Food products: new uses for traditional ingredients

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ice cream, Mintel

A number of new products are targeted to bring an unusual end to
this year's month of fasting - from 'ancient' chocolate to
beetroot-flavoured coffee and vinegar-based alcoholic drinks.

Indeed, the latest product findings from market analyst Mintel's GNPD (Global New Products Database) suggests that traditional ingredients used in innovative ways will be a key trend this Easter.

Chocolate is of course traditionally one of the most popular treats to give up for Lent. Ice Cream manufacturer Hagen-Dazs' has responded to the anticipated demand for a quick chocolate fix by launching Latin-inspired Mayan Chocolate-flavoured ice cream.

This ice cream combines the familiar flavours of chocolate and cinnamon, and is claimed to derive its origin from the chocolate first created by ancient Mayans as far back as 500 BC. Pretty smart marketing for what is a well-established product.

Franz Juchem has come up with something rather original: Echte Mnner (Real Men). This is a range of men-shaped baking tins and mixes, which allows consumers to bake their ideal man.

The range includes five different men, each with a different flavour. Consumer can choose to bake the muscle man Rudi Hrtling for a nutty taste, while yoghurt flavoured Rdiger Longus is aimed specifically at men.

Other new product launches are designed to act as a counter-balance to the recent spate of fad diets, many of which encourage cutting back on carbohydrates. In Japan for example, Circle K Sunkus has launched Brain Buns under the Kachial Hogaraka Time brand.

These bite-sized bread pieces are enriched with vitamin B1, said to be necessary for healthy heart, nerve cell and even brain function.

"Fortification and added benefits in food are becoming more specific as products claiming to be enriched with a particular vitamin are on the rise,"​ said David Jago, director of GNPD custom solutions at MINTEL.

"This suggests a move away from general claims such as 'added vitamins and minerals'. Functional foods continue to grow in importance, and in particular we have seen an increasing number of products claiming to benefit brain function."

Another Japanese innovation is an alcoholic drink made from vinegar though such a product will represent less of a shock within the Asian market.

"In Japan drinking vinegar is already widely accepted to help fight fatigue and improve circulation, and is generally considered to be good for your health,"​ said Jago.

"This particular drink makes vinegar a much more attractive choice by not only focusing on the inherent health benefits of vinegar but also gives it a much more palatable fruity flavour."

Sparkling Vivian is made with blackcurrant-based dessert vinegar, which is then blended with red wine and herbs, to create a 4 per cent ABV flavoured alcoholic drink.

But perhaps the most unusual innovation comes from Malaysia. Coffee flavoured with red beetroot might sound pretty horrific, but then there is the health factor to consider.

"Nutrients derived from natural sources may be considered 'better' than those found in supplements and the iron in beet juice, in particular, is noted for being much easier to take on board than the man-made alternatives,"​ said Jago. "Iron is particularly good for the liver and we are seeing products claiming to be beneficial for liver health beginning to gain momentum in international markets."

In-Joy Marketing's Beta Vulgaris Red Beet Instant Coffee mix is said to be good for the blood, liver and can help the body's pH levels. Red beets are low in fat, high in carbohydrates and naturally contain a number of vitamins and minerals, in particular iron.

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