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Drug retailers feed consumer desires with healthful snacks

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers may be watching their pocketbooks, but their snack preferences still are trending toward the more healthful options.

While promotions were plentiful at one Walgreens store, healthful snacks were the highlight. On an endcap near the front entrance, Corazona’s Heart Healthy chips and Polar and Dole brand fruit cups were merchandised together. In the store’s Café W area, nuts were a big part of the mix. Frito-Lay’s new TrueNorth trial size nut clusters were being promoted on an aisle wing for 69 cents. Private-label dried fruits and trail mixes shared space with Odwalla bars and 100-calorie packs from Nabisco.

Walgreens’ mix is proof that while retailers scramble to offer consumers more value, they can’t lose sight of what consumers have been telling them they want from food.

At the Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting this summer, new-product experts from Mintel International told attendees that consumers want products that have sustainability and inherent goodness of ingredients. They also want healthful choices for their kids.

“What’s in the products is important. Consumers don’t want them to be fortified with anything,” said Lynn Dornblaser, a new product expert from Mintel. “There are more products being made with whole grains, such as Frito-Lay’s SunChips, General Mills Fiber One cereal bars and Nabisco’s Garden Harvest toasted chips.”

Manufacturers are highlighting fruit and vegetable snacks, as well as protein-rich options. “Manufacturers are finding new ways of incorporating a serving of fruit and vegetables into the consumer’s diet,” Mintel’s Dornblaser said.

Beech-Nut Nutrition Corp. recently introduced Let’s Grow!, a line of nutritious toddler meals and snacks backed with the company’s no-junk promise. All 19 products in the line are all-natural with added vitamins and minerals, and are made with real fruits and vegetables. They contain no artificial flavors, colors, MSG, trans fats or refined sugar or preservatives.

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Gourmet chocolate-maker Taza opens doors for tours, tempts palates across the country

BY Melissa Valliant

SOMERVILLE, Mass. The taste of chocolate never ceases to be magical, and an up-and-coming chocolate maker in Somerville, Mass., is opening its doors to show chocolate lovers how the magic happens through Willy Wonka-style tours.

Taza chocolate isn’t anything like your typical Hershey bar. It boasts a more rich, refined taste that combines earthy flavors, all of which stem from 100 percent direct-trade, organic ingredients, as Taza buys directly from farmers and harvesters.

Top-notch Boston restaurants are adding Taza chocolates and chocolate-based confections to their menus, and wine and beer connoisseurs are finding unique combinations of drinks to present at regular tastings and pairings. The factory tours allow visitors to be led through the chocolate process by one of the two founders, Alex Whitmore and Larry Slotnick, where visitors can observe the handful of Taza employees hard at work at constructing chocolate creations. Dark chocolate samples, including 60, 70 and 80 percent bars and flavored chocolate drinks, are offered on the tours.

All of the chocolate-making takes place at the Somerville factory, a rare situation among U.S. chocolate manufacturers. But beware of a Taza chocolate addiction, as it will cost you. One 3-ounce bar is priced at $6.50.

Taza chocolate candies are available at Massachusetts retailers such as Boston Organics, Greenfield’s Market and Whole Foods Markets, as well as hundreds of other grocers and retailers across the United States.

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Pepperidge Farm introduces famous Australian cookie to Americans

BY Melissa Valliant

NORWALK, Conn. Australians have been obsessed with Tim Tam, an Arnott’s-invented chocolate biscuit, for years. Now Pepperidge Farm, sister company to Arnott’s, is bringing the Australian favorite to the United States this November exclusively through Target stores. Tim Tam, which was rated the No.1 chocolate biscuit in Australia, is composed of two layers of chocolate-malted biscuit, filled with a light chocolate cream filling and covered in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

Arnott’s has been making the snack for more than 40 years, selling approximately 35 million packs each year. Pepperidge Farm, a subsidiary of Campbell Soup Company (like Arnott’s), is introducing Tim Tam in Chocolate Creme and Caramel varieties with a suggested retail price of $3.39. The tasty Australian treat will be available through March of next year.

“In keeping with the tradition of our founder, Margaret Rudkin, Pepperidge Farm is thrilled to introduce Tim Tam to American consumers. Margaret searched the globe to bring back delectable cookies and crackers to the United States that are now beloved icons to Americans, much like Tim Tam biscuits are to Australians,” said Michael Simon, senior vice president and general manager of the Pepperidge Farm snacks division. “We’re certain Americans will soon understand why this scrumptious cookie is all the rage in Australia.”

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