Kraft Unleashes Blitz of 70 New Products

Launches Heat Up as General Mills Also Signals 50 New Lines

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As Kraft Foods prepares to split its North American grocery and international snacks businesses in 2012, the company will roll out some 70 products in the first quarter, including several new brands and expansion of product lines launched earlier this year.

Among the biggest introductions, the Northfield, Ill.-based company will add two lines of dinner kits, energy and "mocktail" versions of its water enhancers, two brands imported from Europe and the retail launch of its Gevalia direct-mail coffee brand.

Kraft MilkBite and Granola Bars are just one of many new products on tap for the marketer in 2012.
Kraft MilkBite and Granola Bars are just one of many new products on tap for the marketer in 2012.
The product barrage continues a strategy Kraft launched last year to tout its innovation credentials timed to coincide with the retailer's annual stock resets. "Our operating cycle is to have a flow of really strong innovation timed in sync with our retail partners," Barry Calpino, VP-breakthrough innovation for Kraft Foods, said in an interview. "This is how Kraft goes to market."

With dinner items a major category for Kraft , the company will unveil its Fresh Take line of seasoned bread crumbs with cheese. Unlike the boxed bread crumbs in Kraft 's Shake 'n Bake brand, the Fresh Take package includes six flavor varieties of shredded cheese and bread crumbs in separate compartments. The 6.05-ounce packs will sell in the refrigerated section for $2.99.

"Consumers are looking for more ideas for dinner and more creative ideas, and at the same time they want it to be easy," said Mr. Calpino. The line will get a full campaign of marketing support. He wouldn't specify the media spending but said it will have a "heavy" TV component and retail support.

A smaller effort will introduce a line of shelf-stable dinner kits, Kraft Sizzling Salads, including a marinade and recipes for consumers, who can add chicken, lettuce and vegetables to assemble a meal in less than 20 minutes. The four-flavor line includes a 6-ounce salad dressing and a 6-ounce cooking sauce duo for $2.99.

In addition to the major debut in January for its previously reported refrigerated MilkBite Milk and Granola Bars, February will bring the U.S. debut of Bel Vita Breakfast Biscuits. Already sold in Europe, the whole grain snack crackers come in three flavors that the company says will provide sustained energy for the whole morning and fill a void for Nabisco in the cookie and cracker aisle.

Also imported from Europe, Kraft 's Philadelphia Indulgence Spreads mix chocolate with its namesake cream cheese for dipping. Two sizes are 5 ounces for $1.99 and 8 ounces for $2.99.

To compete with the energy and nutritional beverage rivals, Kraft will launch in January energy versions of its Mio and Crystal Light water enhancers with 60 milligrams of caffeine and B vitamins for $2.99 for various pack sizes.

The company also will add three "mocktail" flavors for Crystal Light after a limited promotion last summer. "They sold really, really well. They're on trend," Mr. Calpino said.

Kraft has begun to roll out 10 flavors of its Gevalia gourmet coffee brand. The 12-ounce packages will have an $8.99 suggested retail price, and plans are to have pods of the brand for the Tassimo coffee machine available later.

Kraft isn't alone in its aggressive new product push. General Millsplans 50 new products in the second half of its fiscal 2012, adding to the 100 launches it rolled out in the first half, the company said on its earnings call today. Among the new offerings are two line extensions for Cheerios: Peanut Butter Multigrain and "Dulce de Leche," which CEO Ken Powell described as a "caramel-flavored cereal [that ] features a taste profile that 's popular with Hispanic consumers, but we think it will have broad appeal." Big G will also add Frosted Toast Crunch to its Cinnamon Toast Crunch line.

The marketer will also try to boost its Yoplait Greek yogurt lineup with new flavors in multipack formats. It will also add a lactose-free yogurt to its regular Yoplait line, hoping to win new business from the 15% of U.S. consumers that General Mills says are lactose intolerant.

"We think this is a good innovation for the Yoplait brand, and we will support this new line with couponing, digital advertising and in-store sampling," Mr. Powell said. Yoplait's agency is Saatchi & Saatchi.

Kate MacArthur is a reporter at Crain's Chicago Business.


Contributing: E.J. Schultz

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