New Products Company of the Year: LeCarb
Last year at this time, Dairy Foods magazine honored SouthWest Foods, Tyler, Texas, for introducing LeCarb™, the first nationally distributed low-carbohydrate frozen dessert. This year, due to the product line's continuing overwhelming success, along with the fact that LeCarb has grown to include dairy drinks, cultured products and frozen novelties, the company has been chosen as Dairy Foods magazine's New Products Company of 2003.
LeCarb is so successful for SouthWest Foods, that the company plans to spin it off to be its own company, rather than a brand of SouthWest Foods, which is a division of Brookshire Grocery Co. Way to go LeCarb!
No longer a nicheWhat's so unique about LeCarb? Well, for starters, the company uses ingredients and patent-pending process technology to replace or remove the majority of carbohydrates in the milk used to manufacture LeCarb products. As a result, LeCarb products carry the tagline: "Products for the low-carb lifestyle." To date, LeCarb is the only dairy line to include frozen desserts, drinks and cultured products for the growing number of consumers choosing a low-carb lifestyle.
"We're not talking niche anymore," says Fred Calvert, senior v.p. of manufacturing. "Even moms and dads are making low-carb choices in order to reduce the amount of refined sugar they feed their kids."
The low-carb lifestyle appeals to a variety of consumers, and is particularly attractive to the epidemic number of overweight and diabetic individuals in America today looking for good-tasting, nutritious, low-carb alternatives to traditional dairy foods.
"As a low-carb dieter, Ice cream was the one thing I really missed. I was determined to develop a frozen dessert that tasted great and was not overloaded with carbohydrates," says Calvert.
Glenn Carlyle, dir. of sales, also a low-carb dieter, says, "I challenged Fred to come up with an ice cream product that we could eat and still stay loyal to our diets." Calvert took the challenge seriously.
"We worked on the formulation for the frozen dessert for about a year, and rolled out pints in four flavors (chocolate, lemon, strawberry and vanilla) to the Brookshire stores in December 2001. Soon afterwards, Wal-Mart contacted us, and by October 2002, LeCarb Frozen Dessert was being distributed nationally through Wal-Mart Supercenters.
At the beginning of this year, three new flavors-chocolate almond, cinnamon and homemade vanilla-joined the LeCarb Frozen Dessert pint line. In addition, six-packs of 4-oz cups debuted, first in chocolate and vanilla, and later chocolate almond, lemon and strawberry joined the multi-pack offering.
LeCarb Frozen Dessert is sweetened with sucralose, which is how the company keeps carbohydrates low in the frozen dessert. Patent-pending technology is used in the manufacture of the dairy drink and cultured product.
Both products were introduced this past July. LeCarb Dairy Drink comes in three varieties. Homogenized, or whole, contains 4g carbohydrates per one-cup serving, while 2% Reduced Fat has 4.5g. These white varieties have around two-thirds less sugar than their "milk" counterparts, and a little more than one-third more protein.
"Chocolate is very attractive to parents who think regular chocolate milk is just too high in sugar," Carlyle says.
"Because of standards of identity, LeCarb Dairy Drink cannot be labeled as milk because the lactose has been removed," he adds. "However, people don't seem to notice that the drinks are not called milk."
"Yogurt has always been considered a healthy diet food, but for those watching their carbohydrate intake, yogurt really does not fit it," Calvert says. "There are quite a few good yogurts in the marketplace that use non-nutritive sweeteners to reduce sugar content and calories, but even those products are still quite high in carbohydrates."
The 4-oz novelty bars are sold as individual units and in four-packs, with each containing either 3g or 4g carbohydrate. The bars are oval-shaped, similar to some of the higher-end, superpremium bars already in the market.
The bars come in four flavors: Chocolate, chocolate almond, lemon and strawberry. "They have a slightly different body and texture than the pints and cups," Calvert adds.
"Reception to LeCarb has been extremely positive and we are encouraged by the fierce loyalty that has developed in such a short time," concludes Calvert.
Congrats LeCarb as being Dairy Foods magazine's New Products Company of 2003!
Click here for our "Top New Dairy Foods 2003" story.