Page last updated at 18:48 GMT, Tuesday, 10 January 2006

Now why didn't I think of that?

A wood pigeon
2005 saw a big leap forward in pigeon repellent technology

Shampoo for bald guys, strawberry milk-flavoured fish sausage, asparagus-flavoured crisps and pigeon repellent.

Not the contents of your average shopping basket, but some of the new consumer products that were launched onto the market last year, according to information firm Datamonitor.

While they may not fill a gap in your life, market research probably showed there was a need, somewhere, for sea-sponge tampons and Sputnik horseradish-flavoured vodka.

However, despite their weird factor none of the above products made Datamonitor's annual Top Ten list covering the "Innovations of the Year".

Jelly for dinner

Top of the tree and last year's must-have product was Freddo Freddo Lemon Tea & Chilled Coffee.

Sputnik : "A nose of rooty pungency, with a horseradish tang"

Lucky German shoppers can now buy self-cooling cups of tea and coffee - all they have to do is flip the drink over and press the bottom of the cup to activate the chilling system.

In second place - and ensuring that elderly Japanese consumers were not too jealous - was Kissei Through Partner Food Additive.

The product is mixed with food, which it then converts into an easy-to-swallow jelly without altering flavours or colours.

For those US consumers who just are not happy with their "one taste fits all" hot sauces there is Dave's Gourmet Adjustable Heat Hot Sauce.

Diners can vary the spiciness of the sauce by simply turning the pump-spray cap and altering the mix from two separate halves of the bottle - one of which contains mild-hot sauce and one which contains the fiery stuff.

Cheesy ketchup

Meanwhile, gum geniuses will be slapping their foreheads for not coming up with a rival to Auto Smolka Natural Chewing Gum.

This flexible, sugar-free gum is sold in Russia by Verbad and not only fights cavities, freshens breath and whitens teeth, it also decreases the desire to smoke and revives the body from the effects of breathing engine exhaust fumes.

Finally, French children will probably love the idea of Ketcho'rape Ketchup au Fromage from French company France Fromage.

This breakthrough in food convenience is a cheese and ketchup combination that is ideal for burgers, salads, sandwiches and pizzas.

In a rut

While this may seem like a bounty of top ideas, according to Tom Vierhile, executive editor of Productscan Online, the number of truly innovative consumer packaged goods launched last year was below average.

"This is a very mature market, and the packaged goods industry seems to be in a bit of a rut creatively," says Mr Vierhile.

"They are all watching what everyone else is doing."

So while some of the year's top innovations would have had company scientists screaming "Eureka", others most definitely will have them asking: "Did we really think that would sell?"

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