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Kraft, Medisyn expand collaborative partnership

BY Allison Cerra

NORTHFIELD, Ill. A food giant has expanded its collaboration with a novel pharmaceutical company to discover ingredients that could benefit product quality, performance, food safety and health and wellness.

Kraft Foods said Tuesday that its expanded partnership with Medisyn may aid its ability to meet the latest consumer needs and market opportunities. The new agreement comes less than two years after the companies’ collaboration was first announced and expands the scope from opportunities in health and wellness to those in food quality, food safety and product performance. Medisyn has been engaged in a research and licensing collaboration with Kraft Foods since December 2008 to discover effective bioactive ingredients suitable for use in food.

“At Kraft Foods, open innovation means being innovative about how we innovate,” said Todd Abraham, SVP research, development and quality at Kraft Foods. “We’re increasingly looking outside our own walls, and we’re excited about Medisyn and the potential its technology offers to help us more quickly meet the latest consumer needs and market opportunities.”

Added Medisyn president David Land, “We are delighted Kraft Foods will work with Medisyn to accelerate novel ingredient discovery across several of its emerging market opportunities and current market applications. We’re pleased our Forward Engineering™ technology could help Kraft Foods create new, delicious and affordable foods.”

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Niche players serve up snacks for health-conscious

BY Barbara White-Sax

Natural and organic trends aren’t going away. Consumers have shown that they are willing to pay more for snack foods that offer them a nutritional benefit—especially when they are buying those products for their children. Consumers often are looking to small, niche players in the category for new product flavors and formulations to offer them something new. Retailers, from convenience stores to coffee shops to mass merchants, are reacting.

Starbucks recently created an “In With the Good” display, featuring healthy and organic snacks. On-display advertising read: “These are some of our favorite snacks made by people who share your passion for eating well.” The display included bagged snacks from Annie’s and Food Should Taste Good, nuts from Sahale Snacks, gluten-free cookies from Dr. Lucy’s and granola bars from Two Moms in the Raw. In its efforts to expand its snack food selection, Starbucks clearly sees an opportunity in healthier options.

“There’s a lot of demand for healthy snacks on the go, and it’s an open canvas for retailers,” said Melissa Abbott, culinary insights and trends manager at the Hartman Group. The Starbucks display, she said, is all about quality products that tempt consumers to try something new.

“Healthy eating is here to stay,” said Josh Schroeter, president and co-founder of Sahale Snacks, whose seasoned nuts were included in Starbucks’ display. “It’s a trend that may have started in health food stores and Whole Foods, but it has been integrated into supermarkets and mass merchants.”

Sahale, which created barbecue almonds for Starbucks, is rolling out the almonds and two other varieties of flavored nuts—Tuscan almonds and southwest cashews—to other channels. The brand also has launched Biscotti chips—light, chip-like whole-grain crisps with fruit and nuts that will retail for $4.99 for a 5.5-oz. bag. Schroeter said the convenience store channel is expanding its selection of healthier snacks, and Sahale has made inroads in that channel. The company now is testing its products in some drug chains and expected to expand its reach in that channel this year.

“A lot of people walk into a drug store with health on their mind, and it’s a good opportunity to offer healthier snack options that consumers have had to go elsewhere to purchase,” Schroeter said.

John Foraker, CEO of Annie’s, said consumers are buying his company’s snacks at Walmart, Safeway, Kroger and Target, but distribution in drug stores remains limited. “Eating foods without fake ingredients is very mainstream,” he said. “Drug stores are leaving money on the table by not carrying products that their time-crunched consumers are buying everywhere else.”

Products like Dr. Lucy’s cookies, which are fat- and cholesterol-free and are available in grab-and-go four-packs for $1.50, would seem like a natural impulse purchase for that hungry patient waiting for a statin prescription. “Drug stores are already dedicating real estate to the cookie category. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be there,” said Lucy Gibney, president and CEO of Dr. Lucy’s.

The Hartman Group’s Abbott said the Starbucks display does a good job of grouping premium products—some of which were made specifically for the company—in one place. While chain drug retailers can look to niche brands to inspire their customers to try new snacks, Abbott said they also could be more adventurous with their private-label products. “A lot of private-label brands are just knocking off the top mainstream CPG brands,” she said. “They can do so much better than that by localizing the brand or opting for more natural or organic options with new flavors.”

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Sip away your stress

BY DSN STAFF

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —More relaxation drinks are trickling into the market. The beverages, designed to be stress-reducing, have become popular with consumers looking for an anti-energy choice. The drinks were named a top trend for 2010 on both “The View” and “Good Morning America.”

Unwind, the latest entry in the category, will roll out to retail in June. The calming, carbonated drink made by Frontier Beverage is available in three flavors—goji grape, pom berry and citrus orange—and contains valerian root, rose hips and passion flower—herbs used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The beverage contains 40 calories and 10 g of sugar, and retails for between $1.99 and $2.49 for a 12-oz. can.

Frontier Beverage CEO Terry Harris said the product will be a great fit for the drug channel. “Both businesses and consumers are equally frazzled by the uncertain economy that lies ahead. Drug stores opting to stock products that encourage relaxation stand to gain new customers who are desperately in need of an easily accessible way to reduce stress after a long day,” he said.

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