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From Latin flavors to candy bars, ice cream sector bulging at seams.

From Latin Flavors to Candy Bars, Ice Cream Sector Bulging at Seams

Summertime, and the living is easy. Fish are jumping, and new ice cream product introductions are nigh on impossible to cut into over-crowded freezer cases. But retailers are somehow finding space for niche offerings with potential to scoop out a share of the $9.4 billion market for ice cream and related frozen desserts in the USA.

The latest entrants in the hot superpremium competition are pint-size Latin flavors from Goya Foods of Secaucus, N.J. North America's leading Hispanic products company has inked a 30-year licensing deal with Frozen Desserts Resources, Inc., Westport, Conn., to manufacture, market and distribute a line under the Goya Helado Classico label. Six flavors (coconut, banana chip, mango n'vanilla, butter pecan, vanilla and strawberry) have been shipped to supermarket chains and mom and pop stores in the Northeast. Suggested retail price is $1.99.

The $1.4 billion frozen novelty segment, which saw sales slip by 3% last year, is also being catered to with a range of Goya bars selling for approximately 60-cents each. Flavors are: creamy coconut, crunchy vanilla, chocolate almond vanilla and chocolate-covered vanilla.

While the growing Hispanic population is the primary target for all Goya brands, the universal appeal of ice cream could pave the way for the label to penetrate the mainstream market. Co-packed by Crowley Foods of Binghamton, N.Y., the 14% butterfat product comes in bright red containers with bilingual Spanish and English markings.

The man behind the launch is Barry H. Donefer, president of Frozen Desserts Resources. "I just thought it was time that Latins in this country had a brand they could call their own," said the former Haagen-Dazs senior vice president. In addition to playing a key role in creating and rolling out the Haagen-Dazs Bar in the mid-1980s, his credentials include a stint as president of Sweet Victory and a hand in the introduction of American Glace.

"This joint venture will help us to close the cycle of distribution to the Spanish community," said Goya's Aldo Cunningham. A 25-year veteran with the company that packs everything from Puerto Rican-style beans and rice to frozen fish dishes, he admitted that ice cream making was one specialty it had not mastered.

"That's why this is such a good deal - because we were not previously equipped to do something like this," Cunningham explained. He went on to speculate that Goya might want to "buy them out" if sales volume is sweet enough.

Healthy Spoonsful

Goya isn't the only brand that is extending its name to the ice cream case. Omaha, Neb.-headquartered ConAgra Inc. is teaming up with Dreyer's Ice Cream Inc., Oakland, Calif., to manufacture and exclusively distribute Healthy Choice premium frozen dairy desserts.

The 2% butterfat product is being packed by Dreyer's at plants in California and Fort Wayne, Ind., as well as by Wells Dairy Inc., Lemars, Iowa. Available in quart and half-gallon sizes, the 10-flavor Healthy Choice offerings boast reduced calories, cholesterol and sodium levels.

Many others are turning out "slimmed down" products formulated to fatten up their bottom lines. Slim Fast Foods, for example, has rolled out Ultra Slim-Fast Frozen Delight, a reduced fat, low calories frozen dessert. Pint and half-pint hard packs are available, as are ice cream sandwiches and stick bars. The latter contains 130 calories and sells for $1.20 per unit, or $2.89 for three.

Elsewhere, Unilever's Gold Bond has introduced a sugar-free Fudge Nut Dip flavor of Fudgsicle. And on the foodservice front, Baskin-Robbins Inc. (the nation's largest ice cream chain with some 2,300 stores) is serving up Sinplesse. At 100 calories per half-cup, the fat-free dairy dessert is made with Simplesse fat substitute.

Back at retail, there's Simple Pleasures Light. Boasting just 80 calories per four-ounce serving, the frozen concoction features a sugar substitute from NutraSweet and fake fat from Simplesse. Each company is unit of St. Louis, Mo.-headquartered Monsanto Corp.

A product line busy banging the low cholesterol drum is 100% Cholesterol-Free Frozen Yogurt from Stroh's Ice Cream. The Detroit, Mich.-based company is distributing the following flavors in half-gallon cartons to Midwest markets: English toffee fudge, raspberry fudge torte, chocolate caramel pecan torte and peanut butter cup.

Heavy-Hitting Bars

Of course, not everybody is watching one's weight or intake of fats and cholesterol. This is especially so when it comes to kids and the young at heart who are making beelines to ice cream cases to sort through the avalanche of frozen candy bar ice cream novelties that have hit the market.

With TV cartoon character Bart Simpson serving as spokesman, Nestle Foods Corp. has debuted Butterfinger Ice Cream Bars. The Purchase, N.Y.-headquartered company makes the product with Butterfinger chocolate flavored coating and Butterfinger bits. Six units come per 15 oz. pack, which retails for $2.89.

Skippy Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bars are being manufactured and distributed by H.P. Hood Inc., Milton, Mass., under license from CPC International Inc. Twelve individually wrapped sticks come per 21 oz. box. Retailing for $3.29, the product's milk chocolate flavored coating is sprinkled with peanut chips.

There are still more such treats making the scene, such as Original Health English Toffee Chocolate Bars packed under license by Leaf, Inc., and Nestle Crunch Lite. From rival Mars comes Milkshake, and Milky Way Ice Cream Bars are from Dove International.

Spot Pops

If big money can be made by turning out frozen candy bars, then why not apply the same concept to soda pop? After all, plenty of kid-turned-adult consumers who used the family freezer to keep their Hershey Bars from melting down during hot August weather also made their own home versions of frozen pops out of Coca-Cola, Root Beer and 7Up.

Enter professionally produced 7Up Spot Pops, distributed by DCA Food Industries of New York under an exclusive licensing agreement with the Dallas, Texas-based bottling company. It is now test marketing regular and diet versions of 7Up and Cherry 7Up Spot Pops. A 12-pack of 1.75 oz. units sells for $2.39.

No Stopping Yogurt

Meanwhile, the battle for the fastest growing segment of the frozen desserts market is shaping up in the frozen yogurt section. As such products squeeze traditional ice cream offerings off the shelf, it should be noted that this category has zoomed from the fringes a decade ago to become a business grossing upwards of $2 billion annually in the USA.

Pioneered by franchise outlets such as TCBY that sell soft-serve cones and cups, the yogurt trend is now being cashed in on by the big ice cream brands at the grocery store level. Recently entering the estimated $500 million hard pack segment was Haagen-Dazs Co. It has rolled out nationally with pints available in five flavors: chocolate, vanilla, vanilla almond crunch, strawberry and peach. A three-ounce serving contains about 130 calories.

"Two years ago, we set a specific objective to find a frozen yogurt product consistent with the core Haagen-Dazs values: all natural, no preservatives, high quality. We thought at some points that those were impossible goals, but finally arrived at a product that we felt good about," said Yves Coleon, vice president of marketing.

The Teaneck, N.J.-headquartered unit of Britain's Grand Metropolitan Plc (which dominated the American superpremium ice cream market last year with $350 million in sales) is also busy in the frozen novelty field. Just in time for the summer season, it has unveiled two-ounce Crunch Bars that are being marketed as snacks rather than desserts. Among the available flavors is Vanilla Crisp, which consists of vanilla ice cream made with Belgian milk chocolate and crisped rice.

Retailing for 99 cents, the two-ounce, stickless products are going up against less expensive Snickers and 3 Musketeer Bars from the M&M/Mars team. Haagen-Dazs will also offer a three-bar pack for about $2.59.

Indulging for Peace

New to Ben & Jerry's Homemade pint lineup is a blend of vanilla ice cream and chunks of cashew and Brazil nuts called Rainforest Crunch. Selling for $2.69, the packaging informs consumers that 1% of the profits go to wage global peace efforts. And as an added bonus for the environmentally conscious, indulging in the product is "politically correct" since monies spent by the manufacturer to procure the nut ingredients will "help Brazilian forest peoples start a nut-shelling cooperative that they'll own and operate."

The idea is to create jobs that will persuade those with political power to encourage long-term cash crop cultivation of the endangered rainforest rather than sanction large scale tree cutting for short-term financial gain.

With some $77 million in overall volume last year, the Waterbury, Vermont-based entrepreneurial ice cream producer was second only to Haagen-Dazs in superpremium sales. Showing up in distant third place behind Ben & Jerry's was Kraft General Foods' FrusenGladje, which realized turnover of $15 million.

PHOTO : Goya has lent its name to an ice cream line featuring such exotic flavors as coconut, banana chip and mango n' vanilla.

PHOTO : From the jar to the bar goes Skippy peanut butter. The new ice cream product from H.P. Hood Inc. makes use of the popular brand under license from PC International Inc. A box of 12 sells for $3.29.

PHOTO : Nestle Foods Corp. is marketing Butter-finger Ice Cream Bars in the USA. A box of six retails for $2.89.

PHOTO : Another popular candy bar concept that is being served up as an ice cream product is Original Health English Toffee. Manufactured under license from Leaf, Inc., a six-pack of 2.5 oz. units retails for $2.29.

PHOTO : Among the Haagan-Dazs "Bar War" materiel is the just debuted Vanilla Crisp Crunchy Bar. The upscale product is premium-priced at $2.59 per three-pack. Ingredients include Belgian milk chocolate and crisped rice.

PHOTO : Even Gourmet Italian Ices marketed under the Mama Tish's label are boasting a healthful image. The product is fat-, dairy-, sodium- and cholesterol-free. A box of four 4 oz. units goes for $1.99.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Frozen Foods in North America
Author:Saulnier, John M.
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jul 1, 1991
Previous Article:With many big frozen food names absent, up and comers in very high profile at IFE.
Next Article:Canada's Dickie Dee Ice Cream products poised to expand presence in USA market.

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