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Kraft offers new menu options for South Beach Living

BY Tara Smith

NORTHFIELD, Ill. To help consumers eat healthier and manage their weight, South Beach Living foods from Kraft—formerly South Beach Diet foods—is introducing 13 new menu options that promote a healthy lifestyle starting this month.

Among the new good options is the South Beach Living Tide Me Over drink mix, which helps satisfy hunger between meals and is available in strawberry banana and tropical breeze flavors. The drink mixes are sugar-free and contain only 30 calories, we well as fiber and protein.

The South Beach Living Snack Packs, available in dark chocolate-covered soynuts and energy mix, are portion-controlled packs that contain three grams of protein and 160 calories per serving. The line’s frozen entrees will launch three new offerings that feature lean meats and vegetables for 340 calories or less. The new varieties include meatloaf with gravy, roasted turkey and chicken Santa Fe style rice and beans.

Also among the new South Beach Living line are two heart-healthy cereals, available in vanilla almond crunch and strawberry harvest crunch, that contain 31 grams of whole grain per serving, as well as at least nine essential vitamins and minerals. The line’s granola clusters, in mixed berry and cherry almond flavors, are high in fiber and include six grams of protein per serving.

The South Beach Living foods will continue to offer the same nutritious dishes based on the principles of the South Beach Diet. Ryan Clark, director of marketing for South Beach Living foods expects the name change, as well as the new product introductions, will “help people adopt life-long healthy eating habits and help the brand continue on its growth trajectory.”

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Coca-Cola announces partnership with ExerciseTV

BY Tara Smith

ATLANTA Coca-Cola North America on Friday announced it entered into a two-year agreement with ExerciseTV—the first on-demand network dedicated to 24-hour fitness programming—that highlights Coca-Cola’s broad beverage portfolio. The sponsorship relationship went into effect Tuesday.

“For more than 100 years, Coca-Cola has been working with a variety of organizations to encourage physical activity, fitness and overall well-being,” said Greg Downey, Group Director of Entertainment Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “Our partnership with ExerciseTV is ideal because it clearly demonstrates how our broad portfolio of brands fits naturally into a balanced and active lifestyle.”

Coca-Cola and ExerciseTV will co-create original programming and integrate beverage brand messages, as well as include exclusive content for MyCokeRewards.com. Among the co-created programming is the Enviga Calorie Burn Series that will start this spring.

ExerciseTV currently offers video-on-demand workouts in such categories as pilates, yoga, cardio and dancing

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Growth of spirits industry appears to be slowing

BY Tara Smith

NEW YORK The spirits industry growth slowed in 2007, due in part to a slowing economy and increased consumer interest in craft beers.

Although final year-end data has yet to be released, Eric Shepard, executive editor of trade magazine Beverage Marketers Insight, said growth in the number of spirits sent to sellers slowed in 2007 while beer shipments remained about the same. According to ACNielsen monthly retail sales data, beer outperformed spirits from September to November.

In a conference call with investors in November, Brown-Forman Chief Executive Paul Varga said wine and beer companies have benefited from slower growth in spirits, particularly in a weaker economy. Consumers faced with fewer discretionary dollars to spend due to increasing food and gas costs and declining home values—also are drinking more at home, Varga said.

Heightened interest in craft beers also may account for some of the slowdown, Shepard said. Crafts currently are one of the fastest growing beer categories and domestic brewers have been trying to get in on the success by buying smaller craft brewers and by developing brands like Blue Moon—made by Molson Coors Brewing Co.

Not everyone, though, thinks that the popularity of spirits is slowing down. John McDonnell, chief operating officer of tequila-maker Patron Spirits Co., said sales seemed to have picked up in the past week and believes growth will continue in 2008 as new drinkers enter the market with less money to spend on larger luxury items. “The cocktail culture is getting stronger,” he said, adding that liquor represents “an affordable luxury.”

Final year-end shipment and sales data is expected to be released January 11.

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