Leftovers: Nestlé introduces LasagnaMac; Blue Diamond expands into baking mixes

Source: fooddive.com

Leftovers is our look at a few of the product ideas popping up everywhere. Some are intriguing, some sound amazing and some are the kinds of ideas we would never dream of. We can’t write about everything that we get pitched, so here are some leftovers pulled from our inboxes. 

Nestlé serves up lasagna, macaroni and cheese mashup

Two meal-time classics come together are coming together for one dinner.

Nestlé is layering its creamy Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese between two layers of the brand’s lasagna in its new LasagnaMac. The limited-time promotional item will only be available online this summer. 

In announcing Stouffer’s LasagnaMac, Nestlé specifically mentioned appetites for nostalgic and feel-good foods remain on the rise — especially among Gen Z eaters. 

Foods consumers grew up with have been especially popular during the ongoing pandemic, with soups, cereals and macaroni and cheese among some of the fastest-growing offerings. A survey released last year by Mondelez International found 53% of consumers said they were buying nostalgic childhood brands.

The move to embrace a decidedly unhealthy offering underscores the fact that Switzerland-based Nestlé realizes consumers also are looking to indulge. In recent years, Nestlé has been focusing largely on building out its portfolio of better-for-you offerings through plant-based foods like Sweet Earth, the acquisition of fresh-prepared meals in Freshly and the recent purchase of Essentia Water, a premium functional brand.

Product mashups are a popular way for a company like Nestlé to combine existing brands into an offering that could attract new customers. The CPG giant did that a few years ago when it integrated Sweet Earth Awesome Grounds, its plant-based ground beef option, into items that traditionally use the animal-based protein: DiGiorno Rising Crust Meatless Supreme and Stouffer’s Meatless Lasagna

Other companies have embraced mashups, too, including General Mills’ Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes cereal and Pebbles cereal maker Post Holdings working with International Delight owner Danone to bring their flavors into coffee creamer. 

Christopher Doering

Courtesy of Blue Diamond


Blue Diamond puts almond flour in the mix

Blue Diamond Growers is extending into a new product segment with a line of better-for-you mug cake and baking mixes featuring almond flour. 

Blue Diamond’s Tasty Little Cup is a gluten- and dairy-free alternative to other mug cake mixes on shelves, according to the grower-owned co-op. The non-GMO, individually packaged mix gets combined with water and microwaved for 60 seconds to create a baked dessert for one. Flavors include chocolate or confetti cake, molten chocolate cake and brownie with diced almonds. 

For those baking for a crowd, the co-op’s new baking mixes make a clean-label play with 10 or fewer ingredients. The dairy-free, non-GMO mixes are available in four varieties: chocolate or yellow cake, brownie and chocolate chip cookie. The mixes will debut at grocery stores in May. 

The new baking mixes follow Blue Diamond’s 2020 launch of almond flour, which ticks off several trends including gluten free, keto and paleo diet friendly, and vegan. Gluten-free foods have assumed a health halo among consumers — deserved or not — with almond flour as a key ingredient. Allied Market Research valued the global almond flour market at $976.5 million in 2019, with a 7.9% compound annual growth rate between 2021 and 2027. 

The timing of Blue Diamond’s almond-flour-based baking mix launch also plays into current consumer trends rooted in the pandemic. Baking ingredients and mixes enjoyed double-digit sales increases in the first half of 2020 as home confinement during lockdowns encouraged people to whip up their own desserts, breads and other goods.

If anything, the new mixes demonstrate the versatility of the almond, which Blue Diamond has crafted into a range of end products, including snack almonds, Nut-Thins crackers and Almond Breeze milk, creamers and yogurt. In 2018, it expanded into the functional ingredients space with almond protein powder. 

Blue Diamond’s better-for-you baking mixes still have plenty of company in the space, including CPG giants like Conagra, which introduced keto-friendly Duncan Hines mixes in early 2020, and startups like Partake, which offers a gluten- and dairy-free mix devoid of the top eight allergens, including tree nuts.   

— Samantha Oller

Courtesy of Wells Enterprises


Putting the pop in popsicle: Bomb Pop Crush

A new Bomb Pop mashup is on deck to Crush the summertime (red, white and) blues.

The patriotic tri-colored popsicle brand, owned by Wells Enterprises, has partnered with Keurig Dr Pepper’s Crush fruity soda to make a new Bomb Pop variety. Bomb Pop Crush is made with the flavors of the brand’s Grape, Strawberry and Orange varieties, and features a purple, pink and orange striped pop.

Adding Crush flavors to the iconic frozen treat double dips on nostalgia. Crush was founded in 1916 by Neil Ward and Clayton Howell. When the soda first went on the market, it was called Ward’s Orange Crush, after the chemist who perfected the flavor creation techniques that gave the drink its signature taste. More flavors became available as the decades passed, including Grape, which made its debut in the 1960s.

Bomb Pops have also been around for generations. The brand was founded in 1955, co-created by D.S. “Doc” Abernathy and James Merritt. It became one of the staples of the former Merritt Foods, which closed in 1991. Wells Enterprises bought the business and all of its brands two years later, and continued to produce the frozen treats.

While most people think of Bomb Pops as rocket-shaped red, white and blue popsicles, the brand has partnered with other treats and has other flavors to its lineup in previous years. There are varieties using flavors from Keurig Dr Pepper’s Hawaiian Punch brand, Hershey’s fruity Jolly Ranchers candy and Impact Confections’ sour Warheads candy. There are also varieties with fillings, and a watermelon pop, complete with a green “rind” stripe on the bottom and candy seeds in the pink pop.

— Megan Poinski