100-Calorie Foods, Beverages Bourgeoning

Published in CSP Daily News

Pepperidge Farm, Frito-Lay, General Mills, Coke, others launch portion products

NAPLES, N.Y. -- The number 100 means perfection in many parts of life. But will 100 prove to be the perfect solution for packaged food and beverage makers gearing up to fight the war on obesity? According to Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products, the number of new packaged foods and beverages launched in the United States in 100-calorie pre-packaged portions has grown from nine in 2003 to 33 in 2005.

And there are more on the way. Campbell Soup's Pepperidge [image-nocss] Farm unit has just announced the launch of Goldfish 100 Calorie Pouches for snacking on the go. Frito-Lay is rolling out a new line of 100 Calorie Mini Bites with a similar theme: packaged 100-calorie snack portions to help the consumer curb the impulse to eat a whole bag of chips at once.

Popcorn makers are well represented, too. General Mills offers Pop-Secret 100 Calorie Pop Microwave Popcorn in bags that contain 100 calories while ConAgra Foods does the same for its Orville Redenbacher's Mini Bags Microwave Popcorn.

Even beverage makers are getting in on the game. Coca-Cola launched Coca-Cola Classic 100 Calories soft drink late last year in squatty 8-oz. cans. The company also offers its Sprite brand in similar packaging.

Candy makers too hope that 100 calories will help pump up the bottom line. The words 100 Calories are prominently displayed on the front of Cadbury Thins Candy Bars that were launched in 2005.

There is good reason for excitement behind the 100-calorie concept, said Datamonitor. Already, Kraft Foods has racked up sales of more than $100 million for its Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs that hit store shelves in the summer of 2004.

The odds are very good that the 100-calorie concept will spread to other food and beverage categories like yogurts, puddings, meat snacks, packaged fruit and even side dishes. Packaged goods companies are finding that consumers would rather opt for regular' products in smaller portions than for products that have been altered to achieve a specific calorie count, said Tom Vierhile, executive editor of Datamonitor's Productscan Online database of new products.

He added, The pre-measured portion concept can be a tricky one to execute, though. Laundry detergent makers thought they had a big winner with laundry tablets when they launched them in 2000. For the most part, these products have not lived up to their expectations, and if consumers end up munching on two or three packages of 100 calorie snacks in one sitting, the price/value equation and waistline may not look so pretty either.