As we enter a brand new year, a new report from market analysts Mintelreveals that 2002 proved to be the most successful year for newproduct introductions in the US since 1995, with the number of introductionsexceeding 22,000. The figure represents a healthy increase of 15 percent over 2001.
The strongest category, confectionery, accounted for 14 per cent of thefood product introductions. The four strongest categories within food -confectionery, bakery, beverages, and sauces & seasonings - accounted forhalf of all food product introductions in 2002.
According to Mintel, within the categories of Mintel's Global New ProductsDatabase, there were some astounding fluctuations for the trackedsegments. In food segments, dairy and side dishes experienced a surge in growth - dairy with a 21 per cent increase and side dishes with a 38 per cent increase. In contrast, sweeteners and sugar plummeted 38 per cent, despite the increasing call for sugar substitutes by ageing consumers. Confectionery, again the strongest of the food categories, nonetheless declined by 2 per cent from 2001.
The dairy category showed an impressive performance in2002, with nearly 100 additional product introductions compared to 2001. Thelargestsegment within dairy was cheese - with entries from Kraft Foods withits Manchego Singles, individually wrapped slices targeted to theHispanic market, and, also from Kraft, a limited edition coloured stringcheese under the Kraft Color-Ums label in promotion with the movieMonsters, Inc.
The most active subcategories in terms of innovation,however, were in the development of the milk-based beverage market, andalso in yoghurt. Choglit was Coca-Cola's offering to the burgeoningmarket for carbonated milk-based beverages, and is strongly targeted toteens.
Mintel reports thatside dishes saw interesting flavour twists on traditional products.Macaroni & cheese came in all shapes and sizes to tempt children to viewthe product in new and exciting ways, including a pizza-flavouredversion from Kraft. In addition, Heinz Frozen Foods launched Ore-IdaFunky Fries, a line that includes blue-coloured as well ascocoa-flavoured fries, along with unusual shapes and wild flavourings.
The snacks category saw some interesting developments. Frito-Layreformulated its entire line-up of snacks to be made with canola oilinstead of hydrogenated oil in an effort to rid the products of transfatty acids. Innovation in meat snacks was minimal as numbers wereparallel with those of last year. However, meat substitute snacks,such as those based on soy products, have the ability to cause a goodamount of commotion this year.