As 2021 draws to a close, the FoodBev Media team reflects on some of the most popular new product developments from this year.
Despite the ongoing global pandemic continuing to significantly impact consumer choice and brand performance, it was still a consistently innovative year. Trends such as plant-based alternatives, clean-label ingredients, shelf-stable products and beverages categories such as hard seltzers were all the rage.
Below, we round up the top ten food and beverage product launches that performed particularly well and went viral on FoodBev’s social media channels.
Lindt & Sprüngli’s chocolate bar made with entire cocoa pod
In February, Lindt & Sprüngli teamed up with Swiss-Ghanaian start-up Koa to launch a new Excellence chocolate bar that was naturally sweetened using the pulp of the cocoa pod.
The bar, named Excellence Cacao Pur, was made exclusively from components of the cocoa pod – with 82% cocoa beans and 18% cocoa pulp from Koa – and no refined sugar.
Lindt & Sprüngli said the bar had an initial fruity and sour taste, followed by intense cocoa notes. The company also claimed that using Koa’s cocoa pulp provided an additional source of income to the cocoa farmers and reduced food waste.
Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough Twist tubs
At the beginning of the year, Ben & Jerry’s released two new ice cream flavours that featured a cookie dough ‘twist’.
Available in two flavours, both featured ‘chunky-licious’ cookie dough twisting down the middle of the tub.
Rain-dough contained vanilla ice cream with a rainbow-sprinkled cookie dough centre and colourful tie-dye chunks. Meanwhile, Dough-ble Chocolate featured chocolate ice cream with a swirly chocolate cookie dough centre and chocolate chunks.
“To celebrate 30 years of our iconic Cookie Dough tub, we wanted to give fans something new to be delighted by. So here we have a modern twist on what they hold dear and the chance to expand their dough love with classic and entirely new combinations,” said Ben & Jerry’s flavour guru, Helder Silva.
Diageo’s Guinness stout Nitro Cold Brew Coffee
Back in Spring, Diageo combined its classic Guinness stout with cold brew coffee for another nitrogenated beer creation.
Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Coffee beer was described as the perfect balance of bitter and sweet with a roast coffee flavour.
The drink was brewed using cold brew coffee extract and natural coffee flavours, offering hints of espresso, chocolate and caramel.
With a 4% ABV, Guinness Nitro Cold Brew Coffee is said to be best enjoyed straight from the can or poured into a glass to fully activate the widget inside the can – which infuses nitrogen into the beer upon opening.
The product release became a permanent addition to the Guinness portfolio.
Truly’s iced tea hard seltzer
At the start of 2022, Truly Hard Seltzer launched what it claimed was the first hard seltzer brewed with real tea and fruit flavours in the US.
Truly Iced Tea Hard Seltzer was released in four flavours: lemon, raspberry, peach, and strawberry. Each variety was said to offer a fruity taste and the refreshment of real brewed ice tea.
Like the rest of Truly’s lineup, each beverage contains 1g of sugar, 100 calories and had a 5% ABV.
“As the hard seltzer category continues to explode, we’re excited to bring another first-to-market product to our drinkers and fuel their discovery through new flavours,” said Lesya Lysyj, CMO of The Boston Beer Company, which own the Truly Hard Seltzer brand.
Nestlé’s mint and orange dark chocolate KitKat variants
In April, Nestlé expanded its KitKat portfolio with the introduction of new mint and orange dark chocolate variants in Australia.
KitKat Dark Tasmanian Mint featured mint chocolate made using oil from mint plants grown in Tasmania. Meanwhile, KitKat Dark Southern Australian Orange featured orange chocolate that incorporated oil from blood oranges grown in the South Australian Riverland and Sunraysia region.
The two new KitKat varieties were released in 170g blocks in supermarkets across the country.
“Dark chocolate is synonymous with moments of everyday indulgence, and as Aussies increasingly spend more time at home, we’re seeing that they want to elevate their evenings with moments of decadence,” said Nestlé head of marketing confectionery, Joyce Tan. “Using quality ingredients from our own backyard, the new flavours add intrigue to our well-loved dark chocolate range as an indulgent and stimulating chocolate treat.”
Michelob Ultra’s organic hard seltzers
Another product released at the beginning of the new year was AB InBev-owned Michelob Ultra’s range of USDA-certified organic hard seltzers.
The range marked the company’s entry into the hard seltzer category. Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer came in three flavours: cucumber lime, spicy pineapple, and peach pear. Available nationwide, the beverages came in 12oz can 12-packs and 12oz can 24-packs, as well as in 25oz cans.
“We believe that Michelob Ultra is uniquely positioned to win in the hard seltzer segment, not only because it’s one of the hottest brands in the country, but also because it has unmatched equity as a high-quality brand. This is just the beginning of an exciting, action-packed year from Michelob Ultra, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Ricardo Marques, global VP of Michelob Ultra.
Truly’s fruit punch hard seltzer variety pack
Yet another hard seltzer debut in May for Truly, but this time it was the brand’s hard seltzer variety pack that claimed to blend traditional punch with bold fruit flavours.
Truly Punch Hard Seltzers came in four flavours: tropical, fruit, citrus and berry.
“We continue to keep our drinkers top-of-mind with each innovation we bring to market, creating refreshing and unique hard seltzer options that our drinkers have come to expect, but with less sugar and more fruit flavour,” said Casey O’Neill, director of product development at The Boston Beer Company, owner of Truly.
Like the rest of the Truly line-up, each variety had 1g of sugar, 100 calories and a 5% ABV.
Kellogg-owned Kashi’s keto-friendly cereal
In January, Kellogg’s Kashi brand announced the launch of a new cereal that was said to mark the brand’s first keto-friendly offering.
The cereal contains 12g of plant-based protein and 1g of sugar per serving. A source of fibre, the cereals are made with ingredients such as pea protein, lentil and chickpea flour, and were sweetened with allulose and monk fruit.
Kashi Go Keto-Friendly Cereal was released in cinnamon vanilla and dark cocoa flavours.
Melanie Hall, director of brand marketing at Kashi, said: “Our mission is to provide these consumers with a keto-friendly cereal that is nutritious, tasty, and is more affordable than other options on the market”.
Charlie Bigham’s premium ready meals
April 2021 saw Charlie Bigham’s expanding its range of freshly prepared ready meals with the introduction of three new products in the UK.
Butter Chicken & Pilau Rice consisted of marinated chicken in a mild and creamy butter sauce, served with pilau rice.
Meanwhile, Smoked Haddock Gratin featured smoked haddock in a crème fraîche and white wine sauce with spinach, topped with a potato rosti and mature Cheddar crumb.
Chicken Pad Thai included chicken breast in a “sweet, zesty sauce” mixed with edamame beans, roasted peanuts and rice noodles.
AB InBev’s Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade
AB InBev’s Bud Light brand expanded its portfolio with the addition of Seltzer Lemonades, available in the US in a 12oz slim can variety 12-pack.
With an ABV of 5%, the new offering was launched in four flavours: original lemonade, black cherry lemonade, strawberry lemonade and peach lemonade.
Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade is brewed with cane sugar and natural fruit flavours, and contains just 100 calories and less than 1g of sugar per drink.
“We are excited to continue expanding our portfolio with the new Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade variety pack. Our Seltzer Lemonade marries the bold flavours of lemonade with the refreshing bubbliness of seltzer; this new offering is perfect for both established seltzer fans and those who are looking to give seltzer a try,” said Andy Goeler, VP of marketing, Bud Light.
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