Celebrity Beef
Beef, once a commodity in the supermarket’s refrigerated case, is being branded to add value and to differentiate products. Two recent examples of this trend are brands with a celebrity athlete tie-in—Greg Norman Australian Prime and Nolan Ryan’s All Natural Tender Aged Beef.

Professional golfer Greg Norman offers Greg Norman Signature Wagyu, a 350-day, grain-fed, super premium line of Wagyu beef. It is accompanied by Greg Norman Premium, a range of 120-day, grain-fed beef. The range also includes Greg Norman 100% Australian Beef Patties and Hot Dogs. Although nicknamed "The Great White Shark," Norman is a cattle rancher in Australia.

Beef Cattlemen LP, Huntsville Texas, distributes the hall-of-fame pitcher’s line of steak products, including filet mignon, New York strip, ribeye, and porterhouse. Products are wet-aged for 14 days, individually vacuum packed, and distributed frozen. Consumers can purchase the steaks online or at select grocers in Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona.

Pushbutton Flavor Selection
When examining the highly competitive food industry, perhaps no sector is more cluttered and aggressive than beverages, which ring up sales approaching $100 billion in the United States. Consumers want multiple choices when it comes to quenching their thirst. Ipifini, Sudbury, Mass., wants to expand that choice with a patent-pending packaging technology.

The company’s Programmable Liquid Container system employs buttons on the container’s surface that release additives (flavors, colorants, sweeteners, etc) into the liquid. Additive buttons allow for the consumer to choose variations of the liquid in the container at the point of consumption. For example, a programmable cola bottle with buttons for lemon, lime, vanilla, cherry and orange flavors as well as a caffeine button allows for dozens of potential choices of soda. The technology, which can be applied to plastic bottles and metal cans, allows unstable components, such as some vitamins, to be mixed in at the time of consumption.

Retortable and Microwavable Sauces
McCormick & Co., Hunt Valley, Md., has launched a five-item line of premium finishing sauces in microwavable, retortable standup pouches from Ampac Flexibles, Cincinnati, Ohio. To be both retortable and microwavable, the package structure is an adhesive lamination of (outer to inner layer) reverse printed, high-barrier polyester/oriented nylon/polypropylene. It does not contain a foil layer. The gusseted pouch has a clear bottom so consumers can see the contents.

"We wanted to offer consumers a package that is easy-to-use and does not require refrigeration before it is opened," says Stefanie Woodhouse, Product Manager, McCormick. "We also wanted the package to have a shelf life of at least 12 months."

To facilitate ease of use, the package incorporates "cool-grip" heat seals on both sides of the pouch. The grips are located on opposite edges of the upper half of the package and create a way for consumers to handle the package after 45 sec of microwaving. Prior to microwaving, the 5-oz pouch is cut diagonally across a score line printed on the back panel. This enables venting during heating and also facilitates pouring.