Here are some of the new food product introductions registered by Mintel's Global New Products Database this past month around the world.

Vanilla & chocolate FABs

Attempts to market milk-based FABs persist. Past attempts include Super Milch in Germany (a 5.5% ABV vodka milk shake drink) and Moo in the UK (a 5% ABV milkshake "alcoholic dairy cooler"). A more recent attempt has been made in New Zealand by Independent Liquor which has launched Vodka Mudshake Chocolate with 5% ABV. Independent Liquor has also added another interesting flavour addition to the New Zealand FABs market: vanilla. This again has been added to vodka to create Platinum Vanilla & Vodka. Both products come in single serve glass bottles in multipacks of four.

Sugar-free Red Bull

It's about time, some healthier consumers may say. Red Bull, the popular energy drink is finally being launched in a sugar-free version in the UK and the US. The UK line which has been picked up in retail still contains high energy caffeine and taurine, but is sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame K. This development will no doubt encourage others to follow suit and boost the sugar-free segment of the market.

Cheesy ice cream

The Asian ice cream market yet again surprises Western consumers by using savoury ingredients in an otherwise sweet treat. The latest savoury addition is cheese. New in the Philippines from Nestlé is Puto Bumbong comprising a macapuno ("mutant coconut") flavoured ice cream with rice cake and cheese bits!

Vitamin fortified sweets

For a while now, a healthy slant has been given to the sugar confectionery market by fortifying lines with vitamins and minerals. We have also seen some functional moves predominantly from niche players (e.g. Function prebiotic sweets from Zile). Such healthy moves continue, and it is interesting to see these developments from leading brands such as Fruit-tella. The new Fruit-tella Plus line in Italy, from Perfetti Van Melle, comprises soft sweets with real fruit juice and enriched with vitamins B, C and E as well as calcium.

Vitamin drinks

We continue to see a growing trend towards fortified beverages (juices in particular) to boost the diet with vitamins and minerals (rather than through taking tablet/capsule vitamin supplements). Many such launches have already been reported in North America, but the latest has appeared in Ireland. New under an aptly named, Vitz Liquid Health label, is a range of low sugar, no fat, low calorie "daily vitamin boost" juice drinks available in two varieties. The Tropical Tease Multi Vitamin Defence variety is fortified with vitamins A, C, E, B6, B12, H and B5, and is designed to replace lost nutrients and "defend against the hazards of modern living". The Bursting Berry Boost Vitamin & Ginseng Energy variety is enriched with vitamins C, B6, B3 and B5 as well as folic acid and ginseng, and is said to add zing to consumer's day.

Mars pushes cocoa benefits

Mars is again promoting the antioxidant and heart-health benefits of cocoa beans through a new company division, The Positive Food Company. The company is set to introduce a number of healthy cocoa snack products, the first of which is Positively Healthy Cocoa Drink. The single dose (85ml) chilled milk drink is said to be high in natural cocoa antioxidants and is marketed with the tagline "top up your body's defences".

Blueberry potato snacks

Blueberry, a fruit touted for its antioxidant health benefits, is making a surprise appearance in the savoury snacks market in China. New, from Lianhua Foods, under the Cadina potato chips brand, are blueberry-flavoured potato sticks!

KitKat Caramel & Coffee Twix

New flavours continue to be added to the leading KitKat chocolate biscuit countline from Nestlé in an effort to maintain interest in the brand. The latest is a caramel addition to the Chunky format in Australia. The new variety has a smooth caramel layer over the wafer and is covered in milk chocolate. While the Twix biscuit countline from Mars is now available in a coffee-flavoured variety in South Korea.

Jam with bamboo fibre

Added value is being given to a new strawberry & rhubarb jam in Italy with the addition of fibre from wheatgerm and more unusually from bamboo fibre. The new Menz & Gasser line is called Frutta & Fibra and comes in a glass jar.

A tasty way to five a day

Consumers in the UK are increasingly being encouraged towards eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as recommended by nutritionists. Retailer Sainsbury, for example, markets a range of processed foods under the banner Way to Five, each labelled as containing one or two of the daily recommended portions. Branded products including soups and canned vegetables now also carry an indication of their fruit/vegetable content in easy to follow portions.

Solero, the Unilever-owned ice cream brand, is even following this trend. Solero Getfruit! ice cream is sold in a one litre tub, described on-pack as "ice cream to help you reach 5 a day". It is available in varieties including strawberry & raspberry, apple & blackcurrant, and tropical. The back of the pack lists "5 good things" about the ice cream, including that it is made with 45% real fruit, has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and is a good source of vitamin C. An additional panel describes how the product can help you reach "5 a day", as each 125ml serving of ice cream contains half a portion of fruit.

Salad dressing for kids

One of our predictions in the US for 2003 was that there would be more traditionally adult products targeted to kids. And now we have a few to back us up. From Annie's Naturals comes three varieties of Organic Salad Dressing truly targeted to kids. Tutti Fruitti, Pizza Pie, and Zoom flavours are brightly coloured in orange, red, and purple and are certified organic.

Microwaveable Doritos

A novel snack chip product is now available in the US from Frito-Lay. Doritos Toppers Tortilla Snacks are microwaveable snack chips that deliver bold flavour when warmed. The chips come in two microwaveable trays, but can also be eaten straight from the pack. Ultimate Taco, Cheese Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza, Cheddar, and Cheddar & Quesadilla varieties are retailing in supermarkets.

Green tea sodas

Steap Green Tea Sodas in the US are all-natural sodas that claim to be the first soda marked with the new USDA certified organic seal. Moreover they combine healthy green tea with popular sodas such as cola. The soda is brewed using Ceylon green tea and comes in Cola, Lemon Dew, Raspberry, Orange, Key Lime, and Root Beer flavours. Green tea is also an ingredient in Cricket Green Tea Cola from Cricket Cola, available in regular and diet versions.

More than just a water

Who would have ever thought that water could contain ingredients that aid common ailments? Well, Shannon Minerals of Limerick certainly did as it launched its Tri na nog Functional Waters into Canada. The lineup includes Boost, to fight colds; Osteo, to promote breast and bone health; Slim, to help curb appetites; Mineral Max, to restore antioxidants; Cardio, to reduce critical blood fats; Effervescent Get Up & Go, for men; and Detox, a peach-flavoured beverage for women to aid recovery from hangovers.

Dissolving candy

In the US, Jakks Pacific (the Malibu-based toy maker) has launched Tongue Tape described as a candy version of the dissolving breath-freshener strips popular with adults (such as Wrigley's Eclipse). Sources have said that the product is set to begin showing up on select toy store shelves. This "kid version of an adult product that's also fun to collect" is the company's biggest launch of a non-licensed toy. The product is said to dissolve quickly in your mouth, but leaves a lasting flavour. The various flavours are housed in plastic containers similar to those of the breath fresheners, but with different cartoon-like decorations, each sporting a giant tongue that reinforces the names: Growlin' Grape, Lip-Lemony-Lemon, Cherry Pit Stop, Blue Ratsberry, Cinna-Bomb, and Ooh-Ooh Orange.

Low-carb bread becomes more mainstream

As the Atkins diet surge continues, lower-carb bread is moving from an expensive specialty product to a $2 loaf that can be picked up in mainstream supermarkets. The newest offering in the US, Nature's Own Premium Wheat, promises half the carbohydrates of regular bread. The Nature's Own reduced-carbohydrate bread has 60 calories a slice, the same as traditional varieties. Soy protein replaces wheat flour to trim the carb count, but not the calorie count.

Sprite Remix to hit stores in late spring

Coca-Cola has announced that it will launch in the US Sprite Remix, a new line extension of America's number one lemon-lime soft drink. The new beverage will feature a new tropical version of Sprite and will be launched with a unique graphic treatment of the signature Sprite logo. Rollout is scheduled for late spring 2003, in which it will initially be available in 20-oz. bottles and will be available in additional package sizes later in the spring and summer.