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.
Pillsbury mashes up Funfetti and Oreos to help consumers bake up memories
Home bakers are well known for their creativity, adding crumbled cookies and candies to cakes and other treats for an instant dose of familiarity.
Sometimes the combinations get pretty colorful and chaotic. Case in point: Pillsbury Funfetti Oreo baking mixes and frostings, which feature pieces of Mondelez International’s Oreo cookies in Hometown Food Co.’s sprinkle-spotted Funfetti cake and brownie mixes.
The line of five products, set to debut in grocery stores in March, adds Funfetti sprinkles and Oreo pieces for inclusion and decoration to products. It includes vanilla cake mix with Oreo creme flavor, vanilla frosting, brownie mix and buttermilk pancake and waffle mix. A digital baking competition for kids has launched to promote the products. It will be judged by Food Network host Duff Goldman and Matthew Merril, a former contestant on Kids Baking Championship.
These pairings have proven especially effective during the pandemic, when consumers have hungered for excitement and novelty from food and beverages while sheltering in place. Baking has become a popular pastime, giving consumers a delicious way to distract themselves from the stress and boredom of quarantine. Also on trend: familiar brands, including Oreo, which has been a lunchbox regular for more than a century.
Chicago-based Hometown Food, which owns Pillsbury's shelf-stable baking products, has also been capitalizing on this unique moment to grow its iconic brands. With the Funfetti and Oreo mashup, it has found opportunity in the forced family time.
"Funfetti fans have been adding Oreo cookies to their baked creations for years, and we're thrilled that we can celebrate those baking mashups with this new portfolio of products," said Hometown Food COO Dan Anglemyer in a press release. "Funfetti is a celebration of fun, surprise moments and continues to grow in popularity as families spend more time baking together at home.”
— Samantha Oller
Bel Group rolls out immunity-boosting Babybel
As a dairy product, cheese contains many nutrients, such as calcium and protein.
Now, thanks to Bel Group, it can also have probiotics or extra vitamins.
Next month, the French cheese behemoth is rolling out a version of its small round Babybel snacking cheese with added nutrients. The new Babybel Plus+ line is wrapped in the brand’s traditional red wax, but the cheese inside has either billions of live and active cultured probiotics — for Babybel Plus+ Probiotics — or added vitamins A and B12 — for Babybel Plus+ Vitamins.
Bel Group has been working to revamp its product line to bring consumers the tastes they know and love in more on-trend ways. The company rebranded with a slogan “For All, For Good” in 2019, and has been working toward exemplifying it by adding nutrients to its cheeses, simplifying recipes and developing plant-based and hybrid options.
Making more nutritious cheese brings the wax-coated rounds into the forefront of what’s trending. While consumers were interested in functional food before the coronavirus pandemic, eating to stay healthy has become a way of life for many these past 10 months. In a white paper published by Kerry in March 2019, 65% of consumers looked for functional ingredients in their food and drink, with probiotics at the top of the list of ingredients they sought. And in a report released in December by the International Food Information Council, one in three consumers said they are eating healthier now than before.
These particular nutrients are the types of things that consumers are looking for now, as they try to maintain their health while waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. Probiotics have many different strains that confer a host of different benefits, but the LGG strain that is in Babybel Plus+ Probiotics is thought to boost the immune system. Vitamin A also helps strengthen the immune system, while vitamin B12 ensures vitality and blood health.
The launch of Babybel Plus+ is not the first new on-trend product from Bel Brands in recent months. In the fall, the company launched its first plant-based cheese: Boursin Dairy-Free Cheese Spread Alternative Garlic & Herbs. Many more are planned. The company pledged in October it would create one plant-based variety of each of its signature brands, and more functional varieties are also likely to hit U.S. shelves.
While cheese isn’t always a dynamic section of the grocery store, Bel Group’s updates to traditional favorites is bringing the kind of innovation consumers are looking for. Products that deliver a long-cherished taste and fit into dietary trends can give consumers a reason to smile when they say, “Cheese.”
— Megan Poinski
Alter Eco hopes really dark chocolate has company seeing plenty of green
As chocolate lovers bite into their next dark chocolate bar, Alter Eco is debuting a new offering that takes the dark category to a whole new level.
Alter Eco, which has built its business as a chocolate-centric, sustainability-directed food company, is rolling out Total Blackout and Raspberry Blackout bars, which further tap into the clean, ethically made food trends.
The new bars are crafted with Heirloom Arriba Nacional Cacao from Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. Total Blackout is a keto-friendly option made with 100% cacao and only two ingredients: organic cocoa beans and organic cocoa butter. Raspberry Blackout contains 85% cacao and only four grams of sugar per serving.
At the same time, the latest bars are made with organic, Fair Trade ingredients, including cacao grown with practices such as climate-positive farming. Alter Eco said both bars are a premium choice for chocolate lovers looking to indulge without the guilt. The high cacao content could enable the upstart brand to stand out from other sustainably focused bars on the market.
“We know that many are more conscious of what ingredients go into their products, and these bars are a testament to the sustainably-sourced ingredients that we believe should be available to everyone,” Mike Forbes, CEO of Alter Eco, said in a statement.
The cocoa industry is facing a host of challenges, including overproduction, fluctuating prices, low farmer incomes, persistent child labor and negative impacts from climate change. However, consumer demand for cocoa products is growing. There is an incentive to solve these and other problems as shoppers consider a company’s stance on these issues when they make a purchase.
Chocolate and cocoa companies worldwide have been touting their efforts to improve sustainability in the sector for years.
CPG manufacturers such as Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and Hershey, and chocolate ingredient powerhouse Barry Callebaut, have tried to make internal changes to respond to environmental and economic issues involved in cocoa production — though critics have argued those promises have fallen short. The Rainforest Alliance is planning to tighten up its certification for cocoa producers this year to improve traceability and sustainability for companies, governments, NGOs and other participants in the cocoa industry.
— Christopher Doering