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Coconut water sweetens sales

BY Barbara White-Sax

Sales of coconut water continue to soar. According to a recent report from Mintel, the U.S. market for coconut water was around $350 million in 2011, representing 2% of the total fruit juice and drinks sales. The report suggested that coconut water offers growth opportunity in an otherwise maturing fruit juice/drinks market; in all three outlets, coconut water sales grew by 165% to $59 million during 2010-2011.

“Coconut water has had strong gains, and it’s still in its infancy,” said John Sicher, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. Sicher expected the segment will grow in two ways — in its organic form and as an ingredient in other types of beverages. “It’s low in calories, has a natural sweetness and has hydrating properties, so I think we’ll see it added to other beverages,” he said.

Earlier this year, Vita Coco invested in a California-based beverage startup called Coco Café, which produces a ready-to-drink beverage of fresh coconut water and organic, fair-trade espresso with milk.

With less sugar than many other juice drinks, coconut water has great potential in the sports drink and kids segments. ONE Kids already has addressed the kids niche with waters in four flavors. Zico introduced a chocolate flavor that it plans to target to kids.

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Frito-Lay to validate, label products as gluten free

BY Allison Cerra

PLANO, Texas — PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay North America division is developing a gluten-free validation process for its products as part of a multiyear initiative to assure consumers that many of the company’s products are gluten free.

The company said its gluten-free validation process was created with input from the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program and the Celiac Disease Foundation to ensure products contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten before making a "gluten-free" claim. The company said its Lays Classic potato chips and Fritos original corn chips both are gluten-free products.

The gluten-free claim that Frito-Lay is adding to qualified products appears in the form of a "GF" icon and/or a statement on the back of the bag. Changes to packaging are being phased in and can take some time, the company noted.

The initiative is part of the division’s partnership with the Celiac Disease Foundation and the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to educate consumers and health professionals about gluten-free resources and options. Activities through Frito-Lay’s partnerships will include development of educational content in English and Spanish, and cross promotion through social media channels, the company said.

"We understand that living with gluten sensitivities can present some challenges, and when you or a loved one is diagnosed it can be overwhelming and confusing," Frito-Lay North America group manager of nutrition science and regulatory affairs Kari Hecker Ryan said. "We are doing our due diligence to ensure that our validated products comply with the proposed standards by testing ingredients and finished products, so the shopper can trust our gluten-free claim."

Additional information about the initiative can be found here.

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Fresh & Easy launches Ready to Cook line

BY DSN STAFF

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — Fresh & Easy has launched a new range of more than 50 preseasoned, ready-to-cook items in stores just in time for the summer grilling season. The Ready to Cook line includes beef, pork, chicken, fish and vegetable options all premarinated or preseasoned, ready to go straight in the skillet, microwave or on the grill.

“As we move into summer, more people are coming together for barbecues, graduations, and picnics and everyone wants to find great deals on quality meats and veggies they can easily throw on the grill,” said Anthony Johnson, Fresh & Easy’s category manager for meat, fish and poultry. “Customers can easily and affordably put together a meal with unique flavor combinations with our new ‘Ready to Cook’ appetizers, meats and sides.”

Some of the new Fresh & Easy Ready to Cook products introduced for this summer include:

  • Jalapeno poppers (9 oz.): $3.49;

  • Stuffed red peppers (11 oz.): $3.99;

  • BBQ bacon and cheese patties 1.2lbs: $5.49;

  • Sweet chili and apricot pork chops 1.25lbs: $5.99;

  • Tequila and orange chicken 1.25lb: $5.99;

  • Chili, pepper and garlic barbacoa beef 1.25lb: $6.99;

  • Atlantic salmon skewers with spicy orange sauce 12oz: $5.99;

  • Mango chipotle albacore tuna (12 oz.): $6.99;

  • Mushroom and onion steak topper (10 oz.): $2.62;

  • Chili herb sweet potatoes (12 oz.): $3.49; and

  • Baby gold potatoes and onions with lemon herb butter (15 oz.): $3.49.

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