Dairy Field’s Picks For the Best New Products of the Year.
by James Dudlicek and Pamela Accetta Smith
Our choices for 2005’s best products, culled from the launches we’ve followed over the past year, tend to favor the larger processors. But the big guys just happened to launch products addressing needs we feel are most important, including nutrition, portion control and convenience.
So check out our picks, under the magnets on our fridge door:
Dannon® Light n’ Fit® Yogurt with Fiber
Company: The Dannon Co. Inc., White Plains, N.Y.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $2.19 per pack of four 4-ounce cups.
Varieties: Strawberry, Peach and Apple.
Our Take: What I like most about this product is all the healthful benefits packed into one great-tasting snack. Need more fiber in your diet? Well, now you can help your heart and get the extra fiber you need without the dry, grainy texture common to other fiber-enhanced products. This low-calorie, nonfat yogurt blends fiber and delicious fruit with Dannon Light ‘n Fit nonfat yogurt. With only 70 calories per 4 ounces, it is both a great source of fiber and heart smart! — P.A.S.
Häagen-Dazs® Light Ice Cream
Company: Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Inc., Oakland, Calif.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $3.69 per pint.
Varieties: Cherry Fudge Truffle, Vanilla Bean, Dutch Chocolate, Coffee, Dulce de Leche, Mint Chip and S’Mores.
Our Take: This year, Häagen-Dazs unveiled its own proprietary European low-temperature blending technology for producing light ice cream. While many other ice creams are made “light” by injecting more air, Häagen-Dazs Light contains exactly the same amount of air as the company’s famously decadent original ice cream. The blending process allegedly distributes the fat molecules more evenly, resulting in a product that boasts all the taste with less fat. Sounds complicated. All I know is that this ice cream is delicious and, well, if it has less fat and calories, all the better! The Häagen-Dazs Light Cherry Fudge Truffle is one of my personal favorites. It blends mouth-watering cherry ice cream infused with juices from ripe, sweet black cherries, with truffle pieces and juicy cherries. It contains 50 percent less fat and 14 percent fewer calories than its superpremium counterpart. — P.A.S.
Blue Bunny® IncreDiples™
Company: Wells’ Dairy Inc., Le Mars, Iowa.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $1.39 to $1.79 per 12-ounce container.
Varieties: Fajita Lime, Taco Fiesta and Spicy Buffalo with natural Blue Cheese flavor.
Our Take: Looking to make snacking healthier, our friends at Wells’ Dairy went and swapped yogurt for sour cream, threw in some bold flavors and wound up with a snack dip that tastes great and is good for you. Sure, there are sweet yogurt-based dips meant for fruit, but this Blue Bunny offering fills the void for lovers of savory snacks. IncreDiples add that extra zip to your chip and zing to your wing, along with the live and active cultures that far too few of us consume to maintain good gut health. Yogurt is one of the strongest growing dairy categories, and IncreDiples takes it in an exciting new direction. — J.D.
Blue Bunny® Blendz™
Company: Wells’ Dairy Inc., Le Mars, Iowa.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $3.49 to $3.79 per package of four 6-ounce containers.
Varieties: Toffee Crunch and Peanut Butter Cup.
Our Take: Soft serve in the store? Blue Bunny found a way to make it happen. It’s soft vanilla dairy dessert with plenty of crunchy inclusions — and in a single-serve cup. It’s innovative as well as indulgent, but portion controlled. — J.D.
Dreyer’s/Edy’s Dibs™
Company: Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Oakland, Calif.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $1.75 per single-serve cup of 26 bite-size pieces.
Varieties: Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate coating, Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate and Nestlé Drumstick® coating, Chocolate Ice Cream with chocolate coating, Mint Ice Cream with chocolate coating and Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate and Nestlé Crunch® candy coating.
Our Take: I cannot find anyone who is not in love with this product. From my foodie colleagues to chats overheard at the movie theater candy counter, it’s always, “Dibs! I love those!” But wait, these little morsels of sweet indulgence are really portion control at its finest. I should note that if you inhale the entire contents of the “single-serve” canister at one sitting, you will be consuming about double the calories and fat of a single serving of most packaged ice creams. But the hard-shell coated format makes it easy to grab a couple bites and move on. Dibs help us enjoy the “real” stuff in moderation. — J.D.
Sargento® Bistro Blends™
Company: Sargento Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $2.79 to $2.99 per 7-ounce package.
Varieties: Mozzarella & Asiago with Roasted Garlic, Mozzarella with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Cheddar Salsa with Tomato & Jalapeño Peppers.
Our Take: Adding value to an otherwise commodity product is Sargento’s specialty, and Bistro Blends is the company’s latest tour de force. Shredded-cheese blends spiked with herbs and spices, these mixes make recipes simpler and add extra oomph to routine melting occasions. I know home cooks will love this product; I made lasagna using the two Italian varieties and got raves from my dinner guests. — J.D.
Yoplait® Go-Gurt® Smoothies
Company: Yoplait-Colombo USA, Minneapolis.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $3.49 per pack of four 5-ounce bottles.
Varieties: Strawberry Splash, Wild Berry and Paradise Punch.
Our Take: The pioneers of squeezable yogurt have taken their inventive product and packed it into a drinkable delight. Yoplait Go-Gurt Smoothies provide us parents a fun way to give kids the benefits of yogurt in a great-tasting snack. Low in fat, these smoothies are excellent source of calcium. They give kids a healthy option for snack time, whether it’s in their lunchboxes, an after-school treat or portable snack for weekend activities. — P.A.S.
Weight Watchers® Frozen Novelties
Company: Wells’ Dairy Inc., LeMars, Iowa.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: Varies per market.
Varieties: Giant Cookies & Cream Bar, Chocolate Mousse Bar, English Toffee Crunch Bar and Giant Fudge Bar.
Our Take: Of the many folks I know who have experienced weight-loss success by following the Weight Watchers program, all seem to be most pleased with the flexibility in food choices the program allows, especially when it comes to desserts. It is great that there are frozen desserts on the market specifically targeted to avid Weight Watchers fans. The novelties are prepared to fit the weight-loss program and are useful for weight control when used strictly in accordance with the Weight Watchers food plan. Wells’ Dairy and Weight Watchers entered into an exclusive licensing agreement in October 2004 in which Wells is the marketer, producer and distributor of the extensive line of frozen novelties and ice cream under the Weight Watchers brand. — P.A.S.
Yoplait Healthy Heart™
Company: Yoplait-Colombo USA, Minneapolis.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: 79 cents per 6-ounce cup.
Varieties: Strawberry, Harvest Peach, Cherry Orchard and Strawberry Banana.
Our Take: Cholesterol bad, yogurt good. How do you make that work together? Yoplait took its delicious yogurt and added plant sterols, which are clinically proven to reduce cholesterol. It’s exactly what the dairy industry should be doing to leverage the miracle of milk and make it even more functional. You actually need two servings of Healthy Heart for the sterols to be effective, but this stuff tastes so good, that wouldn’t be difficult. What was difficult was choosing between Healthy Heart and Yoplait’s new Chocolate Whips for this pick. Successfully adding chocolate to yogurt at long last rates an honorable mention. — J.D.
Stringles® Organic Cheese Sticks
Company: Organic Valley Family of Farms, La Farge, Wis.
Distribution: National.
Suggested Retail: $4.49 per package of eight sticks.
Varieties: Organic Colby Jack, Organic Mozzarella and Organic Cheddar.
Our Take: The organic segment of the food industry continues to expand, and dairy is no exception. I have been particularly impressed with the organic dairy offerings of late. As the mother of a cheese fanatic, I am equally as pleased to see this segment expanding to products targeted to youngsters, like Organic Valley’s Stringles. Featured on every pack package is Ovie the earthworm, the cooperative’s mascot for kids. Organic Valley says Ovie’s job is to help kids learn more about where food comes from, including the healthy soil, plants and animals that enjoy life on an organic farm. Pictured on a skateboard, playing soccer or mountain biking, Ovie encourages kids to get in on the fun and games in the Organic Valley Kids Club at www.organicvalley.coop. — P.A.S.