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Nurture Ranch Launches with Grass-fed Beef Offerings

Nurture Ranch, purveyors of traceable, grass-fed beef, launched at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show at McCormick Place in Chicago with product now available for restaurants, retailers and meal kit providers who serve better quality products.

Nurture Ranch nurtures higher quality grass-fed beef in the tall lush dells of East Texas with superior taste and nutritional benefits, that is Better In 12 Ways™  than traditional feedlot grain-fed cattle:

1. Traceable Origin, From Birth to Harvest: Nurture Ranch can quickly trace where its beef came from and how it was raised. Feedlot cattle often change hands many times before harvest, limiting traceability.

2. No Antibiotics: Nurture Ranch grass-fed beef is never given antibiotics. Feedlot cattle are typically given significant doses of antibiotics because of the conditions they are raised in.

3. No Hormones: Nurture Ranch never uses hormones of any kind. Research shows hormones often used to increase cattle productivity can be passed on to humans and change how the human body functions.

4. Lower Fat and Calories: Grass-fed beef is naturally lower in fat and calories than traditional beef, fulfilling USA trends to consume fewer calories per meal.

5. Richer in Vitamin A: Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of Vitamin A, supporting good vision, bone health, immunity, skin, hair, nails and more.

6. More Vitamin B1 and B2: Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is a co-enzyme that digests and metabolizes food for energy. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) maintains healthy blood cells and boosts energy.

7. Higher in Vitamin E: Vitamin E balances cholesterol; slows free radical cells and inflammation; improves skin, hair, hormonal balance, vision, physical endurance, strength and more.

8. Richer in Minerals: Calcium, magnesium and potassium support better cardiovascular health.

9. Greater CLA: CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) reduces inflammation, is used to treat cancer and in animal tests reduces tumors by 50 percent.

10. More Omega-3: Omega-3 reduces hypertension and heart attack risk.

11. Healthier Environment: Nurture Ranch raises free-range cattle naturally, in pastures without feedlots, grain or animal proteins of any kind, which has been proven to be better for animals, humans and the environment.

12. Independent Ranchers: Nurture Ranch works with local ranchers using their land and expertise to nurture its cattle in the traditions of yesteryear, which keeps better ranching practices alive for future generations.

Forager Secures Funding from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Maine

Forager™, a company focused on making locally sourced food widely available to all, announced that it has secured a new round of funding from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Maine.

“Our goal is to grow good jobs, environmentally-sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and across the country,” said Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Natural Resource Sectors, CEI. “We are thrilled to invest in Forager whose mission and focus on accelerating our local food system aligns so well with our goals.”

Forager’s new online and mobile procurement-to-payment platform radically simplifies the sourcing process for local food, saving time and significant costs, and enabling grocers, food co-ops, farmers and producers to offer more local products to consumers. Forager launched its platform after completing a successful regional pilot involving 100 farmers and 10 grocers, food co-ops and wholesalers from Maine. The company is rolling it out throughout New England and New York state, and additional grocers and farmers are now participating.

Kroger Announces Retirement of Paul Bowen, President of Jay C and Ruler

The Kroger Company has announced that Jay C and Ruler division President Paul Bowen is retiring after 46 years of dedicated service, effective June 21. His successor will be named at a later date.

Bowen began his career with Jay C in 1971 as a produce department manager before taking a military leave of absence to serve in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1976. He returned to Jay C in 1976 and advanced to hold a number of leadership positions. In 1988, he was promoted to director of training and development for the division. He was instrumental in leading Jay C’s merger with Kroger in 1999, spending two years as the transition project leader. In 2001, Bowen was named vice president of operations before being promoted to senior vice president in 2002. Bowen has held his current role since 2003, where he oversees 71 Jay C and Ruler stores operating in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.

“For more than four decades, Paul’s leadership, vision and passion has helped Jay C and Ruler create customer-first shopping environments that have shaped the way we do business across our business,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “I salute Paul for his years of service to our associates and customers as both a leader and veteran. The entire Kroger family wishes Paul and his family all the best in retirement.”

Bowen and his wife, Margaret, look forward to traveling to new places and spending time with their two grandchildren.

 

USDA Delays Organic Livestock Rule

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is delaying the effective date of the rule published on January 19, 2017, for an additional six months to November 14, 2017, to allow time for further consideration by USDA. The effective date for this rule was initially March 20, 2017, and was subsequently delayed to May 19, 2017, by a document published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2017.

The final rule amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.

The delay is opposed by the Organic Trade Association along with more than 350 organic livestock producers representing $1.95 billion in annual sales, the federal Advisory Committee on organic and accredited organic certifiers. The National Pork Producers Council has called for the rule’s repeal.

June Dairy Month Kicks Off with World Milk Day

More than 75 years since the annual celebration began, June Dairy Month continues to recognize dairy products and the farmers who produce them. The festivities will kick off with World Milk Day on June 1. Initiated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Milk Day marks the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet and the dairy industry’s global contributions to economic development and agriculture, including the one billion people who derive their livelihood from it, as well its commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment. Throughout the month, people, companies and communities will continue to recognize dairy’s positive impact on nutrition and the planet.

“June is a time when we can show our appreciation for the 7,400 dairy farm families in the Midwest,” says Midwest Dairy Association CEO, Lucas Lentsch. “Dairy farmers demonstrate the highest commitment to producing nutritious milk while protecting the land on which they live and work, as well as fund research that leads to dairy product innovation.”

Macfrut Discusses Agriculture as a Solution to Human Trafficking

At the Rimini Expo Centre, Macfrut opened exceptionally well. Discussions started with the presentation of the Green House project, implemented in Ghana by VIS (International Volunteer Service for Development), an NGO that collaborates with the Salesian Congregation in Italy involved in the “Stop Tratta” (Stop Trafficking) campaign. “The focus session was dedicated to the great ideas launched by the agricultural sector to create prospects for future development,” said Renzo Piraccini, President of Macfrut.

Nico Lotta, President of VIS, explained the whole operation involving training in eco-sustainable agriculture as a feasible alternative in order to discourage migrants from leaving on boats and human trafficking. The didactic greenhouse was built in Ghana to allow teachers and young people to be trained with an alternative technique to the agricultural practice applied in many African states, which has tremendous consequences for rainforests, so that sustainable development can be ensured.
“We appeal to young people, potential migrants or returning migrants because we want them to understand that there are opportunities in their countries, in particular involving land and agriculture. Working even just with a few people is crucial, and we want to make sure these youngsters have the opportunity to choose,” Lotta said. The President of Idromeccanica Lucchini also gave a speech during the conference, illustrating the technological potential of a sustainable greenhouse, such as the one used by the Green House project in Ghana.

The Italian Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, MP Sandro Gozi, congratulated VIS and highlighted the importance of a project such as “Green House.” In fact, it is not only a symbol of Italian excellence but also the right approach to address the migration issue in the countries of origin. “These are simple and ingenious ideas that can make a difference in cooperation and development.”

Forum on Asian and Middle Eastern Markets
India, China and the UAE: these are all growing markets that are strongly inclined to import quality fruit. This was the key theme of the Asia & Middle East Conference, organised by Eurofresh Distribution.

During the meeting, the trends, marketing opportunities, limitations and recommendations in trading with the Asian and Middle Eastern markets were outlined. These markets all show an ever-increasing demand for imported fruit and vegetables, where consumers see their purchasing power grow and product quality becomes increasingly important.

Ahmed Alì, head of procurement of the Danube Supermarkets chain, and James Varghese, Purchase Manager of Elite Agro LCC, pointed out the positive trend in the UAE fresh produce market, which demands high quality and an efficient service.
Hitin Suri, Managing Director of Suri Agrofresh, illustrated the opportunities of the Indian market, which has a rapidly growing GDP, a boom in health trends and an interest in new varieties. Simona Rubbi of the CSO (Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli) cooperative of Ferrara also intervened to highlight the need for European coordination on the export of fruit and vegetable produce to Asian countries. To conclude, Mike Li of CR Vanguard, George Liu of Fruta Cloud and Paul Sheh of Hema Supermarket gave an overview of China’s situation, where e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular also in the fresh produce sector.

Innovative Companies Awarded with Macfrut Innovation Award
A total of 36 innovations were awarded with the Macfrut Innovation Award (MIA) 2017 during a ceremony organized by Cesena Fiera in partnership for the third year in a row with L’Informatore Agrario, the weekly publication for professional farmers. Innovation, environmental and economic sustainability and improvement in product quality: these are the criteria used by a panel of experts to review the over 80 applications submitted by Italian and foreign companies for the eight award sections. Altogether nine gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze medals were awarded.

About Macfrut
Macfrut is organized by Cesena Fiera and held at the Rimini Expo Centre on May 10-12, 2017.

SaltWorks Inc. Warns Retailers of Influx of Lower Quality Himalayan Salt

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SaltWorks-Himalayan-Bulk-Bag-FamilySaltWorks® CEO Mark Zoske is warning retailers and wholesale buyers that an influx of lower cost, poorly processed, low-quality Himalayan pink salt has infiltrated the market, putting businesses and consumers at risk.

Prized for its beautiful gradient of color, trace mineral content and delicious flavor, Himalayan salt has exploded in popularity, especially as consumers seek all-natural salts that contains no artificial additives.

Responding to the increased demand, commodity importers have introduced poorly processed mineral salt that may contain undesirable and potentially harmful insoluble materials, such as dust, dirt, clay, stone, rocks or even plastic and metal fragments.

“Some larger retailers are pressuring suppliers to reduce costs. Using under-processed salt has become the only way to meet their price targets. This can have serious consequences,” said Zoske. “Ultimately, we’re concerned that this low-quality salt will trigger a recall. It will jeopardize consumers’ perceptions of this incredible, flavorful and versatile salt, because it contains stuff that isn’t salt, doesn’t taste as good, or work as well in their shakers and grinders.”

SaltWorks is a leading supplier of high-quality all-natural Himalayan pink salt. The company produces its own Ancient Ocean® and Artisan® Salt Company brands for retail and wholesale customers, and supplies bulk Himalayan salt to manufacturers, food processors and private label customers.

SaltWorks urges commercial buyers to ask their Himalayan salt suppliers about their quality benchmarks, processing facilities and exactly how the salt is processed.

It is important for buyers and consumers to conduct simple visual and taste tests, according to the company. Correctly processed high-quality Himalayan salt will range in color from light white to shades of pink and red. Every crystal should be translucent. Salt grains that are opaque red, white, gray and brown are inedible clay, stone or other materials.

The flavor should be salt-forward with a slight but distinct minerality. Gritty textures and a clay-like flavor indicate a lower-quality salt that includes impurities.

SaltWorks has engineered a chemical-free salt processing system with built-in redundancies to ensure that the salts it produces and sells are among the cleanest, safest and highest quality available.

This proprietary processing system includes sifters, aspirators, rare-earth magnets, metal detection and the company’s own highly advanced Optically Clean® color sorting technology.

SaltWorks-ancient-ocean-himalayan-pink-salt-mediumUnlike older technology commonly used in the salt industry, Optically Clean analyzes salt grains in free flow using the full color spectrum with advanced HD cameras. Each grain is compared to SaltWorks’ stringent quality specifications. Optically Clean identifies materials that blend in with the salt but are inedible, like rock and clay particles. These materials, as well as grains that do not meet SaltWorks’ strict standards, are removed with a burst of air.

“We process all of our salts in our state-of-the-art facility in the United States. We’ve implemented multiple steps and QA checks along the way to ensure we are supplying the cleanest, safest, food-grade all-natural salt available,” said Zoske. “We never cut corners on our supply chain, equipment, processes or packaging.”

Discover the SaltWorks’ Himalayan salt processing difference and explore its all-natural salt selection online at www.seasalt.com/wholesale/best-himalayan-salt-processing.

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Chobani Accepting Applications for Specialty Food Incubator Class

Chobani, LLC will launch a second incubator class following the success of its inaugural program. Applications are now being accepted through June 4, 2017.

Chobani’s founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, launched the Chobani Food Incubator in 2016 to support food entrepreneurs aiming to challenge the food industry, improve broken systems and bring better food to more people—principles through which Chobani was founded.

“People are rejecting the way Big Food is doing things,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO, Chobani. “It’s creating a special moment for food start-ups with big hearts and big ideas to challenge how things are done. We’re searching for entrepreneurs who are passionate about getting more natural, more accessible and more creative foods out there, and who are driven by a purpose and mission to make the world better.”

The class will run from September 2017 to December 2017, based out of a dedicated space designed for the Incubator at Chobani’s sales and marketing offices in New York, New York.

The Chobani Food Incubator’s inaugural class concluded its six-month program in March 2017 with six startup brand graduates: Banza®, Chops Snacks, Cissé Cocoa Co, Jar Goods®, Kettle & Fire, and MISFIT Juicery. During that period, the group registered a combined total revenue of $3 million in 2017 alone (YTD) and an increase of 60 percent in distribution, expanded their product portfolios, increased employee headcounts and established new relationships with national retailers.

Applicants will be asked to electronically submit information about their products along with a short video and biographical information by June 4, 2017. Chobani plans to notify accepted applicants in mid-July.

Applications and additional information is available at chobanifoodincubator.com

Now We’re Cooking in Albuquerque

By Micah Cheek

In any business, markets shift and tastes change. Navigating these ebbs and flows is what makes a business stand the test of time. Nancy Herring, Co-Owner of Now We’re Cooking in Albuquerque, New Mexico is in the process of shifting the kitchenware store’s stock and style of business to suit customers’ new needs.

The biggest change Herring has seen is a shift away from cooking classes. “Our cooking class response has really dropped off. I think they’ve decided to spend their money somewhere else,” says Herring. Recently, she has had more success with education groups and weight loss communities that will set aside time to come in and watch a suite of demonstrations. Working with outside organizations also takes some of the administrative work off Herring’s shoulders. “They handle all the advertising and signup,” she adds.

Another changing factor is purchasing habits. Large single-item investments have given way to smaller purchases. “You’ll hear people look at a big piece of cookware and say, ‘That’s too expensive,’ but then they’ll buy that same amount in smaller stuff. I think people have been exercising caution for a while,” says Herring. Now, a large part of Now We’re Cooking’s sales are smaller accessory items. “We have always maintained our integrity as a kitchen store, not a gift and kitchen store. We have some pretty things, ceramics and things, but we don’t go heavy into that,” Herring adds. Lots of entertaining kitchen accessories now are now on display at checkout, and some of Now We’re Cooking’s specific sections, like the baking area, have leaned more in that direction. “We sell a tremendous amount of cookie cutters.”

Because customers are feeling more cautious about higher cost options, Herring keeps cookware for regular use in the break room, and shows customers the wear and tear the pans sustain from regular use. “We’ll show them what their cookware looks like after it’s been used for a while. We’ve been using this for the last five years or whatever, and this is what it looks like,” says Herring. “It’s bigger sizes than I would use at home, but we have an example of every brand we sell. And I think people like to see what they’re thinking about.”

As Herring has been reshaping her business model, she has moved to a new space to suit the new needs of her store. “About two and a half years ago, we moved to this location,” says Herring. “Better layout, better light, it was definitely time for a move. The new store is much prettier than the old store was.” When the store updated its location, the space allowed her to make changes to her previous layout that made everything easier to navigate. “We have rows and rows of Metro shelving,” says Herring. “None of them match. I’ve got old Metro, new Metro, black and white. You don’t notice, you just see what’s on it.”

There are corners dedicated to knives, linens sections and a full gadget wall as well. The only part of the store that regularly changes is three-wheeled shelving units to be moved to make space for classes, and the first row of shelves, which are altered for seasonal items. “We don’t move everything around. I know you’re supposed to keep it fresh for people, but customers know where everything is. Christmas time, we move a lot of things around the front, and bring in a few more things.”

Herring is always on the lookout for what is next for the industry. From her perspective, focusing on color and adaptations of the classics are the way forward. “Everybody’s talking about what’s new. There’s new colors, new adaptations, but we haven’t seen a brand new product,” says Herring. “I remember when bread makers came out! In terms of a new category, we’re not seeing it. It’s back to basics and color. Hot pink mixers and bright Microplanes.”

Tapping Into the Homebrew Market

by Micah Cheek

Home brewing kits are becoming a popular gift for hobbyists, but marketing and selling the kits poses some unique challenges. Patrick Bridges, Vice President of sales and Marketing at Cooper’s DIY, notes that holiday sales for the Mr. Beer kit are reflecting strong interest in the hobby. “It was a tremendous response, we experienced better sell though this year than many past years. By really identifying with the craft beer movement, I think it really resonated with consumers,” says Bridges. “People do it because they can create new beers and share. Beer is made for special occasions, holidays and birthdays. Typically, the purchaser is the foodie, they’re interested in cooking and natural ingredients.”

Part of the appeal of these kits is premixed ingredient sets that not only allow home brewers to make classic favorites like IPAs and stouts, but replicate award-winning and hard to find brews as well. “Many craft beers, they can’t distribute outside of their state, with a commercial system that isn’t always able to bring beers to where you live,” says Bridges. “We took a couple gold medal winners and cloned their beers. It’s a collaboration. If you can’t get it, make it.”

Bringing home brewing to retail spaces has presented some unexpected insights. “We sell in liquor stores and they don’t do very well. People are there for instant gratification. Any kind of kit doesn’t do well at liquor stores,” says Bridges. “Our kits are usually sold in the kitchen or housewares department. They’re often in the top 10 selling products during the holidays.” But the brick and mortar space still presents some marketing issues. “It’s a long process. You can’t make the beer there, plus you can’t serve it. It has unique challenges in that regard,” says Bridges. “Where possible we have videos we can loop to show how easy it is. The way to get people interested is to taste the beer, but we’re unable to execute that at retail for obvious reasons.”

With expanding home brewing interests, options other than beer are getting attention. “Last year we introduced Hacked Root Beer. Things like that and some of these hard sodas are trending now. Those seem to be really driving the trends rather than ciders,” says Bridges. “The big trend now is barrel-aged beers. We add wood chips, so you don’t have to put it in a barrel.”

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