Fresh ideas from Europe – new food products

Fresh ideas from Europe – new food products – includes related article on SIAL international food products exhibit

Maureen Byrne

Functional, convenient and ethnic cuisines dominated new product development in 1997.

Although the fizz has gone a little flat in the European alcopops (alcohol-spiked fruit drinks) market in favor of ready-mixed drinks like gin and tonic, the sports drinks sector saw some interesting new launches, such as Life [O.sub.2] super-oxygenated water. The product is said to boost energy levels and is claimed as a “world’s first.”

The development of functional or nutraceutical foods that have positive benefits to health continued at a fast pace, and according to a report by market analysts Datamonitor, the highest penetration of new products in the EU healthy food market is currently fortified and functional foods.

Acidophilus/bifidus cultures, which are now Common in yogurts, have expanded their horizons and are included in a new range of Hytteost cottage cheese sold in Denmark by FDB. Probiotics, which are said to help maintain a balanced intestinal flora, have been added to Super Gelato, a vanilla ice cream manufactured by Sammontana in Italy.

There are even products that assert certain beauty benefits such as Bio Aloe Vera bifidus yogurt from Danone in France, which is claimed to “nourish and hydrate the body.” Products containing phytoestrogens, such as Burgen Soy & Linseed Bread from Allied Bakeries in the UK, are designed specifically to allay some of the unpleasant symptoms experienced by menopausal women.

Chilling Statistics

Fresh chilled products are growing at a rate of 7.7% per year, according to Frost & Sullivan, and will be worth $17.34 billion (U.S. dollars) by 2003. Launches in this sector last year included Pastella Fresh Pasta from Tholstrup in Denmark and Fresh Beans from fresh soup pioneer Covent Garden Soup Company to compete with the canned variety in the UK.

Lowfat products continued to enter the market, and a notable introduction came from food giant Mars, with its Flyte chocolate bar with a whipped filling in the UK. Also in the UK, McVities extended its successful Go Ahead lowfat range of cakes and cookies to include cereal bars and potato chips. Despite reports of a slowdown in this sector’s growth, the market for lowfat foods in Europe has increased at a healthy 5.2% annually since 1992, according to Datamonitor.

Ethnic foods, particularly Mexican specialties, are taking Europe by storm. According to Datamonitor, Spain and Italy, two of Europe’s least developed ethnic food venues, will have the fastest growing markets for tortilla chips in Europe and will show an increase of 22.3% and 15.3%, respectively, every year to 2002.

Spicy Asian foods are popular in Northern European countries, where authenticity is an important selling point. In the UK, Jalfrezi, Balti Mild and Balti Hot Handi curry paste from Simtom Foods combines exotic Indian spices in a convenient mix, which is ready to use from glass jars.

In the crowded pizza arena, a new idea was McCain’s Rising Pizza. This frozen pizza, available in Smoked Ham & Mushroom Combo and More Than Pepperoni versions, has an unbaked base which rises in consumers’ ovens to give a fresh-baked taste to “match up to the experience of a delivery or takeaway pizza.”

In The Stratosphere

Some of the wackier ideas for products in 1997 included chocolate-flavored carrots, baked bean-flavored peas and pizza-flavored sweet corn, all launched by frozen food retailer Iceland to encourage kids to eat their veggies. The product line, however, was taken off the market after only a few months.

Products containing hemp, the plant that yields cannabis, were seen all over Europe. Old hippies, however, will be disappointed to learn that drinks such as Cannabia beer from Duputeti Natural Products in Germany contain little or none of the mind-altering substance found in cannabis.

While the beef market was hit badly by the BSE crisis, Tivall Foods launched in the Netherlands its new “breakthrough” meat analog in chicken and beef style chunks that for the first time simulate whole muscle meat. But the prize for the most tasteless product of 1997 must go to Markenspirtuosen in Germany for its alcoholic milk drink called BSE, which features a cartoon-style picture of a mad cow on the carton!

RELATED ARTICLE: SIAL ’98: The Global New Products Showcase

If you’re looking for the latest new product ideas, then Paris in October is the place to be.

SIAL ’98, the biennial international food products exhibition, will take place October 18-22, 1998, at the Paris-Nord Villepente, an exhibition center north of Paris. The last show, SIAL ’96, featured 4,500 exhibitors from 83 countries and attracted 110,000 visitors from 167 nations.

More than 20,000 food and beverage products from all over the world will be presented at SIAL, which is expected to encompass 1.8 million sq. ft. of exhibit space. Products will be grouped either by 18 different categories (e.g., dairy, meat, beverages, frozen food, pet food, etc.) or according to geographic region.

The most innovative product in each of the categories will be honored with the SIAL D’OR Award. In addition, the most innovative product from each country will receive an award. From the group of award recipients, one product will then be chosen as the most innovative product at the show and receive the first GLOBAL SIAL D’OR Award.

In ’96, SIAL went on-line for the first time with a web site for exhibitors and visitors. The web site, , has been redesigned and expanded for this year’s show. Visitors can find practical information on the exhibition, including travel tips, show hours, exhibiting companies list, floorplan and news on global food markets and trends.

A USA pavilion will feature more than 100 booths. U.S.-based food companies exhibiting at SIAL will have an opportunity to meet with international food importers as well as French and other European supermarket buyers.

SIAL is represented in the U.S. by IMEX Management, Charlotte, N.C. For information on attending or exhibiting, contact IMEX at 704/3650041, fax 704/365-8426 or e-mail .

COPYRIGHT 1998 Cahners Publishing Company

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