By Lucas Witman
From the royal wedding to the London Olympics and from Harry Potter to Downton Abbey, British culture has never been more popular in the United States than it is today. Americans seem positively poised to pounce on any book, movie, television show or event emblazoned with the Union Jack or featuring iconic Briticisms. Once much maligned on this side of the Atlantic, British foods have not escaped the U.K. invasion, including what has perhaps become the most sought after British food staple in the United States: cheese. Today, shoppers at any artisan cheese shop in the United States or even any grocery store specialty cheese case can choose among a wide variety of British offerings.
When it comes to bringing British cheeses to the U.S. market, companies in the United Kingdom must navigate several particular challenges. Perhaps the biggest technical challenge British cheese producers face in exporting their products to this country concerns the different standards for the use of antibiotics that are in place in the United States and Europe. In Great Britain, a farmer can use antibiotics to treat a sick animal, but that animal must then be quarantined for several months before it can be allowed back into the herd. In the United States, once treated with antibiotics, the animal must be permanently removed from the herd. Some British cheese companies have overcome this disparity in standards by raising two separate herds, one producing milk for cheeses to be consumed domestically and one producing milk for cheeses intended for export to the United States.
Beyond the technical issues facing British cheese exports, however, there are a host of other adaptations companies in the United Kingdom must make in order to effectively reach out to American consumers. The Irish Dairy Board found this out when it first began selling its Pilgrim’s Choice line, one of the most popular cheese lines in Great Britain, in the United States.
“A key headline for our business is that U.S. Consumers want to know where the product comes from,” said Conor O’Donovan, Category Sales Manager for U.K. Cheese at the Irish Dairy Board. “While Pilgrim’s Choice as a brand name has strong resonance in the U.K., it was relatively meaningless in the U.S. so it was important to define the origin of the cheese and find a name that resonates for the consumer.” By changing the name of the cheese line to Londoner and placing a Union Jack prominently on the label, the company found that it was finally able to effectively market its cheeses to U.S. consumers.
Another part of successfully marketing British specialty foods in the United States is learning about and responding to uniquely American trends. According to Nicola Turner Export Director for Kingdom British Organic Heritage Cheeses, perhaps the biggest American trend to which her company has been forced to adapt is the U.S. local products movement.
“In the U.S., there is very much a drive for local and supporting local,” said Turner. “In the U.K., this exists too but imported specialty cheeses offer something different. It’s about discovery—allowing you to experience a new place, a new culture from your own four walls.”
Turner also noted that cheese consumption in the United States is tied to wine consumption in a way that does not necessarily translate to the British marketplace. “There seems to be far more focus on wine pairings in the U.S. It does happen in the U.K., but in the U.S. you guys take it to another level,” she said. “In the U.K. … there isn’t this whole culture of matching wines. That’s something that I’ve had to get up to speed with quickly here.”
Still, despite a variety of cultural differences separating U.S. and U.K. consumers, British cheese companies have found that when it comes to the consumer flavor palate, there is relatively little difference between the two countries. “What we’ve found is that flavor profiles that develop in the U.K. are a good benchmark of what’s coming to the U.S.,” said O’Donovan. “We find that whatever flavor profile is becoming big in the U.K., generally America will follow. That’s been our experience,” said O’Donovan.
Richard Newton-Jones, Commercial Director for Welsh cheesemaker Snowdonia Cheese Company echoes O’Donovan’s observations, arguing that as Americans taste his company’s cheeses, the varieties and flavors that they most respond to are the same varieties and flavors that are the company’s biggest sellers in Great Britain. Although not yet commercially available in the United States, Snowdonia is planning to introduce its cheeses to this market in the near future, and Newton-Jones says that it will make no changes to the product in order to appeal to American palates.
When it comes to cheeses native to the British Isles, there are several products that are historically synonymous with this nation. Stilton, for example, is a popular bleu cheese linked to the British counties of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Caerphilly is one of the most popular Welsh cheeses, a mild, crumbly cow’s milk cheese with a pleasant tang. And Wensleydale is one of the most popular cheeses throughout Britain, often found blended with cranberries or apples.
However, the undisputed king of British cheeses is Cheddar. “The cheese market and the specialty cheese market is very competitive. There are hundreds of cheeses here,” said Turner. “Cheddar is our first offering, because everyone likes a good cheddar.”
Cheddar cheese represents British culinary heritage perhaps more than any other food. The cheese was originally made in and is named for the village of Cheddar in the southwestern corner of the country. Historically, the cheese was aged in the area’s many caves. Cheddar cheese benefited from the region’s unique climate, and the abundant grassy landscape that provides almost all of the diet for the area’s cows.
There are a number of things that make authentic British cheddars a much sought after cheese treat throughout the world. “British cheddar offers a discovery of an area that is very much well known for the taste of its cheese. You’ll have a different Cheddar experience,” said Turner.
“It is a different flavor profile, and the whole make process is different,” said Newton-Jones. “Basically the starter cultures which are used in these products are different from American cheddars. Also it’s different because the climate is different. For Snowdonia, we have a very high rainfall. The dairy herds in North Wales are grassfed herds. So we don’t have very high yielding herds … The result of that is that you get a higher level of butterfat and protein in the milk. So that allows us to produce a very high quality cheese as well.”
In explaining what makes British Cheddar so special, O’Donovan offered a British saying, popular among the country’s cheesemakers: “You have the grass in the cow’s tail,” he said. “What it means is that literally the cow’s tail is in the grass. Therefore you have the real grassy flavor.”
For Turner, bringing her company’s cheese to American consumers is about giving them an opportunity to figuratively travel to a new place. Regardless of the popularity of local foods in this country, when it comes to cheese, she believes there will always be a place in the U.S. consumer landscape for imported products that offer a taste of a particular place in the world.
“It’s unique, and it’s a discovery, and I think that’s what consumers are saying,” said Turner. “When it comes to specialty cheese, it gives them a way of discovering new things. You can support local, but it adds a little more spice by trying different things. It’s a bit like traveling the world without going anywhere.”
Emmi Roth USA will be a national partner and the official specialty cheese sponsor at four of Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation® events, including the upcoming Taste of the Nation Houston event on April 6.
At Taste of the Nation events, guests will have the opportunity to sample a range of imported cheeses from Switzerland, such as Kaltbach Cave-aged Le Gruyère AOP, Kaltbach Cave-aged Emmentaler AOC, SwissArt and Appenzeller, along with award-winning selections from Wisconsin, including Grand Cru® Reserve, Buttermilk Blue®, GranQueso®, Horseradish Havarti, and the recently introduced 3 Chile Pepper Gouda.
Every year, Taste of the Nation events bring together the country’s best chefs, sommeliers and mixologists to raise money for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry® campaign, which is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need to the healthy food they need, every day. Held in more than 30 cities across the nation, guests of Taste of the Nation can sip and sample gourmet creations from each city’s premier culinary talent and participate in unique culinary, travel and lifestyle auctions – all while raising funds to make No Kid Hungry a reality. Since 1988, Taste of the Nation has raised more than $85 million.
“We are proud to sponsor Taste of the Nation events and continue to serve as proud partners of the No Kid Hungry campaign this year,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales at Emmi Roth USA. “We look forward to sharing our domestic and international award-winning cheeses with food lovers across the country for a great cause.”
Taste of the Nation Houston will be held April 6, 2014 at the Houstonian Hotel Club & Spa. Emmi Roth will also sponsor Taste of the Nation events in New York City on April 28, Minneapolis on June 23 and Chicago on August 13.
In addition to sponsoring the events, Emmi Roth USA will donate $1 to the No Kid Hungry campaign for each Roth Signature Cheese Board Kit sold in 2014. For more information on the Cheese Board Kit, visit www.emmirothfoodservice.com.
Four new energizing organic Superfood+ Seeds and Nuts mixes from Navitas Naturals elevate healthy snacking to a whole new level. Maca Maple Cashews, Chia Rosemary Pepitas, Goji Basil Cashews and Goldenberry Ginger Almonds are ‘Handfuls of Goodness’ that combine best-selling Navitas superfoods with healthy, raw, organic seeds and nuts. These delicious gluten-free, GMO-free snack mixes are fortified with organic maca, goji, chia and goldenberry powders.
Superfood+ Seeds and Nuts mixes build off the success of the award-winning line of Navitas Power Snacks that was introduced in 2011. “Our new snacks make it easy for people to integrate organic superfoods into their diet,” says CEO and Founder Zach Adelman. “We aim to provide people with nutrition convenience in the form of tasty superfood snacks that help active people ensure they’re getting optimal nutrition.”
Each of the four Superfood+ Seeds and Nuts mixes is offered in a 4-ounce resealable pouch. The organic snacks provide a balanced supply of antioxidants, fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Navitas Naturals makes Food For the Modern Life™, and the company’s products are widely available at thousands of stores throughout North America and online.
These sweet maple superfood cashews are a delicious blend of raw cashews, the butterscotch-like flavor of maca and sweet maple syrup. Maca is a root from the Andes Mountains of Peru that is a complex, nutrient-dense whole food source of vitamins, amino acids, plant sterols, essential minerals and essential fatty acids. Maca has been traditionally used as a stress-fighting adaptogen and to increase stamina, boost libido and combat fatigue. Raw cashews contain many beneficial fats, and they’re also a good source of plant-based protein (5 grams per ounce) and minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and manganese. Maple syrup is a delicious natural sweetener that provides trace minerals and vitamins. The suggested retail price is $6.99.
These savory Italian superfood pepitas feature a combination of nutritious chia seeds and crunchy pepitas (the culinary term for pumpkin seeds) with classic Italian seasonings: garlic and rosemary. Chia seeds are a plentiful source of omega fatty acids and protein and they also contain a good supply of antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Pepitas provide an abundance of amino acids, unsaturated fats including omega-3, and minerals such as calcium, potassium, zinc and phosphorous. They’re also a good source of beta-carotene, and vitamins B, C, D, E and K. Garlic contains healthy compounds such as sulfur-containing allicin, oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium and flavonoids. Rosemary is a powerful herb known to be a rich source of antioxidants. The suggested retail price is $5.99.
These zesty roma superfood cashews combine the superfood nutrition benefits of goji berries and raw cashews with delicious spices reminiscent of classic Italian tomato basil. Goji berries are one of the most abundant sources of antioxidants, and they’re also a good source of protein, vitamin A and vitamin C. Gojis provide diverse nutrition – with 20 vitamins and minerals including zinc, iron, phosphorus and riboflavin (B2) and beta-carotene. Raw cashews contain many beneficial fats, and they’re also a good source of plant-based protein (5 grams per ounce) and minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, copper and manganese. The mix is lightly sweetened with coconut palm sugar – a low glycemic sweetener that contains minerals. The suggested retail price is $6.99.
These sweet and tangy almonds are a delicious snack that pairs raw organic almonds with nutrient-dense goldenberries to create a handful of goodness that will keep you craving more. The tangy goldenberries are blended with invigorating ginger and a touch of maple syrup to add a tart and sweet flavor to the mix. Goldenberries contain carotene and bioflavonoids (vitamin P), and they’re an excellent source of vitamin A. For a fruit, they possess a high content of protein, and they are also a good source of dietary fiber. Raw almonds are rich in healthy fats, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and potassium. The nuts are naturally low in sugar, and are also a good source of protein and fiber. This mix also gets a boost from chia seeds, which provide healthy fats, protein, minerals and antioxidants. The suggested retail price is $7.99.
4 ounces Busha Browne’s Jerk Smokey BBQ Sauce
2 pounds premium ground beef (80 percent lean / 20 percent fat)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp – fresh garlic minced
1 TBSP olive oil, plus extra for brushing the grill
2 ounces mayonnaise
1 dozen slider rolls or dinner rolls
6 ounces romaine lettuce leaves
3 medium tomatoes – cut into 1/8-inch slices
2 medium purple onions – cut into 1/8-inch slices
Combine 2 ounces Jerk Smokey BBQ Sauce, beef, salt, pepper, garlic, and olive oil. Mix gently with a fork.
Shape the meat into 12 patties and place into your freezer while preheating the barbecue grill to med/high heat.
Oil the grill just before putting the patties to cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, depending on your preference for medium to well done. Check your patties’ temperature with a thermometer before removing them from the grill. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees for ground beef.
Combine mayonnaise and remaining Jerk Smokey BBQ Sauce and dress top and bottom of slider rolls.
Dress sliders with lettuce, tomato and purple onions.
Tate & Lyle Fair Trade-certified Organic Pure Cane Sugar, Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar and Natural Pure Cane Sugar are being introduced to U.S. consumers by Domino Foods. Tate & Lyle Sugars has grown to become one of Britain’s leading cane sugar brands and will be available to Americans nationwide.
“Domino Foods is proud to leverage an esteemed global asset from the U.K. and bring excitement to the U.S. sweetener category,” said Brian O’Malley, President and CEO of Domino Foods, Inc. “Tate & Lyle Sugars, an established leader in fair trade and a source of high-quality sweetening since 1878, has an iconic brand heritage that we are confident will also delight U.S. consumers.”
All three varieties of the Tate & Lyle sugars are Fair Trade-certified and verified non-GMO. Tate & Lyle Sugars is one of the largest single payers of Fair Trade premium to Fair Trade-certified farmers in the world. Tate & Lyle Organic Pure Cane Sugar and Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar are also certified organic by the international organic certification services of Quality Assurance International.
Date Lady™ is introducing an organic, non GMO, kosher and nut-free chocolate spread with minimal ingredients whose velvety sweetness comes naturally from date syrup, an ancient sweetener. The new spread is being launched for the 2014 Summer Fancy Food Show, and samples will be available in Booth 4073.
Date Lady Chocolate Spread gets its rich chocolate flavor from organic cocoa, and its luxurious texture and satiny spreadability from date syrup, coconut oil and cocoa butter, said Colleen Sundlie, company Founder. “Our spread is vegan with all clean ingredients. It contains no nuts or dairy products, and no processed oils or processed sugar,” Sundlie said. “The texture is smoother than chocolate nut spreads.”
Date Lady Chocolate Spread is available in 10.2-ounce jars with a suggested retail price of $9.99 to $10.99. The chocolate spread is versatile, and serving suggestions include spreading it on a baguette with sliced pears, on toast with peanut butter, warmed slightly and poured over ice cream, and just dipping a pretzel right in the jar, Sundlie said.
Other products include non-GMO organic Date Syrup and Caramel Sauce in 12-ounce jars with suggested retail prices of $7.99 and $8.99 respectively. Whole organic dates in resealable 8-ounce pouches have a suggested retail price of $6.99. More information is available online at www.ILoveDateLady.com and https://www.facebook.com/datesyruprocks or by calling (417) 414-2282.
Brooklyn based Spelt Right Foods, with roots in the State of Maine, has been crowned the Grand Prize winner in FreshDirect’s Next Big Food Thing contest, a crowd funding contest launched by FreshDirect in collaboration with RocketHub to “find the next food idea, product or innovation that could change the food world.”
As the Next Big Food Thing Grand Prize winner, Spelt Right will receive $10,000 and the chance to partner with FreshDirect.
Submitted by Beth George of New York, NY, founder of Spelt Right Foods, the project is focused on raising funds for continued studies on the growth of spelt, a highly nutritious ancient grain not commonly cultivated due to its tough hull. Through funds raised on the RocketHub crowd funding platform, Spelt Right plans to continue its collaboration with the University of Maine extension program for additional studies on the cultivation of spelt, particularly in regard to underutilized farmland in the northeast. These studies would be available to farms seeking a working knowledge of growing this alternative and viable crop. Spelt Right produces bagels, breads, pizza dough and snacks with spelt flour.
The expert panel of judges included: Geoff Bartakovics, Tasting Table CEO; Natasha Case, Coolhaus CEO; Sarah Copeland, Real Simple Food Director; John Craven, BevNet Founder; David McInerney, FreshDirect Co-Founder; and VirajPuri, Gotham Greens Co-Founder and CEO.
About the Contest and Judging
Beginning in October 2013, the “Next Big Food Thing” challenged entrepreneurs to submit innovative food-related ideas— from food products to kitchen gadgets, to farming advancements to food businesses— to be crowdfunded via Rockethub.com. In November, 15 finalists were announced and proceeded to the crowdfunding period of the contest where they raised money for their projects. The projects raised a collective $70,000+ from supporters. At the end of the crowdfunding period, all finalists’ entries were reexamined by a panel of judges based on the money raised through funding, funder engagement and the overall quality of their idea.
Kontos Foods, Inc. will be exhibiting its Flatbread and Fillo pastry products at the SIAL Canada International Food & Beverage Tradeshow at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal from April 2 through April 4. Kontos will be located at Booth #801 in the USA Pavilion.
Kontos Foods, which offers over 50 varieties of flatbreads, will be showcasing several products, including its Pocket-Less Pita®, the traditional pita of the Eastern Mediterranean, and NEW Greek Lifestyle Flatbread, which has twice the protein, half the carbohydrates and less calories and sugar than other flatbreads. Show visitors will also be able to check out Kontos’ Asian Nans, Pan Plano – infused with the spicy flavors of Mexico – Panini breads and cocktail flatbreads, as well as a variety of fillo products.
“SIAL Canada is the perfect showcase to demonstrate the depth and breadth of Kontos’ products,” said Steve Kontos, Vice President of Kontos Foods. “Many of the flatbreads we’ll be bringing to the show have French-language packaging specifically designed for the Quebec market.”
SIAL Canada is co-located with SET Canada, the National Food Equipment and Technology Tradeshow. The shows, which cater to North American food-industry professionals, host 14,000 professional visitors from 61 countries and 750 exhibitors from 45 countries. SIAL Canada runs Wednesday, April 2 and Thursday, April 3 from 10 am to 6 pm, and on Friday, April 4 from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information about SIAL Canada, visit www.congresmtl.com
Kontos sells its products to retailers and foodservice establishments across North America and several other countries. Find Kontos on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Kontosfoods and follow the company on Twitter @KontosFoods.
Paul S. Michaels, President of Mars, Incorporated since 2004, recently informed the Mars Board of Directors of his plan to retire on December 31, 2014. Grant F. Reid, current Global President of Mars Chocolate, has been named by the Mars Board of Directors to take over the office of the President on January 2, 2015.
“In his almost 11 years at the helm of Mars, Incorporated, Paul has overseen a period of outstanding business performance and tremendous achievement. He also built up the talent of the company while strengthening the visible presence of our Five Principles — Quality, Efficiency, Responsibility, Mutuality and Freedom – in the way we operate,” said Victoria B. Mars, Chairman of the Mars Board of Directors. “It’s because of his focus on nurturing leaders who are both talented and principled, that we have such a strong internal successor in the business. We are proud and excited that Grant, a 26-year veteran of the business, and a member of the Mars Leadership Team since 2007, will be our next President.”
As Global President of Mars Chocolate, one of Mars’ biggest business segments, Grant leads more than 17,000 associates. The Chocolate portfolio has some of the world’s best-loved consumer brands including M&M’S®, SNICKERS®, DOVE®, GALAXY®, and TWIX®. In the last five years, Grant has successfully led the Chocolate business to deliver consistent growth in mature and emerging markets, and built an excellent and diverse team of leaders. In addition, he has been a champion of industry efforts to collaborate on the issue of cocoa sustainability. In particular, he has grown the Mars’ Sustainable Cocoa Initiative, which puts ‘farmers first’ in its efforts to increase sustainable farming practices and crop productivity – in turn helping farmers improve their wages and their ability to give their families a chance for better opportunities for education and a more prosperous future.
Reid will step into a Co-Office of the President role effective July 2. He’ll then have the time to partner with Michaels on transition plans before taking on the role President of Mars formally in January 2015.
“I’m grateful to the Board of Directors for giving me this opportunity and proud to have been chosen as the next President of Mars, Incorporated. Mars has always encouraged and provided opportunity for growth and development of associates, and I am certainly living proof of that fact,” said Grant. “I believe in the Mars culture, I love the Mars brands and I know that we have the best associates in the world. We have a truly exciting future and I’m honored to lead the organization into that future.”
Grant’s diverse experience across the business gives him both historical perspective and a broad view of the way Mars operates. He has worked across multiple functions including sales, marketing, commercial, manufacturing and general management as well as several Mars business segments.
He has an Honors Degree in Management Economics, as well as a Certificate in Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Fresh Express Incorporated has issued a recall of a limited number of cases of 10-ounce Italian Salad with the already expired Use-by Date of March 26 and a Product Code of H071A11A due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall and no other Fresh Express products are being recalled.
The company is confirming with retailers that the expired product has already been removed from store shelves and inventories in accordance with its strict procedures for products that have reached their expiration date.
Only Fresh Express Italian Salad with the specific Product Code of H071A11A and March 26 Use-by Date is included in the recall. Consumers who have the recalled product should not eat it but rather discard it. Consumers with questions may call Fresh Express at (800) 242-5472 during the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. EDT.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause foodborne illness in a person who eats a food item contaminated with it. Symptoms of infection may include fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. The illness primarily impacts pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.
Although the product was already expired and no illnesses were reported, the company elected to issue a recall as a precaution when it learned a single sample in a random test had yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes. Fresh Express is coordinating closely with regulatory officials.
The recalled salad was distributed in limited quantities to predominantly Eastern and Mid-Atlantic states.
Fresh Express Italian Salad being recalled displays a Use-by Date of March 26, 2014 with a Product Code of H071A11A in the upper right-hand side of the package.