christopher Doering
Cheers to this crafty plant-based brat
The booming plant-based trend is ushering in some unlikely partnerships.
Field Roast Grain Meat Co., part of Maple Leaf Foods' plant-based company Greenleaf Foods, partnered with Elysian Brewing Company to launch a plant-based, beer-infused bratwurst, according to a release.
The meat-free brat will be launched at the Brat Fest in Wisconsin this weekend. It will be available at Meijer stores in the Midwest and PCC Community Markets in Washington. The product has all natural colors and flavors, and no preservatives or GMOs.
Field Roast brand is an artisan plant-based meat and cheese company based in Seattle. Elysian Brewing Company is a brewery with four pubs in Seattle that was acquired by AB InBev in 2015.
The growing demand for plant-based products pushed Field Roast and Elysian to create this bratwurst flavored with garlic, caramelized onions, caraway seeds and Elysian beer, the companies said in the release. The plant-based sector continues to expand and is predicted to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 15% from 2019 to 2025, reaching $27.9 billion by 2025. With predicted growth like that, there are likely to be many more partnerships in the space.
As U.S. beer volumes have dropped for five years straight, companies are turning to collaborations like this to boost their presence and its earnings. Meat and beer isn’t an unusual pairing. Coleman Natural and Budweiser teamed up to unveil a beer-basted meat line earlier this year. Other alcohol brands have infused sauces. Jack Daniels and Jim Beam developed liquor-infused barbecue sauce, while Budweiser sold self-branded sauce in 2016.
Plant-based meat is a crowded field. Impossible Foods' new meat-free Impossible Sausage will appear on Little Caesar's pizzas. More big brands in the category are moving into retail. It will likely be difficult for Field Roast to stand out in the crowded plant-based space with big players like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, but the beer-infused taste will set it apart.
— Lillianna Byington