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Ocean Spray introduces Craisins 100-calorie packs

BY Jenna Duncan

LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, Mass. Craisins brand dried cranberry snacks, produced by Ocean Spray, will now be available in 100-calorie packs, the company said. The sweetened dried cranberries are being touted as a healthy snack alternative that can be enjoyed on the go.

“Offering 100-calorie packs gives consumers another way to enjoy Craisins—whenever and wherever they want,” said Ocean Spray’s chief operating officer of domestic business, Ken Romanzi.

Fat-free, cholesterol-free Craisins also are reported as a good source of fiber. Ocean Spray said they also have no added artificial flavors or preservatives, and are trans fat free.

The new Craisins 100-calorie packs retail at $2.89 and are now available at grocery stores, supermarkets and other retailers across the United States.

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What claims make the best sellers?

BY Mike Duff

Clearly, more vendors think that “better for the consumer” is better for their products. Yet, understanding just what consumers mean by better is important.

In baby food, organic is critical. According to the Nielsen Co., baby food dollar sales increased by 4.4 percent in the 52 weeks ended Dec. 29, 2007, at food, drug and mass merchants in the United States, excluding Wal-Mart, while organic baby food sales gained 38 percent. Organics may only represent around 4 percent of total category sales, but that’s up from 2 percent in 2004.

TRIMMING THE FAT … AND THEN SOME
Organics are the hot topic, but, truth be told, products proclaiming that they provide less fat have a greater appreciation among consumers.

Source: Nielsen LabelTrends; * Figures in millions; Total U.S. food, drug and mass channels, excluding Wal-Mart for the 52 weeks ended July 14, 2007; ( ) denotes loss
PRODUCT CLAIM SALES* % CHG VS. 2006 % CHG VS. FOUR YRS AGO
Fat $39.8 7% 20%
Natural 19.3 8 29
Calorie 16.4 4 29
Salt/Sodium 15.8 2 5
Preservative Free 10.2 2 13
Cholesterol Free 9.5 3 3
Whole Grain 9.5 9 22
Sugar 9.1 6 33
Calcium Presence 9.0 3 4
Caffeine Free 5.7 (3) (1)
Hormone/Antibiotic Free 3.9 25 108
Organic (UPC-coded) 3.7 26 135

Some segments are enjoying torrid growth. Organic baby cereal and biscuits were up 117 percent in the year ended Dec. 29, 2007, while sales of organic junior baby food were up 124 percent and organic strained baby foods were up a more reasonable, but still impressive, 14 percent after four previous years of double-digit growth. In contrast, sales of baby foods that are characterized as natural actually slipped.

Wellness trends in snacks involve a different set of factors. According to Nielsen Label Trends, only 1.7 percent of snack items made an organic claim in the 52 weeks ended Sept. 8, 2007, but 34.9 percent made a fat claim. And not just any old claim; rather, 26.3 percent of snacks made a claim about a specific fat at a time when trans fats were under assault. In contrast, only 3.4 percent of snacks simply claimed to be lowfat in the general sense.

How products making specific claims fared in the marketplace is a way of gauging consumer reaction. Probiotic products enjoyed a 141 percent sales gain for the 52 weeks ended July 14, 2007. Still, total sales were only $282 million. It turns out that the category enjoying the second-highest one-year gain was “absence of a specific fat,” up 38 percent, to total sales of $7.9 billion.

Yet, the proportion of products making organic claims last year gained faster than any other category designated by Nielsen. Organic claims went up 26 percent with hormone/antibiotic-free claims growing almost as fast at 25 percent, with a big drop-off to the next quickest, whole grain, advancing 9 percent.

Only caffeine-free declined as a claim, down 3 percent last year, although, given recent publicity about studies showing negative health effects, that might change. The categories with the smallest positive growth were the preservative-free or salt/sodium claims, both up 2 percent.

So, wellness is a tricky issue. That which grows fastest doesn’t necessarily grow the most in dollar terms. Still, in some product categories, not staying in touch with trends could drive away many, and perhaps most, customers.

Certainly, vendors are reacting. Adam & Eve, for instance, recently announced that it has expanded its popular Sesame Street juice box line by adding 100 percent organic produce in three varieties. The organic baby juice segment increased by 112.3 percent last year, a nice pace even if a bit slow compared with the 378 percent pace set by the organic baby milk and milk-flavoring segment. Organic baby juice is only a $2.6 million segment at Nielsen stores and organic baby milk and milk flavoring just $17.4 million, but look for new products in those areas, and a passel of receptive consumers.

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Parents demand more organic baby options

BY Jenna Duncan

The latest home and health trend for new parents is scouting for organic baby accessories. From organic snacks and formulas, to safer, more earth-friendly bottles and pacifiers—even bath and beauty products—everything baby is going organic.

According to Barbara Haumann, press secretary for the Organic Trade Association, “There is much interest in organic baby food and organic bedding and clothing for infants and young children. New parents are one of the demographics who choose organic products.”

As new parents are learning more about the health and safety benefits of organic and toxin-free living, retailers continue to meet their demands for higher-quality accessories.

For example, the organic baby food segment has seen the launch of a diverse assortment of new products, as well as a rise in sales over the past few years

“Organic baby food sales grew to $206 million in 2006, up 12.2 percent from 2005,” Haumann said. “In the same time period, organic baby formula sales grew by 40 percent to reach $12 million.”

Happybaby frozen organic baby food recently launched Happybites, a line of snacks and meals for toddlers. The Happybites meals contain “secret” hidden vegetables and come with dipping sauces.

In addition to its line of baby cereals, Parent’s Choice, the baby food brand distributed at Wal-Mart stores throughout the United States, has launched its own organic baby formula. The Parent’s Choice baby formula is marketed as nutritionally complete, meeting all Food and Drug Administration standards. Parent’s Choice formulas come in a variety of options to meet baby’s digestion needs.

First Juice has launched the first organic fruit and vegetable juice beverage for toddlers. First Juice’s two flavor options, apple-carrot and banana-carrot, contain a greatly reduced amount of sugar and no artificial ingredients. They also are fortified with calcium and vitamins A, C and D.

In the accessories market, the race is on to find safer pacifiers after it was discovered that many conventional ones contained Bishpenol A (BPA), a synthetic hormone used to make plastic that has been found to be toxic.

Natursutten Pacifiers makes an all-natural, organic pacifier, free of artificial colors, BPA, chemical softeners, parabens and other chemical additives. These pacifiers are crafted from a special rubber from the Hevea brasiliensi tree. They are softer than silicone and molded in one piece so they have no joints where dirt and bacteria might accumulate.

Gerber Silicone Nuks are also free of polycarbonate plastics and BPA, as are the line of cups and baby bottles made by BornFree.

More and more parents say they have “gone organic” because of concerns about the impact of baby products on the environment. More environmentally responsible baby accessories, such as biodegradable diapers, are finding their way to the shelves of retailers.

“In 2005, organic infant clothing and diaper sales grew by 40 percent to reach $40 million,” Haumann said.

gDiapers is a brand of flushable, nontoxic diapers that are not made with plastics, chlorines or perfumes. gDiapers are made from tree-farmed fluff pulp, with an outer shell that is all-natural fiber and entirely compostable—that means they are safer for contact with baby’s skin and better for the environment.

On the bath and beauty front, last year Fruits and Passions released its 100 percent ECOCERT certified-organic line of all-natural bath products, cleansers and even a fragrance. The Bébé line includes body and hair wash, oatmeal bath milk for delicate skin, ultra gentle cleansing foam for the face and signature “baby’s first fragrance”—Delicate Baby Bouquet.

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