Odd flavours and colours driving food innovation

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Red bull, Caffeine, Coffee

Among the new products highlighted by Mintel in this month's look
at the Global New Products Database are lettuce cake, a
controversial opium energy drink and a new look for Kellogg's

The latest additions to the Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD​) include a beer & vodka drink, coffee with a Red Bull energy kick and a colour-changing apple sauce.

New formats for Kellogg's Frosties

Breakfast cereal companies are not only diversifying into on-the-go snacking formats - they also continue to launch new shapes and formats within the core breakfast cereal segment itself in a bid to maintain interest and encourage home consumption.

The latest new format is an extension of the Kellogg's Frosties brand of sugar frosted corn flakes. The brand has already appeared in a number of new flavours (such as chocolate, cinnamon, honey and toffee) and some new shapes (for example, chocolate clusters in Germany), but it has now changed format again with the French and Belgian introduction of pillow shaped cereals (made with oats, rice and wheat) filled with chocolate and topped with a tiger stripe design (Tony the Tiger is the brand's cartoon character emblem).

Beer & vodka blends continue

An interesting and continuing development in the beer market is the emergence of 'spirit beers'. These are basically beers blended with a touch of spirit such as whisky, vodka or even tequila. This is a trend that has mainly taken place in Europe, and has been predominantly developed by niche companies.

However, the trend has now moved to Australia, and has been taken up by mainstream company Carlton & United Breweries, part of the Foster's group. The product in question is called Cold Shot and is a 6 per cent ABV beer and vodka blended drink, described as being made with the refreshing taste of Carlton Cold and the smooth finish of imported, triple-distilled vodka.

The product has been developed following research highlighting that consumers no longer have one drink of choice, tending to switch from beer, wine and spirits, and premixed spirits.

Opium energy drink

While beer and vodka mixes may be perfectly acceptable to Australian consumers, one product which was less well accepted was a controversial energy drink labelled as 'energy with opium'. The product was introduced by a company called Naughty Boy and comprised a citrus flavoured energy drink with crushed poppy seeds.

Unsurprisingly, the product has been banned by Australian authorities pending investigations to determine if it contains any illegal drugs. Even if it is found not to be illegal, there will no doubt be considerable pressure on the company to withdraw the product on the grounds that it glorifies drugs.

Coffee with extra energy

Some people drink coffee when they want a kick, others perhaps prefer to get their energy boost from Red Bull. Now consumers in the Philippines can get a mixture of both.

The Red Bull energy drink has been a major success story in Europe, but its origins lie in Asia where it was introduced in Thailand in the late 1970s. Readily available throughout the continent, a new sub-brand was recently launched in the Philippines:Baroko, a canned ready-to-drink coffee drink.

Made with a concentrated coffee blend and added milk, the drink maintains Red Bull's energy credentials, although the energy boost comes from the more traditional caffeine rather than Red Bull's amino acid booster taureine. The product is expected to fair well in Asia, where ready-to-drink milky cold coffee is already an established market, and of course where Red Bull is also extremely popular.

White tea takes centre stage

Demand for green tea in the UK seems to have calmed down, according to Mintel, with the latest variant of the perennial British favourite being the far rarer white tea. Made only from the first spring shoots and with the highest antioxidant content of any tea, white tea is expected to take over where green tea - itself a popular choice among those looking for a healthy rather than simply refreshing cuppa - left off.

New white tea varieties have recently been introduced in the UK by speciality tea companies such as Dragonfly Teas and Clipper Tea. Furthermore, the variety has also made appearances in toiletry products which could help increase consumer awareness of the variety.

From beverage to confectionery

Meanwhile, both coffee and tea area also being given a new lease of life by their expansion into the confectionery sector, according to Mintel, but their traditional roots in the beverage market are not being forgotten.

Coffee flavoured sweets are being given an even more adult positioning in Belgium through the use of packaging. New there from retailer Delhaize le Lion are artisan hard coffee sweets, available in a glass jar together with metal cap, as commonly found in the instant coffee market.Meanwhile, in Asia where antioxidant green tea is used to flavour and enhance the taste of many a food product (from sweet biscuits to ice cream and prepared meals) the GNPD carries details of a new marshmallows with a jelly-like green tea filling. They have been introduced in the Philippines by Sam's Garden Foodstuffs and highlight the versatility of green tea.

Amelioration through mastication?

The proliferation of healthy confectionery products such as the green tea marshmallows is nothing new - in fact, healthy products have been driving up growth in the confectionery market for several years now - but there seems to be no end to new product launches in this category.

But while herbal chewing gum is already widespread, one Italian firm has given it an interesting twist. The herbs used in Boiron's Homeodent Clorofilla sugar-free chewing gum are popular cooking herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano, rather than more traditionally health-orientated herbs.

Chupa Chups lights up

Confectionery is also a market where packaging innovation has always been of paramount importance, and Spanish lollipop maker Chupa Chups has been one of the major innovators in this area.

Past designs have included Kit Pop inspired by the Swiss army knife (with fold-out ruler, magnifying glass, etc), but the latest addition to the company's portfolio is Light Pop in Italy which is a working torch with a swivel head, on-off and flashing switches.

'Lettuce' eat cake

In Asia, certain ingredients have somewhat unusual applications (to western consumers at least). For example, in ice cream we have seen the use of sticky rice, beans and even sweet potato - ingredients most westerners would not associate with ice cream.

Now, a cake has appeared in Singapore from Agrotech with butterhead lettuce. Called Choy Cake it is also made with sponge cake, whipped cream, carrots and cherry tomatoes. Whether it will catch on in the west is another thing altogether.

Saucy colours

If Asia is known for its peculiar ingredient applications, North America is the land of a thousand colours - where tomato sauce comes in almost every colour under the sun, and not just red as it does everywhere else.

This colour obsession has now been extended to apple sauce, with Mott's North America attempting to jazz up the appeal of its main apple sauce brand through the launch of Mott's Magic Mix-Ins Apple Sauce.

It comprises individual pots of apple sauce with packets of coloured crystals that change the sauce's colour. Packets of Green Apple, Mystery Fruit, and Watermelon are included in an 18-cup carton.

Related topics: Retail & Shopper Insights

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