Welcome to The Week in Consumer Packaged Goods, a weekly roundup for marketers from Quad Insights that covers the latest must-know news surrounding the CPG space.

Conagra Brands to launch expanded line of retail food items with Dolly Parton

Conagra Brands announced on Tuesday an exclusive agreement with country music singer and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Dolly Parton to launch a line of retail food items. The collaboration builds on Parton’s multiyear partnership with Conagra subsidiary Duncan Hines — which features an assortment of baking mixes and frostings under the Dolly Parton’s line — and will include refrigerated, frozen, grocery and snack offerings “inspired by down-home comfort cuisine,” per a Conagra statement. New products began hitting shelves this month.

The takeaway: Expanding on its successful partnership with Dolly Parton is a no-brainer for Conagra. Few celebrities are as universally loved as Parton, and “down-home comfort cuisine” is totally on-brand for the country music icon.

Hormel Foods releases new Justin’s brand certified-organic Chocolate Candy Pieces

Hormel Foods released a new chocolate snack this week under its Justin’s brand: Chocolate Candy Pieces. Meant to be a better-for-you take on what the company calls the “nostalgic favorite” (i.e., M&M’s), they are certified organic and non-GMO, contain no artificial ingredients or synthetic dyes, use Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa and come in two flavors: Dark Chocolate Peanut and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. Justin’s, which is known for its peanut butter cups (first introduced in 2011 as a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup alternative), is promoting its new offering through an integrated digital campaign and an Instagram giveaway. As Food Dive’s Christopher Doering reports, “Executives are optimistic that the product’s ingredients appeal to consumers craving a permissible indulgent item, giving it an immediate advantage in the market.” (More from Quad on this topic: “‘Own brands’ can be little luxuries, too”)

The takeaway: Justin’s is expanding on the trend of “little luxuries” and leveraging its focus on cleaner, healthier ingredients to carve out additional market share in the massive candy/snack category.

Disney partners with Franklin Farms for co-branded packaging

Franklin Farms, a division of Keystone Natural Holdings, and Disney are partnering on a series of co-branded packaging for six existing products from the vegetarian brand, per Progressive Grocer. The new nationwide packaging will feature Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, as well as the Disney Check, a symbol indicating that the products meet Disney’s Nutrition Guidelines. Rebranded products include veggie burgers, falafel balls, tofu bites and plantain balls, which range in price from $5.49 to $6.49. A landing page on Franklin Farms’ website also offers family-friendly recipes and links to Disney content.

The takeaway: As demand for plant-based food options grows, Franklin Farms sees an opportunity to expand its reach to younger generations, with a little help from some of Disney’s most beloved characters.

Ingredion leads Series A funding for Better Juice to expand rollout of sugar-reducing technology in the U.S.

American food and beverage ingredient provider Ingredion, best known for its production of the plant-based sweetener stevia, has announced a partnership with Israeli food tech startup Better Juice to expand the use of its sugar-reducing technology in the U.S., Food Dive’s Christopher Doering reports. Using its enzymatic process, Better Juice reduces the sugar content of juice and concentrates by 30% to 80% while maintaining vitamins and nutrients. Ingredion is providing capital support through its investment arm, specifically leading Series A funding for Better Juice.

The takeaway: No- or low-sugar alternatives are becoming big business as Americans seek healthier foods and beverages — and Ingredion clearly sees a big opportunity in the juice category, which is known for being high in sugar.

Absolut Vodka and Ocean Spray partner on RTD classic cocktail collab

Absolut Vodka and Ocean Spray have partnered to launch a ready-to-drink (RTD) version of the classic vodka cranberry cocktail, per a company statement. The Absolut and Ocean Spray Vodka Cranberry cocktail combines the Pernod Ricard brand’s premium imported vodka with cranberry juice from Ocean Spray, along with other flavors for a variety of offerings, including Vodka Cranberry, Vodka Cran-Grape, Vodka Cran-Pineapple and Vodka Cran-Raspberry.

The takeaway: This classic cocktail in a convenient new format from two well-established brands is likely to play well with younger consumers who are driving the growth in the RTD adult beverage category.

Further reading

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If you’d like to catch up on prior installments of this column, start by heading to our last recap: “The Week in Consumer Packaged Goods: January 19, 2024 edition”