The FoodChain team sample a selection of new and innovative foods and drink

Feeling fruity
Carabao Energy Drink has introduced a new flavour with the launch of Carabao Mandarin Orange. Available in stores nationwide, Carabao Mandarin Orange delivers a lightly sparkling burst of flavour that tastes just like a soft drink. It is the perfect alternative for those that don’t like the traditional taste of energy drinks, yet still require a boost during their busy day. It also has low or zero sugar content, helping those watch their calories.

Mark Young, Managing Director of Intercarabao UK is confident that the drink is going to prove a hit not just with current Carabao fans, but also with a new audience who don’t normally partake of energy drinks.

The Taste Test team loved the zingy, fruity flavour of the Carabao Mandarin Orange, as well as the gentle energy lift it provided. It wasn’t overly sweet, and we could easily drink the whole can without feeling too jittery! “It was really good for pre- and post-workout but I liked it best for the 3pm desk slump – it was a lovely pick-me-up and much healthier than a biscuit!”

Love the crunch
Traidcraft has added a brand-new flavour to its GEOSTICKS range. Joining the existing popular range of Sweet Chilli, Herby, and Peppery, Chive and Cheese GEOSTICKS are suitable for vegans, and are gluten free, dairy free and high in fibre.

The first Fairtrade savoury snack of its kind, GEOSTICKS pioneer a new type of chipstick – combining healthy snacking, fair trade ethics and real human stories. The snacks are made with Fairtrade rice from Thailand and Fairtrade quinoa from Peru. The quinoa is sourced from the Cabana cooperative, just north of Lake Titicaca, where there are over 500 farmers who specialise in growing and harvesting quinoa in the harsh environmental conditions there. And, at only 91 calories a bag, they are the perfect on-the-go snack.

“I often reach for a bag of crisps as a snack but am aware this isn’t a healthy option, so I was keen to try the GEOSTICKS as a potential replacement. The had the crunch I needed from a crisp, and a lovely cheese and chive flavour, that wasn’t as harsh as traditional cheese and onion. The texture was also nice and light, so as a midmorning snack, they were ideal!”

A refreshing twist
Swedish cider producer and fruit cider category leader, Kopparberg, is offering an addition to its popular low-calorie range, with a new Cranberry Light variant.

Rob Salvesen, Senior Marketing Manager at Kopparberg explains the reasoning behind the launch: “Our Light range provides a great alternative for drinkers looking for a lower-calorie option but still want to enjoy a Kopparberg with friends. Cranberry Light offers another convenient way to enjoy the same great-tasting fruit flavour that consumers know and expect from Kopparberg, but with a lighter twist.”

“The can is quite sleek and I liked the fact there was only 85 calories, as I can still have a nice refreshing cider without feeling like I am piling on the pounds! The cranberry was surprisingly sweet, which I am a fan of, as I find most cranberry variants very dry. It merged well with the cider, and over ice it was really a most refreshing drink. Just need the hot weather to come back to fully enjoy it in the garden!” Our tester also tried the new Passionfruit flavour, which he found fruity and yet still dry -a nice long drink to unwind with or a good lunchtime option accompanying a light meal.

Perfectly pink
Meticulously crafted by winemaker Beth Liston to guarantee the highest quality, Dark Horse Rosé is a refreshingly dry styled wine that’s bursting with flavour. This blushing wine boasts fresh strawberry, raspberry and citrus, balanced by hints of minerality and floral notes, all racing towards a bright, crisp finish – reflecting the trend for drier styled rosé. A winemaker who balances classic technique and game-changing innovation in every single bottle, Beth carefully selected the grapes from premium vineyards throughout California, which were then harvested at optimum ripeness during low night-time temperatures to preserve freshness. Blending Grenache, Barbera, Pinot Gris and Tempranillo, this rosé wine is filled with vibrant flavours and aromas.

Our Tester was impressed with the look of the Dark Horse Rosé, with its simple yet sophisticated labelling and perfect pink hue. Ideal as an evening drink over ice, when it’s still warm enough to sit outside, the Dark Horse Rosé also pairs well with savoury snacks such as cheese and crackers, or seafood. “I found this a refreshing and dry rosé, with lightly floral and red fruit overtones,” said our tester.

Pasta perfection!
Ugo Foods has boosted its Dell’Ugo and Ugo Thrive fresh filled pasta and gnocchi range by relaunching its core products and introducing seven new premium lines. The re-launch sees a brand-new look across both ranges, and the products are being rolled out to high-end retailers across the country including Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Ocado, Booths, Wholefoods and Budgens. The new Dell’ Ugo products include:

  • Parmigiano Cappelletti
  • Spicy Salami Tortelli
  • Chicken & Chorizo Tortelli
  • Vegan Porcini Mushroom & Spinach Ravioli
  • Vegan Beetroot Gnocchi
  • Vegan Spiced Butternut Squash Ravioli
  • Ugo Thrive – Pumpkin & Sage Raviolini

“I am a devoted fan of Dell’Ugo and this new taste test did not let me down,” said one tester. “I tried the Dell’Ugo Vegan Porcini Mushroom & Spinach Ravioli, and it was incredibly quick and easy to create a delicious dinner. I used half a pack so it lasted two meals for one person, and I added some steamed vegetables, balsamic glaze and parmesan (as I am not a vegan) and the combination was scrumptious and took just a few minutes to make. Another brilliant addition to the Dell’Ugo range!” The Tortelli samples also got hearty applause, being described variously as ‘rich’ ‘delectable’ and ‘perfect’. Finally, the Thrive option proved the point that Ugo Foods CEO Paul Ugo asserted: ‘…there should be no compromise on taste just because someone wants a vegan or gluten-free product.’ Cooked in just one minute, the Pumpkin & Sage Raviolini were extremely tasty little parcels!

Utterly impressive
Charlie Bigham’s has launched a range of new recipes, celebrating grains and featuring a variety of sumptuous world flavours. The new range is perfect for those wanting to have a more varied diet, but who don’t always have the time or desire to prepare meals from scratch. The flavours include:

  • Chicken Katsu Curry -with Edamame, Shredded Vegetables, Sticky Jasmine Rice & Quinoa
  • Salmon Teriyaki -with Edamame, Bok Choi, Sticky Jasmine Rice & Quinoa
  • Goan Fish Curry – with Pollock, Sweet Potato, Kale, Turmeric & Biryani Rice
  • Miso Chicken – with Shredded Vegetables & Coriander & Lime Bulgur Wheat
  • Roasted Aubergine & Halloumi -with Butter Beans in A Tomato Sauce & Bulgur Wheat
  • Moroccan Chicken -with Olives, Almonds & Jewelled Bulgur Wheat
  • Cauliflower & Paneer Curry – with Chickpea, Spinach & Lentil Dhal

What a response the new range from Charlie Bigham’s received from the team! Entirely positive on every level, each tester was bursting with praise for the product they tried, especially the Chicken Katsu Curry.

“The chicken breasts were coated in a breadcrumb and sesame seeds mix, and was so succulent it melted in mouth; with the pot of katsu sauce poured over it was truly delicious…,” said one tester, with another adding: “The sauce was full of taste and richness, and the rice was flavoursome and perfectly cooked.” The Cauliflower & Paneer Curry also got a big round of applause, with the tester already eager to try lots more in the range. “I also loved the little wooden trays provided, which meant no washing up!” added our taster.