By Lorrie Baumann
Does asking your customers to bring reusable shopping bags with them to your store change their shopping behaviors in other ways? It turns out that it does, especially if customers have the choice about whether they do that or not.
The question was the subject of a recent study by Harvard Business School consumer behavior researcher Uma Karmakar and Bryan Bollinger, a researcher from Duke Fuqua School of Business. They used loyalty card data from a single California location of a major grocery chain and a set of their own experiments to demonstrate that shoppers who bring their own shopping bags to the grocery store are more likely to buy organic products as well as those considered indulgences, which includes products like candy, ice cream and snack chips. “Asking customers to bring their own bags introduces a new element. You’re asking customers to change their routine for a good reason. We were curious about whether asking people to add something new to something that they’re very familiar with could create a ripple effects, or changes in their decisions,” Karmarkar said.
The researchers began their study by speculating that the act of bringing reusable bags along to the grocery store might prime shoppers to behave virtuously, and they might express that by taking other positive environmental actions, such as choosing organic produce over nonorganics. They also speculated that, if customers took an action they considered virtuous – bringing their own bags to the store – they might then feel that they had earned themselves a little treat, and that might make them more likely to toss a candy bar or a carton of ice cream into their baskets. “The psychological effect is called licensing. If you do something virtuous in one area of your life, you might feel licensed to do something indulgent in another area of your life,” Karmarkar said. That led them to another question: Does it make a difference if the customers bring their own bags of their own volition or because store policy requires them to do so?
The researches found that customers who bring along their own bags are more likely to buy organic products if they’re available and if the price difference between organic and nonorganic products is not large. “The higher the prices, the less likely it is that bringing your bags will result in a different purchase,” Karmarkar said. “People aren’t suddenly going to run out and purchase a huge box of expensive truffles merely because they brought their bags. They’re still sensitive to prices.”
Customers who bring their own bags are also more likely to buy indulgent products like candy and snack chips, but only if they brought bags because they chose to do so rather than as a result of a store policy requiring them to do so. Karmarkar and Bollinger suggest that that’s because there may be a different psychology involved in the decision to buy the candy bar than in the decision to buy the organic apples. “In the case of organic items, our proposed psychology is that bringing the bag primes the customers with the reminder to take green actions. That might not change if the supermarket makes the rules,” Karmarkar said. “For indulgences, if consumers know that they’re bringing a bag because of the requirements of the store, we don’t see the same effect.”
The takeaway from the study for grocery retailers is that changes in store policies can have unexpected ripple effects, and that’s something to think about while planning the change, according to Karmarkar. “It’s useful to know that applying this kind of policies can have broader effects across the store. When a store enacts a policy, depending on the way they enact it, there can be downstream effects,” she said. “There are some interesting questions about environmental promotions – the store might consider enforcing that in a positive way. If your consumers are bringing their own bags, you might highlight the organic and environmental offerings in messaging and promotions. Because these effects for indulgences are conditional on the way the policies are implemented, the takeaway is that there may be different patterns in the way that consumers address impulse items or desserts in the store.”
By Micah Cheek
Rare Edibles is a specialty foods distributor based in Dallas Texas. Founded by Bryan Dunn and Borz Azarian, now the Director of Operations, Rare Edibles opened in 2012 after a year of research and sourcing. Azarian says, “We started with a handful of wild mushrooms. It took a while for chefs to trust us.”
As business increased, the team found that some products had never even been shipped to Dallas before. Azarian says, “When we started, we were dealing with more seasonal, wildcrafted items. It was a little difficult getting the products. A lot of the products didn’t have channels here. It took lots of research and hard work, and involved talking to our freight people about how to do it. We’ve learned a lot along the way and established good relationships.” Those relationships made it possible to negotiate the movement of products that had a lifespan of only a few days. Rare Edibles is now able to ship the products of multiple distant vendors in one load, reducing costs and shipping time. Some areas are avoided, as they cannot fit the company’s carefully planned routes. Azarian notes, “We generally don’t source too much from California. We have heard that there are issues with water, but we forecast ourselves to avoid things like that. If produce was our game, we would definitely be hurting. There’s another thing about California that you wouldn’t expect. It’s not easy to get products from California with freight, because the mountains make it complicated. It’s just way too expensive to ship it out. We’re very happy with the few things we do bring in from California, and there are many things we plan on introducing to Texas in the future.”
Ali Morgan, in-house Cheesemonger and Accounts Manager, joined the team a year ago. “I look at everything that comes in and goes out and make sure it’s up to our standards. My job entails that, and we’ve got staff that’s trained what to look for. Sometimes chefs need to be educated. They need to hear, ‘Hey, these are good molds! They’re supposed to smell that way!’ As a cheesemonger, it’s my job to make sure the people we give products to are educated, so people know what they’re dealing with.”
Keeping up with the needs of Dallas also requires a finger on the pulse of food trends. Morgan says, “All the accompaniments that come with buratta are coming into season. The seasonal stuff is getting more popular every year. Buratta has blown up a lot down here, especially the traditional style. We sourced one out of Connecticut out of Vermont milk, and we can’t keep it in stock.”
As Dallas looks to the future, Rare Edibles is beginning to see more competition. Other vendors are starting to emulate the company’s portfolio. Azarian sees this as a good sign, an indicator that they picked the right place to start. Rare Edibles is depending on its strong community relationships and unyielding standards of quality to hold the company up above the rest. “We try to have our products in such good quality that they speak for themselves,” Azarian says. “The way we sell our products, we have to believe in them and the people behind them. In our level of industry, you can’t hide behind good branding. Otherwise, our clients will realize it by tasting their food.”
By Richard Thompson
KIND, LLC was served a warning letter by the FDA for mislabeling its products and is now facing numerous class-action lawsuits after the letter went public. KIND is just the latest in a swarm of lawsuits to allege false advertising with regards to mislabeling claims, most notably “all natural.”
In a letter sent to KIND in late March, the FDA accused KIND of mislabeling on four specific bars – Fruit & Nut Almond & Apricot, Fruit & Nut Almond & Coconut, KIND Plus Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein and KIND Plus Dark Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants – on which the FDA says KIND used the terms “healthy,” “low sodium,” “no trans fats” and “good source of fiber” incorrectly.
The warning letter was the result of a routine product check, according to Noah Bartolucci, Strategic Communications and Public Engagement, Food and Drug Administration. The FDA would not comment why the KIND bars were picked off the shelf. “We carry these out periodically, consistent with the agency’s charge,” said Bartolucci, “but honestly, it varies.”
The warning letter gave KIND 15 days to start taking steps to change the labels as well as its website to conform with FDA definitions. “KIND has, and will continue to take efforts to conform to all FDA regulations,” Joe Cohen, Senior Vice President of Communications at KIND, said, “We’ve submitted a plan to FDA outlining the steps we’ll take to modify our packaging and website in accordance with the issues raised in the warning letter.”
KIND says it is working with the FDA on how it can use “healthy” on its bar labels. “We are…working closely with the FDA to reach alignment on how we can use ‘healthy’ on our packaging,” Cohen said, “The regulatory definition of ‘healthy’ is complex.” The FDA regulates the use of the term as a nutrient content claim, but does not regulate more general use of the term.
KIND doesn’t plan to change its recipes for any of its products, but instead will focus on the labeling. “This matter relates strictly to the language on our labeling and our website,” said Cohen.
KIND maintains that its bars are good for you, even though the exact wording on the label may not be allowed. “We’ve received a great deal of support from medical and nutritionist communities,” said Cohen, “and many experts have spoken up to endorse…the benefits of eating nuts and nutritious fats.”
As soon as the warning letter became public, KIND was slammed with a number of lawsuits.
As of late April, KIND has been drawn into eight different consumer lawsuits from individuals in both California and New York, with all claiming that KIND’s mislabeling violated federal, state and consumer protection laws and caused them injury or damage.
One claimant, Brandon Kaufer, represented by Pearson, Simon, and Warsaw, LLP, alleges that he, and others similarly situated, had suffered injury by purchasing the KIND bars under the mistaken belief they were “healthier” and incurred losses of at least $5,000,000 dollars due to KIND’s deliberate deception.
Crumbzz Cakes were first created over 400 years ago in what is now Austria. Introduction to the New World came with the first wave of immigrants. First offered to the public in 1999, the Sadler family crumb cake found a welcome home in the tiny Hudson Valley hamlet of Highland Falls in upstate New York.
In 2001 J. Stephen Sadler decided to satisfy the many requests of out of town customers by shipping the Crumbzz Cakes across the U.S. In 2002 J. Stephen sold his bakery and moved to Dallas, Texas. Eleven years after the recipe was lost in a dusty old box, J. Stephen is again creating his famous Crumbzz Cake.
Each Crumbzz Cake creation is artisan-crafted to order using the world’s finest ingredients. Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar, Saigon cinnamon from Vietnam, dark Muscovado brown sugar from the Mauritius Islands, European low gluten flour, Origine chocolates from Tanzania, locally produced free-range eggs, premium unsalted butter from Guernsey cows and Hungarian Lekvar Preserves are all part of every Crumbzz Cake. No mixes, artificial ingredients, preservatives or chemical additives are used in the cakes.
Crumbzz offers several varieties of the 10 inch round cakes that include Old World Cinnamon Streusel, Fruit Of The Seasons, Chocolate De La Terre and Carmel Sea Salt. These decadent cakes are the perfect gift for an important business client, someone special or as treat for yourself.
All Crumbzz Cakes and Minizz Snack Cakes are exquisitely packaged in black belted leather finished boxes, wrapped in imported jacquard ribbons and finished with old-world wax seals. Personalized chef cards, individually signed by the creating chef, accompany each cake. Gifted cakes also receive gold leafed gift cards with personalized messages that provide the ultimate finishing touch.
For more information or to purchase, contact: Crumbzz, www.crumbzz.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214.864.8060.
As drinkable yogurts continue to benefit from the growing protein market, B’more Organic, a brand of creamy, no sugar added, Icelandic-style skyr smoothies continues to expand its retail availability and supports this growth by adding three new employees to its team and moving to a new, larger office location in the up and coming Baltimore neighborhood of Hampden.
As B’more Organic increases its distribution throughout the U.S. this summer, the brand has hired new staff to support manufacturing, sales, and marketing. The growing B’more Organic Team now includes Edward Townsend, Local Sales Manager, Denise Midei, Controller, and Amanda Sains, Marketing & Operations Manager.
This larger team motivated B’more Organic’s move to a new office space in the Union Mill side of Hampden, a funky, growing neighborhood in the Baltimore City Limits. Famous for exuding a unique charm and urban vibe, Hampden is home to the city’s hippest restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and art venues, as well as several other food businesses, including Salazon Chocolate, Mouth Party Caramel, and Union Craft Brewery. Native to the Baltimore area and rooted in the city’s urban culture, B’more Organic’s creamy, skyr smoothies satisfy the progressive population who actively seek organic, delicious, and nutritious grab-and-go beverages.
“At a time when Baltimore is undergoing some soul searching about economic opportunities, we hope to be part of the re-stabilization of our city,” says Andrew Buerger, Founder and CEO of B’more Organic. “By leasing space in the city and adding new job opportunities there, we aim to be a part of the solution while helping this city b’more healthy.”
Blended with Icelandic-style skyr made from organic grass-fed cow’s milk, B’more Organic offers quick grab and go, fat-free smoothies each packed with a minimum 32 grams of protein. B’more Organic smoothies are available in six mouthwatering flavors including: Plain, Mango Banana, Banana, Vanilla, Cafe Latte, and newly launched Strawberry. With a flavor for every palate, a highly-skilled team, and new urban offices, B’more Organic encourages all individuals to “B’more Healthy, B’more Giving, and B’more Green.”
Sweet and spicy lovers take note: A delicious combination of roasted poblano peppers and peaches create unforgettable flavor in the latest spread from The Gracious Gourmet. Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is the most recent addition to the award-winning line of spreads, chutneys, pestos and tapenades. Taste it at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Roasted Poblano Peach Spread: The sweet flavor of luscious peaches is balanced with roasted poblano chile peppers and an accent of cilantro. This innovative and mildly spiced spread is sure to please a wide audience, especially when paired with cheese, or accompanying shellfish, chicken and pork. It can also be tossed in a salad with a lemon and oil dressing.
“Smoky and sweet flavors continue to rise among the latest food trends,” says Nancy Wekselbaum, founder of The Gracious Gourmet. “Roasted Poblano Peach Spread is a versatile condiment that can add excitement to a variety of meals. The spread isn’t hot in flavor, but does add a lot of spice and flavor to fish, pork or even a salad. I love to use it on a cheese plates with Spanish-style cheese like Manchego.”
Other New Products
Date Apricot Spread is packed with dates combined with apricots, spices and orange juice. It is great paired with cheeses like ricotta, fresh goat, brie and cheddar and is delicious served with chicken, duck or turkey and mixed into basmati rice. Also perfect for yogurt parfaits or as a topper for vanilla or caramel ice creams.
Sautéed Mixed Mushrooms contains white, crimini and shiitake mushrooms cooked with onions in olive oil and finished with a dash of lemon juice. It provides “essential” rich mushroom flavor to a variety of dishes, including risottos, pasta dishes, soups, omelets and savory pancakes.
Sweet Caramelized Onions includes the equivalent of 1 pound of raw sweet onions in every -ounce container. The fresh onions are cooked in olive oil with a hint of brown sugar to boost the onions’ natural sweetness — the taste is so good you can eat them straight from the jar! Use them to top all kinds of meat and fish as well as in salad dressings, soups, pasta and rice dishes.
The Gracious Gourmet’s all-natural products enliven countless menus with a wide variety of foodservice options for restaurateurs, chefs, cafes, caterers, event planners and wine bars. All three of the new products are available in 76-ounce foodservice containers. These affordable and time-saving accompaniments can be used for cheese plates, as sandwich spreads, in salad dressings and much more.
Sometimes it just takes a little twist on an old idea to make it new again. Yancey’s Fancy has done just that by adding the burger and the bacon to pasteurized process aged cheddar cheese for Grilled Bacon Cheeseburger. It’s the quintessential American flavor, perfect for snacking or for a grilled cheese sandwich.
Yancey’s Fancy packages it in 7.6-ounce wedges for the cheese case and sells 10-pound wheels for the service deli. Suggested retail price for the 7.6-ounce wedge is $8.99/pound, and for cuts off the wheel, $6.59/pound.
Almost 5 million older Americans are food-insecure, and chronic heart disease and depression are just two of the health conditions that a lack of nutrition can exacerbate, according to a Bread for the World fact sheet released today. As more baby boomers enter their 60s, the number of food-insecure Americans will rise.
“As people get older, they should be focusing on spending time with their loved ones and enjoying their golden years. After a lifetime of contributing to society, older Americans should not have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from,” said Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World.
The leading causes of death among older Americans are cancer and heart disease. Food-insecure older Americans report more cases of heart-related conditions than their food-secure peers do. They are also 60 percent more likely to experience clinical depression. Food insecurity diminishes the nutrition intake of older adults by limiting the food options available to them. This is more pronounced in populations also facing poverty and racial inequality.
“Programs like SNAP, beyond buffering beneficiaries from food insecurity, afford the older population the option to eat healthier. However, participation rates in such programs among the older population remain low—especially among those aged 60 to 69,” said Beckmann. “Low participation rates are attributed to the stigma that unfortunately persists with such programs.”
Income inequality is also present and growing as the country’s oldest population grows. With the pressure of poverty and food insecurity, older Americans must find ways to address health issues, which are more prevalent as people age. Programs like SNAP (formerly food stamps) are crucial in breaking the harmful cycles of undernutrition and health problems among older Americans, according to Bread for the World.
For more analysis, see “Hunger by the Numbers Among Older Americans: Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.”
To commemorate World Baking Day on May 17, celebrity cake artists Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s “Cake Boss,” Mich Turner, who has baked cakes for the likes of the Queen of England, and Ron Ben-Israel, renowned for his $10,000 cakes, recently gathered to prepare for The Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair, coming to Orlando, Florida, this September.
The international cake and sugarcraft expo, hosted by Satin Ice, is open to both trade and the public and will feature multi-day appearances by Valastro, Turner, and Ben-Israel, in addition to Roland Mesnier, former executive pastry chef to the White House. This event is the first cake fair of its kind in the United States to attract these four world-renowned cake artists under one roof.
Valastro, Turner, and Ben-Israel toured both Ben-Israel’s private cake studio in New York City and Valastro’s cake factory in Jersey City, New Jersey, where they had the opportunity to share their excitement and talk about plans for the upcoming Cake Fair. Turner, who was visiting New York from the U.K., recently launched her fifth book in the U.S., “Mich Turner’s Cake School.”
All four artists will share the high-caliber stage September 18, 19 and 20 at the Orange County Convention Center before an anticipated crowd of 30,000 cake professionals and enthusiasts. The show will also feature Cake Central’s Sugar Arts Fashion Show; a Live Global Cake Challenge; traditional cake competitions; more than 75 hands-on classes and demonstrations taught by 40 of the world’s best cake artists; and a wedding, chocolate, kids, and sugar art zone.
Registration for hands-on classes, demonstrations, competitions, Cake Central’s Sugar Arts Fashion Show, and admission is now available. An early-bird admission special rate will be available through June 1: one-day badges will be on sale for $45; 2-day badges will be $70, and 3-day badges will be $95. For more information, visit www.cakefair.com.
Liberty Richter, a division of World Finer Foods, has added Valor Chocolates to the company’s comprehensive assortment of premium products. For more than 130 years (since 1881), Valor Chocolates, based in Spain, has crafted some of the most exquisite chocolates and bonbons, using the finest cocoa beans from various parts of the globe including Ecuador, Panama and Ghana. The master chocolatier has been honored with accolades such as the “2011 European Candy Kettle Award,” one of the most prestigious awards in this sector.
Produced with the very purest raw materials, specially selected from the best harvests, and by a unique, traditional manufacturing method, Valor Chocolates offers indulgent, “pleasure-igniting” flavors. Valor also offers more health-conscious yet equally delightful no sugar added, lactose-free and gluten-free versions. Among the artful chocolate treats now available in the U.S. exclusively through World Finer Foods and its Liberty Richter division are:
“We continue to focus on growing our portfolio of premium brands and Valor Chocolates is the perfect addition to our mix,” stated Susan Guerin, CEO of World Finer Foods. “The quality of their products, innovative recipes and unparalleled manufacturing capabilities deliver a premium range of chocolates. We look forward to raising awareness and expanding distribution of the Valor brand. We’re especially excited to promote the no sugar added assortment which offers consumers not only a healthier option but also the same great taste as the traditional line of chocolates.”
As a premier confectioner, Valor has adopted the quality strategy and focuses on continual innovation to bring the highest quality of chocolate goods to the customer. The Company’s latest creation of a range of no sugar added chocolates, blends an exclusive recipe developed by Valor’s Master Chocolatiers which preserves the richness and unique taste of its traditional chocolate products. Valor’s All Natural range is free of artificial flavoring and preservatives and is made with the finest cocoa grown, guaranteeing the full “from bean to bar” confectionary process. These all natural products have been specifically developed for the U.S. market where 100 percent natural products are increasingly appreciated and demanded by consumers.
Gonzalo Sanchez, Export Director of Valor Chocolates stated, “Valor Chocolates has been successfully marketed in the U.S. for the past 15 years and has a strong and loyal consumer following. We believe now is the time for expansion and in order to take our brand to the next level, we needed a partner that understands our heritage and offering, as well as one with an extensive nationwide reach. Liberty Richter, with their distribution capabilities, customer relationships, and sales and marketing support services is the perfect partner, and we look forward to working with them to bring our assortment of specialty chocolates to those consumers who demand and crave the very best.”
“As the pioneer in specialty products, we have extensive relationships nationwide across all retail channels and see tremendous opportunities to bring Valor Chocolates to consumers who demand the very best,” said Guerin. Our team is committed to delivering an unparalleled customer experience to both our brand and distribution partners, and the combination of Liberty Richter and Valor will be a powerful recipe for success in the premium chocolate market. We look forward to showcasing the product line at the Summer Fancy Food Show and meeting with our customers and partners to further drive innovation.”