New food review: sweet and savory flavors head in new directions

This month's rundown of global new food launches sees sweet and savory flavors appearing in an increasing number of unexpected and unprecedented product categories. Products from savory sprinkles to double cheese ice cream and charcoal cheesecake show how manufacturers are turning to unconventional, even counterintuitive, combinations to add an extra sensory edge to their product offerings.

Defying the traditional use of sprinkles as a sweet confectionery product, Easy Tasty Magic's new Easy Tasty Magic Stardust Savory Sprinkles are set to launch in the US in the fall of 2010. Each of the three varieties combine a flavor and a decorative element: Inca comes with bitter chocolate, burnt orange and chili pepper; Venetian is a mixture of Persian rose, magenta beets, pink peppercorn, sumac, and edible gold and silver dust; while there is also an Oriental-inspired Furikake variety. The line comes in re-sealable tubes reminiscent of those used to pack decorative glitter, tying in with its upscale positioning and its aesthetic as well as flavoring functions.

Another product from Easy Tasty Magic, also due to be launched in the US in the fall of 2010, is Easy Tasty Magic Taste No 5 Umami Paste. Umami has been dubbed the "fifth of the basic tastes", and Easy Tasty Magic's attempt to encapsulate the flavor sensation comes in a foil tube, touted as "the ultimate scratch cooking tool to enhance any savory dish". It is unclear exactly what this particular paste contains, although the effect of adding 'umami'-type depth of flavor, or 'savoriness', to foods is already widely practiced through flavor enhancers such as glutamate.

While the US is set to see the launch of products with a savory take on traditionally sweet foods, consumers in Spain, the UK, France, Canada, Mexico and Ireland can now buy a sweet spread based on a product which is normally associated with savory dishes. Olicatessen Sweet Olive Oil Sauce is described as being faithful to the taste of Olicatessen olive oil, but with a 'sweet note'. Moli dels Torms, the company behind the product, recommends that it be used with strong cheese, in canapes or as a salad dressing. The product adds a new twist to olive oil and could establish a niche within the sweet spreads category.

Another unusual savory angle on a conventionally sweet product is provided by Nestle Double Cheese Ice Cream, which is now available in the Philippines. The product, which is produced by Nestle Philippines, is described as a dual treat of rich cheese ice cream with premium cheese pieces. While some cheese-based ice creams have previously been reported in southeast Asia, this particular launch is the first noted to feature a "double cheese" flavor, with whole cheese pieces in its formulation.

Meanwhile, an innovative ingredient is taking a new cheesecake product in Japan down a bold color path. Introduced by Selene, Kishu Sumishoku Club Cheesecake is said to contain an edible powder made from a type of charcoal called Binchotan, giving the dessert a distinctive black color. Most dairy desserts tend naturally towards a white color palette due to their milk-based ingredients, so it remains to be seen whether a cheesecake made from the other end of the chromatic spectrum will be a hit with consumers.

Finally, two recent additions in the UK show how manufacturers are increasingly thinking outside the box to offer foods in an ever-more convenient and portable way. Firstly Tesco has found a way of getting lasagne into a sandwich. Claimed to have been inspired by a "student classic snack", the new Tesco Italian Lasagne Sandwich - described as containing a filling of diced beef, pasta, cheddar and ricotta cheeses and mayonnaise - could be seen as tying in with the recent trend towards comfort eating as a reaction to the economic downturn.

Meanwhile, Del Monte is offering something new to the prepared fresh fruit market with its Del Monte Naked Fruit Extra Sweet Pineapple, as the product is sold whole rather than chopped or diced. According to the company, the product overcomes the issues of fiddly preparation frequently cited by consumers as a reason for not buying fresh, unpeeled pineapples.