2012 Readers Choice New Products of the Year

The contest for new products of the year ran a little differently in 2012. Only products released from March 2011 through December 2011 were eligible. The product descriptions were housed on the Automatic Merchandiser Online Buyer’s Guide, and the names were placed on an online ballot at VendingMarketWatch.com/awards. Nominees could choose from the ballot or write in their own response. There were over 500 online nominations submitted.

Unsurprisingly, the new product trends of 2012 coincide well with market data. Three winners reflect the growing requests for snacks with portion control or ingredients that fit into health and wellness programs. The cookie category winner, Biscomerica Corp.’s Sun-Maid Oatmeal Raisin Apple Bite-Sized Premium Cookie, fits well due to its portion control size. The pastry category winner, General Mills Inc.’s Fiber One® 90-Calorie Brownies, got marks for portion control and fiber content. Finally, the snack category winner, Mars Chocolate North America’s Marathon Smart Stuff Energy Bar, has fiber, vitamins and minerals.

The OCS side of the business is growing, continuing to fuel the love affair consumers have with their coffee, so it’s no surprise that a new coffee company, Marley Coffee, won the hot beverage category with its Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Pod. Even in the cold beverage category, java was a winner, indicated by a majority of votes for Starbucks VIA Iced Coffee.

In the last two categories, consumer favorites show through. Werther’s Original® candy won in the candy category with recognizable brand name newly available to vending. The spicy-flavor product trend showed itself in the food category with winner AdvancePierre Inc.’s Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites.

Nutrition through minis and fiber

The Sun-Maid brand adds recognition to the new Sun-Maid Oatmeal Raisin Apple Bite-Sized Premium Cookies from Biscomerica Corp. that swept the cookie category with 69 percent of the votes. Mini cookies are associated with portion control, and these cookies can also boast no trans fats, 2 grams of fiber per serving, and only 230 calories in 60 cookies.

High fiber content lends health benefits to 2012’s new product pastry winner, the Fiber One® 90-Calorie Brownie from General Mills Inc., as does the well-known Fiber One brand. The chocolate fudge brownie has less than 100 calories and a full 5 grams of fiber — 20 percent of the daily recommended value. The suggested retail price is well under a dollar.

Winning the snack category is the Mars Chocolate North America MARATHON® SMART STUFF™ Energy Bar. This energy bar is made with fruit, nuts and real chocolate. Available in four flavors, including the best selling in vending, Crunchy Honey Graham, each bar contains a blend of eight essential vitamins and minerals, and is an excellent source of calcium. The bar is naturally low in sodium, provides 3 to 5 grams of fiber and has 140 calories or less per serving, with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.

Pods are back

Over 70 percent of voters chose Marley Coffee, an international gourmet coffee company founded by Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, for the hot beverage winner. Specifically, the 100 percent Jamaica Blue Mountain® Coffee Single-Serve Pods were admired for their delicate balance of floral aroma, acidity and full body, while still having a sweet, mellow, lingering finish. Each pre-measured portion of roasted and ground coffee is sealed in a biodegradable, compostable paper filter pod.

Made with 100 percent high-quality Arabica coffee beans, Starbucks VIA® Iced Coffee is lightly sweetened with cane sugar and specially designed for mixing with cold water. While a surprise win in the cold beverage category, it also indicates consumers love their coffee, hot or cold.

Last year, Storck USA L.P. launched a new line of vend bags, featuring three of its most popular brands, including the new candy category winner: Werther’s Original®. These caramel flavored, well-known sweets have a strong adult female customer base and are sold in 2.1-ounce bags through Burdette Beckmann, Inc.

Spicy food has been a steady food trend for the past several years, so it’s logical that the food category winner encompasses this feature. AdvancePierre Foods Inc.’s Pierre™ Boneless Buffalo Chicken Bites are made with all-white chicken chunks, lightly breaded, cooked golden crisp and then coated with classic buffalo style sauce. Individually wrapped, 5-ounce trays are packaged for attractive merchandising in refrigerated and frozen food machines with a 14-day refrigerated or 9-month frozen shelf life.