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

Ice cream of the crop
Creators of healthy ice cream Oppo Brothers have launched their ‘most indulgent flavours yet’ in the UK and internationally. Oppo’s Double Salted Caramel is 178 calories per half tub and will replace its current top selling Salted Caramel SKU, with founder Charlie Thuillier stating: “We wanted to take the UK’s only Great Taste award-winning healthy ice cream and make it even better. Oppo is all about indulgence and our Double Salted Caramel with its caramel swirl epitomises that.”

Oppo’s new Vanilla Pecan Praline is only 198 calories per half a tub – this variety is initially launching with Ocado but will be available in other retailers in the coming months.
Products from Oppo never disappoint the Team here at FoodChain – even the fussiest tester couldn’t tell that the Double Salted Caramel ice cream was low calorie! “Creamy, sweet and with that hint of savoury that the salt brings – truly this is a brilliant product and I am very impressed,” he said. The Vanilla Pecan Praline was also very well received: “The crunchy caramelised pecan pieces added an extra dimension of deliciousness, and given that half a tub is less than 200 calories, we felt no guilt about demolishing the entire tub between the two of us in one go!”

Good for your insides
Given that more than 39 million Yakult products are consumed in 39 countries and regions around the world today, most consumers are likely to be familiar with the product! A fermented milk drink, Yakult was founded by the Japanese scientist Dr Shirota, who in the 1930s selected and cultivated Lactobacillus casei Shirota, a unique strain of bacteria that is scientifically proven to reach the gut alive. Every bottle of Yakult contains at least 6.5 billion Lactobacillus casei Shirota.
There are two products available in the UK, Yakult and Yakult Light – the reduced sugar and fewer calories version, and it was this that the team tried. “I loved the seven pack so I knew I had one a day for a week, and I appreciated it being gluten free, fat free and suitable for vegetarians. I found even the lower sugar variety tasted very sweet. I also do think that I noticed an improvement in my digestion after a week and I will be continuing with these.”


Snack solution
Danone, the global food and beverage company, has launched an exciting new brand – Marty’s – a range of allergy-friendly children’s snacks and treats. Co-created with families who live with food allergies through consumer focus groups and research, Marty’s first product is a range of Marty’s Popped Chickpea Crisps, which are free from egg, peanuts and gluten, and are available in Cheese & Onion, Barbecue and Ready Salted flavours.

Marty’s is planning on introducing more products to the range in the coming months.
The team was supposed to let some children try the Marty’s, but the snacks were so tasty they didn’t want to share! “I tried the ready salted flavour, which was very crunchy, with nice thin crisps. I wouldn’t say the chickpea had a discernible flavour, and the salt was a good addition to the baked taste of the crisp. A really nice snack,” said one tester.

“I tried the Cheese and Onion Marty’s, and I really enjoyed them! The packet contained the perfect amount needed to fill me up until lunchtime, and the flavour was strong, which I liked,” added another. The Barbecue flavour also got the thumbs up – with a nice hint of sweetness and a decent savoury hit.

Nuts about it
Craft peanut butter start-up, ManiLife, is now featured in Waitrose, and also has a new smooth addition to its signature Deep Roast range – a category innovation the brand coined with the creation of Deep Roast Crunchy in 2016.

Commenting on the Waitrose listing and Deep Roast Smooth launch, founder Stuart Macdonald said: “This is a game-changing moment for ManiLife and we’re only just getting started. In essence we are applying the same level of craft seen in coffee, chocolate and beer to make the tastiest peanut butter ever and we are rapidly developing a cult following – especially with Deep Roast. The Waitrose customer is a definite sweet spot for ManiLife and we can’t wait to share our offer with them.”
“ManiLife believes it has created the tastiest peanut butter on earth, and I have to say I agree,” said our tester. “That it’s vegan, with no palm oil and no added sugar are all added benefits, and I like how it sources its peanuts from one supplier. But what really just makes this stand out is the flavour – the Deep Roast really means the peanuts come through, and it doesn’t have a cloying sweetness, it’s very natural tasting. It’s very rich, has a good level of salt – I just loved it!”

New look
Following the brand’s first nationwide listing with Ocado in March this year, eco conscious chocolate Seed and Bean has undertaken a full range rebrand featuring popping colours to capture shoppers’ attention. The refresh is also positioned to highlight some of its unique credentials including entirely compostable packaging, Fairtrade credentials, organic status and if the product is vegan.

The British chocolate brand’s new packaging also includes a new strapline ‘Wild and Organic’ in a nod to its adventurously flavoured bars including dark chocolate with Coconut & Raspberry, Mandarin & Ginger, Lemon & Cardamom, Aromatic Fennel, Lavender, Sweet Orange & Thyme and milk chocolate with Sea Salt & Lime. Each bar also now includes the range’s single origin status and the provenance of where the cocoa is sourced from, as well as increased stand out for the cocoa percentages.
Getting a box full of chocolate bars delivered always gets the Taste Test Team’s day off to a good start We were fortunate enough to be sent a range of different flavours – our least favourite was the Orange & Thyme (too ‘thymey’) and our favourite was the Milk Chocolate with Sea Salt & Lime, which was creamy, zingy with Lime and the salt added an extra degree of seasoning too. The dark chocolate options were all rich without being bitter, and the Coconut & Raspberry had the right balance of sweet fruit and tropical texture. The new packaging is also beautifully eye-catching – great for stocking fillers!

Pop art
With its humble beginnings harking back to a garden shed, today Popcorn Shed has grown into an artisanal super-premium gourmet popcorn brand. Setting itself apart by incorporating texture into its products through chunks of nuts, chocolate and dried fruit, Popcorn Shed prides itself on deep, rich flavours and a lovely texture. The first UK popcorn brand to be packaged in beautiful popcorn ‘shed’ cartons, the brand strives to make sure that each flavour has its own unique personality and theme. With ten gourmet flavours to choose from, Popcorn Shed’s range includes both savoury and sweet, with interesting combinations including: Berry-licious – Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Popcorn (Great Taste award winner 2018), Cherry Bakewell, and Goats Cheese & Black Pepper.
The team couldn’t wait to try the sweet varieties from Popcorn Shed and the Berry-licious was the first to be tested. “It starts with a good hit of raspberry. Then you get the chocolate, which is a full of flavour and is then followed by sweet caramel taste. I would say that while kids would love this, it’s popcorn with a sophisticated edge.”

The Cherry Bakewell variety also got rave reviews. “I liked the generous of the popped kernels and sometimes you get some clustered together if you are lucky! It was very crunchy and really cleverly captures the taste of Bakewell in a popcorn Take me to the cinema immediately!”

The Team was surprised by the savoury options of popcorn, and the Goats Cheese & Black Pepper flavour was an eye-opener – cheesy but not overpowering and with the right amount of black pepper to be complementary but not dominant. Very impressed.