Christie & Co. has named Dave Kingsbury as its new Vice President of Growth & Innovation. He will be leading the company’s Rocky Mountains office.
“We are so thrilled to have Dave join our team to be part of this next phase of our growth, building upon decades of experience to continue our heritage of pioneering innovative, ethical leaders, companies, products, and causes,” stated Gillian Christie, Founder and CEO of Christie & Co. “His extensive experience will enhance our outreach and maximize our impact to strengthen the growth potential and innovation for companies in the natural industry, outdoor, agriculture, and clean tech sectors, as well as to create new branding and innovation solutions for leading global corporations to be understood and relevant to the changing economy and demographics driving growth in our industries.”
Kingsbury was formerly Vice President of Partnership and Product Development for New Hope Natural Media.
For the second year in a row, Rogue Creamery will donate 1 percent of October sales to ACEF (American Cheese Education Fund) to celebrate American Cheese Month. The American Cheese Society’s sister organization, ACEF, was created to educate people about the art and science of artisanal and specialty cheese and it supports existing and new educational efforts to further learning opportunities for all those interested in producing, marketing, selling, and appreciating North America’s artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses.
One of those educational components is the Certified Cheese Professional program; the letters ACS CCP designate that an individual has acquired thorough knowledge and the level of expertise that is demanded within the cheese industry. Two Rogue Creamery team members, Tom Van Voorhees and Chelsea Faris, were among the first in the U.S. to earn the CCP credentials. For additional information about ACEF go to http://www.cheesefoundation.org/ and for additional information about American Cheese Month, October, go to http://www.americancheesemonth.org/october-american-cheese-month/ .
Entube, maker of modern chili pastes in a tube, has just unveiled a new addition to its line of gourmet chili pastes: Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste. Expanding the brand’s global palate, the new variety features ume plum, a traditional Japanese staple. Other ingredients include vinegar, cayenne, and beet, resulting in a colorful, nutritious condiment that aids in digestive support, nausea, and fatigue, including hangovers.
“In response to the success of our inaugural products, Harissa and Indian Curry, which pay homage to North African and Indian flavors, we set out to provide a new global flavor experience for our customers inspired by the Japanese ume plum,” said Entube Creator and Founder Richard Lassalle. “Using the highest quality ingredients, Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is an easy-to-use, versatile product that will add bright color and flavor to dishes, empowering anyone to become a chef.”
Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is a fermented fruit-based paste, best used in raw form as a finishing condiment on sushi, oysters, vegetables and in cocktails. Like all Entube products, Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is gluten free, vegan and does not contain any added sugar, artificial coloring or preservatives.
The Entube Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is offered in a 100g tube that retails for about $8.
Following an October 11 roundtable discussion with dairy producers near La Crosse, Wisconsin, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is offering to purchase $20 million of cheddar cheese to reduce a private cheese surplus that has reached record levels, while assisting food banks and other food assistance recipients.
While USDA projects dairy prices to increase throughout the rest of the year, many factors including low world market prices, increased milk supplies and inventories, and slower demand have contributed to a sluggish marketplace for dairy producers and caused dairy revenues to drop 35 percent over the past two years. Section 32 of the Agriculture Act of 1935 authorizes USDA to purchase surplus food to benefit food banks and families in need through its nutrition assistance programs.
“America’s farming families are being called on to demonstrate their world-famous resourcefulness and resilience in the face of this current market downturn, and USDA is making use of every tool that we have to help them,” said Vilsack. “For dairy farmers, this has included $11.2 million in payments in August through the Dairy Margin Protection Program, in addition to the surplus purchase offers. While our analysis predicts the market will improve for these hardworking men and women, reducing the surplus can give them extra reassurance while also filling demand at food banks and other organizations that help our nation’s families in need. Farmers at other points in the supply chain are also receiving a boost with over $7 billion in Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage payments for the 2015 crop year, which by design kick in when times are tough. As always, we continue to watch market conditions and will explore opportunities for further assistance in the coming months. For producers challenged by weather, disease and falling revenue, we will continue to ensure the availability of a strong safety net to keep them farming or ranching.”
A solicitation will be issued shortly, and cheese deliveries to food banks and other food assistance recipients are expected to occur beginning in March 2017.
Also at the roundtable, Vilsack shared details of a new report by the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist, which shows continued growth of the U.S. dairy sector is largely contingent on trade and that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could create an additional $150 to $300 million in annual U.S. dairy exports. Free trade agreements have contributed to the growth in U.S. dairy exports and helped to address tariff and nontariff barriers that disadvantage U.S. products in overseas markets. U.S. dairy exports to free trade agreement partners grew from $690 million in the year prior to each agreement’s entry into force to $2.8 billion in 2015, driven by lower trade barriers and increased U.S. competitiveness. For more information on TPP, visit www.fas.usda.gov/topics/trans-pacific-partnership-tpp.
For the 10th year in a row, Certified Angus Beef LLC reported record sales of its signature Certified Angus Beef ® brand, marketing 1.015 billion pounds of product in fiscal 2016 (ending September 30). The increase of 13.3 percent represented an additional 119 million pounds of product sold by a network of more than 18,000 licensed partners worldwide.
“Thanks to a dramatic positive shift in the supply of high-quality Angus cattle, our partners were able to deliver more of the highest quality beef to consumers while supporting ranch families and rural communities,” said brand President John Stika. “Our partners’ collective achievement – from the farm to the table – illustrates the relevance of our mission established nearly 40 years ago. By delivering unique experiences and value to consumers, our individual partners succeed as well.”
Monthly sales records and category growth
The Certified Angus Beef brand set sales records in all 12 months of fiscal 2016. Furthermore, eight of the 10 best sales months in the brand’s 38-year history were set in fiscal 2016. Sales of more than 90 million pounds in July, August and September reflected partners’ strong marketing and promotional activity during grilling season.
Growth was balanced across product categories. Backed by traditionally strong demand, particularly for consumers’ celebrations and special occasions, sales of premium steaks (middle meats) grew by 11.4 percent. End meat sales grew by 87 million pounds, and ground beef sales increased by 8.5 million pounds.
Illustrating the appeal of premium beef to the most discerning consumers, sales of the brand’s Prime product extension grew by more than 26 percent.
After six years of deceleration, retail division sales exploded with 18.5 percent growth, or 68 million pounds. Quality-focused retailers have long represented the largest portion of brand sales – 43 percent in fiscal 2016 – but lower beef prices linked to increased supply encouraged more consumers to choose beef for family meals more often. Plus, grocery partners aggressively featured brand items in their circulars, further driving sales.
The foodservice division, already on a well-established path of growth, enjoyed its seventh consecutive year of record sales: 355 million pounds, a 6.3 percent increase. Three-quarters of the brand’s licensed distributors grew their business by an average 9.3 percent. Sales to licensed restaurants also increased 10 percent, demonstrating the brand’s relevance and value to chefs, restaurateurs and customers.
International sales of the Certified Angus Beef brand reached a new record of 138 million pounds in 49 countries. Sales in Japan, historically important for U.S. beef, more than doubled in fiscal 2016, thanks to the efforts of partners strongly committed to the brand. Sales in Mexico also increased a notable 16 percent.
Processors responded to growing consumer demand for high-quality convenience meals in both retail and foodservice with branded value-added products. Sales were up by 8.9 percent, driven by key items including smoked brisket, marinated fajita meat and fresh corned beef.
Family farmers’ focus on quality leads to increased supply
Family farmers and ranchers have been the foundation of the Certified Angus Beef brand since its start; their efforts to raise quality cattle meeting the brand’s 10 exacting standards enable licensed processors, distributors, restaurateurs and retailers to meet consumers’ growing demand for premium beef.
A few years after a devastating drought across much of the United States, these families finally saw the fruits of their efforts to rebuild herds. Beyond simply adding more cattle, they improved the quality of their herds with a strong focus on Angus genetics and the brand’s quality target in mind. As a result, the rate of cattle eligible to earn the brand name rose to a record 28.9 percent, up from just 14 percent a decade ago. The collective improvement in cattle translated into increased supply for the brand of 440,000 head, or 115 million pounds of branded product.
“This additional supply led to reduced prices for consumers while delivering more of the same superior beef they’ve come to expect from the brand,” said Stika. “This intentional focus on quality by our family farmers and ranchers is at the core of the brand’s relevance, not just to the ranching families themselves, but also to the brand’s partners and consumers. It’s a relationship that has a collective impact much greater than the sum of its many individual parts, all passionately focused on quality and family.”
Velvet Ice Cream has just opened the largest expansion capital improvement in the company’s storied 102-year history. Velvet broke ground on a new 23,000-square-foot expansion, with price tag of more than $3 million, last August. The expansion added a new state-of-the-art warehouse freezer distribution facility to Velvet Ice Cream’s central Ohio plant at Ye Olde Mill in Utica, more than doubling the company’s freezing and picking capacity. On the heels of significant expansion into the Kentucky and other markets, demand for Velvet Ice Cream has grown, taking the company from $25 million in revenue in 2009 to more than $30 million in 2014. As a result, last summer, Velvet was nearly at capacity with its former distribution facility.
“Our expansion allows us to improve sustainability, sharpen efficiencies and produce more delicious Velvet Ice Cream in order to meet increased demand,” said Velvet Ice Cream President Luconda Dager. “But it also positions us well for future growth and expansion.”
Dager helped the more than 100 attendees at the expansion ribbon cutting to better understand the project’s size, sharing the following details on the new facility:
Velvet Ice Cream worked with the Licking County, Ohio firm Robertson Construction as general contractor for the project, which took 14 months to complete. Currently employing a staff of 125, Velvet’s new distribution facility initially will require the addition of eight new employees in its picking and shipping operations. However, the development enables the company further to expand production as new accounts are acquired, which is expected to increase future employment. The project also uses the latest green technology, minimizing the company’s environmental footprint via environmentally friendly design, motion-controlled energy efficient lighting, state-of-the-art insulating panels and high-speed automated doors.
Dager added that thanks to the support of tax abatement from North Fork Local School District and Velvet’s partners at People’s Bank and Freije-RSC Engineered Solutions Company, the expansion makes it possible for the company to not only continue serving existing customers, but also enter new markets and forge new partnerships, like those Velvet already has with major retailers and other food service partners.
This year, Velvet Ice Cream celebrates 102 years of making ice cream in Ohio. Founded in 1914 by Joseph Dager, four generations of Dager family have since run the company. Still family-owned and operated, Velvet produces and distributes more than 5 million gallons of ice cream every year from its headquarters on the grounds of Ye Olde Mill. Ye Olde Mill also houses an ice cream and milling museum, a restaurant, playground, picnic area and catch-and-release fish pond.
Named by Frommer’s as one of America’s 10 Best Ice Cream Factory Tours, Velvet’s Ye Olde Mill welcomes 150,000 visitors each year for tours, tastings and events. The annual Ice Cream Festival, group tour experiences and school learning field trips are among the many draws to Ye Olde Mill, which is open to the public April 20-October 31. Complete information about Velvet Ice Cream and Ye Olde Mill is available www.VelvetIceCream.com on Twitter at @VelvetIceCream or Facebook.com/VelvetIceCream.
By Lorrie Baumann
Bellwether Farms‘ Blackstone was released to the market in small quantities just this January, and the cheese already has a growing fan base. Blackstone placed first in its category for mixed milk cheeses with flavor added during this year’s American Cheese Society Judging and Competition. It’s made from two-thirds Jersey cow milk and one-third sheep milk, with black peppercorns incorporated into the paste and a hand-rubbed black rind that combines rosemary and black pepper with vegetable ash.
The three-pound wheel has the elegant eminence of Patrick Stewart declaiming Shakespeare. When it’s cut, slices from the wedge have a thin black border that lends a satisfying weight to even the thinnest of slices and a color contrast that adds beauty to their arrangement on the cheese board.
Blackstone’s flavor is strongly influenced by the tang of the sheep milk – think Manchego – with extra zing and texture from the peppercorns along with caramel notes and a rich and satisfying mouthfeel that come from the Jersey milk. It pairs beautifully with a wide range of beers, and the peppery/herbal notes make a nice complement to a pinot noir or Syrah.
The black rind was part of cheesemaker Liam Callahan’s original inspiration for the cheese, he said. “There aren’t that many aged cheeses that have a rind that actively contributes interesting flavor notes to it. It’s more common for washed-rind cheeses, but with aged cheeses, it’s just protecting it from the environment,” he said. “For this cheese, the rind is more than something to nibble up to and throw away, more than a board-flavored musty component. The rosemary doesn’t taste of rosemary, but it helps give a savory element to the rind. Plus, it looks cool. As soon as you put it out there, people say ‘What’s that?’ They are drawn to the look of the cheese.”
The vegetable ash/rosemary/black pepper mixture is hand-rubbed onto the cheese in several stages as it ages over about 10 weeks. The ash helps control the acidity at the cheese’s surface, but it also melds together the different particle sizes of the rosemary and black pepper, Callahan said. “The very powdery vegetable ash just helped to hold it all together.”
Blackstone starts its aging on wood shelves, and then it’s moved to wire shelves and then back to the boards, with the transitions timed to respond to the moisture levels at the rind. “We’re still playing with the timing of those transitions to get the right moisture on that rind at the key moments when it needs it,” Callahan said.
Distribution for the cheese is still ramping up, and it’s currently available almost exclusively in California, where it’s selling readily for prices between $25 and $30 per pound. “It’s a difficult cheese to make, and at retail, it’s an expensive cheese that demands the right attention to it,” he said. “But restaurants love to feature something that’s so visual on the cheese board.”
“I never make more than about 120 wheels at a time. All of our vats are small, and it’s hands-on,” he added. “It’s been figuring out how to ramp up production in a way that maintains the quality and consistency. It’s really been a fun cheese to work on.”
Callahan expects Blackstone to reach a wider audience once more people have had the opportunity to taste it and as his production increases. “We are actively talking about it now, and samples are getting out there, and people are hearing from folks – they’re really liking it so much,” he said. “We really do expect this to be a major cheese for us. It’s so good, and we like it so much, and it’s unique in the marketplace.”
According to a survey by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, consumption of all dairy products has been steadily declining since 2005, with 22 percent of Americans reporting they’ve decreased their intake. The reasons for giving up dairy are varied but have undeniably inspired a trend among food brands worldwide. Italy’s Rigoni di Asiago is now offering Nocciolata (pronounced no-cho-lata) Dairy Free, a certified-vegan alternative of its better-for-you, higher-quality, better-tasting chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Non-dairy lovers can now indulge in the creamy decadence, as well! Made with organic ingredients completely free of GMOs, preservatives, colors, additives, or artificial sweeteners, Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata Dairy Free combines hazelnuts, cocoa and cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract and raw cane sugar for a chocolate-hazelnut spread with undeniably superior flavor and smooth texture.
Unlike other brands, which use palm oil, Nocciolata Dairy Free is made with environmentally-responsible cold-pressed sunflower oil. It also contains far less sugar than other brands and is free from hydrogenated fats.
Each batch takes 36 hours of artisanal preparation to develop its rich and complex flavor and easy-to-spread consistency. Nocciolata Dairy Free is an indulgent snack, a wonderful addition to breakfast spreads, an alternative to other nut butters, and is a wonderful accompaniment for breads, fruit, or non-dairy ice cream.
“Whether you are vegan or lactose intolerant or do not eat dairy due to allergies, health reasons, religious reasons, or environmental reasons,” says Rigoni di Asiago C.E.O. and President Andrea Rigoni, “you, too, can enjoy the delicious combination of hazelnut and chocolate in our latest spread.”
Rigoni di Asiago Nocciolata Dairy Free is certified vegan and USDA organic and available in stores nationwide and online in 9.52-ounce glass jars. For more information, visit http://rigonidiasiago-usa.com and www.nocciolatausa.com
Bob’s Red Mill, which has been producing whole grain and gluten free foods for more than 40 years, has developed a new Gluten Free Egg Replacer that, in addition to containing no gluten or animal products, is also without soy, corn, grains, or beans. The new Gluten Free Egg Replacer substitutes for whole eggs in recipes such as cakes, muffins, quick breads, brownies and pancakes. The new formula, which makes use of only four simple ingredients, is available in a re-sealable standup pouch and has a 24-month shelf life. Each 12-ounce package contains the equivalent of 34 eggs.
“We believe everyone should be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of a wholesome, homemade baked good, no matter what foods they are trying to avoid,” said Bob Moore, Founder, President and CEO of employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, with the help of our Gluten Free Egg Replacer, bakers can still have their favorite banana bread or buckwheat pancake.”
The new Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer, which retails for $4.49 for a 12-ounce bag, is a blend of potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk fiber. While the company has offered its Vegetarian Egg Replacer for a number of years, this new egg replacer is the first such product it has offered that is made without gluten or soy ingredients.
“We’re delighted to offer this Gluten Free Egg Replacer so that even more of our consumers can experience the joy of baking,” said Matthew Cox, Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, vegans, those with gluten or soy issues, or really anyone who wants a reliable baking staple stocked in their pantry can turn to this Egg Replacer and whip up a favorite recipe in a safe and easy way.”
As with all of Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free products, the Gluten Free Egg Replacer adheres to strict gluten free safety standards, including being produced in a 100 percent dedicated gluten free facility and ELISA tested to verify gluten free integrity.
Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer is available now to retailers in cases of eight, as well as online at www.bobsredmill.com.
Cypress Grove, the artisan goat cheese company known best for its flagship cheese, Humboldt Fog, says “out with the old and in with the new” as it refreshes, revitalizes and renews its brand. The award-winning goat cheese company has dropped the “chevre” from its name to embrace its all-American background as well as opted for new labels, which provide a more comprehensive look and feel for each of its cheeses and convey a sense of Cypress Grove’s rich 30+-year history.
Cypress Grove was founded in 1983 by Mary Keehn, a self-proclaimed hippie, in an effort to provide wholesome nourishment for her children. She asked her neighbor if she could buy two goats for milk and the neighbor replied with a grin, “Honey, if you can catch ‘em, you can have ‘em.” So a determined Mary went out with grain each day and eventually lured two goats to her property and began making cheese with the excess milk. After travelling to France to taste, test and learn, she dreamed up the idea for Cypress Grove’s first iconic cheese, Humboldt Fog, while asleep on the long overseas flight home. The rest, as they say, is history. The brand has grown tremendously under the direction of Cypress Grove President Pamela Dressler, and has won more than 100 cheese awards both nationally and internationally. Each of Cypress Grove’s 14 fine cheeses bestow playful names, all with their own story, including: Truffle Tremor®, Humboldt Fog®, Bermuda Triangle®, Lamb Chopper®, Midnight Moon®, PsycheDillic®, Sgt Pepper®, Ms. Natural®, Herbs de Humboldt® and Purple Haze®.
One of the key changes to come out of this brand refresh was the removal of the French word “chevre” from the company’s name. Dressler said, “We can’t wait to launch the new designs and introduce our new look to consumers.” The company will remain true to its American roots and Dressler elaborated, “We place incredible importance on maintaining the same standards and values that we always have—now we just have a fresh aesthetic to showcase them.” The new, streamlined look will increase brand awareness and help customers discover each and every tasty flavor, reminding consumers of Cypress Grove’s many cheese varietals beyond the crowd favorite and Original American Original™, Humboldt Fog.
The revamped look also represents Cypress Grove’s commitment to the growing goat cheese industry in America and proves that cheese does not have to be complicated to be memorable and delicious. The artisan cheese company built a state-of-the-art, technologically-advanced goat dairy to mentor other commercial goat dairies and teach them about the connection between herd health, high-yielding animals and high-quality milk. To Cypress Grove’s knowledge, on average its goats produce more goat milk per head than any other commercial dairy in the United States.
Starting October 1, all cheese retailers and distributors will begin to debut the new Cypress Grove branding, and consumers will find the new look in local grocery chains and stores nationwide. For more information, check out the new designs by visiting cypressgrovecheese.com, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.