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Naked Sea Salt

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Naked Sea Salt’s mission is to introduce the world to gourmet salt from the Dead Sea that is an all-natural, low-sodium and mineral-rich alternative to artificially refined salt. Founded by environmental activist Ari Leon Fruchter, the company encourages regional cooperation by working with a Palestinian company that specializes in harvesting salt from the Dead Sea’s healing waters by using traditional chemical-free methods that preserve the water’s unique mineral content.
Each of Naked Sea Salt’s 15 flavors has been blended with organic herbs and spices to create a salt of bold, creative taste and unparalleled nutrition. “Each blend is a modern twist on an ancient classic,” Fruchter said. “Salt and spice in one—as easy as twist and serve.”
With its dedication to environmental and economic concerns, part of the company’s mission is to serve as a model of sustainable, ethical practice for private manufacturing companies in the region. For more information, visit www.nomadigo.com/nakedseasalt or email ari@nakedseasalt.com.

eSutras Organic Spice Blends and Rubs

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eSutras Organics spice blends and rubs are inspired by flavors from around the world. Varieties including Garam Masala, Herb and Spice Rub, French Four Spice and Pumpkin Pie Spice are all manufactured in an organic facility in Chicago.
Artisan-made in small batches to retain their unique quality and ethnicity, each blend is based on a familiar classic, made with a twist to create new flavor combinations. All of eSutras’ spice blends are the company’s own formulations—some derived from traditional family recipes—guaranteeing individuality on your store shelves. Distinctive and USDA organic, you can be sure your customers have not experienced these spice blends anywhere else. eSutras also carries numerous organic single spices as well.
Available to purchase in small case sizes and beautifully packaged, it is simple to place an order with eSutras Organics. To place an order, go to www.eswholesale.com, or call 773.583.4850. Order today!

MarDona Balsamic Glazes

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Gourmands will love finishing off their desserts with the exquisite balsamic glazes from MarDona. These sweet and tangy glazes are the perfect accompaniment to a gourmet dessert or end-of-meal cheese plate. MarDona offers eight different varieties of balsamic glazes, including original balsamic, white balsamic, peach, red apple, raspberry, fig, cherry and black truffle. Also offered by MarDona is a truly unique White Truffle Honey, made with Tupelo honey, pieces of Italian white truffles and Italian white truffle flavoring. Pair White Truffle Honey with fruit and cheese for a terrific sweet bite at the end of any great meal.

Wild Forest Products, LLC
855.645.7772

http://truffleoilsandmore.com/wildforestproducts.html

Visionary Vinegars from Bakto Flavors

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Bakto Flavors recently introduced Visionary Vinegars, six delicious balsamic vinegars blended with perfectly matched natural flavors. Choose from blood orange, vanilla, raspberry, strawberry, chocolate and peach, with more flavor variations on the way. All Bakto Flavors’ vinegars are all-natural, kosher, non-GMO, gluten-free and contain no added color or sugar.

Visionary Vinegars are made from the best available kosher balsamic vinegar around. Historically made in Italy from white grapes, Bakto takes an old tradition and puts a new spin on it by introducing a variety of excellent flavors. Finally, your salad dressing is healthy, low in calories and tastier than ever.
Visionary Vinegars from Bakto Flavors are available in 375-milliliter attractive glass bottles for retailers and in 1-gallon bottles for foodservice. The vinegars are sold in boxes of 12 with the option of custom flavor choices. A bottle of Visionary Vinegar is great as a gift on its own, or present someone with a set of all six. Perfect as a dip, marinade, dressing or sauce, this is sure to be a new essential in your kitchen.
Learn more about Bakto Flavors at www.BaktoFlavors.com. Retailers may contact the company for free samples at info@baktoflavors.com, or call 732.354.4492.

Natural Products Expo East Tackles Conscious Capitalism

By Kristina Harris

The 2013 Natural Products Expo East is quickly approaching. The event will be held September 25-28 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland. This event is always highly anticipated by retailers and buyers alike, as it is the largest natural, organic and healthy products trade show on the East Coast.
“Unlike its West Coast counterpart, the Expo East is a more intimate experience for both buyers and sellers,” says Adam Andersen, Natural Products Group Show Director. “We are a great place for regional brands to get exposure, but we also have larger companies here. It’s ideal for networking.”
The main theme of this year’s show is conscious capitalism, a movement that calls for businesses to be driven by values based on social and personal responsibility in addition to the goal of becoming financially profitable. Raj Sisodia, Ph.D., author, businessman and a local and global leader of the conscious capitalism movement, will be speaking as the Expo’s keynote speaker on Friday, September 27.
Sisodia believes that his message is extremely pertinent to natural product companies. “In today’s rapidly evolving world, it matters greatly not only what we produce, but also how we run our businesses,” he says. “Conscious businesses are driven by a higher purpose, built on love and care rather than fear and stress.”
Expo East organizers hope to cultivate an intimate setting within which show attendees can discuss Sisodia’s message and exchange ideas about how their own companies can adopt strategies to not only succeed, but also build conscious business practices at the same time.
An exciting event planned for this year’s Expo East will be the unveiling of the NEXT Accelerator program, previously soft-launched at the Natural Products Expo West earlier this year. The NEXT Natural Products Industry Accelerator gives entrepreneurial brands searchable access to the information, tools, service providers and networking contacts they need to launch and grow their natural products businesses.
“Basically, it’s an online portal where members of the industry can connect with each other,” says Andersen. This is the only “product-to-shelf workshop” program of its type in the natural market. It features fundraising, manufacturing, distribution, branding, sales and marketing topics.
There are also a number of highly valuable informational sessions planned for this year’s show that attendees will certainly want to take advantage of. According to Andersen, the planned retailer workshops are definitely educational, and are sure to be worth the time and money spent on them.
Finally, Anderson also urges those present at the show to attend one other special event: “Join us for our Community Celebration Event that precedes the Orioles Game on the 26th, from 5-7 p.m. at Camden Terrace. It’s going to be a tailgate theme that will officially kick off the Expo East.”

From Humble Beginnings, Harney & Sons Has Grown into a National Presence

By Hannah Hollins

HarneyandSons-smallerThirty years ago, John Harney decided to take his 13 years of experience with tea and start a business of his own. After starting the business in the basement of the family home, Harney & Sons eventually moved into the garage of a 19th century house and then into a remodeled auto repair garage. Ten years ago, Harney & Sons expanded into a 90,000 square foot factory, where company operations currently stand.
Today, Harney & Sons continues to be a family affair. John Harney comes to work every day to work alongside his sons, Paul and Mike, who have divided up the major tasks of the business. Mike heads business and finance and travels around the world sourcing quality teas, and Paul manages the factory production and sales. Mike’s wife Brigitte is the head of retail. Michael’s sons Alex and Emeric are also very active in the company. Alex runs the cafe at the Millerton Shop and Emeric runs the SoHo shop, and they are also involved in the marketing and branding for the company.
Mike’s work sourcing the teas takes him around the world. “We go over to Asia to establish contacts, and we bring back lots of samples,” he says. After the tea is ordered, it is shipped from abroad in 60-pound boxes to the Harney & Sons factory, located in Millerton, NY. There, it is processed and repackaged into tea bags for Harney & Sons’ distinctive tins and boxes.
Harney & Sons recently announced its latest product, The Ambessa Tea Collection, a unique custom tea line created with celebrity Chef Marcus Samuelsson. The four teas of the Ambessa collection represent the four different phases in Samuelsson’s life. The Safari Breakfast tea reflects his Ethiopian roots: it is made from Kenyan black teas, sourced from the tea-growing country near his birthplace. The second tea, Lingonberry Green, is reminiscent of his Scandinavian upbringing. The third tea, Choco Nut Blend, is a black tea blend with warm chocolate notes, representing Samuelsson’s culinary training in Switzerland. The fourth and final tea of the Ambessa tea collection is the Earl of Harlem, nodding to Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem restaurant.
Harney & Sons teas and products are available for purchase at its shops in SoHo and Millerton, as well as online and at a number of retailers nationwide, including Barnes & Noble, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Hannaford and A Southern Season in Charleston, S.C. The teas can also be found on Delta Airlines in first class, business class and international cabins, as well as at the Hilton hotels, the Waldorf-Astoria and many restaurants.
For more information, contact Harney & Sons on the web at www.harney.com/, on facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Harney-Sons-Fine-Teas/49697304292, or on twitter at @HarneyTea.

Special Events Make Market Street a Destination Supermarket

By Lorrie Baumann

Just in case Texans didn’t have enough reasons to be proud of their state already, Market Street takes July of every year as an opportunity to add to those with a Best of Texas expo that helps Texans get better acquainted with the food and beverage bounty produced in the Lone Star State.
This year’s Best of Texas expo featured products ranging from Beanitos chips, Rhythm Kale Chips and Mrs. Renfro’s Salsa for the appetizer course to Scoops Ice Cream and Sticky Toffee Pudding along with about three dozen other brands and product categories that all originated in Texas.
“We do three or four of those kinds of events through the year. Best of Texas may be everyone’s favorite because our guests expect us to feature local products and provide them with local products,” said Eddie Owens, Director of Communications and Public Relations for United Supermarkets, LLC., the parent company of Market Street, which is coming up on its tenth anniversary in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
United now has 57 stores in Texas under four brands: United Supermarkets (36 stores), Market Street (11 stores), Amigos (three stores) and United Express (seven free-standing convenience stores and 18 other fuel stations with walk-in kiosks). A new United Supermarkets location and another Market Street store are under construction, and a new Amigos store, a brand designed for Hispanic communities, is scheduled to be built next year.
Market Street, the company’s specialty foods retail chain, is known in north and west Texas for three annual month-long expos: Best of Texas, Healthy New You, which focuses on health and wellness and is held in January, and Entertaining Made Easy, which takes place each November.
Healthy New You includes some regular vendors, especially those who make health and body care products, and health screenings are also offered through nonprofit partners like American Diabetes Association. The Best of Texas expo is a sampling event with stations located throughout the stores. “We featured at least one product from every department of the store each weekend. If you came in the first weekend in July, you would not see the same products that you would see the second weekend,” Owens said.
The showcase for Texas products meets a need for Market Street guests, who, along with many other Americans, are increasingly more concerned about food safety and ethics. “There is a growing urgency for folks who want to know where their products are coming from. They want to buy close to home,” Owens said. “We’re trying to meet that need. We’re hoping that once they’re exposed to those products, guests will keep coming back to purchase them.”
Customers are also encouraged to keep coming back by a vigorous social media effort along with Market Street’s weekly newspaper advertising. The expo events are marketed in the weekly ads as well as in ROP (run-of-press) ads in the same editions of the newspapers during the weeks in which the expo is happening. Notices are also pushed out on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram. The expos are celebrated with occasional radio remotes as well. “The whole point is to generate some excitement,” Owens said.
In addition to the events that take place in all 11 Market Street stores, there are two Market Streets in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that include cooking schools. Both of those stores are larger than the other nine Market Street stores, which range from 65,000 to 71,000 square feet, and include a larger kitchenware department as well as a classroom and demonstration area that are large enough for hands-on classes taught by the company’s corporate chef and other chefs from the community and staffed by Market Street team members who handle registrations, clean-up and all the other tasks associated with running a successful culinary education program.
“On the other end of the scale, there’s a new store under construction in Flower Mound that’s downsized to only 55,000 square feet,” Owens said. He noted that United has been seeking to enter the Flower Mound market for several years, and the store will face heavy competition from other grocery chains that operate 16 competitive stores within five miles of the new Market Street location. “We think that this store is going to be our prototype for new stores for the foreseeable future. We think we can compete better with this size store,” he said.

FDA Issues Official Rule Defining Gluten-Free Foods

By Lucas Witman and Jazmine Woodberry

In August, the Food and Drug Administration issued an official rule defining specifically what it means for a product to be gluten-free. According to the newly minted standard, any product labeled “gluten-free,” “without gluten,” “free of gluten” or “no gluten” must contain no more than 20 parts per million of wheat, rye, barley or any other ingredient derived from these grains that has not been processed to remove gluten.

“This standard ‘gluten-free’ definition will eliminate uncertainty about how food producers label their products and will assure people with celiac disease that foods labeled ‘gluten-free’ meet a clear standard established and enforced by FDA,” said Michael R. Taylor, Deputy FDA Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, in the official announcement from the FDA.

Gluten, the protein that occurs naturally in many grains, is detrimental to the health of many Americans, especially those with celiac disease. Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder, causes the body’s natural defense system to react to gluten by attacking the inner lining of the small intestine. This can cause the body not to absorb necessary nutrients from the foods being consumed and can lead to nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, intestinal cancer and other maladies. It is estimated that 3 million Americans suffer from celiac disease, with another 18 million experiencing some degree of gluten sensitivity.

In recent years, awareness of gluten sensitivity and intolerance has exploded, resulting in a subsequent eruptive growth in the market for gluten-free products. According to market research firm, Packaged Facts, gluten-free product sales topped $4.2 billion last year. Thus, any change to the labeling standard for gluten-free products could have far-reaching industry-wide ramifications.

It is likely that most food companies that market gluten-free products will be largely unaffected by the FDA’s announcement, however, as the 20 ppm standard is already the unofficial one most companies currently employ. This is the figure most health officials agree upon as safe for those suffering from celiac disease, even for those who are severely sensitive to gluten. In fact, many gluten-free food producers actually adhere to an even stricter standard, ensuring that that their products contain no more than 10 ppm of gluten. Still, the FDA estimates that five percent of gluten-free products currently on the market currently contain over 20 ppm.

“This is great news for gluten-free consumers,” said Lucy Gibney, founder of gluten-free baked goods brand Lucy’s. Lucy’s markets a variety of cookies and brownies, all gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO and all-natural. “The U.S. FDA limit is about authenticity. Consumers now know what the ‘gluten-free’ claim really means, and manufacturers are held responsible for meeting the standard.”

Greg Vetter, CEO at Tessemae’s, a producer of all-natural, gluten-free dressings, spreads and marinades, expressed his pleasure with the FDA announcement as well. “It makes it a little bit easier for the consumer to have more trust in the products they are buying with the new FDA regulations,” Vetter said.

Although both Lucy’s and Tessemae’s already voluntarily conform to the FDA’s new 20 ppm or less standard, the companies support the rule as necessary for protecting the health of U.S. consumers and ensuring that those products with a gluten-free label are uniformly safe for consumption.

“When you are getting into all of these companies that are trying to create gluten-free products—cookies or pancakes—where things would historically have gluten in them, [it is important] that those people are doing what they need to be doing to protect those folks,” Vetter said.

“The new standard provides a definition, and it provides an expectation of accountability. Those two elements are reasonable when it comes to an important health matter for 21 million Americans,” Gibney said. “When this many people are affected, and the standard is so reasonable to meet, regulation is a good move.”

The FDA’s official regulation was published on August 5, and companies will have one year from the publication date to bring their labels into compliance.

Energy Products Market Wide Awake And Going Gourmet, Despite FDA Investigation

By Jazmine Woodbery

Can engrained visions of Red Bull giving you wings and a Food and Drug Administration investigation into energy drinks stop the energy products market from surging ahead—and straight onto gourmet retailers’ shelves?

Retailers are seeing beverage sales rise, and that rise is on the back of the power of the ever-widening energy drink market. Energy drinks raked in billions last year, up 14 percent from five years ago, and energy shots themselves saw a 168 percent sales increase in that time period, according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

“Caffeine is the legal drug of choice in the United States. It’s in medications, it’s in food, and because of the specialty coffee explosion with Starbucks, coffee is where you get your lift. Most people are habituated to it,” said Tom Pirko, President of Bevmark, a food and beverage consulting firm based in Santa Barbara, Calif. “People have been drinking coffee and tea for caffeine forever and now people are reaching for energy drinks as well. That’s not going to stop. And until retailers see the consumers saying ‘No we’re not going to consume these products,’ the retailers are going to push on selling them.”

Wells Fargo Securities Beverage Buzz survey reported an estimated 9 percent uptick for Monster Beverage Corporation in-store volumes during the second quarter of the year, after an already sustained 7 percent increase in the quarter before. Still, although big wigs like Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar sit handily atop the American markets, the success of these major brands has spurred the growth in availability of healthier, organic and gourmet energy drink products as well.

Campbell Soup Company, for example, produces the V-Fusion + Energy drink, featuring juice and green tea, and Starbucks’ new Refreshers line features pomegranate, strawberry and melon flavors enhanced with unroasted green coffee beans. Other specialty products within the larger energy drink market include natural energy drink Guru, Steaz Energy drinks (billed as “good for the mind, body and soul”) and all-natural fair trade energy drink brand Hiball Energy.

Somewhat surprisingly, all of this growth in the industry comes on the heels of Illinois Senator Dick Durbin calling for a Food and Drug Administration investigation into energy drinks. Durbin’s push began last year, after reports of five deaths allegedly linked to the consumption of Monster energy drinks, including the December 2011 death of 14-year-old Anais Fournier.

“Energy drinks with names like Monster Energy, Red Bull, Rockstar, Full Throttle and AMP are now common fixtures in grocery stores, vending machines, and convenience stores. These products target young people claiming to increase attention, stamina, performance, and weight loss,” Durbin wrote to the FDA Commissioner. “The glossy marketing tailored to youth has worked. Thirty to fifty percent of adolescents report consuming energy drinks…[However,] consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death.”

Others are joining the fight as well, bringing lawsuits against major energy drink companies. This includes a mother in California who is suing Monster, alleging that her son died after drinking 32 ounces of the drink a day before his death. Her claim is bolstered by research that links excessive caffeine intake to negative health consequences, particularly for kids and young adults.

The FDA’s current regulations on energy drinks limit caffeine to 0.02 percent or less of the product, about 71 milligrams in a 12-ounce drink. Some companies often eschew these limits, however, by marketing their products not as drinks, but rather as dietary supplements. The agency also places regulations on energy food products, such as Perky Jerky, high quality dried and cured turkey and beef jerky that, according to CEO Brian Levin, was first envisioned when a can of energy drink fell on a pack of jerky.

“It’s not considered any more of an energy product than a diet soda or a piece of chocolate,” said Perky Jerky CEO Brian Levin. “We created a gourmet, high quality product for active lifestyles and the ingredient we use for energy is a very small amount essentially used for flavoring…It’s frustrating to be lumped into these products that have more of a desire to jump on this energy craze when if anything we are going away from it.”

Perky Jerky is sold in a broad spectrum of retail environments, including at Whole Foods in the southwestern United States and in the Dean and DeLuca catalog. The company’s growing popularity is enabling it to expand. Soon, Perky Jerky plans to roll out a line of gluten free products as well as more flavors and turkey alternatives.

“This is kind of a higher end product that’s within reach,” Levin said.

Although the FDA investigation into energy foods and drinks does not immediately appear to have far reaching ramifications for the gourmet industry, in fact the energy product market has become so pervasive that there is a growing segment of specialty food and drink companies like Perky Jerky, marketing their offerings as “energy products.” In addition, more and more gourmet retailers are stocking these kinds of products.

According to Pirko, there is definitely room in the gourmet marketplace for speciality energy food and drink products. “The breakthroughs could come if [a company] can authentically make some claims if there really is an ingredient that catches the public’s fancy,” Pirko said. He acknowledged, however, that the ongoing FDA investigation might affect those who are attempting to market less-proven energy products, because retailers themselves could be more hesitant to stock their shelves with an unknown commodity in an ever-changing market.

Still, this uncertainty is not stopping many gourmet companies from stepping up to that challenge. This includes companies like Turbo Truffle, a caffeine-infused gourmet chocolate brand, and ENERGMAX, a line of natural gourmet energy bars.

loadebars-stackedLoAdebar, a company which makes loaded energy bars, is clearly making an effort to differentiate itself from the larger energy food and drink market and show that the arena has room for more options than just Rockstar and Red Bull. This month, LoAdebar is bringing its products to Natural Products Expo East, the premier marketplace for natural, organic and healthy gourmet products.

“There is definitely a place for natural healthy energy food, and that is not just for people with busy active lifestyles,” said Norma Maloney, owner of LoAdebar. Maloney noted that these products can be practical supplements for those on-the-go. “Most of the energy bars in the marketplace are not tasty, they are not simple and have too many fillers. My goal with LoAdebar has been to complement the healthy lifestyle choices with a snack that combines great taste and good nutrition.”

Maloney said that at times people “expect magic” from energy products and that this is the place where the FDA could help to give consumers more realistic expectations from their products. At venues such as Expo East, Maloney works to highlight her company’s products, letting retailers and consumers know LoAdebar can serve as a good tasting, good for you product that is also a good energy boost.

Still, even though he does not see the market itself closing any time soon, Pirko argues that the more ingrained the big dogs are in consumers’ minds, the harder it will be for smaller companies to make inroads. “If you are going to try and take on Red Bull and Monster, you are going to need a big trust fund,” he said, “It’s probably going to be a little trust fund when you are done.”

Nibblins Celebrates a Decade of Helping its Community Make Great Culinary Experiences at Home

Nibblins-SRBy Lorrie Baumann

Susan Dolinar’s Nibblins store is located in rural Winchester, Va., about 70 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley near the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is where Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania come together. The town of about 25,000 people is home to commuters who work in Washington as well as people who both live and work locally. The town sees frequent visits from tourists who stop by during their tours of nearby Civil War battlefields as well as college students from Shenandoah University and people from surrounding rural areas who prefer to shop in the smaller city as opposed to the Washington metroplex.

“We’re in sort of a rural area, so we draw people from an hour away,” says Owner Susan Dolinar.
Nibblins, located in the Rutherford Crossing shopping center, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. Started as a holiday-season cart that operated in a local shopping mall, Nibblins now has about 4,500 square feet of display space for kitchenware and specialty food products, including a candy counter that does a brisk trade in house-made fudge. (Dolinar actually makes the fudge herself in a nearby commercial kitchen.) “It’s amazing how many people like fudge,” she says.
The shop also has a 600-sq.-ft. kitchen where classes are offered for both children and adults. This summer, Nibblins is offering very successful children’s day camps, each with its own culinary theme. For June’s Italian-themed day camp, youngsters aged 8 to 12 made pizza and stromboli from scratch. “They were there with their hands in the dough, mixing the oil into the flour with their fingers,” Dolinar says. “With kids, I have them do as much as possible with their hands, while with adults I might teach them how to use the food processor.”
“Even the picky eaters ate everything they made,” adds Nibblins Marketing Director Elise Stine. “The parents sneaked in early and tried to sneak bites off the kids’ plates, and then they wanted the recipes.”
In July, the kids’ camp concentrated on American foods, while August’s kids’ camp has an international theme. Adult classes cover a wide range of topics, with titles like “Oodles of Noodles,” “The Thrill of the Grill” and “Tribute to Julia Child.”
The classes are taught by local chefs and caterers. The Thai cuisine instructor is a woman whose husband was a missionary in Thailand for 17 years. An Indian woman with a pastry degree teaches both Indian cooking and pastry. Other classes are taught by a local food blogger as well as other members of Nibblins staff. “Almost everyone who works here has some sort of culinary training,” Stine says.
Outside the class kitchen, the store sells both gourmet foods and professional cookware, including Bakers Edge, All-Clad, Le Creuset and Revol. Shun knives are particularly popular. “We actually outfit most of the chefs in the area with their knives,” Stine says.
The gourmet food items offered include products from Robert Rothschild Farm, Jelly Belly and Stonewall Kitchen. However, Nibblins also offers a number of products that are made locally, many for which Nibblins is the exclusive retailer. These products feed Virginians’ hunger for buying local, Dolinar says.
Local products include creamed honey made by the monks at Holy Cross Abbey and sold under the Monastery Honey brand, hot sauces and buffalo sauces for chicken wings concocted by local chefs, Virginia peanuts sourced from Feridies, Route 11 potato chips that are made just a few minutes down the road and jams with interesting flavors from The Essential Table. “It’s really kind of fun; we’re the first retailer to carry it,” Dolinar says of The Essential Table jams. “Virginia’s big on buying local.”