Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can you be TOO green?

Can you be TOO green? I think so, based on my recent experience with Propel flavored water. Earlier this year, they introduced new bottles made of one-third less plastic. Unfortunately, the 6-pack holder doesn't hold the bottles securely enough. I've had bottles drop out and land on my feet in the store, while loading groceries into my car, and while stocking the fridge at home. Bruised feet are not a price I'm willing to pay for green-ness. I called their customer service line, and in the mail I got coupons for other Gatorade products that I don't use. I'm not a very happy consumer right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How CPG Will Be Affected by 2008 Scientific Discoveries

I just read Discover magazine's top 100 science stories of 2008 and thought it would be interesting to summarize the discoveries that are most likely to impact the CPG industry in the next 5 years.


  • Containers, wraps, connectors:
    • Self-healing rubber – if you break the rubber band, you can put the ends together and they bond back together with their original strength.
    • Nanopaper made of wood pulp ground so fine that it weaves together so tightly it's almost bulletproof.
  • Better, cheaper energy:
    • Microbatteries – viruses covered in metal pack a lot of power into a space the size of a skin cell.
    • New developments in capturing and storing solar energy are making this more cost effective.
    • Wind power could supply 20% of the U.S.'s electrical demand by 2030.
    • New generation of electric cars: Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) will run 40 miles after being charged off a standard household outlet, and after that a combustion engine powers the onboard battery, overcoming the limitations of even the current generation of hybrids. The 100 mpg Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius PHEVs are slated for 2010 release, as is a fully electric Nissan vehicle.
  • Healthcare:
    • Affordable analysis of your individual DNA to identify your risk for a wide range of ailments so you can take steps to reduce your risk. ($500 to $2500 from companies such as Navigenics, decode, and 23andMe).
    • A drug that strengthens muscles without exercise.
    • Compounds in human saliva that hasten healing of wounds.
    • Memory training techniques that can actually raise your IQ.
  • Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak?
    • Wonder materials that can deflect light, sound, or water waves away from the cloaked object.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Every so often, this blog is going to talk about scrapbooking, one of my favorite pastimes.

Today, I want to tell you about 3 great finds that I discovered while cropping with my JammieSisters friends at Archiver's this week.

1. Tim Holtz snip scissors -- My friends swear these stay sharp longer than any other scissors. I'm so sick of my Cutterbee scissors that will barely cut ribbon any more! The Tim Holtz scissors also have a non-stick surface, so if you need to trim off a sticker, you won't gunk up your blades. $11.49 at

2. Inkssentials Cut-n-Dry 8" x10" sheet of stamp foam. Use in place of more expensive foam daubers for inking and distressing tasks. I don't like to use the Ranger Distress inks direct to paper; I prefer to ink a piece of foam and use the foam to apply ink to paper. The large sheet lets you cut pieces as needed. $4.99 at Archivers, lower on a few websites.

3. PeachyCheap.Com -- This site sells one product for one day at a clearance price. A new item everyday, only available til it sells out or until the 24 hours is up. I know, I know, you already have too many different sites to check every day. But if you like a bargain, check this one out.

How do you put a pet on a diet?

Our Moose is too big. Moose is a 115-pound Chesapeake Bay Retriver. Our vet says he needs to get below 110.

How do you put a cat or dog on a diet when very few of the pet products have calorie counts on them? Is it better to feed the dog less of their regular food, or the recommended amount (based on dog's weight) of a dog food labeled "weight control formula"?

The best information I found came from the Drs. Foster & Smith (retailer) website. They said you should use a food labeled "weight control formula" to ensure that the dog is getting the right amount of nutrients per serving. The weight control formula will have a lower proportion of fat and thus will have fewer calories per serving, since fat has more than twice as many calories as protein and carbs. I would definitely recommend reading the weight loss FAQs on their site if you need to help your dog lose weight.

According to Purina Pet Institute, a fit and trim dog can live 15% longer than an overweight one. In other words, a dog could live to be 17 instead of 15. To many people, an additional 2 years of healthy life for man's best friend might be worth the effort.

I saw a web post suggesting that you replace 1 cup of the dog's food with 1 cup of low-sodium green beans; the dog will feel as satisfied, but his body won't digest the beans into calories. But how do you confirm whether something like that really works and is recommended? I guess you'd better ask your vet.

Consumer Unmet Need: Calorie information on all pet food packages, and diet tips on weight loss formula products.

Consumer Unmet Need: Probiotics Outside Yogurt

Are you in one of the 20% of American homes who don't buy yogurt? Or one of the non-eaters in a buying household? For those of us who are convinced of the value of probiotics but don't like the taste and texture of yogurt, why aren't there better alternatives for getting probiotics into one's diet? I loved the Dannon Activia yogurt commercials, so I bought it for my husband, and it has worked for him. Now I want a probiotic product that I can eat every day. I thought the Kraft LiveActive cheese products tasted okay, but they were short-lived: introduced in 2007 and discontinued just recently. Kraft says the sales of the cheddar and co-jack products weren't high enough.

I wish: they could put the probiotics into America's favorite snacking cheese: mozzarella sticks.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Consumer Unmet Need: Do you brush your pets' teeth?

Am I the only person who missed the memo on toothbrushing for cats and dogs?
80 percent of dogs and 70% of cats over age 3 show signs of gum disease, and less than half of dog and cat owners are brushing their pets' teeth regularly.

Dogs and cats don't commonly get cavities like humans, but our pets are susceptible to gum disease just like adults. It starts with plaque on the teeth, which leads to red/swollen/painful/bleeding gums, which eventually leads to tooth loss. Plus, this infection can spread to other areas of the body, causing kidney, liver, and/or heart problems.

Our 5-year-old dog's teeth are in great shape, because he eats at least one compressed rawhide stick per day. We were merely using the rawhides to get 15 minutes of peace so we could eat supper, and didn't know they were ideal for dental cleaning until recently. Raw bones are also good.

But our two 8-year-old cats have developed red/swollen gums. Our vet recommended dental cleaning under anesthesia -- and one cat needs two teeth extracted -- for a total cost of over $600!

Unmet consumer need: better products and instruction on dog/cat dental preventative care.