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Ragu to roll out new, more nutritious sauce with classic taste

BY Allison Cerra

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. Looking to give moms the taste of the Old Country without sacrificing time, Ragu has developed a new traditional pasta sauce that features two full servings of vegetables in every half cup.

Ragu’s Old World Style traditional pasta sauce will be available in stores by the end of this month, providing moms with another wholesome option for dinner without the guesswork.

"For more than 70 years, Ragu has helped moms and families feed their kids well," said Donna Barker, marketing director for Unilever, which owns the Ragu brand.  "Ragu hopes to help moms tackle dinnertime dilemmas by offering delicious and wholesome recipes — providing one more great option to help ensure their families are getting the vegetables they need and a meal they’ll love."

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Something sweet for Snackerz

BY DSN STAFF

GLENDALE, Calif. —Just in time for Halloween, Nestle has added a bite-sized Butterfinger product to its 87-year-old classic candy brand. New ButterFinger Snackerz is a smooth Butterfinger candy center wrapped in a crispy, wafer biscuit and covered with chocolate and a decorative drizzle of peanut butter. It combines the classic Butterfinger flavors with new elements to provide a new snacking experience.

The product is available in single-serve 1.28-oz. bags and 9.2-oz. packages of fun-size bags. Suggested retail is 89 cents for a single-serve and $3.29 for fun-size bags. Snackerz also is included in a Best of Butterfinger assortment that includes individually wrapped Butterfinger and Butterfinger Crisp.

The launch is being supported with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon on Nestle’s Butterfinger.com website.

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Premium carbonated drinks pour into market

BY Barbara White-Sax

Undaunted by flat carbonated beverage sales, premium soda manufacturers are bringing a steady stream of new products to market.

YEAR SALES*
2008 $1.01
2009 1.02
2010** 1.01
*In billions**52 weeks ended Aug. 8 Source: Infoscan Reviews, SymphonyIRI Group

“There’s definitely movement in this segment. There’s been a deluge of products, and we’ve been watching it closely,” said Melissa Abbott, trends and culinary insights manager at the Hartman Group. Abbott believed the spike in interest in niche carbonated beverages is fueled by consumers’ desire for higher-quality foods that are “premium, but attainable.” She also believed consumers are willing to spend a bit more for those products. “Consumers don’t view these beverages as a commodity. They are a treat, like a substitution for a candy bar,” she said.

Such premium soda brands as Boylan’s and Jones Soda have occupied this small niche for years, but have seen a surge in popularity. More brands—Fruit 66, Hot Lips and Kristall, to name a few—are more recent entries. “We’re seeing wider distribution from small labels,” Abbott said. “It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen here.”

Private-label brands also have moved into the segment. Walgreens has introduced Deerfield Trading’s Old Fashioned Soda with real cane sugar in such flavors as root beer and strawberry cream, and the company’s Duane Reade stores stock DR Delish sparkling beverages in pomegranate and blood orange, among other flavors.

Nontraditional flavors are a driver in the category. “We get excited about developing the next flavor,” said David Yudkin, co-owner of Hot Lips Soda. He believed pulp in the bottle is “new and will drive the category” going forward.

This spring, R.W. Knudsen introduced Sparkling Essence, a zero-calorie beverage made with sparkling water infused with organic ingredients in four light, natural flavors: lemon, cucumber, mint and blueberry. Knudsen also recently reformulated and repackaged its Spritzers, made from fruit juice and sparkling water in such flavors as Jamaican lemonade, peach and boysenberry. In an effort to shave calories from each serving, the company reduced juice content from 100% to 70%-to-80% juice and changed packaging from a 12-oz. can to a sleek 10.5-oz. can. The Spritzers are sold for about $3.79 for a four pack.

Jones has done well with its quirky, limited-edition flavors—its newest addition is a bacon-flavored soda. The company’s limited-edition six packs have been featured at Target for Halloween.

While more premium soda brands continue to enter the market, industry experts were quick to note that the segment remains small. “The industry is dominated by Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper Snapple Group,” said John Sicher, editor of Beverage Digest. “There’s always room for niche players, and they will always be niche players.”

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