Since 2016, Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery has annually recognized two highly innovative, newly launched products—one snack and one baked good—with all products published on SnackandBakery.com/Products during the year eligible for “Best New Snack & Bakery Product” honors. For the first three years of the program, from 2016 through 2019, top new product honors were decided by the SF&WB audience via voting on the website.
For 2021, SF&WB shifted this award to an internal evaluation structure similar to the other honors SF&WB brings to the industry each year, such as the “Bakery of the Year” and “Snack Producer of the Year” awards. SF&WB has also begun working with top industry associations to showcase these awards and broaden their impact, highlighting industry leadership, excellence, and innovation. Starting in 2020, the SF&WB “Bakery of the Year” presentation was included in the American Bakers Association Annual Convention (2022 honors will be part of IBIE), and Snack Producer of the Year is now part of annual SNAXPO proceedings, in partnership with show organizers SNAC International.
Now the annual “Best New Snack & Bakery Products” of the year award is coming to the annual BEMA Convention. For the inaugural year of the newly upgraded “Best New Snack & Bakery Product” awards SF&WB and BEMA staff evaluated five snack products and five bakery products to see which new products would rise to the top:
- Cheetos Popcorn
- Goldfish Veggie Crackers
- Outstanding Foods TakeOut Meal-in-a-Bag Puffs
- Ritz Cheese Crispers
- ZENB Veggie Bites
- Catalina Crunch Keto Sandwich Cookies
- DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza
- Krispy Kreme Mini Crullers
- Pop-Tarts Bites
- This Saves Lives Kids Krispy Kritter Treats
All products were evaluated for originality, branding, packaging, and organoleptics (flavor, texture, aroma, etc.).
In the end, two products emerged as most innovative for 2020:
- Best New Snack Product: Goldfish Veggie Crackers
- Best New Bakery Product: DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza
Goldfish Veggie Crackers
Company: Pepperidge Farm/Campbell Snacks
Introduced: January 2020
Suggested Retail Price: $2.49
Product Snapshot: Goldfish recently introduced two kid-friendly flavors: Cheesy Tomato and Sweet Carrot. Cheesy Tomato is made with one-third serving of tomatoes with color from tomato, beet juice concentrate, and annatto. It’s baked with 100 percent real Cheddar cheese. Sweet Carrot is made with one-third serving of veggies with color from carrot and paprika extract. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A. Both products are free from artificial flavors and preservatives.
In a Campbell Snacks news release, Kaylee Gill, research chef, Pepperidge Farm, Norwalk, CT, noted vegetables have begun to more broadly influence the market (“A veggie-forward snack to smile about: Goldfish Veggie crackers,” Aug. 5, 2020). So adding vegetables to snacks was a logical next step. After all, parents continually seek creative ways to add vegetables to their children’s diets.
“We track trends as they evolve through distinct stages to help us stay ahead of the culinary curve,” says Gill. “One of the more mainstream trends we saw come to fruition in 2019 is commonly referred to as the ‘vegetable evolution.’ It explains the shift in how consumers think about vegetables and plant-based foods.”
The Campbell Snacks R&D team considered several options, including broccoli and cauliflower, but eventually settled on carrot and tomato flavors. “A lot of detective work went into vetting the veggies,” says Ericha Grace, MS, NDTR, nutrition scientist, Campbell Soup Co. “We determined that including one-third serving of vegetables would provide meaningful nutrition while maintaining the integrity of the cracker, so we had to make sure we could deliver on that promise.”
The Sweet Carrot Goldfish Veggie Crackers contain carrot powder (dehydrated carrot juice concentrate and carrot purée), and the Cheesy Tomato variety is made with tomato paste powder (dehydrated tomato paste). Each bag includes crackers in the signature smiling Goldfish shape, as well as additional crackers in carrot or tomato character shapes. The front-of-pack design includes clear notation of “1/3 serving of tomatoes per serving.”
Of course, the crackers are not designed to replace daily recommendations for vegetable intake. They’re simply a new option to bring welcome better-for-you diversity to the snack cracker segment. The crackers launched in select Kroger stores in January 2020 and in Publix in March 2020, followed by a national rollout.
DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza
Company: Nestlé USA
Introduced: June 2020
Suggested Retail Price: $6.49-$7.40
Product Snapshot: DIGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza combines multiple layers of light, flaky, buttery crust with the savory, melt-in-your-mouth goodness of pizza. New DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza is the only croissant-style pizza available nationally in the frozen aisle. The indulgent offerings features three flavors, all topped with 100 percent real cheese: Pepperoni, Four Cheese, and Three Meat.
“Food mashups and unique food combinations continue to intrigue and delight our consumers,” says Adam Graves, president, pizza and snacking division, Nestlé USA, Solon, OH. “We drew inspiration from this trend to create DiGIORNO Croissant Crust pizza, ensuring it is as unexpected as it is delicious.” Timing of the launch worked in Nestlé’s favor, as demand for frozen comfort food at retail was on the rise, he notes.
“We’re excited about adding DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza to the list of unexpected food trends, especially as people spend more time eating at home right now and want true comfort food,” said Megan Smargiasso, DiGIORNO brand manager, Nestlé USA, in the June 2020 new product release for the pizza line (“DiGIORNO launches new Croissant Crust Pizza,” June 24, 2020). Nestlé commissioned a survey on food trends that found at the time of release one-third of adults were more likely to buy frozen “comfort food” than two months prior.
“We wanted to bring pizza lovers more big flavors, to enjoy hot and fresh from their own oven at home,” says Graves. “We set out to create a crust that offers a unique and unexpected taste experience, while also complementing the classic DiGIORNO flavors our fans know and love. Each Croissant Crust pizza has eight layers of flaky and buttery crust. The savory combination offers pizza lovers a new way to enjoy the classic DiGIORNO taste, with a light and flaky texture.”
This innovation resulted from years of R&D. “Given the nature of this unique mash-up, it was essential the pizza delivered on the croissant attributes,” says Graves. “Our team spent years developing the crust, ensuring the dough offered the flaky, layered, and buttery traits people love most about the delicacy.”
This pizza innovation quickly made an impact. “We’re really pleased with the continued positive response to our Croissant Crust pizzas,” says Graves. DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza was 2020’s biggest, most-successful frozen pizza launch in terms of dollar sales, per IRI, Chicago, based on data from the 52 weeks ending Dec. 27, 2020. “We set out to create something totally unique, inspired by flavors we know our fans love. The result was a fan-favorite flavor mashup that both intrigues consumers and has them reaching for more.”
DiGIORNO Croissant Crust Pizza was initially available nationwide at Target, Food Lion, Hannaford, Hy-Vee, Publix, and other select retailers, with subsequent expansion to other retailers nationwide.