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Health trend: Going bananas over “superfruits”

BY Allison Cerra

CHICAGO While health food fads may come and go, “superfruit” consumables have become all the rage, according to Brand Week.

Superfruits, appreciated as being rich in antioxidants and other nutrients such as phytonutrients, can be found in several food items and beverages. In 2006, 8,000 food and beverage products containing such fruits were launched globally, according to Chicago’s Mintel Global Solutions. In 2007, introductions of new superfruit products could hit 10,000.

The category includes cranberries, blueberries, pomegranates and tart cherries, acai berries, black currants, lingonberries, mangosteen and gogi berries. Experts say consumers who are seeking healthy options are driving their popularity.

So far, Coca-Cola’s Minute Maid, Pepsi’s Tropicana, Apple & Eve, Blue Bunny and POM have released products based on the fruits. Even beverage conglomerate Anheuser-Busch developed superfruit beverages called 180 Red and 180 Blue energy drinks with acai and gogi berry flavoring. Last month it introduced Bacardi Silver Pomegranate Mojito.

Minute Maid, added Pomegranate Blueberry Flavored 100% fruit juice blend to its Enhanced Juices line just last month. Minute Maid is supporting the launch with print in People, Cooking Light and Fitness, according to the The Marketing Store.

Coke units Odwalla and Bossa Nova also have superfruit beverages. “We [wanted] to expand the line beyond breakfast and a pomegranate blueberry juice blend was the perfect way to do it,” said Ray Crockett, a Coca-Cola rep in Atlanta. “It’s a departure from orange juice.”

Tropicana has superfruit products in its Tropicana Pure and Fruit Smoothie lines. “Superfruits are the essence of our business,” said Jim McGinnis, vice president of marketing at Tropicana. “Superfruits are here to stay.”

Apple & Eve, a Roslyn, N.Y.-based company with numerous superfruit-enhanced juices, is launching Fizz Ed, a carbonated beverage with 70% juice, which will soon hit supermarket and club store shelves. “We introduced Fizz Ed in the school food service arena because schools are [looking for] healthier options,” Brad Angevine, vice president of marketing, told Brand Week.

Though superfruits have primarily been involved in the food and drink category only, experts say the trend may branch out to others. “We’re seeing superfruits, particularly pomegranates and acai, moving into nonfood categories such as skincare, haircare and cosmetics,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director, Mintel Custom Solutions. “It shows consumers are aware of superfruits and their benefits.” Research has shown that these fruits can aid several ailments, from cancer to acne.

“[Researchers are] now investigating pomegranates as an anti-cavity ingredient,” said Suzy Badaracco, president at food trends forecaster Culinary Tides in Tualatin, Ore. “[They want to see if] they can be incorporated into oral care products such as toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gums.”

“The success of superfruit products depends on the stamina manufacturers have and how well they can brand the products,” said Ken Harris, managing director at Cannondale Associates in Evanston, Ill. “That’s the trick.”

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Hershey names David West as new CEO

BY Allison Cerra

HARRISBURG, Pa. The Hershey Co. board said Tuesday that another former Nabisco executive will replace Richard Lenny as the leader of the nation’s largest candymaker.

David West, Hershey’s chief operating officer, was named company president and a director, effectively immediately, and will become chief executive on Dec. 1, the board said in a statement. The move came a day after Lenny announced he was stepping down as chief executive following six years at Hershey.

“Dave is a very strong leader with an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of Hershey’s business,” company director Robert Campbell said in the statement.

Lenny, who was the first chief executive officer hired from outside Hershey, will remain as chairman through the end of the year, when Campbell will take over, the company said.

Soon after Lenny left Nabisco for Hershey in 2001, he hired West to join the confectionary to come up with a marketing plan. West became Hershey’s chief financial officer in 2005 and chief operating officer in January.

Hershey’s stock fell $1.63 a share, or 3.4 percent, to $45.78 in trading Tuesday.

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Kraft to sell Fruit20 and Veryfine brands to Sunny Delight

BY Tara Smith

NORTHFIELD, Ill. Kraft Foods Inc. announced Wednesday that it will sell Veryfine juice and Fruit2O brands to Sunny Delight Beverages Co., a leader of juice drinks in North America. In addition to the brands, the transaction includes specific manufacturing equipment, a manufacturing facility in Littleton, Mass and about 200 employees who will join Sunny Delight. In 2006, Fruit2O and Veryfine had net revenues of about $135 million.

“For Kraft, we believe we will create greater long-term shareholder value by selling, rather than investing in, these brands [Fruit2O and Veryfine],” said Rick Searer, Kraft Executive Vice President and President of Kraft North America.

Kraft will record a one-time, pre-tax asset impairment charge of $125 million in the third quarter in anticipation of the sale. The sale is expected to conclude in the fourth quarter.

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