Here's a category first: Minneapolis-based General Mills Inc. , adds Healthy Heart™ to its Yoplait® cup yogurt line. The product is low-fat yogurt with plant sterols. Packages contain the following statement: Plant sterols, eaten twice a day with meals for 0.8g daily total, may reduce heart disease risk in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Yoplait Healthy Heart has 0.4g per 6oz.

Breyers® ice cream introduces the first light ice cream products for use as part of a low-carbohydrate diet. Breyers CarbSmart™ Light Vanilla Fudge Sundae and Breyers CarbSmart Light Chocolate Peanut Butter have half the fat and 40% fewer calories than regular ice cream per half-cup serving. A single serving also has only 4g net carbs.

"The new light products meet the needs of the many consumers who are customizing their low-carb diets by cutting back on fat as well as carbs," says Dan Hammer, v.p. of marketing and development, Good Humor-Breyers Ice Cream, Green Bay, Wis. "According to our own research, 66% of carb-conscious consumers are seeking products lower in fat. These new CarbSmart products are lower in fat than regular ice cream and indulgent tasting, which makes them an ideal choice for carb-conscious dieters."

Oakland, Calif.-based Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Inc. , debuted a line of Nestle-branded frozen water-ice novelties made with real fruit juice in early February. Featuring a bold new colorful look, products include Fruit Fuel™, which are fruit juice-powered bars containing 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin C. They come in three varieties: Breakaway Berry, Orange Kicker and Sweepin' Strawberry. Mystery Pops™ feature Scooby Doo® and come in four varieties: Berry Jinkies, Mystery Blue, Orange Zoinks and Strawberry Suspicion. Shooting Stars™ comes in three flavors: Blue raspberry, cherry and white grape. Lastly, there's Splash Pops™. These no-sugar-added ice pops come in Awesome Orange, Grape Escape and Wild Cherry varieties.

New York City-based Brain Twist Inc. , has created a new beverage category . . . or is it a new breakfast cereal concept? The drink innovation, described by some as "sip-able cereal," is Liquid Cereal®, a beverage that smoothly blends real cereal and fat-free milk into a delicious drinkable snack.

Liquid Cereal, designed for the kid-inside cereal-enthusiast, is making its way into supermarkets across the country. Cereal buffs will agree that Liquid Cereal is the next best thing happening to their favorite flakes, or so says the product's inventor, Brain Twist CEO and founder Larry Trachtenbroit, who uses a patent-pending process to create the smooth Liquid Cereal blend. Debuting in colorful and flavorful Fruit, Apple & Cinnamon, Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavors, the 11-oz, shelf-stable Liquid Cereal cans are sold in four-packs.

"Our new beverages package the great taste and timeless appeal of cereal and milk with innovation and convenience that people can enjoy anytime of day," says Trachtenbroit. "We expect Liquid Cereal to be the recipe for an instant classic. It is delicious and costs the same as a bowl of cereal and is lower in calories and higher in protein."

Noteworthy Introductions

Pennsauken, N.J.-based J&J Snack Foods Corp. , has expanded its licensing agreement with The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta and is rolling out Fanta® Freeze™ frozen novelty treats. Available in four bold citrus and tangy fruit flavors-grape, orange, pineapple and strawberry-the grab-n-go squeeze tubes are targeted for grocers' freezers, c-store freezer baskets and fast-food drive thru windows nationwide. Fanta Freeze will also be introduced in two variety packs to retail supermarkets in select areas.

Velda Farms, Lakeland, Fla., markets 10-oz plastic bottles of fat-free and low-fat milk under the new Healthy Cow™ brand. Fat-free flavored varieties are promoted as "with reduced sugar," and contain 120-130 calories and 20-23g carbohydrates, depending on flavor, per bottle.

INTERNATIONAL

Probiotic fermented dairy drinks appear in most countries outside the United States. As the product's form and benefits become more widely understood and embraced, we have begun to see new twists on this basic product. For example, in Brazil, Nestle has rolled out Chamyto Day and Night dairy beverage. Each six-pack of little bottles contains three beverages designed to be consumed in the morning and three bottles for nighttime. The Day beverages contain guarana and the Night bottles contain chamomile.

Probiotic yogurts are getting twisted, too! Danone in Ireland offers Activia yogurt, a multi-serve container (450g) that contains not only probiotic bacteria, but also fruit and cereal. The cereal content is relatively low (1.1%), and provides less than 2g of fiber per serving. Other cereal-yogurt blends tend to include greater amounts of cereal. A similar product was introduced recently in Finland. Bioferme has rolled out Yosa oat-based yogurt. The yogurt is milk-free, and made from oat bran and probiotic ingredients. It also is fortified with calcium and vitamin D.

Yogurt comes in a variety of forms in other countries, as well. In the Philippines, Mayumi Trading has its Genki Yakuruto Jelly Yoghurt. This is a yogurt that is thickened to be in a firmer form than other yogurts. As a result, it can be shaped. This yogurt, aimed at kids, is shaped like the trunk of an elephant.

Refrigerated dairy-based desserts are quite popular outside the United States. One of the newer introductions in Germany comes from company A-27. Bonta Divina Tartufo chocolate mousse comes in two-packs of 100g servings.

It is somewhat unusual to see dairy products that contain spirits or other alcohol, but two companies have introduced desserts with added alcohol. In Greece, Biofrost now offers Jamaican Rum Cup, which is a box of six individual frozen desserts that contain vanilla ice cream and Jamaican rum. In France, Danone recently introduced, under its Charles Gervais brand, Rum & Banana Cream, a chilled dairy-based dessert made with bananas and rum.

Cream cheese for snacking or spreading on toast or bagels now comes in a variety pack in Austria. Bongrain's Fromarsac offers Selection Tartare cream cheese cubes in an 18-cube pack. The cubes come in four flavors: Natural Herbs & Garlic, Pepper, Vegetable Pepper & Basil, and Nuts.