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New investments and new innovations

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

Among the new launches are Quorn's new recipe for its cocktail sausages and Graze's themed boxes
Among the new launches are Quorn's new recipe for its cocktail sausages and Graze's themed boxes

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Food Manufacture rounds up the latest new product launches which includes a £10m investment from Highland Spring, pea protein peanut butter from Whole Earth, themed boxes from Graze, and more…

Highland Spring invests in capability to propel flavoured water launch

Highland Spring Group has invested approximately £10m into additional capacity and advanced technology at its manufacturing site in Blackford, Perthshire to support its launch into flavoured still water.

Entering the 400m litres flavour water category is part of a part to accelerate the business’ brand and evolution.

The new range is sugar-free and includes strawberry, apple and blackcurrant, and lemon and limes varieties, all combined with Highland Spring Water sourced from the Ochil Hills in Perthshire.

The investment into its main site in Blackford which has supported this new launch into flavoured water, has also enabled the facility to provide around 100m litres of extra growth capability every year.

Across the last few years, the Highland Spring brand has continued to grow sales with volumes up 7.9% ahead of the rest of the category. Moreover, it has extended its market share from 13.1% in 2021 to 13.9% in 2022. Overall, the group reported UK sales of more than 500m litres – an increase of 2.9% vs 2021.

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Highland Springs goes into flavoured still water

The investment in Blackford has also given way to increased flexibility within sustainability packaging formats.

This follows the opening of the brand’s landmark rail freight facility. A total of 40% of the water supplied from the group’s main bottling plant in Blackford is now transported by rail, removing 8,000 HGV movements from the roads, and saving more than 3,000 tonnes of CO2​ annually.

Whole Earth launch new ‘healthy’ pea-infused variant

To mark Whole Earth’s partnership with Team GB for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the Ecotone UK owned brand has debuted a limited-edition peanut butter which comes in a commemorative GB Olympic 2024 jar.

‘Protein Crunch’ contains 10% of crunchy pea protein pieces to add additional texture and higher protein content; and has launched in Morrisons nationwide. Further rollouts will come later this year.

The jar includes a union jack and gold medal label design set against Whole Earth’s trademark tree branding.

Commenting on the new launch, Whole Earth brand controller, Nicola Turner, explained that   while peanut butter is already ‘naturally nutritious’, the business is always looking to innovate in new ways and “take natural nutrition even further”.

She added: “While two thirds of shoppers understand the benefits of eating more protein, peanut butter is still considered more of a treat. This is why we’re committed to showing that through Team GB endorsement, our peanut butter deserves podium position in people’s diets.”

Whole Earth Protein Crunch is made from natural ingredients as part of a signature no-added sugar recipe featuring roasted peanuts with the skins on. The nut butter is then combined with crispy pea protein pieces.

Turner explained that whilst pea is a key part of this npd, the pea flavour doesn’t come through: “We don’t flavour our peanut butters too heavily or add many ingredients because we believe in the power of peanuts and its wholesome, natural flavour.

Speaking on the drivers behind using pea, Turner added: “In the past, other brands have fortified the protein levels in their peanut butter by using either defatted peanut powder or whey powder. Both of these methods tend to result in a dry and unappealing product.

“Naturally, we didn’t want to lose the quality of our renowned nut butter. After extensive experiments, we discovered that but adding crunchy pea protein pieces, there was no drying effect on the product.

“Our suppliers specialise in crafting different textures from protein and there is a lot of innovation in the space to explore around neutral-tasting protein with great texture.

With this new launch, Turner said consumers will “get a lot more crunch than standard peanut butter, and a different type of crunch at that!”.

She concluded, saying that generally peas and legumes benefit from being “sustainable sources of protein as they fix atmospheric nitrogen and have a lower carbon footprint in comparison to other sources of protein”. ​ 

Graze relaunches monthly subscription box

15 years since the first flavour-packed 4-punnett box landed on doorsteps, Graze has announced a relaunch of its monthly subscription service, including a collection of themed boxes.

Dubbed ‘A Taste of the World’, the themed boxes are inspired by different world cuisines and include limited-edition Graze snacks, partner brands and bonus ‘foodie content’.

Commenting on the news, Mariana Josan, Graze’s head of digital commence said that since its inception, the brand has seen customers asking more varieties and a more sustainable approach.

“We’re excited to take our subscription offering in a new direction and offer an even better snacking experience for subscribers. We’ll be replacing the 4-punnett graze box with monthly themed boxes, featuring a carefully curated collection of eight or more limited edition graze snacks, partner brands and some added extras. We hope our subscribers enjoy the changes as much as we do.”

The boxes are available from today (2 April) up until 22 April 2024 and include Miele espresso almonds; a Katsu curry medley of beans, peas and corn; a strawberry biscuit and peanut butter combo; Austria and Jamaican inspired flapjacks with flavours of apple and cinnamon, and black treacle and vanilla respectively.; alongside ‘special tea’ – an English blend of lemon bergamot.

Customers will also be introduced to snacks from partner brands, including Olly’s Pretzels and mushroom snacking brand Other Foods.

Elsewhere, food manufacturer BakeAway has partnered with Myprotein to develop a ready-made, chilled protein pancake.

Launched late last month, the new offering is now on Morrisons shelves nationwide and will be available in other UK grocery stores throughout the year.

Each protein pancake contains 95.5 calories and 2.8g of fat, and comes in either cocoa or plain flavours.

According to Gareth Gray, Myprotein’s head of licensing and partnership, this has been more than a year in the making and responds to the demand it is witnessing for nutritious on-the-go snacks.

“Protein pancakes are a food prep staple and we have made it easier than ever before for people to enjoy them, whether that’s on the way to the gym or at home, without the mess that comes with the territory of making protein pancakes from scratch,”​ he said.

“This range has been in development with BakeAway for over a year now and forms part of Myprotein’s ongoing licensing strategy that supports accessible protein through the RTD and RTE markets.”

BakeAway’s head of marketing, Jennie Bosson added: “We have a long history of manufacturing delicious pancakes at BakeAway and are constantly looking to innovate and create new styles and flavours to respond to the ever-evolving consumer tastes and trends.

“Our knowledge and passion for pancakes is matched by Myprotein’s nutrition expertise, so the partnership makes complete sense and we are looking forward to working with Myprotein on more innovations.”

Oatly introduces bigger whipping ‘cream’ pack

Following requests from several partners, Oatly has launched a 1L format of its 250ml Whipping Creamy Oat.  

This has been created for those handling larger volumes, such as restaurants and cafes, who have called for less packaging and a something hat is easier to store.

Used in both warm and cold applications and expanding three times its volume once whipped, Oatly Whipping Creamy Oat can be used with desserts and in baking and cooking.

“Research shows that 88% of people in the UK want businesses to help them be more environmentally friendly. By offering responsibly sourced ingredients and championing alternatives to cow’s milk, this can go a long way in supporting consumers who want to do their bit for the planet,”​ said the general manager for UK&I, Bryan Carroll.

“We continue to innovate and expand our portfolio of non-dairy, oat-based products – including drinks, oatgurts, frozen desserts, spreads and cooking creams – unlocking a significant opportunity for people wanting to make big, or small, plant-based swaps.

“We’ve been working closely with food service providers to create products and formats that make dairy alternatives accessible for all occasions - whether you run a busy restaurant, create an incredible hotel experience, or serve refreshments on an aeroplane.”

Meat snacks launched in collaboration with YouTubers

New World Foods has announced SIDES, its first in a series of product collaborations with YouTube channel ‘the Sidemen’.

The healthy snacking company of Valeo Foods Group has released three flavours of this new high protein, low calorie meat snack. These comprise Buffalo Chicken, Chipotle Steak and Korean BBQ Steak, which are inspired by the Sidemen UK chicken shops (of the same name).

The range follows New World Food’s Wilde West Steak Strip ambient portfolio and pose as a ‘healthy’ alternative to high sugar, calorific snacking, with less than 100 calories per 35g pack.

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New World Foods and Sidemen launch meat snacking range

“The launch of these first three flavours under the SIDES brand is the culmination of over a year of hard work and effort from both teams, and I’m delighted with what we’ve created,”​ commented New World Foods CEO James Newitt. This marks the beginning of an expanding range of healthy snacking products that will excite new and old meat snacking consumers.”

Sidemen has a combined reach of more than 150m subscribers, with the collective recently breaking into the FMCG space.

Ethan ‘Behzinga’ Payne – one part of the Sidemen, commented: “We love seeing people enjoying freshly cooked fried chicken in our SIDES restaurants, and this first step into retail for the brand is really exciting. By offering a healthy snacking product across the whole of the UK, more people can enjoy SIDES products more often - and that’s what it’s all about for us.”

SIDES will launch with three flavours exclusively in 3,000 Tesco stores and 1,000 One Stop outlets from 3 April 2024.

Quorn’s new recipe, new products and new packs

With its eyes on the summer, Quorn has developed a new recipe for its meat-free cocktail sausages.

Said to have a much closer likeness to its meat counterpart and enhanced taste, the new recipe received positive feedback during trials, with purchase intent of more than 80%.

The sausages are now available in two pack sizes – 140g and 240g – with its brand of picnic eggs also coming in these size varieties.

Gill Riley, consumer director at Quorn Foods UK, said: “Within both the snacking and deli sector, Quorn occupies four of the top five value ranking places in meat free. Quorn is also outperforming the market and growing its value share in snacking.

“The addition of another pack size ensures we’re delivering on consumer demand on even more levels and attracting shoppers into the category. While the larger packs are firm favourites for our well-established Quorn lovers, the smaller packs will act as an ideal entry point for new consumers.

“Smaller packs in our frozen ingredients portfolio are very effective at bringing in new shoppers, so there is a clear incremental category growth opportunity for retailers stocking both of the new snacks formats.”

The brand will also be refreshing its Deli Mini Fillets range, introducing two new flavours – tikka and fajita. Roast slices will also see a change, moving into the ever growing Mini Fillets range.

The brand has also announced four new pack designs for its newest Deli Slices range.

These build on the iconic Quorn orange branding, whilst taking more cues from the meat slices fixture when it comes to driving taste.

“The new packs for Quorn Deli slices create a real stand out on the supermarket shelves, they’re vibrant and inviting and will definitely attract a new wave of shoppers, whilst also appealing to our existing loyal Deli fans,”​ continued Riley.

“Quorn is continuing to invest in meeting consumer needs in 2024 with new products, packaging and delicious recipe developments, and there’s plenty more to come.”

Meanwhile in other news, Asda and Morrisons have recalled cheese due to potential Listeria monocytogenes.

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