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    Study: 10 Packaged Product Trends to Watch in 2008

    Datamonitor's Productscan Online finds health, function and taste will dominate next year.

    NAPLES, N.Y. -- A study by Datamonitor's Productscan Online reveals the 10 trends that consumer packaged goods will focus on in the upcoming year. New product developments will focus on health, fresh, function and taste, according to the study.

    The first trend to look for is probiotics beyond yogurt. Courtesy of launches like Dannon's Activia yogurt -- which achieved more than $150 million in first year sales in the U.S. -- probiotics are coming into the mainstream. In 2007, the ingredient made its way into cheese with Kraft LiveActive Cheese and other dairy products, the study stated. In 2008, there is a possibility probiotics could find its way into chocolate, according to the study. Chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut has new technology to create a probiotic chocolate bar, while Procter & Gamble will introduce its new Align Daily Probiotic Supplement, the study stated.

    The second trend to watch is organic food and beverages aimed at children. Organic product manufacturers are beginning to target the kids' market, including Amy's Kitchen, which offers Amy's Not Just for Kids Meals Frozen Entrees, according to the study. In addition, Honest Tea is launching Honest Kids Organic Fruit-Flavored Thirst Quenchers, which may contain half the sugar and calories of other kids' drinks, the study stated.

    The next trend in 2008 is fresh foods. Citing Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market format, which opened earlier this month and stocks many varieties of fresh foods and prepared meals, the study stated that "fresh" is hot. Frozen food products to look for include those cooked with steam in special microwave packages -- such as Rosetto Steam'n Eat Ravioli.

    The proliferation of superfruits -- high-nutrient foods such as acai, goji berries, noni and pomegranates – is another trend. The study expects that large manufacturers will get into superfruits, and new superfruits will emerge, such as the Chinese yumberry, which boasts high antioxidant content and a cranberry-like flavor, and is used in a new line of drinks from Frutzzo Natural Juice including Yumberry Cherry and Yumberry Pomegranate blends, according to the study.

    The next trend to look for in packaged goods will be ingredients hailing from Africa -- including shea butter and baobab oil -- in nonfood items such as skin creams and cosmetics. In foods, hot peppers like African Birds Eye Chili, also known as Peri-Peri, will show up in sauces and condiments, while foods from North Africa, including couscous, will gain ground, the study stated.

    A 2008 trend in the health and beauty care category will center on sleep. The study predicted a growing market for sleep aids and stress-relieving products that promote sleep, including new products based on the amino acid gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is believed to have stress relieving properties, and the U.S. rights of which were recently secured by .Jones Soda, according to the study.

    Crunchy products will be another trend to look out for in 2008. To increase taste, while at the same time stripping foods of reduced fat and calories, food manufacturers are adding crunch to foods, according to the study. New products banking on the trend include McCain's Frozen Popcorn Potatoes, Masterfoods USA's new Generation Max Snickers Clusters and Kellogg's Club Puffed Multi-Grain Snack Crackers, the study stated.

    Consumers are increasingly demanding bold flavors, including hot and spicy, for their food, the study stated. Bold flavors will be introduced in new areas, and is happening internationally. For example, Portugal's Adagio Moments Yogurt Drink was launched in a Spicy flavor in 2007, which features a blend of chocolate chips, strawberries and chili peppers, according to the study.

    Caffeinated packaged products are another trend to watch, the study stated. Caffeine has found its way into sunflower seeds, potato chips, mints, jellybeans and instant oatmeal, and is expected to move into hot chocolate, with new Swiss Miss Pick-Me-Up Hot Cocoa Mix with Calcium, according to the study.

    The last trend to look for in 2008 is products jumping on the environmentally friendly movement. Packaged goods makers around the globe are finding new ways to be green, according to the study. For example, in Finland, Into Limetti long drink is produced by fermentation using wind power, while United Kingdom-based Stongate Farmers makes Respectful Free Range Eggs, which are produced by hens on farms powered with wind and solar electricity, the study stated. In addition, Procter & Gamble's Pur Flavor Options allows consumers to flavor tap water, avoiding waste from bottled water, according to the study.

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