By Richard Thompson
For those who have to avoid their favorite pasta meals comes Edamame Spaghetti from Explore-Asian, a new spin on pasta that’s not only good, but healthier too. Gluten free, organic, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and approved by the American Heart Association, it’s not just ridiculously delicious but it’s sure to appeal to a wide range of health-conscious shoppers.
Retailing from 3.99 to 4.79, Edamame Spaghetti is made simply from organic beans and water. One serving has 24 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, packaged and ready to eat in just a few minutes. Add a little pesto for a delectable treat, but any sauce is the perfect complement. This is pasta reinvented.
For further information visit them at www.explore-asian.com.
According to a recent study, the biggest flavor trends of 2015 are expected to include unconventional flavor pairings, regional flavors, sustainable ingredients and savory updates on traditionally sweet items. Cabo Chips, a cantina style chip inspired by the beaches of Mexico, is right on trend with the launch of two new unique flavors that are both mouthwateringly delicious and surprisingly healthy – Churro and Mango Chili Lime. Cut from real tortillas, each chip is cooked in antioxidant-rich rice bran oil and made from 100 percent whole grains. They are also gluten-free, non-GMO verified, vegan, and kosher
“It’s astonishing how many ingredients you’ll find on food labels; many of which are tough to pronounce,”said Christian Bunte, Founder and CEO of Cabo Chips. “Cabo Chips are real chips made from real ingredients. Meaning our chips are cut from real tortillas, have pronounceable ingredients you can count on both hands, and they are packed full of flavor. It’s hard to believe, but our Original flavor has only five ingredients!”
The new Churro and Mango Chili Lime Cabo Chips were born from regional flavors of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and were inspired by popular Mexican street-style treats. They are the first authentic, Mexican-style tortilla chips to combine these unusual flavors in a healthy, portable snack. Unlike other sweetened tortilla chips, the Cabo Chips Churro flavor is salt-free. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new Mango Chili Lime flavor caters to those looking for something in the sweet and savory category while also incorporating ancient grains like teff and chia.
The new flavors join Cabo Chips Original, an unconventional pairing of real soy sauce with lime juice, and Blue Corn, which is seasoned with a dash of sea salt and lime juice. Cabo Chips are made using a small-batch cooking method that results in a cantina-style crunch and texture, transporting the mind and taste buds to an authentic Mexican beachside cantina. The company uses only simple real ingredients for true flavors. This means no “flavorings,” yeasts, or maltodextrin. Cabo Chips Original and Blue Corn flavors have only five ingredients – all easy to pronounce. Cabo Chips have a suggested retail price of $3.49.
CideRoad Organic Switchel, America’s Original Thirst Quencher, is now available at The Whole Foods Market Mid-Atlantic Region (Maryland, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington DC, Marlton and Princeton, New Jersey). Traditional Switchel dates back to the American Revolution. Rumor has it the Founders drank this mix of cool water, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and ginger to keep hydrated as they drafted the United States Constitution.
CideRoad has resurrected this unique American beverage and added its own new, unique twists. Switchel is available in three flavors: Original, a spicy Cherry, and a snappy Blueberry, each made with an apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and ginger base.
CideRoad Organic Switchel is the perfect refreshment for any time of day, whether that be working in your garden, after a run, chilling on your porch or even working off a mean hangover. Plus, with under 70 calories per serving and lending the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, sour and tart, you can enjoy it guilt-free as a flavor packed cocktail mixer!
Steve Schirripa is teaming up with his Sopranos co-star Michael Imperioli to meet their fans at The Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, where Steve will be exhibiting his Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties line of organic pasta sauces. Schirripa and Imperioli, known by Sopranos fans as Bobby Baccalieri and Christopher Moltisanti, will be signing autographs and sharing sauce with their fans at The Hilton Level 2 – Hot Products Pavilion, Booth H201 on March 5 and 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. There will also be raffle prizes given out continuously throughout both days.
“Michael Imperioli is like a brother to me, so it’ll be great to have him in Anaheim. We’re looking forward to breaking bread with our fans and introducing them to Uncle Steve’s sauces,” Schirripa noted.
Uncle Steve’s Italian Specialties was created by Steve Schirripa earlier this year. Each jar of Uncle Steve’s sauce is produced in the USA from small batches of fresh imported organic Italian plum tomatoes, vegetables and spices, “Our products are USDA-certified organic, gluten free, dairy free, vegan, and contain no added sugar. With no GMOs, no pesticides, and nothing artificial, you can be confident you are feeding your family not only great-tasting products, but nourishing them as well.” said Schirripa. “My mother cooked her sauce for six hours and unlike the others, we are doing the same.”
Uncle Steve’s is available in three flavors: Marinara, Tomato Basil and Arrabiata. It is available at Whole Foods Market, Central Market, ShopRite, Stop ‘n Shop and many other grocery and health food stores across the USA. For more information on where to buy or to purchase by mail, go to www.unclestevesny.com.
Harris Teeter and Balducci’s have added imported Italian Foods Corporation’s pastas to their lineup of gourmet products.
Harris Teeter now is carrying two of Italian Foods’ shelf stable stuffed pastas, La Piana® Mezzaluna with Basil Pesto filling and La Piana Ravioli with Squash in one-pound boxes, said Francesca Lapiana-Krause, General Manager. Harris Teeter also has added artisan, bronze die-cut La Piana Pasta di Campofilone Sage Fettuccine egg pasta and La Piana Tomato & Olive Pasta Sauce. The sale is through Haddon House of Medford, New Jersey.
Balducci’s has added two of Italian Foods’ long cut artisan egg pastas, La Piana tagliatelle and pappardelle, Lapiana-Krause said. The sale is being handled through Haddon House.
La Piana stuffed pastas are packaged in one-pound boxes with a suggested retail price of $6.19 to $7.19 and are available in six flavors. Three flavors of the stuffed pastas, which are shelf stable for 15 months, also are available in 8-ounce boxes with a suggested retail price of $4.49 to $5.19. Suggested retail prices for the artisan egg pastas are $8.99 and the La Piana pasta sauces are $8.99 More information is available online at http://www.ItalianFoods.com, by calling 1.888.516.7262 and by connecting at https://www.Facebook.com/LaPianaItalianFoods.
American Flatbread Pizza, producer of handmade wood-fired premium frozen pizza, is introducing three new pizza flavors to its premium line: Gluten-Free Cheese Trio & Tomato Sauce, Gluten-Free Pesto & Cheese and Fresh Basil Pesto & Feta.
The new American Flatbread frozen pizzas are made with specialty ingredients, many of which are locally sourced in New England where the company is based. Gluten-Free Cheese Trio & Tomato Sauce and Gluten-Free Pesto & Cheese are American Flatbread’s first gluten-free options within its line. Gluten-Free Cheese Trio & Tomato Sauce is a handmade flatbread topped with mozzarella, parmesan and Vermont Cookeville grana cheese, with homemade tomato sauce and fresh herbs. Gluten-Free Pesto & Cheese is also a handmade flatbread topped with savory pesto, made with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, fresh minced garlic and parmesan. The third new flavor, Fresh Basil Pesto & Feta, is topped with savory pesto made with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh minced garlic and feta.
“More and more Americans are maintaining a gluten-free diet, so it was important to meet their needs and develop these new recipes,” said CEO Brad Sterl. “As with all of our flatbread pizzas, we only use fresh, all-natural ingredients to ensure that our customers enjoy every last bite. We are dedicated to making pizza night a delicious and healthy experience for the whole family, and now they have even more choices.”
The Fresh Basil Pesto & Feta retails for $7.99 and the Gluten-Free Pesto & Cheese and Gluten-Free Cheese Trio & Tomato Sauce retail for $8.99.
American Flatbread frozen pizzas are topped with fresh herbs, vegetables and the finest of cheeses. They are all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.
For more information visit www.americanflatbreadproducts.com.
Mitsuwa Marketplace is celebrating its one year anniversary of the Shoku-Iku cooking class on February 1. Since February 2014, Mitsuwa has successfully held 11 free Shoku-Iku classes on the first Sunday of each month, with over 200 families gathered together to make different Japanese-inspired dishes. Mitsuwa Marketplace is hoping to promote healthier lifestyles in the young generation through the cooking classes.
“Shoku-Iku” is a Japanese term, but its meaning of promoting healthier living through food is applicable across all cultures. It came to Mitsuwa’s attention that the term “Shoku-Iku” is important for most modern families to learn and practice. It’s not easy to get kids to eat healthy, well-rounded meals. However, one way to get them interested in good food is to teach them how to make it themselves through hands-on cooking.
All Shoku-Iku recipes are healthy, creative yet simple enough so that kids can make their own dishes in 10-15 minutes. Shoku-Iku cooking classes are not to train the next chefs, but to foster a lifelong notion of a healthier lifestyle and the importance of family ties.
Not only are children learning how to make different kinds of food, they are also learning about the importance of healthy eating habits while spending time together as a family. Masami, the cooking class instructor and mother of two teenage boys, said, “I also enjoy that as my kids get older, we are able to spend time together in the kitchen. Not too many moms know but cooking doesn’t have to be just a mother’s job. If she can engage her kids, it can be bonding time when the family can prepare dishes together.”
The next cooking class, February 1 (Sunday), will mark the one year anniversary of Mitsuwa Marketplace’s Shoku-Iku cooking class.
Performance Enhancing Meat Snacks, Inc., creator of Perky Jerky the world’s best tasting jerky, is adding another fun and innovative flavor to its lineup. Perky Jerky is bringing its loyal customer base the exciting taste of island paradise by taking inspiration from traditional Jamaican jerk cuisine. The upscale meat snack is packed with flavor and protein with no added preservatives, nitrites or MSG.
“Jamaican jerk has long been an admired Caribbean comfort, and we’ve worked hard to capture such a well-recognized taste in a way Jerkaholics have come to love: with awesome flavor, tender texture, and healthy perks,” says Brian Levin, Founder and CEO of Perky Jerky.
Since 2009, Perky Jerky has been delivering ultra premium products that also contain the protein needed to empower an active lifestyle. It is an all-natural, low calorie, low/no fat, low carb snack ideal for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, adventurers and busy moms (and their kids) on-the-go.
Adding the iconic Jamaican Style flavor allows Perky Jerky to continue to reach key consumer targets in the savory snacks industry. Existing flavors include Original, Sweet & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Hot & Bothered, which are all currently available at retailers across the U.S. Additionally, every bag of Perky Jerky purchased contributes to causes that can make life better for kids, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Down Syndrome research.
Artisan Bistro, creator of modern organic frozen entrées, bowls and bakes, today announced its new line of artisan burritos, featuring a savory blend of high-quality sustainable proteins, organic vegetables, grains and spices all wrapped in one-of-a-kind organic gluten-free tortillas. Using sustainably-caught wild Alaskan salmon, antibiotic-free beef, free-range chicken and meatless ‘pork carnitas,’ the new burritos offer consumers a healthy and delicious lunch, dinner or snack.
“Many people are busy and barely finding time to eat on-the-run, so hand-held meal options have become wildly popular,” said Leo Griffin, Chief Executive Officer of Artisan Bistro Foods, Inc. “To create our burritos, we took one of the nation’s favorite convenience foods and gave it our signature artisan upgrade with bold spices, clean proteins and organic whole grains and vegetables that consumers can feel good about eating and feeding their families.”
All Artisan Bistro Burritos are gluten free, contain at least 75 percent organic ingredients and have between 11- 14 grams of protein. The big, artisan-crafted 7-ounce burritos will be available in natural food stores and grocers nationwide in January, and have a suggested retail price of $3.79. Varieties include:
Artisan Bistro’s entire cast of nutritionally-rich frozen meals are made with delicious, non-GMO ingredients, like sustainably-caught wild Alaskan salmon, free-range chicken, premium organic vegetables and a variety of organic whole grains and legumes, including quinoa, lentils and garbanzo beans. All dishes contain 70 percent or more organic ingredients and are gluten free to deliver wholesome, fresh and unique options for anyone seeking great-tasting alternatives to cooking or eating out. Artisan Bistro meals are available in natural food stores and grocers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Target, Safeway, Publix, Wegmans and Sprouts. For more information, visit www.theartisanbistro.com.
By Lucas Witman
In a meeting of the Russian Cabinet in August, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that his country will henceforth ban imports of all meat, seafood, fruit, vegetables, dairy and fresh prepared foods produced in the United States, Canada, EU, Australia and Norway for a period of one year. The move was ostensibly made in an effort to give the Russian agriculture sector an opportunity to better compete with foreign farmers and food producers and increase its global market share. However, the import ban implicitly serves as retaliation against these countries for the sanctions that were imposed against Russia following the country’s annexation earlier this year of the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine.
Only a few months old, the Russian import ban is already yielding negative effects for many European farmers. According to the European commission, exports by companies in EU member countries to Russia of food and agricultural products were worth 5.1 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in 2013. This represents 4.2 percent of total agricultural exports from the EU. From German cabbage to Dutch pears to Italian tomatoes, agricultural products that were once destined for Moscow or St. Petersburg are now without a home, and farmers are left struggling, wondering what to do with their goods.
The good news for European farmers is that the EU has already stepped in to offer assistance to those who have been negatively impacted by the Russian import ban. Almost immediately following Medvedev’s announcement, the European Commission stated that it would provide 125 million euros in support to European farmers saddled with a glut of produce that they cannot export to its original target. Shortly thereafter, the European Commission expanded its support, pledging to help European dairy farmers defer the costs of storing surplus butter, cheese and milk powder. On September 30, the European Commission stated that it would increase its support to farmers by an additional 165 million euros.
It is as yet unclear how deeply the Russian import ban will negatively impact U.S. farmers and food producers. In 2013, U.S. exports of agricultural products to Russia totaled $1.3 billion. Key U.S. exports to Russia include poultry ($310 million), pork ($18 million), tree nuts ($172 million), fruit ($34 million), seafood ($83 million) and prepared foods ($84 million). U.S. producers of these commodities are now being forced to seek out new markets for their products.
The California almond industry has long relied on Russia as a key trading partner, and thus this is one group of U.S. producers who are bracing for an economic hit this year. “Year-to-date, shipments to Russia represent about 3 percent of total California almond exports. Russian imports of almonds from the U.S. in calendar 2013 were approximately 23,500 tons, with a value of $126 million,” said Julie Adams, Vice President of the Almond Board of California.
Although Adams regrets the negative impact that California almond producers may face as a result of their inability to export products to Russia, she is equally concerned that Russian consumers will no longer have access to a product they love to eat. “The sanctions are particularly disruptive to consumers and manufacturers in Russia, who recognize the nutritional benefits of almonds,” she said. “We look forward to working again with our customers in Russia, once the market is reopened. The Almond Board will continue to monitor the situation, working closely with the U.S. government.”
The U.S. poultry industry is also expected to be impacted by the ban on exports to Russia, although industry insiders anticipate that impact to be relatively minimal. “At one point we were exporting 42 percent of our exports to Russia. That was in 1997. That has declined through the years,” said Jim Sumner, President of USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. “In 2013, we exported 7.5 percent of our exports to Russia. Fortunately, this situation didn’t happen ten or 15 years ago. It would have been catastrophic for our industry. Today it is unfortunate. We don’t want to lose a market anywhere, but thanks to the diversification of our industry it’s but a blip on the radar.”
“We’re in a pretty tight market situation here in the United States – the highest beef prices we’ve ever seen, higher pork prices,” Sumner continued. “The timing really couldn’t have been better for our industry if it was going to happen than now.”
Miami-based Russian specialty product superstore Marky’s does a brisk business exporting U.S.-produced Eastern European specialty goods, including caviar, seafood, foie gras, truffles, mushrooms, cheeses, oils and vinegars to Russia. “In relation to the market and our business as it relates to Russia, we do not function as a Russian business,” said Chris Hlubb, President and COO of Marky’s Group Inc. “However, we do export from the U.S. to Russia and Ukraine and ex-Soviet republics and have been adversely affected from our ability to continue to export certain products due to recent bans from the Russian side.” Still, in this case as well, the impact may be felt more severely by Russian consumers who now have diminished access to specialty goods and are forced to pay higher prices.
The positive news for Russian consumers is that as companies in North America, Europe and Australia are being inhibited from exporting goods to their country, producers in other countries are stepping in to fill the void. Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, Egypt, China and Belarus are just a few of the countries stepping in provide much-needed agricultural goods to Russian consumers. The organizers of Russia’s largest food trade show, WorldFood Moscow, held in September, were thrilled by the increased global turnout at this year’s show, arguing that the food bans have been responsible for bringing companies from new countries to the show and the Russian market.
“The changes in Russia’s food regulations has meant that interest from non-EU countries entering this market has increased, and subsequently we received an influx of last minute bookings from those countries that are not affected by the ban,” said Tony Higginson, Sales Director for WorldFood Moscow. “We are also pleased to confirm that Russia’s ban had little effect on the event’s exhibitor list.”
American consumers respond to Russian import ban
As the United States gets further embroiled in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, anti-American sentiment is growing among many in Russia. Some Russian consumers are turning away from American staples like McDonald’s (12 locations were recently closed by Russian officials over dubious food safety concerns) and Kentucky bourbon (health officials have similarly threatened to ban the potable). And American expats in the country report experiencing hostility from Russian nationals.
Anti-Russian sentiment in the United States is also on the rise. According to a recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of Americans surveyed stated that they view Russia unfavorably – the highest number since 2005 and a 16 percent spike since 2012. With Americans’ perception of Russia turning sour, U.S. retailers and food companies specializing in Eastern European products are being forced to confront the possibility of a backlash.
Unlike what happened in the early years of the Iraq War when anti-French sentiment in the United States compelled some to dump bottles of French wine and members of Congress to chow down on “freedom fries,” the good news for Russian specialty companies today is that they have yet to experience a similar backlash from American consumers as a result of ongoing global tensions. However, this may have less to do with Americans’ devotion to Russian food or indifference to global politics and more to do with the fact that the market for European specialty goods in this country is made up almost entirely of Eastern European immigrants and their descendants – a group not likely to ditch their affinity for these items.
“We have not seen any such public backlash, as customers for Russian products tend to be uniquely Russian or from Eastern Europe,” said Hlubb of the bustling business Marky’s continues to do both online and at its retail space in Miami. “And due to limited cuisine expansion into Europe and the U.S., we see little to no effect from our customers.”
“Most of our customers are Russian, Lithuanian, Belarusian, Georgian, Bulgarian or from other Eastern European countries,” said Zourab Tsiskaridze President of Russian Gourmet, a chain of five Russian specialty stores in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. “Of course, we have American customers too, but it’s not a majority. It’s a minority.”
According to Tsiskaridze, Russian expatriates and others with Eastern European heritage continue to flock to his store, seeking out the products that remind them of their families and their youth. The most popular items people pick up at Russian Gourmet include sausages, cheeses, caviar, smoked fish, dairy products and prepared foods. This clientele is not likely to abandon these products simply out of a sense of American patriotism. “People who live somewhere in different countries, of course they remember taste, how the food was when they were young or something. They remember this and they want to eat. They can live without Russian food but they have some kind of fondness, some kind of remembrance,” he said.
Although he has not yet observed any backlash by American consumers against his store’s largely Russian product selection, one thing Tsiskaridze has observed among his store’s Eastern European clientele is the occasional rejection of Russian products by Ukrainian nationals and vice versa. For Tsiskaridze, an immigrant from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, this reminds him of the hostility he experienced from Russian shoppers when Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. He recounts a recent instance of a Ukrainian woman rejecting an item at his store after realizing it was produced in Russia.
“One woman was Ukrainian, and we had the same product from two different countries – one from Ukraine and one from Russia. The Ukrainian was a little more expensive than the Russian,” he said, “She said, ‘I don’t want to buy Russian products.’ I don’t think this was smart.”
Still, although Russian Gourmet, Marky’s and other Russian specialty retailers continue to weather whatever storm of anti-Russian sentiment currently exists in this country with relative ease, as the global tensions between the two countries continue to build, there is no certainty that a larger public backlash will not eventually emerge. The potential threat to purveyors of Russian goods was made apparent during preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi when several gay rights organizations urged a boycott of Stolichnaya vodka and other Russian-produced goods in light of the country’s alleged human rights violations.
In the meantime, however, the added exposure Russia is receiving on the global stage may actually be a positive thing for those selling Eastern European foods in this country. This has been the case for Russian Gourmet, where profits are actually up in recent months. Tsiskaridze says that his stores have become an important meeting place for immigrants coming to share news of their homeland and debate the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. “People from Soviet Union, they are very political people. They might not understand, but they like to talk,” he said. “In my store, I have a Russian kitchen. The sales person is Ukrainian. I am Georgian. Yesterday we talked for two hours about this situation, going back in history. We like to talk. What else can we do?”
This story was originally published in the November issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.