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thinkThin Launches Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal

thinkThin® is expanding its product line beyond bars with the introduction of thinkThin® Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal.  Building on the momentum of last year’s launch of its Lean Protein and Fiber bars, the most successful bar extension in the brand’s history, thinkThin is embarking on its first national, new food category launch. With the rising demand for protein products, thinkThin is the first brand in the hot cereal category to offer a great combination of not only protein, but also the added benefit of high fiber with only 200 calories or less. The trifecta of protein, fiber and calories provides a solution for consumers looking for a perfectly-balanced breakfast at home or on-the-go.

“thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal is an exciting and innovative addition to our product portfolio and demonstrates thinkThin’s commitment to deliver food that is as nutritious as it is delicious,” said Michele Kessler, CEO of thinkThin. “As a leader in the protein bar category, we have a solid understanding of the important role protein and fiber play in providing the perfect balance of energy and nutrition. We are excited to continue to fuel thinkThin’s growth with the launch of thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal and break into additional on-trend categories.”

thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal is made with a blend of wholesome grains including whole rolled oats, steel cut oats and quinoa. Consumers can purchase the new hot oatmeal in a multi-pack box of six packets or a convenient, portable single serving bowl. Each serving of thinkThin® Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal is packed with 10g of protein, 5g of fiber and is 200 calories or less. Consumers can choose from a range of four flavors from a scrumptious blend of real berries in Farmer’s Market Berry Crumble; a delicious fusion of flavors in Madagascar Vanilla, Almonds, Pecans; a hearty and nutritious mix in Original Sprouted Grains (box only); and a sweet, nutty option in Honey Peanut Butter (bowl only).

thinkThin Protein & Fiber Hot Oatmeal is available online and at select retailers and grocery stores now with nationwide availability beginning March 2015. Please visit www.thinkproducts.com for more information and to find the nearest thinkThin retailer using the store locator search option.

World Tea Expo Agenda Offers Profitable Information for Tea Retailers

Geared towards bolstering businesses of all kinds through its in-depth education program, the 13th annual World Tea Expo (@worldteamedia – #WorldTeaExpo or #WTE15) takes place May 6 – 8, 2015 in Long Beach, Calif. at the Long Beach Convention Center. World Tea Expo is focused 100 percent on premium teas and related products. To register or for additional information, visit WorldTeaExpo.com.

This year’s agenda covers a wide variety of industry topics and tea retail strategies, including: the state of the tea industry, direct trade with tea producers, sustainability and the global tea system, product quality, false marketing/labeling, growing tea commercially in the United States, marketing of organic teas, increasing sales through the latest trends, the culinary world and tea, and tea and health, among other topics. In addition to the education program, the exposition floor features hundreds of new products and services, many of which cannot be found at any other trade show.

World Tea Expo attendees — top companies and professionals from more than 50 countries — will attend the event to discover “what’s next” in tea. Conference delegates represent: tea and coffee shops, grocery chains, private label brands, gourmet retailers, convenience stores, distributors, online businesses, restaurants and chefs, foodservice, hotels and distributors, as well as manufacturers and beverage developers, and others interested in building their business through tea.

Highlights of the Education Program at World Tea Expo

Global State of the Industry: A Review of the Top Tea Trends and Markets Around the World – Presenter Jonas Feliciano (@JonasF_EMI), a beverages industry analyst with Euromonitor International, will focus on the largest and fastest growing tea markets around the world. He’ll also provide insights on the top trends that are driving sales, using Euromonitor’s latest beverages data.

Emerging Hot Issues in Current US Tea Market: Speaker Youngmok Kim, Senior Research Scientist at Synergy Flavors, will uncover current issues related to health benefits, scientific research, product quality, false marketing/labeling, health claims and tea myths. Solutions/answers will be provided based on scientific facts, data and literature.

Direct Trade – Building Relationships with Tea Producers: Elyse Petersen (@peaceelyse), founder of Tealet, will discuss how retailers can now develop relationships with tea producers, providing more transparency of sourcing to their customers. During the session, lessons will be learned from the infrastructure developed in the coffee industry. Terms and standards for direct trade will also be defined in this presentation, as well as how retailers can move forward with direct trade practices.

Promoting Sustainability and Climate Mitigation in the Global Tea System:  Selena Ahmed, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, Montana State University, is scheduled to present on the impact of climate change on tea quality, and how tea industry agents can mitigate this risk. Ahmed will explore these topics from a sustainability framework and a guided tea tasting. Tangible business practices will also be recommended that can be adopted towards enhanced sustainability of the global tea system.

Growing Tea Commercially in the USA: Nigel Melican (@teacraftecm), CEO of Teacraft LTD, says there’s a trending interest in tea growing in the United States, but there’s sparse information on how to set up a tea growing business. Melican’s session will look at how tea growing in the United States is different than other countries, profitability, where to start, and the limitations

Tea Moves Back into the Bar & Back to the Kitchen: Suzy Badaracco, president of Culinary Tides, Inc., will discuss culinary cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, and how everything from tea, bacon, herbs, fruits and vegetables are the “rock stars” at the bar. The session will also look at how tea has been making its way into food, showing up as a seasoning in desserts, entrées and side dishes. The presentation will explore the forces behind the movement of tea into beverages and into the kitchen.

The Big Chill in Premium Tea: Maria Uspenski (@uspenski), CEO of The Tea Spot, says many upscale restaurants and cafes now prepare their iced teas using the cold brew method. Foodservice professionals have touted the ease and flexibility of the process, as well as the finesse of the resulting flavor. In addition, research studies have hyped the chemical benefits to cold brewing certain teas. Uspenski’s session will provide a comprehensive introduction and overview to cold brew tea and how it can play into foodservice offerings.

Increasing Your Sales With the New Matcha Madness Trend: Presenter Rona Tison, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, ITO EN (North America) INC., says matcha is the new culinary trend of 2015. In her session, attendees will learn how to maximize sales with the revered ceremonial green tea that’s making its way into the American mainstream market. Attendees will learn the expansive world of this growing tea trend, and how to integrate matcha into a business through culinary diplomacy.

Production, Demand and Marketing of Organic Teas: Nikhil Ghosh Hajra, Director / CEO / Technical Adviser, Tea Board of India / Organic Tea & Agri-Horticultural Consulting, will review the development of organic tea, cultivation practices, current global trends of production and the global market.

Selling Tea For Health: The Power of Talking About Tea and Health: Babette Donaldson, author of The Everything Healthy Tea Book, notes that many speak freely about the health benefits of tea, yet the FDA limits merchants from using this powerful message. So what can be said? How can one (legally) tap into this conversation and build business on current scientific research and ancient healing wisdom? Donaldson will present an overview and discuss ways to navigate government controls, while participating in meaningful conversations with customers about the many healthful benefits of tea.

Mitsuwa Marketplace Celebrates Japanese Cooking Class Anniversary

Mitsuwa Marketplace is celebrating its one year anniversary of the Shoku-Iku cooking class on February 1. Since February 2014, Mitsuwa has successfully held 11 free Shoku-Iku classes on the first Sunday of each month, with over 200 families gathered together to make different Japanese-inspired dishes. Mitsuwa Marketplace is hoping to promote healthier lifestyles in the young generation through the cooking classes.

“Shoku-Iku” is a Japanese term, but its meaning of promoting healthier living through food is applicable across all cultures. It came to Mitsuwa’s attention that the term “Shoku-Iku” is important for most modern families to learn and practice. It’s not easy to get kids to eat healthy, well-rounded meals. However, one way to get them interested in good food is to teach them how to make it themselves through hands-on cooking.

All Shoku-Iku recipes are healthy, creative yet simple enough so that kids can make their own dishes in 10-15 minutes. Shoku-Iku cooking classes are not to train the next chefs, but to foster a lifelong notion of a healthier lifestyle and the importance of family ties.

Not only are children learning how to make different kinds of food, they are also learning about the importance of healthy eating habits while spending time together as a family. Masami, the cooking class instructor and mother of two teenage boys, said, “I also enjoy that as my kids get older, we are able to spend time together in the kitchen. Not too many moms know but cooking doesn’t have to be just a mother’s job. If she can engage her kids, it can be bonding time when the family can prepare dishes together.”

The next cooking class, February 1 (Sunday), will mark the one year anniversary of Mitsuwa Marketplace’s Shoku-Iku cooking class.

KeHE Partners with INFRA to Serve Independent Natural Food Stores

KeHE Distributors has entered into a second partnership with the Minneapolis-based Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA) to service participating members in the Midwest region of the United States.

This strategic alliance will enable participating INFRA members in the Midwest region to improve their purchasing position in the market and have a platform that is flexible enough to support innovation.

“We are extremely proud of the results from our (initial) relationship in the Northeast region. The addition of the Midwest region to our strategic partnership will further our ability to provide exceptional distribution options and to support the success of natural food stores,” says KeHE Chief Commercial Officer, Mike Leone.

The mutually beneficial program launched last week, and is designed to drive further growth and development of both independent natural food stores and the INFRA organization itself.

KeHE plans to continue rolling out innovative distribution options to support the success and sustainability of independent natural food retailers and to leverage its unique leadership position in the industry to provide new programs and services that will grow the sales in these retailers.

Flowers Foods Announces Transition in Manufacturing Leadership

Flowers Foods, Inc., the second-largest producer and marketer of packaged bakery foods in the United States, today announced two executive transitions in the company’s manufacturing leadership, effective immediately:

  • Michael A. Beaty, formerly executive vice president of supply chain, will retire in spring of 2015. Until then, he will serve as Executive Vice President and oversee special projects for the company.
  • Robert L. Benton, Jr., formerly senior vice president of manufacturing and operations support, has been named Senior Vice President and Chief Manufacturing Officer.

“During his 47-year career with Flowers Foods, Mike has been instrumental in creating a network of bakeries that—while maintaining high standards of baking and quality—are some of the most efficient in the country,” commented Allen L. Shiver, Flowers Foods’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “Now, he passes the baton to Robert, who has more than 30 years of experience in bakery manufacturing and construction.”

Beaty began his career at Flowers in 1968 and worked in manufacturing at a number of bakeries before joining the manufacturing team at corporate headquarters in Thomasville. He was named Senior Vice President of Bakery Operations in 1994, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain in 2002, and Executive Vice President of Supply Chain in 2008.

As Senior Vice President and Chief Manufacturing Officer, Benton oversees all production facilities and associated capital expenditures, leading the company’s manufacturing and engineering teams. Benton is responsible for major capital projects, including new bakery start-ups and expansions, which are an area of focus for Flowers Foods. He also oversees regulatory/quality assurance and safety/environmental affairs.

Benton joined Flowers in 1980 and has held a number of local, regional, and corporate manufacturing roles for the company. In 2011, Benton was promoted to Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Operations Support. He has also served in leadership roles with a number of industry groups, including the American Institute of Baking, Baking Equipment Manufacturers and Allied, and the American Society of Baking, where he served as chairman from 2008-2009.

Blendtec’s Markham Honored by Utah Business Magazine

Blendtec, a leading manufacturer of commercial-grade blending equipment, recognizes one of its own, Bill Markham, who today received the Utah Business Magazine’s Sales and Marketing Executives of the Year award. This prestigious award recognizes members and leaders of sales teams who not only succeed individually, but who also help propel their companies to excellence.

With more than 20 years of experience in retail sales, Bill Markham, Vice President of Worldwide Retail Sales, brought to Blendtec more than just an understanding of sales techniques. He brought a vision and leadership that have been instrumental in the amount of growth Blendtec has experienced. In his first 15 months at Blendtec, “he has played a key role in doubling Blendtec’s sales revenue and has projected those same figures for 2015,” says Craig Taylor, Blendtec CEO.

Markham has a seasoned career in worldwide sales and is currently working to expand Blendtec’s innovative products into global markets. He is known by his peers to be a visionary leader who constantly pushes his team to reach new heights. “He is a team player and a great coach to those of us who don’t have a great deal of retail experience,” says Harvey Scott, Vice President, International Development. “He’s an educator by nature, and I think this plays very well into his ability to sell on value.”

Blendtec’s aggressive road map, quarterbacked by Markham’s sales and marketing leadership, is fueled by raising awareness of the benefits of high-speed blenders, including making healthier foods like whole food smoothies and replacing appliances like coffee grinders, juicers and food processors for one-machine simplicity. Blendtec engineers and culinary specialists constantly focus on the next big innovation. New products are in development and will continue Blendtec’s tradition of revolutionizing the commercial-grade kitchen appliance industry.

New England Coffee Company Launches Blizzard Bold

New England Coffee Company, which has been roasting coffee locally for 99 years, today announces the availability of its Blizzard Bold blend. A new seasonal blend made from a unique arrangement of Central American coffee beans, Blizzard Bold boasts an intensely rich, dark, aromatic flavor that is perfect for cold winter days.

As with all of New England Coffee’s blends, Blizzard Bold is made with 100 percent high-quality Arabica coffee beans and small-batch roasted to ensure the perfect flavor. Blizzard Bold is one of the brand’s darker roasts, but also features a finer grind of the beans to provide a smooth finish. Blizzard Bold is the first in a series of limited-time-only products New England Coffee will offer throughout 2015. The special blends will include longstanding customer favorites along with several completely new flavors.

To celebrate the Blizzard Bold launch, New England Coffee will give consumers the opportunity to win a year’s supply of free coffee via a Facebook contest asking fans to guess how many inches of snow Boston will see this February. The contest will kick off on February 6, the anniversary of the infamous Blizzard of 1978, which dumped a then-record 27.1 inches of snow in Boston.

In addition, New England Coffee social media followers on Facebook and Twitter will be able to show just how bold they are by sharing their own bold move via photo or video using the hashtag #neboldmove. The New England Coffee sampling truck will also visit select locations in Boston throughout January and February so followers can experience Blizzard Bold for themselves.

Blizzard Bold is available in 10-ounce freshly ground packages through February 2015 online at www.newenglandcoffee.com and at select retailers, including ACME Markets, Big Y, Market Basket, Roche Bros., Shaw’s, ShopRite, and Stop & Shop.

Perky Jerky Goes Jamaican

 

Jamaican Style Perky Jerky - FrontPerformance Enhancing Meat Snacks, Inc., creator of Perky Jerky the world’s best tasting jerky, is adding another fun and innovative flavor to its lineup. Perky Jerky is bringing its loyal customer base the exciting taste of island paradise by taking inspiration from traditional Jamaican jerk cuisine. The upscale meat snack is packed with flavor and protein with no added preservatives, nitrites or MSG.

“Jamaican jerk has long been an admired Caribbean comfort, and we’ve worked hard to capture such a well-recognized taste in a way Jerkaholics have come to love: with awesome flavor, tender texture, and healthy perks,” says Brian Levin, Founder and CEO of Perky Jerky.

Since 2009, Perky Jerky has been delivering ultra premium products that also contain the protein needed to empower an active lifestyle. It is an all-natural, low calorie, low/no fat, low carb snack ideal for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, adventurers and busy moms (and their kids) on-the-go.

Adding the iconic Jamaican Style flavor allows Perky Jerky to continue to reach key consumer targets in the savory snacks industry. Existing flavors include Original, Sweet & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Hot & Bothered, which are all currently available at retailers across the U.S. Additionally, every bag of Perky Jerky purchased contributes to causes that can make life better for kids, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Down Syndrome research.

 

Albertsons Adds Frontier Soups Gluten Free Mixes to Soup Aisle

Albertsons has expanded its specialty offerings in the soup aisle with the addition of nine non-GMO soup mixes from Frontier Soups™ quick-cooking Homemade In Minutes™ line of gourmet mixes.

Albertsons stores in the Southwestern U.S. have added Frontier Soups’ newest mix, West Coast Kale & Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix, along with its top-selling South of the Border Tortilla Soup Mix, Connecticut Cottage Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, and Idaho Outpost Potato Leek Soup Mix, all of which are gluten free. The sale is through UNFI of Providence, Rhode Island, said Trisha Anderson, Frontier Soups’ founder.

Other soup mixes now being carried by Albertson’s include Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup, Florida Sunshine Corn Chowder, Mississippi Delta Tomato Basil Soup, Oregon Lakes Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, and Pennsylvania Woodlands Mushroom Barley Soup. Soups in the Homemade-In-Minutes line serve four to six and typically cook in about 30 minutes.

Frontier Soups has 34 soup mixes in its lineup to accommodate a variety of consumer tastes and dietary needs, Anderson said.  The soups are produced with ingredients certified non-GMO by all suppliers. No salt is added, and the mixes contain no preservatives, artificial ingredients or MSG. The company now offers 12 vegetarian options and 28 of its soups are certified gluten free. In addition to its Homemade-In-Minutes line, Frontier Soups also has a line of Hearty Meal™ soup mixes, which generally serve from eight to 10.

Suggested retail prices for Homemade-In-Minutes and Hearty Meal soup mixes are $5.95-$6.49 and $6.95-$7.49 respectively.  More information is available at www.FrontierSoups.com or by calling 1.800.300.7687.

Read more about Frontier Soups here.

Winegrowers Unveil 100 Year Business Plan to Preserve Agriculture in Sonoma County, California

From the rocky coastline to the mountain vistas and the lush river valleys, the land has always been the hero in the story of Sonoma County, California. Through it all, the dedicated efforts of farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront of taking care of the land, protecting it and managing it in a way that has provided a bounty of apples, prunes, pears, poultry, lamb, beef and, more recently, winegrapes for nearly 150 years.

With this in mind, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd Century.  The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry. It is also the next step in the evolution of Sonoma County’s efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.

“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100-percent sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.  She added, “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations.  Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us.”

The existence of the 100-year plan was announced nearly one year to the day when Sonoma County Winegrowers generated worldwide attention for its bold commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019.  Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.

In the twelve months since announcing its sustainable intentions, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable.  More than 43 percent (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment.  In addition, 33 percent of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program.  The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6 percent of the county’s one million acres with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36 percent), forests (49 percent) and urban land (9 percent).  More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events.  There were 26 sustainability workshops and meetings hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2014.  Eight of the county’s 16 AVAs held sustainability workshops in the past year.

As the past year evolved, industry leaders met and the 100 year plan was written.  It is designed as a living document and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders to find tangible solutions and provide flexibility for the unexpected.  The time period of 100 years was chosen as a natural period that touches everyone in a tangible way – it represents two generations before and the next two future generations in essence spanning from grandparents to grandchildren.  The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County forever.

“This effort is charting a path to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County for the next 100 years,” said Brad Petersen, a third-generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors.   He added, “It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond.”

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