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H-E-B Markets to Stock 505 Southwestern Sauces

505 Southwestern has reached an agreement with H-E-B Markets to sell its line of All Natural 505 Southwestern sauces and salsas in 62 H-E-B Markets across the state of Texas. 505 Southwestern Sauces and Salsas are available in mild, medium and hot flavor profiles, are all natural, gluten free and made with 100 percent green and red chile peppers grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico, also known as the “Chile Capital of The World.” 505 Southwestern products come in five tantalizing varieties including Flame Roasted Green Chile, Green Chile Sauce, Enchilada & Tamale Sauce and an assortment of Salsas.

We have seen an overwhelming positive response from both retailers and consumers to the quality and superior taste of our sauces and salsas. We are extremely excited that Texans will now have the opportunity to experience our 505 Southwestern sauces and salsas for themselves,” said Ray Gadd, Executive Vice President of 505 Southwestern.

Rapidly growing in popularity nationwide, 505 Southwestern sauces and salsas are setting the standard in the fast growing Hispanic-influenced sauce category. 505 Southwestern uses only Hatch Valley pungent green chile peppers that deliver a smooth, simmering heat and a kaleidoscope of chile flavors based upon legendary recipes of generations past from the Hatch Valley in southwestern New Mexico.

505 Southwestern sauces and salsas are available in mild, medium and hot tantalizing flavor profiles and packed in glass jars. 

Finalists for 2014 sofi Awards Announced

Fruit gels from Hawaii, Sriracha popcorn from Washington state and beet yogurt from New York all made the finals in the Specialty Food Association’s 2014 sofi™ Awards contest.

A sofi is considered the highest honor in the $88 billion specialty food industry. A national panel of specialty food professionals tasted and evaluated 2,025 specialty foods and beverages across 30 categories to come up with their list of 109 finalists.

See the complete list.

Winners will be announced at a red-carpet ceremony June 30, 2014, at the Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. The event will be hosted by Dominique Ansel, the noted pastry chef.

“Creativity, innovation, and excellence were in evidence across all awards categories,” says Association President Ann Daw. “The finalists reflect the best of the craft, care and joy our members bring to the specialty food they create.”

The awards are open to members of the Specialty Food Association, a not-for-profit trade association for food artisans, importers and entrepreneurs. “sofi” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.

Judges spent five days selecting finalists. They included top buyers from Fresh Direct, Whole Foods Market, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Mollie Stone’s Market, DeLaurenti’s Specialty Food & Wine, Kroger, Bristol Farms, Sickles Market, and Artisanal Premium Cheese. The panel also included a food historian, executive chefs from Loi restaurant and Grand Central Oyster Bar, and journalists from Food & Wine, The Wall Street Journal, Edible Manhattan and Cooking Stoned.

Sriracha Sauce Plant Declared Public Nuisance

The Associated Press is reporting that the city of Irwindale, Calif. has declared the Huy Fong Foods, Inc. plant that makes its Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is a public nuisance. The action gives Huy Fong 90 days to abate the odors that have prompted complaints from nearby residents and gives city officials the right to enter the plant and make changes if the odors persist past that date, according to the Associated Press. Read the entire story here in the Huffington Post.

Juiceology Debuts Green Essentials and Dresses the Line in New Packaging

Aligned with nature’s wisdom, Juiceology takes the science of juicing to a whole new dimension with its mind-blowing juice superblends. Unlike anything out there, it is the first and only superblend of premium juices and whole grain extracts that delivers an unparalleled freshly juiced experience in its purest form.

Be inspired to live well! Its new Green Essentials, a luscious blend of Green Apple, Cucumber, Kiwi, Pear, Banana, Spirulina, Blue Green Algae, Spinach, Wheatgrass and Oat Grass with Juiceology’s whole grain extracts, is unlike any green juice on the market.

Juiceology is passionate about nature’s most precious fruits, vegetables, and grains. It provides daily wellness by harnessing the pure, vital health benefits of all of these raw ingredients, delivering them together, for the first time, in their least processed and most beneficial form.

Unlike heavy meals, Juiceology is perfect for breakfast, after long day at work, before a workout, or whenever the body needs to be nourished. Be uplifted by refreshing superblends that nourish and restore the entire body. Feel better all day long with convenient, ready-to-go fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that provide a totum of nutrients and fiber. Uniquely healthy, Juiceology has no added sugar, unlike other “fresh” juices on the market, and is wheat gluten-free.

JuiceologyCreated by family-owned and Los Angeles based Daklen Inc., Juiceology gets a powerful dose of micronutrient extracts, which are designed to be easily assimilated by the digestive system. Made from unique blends of only the freshest high-quality oats and barley that are derived in-house from a special founders and family recipe, the masterfully crafted grain extracts enhance Juiceology’s nutritional value without boosting calories or affecting the fruit or vegetable’s pure, delicious flavor.

Fiber-up and return to health! Whole grain extracts deliver 32 percent DV of fiber per bottle along with essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, magnesium, selenium, thiamin, riboflavin, and folate. Nutrients are easily absorbed in liquid form. Bottled in Los Angeles and sustainably crafted with local West Coast ingredients, Juiceology is naturally blended in five brilliant flavors: Plum/Grape/Blackberry, Blueberry Acai, Pome Blue Cran, Peach Mango, and the new Green Essentials.

Juiceology is now available at Bristol Farms, Ralph’s, Stater Bros., Raley’s, CVS Los Angeles, Duane Reade, D’Agostino, King Kullen, Dave’s, Roche Market, Weis Market, Food Town, and other fine retailers. Experience the Juiceology difference at www.purejuiceology.com.

Frog’s Breath IPA Hops onto Shelves and Taps in April

Frog’s Breath IPA from Coronado Brewing Company has a bright citrus flavor derived from spices, kaffir lime leaf, lemon and orange zest. This unfiltered IPA was adapted from a home-brew recipe developed by two local Coronado homebrewers who are also retired Navy frogmen. Once the beer went on draught at the Coronado pub and restaurant, it was an immediate hit.

frogs.breathFrog’s Breath IPA specs:
Style: India Pale Ale (unfiltered)
ABV: 6.5%
Bitterness: 50 IBU
Package: 22 ounce bottles, draught 1/6 bbl and 1/2 bbl
Release: April 2014 launch through August 2014
Malts: 2-row, C-15, Carahell
Hops: Centennial, Columbus, Wakatu, Sorachi Ace
Yeast: Cal Ale

Where to find it:
Frog’s Breath IPA will be sold throughout Canada and 15 states: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington.

American Cheese Society Calls for Entries in 2014 Competition

The American Cheese Society (ACS) today announces its Call for Entries for the 2014 Judging & Competition. This annual judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products takes place July 27 and 28, 2014, at the Sacramento Convention Center in Sacramento, Calif., immediately prior to the 31st Annual ACS Conference, Celebrating the American Cheese Plate, which will be held from July 29 to August 1 in Sacramento.

The largest competition of its kind, the ACS Judging & Competition saw a record 1,794 entries in 2013, submitted by 257 cheesemakers. As the ACS Judging & Competition returns to California for the first time in more than ten years, participation in 2014 is expected to be stronger than ever. The ACS Judging & Competition Committee has enlisted 38 renowned judges from around the world to evaluate products across 106 different categories. The Judging & Competition recognizes cheeses of the highest quality for their aesthetic and technical merits. Awards for first, second and third places are given to the cheeses which receive the highest scores in their category, based on a minimum point threshold. After two intense days of judging, first-place winners in each category are evaluated together, and a “Best of Show” is chosen. Winners will be revealed at the annual ACS Awards Ceremony on Thursday, July 31 in Sacramento.

The 2014 Call for Entries is open through Friday, May 16. The entry fee for each product is $60 through May 9. From May 10 to May 16, the entry fee will increase to $85. ACS is accepting entries via its dedicated online entry site, www.cheesejudging.com. Producers can log into the site to enter new products, or to view previous year’s entries and make edits or additions for 2014.

Registration for the ACS Annual Conference opens May 5, 2014. Individuals who purchase a full conference registration or a Thursday Day Pass can attend the ACS Awards Ceremony on July 31. Individual tickets to the Awards Ceremony may also be purchased by ACS members beginning on May 5.

Members of the public are encouraged to participate in the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition by volunteering (all volunteers receive one complimentary ticket to the Festival of Cheese), purchasing tickets to the Festival of Cheese, and attending the annual Cheese Sale. The Cheese Sale, on August 2, offers the opportunity to purchase artisan cheeses at incredible prices, with all proceeds benefiting the nonprofit American Cheese Education Foundation. Those interested in volunteering must be 18 years of age or older, and are encouraged to sign up for a variety of shifts and events at http://www.cheesesociety.org/conference/volunteer/.

For more information about the 2014 ACS Conference & Competition, visit the ACS website.

Columbus Foods and Top Chef Fan Favorite Fabio Viviani Hit the Road to “Meat Up” With Fans Across the Country

Two Italian favorites are teaming up as Top Chef fan-favorite Fabio Viviani joins Columbus Foods for its “Meat Up” food truck tour, inviting Americans to explore the simple Italian goodness of premium salumi and deli meats.  They’re hitting the road this April and May, spending a week each in Scottsdale, Salt Lake, Boston, New York Metro and New Orleans, as part of the company’s long-standing tradition of local market retail promotions.

With thriving restaurants in Los Angeles and Chicago, Fabio is a shining star in the culinary world following a successful stint on season five of Bravo’s hit television show Top Chef and the New York Times bestselling cookbook ‘Fabio’s American Kitchen’. “I grew up making salumi with my grandmother in her kitchen in Florence, Italy,” he recalls. “I love the fact that Columbus was founded by Italian immigrants and shares my dedication to the traditional process and simple Italian goodness found in the salumeria, or Italian delicatessen. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with a brand that is equally inspired by the Old World craft that has informed my life and career.”

Beginning April 9, Columbus and Fabio will woo the crowds at four top-tier events including the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, Boston’s MayFair, Mother’ s Day Weekend at the New York Botanical Garden and the NOLA Food & Wine Experience, showcasing Columbus’  broad variety of salumi and deli meat offerings. While in town, Columbus will also share samples from its branded food truck at local grocery retailers – the full schedule and details can be found at www.ColumbusMeatUp.com.

“Fabio bridges traditional Italian heritage with today’s contemporary lifestyle. His approach to recipe creation – dishes that are simple to prepare and full of flavor – is a perfect complement to Columbus. We’re looking forward to him engaging consumers and providing ideas for meals they can create at home.” said Michael Cruz, director of marketing at Columbus Foods.

Win a chance to cook with Fabio

From April 9 – May 30, consumers can stop by the “Meat Up” tour or visit www.ColumbusMeatUp.com to enter to win a trip to Los Angeles, two nights lodging and a cooking session with Fabio at his Moorpark, Calif. restaurant, Café Firenze.

 

Chocolat Frey AG Acquires SweetWorks, Inc.

Chocolat Frey has acquired a majority of the stock of SweetWorks, Inc. retroactively as of January 1, 2014. Headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., SweetWorks operates a production plant in Buffalo with approximately 200 employees, and also owns a subsidiary, Oak Leaf Confections Co., in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that employs around 250 workers. SweetWorks will continue to operate as an independent group of companies and their production facilities and staff will remain in place. Current owner and CEO Philip Terranova will continue as President of SweetWorks. The purchase price is undisclosed.

SweetWorks and Chocolat Frey pursue comparable business models with the production of high quality chocolate and chewing gum. The assortment structures of the two companies complement each other strategically. Mutual synergies can be found along the entire value chain.

All of the North American market activities of Chocolat Frey and SweetWorks will be combined under a single management. With the acquisition, Chocolat Frey is strengthening its market presence in the United States and Canada.

Six Percent of Americans Eat the Easter Bunny’s Feet First

 The Easter bunny is on his way, and he’s got a sweet tooth. Nearly 83 percent of parents plan to include candy and chocolate in their Easter baskets this year, according to a nationwide survey by the National Confectioners Association (NCA). Additional popular items in the basket include non-edibles, such as crayons, stuffed animals and books (73 percent).

Total U.S. confectionery sales this Easter season are projected to be $2.26 billion – up four percent from 2013 – due to three extra weeks of merchandising. About 81 percent of survey respondents said they will share or gift candy during America’s favorite springtime holiday.

“The survey indicates that kids and adults alike continue to celebrate the Easter holiday by enjoying one of life’s great treats: candy. And with 87 percent of parents planning to buy or create Easter baskets for their children, the long-standing tradition lives on,” said NCA Executive Vice President Alison Bodor.

“Candy has a special place in American culture,” continued Bodor. “It’s what many people enjoy at holidays and other celebrations. And studies show that consumers know how to ‘treat right.’ Research suggests that candy comprises only 2.2 percent of the average diet.”

Holiday Purchasing Trends

NCA’s survey determined new insights about Americans’ buying preferences and habits:

  • The power of the in-store experience during holidays. More than half of adult consumers (51 percent) are influenced by holiday displays to purchase seasonal candy.
  • Playing the name game. Brand names influence 71 percent of Americans’ candy purchases.
  • Keeping it classic. Seventy-two percent of those surveyed say they are influenced by the classics or popular choices when buying seasonal candy.
  • Spring brings kindness. Seventy-eight percent of Americans often buy Easter candy to share with friends, family or colleagues.

Easter Traditions

The tradition of the Easter bunny began with the Easter Hare in Germany, who would leave brightly colored eggs for children on Easter morning. In the 18th century, the tradition of the Easter Hare came to the United States and eventually evolved into the Easter bunny we know today. Now, chocolate bunnies are the most popular items in Easter baskets, and are paired with other favorites, like jelly beans and marshmallow treats. How eggs-cellent!

Survey results related to the chocolate Easter bunny include:

  • Solid choice.  About 66 percent of Americans prefer solid chocolate bunnies over hollow ones.
  • All ears. What’s that you said? Eighty-nine percent of respondents believe the proper way to eat a chocolate Easter bunny is ears first. Roughly six percent go for the feet, and five percent begin with the tail.
  • The age-old question. Which came first – Easter bunny or the Easter egg? A slight majority of survey respondents (52 percent) say the Easter bunny came before the Easter egg. Talk about splitting hares!

Jelly beans remain a seasonal classic – more than 16 billion of them are made for Easter each year in the United States. Cherry is the most popular jelly bean flavor among survey respondents (24 percent). Strawberry is another top favorite (19 percent), while licorice, lemon and grape collectively are enjoyed most by 35 percent of Americans. Surprisingly, about 22 percent of those surveyed prefer an “other” flavor. Perhaps the Easter bunny voted for carrot!

Visit www.CandyUSA.com/Easter for more sweet information on candy, Easter and celebration ideas.

You may also keep up with NCA on Twitter (@CandyUSA) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/NationalConfectionersAssociation).

Growing Craft Soda Market Giving Adults a Nostalgic New Way to Treat Themselves this Summer

By Lucas Witman

Few adults are without fond childhood memories of summertime soda pops and icy cold root beer floats. Even all grown up, it is difficult to imagine enjoying a plate of barbecue without a frosty soft drink on the side. And when hosting a group of adults, it is likely that soda is finding its way into some of your favorite summertime cocktails. Yet, despite the ubiquity of bubbly beverages, soft drinks are undoubtedly a guilty pleasure—something to be splurged on and perhaps regretted later. Craft soda companies are attempting to change this, however, introducing gourmet sparkling beverages to U.S. consumers that offer tastier, more wholesome alternatives to the grocery store 12-pack staples.

When it comes to today’s soda marketplace, more and more companies are reaching out to adult consumers with products and flavors specifically designed to appeal to their unique grown-up palates. “I think palates are changing, and people want better solutions,” said Carleton Johnson, founder of Joia All Natural Soda. “I think all of us have been trained now by Starbucks and these premium coffee houses to expect something better with more taste and more complexity.”

“We’re not diet. We’re not positioned as ‘zero’ in any way,” said Steve Hersh, President of GuS Grown-Up Soda. “We’re really more about taste. The less sweet taste is designed to appeal to a grown-up who’s outgrown Nehi or Hawaiian Punch.”

There are a number of ways that companies like Joia and GuS are designing sodas that appeal especially to adults. Perhaps the most significant change that gourmet soda companies are introducing to their products to make them more attractive to this demographic is making them slightly less sweet. GuS’ recipes involve 40 percent less sugar and calories than what goes into a traditional soda, and Joia sodas contain as little as 15 grams of sugar per serving, compared to 40 or more in mainstream sodas.

In addition to creating slightly drier beverages, gourmet soda companies are also endeavoring to make their products with more natural ingredients. “High-fructose corn syrup, high sugar and full-calorie beverages and even diet sodas are on the downslide, but people still like bubbles, especially during dining occasions,” said Hersh. “I don’t think people are saying that carbonation is bad. It’s just the ingredients in mainstream sodas that are the no-no.” For this reason, GuS chooses to eschew artificial ingredients in its products, flavoring its sodas with real juice, natural extracts and pure cane sugar.

One craft soda company that has broken new ground in producing a beverage made entirely from the natural ingredients so popular among 21st century American consumers is Spindrift. All Spindrift sodas and seltzers are made with fresh, raw, unpasteurized juice combined with sparkling water and cane sugar. “There’s a lot of natural sodas out there, but what we learned is that nobody has done anything with fresh juice,” said Shelly Haygood, Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Spindrift. “By using a fresh juice, the taste is just so much brighter, and just the idea of fresh comes through. Really, everyone who tries it is excited, because it’s something different.”

By focusing on making a product with juice, squeezed from freshly harvested, regionally grown produce, Spindrift is able to capitalize on another consumer trend, popular among modern consumers: the push for seasonality. Perhaps a first in the industry, Spindrift recently debuted a seasonal pomegranate flavor, produced from fruit harvested on a small California farm. The soda was available on the West Coast only for a short time while the pomegranates were in season.

Joia All Natural Soda has found its own unique way to appeal to modern bubbly beverage enthusiasts, creating a product line that creatively combines fruit, herb and spice flavors in ways not erstwhile seen in the soda aisle. “Our point of difference is we are a fruit, herb, spice company, so it’s grapefruit-chamomile-cardamom, blackberry-pomegranate-ginger, lime-hibiscus-clove,” said Johnson. “Because of the fruit and herb/spice combinations, they’re less sweet. It’s all natural, so they’ve just got a nice, much fresher, cleaner taste. They’re a little more complex. We talk about layers of fresh flavor.”

GuS Grown-Up Soda has taken a different approach in crafting its products, opting to appeal to adults’ nostalgic affection for classic American flavors like cola, root beer and ginger ale. “It’s enough of a broad range that we’re not trying to create really esoteric flavors that are maybe not as approachable and that you’d need to educate someone about,” said Hersh. “One doesn’t need to be educated about cola, root beer, ginger ale or lemon soda. For the most part, ours is an adult-oriented, natural twist on everyday soda flavors.”

One thing that unites Joia, GuS and Spindrift is the companies’ collective appreciation for cocktails. Each company offers a number of suggestions for how best to use its products in mixing up the perfect drink. GuS, for example, recommends combining its Meyer lemon soda with rum and mint to prepare its spin on the classic mojito: the GuS-ito. One can also mix GuS ginger ale with sake and lime to make a NaGuSake. Spindrift advocates mixing its low-calorie seltzers with vodka to create the perfect skinny cocktail. And Joia offers a diverse array of products that mix perfectly with everything from vodka to gin to rum to tequila.

With craft sodas growing increasingly popular among today’s consumers, more and more restaurants are now offering their clientele the option of these lower calorie, all-natural artisan sparkling drinks. According to Hersh, his company’s products are particularly good for pairing with food, as they are not particularly heavy on sugar and thus do not overwhelm the palate. Today, GuS sodas are available in restaurants around the country, including a number of famed American eateries such as The French Laundry, Per Se and Bouchon Bakery.

Haygood similarly argues that her company’s products are a perfect addition to any restaurant menu. For her, the care that goes into crafting Spindrift products more accurately reflects the care that restaurants put into their menus. “Where we’re doing really well, and where our focus has been, is fast casual restaurants or where people eat lunch,” she said. “We go in and we see that there is incredible care taken with ingredients for salads, sandwiches, beautiful breads. And then at the end there’s a beverage that doesn’t really match. I go in and I say we make our beverages like you make your food, and there’s this instant connection.”

For gourmet soda companies, making specialty sparkling beverages is truly a craft in the most essential definition of the word. Just as innovative food companies have transformed the landscapes of beer, ice cream and chocolate, taking the products to a truly gourmet level, craft soda companies are doing the same with soda. “With craft beers and other craft types of things, people are looking for more complex flavors,” said Johnson. “You see herbs and spices going on in ice creams and crackers and all sorts of stuff. I think people’s palates are just becoming more and more complex.”