Wells' Dairy Inc. , Le Mars, Iowa, the largest U.S. family-owned and managed dairy processor, introduces Blue Bunny® IncreDiples™. These new yogurt-based dips complement both vegetables and chips. In fact, they are packaged in a tub specially made for dipping. IncreDiples contain savory herbs and small bits of fresh chopped garden vegetables, which merge to create three flavors: Fajita Lime, Spicy Buffalo and Taco Fiesta.

The new dips can be enjoyed every day with less guilt, as IncreDiples contain 50% less calories and 82% less fat than snack dips made from sour cream. Though a single serving contains a mere 30 calories and 1g fat, the dips have extremely bold, intense flavors. IncreDiples can also be used as a salad dressing, a sandwich condiment and in a variety of recipes.

Morton Grove, Ill.-based Lifeway Foods Inc. , now offers a line of spreads under the name "Lifeway Cream Cheese Gourmet™." The Lifeway cream cheeses are available in a variety of flavors including Apple Cinnamon Raisin, Apricot, Cheddar Cheese with Horseradish, Chives, Honey Mustard, Lox and Onion, Plain, Strawberry, Sun Dried Tomato, Vegetable and Whipped. The spreads are available in 7.5-oz containers and more varieties will be added to the product line in the coming months.

Made with the finest ingredients, the cream cheeses are marketed in specialty and gourmet food stores. Lifeway's new spreads are not only for bagels, they can be used in recipes, as dips for fruits and vegetables and as a condiment in sandwiches.

Just in time for those New Year's Resolutions, the new fat-free Light Smoothie line from Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., offers 50% fewer calories than the company's regular smoothies without the use of any artificial sweeteners. The new Light Smoothie is the first light yogurt product to achieve reduced sugar and calories without the use of aspartame or sucralose. Instead, the food scientists at Stonyfield were able to maintain an all-natural claim by sweetening the new yogurt drink with erythritol, a sugar alcohol found in fruits such as grapes and melons. Erythritol has zero glycemic index, and thus has no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels.

The new Light Smoothies are an excellent source of calcium, with a 10-oz bottle containing 25% of the Recommended Daily Intake. They also are a good source of protein and dietary fiber; a single bottle contains only 130 calories.

"When we first introduced our organic yogurt Smoothies in 2002, consumers just went wild for the great taste," says Gary Hirshberg, pres. and CEO. "Our new Light Smoothies are perfect for consumers who want not only taste and convenience, but also want to include yogurt smoothies in a balanced diet. With great taste and all natural ingredients, there's no need to compromise."

Yogurt smoothies now account for 12% of the total yogurt category, with light smoothies accounting for 39% of the growth in the entire category over the past year, according to data from Information Resources Inc., Chicago. With consumers looking for new products to help them manage their weight, the category is expected to grow.

Like all Stonyfield yogurts, Light Smoothies contain six live active cultures, more than any other nationally available brand, including the exclusive Lactobacillus reuteri, which helps boost the body's immune system. In addition, Light Smoothies contain inulin, an all-natural dietary fiber that has been clinically proven to boost calcium absorption.

Available in three flavors-Peach, Strawberry and Wild Berry-Light Smoothies are sold nationwide in 10-oz bottles for a suggested retail price of $1.79. Strawberry is also being sold in six packs through club stores such as Costco.

Stonyfield is not the only company to recognize the opportunity in lower-calorie smoothies. The Dannon Company Inc., White Plains, N.Y., recently merged its Carb Control™ brand with its Light ‘n Fit® brand to offer a smoothie beverage that is claimed to have 90% less sugar and a third fewer calories than regular dairy-based smoothies. Sweetened with sucralose, a 7-oz bottle contains 70 calories and only 4g of carbohydrates.

Noteworthy Introductions

Basically there are two national players in the cheese with salty snack category-Sargento Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis., and Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill. In early 2004, Sargento teamed up with Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., and began using Kellogg's Keebler®-branded salty snacks in the combination packets.

Most recently, Kraft is down playing the Hand-Snacks® brand on its cheese with salty snack line, and is promoting its branded Nabisco® salty snacks, which include Mister Salty® Premium® Breadsticks and Ritz®crackers. All of Kraft's snacks promote the fact that they are made with real Kraft® cheese.

INTERNATIONAL

During the past holiday season, Germany's Molkerei Alois Müller rolled out Ecke des Monats (Corner of the Month) dual compartment packages of yogurt with chocolate-covered gingerbread. Müller is the original dual-compartment yogurt marketer. Other companies in Europe also offer such products, with Campina in the Netherlands having recently extended it dual-compartment Mix'It line with vanilla yogurt plus a compartment of chocolate-coated crispy rice or muesli cereal.

Also in Germany, Nordmilch has introduced a whey-based drink. New Milram Vitality Body-Fit drink is lemon flavored and sweetened with a combination of dextrose, sugar, fructose and aspartame. It also contains lime and apple juices and extra vitamin C. In Japan, Calpis continues to expand its yogurt drink line with Ameel S Calorie Off drink. The company says it has enhanced the yogurt flavor and it does not contain sugar or fat. It is labeled as a certified health product and is geared to those with high blood pressure.

Yogurt cereal drinks are becoming increasingly common outside of the United States. These drinks combine yogurt, fruit and cereal, which results in a thicker, highly nutritious drink. Most of the major dairies offer cereal drinks; retailers do as well. Delhaize sells in its stores in Belgium Bifidus Céréales Yaourt à Boire Yogurt Drink. It is made with yogurt, bran, wheat, barley, cultures and fruit flavors.

Cheese varieties continue to appear in new forms and packages. Retailer Marks & Spencer sells as part of its extensive line of chilled meals a British cheese selection. This 550g package contains White Stilton & Apricot, Somerset Brie, Shropshire Blue, Creamy Lancashire and Cornish Goat cheeses. The pack is designed to be used to end a meal or as part of an appetizer assortment.

Cheese that serves a different function was recently introduced in the Czech Republic. TPK added to its Apetito brand with SuperCremo processed cream cheese spread. What makes this one different is that it has added vitamins and calcium. Labels explain that the cheese contains vitamin A to help eyesight, vitamin B12 to support the production of cells and nervous system, and calcium to strengthen bones.

Contributed by Lynn Dornblaser, dir., 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.