Function Junction

by James Dudlicek, Editor and
Pamela Accetta Smith, Senior Editor

Products with boosts of functionality dominate our choices this year.
Like kids in a candy store, we just couldn’t help ourselves. We tried to restrict our choices to 10 products, really we did. But the avalanche of new launches featuring the latest wellness attributes was just too much. So among our favorite products of the past year are a couple of general headings that identify key trends, along with a few products representing that category. This speaks to the industry’s skill in picking up a new trend and running with it, with little time to waste.
Bon appetit!
Y.U.M., Your Ultimate Milk
Company: Promised Land Dairy, San Antonio.
Distribution: Texas; southern California and southeastern U.S.
Varieties: Fat-Free White, Fat-Free Chocolate and Fat-Free White Chocolate.
Our Take: Y.U.M. was the first milk to be sold in the United States enriched with natural plant sterols, known to reduce cholesterol in the body. Promised Land’s chocolate milk is already decadent, so it was a master stroke to give it this nutritional boost. And the fact that Kroger launched its own line of sterol-spiked milk nationwide soon after suggests the concept has staying power. — J. D.
Suggested Retail .................................. $2.49 to $2.69 per 1-quart bottle
Yoplait® Yo-Plus™ Yogurt
Company: General Mills Inc., Minneapolis.
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Strawberry, Vanilla, Peach and Cherry.
Our Take: Honestly, Yoplait was a little slow in getting its probiotic yogurt to market in the wake of Dannon’s Activia tidal wave. But to its credit, the yogurt brand leader took the concept one better by adding Optibalance™, a proprietary blend of special cultures and a natural fiber. The competition is really heating up, so we’ll see if Yoplait can keep up the momentum. — J. D.
Suggested Retail .................................. $2.49 per package of four 4-ounce cups
Omega-3 Products
The past year has seen a host of new dairy products laced with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, from milk to yogurt to cheese. Carrying the torch last year was California-based upstart Omega Farms, which since making our list for its milk in 2006 has launched cheeses and yogurts fortified with omega-3’s. Among the first to jump on the trend this year was Farmland Dairies Special Request 1% Plus with Omega-3 from New Jersey, along with yogurts like Blue Bunny Light Omega-3, Breyers Smart! and Yoplait Kids Yogurt Drink. Omega-3’s are beneficial for heart and brain function, which combined with dairy’s inherent goodness make these products true powerhouses. — J. D.
Suggested Retail ................................. Market Price
Probiotics Beyond Yogurt
Sure, yogurt has live and active cultures, but then, it always has had them. So where else can we put the things? Kraft answered that question with the launch of its LiveActive line of natural cheeses containing probiotic cultures, a follow-up to its cottage cheese spiked with prebiotic fiber. Speaking of cottage cheese, Dean Foods ramped up that category with its Probiotics Cottage Cheese, sold under several brands owned by the Dallas-based dairy giant. Again, it’s dairy’s natural goodness made even more functional, in formats that folks love to eat anyway. — J. D
Suggested Retail ................................ Market Price
Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Yogurt Blends
Company: Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Oakland, Calif.
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Black Cherry Vanilla Swirl, Cappuccino Chip, Caramel Praline Crunch, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Vanilla Swirl, Strawberry and Vanilla.
Our Take: Already jump-started by a growing interest in probiotics, the frozen yogurt category is getting a boost on a national level by this line from ice cream heavyweight Dreyer’s. Made with the company’s revolutionary “slow-churning” process to create a reduced-fat product that tastes like the real thing, Dreyer’s Yogurt Blends trumpet their live, active culture content. — J. D.
Suggested Retail ............................... $2.29 to $5.49 per 1.75-quart carton
Breyers® Dora the Explorer® Strawberry & Banana Ice Cream
Company: Good Humor-Breyers, Green Bay, Wis.
Distribution: National.
Our Take: Folks that know me won’t contest this choice. My son loves this ice cream! And I have to say, it is one of my favorites, too. Breyers’ Dora the Explorer frozen treat features delicious strawberry sherbet swirled with lowfat banana ice cream, and is an excellent source of vitamin C. — P. A. S.
Suggested Retail .............................. $5.29 per 56-ounce container
ZenSoy® Chocolate Soy on the Go™ Milk
Company: ZenSoy, South Hackensack, N.J.
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Vanilla.
Our Take: Although I love my dairy, I have to admit I have definitely jumped on the soymilk bandwagon. And now, ZenSoy has taken a major step in transforming the this niche category with its Soy on the Go line of healthy milks, offering a nutritional power punch of omega-3 fatty acid and heart-healthy soy in convenient single servings. Made from whole organic soybeans, the new milk is shelf stable, 100 percent vegan, free of genetically modified ingredients, certified kosher and certified organic by the USDA. — P. A. S.
Suggested Retail ....................................$1.39 per 8.25-ounce container
LightFull™ Satiety Smoothie
Company: LightFull Foods Inc., San Francisco.
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Mango Oasis, Chocolate Satisfaction, Strawberry Bliss, Peachy Cream and Café Latte.
Our Take: As an on-the-go mom with an on-the-go preschooler who loves drinkable yogurt, I love this product. LightFull Foods reintroduces their surprisingly-filling LightFull Satiety Smoothie in a new snack-friendly package and with an improved recipe. The smoothies are an excellent source of calcium, gluten-free and low-glycemic. — P. A. S.
Suggested Retail .............................. $1.79 to $2.19 per 8.25-ounce container
Rachel’s® Pomegranate Açaí Yogurt
Company: WhiteWave Foods, Broomfield, Colo. 
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Peach Green Tea with Ginseng, Berry Jasmine with Zinc, Vanilla Chai and Plum Honey Lavender.
Our Take: OK, I admit it, I feel trendy yet sophisticated when I reach for this capricious product. Rachel’s Pomegranate Açaí Yogurt is the perfect combination of style and nutrition for the health-conscious consumer. — P. A. S.
Suggested Retail ............................. 99 cents per 6-ounce container
Sargento® Artisan Blends™ Swiss Cheese
Company: Sargento Foods Inc., Plymouth, Wis.
Distribution: National.
Varieties: Parmesan, Parmesan & Romano, Whole Milk Mozzarella, Whole Milk Mozzarella & Provolone and Double Cheddar.
Our Take: Have you ever reached for that holiday recipe that calls for shredded swiss or gruyere only to realize the long hours that lie ahead with that darn shredder? Ok, maybe hours is a bit of an exaggeration, but I am thrilled that Sargento has come out with a line of gourmet shreds! This new Artisan Blends line features a delicious mingling of high-quality Sargento cheese with flavorful, hand-crafted artisan cheese that allows any at-home cook to bring the tradition of old-world craftsmanship to their own dinner table. — P. A. S.
Suggested Retail ............................ Varies per package size