Packaged lassi; B&J Lighten Up; focus on cheese

Weight Watchers International Inc., New York, partners with Schreiber Foods Inc., Green Bay, Wis., to introduce a line of reduced-fat cheeses. Two of the new products are cream cheese spreads. Reduced Fat Whipped Cream Cheese Spread comes in an 8-oz tub. Each serving contains 1g of fiber and prebiotics. For consumers who need help controlling portions, or desire healthful products for their on-the-go lifestyles, Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Spread comes in eight-packs of 1-oz portion-controlled cream cheese cups.

There are six other offerings included in the partnership, which are either natural or process cheeses and are highlighted on page 34. National roll out for all eight varieties began in December. This new product launch is the seventh new category in Weight Watchers’ fully branded food product portfolio and the first introduction since January 2006.

Lifeway Foods Inc., Morton Grove, Ill., expands its cultured dairy products line with a new smoothie drink called Lifeway Lassi.  Lifeway’s mango and strawberry versions of this traditional South Asian beverage are available in 8-oz grab-and-go containers and are being distributed through select natural, specialty and ethnic food stores nationwide.

The new line is designed for Lifeway’s core natural and health food markets, people who are familiar with lassi from Indian restaurants and the large immigrant population from India where lassi is a staple sold on street corners and in vending machines. The Asian Indian community in the United States has surged from less than one million in 1990 to more than 2.3 million in 2005.

“Until now, the only place to buy lassi in the States has been in Indian restaurants.

There has been no way for consumers to buy it in a grocery store and take it home,” says Lifeway President and CEO Julie Smolyansky. “For that reason, we expect Lifeway Lassi to fill a void in the Indian food market, expand the choices available to health-conscious consumers who are looking for variety in their menus, and drive significant new business for the company.

”Lifeway plans to promote the line through its traditional channels as well as by sampling it at yoga studios, conferences and similar events.

Make no bones about it, the name says it all. Stonyfield Farm, Londonderry, N.H., has renamed its high-calcium yogurt to YoCalcium, making it even simpler to keep bone health in mind. And now it’s organic, too. Each serving of YoCalcium contains 50% of the recommended Daily Value (DV) of calcium. That’s more than twice the amount calcium of other leading yogurts. And since calcium absorption is a key follow-up to adequate calcium intake, YoCalcium also contains 20% of the recommended DV of vitamin D, as well as inulin, a natural dietary fiber, which are both proven to help boost calcium absorption. Flavors include new wild berry and strawberry raspberry, and the ever-popular apricot mango. Suggested retail price is 89 cents per 6-oz cup.

Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings Inc., South Burlington, Vt., a unit of Unilever Ice Cream Co., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., introduces Lighten Up! This four-flavor pint line promises to amaze consumers’ taste buds, as it is “still yummy, with all the chunks, swirls and lotsa stuff,” says the company. It’s simply lightened up a bit. Varieties are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Phish Food, Raspberry Chocolate Chunk and Strawberries & Cream.

Dairy Foods now offers Dairy Product Innovations, ( an e-newsletter focused on new dairy products and new products and services from dairy industry suppliers. Subscribers receive Dairy Product Innovations monthly with the occasional special installation or themed issue focusing on specific niches like artisan cheese or organic and natural foods. To subscribe, visit

Global Beverage Enterprises Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., introduces America’s first no-sugar-added, milk-based carbonated beverage: Cool Cow. Made from fat-free milk powder and fortified with vitamins, these new drinks are targeted to kids of all ages who hate milk but love soda. Flavors include strawberry and peach mango.

Grassland Dairy Products Inc., Greenwood, Wis., has created a new line of butter inspired by its world- and U.S. Championship-winning Unsalted Wüthrich Butter. The line includes Wüthrich Clarified Butter, which provides consistent cooking results, a quality that is of prime importance to culinary professionals. The other products in the line are Wüthrich 83% European Salted and Unsalted butter. They come in various sizes for retail and foodservice.

The “health by color” phenomenon is a wellness movement based on colored foods that provide specific benefits. This trend is most established in Asia and Europe where it has spread to the dairy category. Now a recent launch by Granarolo under the Yomo Frutta e Verdura 150 brand highlights antioxidant-rich red fruits and vegetables including strawberry, red grape and beet. The product claims to deliver 150g of fruits and vegetables and is packaged in a bottle of the same size.

Countries outside of the United States are creative in developing yogurts that marry unexpected tastes and introduce new flavor profiles. In Russia, Savushkin has launched a kefir that is flavored with cucumber and dill. In addition to being consumed as a stand-alone beverage, the manufacturer positions it as a topping for vegetables and potatoes. American consumers may not be familiar with vegetable- and herb-yogurts, but their potential as between-meal snacks or as ingredients in savory dishes should be considered by dairy processors looking for innovative line extensions.

A clever packaging innovation from Yoplait in Israel makes milk more distinctive and consumer-friendly. The company’s drinkable yogurt now comes in a 100g shot-style bottle with a center opening for easy gripping. Tiny or arthritic hands, which may struggle to control a chunkier bottle, can easily grip this ground-breaking package. 

Contributed by Krista Faron, senior analyst, Mintel Custom Solutions,  Global New Products Database (GNPD). For more information call 312/932-0400, or visit


At last, there’s a round cheese for burgers! Thanks to GourMelts, Hicksville, N.Y., now there is round cheese that fits on round foods like burgers, cutlets, bagels, rolls, English muffins, bowls of chili, tortillas and eggs. The spicy tang of GourMelts Habanero Jack or the wood smoked flavor of GourMelts Smokey Cheddar make burgers taste so good, they have been called “The best round thing to hit burgers since the bun.”
  GourMelts was launched by the inventor and entrepreneur brothers team of Roger and Dennis Browner. They are rapidly expanding distribution in supermarkets by arranging for sale of GourMelts cheese with the burger meats. Many flavors are on the way: Wild Horseradish, Blues Cheese, Saxy Cajun and more.

According to an Opinion Research Survey conducted in October 2007, 88% of American women have eaten cheese in the past three months. However, 49% of women say that reduced-fat, reduced-calorie cheeses do not have the same great taste found with regular cheese products. Two companies-Weight Watchers and Schreiber Foods-are trying to change this through their new partnership. The two companies now offer six natural and process cheese products under the Weight Watchers label.
  Retailing for approximately $2.25 to $3.89, depending on the product, the line includes a first of its kind to the U.S. market: Reduced Fat Shredded Cheddar Cheese in single-serve packets. This 33% less fat Cheddar retails as a package containing six 1-oz individual packets. Other products in the lineup include Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese Snacks, Reduced Fat Shredded 4 Cheese Mexican Style Blend, Light String Cheese, Reduced Fat Shredded Mozzarella Cheese and Singles (16 individually wrapped slices).
  “Weight Watchers and Schreiber Foods are addressing consumer needs by offering a selection of great-tasting cheese products with reduced fat,” says Hugh Dever, senior manager licensing, Weight Watchers.

Founded in 1934, Shullsburg Creamery, Shullsburg, Wis., introduces 11 new flavors to its Brewster House Cheese Spreads. Packages for these old-fashioned cheese spreads feature original, hand-drawn labels. Flavors are: apple, plum wine, bacon, chipotle pepper, garlic, hickory smoked, horseradish, sharp Cheddar, spinach, tomato basil and white sharp.

DCI Cheese Co., Moonachie, N.J., introduces two new Nikos Feta cheese flavors: peppercorn and Mediterranean (tomato, basil, oregano, garlic and lemon juice). The addition of the new flavors is due in part to the rising popularity of feta cheese, according to the company. Nikos is ranked among the top-10 branded feta cheeses and is made from cow’s milk, making it milder than sheep’s milk feta. It has those traditional qualities that consumers like, the flavor is tangy and the texture is crumbly.

The company has also unveiled a new, more contemporary look and packaging label for the Nikos brand to celebrate its continued success in the market. The new labels utilize a Grecian font, the tagline “Robust Mediterranean” and stylized pictures of a Greek pillar and a rolling Mediterranean ocean wave to reflect the rich heritage of this cheese category. The new packaging also features a signature color of blue, red, purple or green to designate each individual flavor.