A Tidal Wave of New Products
Among the 10,000 arrivals: `ice cream' for dogs - and `pet food' for humans. FOOD: TRENDS
AMERICA's supermarkets are loaded with new products - 10,558 new ones were put on the shelves in 1988, a 4 percent increase over the year before. ``Not bad,'' comments Martin Friedman, editor of New Product News, and one of the country's top food-trend spotters. That's a significant slowdown in the pace of new food product introductions from 1986-87, though: That year marked a 26 percent increase over the year before. That's still a lot of new products, however.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Friedman, who spoke at a Food Marketing Institute workshop here recently, last year predicted that self-indulgence food products would overwhelm self-control and nutritionally oriented foods with most consumers.
``My prediction didn't work,'' he says now. ``My fantasy of everybody diving into vats of melted chocolate disappeared quickly when the `oat bran' fad hit the fanatics.''
But he has been right before: He predicted the success of Nabisco's Teddy Grahams (No. 3 in cookie sales this year) and H"aagen-Dazs's Deep Chocolate ice cream, among many others.
But ``after all, I'm only guessing when I give a report,'' he says with some modesty.
``Right now, `branomania' seems to have swept the country,'' he continues. ``Shoppers are driving miles to stores that carry food items containing bran.'' Virtually every bakery in the country now markets two or three oat-bran breads, he adds.
Cereal companies ``are stumbling over each other, trying to get out more oat bran products, from snack foods to sweets.'' Mrs. Fields (of Mrs. Fields Cookies fame) is introducing a line of oat-bran products in her cookie and La Boulangerie stores.
On the down side, oat bran isn't the easiest thing to cook with or to add to daily menus at home. Some of the weightiest (oat bran absorbs a great deal of liquid) muffins ever eaten are baked in the name of oat bran.
``I'm sure in June someone will be putting oat bran in a wedding cake,'' Friedman said of this product, which, in the '70s, was consumed by dogs and cats as an ingredient in pet food.
But just when manufacturers think they have it made with oat bran, researchers at Montana State University say barley will provide the same benefits and will taste good, too.
While Martin Friedman talked to food retailers, producers, and journalists, the Food Marketing Institute exhibits were open, with more than 1,000 companies exhibiting products along 8 miles of aisles.
A sampling of the new products and trends:
Ice cream for dogs. This was one of biggest hits at the show. Frosty Paws producers say their research shows that two-thirds of all dog owners feed ice cream to their pets.
William Tyznik, an animal nutritionist on the faculty of Ohio State University, developed the product. Technically, it's not ice cream at all, but a blend of soy products, whey, vitamins, and nutrients.
``Ice cream, although a favorite of all canines, is not really good for dogs,'' according to Dr. Tyznik. ``Dogs can't really taste the ice cream, anyway. They just like it because it's cold.'' Frosty Paws is safe for humans, but we probably wouldn't like it much: There's no sugar in it.