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Food Briefs : New Products Competing for Attention of Public, Supermarket Heads

March 14, 1985|DANIEL P. PUZO | Times Staff Writer

The approach of spring has unleashed a torrent of new food products that are now competing for the attention of supermarket executives and the public. The common thread of these newly released items seems to be an appeal to the upscale consumer or those who fashion themselves as such.

The activity indicates that the record pace established in 1984 for new products is not likely to slacken. Last year, New Product News reported that there were 1,988 different household items brought to market for the first time, a 10.3% increase over the high established in 1983.

Interesting foods emerging in the past few months have spanned all categories, including natural soups, fresh fruits, barbecue sauces and pates.

In the last several weeks, for instance, flavor seems to have caught the imagination of the soft drink giants. While Coca-Cola was announcing that it will begin marketing Cherry Coke, Perrier was introducing a new line of its sparkling water with natural fruit essence of lime, lemon and orange.

Fruit's appeal was also behind the Dole's Peeled Fresh Pineapple, which is being test-marketed in Seattle. The refrigerated product arrives alluringly fresh in a convenient plastic enclosure. The obvious advantage is that the pineapple is ready to slice without the bother of peeling the tropical fruit's often-tough hide.

The Campbell Soup Co. intends to shake a bit of its homespun image with the introduction of its Creamy Natural Soups. The varieties are asparagus, broccoli, potato and spinach. Campbell's has abandoned its red and white label for its "natural" soups in favor of a gold and white band. The only drawback of the new line is its high sodium content of 800 milligrams per serving or more than 1,600 milligrams per can.

A couple of Texas entrepreneurs have developed a typically Southwestern item in their Essence of Mesquite Smoke. The highly concentrated liquid is intended to give that grilled-on-the-range flavor when the steaks are tossed onto the broiler. Promotional literature states: "Now from the plains of Texas, where cowhands first discovered this unique flavor, comes the Essence of Mesquite Smoke." Those who long for the flavor discovered by cowhands will be able to buy the product later this month in the Los Angeles area.

Another item due in Southern California in the coming weeks is Les Nutons' individually wrapped and fresh pate slices. Pate de Champagne, mushroom pate and pate with green peppercorns are the varieties offered. The idea is to appeal to those who either enjoy pate in small doses or need a slice in a hurry. A spokeswoman for the Belgium-made product said that Les Nutons is a French phrase meaning "the elves." The legend surrounding the pate is that it is made by elves in the caves of Belgium. No mention was made of whether there is an association with Keebler's cookie-making diminutive fellows.

Marketing Montana's Wilds--The introduction of new products also extends to the bizarre. Apparently, the buffalo is no longer an endangered species because the rangy meat is now available in products such as chili and pate, thanks to Hayes Ranches, a Hamilton, Mont., firm. The company specializes in food products containing game and other oddities normally found only in the big sky country.

Some of the foods being offered by mail order include venison meat chunks, elk meat chunks and pates also featuring the deer meat varieties. Trout is another big item for Hayes Ranches and comes packed in spring water, smoked and as pate.

For those concerned about the possibility of widespread cruelty to animals in western Montana, the company states that the wild game is raised right on the ranch.

Prices range from about $6.50 for 12 ounces of the elk meat to about $3 for 3.25 ounces of venison pate. Six ounces of smoked trout goes for $4.49. Those interested in obtaining more information about buffalo pate and the likes can contact the "ranch foreman" at (406) 363-4090.

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