Last year, when media reports emerged that many Greek yogurts on the U.S. market contain additives that are not customarily introduced to the authentic product, many consumers ran to their refrigerators and combed through the ingredients listings on the labels of their favorite brands. Traditionally, Greek yogurt is produced by straining yogurt in cheesecloth to remove the whey, resulting in a thicker, more protein-rich product. Some companies, however, have begun adding thickeners like corn and tapioca starch to achieve this desired consistency. The result is often indistinguishable from the authentic product. However, the problem for many is that true Greek yogurt and the technologically enhanced version are often indistinguishable on store shelves. Both types of products can be labeled “Greek yogurt,” with no requirement that they identify on the front label when additives have been introduced.
The Greek yogurt controversy is just one example of a widening concern among U.S. consumers about how their products are being labeled. Unlike in some European countries where governing bodies more clearly define how foods must be labeled, U.S. companies have considerably more leeway in how they define themselves for consumers. As a result, many companies that produce Greek yogurt, but also olive oil, cheese, wine, meat, coffee and more have been criticized for misleading consumers into purchasing something that is somehow different from what they might expect.
When it comes to food labeling, a particular product may represent much more than just a potential profit to those who produce it. Many products are in fact reflections of cultural identity. Especially for foods and beverages that are tied to a specific region or nation, these items are often symbols of that place, highly valued and protected by those who live there. Thus, when a company reinvents the authentic components and methods behind products like Champagne, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Greek yogurt, the result can be damaging to those who are intrinsically tied to the real deal.
Nobody understands this threat more than the Europeans. For this reason, European governments have created a number of different food appellation systems that serve to carefully define different products and lay out how they must be labeled. In France, wines, cheeses, butters and agricultural products labeled AOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) must adhere to standards that have been clearly defined by the government. In Italy, produce, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cured meats and cheeses labeled DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) are similarly protected. Italy offers a second appellation system for wines, labeling them DOCG (Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed), DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) and IGT (Typical Geographic Indication). The European Union offers its own appellation for food and wine as well, designating certain products that meet its standards for authenticity as AOP (Appellation of Protected Origin). A number of other European countries have their own government-regulated appellation systems in place as well.
The benefits of appellation systems
Appellation systems offer the producers of certain foods, wines and agricultural products a number of advantages in the markets in which they are enforced. Perhaps most importantly, when governmental agencies monitor these products and enforce a certain standard, it protects the overall quality of the item. A consumer who purchases a DOP Balsamico di Modena, for example, can be assured that the vinegar inside the bottle is of a certain quality.
More than simply conferring quality on a product, however, these appellation systems also protect the economic and cultural traditions behind it. For example, although it may be easier and cheaper to change the recipe or production process behind Parmigiano-Reggiano, if a company wants to label the product as AOP, it must be made in the traditional manner.
In addition, for a region or country that relies heavily on a product either as a source of revenue or as a draw for tourism, these appellations ensure that another region or country can not lay claim to that same product. The French Champagne region, for example, has a significant economic interest in ensuring that it is the only place where its eponymous sparking wine can be produced.
One company that is particularly supportive of the EU-granted AOP appellation is Le Gruyère AOP, maker of authentic Gruyère cheese from Switzerland. Gruyère cheese has its origins in the Middle Ages. The cheese has been produced in its current state with its current recipe since 1115 A.D. Le Gruyère AOP is extremely proud of its long history and cheers the AOP appellation for preserving tradition.
“An AOP is really linked to your territory (because your base [of your product] is the origin and the landscape) and is actually a protection for your history,” said Philippe Bardet, Director of Interprofession du Gruyère AOP. “Sometimes we really think we are like in the old times, on a horse fighting to save our lives. Like the guardians of the temple, we fight to protect [our product] from copies and innovations.”
“At Le Gruyère AOP, we are known to be one of the most strict in Switzerland, but we know that the final quality of your product is what makes the consumer buy your product,” Bardet continued.
According to Bardet, his association has suffered losses, both financially and in terms of product reputation, when lesser companies in Europe, Russia, South Africa and elsewhere have made and marketed inferior cheeses under the name “Gruyère,” The AOP designation helps Le Gruyère protect its name and its product. Bardet said there has now been about a month of trademark protection for the cheese in the United States, and that the team at Le Gruyère is intent on legal action to protect the usurpation of the name.
“There is a big loss for our product, our producers and, in fact, at the end, the consumers, when you have a cheese sold under the Gruyère name that has no taste and no character,” Bardet said.
Outside Europe, government-regulated appellation systems are less common, and this has been a problem for many specialty food companies whose authentic products are in competition with lesser quality imitators. For example, authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is a highly prized version of the popular beverage, and that popularity has given birth to a number of inferior quality coffee blends falsely usurping this title.
“Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee has a long and famous tradition of being the best coffee in the world because of its quality,” said Jamaican Senator Norman Grant, Managing Director and CEO of Mavis Bank Coffee Factory Limited, Jamaica’s largest Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee processing facility. “Grown at the highest elevation in Jamaica, in the Blue Mountain range in the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Andrew and Portland, the product is clean in the cup…The traditional characteristic of the Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee is intense in its aroma with a medium body—mellow, floral—and chocolatey taste.”
Senator Grant argues that too often, customers purchasing a product labeled Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee may not be getting the real thing. “There are some companies that try to market Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee all over the world but without meeting the prescribed quality standard,” he said.
However, authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee producers are working hard to remedy this situation. “The Coffee Industry Board of Jamaica has implemented a Trademark User License agreement where companies trading should sign a trademark user agreement,” Grant said. “Where this is not done, companies that breach this can be penalized or be sued.”
The government of Jamaica has gotten involved as well, taking the first steps to protect the name through a European-style appellation system. The Jamaican government, working with the Coffee Industry Board is working to enforce geographic standards, designating the official boundaries within which products labeled Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee can be cultivated. Although this is a work in progress, Senator Grant hopes that, over time, it will help to protect the product.
Despite the clear benefits that food and drink producers, consumers and entire regions garner from government-regulated appellation systems, critics argue that there are good reasons to eschew such systems.
First, in clearly defining what a product is, what must go into it and how it must be produced, the product is essentially standardized. As a result, producers who may want to approach the item in an innovative way may be stymied from doing so. If Salame Piacentino, for example, must be made with a specific seasoning blend, a company that wants to label its product as authentic Salame Piacentino will be prohibited from changing that recipe.
Another problem some have with these appellation systems is that they often favor larger more established companies, negatively impacting smaller independent producers. While it may be relatively easy for a major cheese company to follow the government’s strict standards and achieve EU certification for all of its products, a small Emmenthal producer may not be able to afford to follow these standards. In addition, she may not have the resources at her disposal to get required approval from the EU.
Finally, some connoisseurs of food and drink argue that these labels too often confer quality on products that have not earned it on the basis of their culinary merit alone. In short, simply because a cheese or sausage or olive oil or mushroom has earned the right to be labeled AOP or AOC or DOP does not mean that it is necessarily a “fine food.” Many simple agrarian staples, for example, long eaten as a means of subsistence, have developed unwarranted reputations as gastronomic delicacies simply by virtue of their appellation.
Responding to the criticism that the AOP appellation pushes smaller producers out of the production process, Bardet argues that this system is extremely welcoming and helpful to independent producers of Gruyère cheese. “We don’t think it is undemocratic,” he said. “The Gruyère AOP now represents 6,000 independents and is still accepting new ones. If anyone wants to come in, he can as long as he respect the rules.”
Senator Grant similarly argues that efforts by the Jamaican government to regulate Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee will not have a deleterious effect on small producers in the region, but rather would equally protect all producers of the beverage, regardless of size. “This, in my view, would not affect Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee business and small companies,” he said. “The main focus would be on the producers in the country of origin and…authenticating those companies who handle the brand.”
Regarding the criticism that appellation systems inhibit innovation, Bardet concedes that this is a necessary aspect of protecting the history behind his association’s product. “With an AOP, you are protected but also limited—no innovation is allowed,” he said. “We are the guardian of a history, a tradition.”
However, Bardet still argues that it is unfair to state that the AOP appellation in any way standardizes Gruyère. “In our opinion, this argument is not true,” he said. “If our product would be standardized it would be made in one big factory…We protect the producers…and want them to stay independent , with their know-how. This is the key.”
To follow in the footsteps of Europe?
From many producers of fine food and drink, both in the United States and around the world, a common lament is heard that they do not receive enough protection for their product when sold in this country. Until recently, this was the case for Le Gruyère, who just this year finally received trademark protection from the U.S. government. Many other companies, however, have not been as successful in protecting their unique products’ names and identities in the U.S. market, making it difficult to distinguish their authentic offerings from lesser imitators.
Still, in many ways, the U.S. specialty foods market potentially offers producers of gourmet products more unrestricted opportunities to craft truly one-of-a-kind products, outside the oversight of a governing body.
In addition, eschewing the bureaucracy associated with a government-regulated appellation system helps open the market up to more producers. Thus, the benefits of the European appellations must be weighted against the benefits of the freer, more open U.S. specialty food marketplace.
By Jazmine Woodberry
Gourmet companies are broadening the retail locations at which their products are sold, moving from specialty retailer shelves to the shelves of convenience and drug stores. And consumers, retailers and specialty food purveyors themselves are moving fast to adapt to this changing gourmet marketplace.
Nearly one in four people today say they shop in convenience stores more or as frequently as they do grocery stores. Meanwhile, drug stores also boast a $230 billion revenue profile, bolstered by food and drink sales in-store. This is partly driven by the consumer push for more convenient shopping options. Shoppers may still flock to grocery stories when they are looking to discover new items. However, when looking to retrieve everyday staples, the convenience and drug store channels offer some distinct advantages.
Further broadening the appeal of convenience and drug stores to consumers shopping for everyday staples is the growing selection of private label products offered within this channel. “The convenience stores are a contingent. The drug stores are a contingent. All of them represent different aspects of the same solution,” said Private Label Association President Brian Sharoff.
According to research group IRI, 80 percent of shoppers see private label brands as equivalent to or better than the goliath brands on the shelves. This is true when it comes to both the contents on the inside and the way they are packaged on the outside. Thus, by offering more private label goods, convenience and drug stores are able to gain a greater share of those shoppers not committed to name brand labels.
According to Sharoff, the key to being a successful retailer is to set yourself apart from the competition with your own private label offerings. “How can I maximize profits if I’m a retailer? The answer is to have your own brands,” Sharoff said. “[This is] the thing that binds them all together and the product [that] will eventually be sold under that retailer’s own brand name. Whether that’s an upscale product that will be bought [at] Trader Joes or a downscale product that will be bought [at] 7-Eleven, it’s all about getting your own brand out there.”
It is not just the growth in private label options that is driving more and more consumers to convenience and drug stores today, however. As these stores offer an increasingly high end food and beverage selection, they are able to compete with grocery stores even when it comes to things like fresh and prepared foods.
Walgreens has been successfully running UpMarkets since January 2012, combining the usual drug store experience with higher end food options. Walgreens UpMarkets feature the chain’s private label brands Delish and Nice!, as well as freshly prepared in-house items ranging from pre-made Italian dinners to sushi options, green juices and smoothies.
According to Joe Magnacca, President of Daily Living Products and Solutions for Walgreens, these options are making the companies’ stores “the first choice for health and daily living throughout neighborhoods nationwide.” Magnacca added, “Our fresh food offerings provide customers with easier access to a greater selection of fresh foods and beverages.”
7-Eleven is another company working hard to carve itself a place in the gourmet and private label marketplace, offering an increasingly high end selection of healthy snacks. “Better-for-you is one of the fastest-growing segments of the snacking category,” said Rebecca Frechette, Vice President of Merchandising for 7-Eleven. “People are snacking throughout the day, and they’re looking for ways to improve what they eat without sacrificing taste.”
7-Eleven’s premium snack section features both the company’s own private label snacks such as trail mixes and veggie chips priced from $2.49 to $3.99, as well as high-quality, name-brand snacks more commonly found in gourmet and organic grocery stores, selling from $1.49 to $4.99.
One gourmet snack brand consumers are likely to find on the shelves of their local 7-Eleven is Sahale Snacks, maker snack and nut mixes, including Honey Almond, Pomegranate Pistachio, Maple Pecan and Cashew with Vanilla. Sahale Snacks’ Vice President of Marketing Erika Cottrell said that carving out a place in several different arenas helps the brand stay constant in both the marketplace and the minds and hands of consumers. The partnership with 7-Eleven was perfect timing, said Cottrell.
“This trend, of consumers seeking out good-for-you options and looking for them at quick-purchase locations, continues to grow and shows no sign of slowing down. It definitely helps Sahale Snacks as a brand to be available at the locations our customers visit most frequently,” Cottrell said. “People are going to convenience and drug stores more and more to make many of their home and pantry-filling snack purchases. It’s important for our brand and to our customers that they can find Sahale Snacks where those decisions are being made. When people want to snack, why shouldn’t they have great tasting, better-for-you options no matter where they shop?”
The team at Sahale sees great growth potential in convenience and drug stores. The company has not limited itself to marketing its products at 7-Eleven convenience stores alone. Sahale Snacks are now sold at QuickCheck, Wawa, Sunoco, Maverik, Plaid Pantry, Tedeschi, Hess and Royal Farms stores as well.
By Lucas Witman
A recent survey found that consumer confidence in the safety of foods and beverages that are sold in the United States is currently at its lowest point in five years. Just one in six of those surveyed said that they felt a “great deal” of confidence in the foods they purchase. In contrast, in a similar survey conducted in 2008, four in six expressed a “great deal” of confidence.
There are a number of reasons that consumers today are feeling less confident in the foods and beverages currently on the market. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness, concerns over pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and genetically modified organisms in the food supply and health concerns related to preservatives, artificial sweeteners and trans fats are causing alarm for a growing number of American consumers. Now, news has emerged regarding the safety of spices and chicken imported into the United States, further proliferating insecurity among those already wary of what they eat.
This summer, the Food and Drug Administration released a report, which revealed that as much as 7 percent of all spices imported into this country may be contaminated with salmonella. The agency inspected 20,000 shipments of spices imported into this country and found high levels of contamination on coriander, oregano, sesame seeds, curry powder, cumin and black pepper. The highest percentage of spices contaminated with salmonella arrived from Mexico (14 percent) and India (9 percent).
With such a high percentage of U.S. spice imports reportedly contaminated with salmonella, spices and seasonings companies are scrambling to assure consumers that their offerings are safe for consumption. Still, there are some intrinsic aspects of the spice industry that make reducing possible contaminations to zero a difficult task.
“People don’t take the necessary precautions,” said Mick Whitlock, President of Vanns Spices. “We need to be more careful about bringing things into the country.”
Vanns is a major U.S. spice company that imports its products from all over the world. Vanns searches the globe for the latest and most unusual spices, striving to be the first to offer these unique imports to U.S. consumers.
Although Whitlock states that his company does everything possible to ensure that the spices it offers are safe and free of salmonella, he understands that certain aspects of the traditional methods through which authentic spices are harvested and processed for export have contributed to this contamination. He cites Indian peppercorns as an example of this.
“Peppercorns in India are dried on the ground and then they’re scooped up and put into bags and shipped,” Whitlock said. “Over the years, India has gotten better. They put nets over the drying area.”
There are methods that some companies use in order to protect the safety of their product offerings, but many argue that these methods are either ineffectual or that they harm the quality of the spices.
“There are ways of treating them, and that does compromise the quality,” Whitlock said. “We try to avoid chemical treatment and don’t use any irradiation on our spices. A lot of our spices are steam sterilized.”
Whitlock states that Vanns will continue to rely on imported spices as well as continue its work to ensure that these imports are uncontaminated. Vanns does this primarily by demanding various certifications from its suppliers. The primary certification Vanns seeks from its suppliers is a certificate of analysis for every product that enters Vanns’ manufacturing facility. Vanns is certified by the Safe Quality Food Institute. SQF certification is globally recognized as a gold standard for food safety and quality.
Past third party certification, Vanns works to develop its own relationships with its suppliers, visiting their facilities and learning about the products firsthand. By coming to know each individual supplier, Vanns is able to trust that it knows and approves of the products’ source.
Processed chicken imports
In addition to the FDA concerns over the safety of spice imports, worries about the safety of processed chicken imports have also come to light. In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture officially gave permission for chicken processed in China to be imported into the United States. What makes the issue particularly thorny for U.S. consumers is that this product does not have to be labeled as originating in China.
Consumers may in fact have a reason to be concerned about the safety of food imports from China, as there have been a number of incidents in recent years where foods produced in the country have been proven to be unsafe. Earlier this year, it was revealed that much of the rice sold in China may be tainted with the toxic metal cadmium. The Chinese dairy industry has been under fire since 2008, when milk and infant formula from the country was found to be contaminated with melamine, a dangerous chemical introduced to the product to increase protein content. And in May, in perhaps the most disturbing incident regarding food safety and quality in the country, Chinese officials announced that it had arrested several criminal traders for selling rat meat as mutton. Further contributing to U.S. consumers’ fears about the safety of poultry imported from the country are the recent Chinese outbreaks of avian influenza, a disease that can be passed on from dead chickens and turkeys to humans.
With U.S. consumers worried about the chicken nuggets on their dinner tables arriving, unbeknownst to them, from China, it might be expected that the U.S. poultry industry would be equally outraged. However, this has not been the case thus far.
“[The Food Safety and Inspection Service] has assured us, and reassured us, that they are fully committed to protecting the nation’s food supply and if China begins exporting processed chicken products to the United States, all food safety steps will be taken as if the products were processed in the United States,” said Tom Super, Vice President of Communications for the National Chicken Council. The NCC is a national non-profit trade association representing the U.S. chicken industry.
Super points out that although the USDA has approved the import of processed poultry from China, the chickens themselves must still be raised, slaughtered, plucked and frozen in the United States or Canada before this Chinese processing can even take place. It is thus unlikely that many poultry companies would find it economical to import Chinese processed chicken on a large commercial scale.
“One thing to keep in mind is that we’re talking about a miniscule amount of chicken in terms of what is both imported and consumed in the United States,” Super said. “Ninety-nine percent of the chicken we consume here [in the United States] is hatched, raised and processed in the U.S. We don’t expect that to change any time soon. There’s no shortage of chicken here.”
Super is somewhat incredulous that any processed chicken from China will in fact actually be imported into this country. “Think about it. A Chinese company would have to purchase frozen chicken in the United States, pay to ship it 7,000 miles, unload it, transport it to a processing plant, unpack it, cut it up, process/cook it, freeze it, repack it, transport it back to a port, then ship it another 7,000 miles,” he said. “I don’t know how anyone could make a profit doing that.” According to Super, the only market for expensive imported Chinese poultry is likely to be niche Asian markets.
The U.S. government
The NCC’s sense of security when it comes to the safety of Chinese poultry imports is largely dependent on the trade association’s confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to monitor these products and determine that they are safe for consumption. According to Super, FSIS has taken all the necessary precautions to protect U.S. consumers.
Still, the U.S. government has not always proven itself completely reliable as a barometer for what is safe to eat on grocery store shelves. “I think the government should be doing more,” said Whitlock. Although Whitlock says he thinks the government has made significant progress in recent years in improving the inspections of food and food facilities, it still has a long way to go to wholly protect the U.S. population from unsafe and unsanitary foodstuffs.
With extra virgin olive oil use by Americans increasing every year and a recent United States International Trade Commission report revealing
a majority of extra virgin olive oils on the shelves are “adulterated and mislabeled products,” a deep understanding of extra virgin olive oil is becoming essential to operate successfully in this dynamic category.
Lucini Italia is proud to sponsor the National Organization of Olive Oil Tasters’ (ONAOO) Extra Virgin Olive Oil Intensive Tasting Seminar, a two-day, in-depth training modeled after the five-day professional ONAOO course based in Imperia, Italy. A first of its kind in the United States, the course is led by Italian ONAOO instructors and will teach proper tasting techniques, sensory analysis and how technology plays a role with the quality of extra virgin olive oil, among other topics. Held in San Francisco two days before the Winter Fancy Food Show in January, the seminar is targeting buyers and category managers who have the task of listing and reviewing olive oils for sale in their stores and distributorships.
David Neuman, President of Lucini, attended the full five-day course in Italy last year and was extremely impressed with the high level of professionalism and vast knowledge the ONAOO instructors possessed. Lucini developed an hour long mini-training that explained how extra virgin olive oil is made, why quality is of the utmost importance and why it is imperative to be able to discern quality vs. fraudulent oils. Lucini held more than 20 mini-trainings in the last year for major retailers, distributors and consumer magazines, all of which ended with the audience hungry to learn more about extra virgin olive oil and asking how they could attend an official ONAOO course.
Realizing that the high cost of travel to Imperia, hotel lodging, course fees and the fact that the course is held in English only twice a year may prohibit others to attend, Lucini began working with ONAOO’s scientific advisor, Dr. Mauro Amelio, to bring a version of the course to America. The cost of the US course is $500 and covers all materials needed, as well as olive oil-centric meals.
“Lucini is not benefiting financially from the training,” Neuman said. “Simply put, quality is our mantra and the more people understand and respect quality extra virgin olive oil, the better and stronger the category will be as a whole.”
The Imperia-based course has been attended by Tom Mueller, Author of the New York Times Bestseller, Extra Virginity, Nick Coleman, Chief Oleologist at Eataly in New York City and Eryn Balch, Executive Vice President of the North American Olive Oil Association. “This course, or one like it, should be mandatory for anyone in the olive oil business – and everyone who wants to understand oil quality,” said Mueller, who will serve as the keynote speaker for the seminar in San Francisco. “Plus the people in your course frequently become valuable contacts that broaden your experience of the industry.”
The course is taking place in San Francisco on January 17 – January 18, 2014. Visit www.oliveoilseries.com for more information, full curriculum and to register.
Alter Eco Foods has introduced its newest organic, fair trade product line: truffles. In dark chocolate and dark milk chocolate, these truffles are a bold and innovative addition to the popular Alter Eco organic, fair trade chocolate bars. Alter Eco has reinvented the colorful round twist-wrap truffles seen at every grocery store checkout counter. Alter Eco has taken these much-loved favorites and made them with organic ingredients, adding pure lauric acid-rich coconut oil, instead of palm kernel oil, to its fair trade chocolate. Even the packaging is compostable. And while consumers are already familiar with the truffles’ smooth and melty texture, the sustainability-age makeover is all new, all Alter Eco.
Deep dark smooth chocolate sourced from Ecuador (Black Truffles) and Peru (Velvet Truffles) surrounds these sumptuous bite-sized delights. Pure organic coconut oil combined with milk and cacao creates the silky-smooth, melty filling. These Swiss-made, organic, fair trade truffles will launch with two classic flavors: Black (Dark Chocolate) and Velvet (Dark Milk Chocolate). Additional innovative flavors will soon follow.
Newly popular in American nutrition circles, coconut oil is credited with an impressive list of health benefits — from controlling weight, to improving memory, to regulating cholesterol. “Coconut oil is taking the nutrition world by storm with its array of amazing health-promoting properties,” said Jessica Pantermuehl, Nutritional Counselor and founder of Beautifully Balanced Nutrition. “It is full of medium chain triglycerides, better known as the good fat, and even appears to raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the good cholesterol.”
Importantly, coconut oil is a sustainable alternative to the more common palm kernel oil. Alter Eco sources its coconut oil from Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, located on India’s tropical Malabar Coast. This farmer-owned co-op practices jaiva krishi, a sustainable farming method that mimics virgin rainforest, where many crops grow harmoniously together, and many animal species — including wild elephants — roam safely.
The truffles are wrapped in new eco-friendly packaging. Alter Eco has developed a groundbreaking wrapper — printed with non-toxic compostable ink — that will decompose in yard waste and at-home compost bins. Additionally, the outer box packaging of the truffles is recyclable. More information and demonstration of this innovation sustainable packaging can be found at: http://www.alterecofoods.com/sustainability/sustainable-packaging.
“Alter Eco’s goal is to provide consumers with a decadently delicious taste experience, while never compromising our own values,” said Edouard Rollet, Co-Founder and President of Alter Eco. “With these truffles, we’ve taken goodness to a whole new level.”
Alter Eco Truffles, like all Alter Eco offerings, are 100 percent organic, fair trade and non-GMO. The products are also Carbon Neutral certified. Alter Eco Truffles (SRP $7.99 / 10-pack) will launch exclusively at Whole Foods Markets from October 2013 to March 31, 2014. They will be available to all retailers through most major distributors by mid-March 2014 for April placements.
Sahagun’s Oregon Kiss
This year’s Scovie Awards were extremely competitive, featuring more than 805 products competing for the gold in their respective categories. Products were submitted from around the world, and each entry went through vigorous blind taste tests.
Dave Dewitt, founder of the Scovie Awards stated, “Companies recognize our awards as the most competitive blind taste tested event in the world.”
Stöger Seed Oils are available online at www.stogeroil.com, at select Whole Foods Markets nationally and Central Market, and at other specialty and gourmet food stores. The suggested retail price ranges from $15 to $39 for 100ml-500ml bottles. For more information, visit www.stogeroil.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/stogeroil.com.
October 18, 2013 marks the start of the 2013-2014 harvest season for Bristol Bay red king crab, Bristol Bay tanner crab, and Alaska Bering Sea snow crab, three legendary and sought-after varieties of seafood. Collectively these fisheries represent the most significant numbers in terms of Alaska’s crab harvest.
The 2013 Total Allowable Catches (TACs), which are established yearly for each species to maintain maximum sustained yield and continued abundance, reflect the state’s commitment to responsible fisheries management and the willingness of Alaska’s managers to adjust their catch to align with the best scientific data available.
· The 2013 TAC for Bristol Bay red king crab is set at 8.6 million pounds, representing a 9.5 percent increase from 2012.
· The 2013 TAC for Bristol Bay Tanner crab is set at 3.1 million pounds. The fishery was closed in 2012 due to the mature female biomass falling below the required 21.9 million pounds.
· The 2013 TAC for Alaska Bering Sea snow (opilio) crab is set at nearly 54 million pounds, representing a 19 percent decrease from 2012.
Smaller Alaska crab fisheries include Aleutian Island golden king crab, which opened on August 15 with a TAC of 6.29 million pounds, and Norton Sound red king crab, which ran from July 3 to September 14 and had a total harvest of 391,863 pounds.
Alaska crab stocks are jointly managed by state and federal organizations: the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) oversees conservation and management, while the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC) superintends allocation and policy.
Luxurious Alaska king crab is unmatched in size and is celebrated for its sweet flavor and rich, tender texture. Alaska snow crab is prized for its delicately sweet flavor, and tender, snow-white meat. For more information on wild, sustainable Alaska crab, including recipes and nutritional facts, please visit www.wildalaskaflavor.com.
Rejoice in a day of chocolate filled happiness during this year’s Chicago Fine Chocolate & Dessert Show, a celebration of all things chocolate—and this year, dessert! Chocolate lovers can visit Chicago’s Navy Pier and fine restaurants starting October 13 to support Chicago Chocolate Week, a celebration benefiting the show’s charity partner, Icing Smiles Inc.
Icing Smiles, a nonprofit organization, is devoted to providing a temporary escape and positive memory for children and their families who are impacted by critical illness with cakes! The company provides critically ill children with beautiful custom creations for special occasions, donated by local bakeries and pastry chefs.
Kicking off the annual Chicago Fine Chocolate & Dessert show was the first-ever Room for Dessert dinner at Storefront Company, a night benefiting Icing Smiles! An elite group of chefs with the sweetest jobs in the city gathers Monday, Oct. 14 for an event you don’t want to miss. From the finest hand-painted artisan bars and uniquely-flavored truffles to decadent chocolate cakes, tarts, mousses, and more, guests will experience the world of chocolate. Their creations will be paired with wines and savory bites in between!
During the Icing Smiles’ Cake Arts Gallery, six amazing show-stopping cakes by area sugar artists will compete for the People’s Choice award in a timely themed Halloween, Fall and Kids competition. During the show, Icing Smiles will have a competition features a showpiece cake competition in the Gallery for a People’s Choice Award. Chef Charity from Icing Smiles will be there making her amazing cake creations as well!
Attendees to the Gallery use donation dollars to vote to raise money for their mission. The entrants this year are all amazing sugar artists including Bob Brougham from The Cakery, Inc.; Mark Lie from A Piece of Cake; Michelle Boyd from Good Gracious Cakes and more!
Icing smiles has the golden ticket for the finest dining experiences in Chicago! Satisfy your sweet tooth with decedent dessert creations at participating locations including Acadia, Little Market Brasserie, Sable Kitchen & Bar, Tavernita and more all next week until Sunday, October 20 and 10 percent of proceeds will be donated to Icing Smiles!
Icing Smiles has been baking a difference since 2010. They understand that the simple things, like a birthday cake, are luxuries to a family battling illness. Their goal is to create a custom cake for the ill child, or their sibling, that provides a temporary escape from worry and creates a positive memory during a difficult time.
Skeeter Snacks,which offers high-quality, indulgent snacks that are 100 percent safe for those with tree nut and peanut allergies (TPA), is launching its inaugural No Nuts About It. Pin It To Win It contest on Pinterest. This nationwide contest will take place from October 7 through December 16, and asks participants to vote for their favorite Skeeter Snacks tips and products on Pinterest for a weekly chance of winning Skeeter Snacks prize packs. Skeeter Snacks is hosting this contest to raise awareness about living with nut allergies, as well as healthy eating habits, creative snack ideas and reward consumers with and without nut allergies.
To participate in the contest, consumers are urged to follow Skeeter Snacks’ No Nuts About It board on Pinterest and interact regularly. The board will be updated daily with product images, healthy snacking tips and nut-free kids activities. All pins will reflect Skeeter Snacks and health tips for celebrating the holidays safely with a nut allergy.
Participants are asked to share the board with their followers daily during the three-month campaign. Points will be awarded for following, re-pinning, liking and commenting on Skeeter Snacks’ pins within the No Nuts About It board. To earn an additional five points, participants can tweet @SkeeterSnacks, tag @SkeeterSnacks on Instagram and post on Skeeter Snacks’ Facebook using an @ mention to say at what retailers they found their Skeeter Snacks, along with hashtag #NoNutsAboutIt.
“This Pin It To Win It campaign is a great opportunity for us to interact with our consumers across the country,” says Laurie Witt, Director of Marketing of Skeeter Snacks. “We love sharing our love for Skeeter and helping draw attention to the rising issue of food allergies, especially tree nut and peanut allergies. Our snacks are a delicious treat for everyone with nut allergies, but also for people without nut allergies.”
Skeeter Snacks was founded by two fathers of children with TPAs as a solution to the lack of suitable snack options on store shelves. As the number of kids directly affected has more than tripled over the past 15 years, Skeeter Snacks’ product line of Chocolate Chip Minis, Cinnamon Grahams, Chocolate Chunk cookies, Chocolate Cubed cookies, Golden Oatmeal cookies and Skeeter Doodle cookies offer a treat for both TPA and allergy-free kids to enjoy. Skeeter Snacks targets consumers as well as schools and institutions that recognize the importance of creating nut-free zones. A brand that strives to be a steadfast resource for TPA families, Skeeter Snacks can be found in Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart and CVS Pharmacies.