This year's Editors' Picks winners were selected by a more inclusive process than ever.
Innovation is the lifeblood of consumer packaged goods companies as they constantly strive to attract new buyers and bolster their connection with existing purchasers of their products. With this in mind, is proud to pay tribute once again to some of the most original, engaging and downright fun items introduced at retail over the past year.
As in previous years, we were faced with a bevy of contenders from a range of companies across all store categories. But in a departure from our established editors-only judging process, this time around, we sought the input of both our non-editorial colleagues and the staff of our sister publication, whose related experiences with our brand, as well their own personal assessments as seasoned consumers, further rounded out our circle of winners this year. Armed with our office mates' observations, we were able to make the final call on which products made the cut as 2011 Editors' Picks, based on a three-pronged criterion of innovation, taste/functionality and value.
The office-wide endeavor, during which product samples literally took over our Jersey City, N.J., digs, was a huge success, as everyone fearlessly tested a variety of items — some quite unfamiliar — and contributed their unvarnished opinions. This helped immeasurably the editorial team's task of selecting the winners, since a cross-section of voices offering a verdict one way or another on any product provided a clear snapshot of how popular it was likely to be with shoppers at large.
Along the way, products that made it into what we came to think of as the "Gold Circle" — those that earned across-the-board approbation, even from our pickiest participants — included such crowd-pleasers as Lifestyle Foods' ultra-convenient Salads and Breakfast Kits, Fortun Foods' zesty and easy-to-use Finishing Sauces, Snyder's of Hanover's addictive pumpernickel-flavored Braided Twists, and Tyson's mouthwatering Backyard Flavors Beef Sirloin Tri-tips, whose arrival happily coincided with the onset of grilling season.
So, big thanks to all of our fellow Stagnito Media "guinea pigs" for making our latest edition of Editors' Picks more comprehensive than ever, with a special shout out to our corporate marketing director, Robert Kuwada, who proved himself to be a particularly intrepid sampler as well as an astute judge of product quality.
Amoretti Premium Organic Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar and Vinaigrette SRP: $26.99 each
1-800-AMORETTI (266-7388) www.Amoretti.com We Picked it Because:Quality is the watchword of these pricey but excellent products from Oxnard, Calif.-based Amoretti. The cold-pressed, certified-organic, all-natural Kalamata finishing oil omits the sodium typically encountered when cooking with olives. Meanwhile, the perfect balance of sweet and tangy offered in the balsamic vinegar is the result of the inclusion of rich aged pomegranate instead of the more usual wine. And the vinaigrette is free of sodium, gluten, preservatives and GMOs (genetically modified organisms), as well as being vegan.
Beemster 2% Milk cheese SRP: $13.99 to $15.99 per pound
908-393-7449 www.beemster.us We Picked it Because: The creamy texture and smooth floral taste of Beemster 2% Milk allows it to be sliced on a sandwich, cubed on a salad, or enjoyed on its own with a glass of wine. According to the Dutch company, whose U.S. business is based in Jersey City, N.J., Beemster 2% Milk is handcrafted by master cheesemakers using century-old traditional methods. The item will be available in stores starting Nov. 1.
Betty Crocker Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix SRP: $5.07
763-293-3405 www.generalmills.com We Picked it Because: As one more pantry staple that makes life a little easier for those who are gluten-intolerant, Betty Crocker Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix from Minneapolis-based General Mills, packed in a handy 16-ounce box, is pre-mixed for quick biscuits, cookies, pizza, cake and pancakes, and offers lots of handy recipes, both on the box and on Betty Crocker's Bisquick website.
BlueBird Chocolate Chip Muffins SRP: $3.19
229-227-2001 www.flowersfoods.com We Picked it Because: We're already fans of Hershey's chocolate, so we found BlueBird Chocolate Chip Muffins from Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods to be a deliciously addictive snack. Studded with Hershey's semi-sweet chocolate chips, the incredibly moist muffins are a perfect pair with a cup of milk or coffee. Without the chocolate chips, they'd be a home run. With them, they're a grand slam.
Boost Complete Nutritional Drink SRP: $7.99 to $9.99
973-593-7507 www.nestleusa.com We Picked it Because: The nutrition supplement from Glendale, Calif.-based Nestle USA, primarily designed for individuals who are unable to adequately meet their nutrient needs through diet alone, whether due to poor appetite or increased nutrient needs, has a bold new look, and now features an easy-to-open cap and a grip-friendly bottle. Inside, we found the three new flavors to be quite tasty as well.
Chef Locke Barbeque Smoke Bombs SRP: $13.99 per 6-pack
509-922-5883 www.tailgatingplanks.com We Picked it Because: These gourmet smoke bombs from Spokane Valley, Wash.-based It's High Time Home Décor & More are hardball-sized cloth bags filled with cedar, hickory, alder, mesquite, cherry, or apple sawdust and chips. When soaked in water for two to three minutes, the bombs provide flavorful smoke for up to an hour when placed on hot briquettes or charcoal.
Chef Locke Interlocking BBQ & Grilling Planks and Beer Butt Chicken Plank SRP: $8.99
509-922-5883 www.tailgatingplanks.com We Picked it Because: Chef Locke Interlocking BBQ & Grilling Planks from Spokane Valley, Wash.-based It's High Time Home Décor & More lock together and, when soaked in water, lack the cracking, splinters and cupping common in other plank brands. Competitively priced and eco-friendly, the line also offers the unique and handy Beer Butt Chicken Plank, whose patented design keeps fat and juices from igniting over hot coals or gas flames.
Chobani Mango 2% Greek Yogurt SRP: $1.39
804-874-1099 www.chobani.com We Picked it Because: Greek-style yogurt is all the rage right now, in all its thick, creamy goodness. This entry from Chobani, produced by New Berlin, N.Y.-based Agro-Farma, is a great example of the category: a low-fat version with a luxurious texture and taste, plus the sweetness of mango that perfectly complements the yogurt's tartness. It tastes good and is good for you — we should be so lucky with everything we eat!
Cookiehead Snacks Wakey Cakes SRP: $4.99 to $5.99
978-443-2134 www.cookieheadcookies.com We Picked it Because: Available in three yummy varieties — Banana Flaxseed, Cranberry Orange and Wild Blueberry — Cookiehead Snacks Wakey Cakes from Housatonic, Mass.-based Over The Top Food Co. are sprouted whole grain mini muffins. The sprouted spelt flour featured in the muffins serves as a high-fiber, low-gluten benefit at breakfast or any other time of day. Packed with lots of seeds, grains and fruit, Wakey Cakes offer both great taste and sound nutrition.
Dial NutriSkin Replenishing Lotions SRP: 3 ounces, $1.99; 12 ounces, $4.99; 21 ounces, $6.99
480-754-5855 www.henkelna.com We Picked it Because: The innovative BioNutrient complex in this revolutionary lotion from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Henkel North America revitalizes skin through a quickly absorbed combination of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that lasts for 24 hours and never feels greasy. And now guys can pamper their skin, too, since the introduction of specially formulated Dial for Men NutriSkin Body & Hand Lotion.
Disney Garden Foodles SRP: $2.99 to $3.29
509-782-7753 www.crunchpak.com We Picked it Because:Talk about an unbeatable team: Pair the iconic Disney brand with Cashmere, Wash.-based produce expert Crunch Pak, and kids and their health-conscious parents are sure to respond in a big way. Along with colorful images of popular "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" animated characters, the Mickey-shaped trays feature apples, cheese and crackers; apples, caramel and cheese; apples, peanut butter and raisins; or apples, grapes and cheese. The packaging also includes "Build a Foodle Doodle" instructions to inspire kids to create works of art with their food before eating it.
Dos Ticos Corn Chips and Corn Sticks SRP: $1.49
908-393-7449 www.dosticos.com We Picked it Because: Having been to Costa Rica more than a dozen times, Joseph Tarnowski asserts that Dos Ticos has succeeded in capturing "the pure flavors and the clean lifestyle of the pristinely preserved rainforests in Costa Rica," as the Jersey City, N.J.-based company says on each bag. The 100 percent natural snack line comes in two varieties: Touch of Salt and Lime Corn Chips and Touch of Salsa Corn Sticks.
Dove Brand Chocolate Swirl Bars SRP: Large bar, $1.99; lay-down bag, $4.49
800-627-7852 www.mars.com We Picked it Because: Everyday indulgence is easier than ever with Dove Brand Chocolate Swirl Bars, which come in two sophisticated flavor combos: Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Swirl, and White & Milk Chocolate Swirl. Both are available in both large-bar format and as bite-sized Promises, and the large bar's wrapper employs a design that reduces packaging materials by 50 percent, so indulgers can help the earth while they satisfy their sweet tooth.
Fortun Foods Finishing Touch Sauces SRP: $4.99 to $5.99
503-539-1801 www.fortunfoods.com We Picked it Because: Consumers can bring the restaurant experience home with Finishing Touch Sauces from Kirkland, Wash.-based Fortun Foods, which provide the taste, look and feel of gourmet fare without the prohibitive cost. Encompassing a wide range of authentic recipes across various cuisines, the easy-to-use refrigerated product line requires no measuring or chopping, making cleanup a breeze.
Fruit Pearl Cups SRP: $4.99 to $5.49
863-381-4371 www.fruit-pearls.com We Picked it Because: Fruit Pearl Cups from Naples, Fla.-based CitraPac are a uniquely shaped and textured yet delicious and filling snack with only 70 calories per serving. They consist of real oranges and tangerines that are flash-frozen into tiny pearls of flavor, and then mixed with all-natural beads of fruit purees, fruit juices, yogurts and sometimes even chocolate. Packed with vitamin C and fiber, Fruit Pearls are available in a variety of flavors.
General Mills Cinnamon Burst Cheerios SRP: $3.89
763-764-8439 www.generalmills.com We Picked it Because: With real cinnamon baked into every bite and 20 percent of the daily value of fiber in each serving, as well as being free of cholesterol and fat, providing a good source of calcium and vitamin D, and containing whole grain, Cinnamon Burst Cheerios from Minneapolis-based General Mills doesn't just taste really good, it's also really good for you. Who could resist that?
General Mills Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal SRP: $4.39
763-764-6337 www.generalmills.com We Picked it Because: Containing, as the name says, just 80 calories per serving, Fiber One 80 Calories Cereal from Minneapolis-based General Mills additionally offers 10 grams of filling fiber — 40 percent of the daily value — disguised as delicious honey-flavored squares. Additional nutritional benefits include 40 percent of the daily value of calcium and 25 percent of the daily value of several vitamins and minerals.
Gerber Graduates Breakfast Buddies SRP: $1.59
973-593-7507 www.nestleusa.com We Picked it Because: Ready to eat in a mere 20 seconds, this easy-to-prepare heat-and-serve product from Gerber, a brand of Glendale, Calif.-based Nestlé USA, makes sure toddlers get the essential nutrients they need with the inclusion of Nutriprotect, a blend of vitamins and minerals to support healthy growth and bolster the immune system naturally. Featuring real fruit and natural flavors, the tasty hot cereals encourage little ones to feed themselves, and the convenient packaging means the items can be enjoyed either at home or on the go.
Gerber Graduates Fruit & Veggie Melts SRP: $2.99
973-593-7507 www.nestleusa.com We Picked it Because: As around 25 percent of a toddler's calories come from snacks, Gerber, a brand of Glendale, Calif.-based Nestlé USA, wants parents to make every bite count with these melt-in-the-mouth freeze-dried fruit and veggie morsels that offer vitamins A, C and E for healthy growth and natural immune support. Moms, dads and babysitters no doubt find themselves nibbling quite a few of these naturally flavored treats as well.
Gerber Graduates Fruit Pick-Ups and Veggie Pick-Ups SRP: $1.59
973-593-7507 www.nestleusa.com We Picked it Because: To ensure that older infants and toddlers get their recommended servings of fruits and veggies, Gerber, a brand of Glendale, Calif.-based Nestlé USA, introduced these nutritious, easy-to-chew diced snacks in convenient self-feed trays. Made with 100 percent natural fruits or vegetables, the items support healthy growth and development.
GlenOaks Pro-Health Drinkable Lowfat Yogurt SRP: $3.69 to 3.89
949-497-5400 www.glenoaksyogurt.com We Picked it Because: "Superfood on steroids" is probably not the best way to describe a product aimed at promoting long-term health, but it's what comes to mind when considering the litany of wellness boosters in this product from Laguna Beach, Calif.-based GlenOaks Farms. The drinkable yogurt is delicious on its own or a great smoothie base, or can even be poured over cereal.
Golden Krust Honey Barbecue Jerk Sauce and Island Flavored Ketchup SRP: Honey Barbecue Jerk Sauce, $3.99; Island Flavored Ketchup, $4.99
718-655-7878, ext. 7145 www.goldenkrustbakery.com We Picked it Because: The tastes of the islands are front and center with Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery's new line of Caribbean flavored sauces, including our faves, Island Flavored Ketchup and Honey Barbecue Jerk. The flavorful new line of liquid condiments, traditionally available at Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Golden Krust's 125 franchise locations, have made their way to select retail locations, with more — hopefully — in the pipeline.
Healthy Sweet Fruit Punch Splash SRP: 16-ounce bottle, $2.69; 46-ounce bottle, $5.39
860-584-0441 www.healthysweetbeverages.com We Picked it Because: Other than chewing gums preferred by four out of five dentists, it's rare to see a food product aimed at promoting good dental health. Developed by a pediatric dentist and launched last May, Bristol, Conn.-based Healthy Sweet is made with purified water, milk protein and sweeteners including xylitol and stevia. All natural with no added preservatives, flavors or colors, each 10-calorie serving is a refreshing and innovative way to help maintain a healthy mouth.
Hormel Compleats Kids SRP: $2.29
507 434-6643 www.hormel.com We Picked it Because: Aimed at children ages 3 to 8, these shelf-stable additions to Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods' Compleats Kids meals line offer 3 grams of fiber per serving along with a generous burst of protein, and no preservatives, trans fats or high-fructose corn syrup. The lineup lacks a little variety, but the concept is a great one that would benefit from some new and different combinations.
Hormel Pepperoni Stix & Cheese SRP: $3.49
507-434-6668 www.hormel.com We Picked it Because: Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods claims to be the country's leading brand of pepperoni, and it's easy to see why: It's offered in a wide variety of formats to serve every recipe or snacking need. The latter is addressed perfectly by Pepperoni Stix, which are teamed with sticks of Wisconsin cheese, both individually wrapped like string cheese, thereby providing the ideal, convenient, portable snack portion.
Inglehoffer Honey Maple Mustard SRP: $3.89
503-908-0808 www.beavertonfoods.com We Picked it Because: In addition to its savory taste and super-smooth texture, Inglehoffer Honey Maple Mustard is another great addition to the growing mustard category. Designed to pair nicely with wood-smoked meats, the item comes in an easy-to-use squeeze bottle that we thought adds a convenient touch to the new premium variety, which joins the more than 20 mustards, horseradishes and sauces offered by Hillsboro, Ore.-based Beaverton Foods in its Inglehoffer product lineup.
Justin's Peanut Butter Cups SRP: $1.79
303-449-9559 www.justinsnutbutter.com We Picked it Because: These New Age peanut butter cups from the Boulder, Colo.-based maker of organic nut butters are a delicious discovery. In addition to the purely natural, short and sweet ingredient list, these 2-pack treats blend Justin's signature organic peanut butter with superior Fair Trade chocolate. Bonus points for the Dark Chocolate variety, which claims to offer the world's first vegan peanut butter cup. The item is also available in Milk Chocolate.
Laura's Wholesome Junk Food Cranberry Breakfast Bite-lettes SRP: $5.99
310-821-9409 www.lauraswholesomejunkfood.com We Picked it Because: The brainchild of medical doctor Laura Trice, these delectably chewy mini cookies (actually good any time of day, despite the name), are packed with nutritious ingredients, among them rolled oats, dried cranberries, dates and oat flour. In addition to being all natural, the items are vegan, kosher, and free of cholesterol and wheat, according to Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based Laura's.
Lifestyle Foods Soup/Salad and Breakfast Kits SRP: $3.99
717-718-5423 www.lifestylefoods.net We Picked it Because: York, Pa.-based Lifestyle Foods offers a chilled grab-and-go line featuring three soup-and-salad offerings and an oatmeal kit. How refreshing it is to find meal kits that aren't high in calories, fat content and preservatives! In fact, three of the items are each under 125 calories; none of the salad dressings contain high-fructose corn syrup or MSG; and sea salt is used instead of traditional salt. Additionally, recyclable cardboard sleeve wrapping transforms into a cradle to heat the soup container.
Lloyd's Ribs, Chicken and Brisket SRP: $4.99 to $5.99
507-343-6645 www.hormel.com We Picked it Because: Ribs in 90 seconds? That doesn't sound low and slow! But Lloyd's Snack Racks from Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods deliver flavorful pork ribs when 'cue is what you want and time's what you ain't got. For those who prefer to add their own sauce, or perhaps none at all, Lloyd's new Woodfire lineup offers sauceless pulled pork, pulled chicken and shredded beef brisket that are hardwood smoked for up to 10 hours.
Lysol Multi-purpose and Heavy Duty Scrubber Sponges SRP: $3.49
856-829-7900 www.quickie.com We Picked it Because: Consumers can remove all manner of tough grease and grime with these sturdy offerings made by Cinnaminson, N.J.-based Quickie and marketed under the iconic Lysol brand. Available in 4-packs for extra convenience, both easy-rinse items prohibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
Mann's Snacks On The Go! SRP: $1.99 to $2.99
831-775-3761 www.mannpacking.com We Picked it Because: We're big fans of the taste and convenience of Mann Packing's full line of handy-dandy On the Go! fresh-cut vegetables and fruits, which enable consumers to get their fresh produce fix anytime. Available in multiple sizes and varieties, as well as at a range of price points, the product platform is designed to meet a variety of needs, including the meal replacement occasion, the lunchbox treat occasion and the portable, portion-control eating occasion.
Mario Camacho Foods Seasoned Pitted Olives SRP: $1.59
704-825-1457 www.mariocamachofoods.com We Picked it Because: Olives turn out to make such a perfect portable snack, it's hard to believe that no one ever thought of it before Mario Camacho Foods. By eliminating the messy brine, the Plant City, Fla.-based company is able to offer convenient, healthy green or Kalamata olives in an easy-open pouch that are the equivalent of a single serving of fruit, contain fewer than 100 calories per serving and have an 18-month shelf life. Complementary snack seasonings are Thyme, Garlic and Mild Chili.
Nature by Canus All Natural Night Renewal Facial Cream SRP: $21.99
802-244-4628 www.canusgoatsmilk.com We Picked it Because: As more supermarket HBW departments enhance their boutique appeal with higher-end products, one of the latest additions in Nature by Canus's dermatologist-tested, fragrance-free all-natural facial line, All Natural Night Renewal Facial Cream, is particularly poised to attract new fans. Combining fresh goat's milk with shea, palm and muru-muru butters, this rich, revitalizing night renewal cream from Waterbury, Vt.-based Canus protects and moisturizes while you sleep and feels excellent on the skin.
Nature Made Ultra Omega-3 Mini Fish Oil 500 milligrams SRP: $13.99
818-221-6200 www.pharmavite.net We Picked it Because: Packing the same amount of omega-3s found in its regular 500-milligram fish oil soft gels, this compact, easier-to-swallow "burp-less" variety from Northridge, Calif.-based Pharmavite delivers the same heart-healthy benefits in a 50 percent smaller size. They're also specially coated to help prevent odor and aftertaste, which is always a good thing if you're fish oil fans like we are.
Nature Valley Soft Baked Bars SRP: N/A
763-293-3762 www.generalmillsfoodservice.com We Picked it Because: Minneapolis-based General Mills is broadening the reach of Nature Valley, its gold-standard granola brand, with a freezer-to-oven bar aimed at on-the-go consumers. Available in Blueberry Cranberry and Apple Cinnamon, the bars offer a warm, tasty and satisfying meal or snack choice packed with real fruit, plus 26 grams of whole grain and 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Nature's Own Bread and Sandwich Rounds SRP: $2.99 to $3.19
229-227-2001 www.flowersfoods.com We Picked it Because: The new rounds added to the Whitewheat line from Nature's Own, a brand of Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods, offer the nutritional aspects of wheat bread with the pleasing taste and texture of white, delivering 4 grams of fiber at 100 calories per serving, with no high-fructose corn syrup, or artificial colors or flavors. Nature's Own 100% Whole Wheat with Honey adds adds a pleasant streak of sweetness to the bread's hearty goodness.
Nelsons Pure & Clear Apricot Seed Exfoliating Wash SRP: $11.95
978-988-3833 www.nelsonspureandclear.com We Picked it Because: This all-natural, deep-cleansing formula from North Andover, Mass.-based Bach Original Flower Remedies/Nelsons removes excess oil and dead skin, while its pulverized apricot seeds contain natural antioxidants that gently cleanse skin, leaving it soft, radiant and super-smooth. It also smells really nice, which further extends the pleasant and refreshing "clean-scrubbed" experience.
Ocean Mist Farms Trimmed Fennel SRP: $1.99 to $2.59
831-770-6435 www.oceanmist.com We Picked it Because: In addition to its convenient 2-count clamshell, we also dig Ocean Mist Farms' cleaned and trimmed fennel that gives consumers an easy chance to experiment with a produce item whose uses go far beyond a salad ingredient. The richly aromatic vegetable, also known as sweet anise, can add flavor to appetizers, soups, stews and other dishes, and to help shoppers fully embrace fennel, Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist thoughtfully provides a range of relevant recipes on its website.
Orville Redenbacher's Pop Up Bowl SRP: 6-pack, $4.49; 3-pack, $2.99
630-857 1367 www.conagrafoods.com We Picked it Because: The microwavable Pop Up Bowl from Orville Redenbacher, a brand of Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods, is so simple — yet so perfect — that you well might wonder why it took so long to arrive on the scene. It pops up like typical microwave popcorn, but a flick of the wrist to remove the film cover transforms the bag into a bowl. The item features the same great Orville Redenbacher's popcorn that's been pleasing crowds for years.
Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix SRP: $1.99
707-462-6605 www.pamelasproducts.com We Picked it Because: When our gluten-free staff expert test-drove this convenient, easy-to-use pancake mix from Ukiah, Calif.-based Pamela's, she ended up with light, fluffy and mighty tasty pancakes. The best thing about the mix, however, which can also be used for waffles, breads, cakes and muffins, or as a substitute for flour, is its single-serving size, which makes it ideal for households where only one member must adhere to a gluten-free diet.
Pamela's Chocolate Brownie Mix SRP: $1.99
707-462-6605 www.pamelasproducts.com We Picked it Because: Here again, the single-serving aspect is the best part of Pamela's Chocolate Brownie mix, because many gluten-free items, if not immediately consumed in one sitting, simply don't taste so good a day later, including desserts. And as many gluten-free folks will also tell you, there's no real substitute for the genuine article when it comes to brownies. But this variation from Ukiah, Calif.-based Pamela's manages to create a rich, moist brownie whose multi-use mix can also be used for chocolate waffles and cookies — another bonus.
Pamela's Whenever Bars SRP: $4.99
707-462-6605 www.pamelasproducts.com We Picked it Because: It's perfect for grab-and-go snacking and has a sweet, tasty, satisfying multigrain texture. Gluten-free and made with certified gluten-free oats, the bars, which come in four varieties, are also non-dairy and free of refined sugar. Ukiah, Calif.-based Pamela's describes its Whenever Bar as a snack bar, cookie bar or lunchbox treat, and we agree that it's a nice hybrid of all three.
Pillsbury Crescent Scrambles SRP: N/A
763-293-3762 www.generalmillsfoodservice.com We Picked it Because: Grocers, what do you do with those rotisserie chicken warmers sitting empty in the morning? Minneapolis-based General Mills has the answer with its Pillsbury Crescent Scrambles, which allow markets to maximize the mileage from their equipment and hopefully cash in on some breakfast traffic at the deli. Of course, it helps that the product offers flaky crescent pastry wrapped around a filling of egg and cheese with either sausage or spinach.
Plugrá Flavored Butter SRP: $3.49
215-875-4012 www.dfamilk.com We Picked it Because: Infused with premium herbs, spices and fruit, Plugrá European-Style Flavored Butters come in a delectable choice of Chive & Onion, Sun-Dried Tomato Herb, or Honey with Orange Zest varieties. Marketed by Kansas City, Mo.-based Dairy Farmers of America, the slow-churned, high-quality item works equally well as a spread, finishing butter or recipe component.
Power of Fruit Frozen Bars SRP: $3.99 to $4.49 per box
908-450-9806 www.poweroffruit.com We Picked it Because: These frozen bars are made with real fruit, or as the Lebanon, N.J.-based company says, "No weasel words like 'including,' 'with' or 'containing' fruit, or "any tongue-twisting ingredients in our bars that would disqualify us from a spelling bee." Beyond that, the company's two new flavors, Orange Tango and Cherry Berry, add a nice dimension to the existing lineup, which boasts fewer than 35 calories per bar.
Proxi Skincare Body Wash SRP: $4.99
704-584-0072 www.innovasource.com We Picked it Because: A little goes a long way with Proxi Skincare Body Wash from Huntersville, N.C.-based Innovasouce. Offering a rich, luxuriant lather imbued with a refreshing cucumber-and-green-tea scent made from renewable resources, the product contains no SLS, hydantoin, EDTA, parabens, phthalates or triclosan, but effectively cleans and hydrates skin through the inclusion of hydrogen peroxide, plant-based ingredients, and aloe for moisture retention. What's more, each bottle is made from 25 percent post-consumer recycled content.
Purex Complete Crystals Softener SRP: $3.99 to $5.99
480-754-5141 www.henkel.com We Picked it Because: Admittedly initially skeptical about these softener crystals that get added to the washer with the laundry soap at the start of the wash, we were pleasantly surprised by the long-lasting fresh smell and the convenient dispensing cup that sits atop the flip-top lid. Adding Purex Crystals from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Henkel North America at the start of the wash cycle with the detergent also eliminates the need to wait for the rinse cycle or having to deal with messy softener balls.
Ready Pac Salad Singles SRP: $2.99
626-678-2055 www.readypac.com We Picked it Because: Available in four varieties and packing fewer than 200 calories each, the Salad Singles line of deli bowls from Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac offers crystal-clear packaging to showcase the fresh ingredients inside, while non-produce items are portion-packed to allow for maximum shelf-life. As with Ready Pac's other single-serve salads, all Salad Singles bowls include lettuce, toppings, dressing and a fork.
Revolution Foods Organic Mashups Fruit & Veggie Smoothies SRP: $4.99
510 225 4018 www.revfoods.com We Picked it Because: Available in lightweight, squeezable BPA-free pouches, Mashups from Revolution Foods, a brand of The Nest Collective in Emeryville, Calif., are organic, nutritious snacks featuring a balance of naturally sweet,100 percent real fruit and vegetable purees in three varieties: Carroty Chop, Blueberry Blitz and Beetbox Berry. The snacks can be served at room temperature or chilled, and come in sustainably packaged 4-packs.
Right Guard Total Defense 5 Washes SRP: $4.49
480-754-5087 www.henkelna.com We Picked it Because: Right Guard Total Defense 5 Washes from Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Henkel North America is perfect for a shoppers who like to kill as many birds as possible with one stone. In each bottle, they get a shampoo, body soap and shave gel in one product. Using a bar of soap for all of these functions can cause dry skin, but Total Defense contains protein to prevent it from dehydrating.
Salads of the Sea Seafood Dips, Salads and Spreads SRP: $3.69
972-404-1221 www.futurefoodbrands.com We Picked it Because: Salads of the Sea's products are now sold in 100 percent recyclable and BPA-free oval containers. The new containers do away with film seals and shrink bands, and have break-tab tamper-evident seals. The manufacturer, Carrollton, Texas-based Future Food Brands, says it's the only company in its category to use this type of eco-friendly packaging. We love the products inside, but the company gets extra points for greening up its packages first.
Sandridge Food Corp. Fresh & Delicious Salads SRP: N/A
330-764-6129 www.sandridge.com We Picked it Because: We relished Medina, Ohio-based Sandridge Food Co.'s latest selection of better-for-you options in its retail- and foodservice-friendly Fresh & Delicious line: six lightly dressed salads featuring fresh ingredients such as crisp vegetables, sea salt, fiber-rich beans, real sugar, and olive and canola oils. Preserved naturally through an innovative process that uses cold water under extremely high pressure to enhance flavors and maintain freshness, the line boasts zero grams of trans fat, and many of the products are also dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan.
Santa Barbara Bay Tater Toppers and Greek Yogurt Dips SRP: $2.99 to 3.99
972-404-1221 www.futurefoodbrands.com We Picked it Because: The seven savory varieties of Tater Toppers deliver great flavors without all of the extra work and packaging. Meanwhile, Santa Barbara Bay's manufacturer, Future Food Brands of Carrollton, Texas, has made snacking less of a guilty pleasure with its line of all-natural Greek yogurt dips. The newly introduced French Onion, Garden Vegetable and Spinach Feta bring the line to seven delicious low-fat varieties.
Schär Gluten-free Cheese Bites SRP: $3.99
201-355-8470, ext. 250 www.drschar.com We Picked it Because: These tasty, crunchy gluten-free cheese bites from Lyndhurst, N.J.-based Dr. Schär USA are sinfully good, as agreed upon by both our gluten-free and traditional taste testers alike. They really hit the spot as a crispy snack eaten out of hand, or with dips. Two big thumbs up for Schär Gluten-free Cheese Bites!
Schär Gluten-free Parbaked Baguettes and Sub Sandwich Rolls SRP: Baguettes, $7.49; Sub Sandwich Rolls $4.99
201-355-8470, ext. 250 www.drschar.com We Picked it Because: "I can finally eat bread again," announced our gluten-free taste tester, after reviewing Dr. Schär USA's prebaked baguettes and sandwich rolls, which are designed to be browned in the oven for a toasty, crispy exterior and soft, tasty interior. The Lyndhurst N.J.-based company's baguettes and rolls come individually wrapped in multi-packs and are perfect for school, work or a delicious meal at home.
Sea Best Seafood Entrees SRP: $4.99 to $9.99
800-874-6426 www.seabest.com We Picked it Because: Sea Best from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Beaver Street Fisheries makes seafood prep even easier — and more delicious — with some of its latest offerings: the Seasoned Selections line, plus Tuscan-Style Shrimp and Potato Crusted Swai. We really enjoyed Seasoned Selections, which features two-serving portions of pre-seasoned fish or shellfish packaged in a microwavable and oven-safe container. The Tuscan-Style Shrimp, rolled in a mozzarella-and-garlic-Italian-style breading, are also excellent.
Seattle's Best Coffee Level System SRP: $6.99 to $7.99
206-318-3924 www.seattlesbest.com We Picked it Because: This simplified packaged coffee line by Starbucks Corp.'s Seattle's Best Coffee division makes it easy for consumers to find the coffee that's right for them. For premium coffee drinkers, the Level System is an easy way to explore taste profiles, and for mainstream coffee drinkers, it's an invitation to enter the premium coffee segment with confidence and ease. The line also features bold new packaging that offers an array of numbers and vivid colors telling consumers exactly what they want to know: which type of coffee best fits their taste profile.
Slim Jim Dare SRP: $1.39
630-857-1367 www.conagrafoods.com We Picked it Because: Some like it hot, so an iconic snack aisle brand has cranked up the heat. The new Slim Jim Dare line from Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods encompasses three new flavors — Kinda Hot Chili Pepper, Freakin' Hot Jalapeno and Really Freakin' Hot Habanero — that all but scream "I dare you!" to fans of meat snacks. The new items are a zesty and welcome addition to the meat snack landscape.
Snack Factory Bold & Spicy Pretzel Crisps SRP: $2.99
609-613-7417 www.snacksforlife.com We Picked it Because: Chipotle Cheddar joins the Bold and Spicy flavor lineup of Snack Factory's Pretzel Crisps this summer. The 110-calorie-per-serving pretzel crisps contain no trans fats, saturated fat or cholesterol, as well as offering a flavor robust enough for standalone snacking. Additionally, a new packaging design for the whole Bold and Spicy line, which also includes Jalapeno Jack and Buffalo Wing varieties, really makes the products stand out.
Snickers Peanut Butter Squared SRP: 99 cents
800-627-7852 www.mars.com We Picked it Because: How can you improve on the nation's fastest-selling candy bar? Add peanut butter to the classic combination of peanuts, caramel, nougat and milk chocolate. Snickers from Hackettstown, N.J.-based Mars Chocolate North America is already a "meaty" treat, but the peanut butter adds yet another satisfying layer of flavor and texture — and the individual-square format makes for great portion control.
Snyder's of Hanover Braided Twists SRP: $2.99
800-233-7125, ext. 25696 www.snydersofhanover.com We Picked it Because: What's best about these 3-inch long braided pretzels from the iconic Hanover, Pa.-based snack maker is that the flavors seem to be baked deep into the twists themselves. The Honey Wheat Braided Twists maintain a perfect balance of sweetness and salt, each complementing the other while retaining its own distinct flavor, while the Pumpernickel and Onion Braided Twists offer strong flavors that don't interfere with the delicious taste of the pretzels themselves.
Stage Coach Sauces Ruby Red Garlic Glaze SRP: $3.99
(386)328-6330 www.stagecoachsauces.com We Picked it Because: Doubling as a gourmet glaze and dynamic dipping sauce, Stage Coach Sauces Red Ruby Garlic Glaze slips in a hint of heat and richness, courtesy of its red wine vinegar, garlic and red chili pepper. The Palatka, Fla.-based company urged us to cover our cream cheese spreads and dress up our salads rather than just road-testing it as a finish to a favorite cut of meat or fish, so we did just that. Sans high-fructose corn syrup, preservative- and gluten-free, all-natural Ruby Red Garlic Glaze is a winner with us.
Tyson Backyard Flavors Beef Sirloin Tri-tips SRP: $5.49 to $5.69
605-235-2778 www.tysonfoods.com/Business-to-Business/Fresh-Meats.aspx We Picked it Because: Tyson Backyard Flavors Beef Sirloin Tri-tips are part of a line of vacuum-packaged, pre-seasoned beef products from Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. that features ready-to-cook beef sirloin tri-tips in three flavors: Steakhouse, Peppercorn and Santa Maria Seasoning. Additionally, the leakproof clear packaging features basic cooking instructions and a cutting guide, both of which are helpful to busy consumers.
V8 V-Fusion + Tea SRP: 6-pack of 8-ounce bottles, $4.99; 12-ounce bottle, $1.79; 46-ounce bottle, $3.99
856-342-3760 www.campbellsoup.com We Picked it Because: Combining V8 Fusion and iced tea in a single beverage was a tasty way of making fruit and vegetable consumption even more flavorful — and easy. V8 V-Fusion + Tea features all of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, in addition to the antioxidant power of natural green tea. Of the three great varieties, Raspberry Green Tea was our favorite.
Village Grown Organic Frozen Organic Berries SRP: $3.89 to $4.89
484-643-9934 www.villagegrownorganic.com We Picked it Because: If it takes a village to raise a child, why shouldn't it take one to raise superior organic berries? Planted, tended, harvested and processed by hand according to world-class food safety certification and traceability standards, the 100 percent organic, individually quick-frozen product line consists of Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries and a Mixed Berry Blend. West Grove, Pa.-based Village Grown additionally offers the berries as a private label line.
Weight Watchers Fresh Meals and Fresh Deli Salads SRP: Fresh Meals, $1.99 to $2.99; Fresh Deli Salads, $1.99
978-376-8367 www.greencore.com We Picked it Because: Weight Watchers Refrigerated Meals from Newburyport, Mass.-based Greencore USA are complete offerings that are filling even for people not on the Weight Watchers plan. For those who are, each meal or salad serves as a delicious component of their regimen. The line contains just under 20 meals appealing to all sorts of palates. The similarly satisfying Fresh Deli Salads include Macaroni, Seafood and Rainbow Pasta.
Talking with... Jim Travis Vice President of Sales
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. Waterbury, VT
Progressive Grocer: Let's start with the basics: What's driving growth in the coffee category?
JT: From our perspective, the main driver for the category is the single-cup coffee segment. According to IRI data for the 52 weeks ending January 23, 2011, the coffee category grew at 4 percent over last year and our K-Cup® portion packs for the Keurig® Single-Cup brewer represented 80 percent of that growth. The single-cup coffee segment is the second fastest growing center store category, with total U.S. supermarket sales up 130 percent for the 52 weeks ending February 2011. These numbers tell us that the quality, variety and convenience that the Keurig system brings to shoppers' daily coffee – and now beverage – routines is helping to propel sales in grocery.
PG: Why should grocers care about single-cup shoppers?
JT: Two words: purchase enthusiasm. A recent Kantar Retail ShopperGenetics® study for the 52 weeks ending February 2011 shows that K-Cup® portion pack buyers spend 57 percent more annually at grocery stores than the average shopper. This supports our belief that portion packs may generate incremental purchases for grocery retailers, because the Keurig System and K-Cup® portion packs meet the needs of more consumers in the household. In the past, when families consume coffee in their homes, they have one or two bags in the cupboard. We designed the 12-count K-Cup® portion packs specifically for supermarkets to appeal to shoppers who want a wide variety of coffee, tea, and other beverages to appeal to every family member.
PG: How profitable would you say single-cup in grocery is versus other coffee segments?
JT: While the profit delivered by each coffee segment varies considerably across the category, the Kantar study revealed that K-Cup® portion packs deliver the greatest profit per cup at 21 cents per 6-oz cup compared with only 5 cents per for bagged, 2 cents for canned and 1 cent for instant at the same volume. Considering the purchase habits of single-cup shoppers, these numbers have the potential to really add up for grocers.