There's a new addition to Purchase, N.Y.-basedPepsiCo Inc.'s non-carbonated beverage portfolio-a line of flavored milk beverages called Quaker™ Milk Chillers™. Made with 2% reduced-fat milk and fortified with calcium and seven essential vitamins, Quaker Milk Chillers come in three flavors: chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Roll-out coincided with back-to-school promotions, with product debuting in stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic during the second week of August.

"Many people want the health benefits of milk but they don't like the taste of plain milk. Quaker Milk Chillers enable them to get many of milk's nutrients in the form of a great-tasting beverage without all of the calories and sugar found in most flavored milks," says Chad Dick, dir. of marketing innovation, Pepsi-Cola North America. "So when it's time for a snack, we hope people will reach for Quaker Milk Chillers rather than a cookie or a candy bar."

Aseptically packaged in 14-oz single-serve plastic bottles, these new milk drinks are distributed at ambient temperature. They are intended for refrigerated sales in convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores, mass merchandisers, school vending machines and select foodservice accounts. Sweetened with a blend of natural and no-calorie sweeteners, including sucrose, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, the beverages have a similar nutritional profile to plain 2% reduced-fat milk-an 8-oz serving is 130-140 calories, depending on flavor. Quaker Milk Chillers qualify for PepsiCo's Smart Spot™ symbol because they contain 45-50% less sugar than the leading flavored milks and are an excellent source of calcium.

Wells' Dairy Inc. , Le Mars, Iowa, introduces Lite 85® Yogurt Smoothies, which feature the same great taste of Lite 85 yogurt in a portable, 7-oz smoothie bottle. With less than 85 calories per serving, Lite 85 smoothies blend together fruit and nonfat yogurt for an indulgence everyone can enjoy, even while watching their weight. Blue Bunny's Lite 85 smoothies are available in four tantalizing flavors: strawberry banana, vanilla pear, strawberry and raspberry. Having debuted in early September, single bottles retail for $2.89-3.39.

St. Louis-based Swiss-American Inc. , is rolling out Queso Dip™ and Queso Dip with Jalapeño Peppers. The dips are a unique, high-quality blend of Wisconsin American cheeses. Packages have heating instructions, directing consumers on how to make that perfect Mexican dip. All they need to do is add milk and melt in the microwave. The new cheese dips are sold in 8-oz packages.

First-of-its-kind Dessert Balls fromSugar Brook Farms, Verona, Wis., are made with fresh cream cheese, butter cheese and other delicious, sweet ingredients. Great for holiday entertaining, the dessert balls can be served with graham crackers, sugar cookies, pastry shells or, simply by the spoonful. They also make great ice cream toppers. This sweet cheese ball comes in three varieties: Cherry Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip and Peanut Butter. The two chocolate chip varieties are rolled in toasted almonds, while peanut butter is coated with crushed peanuts.

Noteworthy Introductions

Tillamook County Creamery Association, Tillamook, Ore., adds two flavors to its Tillamook® yogurt cup line. Cherry Vanilla is a smooth, refreshing blend of cherries and vanilla, and Orchard Harvest contains a flavorful mixture of fruits including peaches, apples and pears.

There's a whole new way to party thanks to an "in-the-box" innovation by Oberweis Dairy, North Aurora, Ill. The company now markets two ice cream party boxes. Crowd Pleasers is for office functions, birthday parties, book club get-togethers, etc. For kids, there is Be A Party Animal. The kits come in a cardboard box, and are customized to meet the occasion's needs. Kits can accommodate 10 to 50 people, with customers able to choose from any of Oberweis' 24 ice cream flavors. They also have their choice of hard or liquid toppings; whipped cream and cherries are included. Kits come with napkins and spoons. Cones are an option.

"We've been helping customers with ice cream parties for years, but now customers don't have to do any work themselves," says Mark Vance, v.p. of marketing. "The initial response from the business community has been tremendous. The Crowd Pleasers kit is great for employee appreciation celebrations or for salespeople entertaining clients." The party animal kit includes coloring books, activity placemats, crayons and happy cow finger puppets. "It's truly an ice cream party in a box."

The cost of the kits ranges from $55 to $200. Orders must be pre-ordered by contacting a store manager.

INTERNATIONAL

Schollerin Poland recently released Nestlé Coffee & Whisky Flavoured Ice Cream. This interesting flavor combination most certainly appeals to older consumers who enjoy a whiskey drink every now and again. (Unfortunately, there isn't any actual liquor in the ice cream.) This is not the first time an alcohol flavor has been incorporated into ice cream, as Nestlé Canada introduced a limited-edition Bailey's-flavored ice cream late in 2004.

In Israel,Strauss Dairiesintroduced Strauss Auto Glida, which is chocolate and vanilla ice cream housed in a car-shaped container with moveable wheels. The ice cream is fortified with vitamins D and E, calcium and iron. The major theme of this particular product is interactivity for the younger consumer, which is quite prevalent in other categories, such as confectionery and personal care.

FromMoringa Milk Industryin Japan comes Aloe Yogurt Handy Style, a yogurt in a flexible pouch package, which conveniently eliminates the need for a spoon. To eat, all one needs to do is squeeze the yogurt directly into the mouth, mirroring products such as Yoplait's Go-Gurt and Muller's Yogz (portable yogurts in tubes).

In Vietnam,Saha Charoen Enterprisereleased Royal Corn Fresh Sweet Corn Milk Drink. This ready-to-drink milk drink is made from, you guessed it, sweet corn. It also has an unlikely partner: green tea. The drink is described as being high in calcium, vitamins A, E and B1, and low in fat. While these two flavors on their own are commonly observed in countries throughout Asia Pacific, it is very interesting to see them combined, particularly in a milk beverage.

Blue Cowin Austria recently launched a fruit and whey drink in an innovative thermo bottle, which was specially conceived to keep the drink cool for hours. The packaging consists of an external plastic bottle containing an inner thermo bottle, which insulates the drink and keeps it cool until consumption. This introduction came when mid-summer temperatures were their highest in Austria.

Contributed by Christy Brinnehl, assistant analyst, Global New Products Database (GNPD) Consulting Services, a division of Mintel International, a global research company. For more information call 312/932-0400, or visit www.gnpd.com.