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.
It's no joke: The Laughing Cow introduces hybrid Blends
The Laughing Cow has become synonymous with the tiny pre-portioned cheese wedges consumers unwrap before indulging. Now, the Bel Group-owned brand has rolled out a line that combines its signature cheese with a popular plant-based ingredient.
The wedges in the new Blends line will be available in three flavors: Chickpea & Cheese with Herb, Lentil & Cheese with Curry and Red Bean & Cheese with Paprika. Blends are debuting along with new Laughing Cow & Go portable cups that include breadsticks consumers can dip into the brand's classic dairy-only cheese.
"The launch of these products shows the evolution and adaptability of The Laughing Cow to consumer snacking trends," Zach Fatla, USA brand director for The Laughing Cow, said in a statement. "We're bringing big flavor, real ingredients and portability forward as part of a strong lineup of products, including our current variety of original wedges."
In 2019, Bel Group announced a "major strategic turn," pledging to launch hybrid products that incorporate both dairy and plants, according to FoodBev. Last March, Bel Group took a majority stake in French plant-based company All In Foods, which makes vegan cheese alternatives in Europe. The company pledged in October it would create one plant-based variety of each of its signature brands and launched its first offering: Boursin Dairy-Free Cheese Spread Alternative Garlic & Herbs.
As consumers incorporate more plant-based offerings into their diets, a growing number of companies are combining traditional animal-based ingredients with those from plants — often with mixed results.
In 2019, Perdue Foods launched chicken nuggets, tenders and patties blended with vegetables in its Chicken Plus line. Meat and poultry processor Tyson Foods introduced blended burgers made with Angus beef and pea protein isolate under its Raised & Rooted line last summer, but discontinued the mix a few months later. Raised & Rooted is now focusing only on plants.
Other dairy producers have entered the blended segment, including the Minnesota-based farmer cooperative Live Real Farms, which rolled out 50/50 blends of dairy milk and plant-based beverages from almonds and oats.
It's easy to see why there's been such a frenzy of new product development: The plant-based protein and meat alternatives market is projected to increase from $4.6 billion in 2018 to $85 billion in 2030, according to investment firm UBS.
— Christopher Doering
One Bar Fruity Cereal brings nostalgia out of the bowl
Brightly colored sugary cereal has been a favorite breakfast for kids of all ages, though its health value tends to leave something to be desired.
One Bar’s newest offering aims to recreate the taste of that sweet start to the morning with One Fruity Cereal Bar. The bar, which has 20 grams of protein and 1 gram of sugar, is described as having a gooey fruit-flavored center surrounded by icing.
The Hershey-owned protein bar brand is known for its decadent flavors and nutritional bona fides. Other One Bar flavors include treats not usually associated with healthy eating, such as Birthday Cake, Cinnamon Roll and White Chocolate Truffle.
In a survey of 1,000 adults, One Bar found 44% have been eating more nostalgic foods during the pandemic. Nearly six in 10 associate sugary cereal with childhood memories, and more than half associate it with good taste. Only 15% think it’s healthy, the brand found.
Several companies have been trying to bring the nostalgic taste of sugary cereal to adults, especially during the pandemic. Cereal makers themselves have been leading the charge. According to GlobalData, home consumption of cereal last year was up 11% compared to 2019. Millennial cereal consumption has increased the most, with this group eating 13% more cereal from March to August 2020, according to The NPD Group/National Eating Trends data.
With more adult consumers seeking the cereal of their youth, manufacturers have responded. Last fall, General Mills launched retro varieties of its Trix, Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs and Cookie Crisp cereals that bring back 1980s recipes. Direct-to-consumer cereal company Magic Spoon has tried a different tactic, creating options that taste like the sweet ones consumers remember from childhood, but making them much healthier.
One Bar isn’t the only company that has taken that cereal taste and made it into something portable. Last year, Kellogg turned Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes into bars, while Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops and Frosted Flakes-inspired Tiger Paws were made bigger and sold as Jumbo Snax.
However, unlike the majority of these offerings, One Bar Fruity Cereal is tailor-made for adults. And as it rolls out to Trader Joe’s, The Vitamin Shoppe, Amazon and convenience stores, it will become almost as available as the breakfast it tastes like.
— Megan Poinski
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream offers everything but the bagel
The latest variety from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream seems more at home in a New York deli than an ice cream pint, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer a certain something to thrill-seeking consumers.
The Everything Bagel flavor has a sweet cream cheese base riddled with chunks of buttery streusel containing sesame, poppy seeds, onions and garlic. The final effect is what the company describes in a press release as a sweet, salty and umami taste. Everything Bagel debuted for sale at Jeni’s direct-to-consumer site and at its chain of ice cream shops in late January, but has already sold out online.
Jeni’s is known for its creative flavor combinations, such as goat cheese with red cherries, pickled mango and wildberry lavender. This past summer, the Columbus, Ohio-based brand debuted a state fair-inspired collection that included buttered corn on the cob and meat-on-a-stick varieties. But Everything Bagel may be its most savory turn yet.
Unconventional flavors have been popping up with increasing frequency as small, innovative craft brands seek to differentiate themselves in the massive $6.1 billion ice-cream category. Late last year, Nightfood launched a pickle-flavored ice cream targeted at expecting mothers. New York City-based OddFellows offers a sweet-and-savory variety inspired by bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches as part of its Bodega collection of ice creams, which was sold out at its DTC site at press time.
And with many ice cream parlors — usually the innovation hubs of the category — still shut down or dealing with pandemic-related restrictions and harsh winter weather, CPGs have a window to grab consumers’ attention. Frozen confection giants have seen a boost from the at-home cocooning. In its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings call, Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers and Klondike owner Unilever said in-home ice cream sales leapt 17% even as its out-of-home business fell more than 20%.
That said, it could be a little tough to stomach a flavor combination that sounds more complementary to lox than sprinkles. A review on Ohio news site Cleveland.com noted “The seasoning hovered below the sweetness, not too overpowering of an overly garlicky or oniony taste, but instead coming off more as an umami depth.” The writer advised popping a mint afterwards.
Obviously consumers are up for the unusual taste sensation and willing to pay for it: Jeni’s online retail price is $12 per pint. But maybe it’s not so much the Everything Bagel destination they’re after but the flavor journey. After all, when you’re cooped up at home, anything can become an adventure.
— Samantha Oller