TREND CENTRAL: WHAT'S HOT IN NEW PRODUCT LAUNCHES

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Last year, 33,680 packaged goods products were introduced in the U.S. and Canada, up one-third from 25,200 in 1998. According to the Productscan Online database of new products from the Naples, N.Y.-based market research firm Marketing Intelligence Service, Ltd., many of the most innovative products are designed to appeal to Americans who want to simplify their lives and save time. Others offer breakthrough features or benefits in their product formulation, positioning or packaging. Some attempt to create new markets. Here's a sampling of some of the newest products you'll find on the shelves of supermarkets, drugstores and mass merchandisers:

MINUTE MAID PREMIUM HEART WISE 100% PURE ORANGE JUICE

High cholesterol can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease. Coca-Cola's Houston-based Minute Maid unit offers Minute Maid Premium Heart Wise 100% Pure Orange Juice. Two eight fluid ounce servings a day can help lower cholesterol levels. Each serving contains one gram of plant sterols, an ingredient known for its cholesterol reducing effect.

KELLOGG DRINK'N CRUNCH PORTABLE CEREALS

How do you keep cereal crunchy for road warriors or school kids on the go? Battle Creek, Mich.-based Kellogg's solution is a special new cup for its Kellogg Drink'N Crunch Portable Cereals. The cup is actually two cups in one; an inner cup contains cereal while an outer cup is to be filled with milk. Tilt the cup, pour the contents in and the cereal and milk mix in your mouth, not in the cup. So the cereal never gets soggy.

HERSHEY'S SWOOPS CANDY SLICES

Chocolate lovers are used to Hershey's bars and kisses. But how will they react to chocolate that's shaped like saddles? After years of being highly predictable, the Hershey, Pa. chocolate maker has shocked and awed its followers with the launch of Hershey's Swoops Candy Slices. Packaged in six-count cups, they can easily fit into a lunch box, backpack or briefcase for a quick treat. Flavors include Hershey's Milk Chocolate, Reese's Peanut Butter Candy and York Mint Candy.

AQUAFRESH FLOSS ‘N’ CAP FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE

After all those sweets, you might need to floss. Whether you want to is another question. According to Johnson & Johnson, the maker of new Aquafresh Floss ‘N’ Cap Fluoride Toothpaste, under 3 percent of U.S. households contain consumers who floss regularly. Floss ‘n’ Cap, a new toothpaste with floss inside the cap, makes it easier to find that darn string. The dispenser holds shred-resistant floss.

Source: Productscan Online (productscan.com), a worldwide new-products database service of Naples, N.Y.-based Marketing Intelligence Service

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