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Re-energizing gum

BY Barbara White-Sax

CHICAGO — Wrigley has entered the "energy" arena with Alert Energy Caffeine Gum. Each piece contains 40 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of a half cup of coffee. The company said the gum is targeted to adults who consume caffeine for energy and are looking for a "portable solution." The gum’s bitter taste is designed to deter children from using it. The gum is available in eight-piece packs in fruit and mint flavors, and has a suggested retail price of $2.99.

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Healthy snacks fill aisles

BY Barbara White-Sax

Consumers are snacking more than ever, but they aren’t necessarily reaching for a bag of chips and a can of soda.

"To consumers, a snack can be anything," said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. "In fact, when we ask people in the United States what snacks they consume, their top five responses are fresh fruit, cheese, cereal, ice cream and yogurt. As you can see, healthy choices dominate." Chocolate, she said, comes in sixth.

Dornblaser said snacks go far beyond the typical categories — chips, popcorn and bars — and extend to almost anything that can be consumed in an easy, portable format. "I think that helps to explain the rise of Greek yogurt, especially in the United States, as it is often consumed as a healthy snack," she said.

What will consumers want in the future? "Companies have a real opportunity to offer consumers snacks that are in unusual formats, flavors and offer unique benefits," Dornblaser said.

"Keep in mind, too, that beverages stand in for snacks, as we see with all the custom-made and bottled smoothie drinks on the market," she said.

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Gluten-free becomes latest trend

BY Barbara White-Sax

If fat, sodium and partially hydrogenated oils were yesterday’s undesirable ingredients, the substance many Americans are currently looking to avoid is gluten. A recent NPD survey found that about a third of U.S. adults say they want to cut down or be free of gluten in their diets. More people are being diagnosed with Celiac disease, but even consumers who have no gluten intolerance are opting to eat foods that are free of gluten because they perceive them as healthier.

As more Americans say no to gluten, the market for gluten-free foods and beverages has continued to grow even faster than anticipated. Sales of the products reached $4.2 billion in 2012, for a compound annual growth rate of 28% over the 2008 to 2012 period, according to a recent Packaged Facts report. Packaged Facts expects U.S. sales of gluten-free foods and beverages to exceed $6.6 billion by 2017.

With so many consumers looking for gluten-free foods, retailers can’t afford to not be in that business. Carving out space for a gluten-free section containing crackers; cookies; snack bars, a segment that is showing impressive category growth within gluten-free products; cereals; and beverages lets consumers know that retailers are on trend with products that address their nutritional concerns and allows them to cross-market gluten-free products in other sections of the store to consumers.

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