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.
B’more Organic skyr smoothies are now widely available through its new strategic expansion into the Mid-Atlantic. Now offered in more than 100 new outlets in the region, including Whole Food Markets, Safeway supermarkets, and independent stores, B’more Organic smoothies are available in Banana, Mango Banana, Strawberry Banana, Vanilla and Caffe Latte flavors. The brand is now available in over 250 locations.
B’more Organic new store expansion includes:
• 34 additional Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods Markets in Northern Virginia, District of Columbia., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and parts of Kentucky.
• 50 Safeway supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia
• 25 independent markets in Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York
Skyr is an Icelandic-style strained yogurt, similar to Greek yogurt, brought originally to North America by way of Nordic settlers with experience in food preservation. B’more Organic skyr smoothies are made from fat-free skim milk naturally loaded with protein and probiotics. B’More Organic is providing a protein-packed, gluten-free and fat-free creamy beverage, now available to the Mid-Atlantic region.
The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company has been crafting unique Asian-inspired sauces and dressings and serving them in the company’s eponymous restaurants for over 35 years. Now, consumers have access to these sauces in their local grocery stores with the recent launch of the company’s retail product line.
The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company product line includes Asian Oil & Vinegar, a delightful Asian twist on the classic vinaigrette; Osaka Sauce, the company’s signature sauce, delicious on chicken; Teriyaki Grill Sauce, a finishing sauce for proteins; and Ginger Dressing, a signature dressing that doubles as a finishing sauce for meat or seafood. The four sauces and dressings are also available in a variety pack.
All Mustard Seed sauces and dressings are all-natural, and they contain no MSG, trans fats or preservatives. The products are made in small batches from the highest quality ingredients.
For more information, visit www.mustardseedsauce.com.
The retail food landscape has long been populated by bland, low-cost spaghetti noodles and insipid jars of watery marinara sauce. However, gourmet foods companies are revolutionizing the world of prepared sauces and dry, fresh and frozen pastas with high-quality ingredients and surprising flavor combinations. More and more consumers are turning to these companies and their products in order to make their Italian meals more memorable. Here are 10 companies to look for when stocking your pantry with artisan pastas and sauces.
1. Cucina Antica Foods Corp. The 2014 sofi Award winner in the Outstanding Pasta Sauce category for its Tuscany Pumpkin Pasta Sauce, Cucina Antica Foods Corp. offers a broad selection of all-natural sauces and authentic Italian pastas. The signature Tuscany Pumpkin Sauce features pumpkin and carrot puree, mixed with Italian San Marzano tomatoes, autumn spices and a touch of cream.
2. Dave’s Gourmet. The gourmet pasta sauce experts at Dave’s Gourmet strive to think outside the box when it comes to introducing new sauce flavors into the specialty food marketplace. The company’s product line contains unexpected hits like butternut squash, Indian-inspired masala marinara and wild mushroom. Dave’s Gourmet also offers a gourmet pasta sauce gift basket.
3. The French Farm. The French Farm offers a number of Italian specialties, including herb mixes, risotto mixes, polenta, sauces and dry pastas. The company recently introduced a new product to its line of brightly colored pastas: farfaline (bowtie). The new multicolor farfaline pasta is made exclusively from high-quality durum wheat semolina, tinged with natural plant-based colors.
4. Italian Foods Corporation. The shelf-stable dry stuffed pastas in Italian Foods Corporation’s La Piana line are a convenient and delicious way to enjoy an authentic Italian specialty. The stuffed pastas include ravioli, tortellini and mezzaluna filled with everything from Gorgonzola to winter squash to pesto. Italian Foods Corporation also offers artisan egg pastas, gnocchi and jarred sauces.
5. La Pasta Inc. A brilliantly-colored artisanal pasta delicacy, La Pasta’s Beet, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese ravioli recently won the 2014 sofi Award in the Outstanding Pasta, Rice or Grain category. The product features the star ingredients wrapped in a delicate pasta sheath. In addition to this sofi Award-winning ravioli, La Pasta delights consumers with fresh vegan and gluten-free pasta offerings.
6. Michael’s of Brooklyn. Michael’s of Brooklyn traditional Italian tomato sauces taste like homemade, because they use high-quality ingredients: imported Italian tomatoes, fresh herbs and spices, garlic, onion and olive oil. The result is an extraordinary range of fresh, delicious sauces in six distinctive flavors, including marinara, tomato basil, filetto di pomodoro, puttanesca, arrabbiata and the newest flavor, home style gravy.
7. Pastificio Felicetti. Felicetti pasta is the world’s largest supplier of 100 percent organic pasta. The company’s pasta is outstanding because of its exceptional aromatic quality, taste and excellent nutritional value. These results are thanks to the attention paid to three key components: flour, water and drying technique. The company’s Monograno Felicetti line comes in three varieties: Farro, Kamut and Matt.
8. Po Valley Foods. Imported from the Po Valley plains of northern Italy, the products from Po Valley Foods include dry pastas, risotto, rice, polenta, olive oils and vinegars. The company offers four dry pasta lines: Campofilone® Elite, high-quality egg pastas; Premiato Pastificio Afeltra, bronze drawn durum wheat pastas; Carlo Moro, a line of buckwheat pastas; and Casarecci di Calabria pasta kits.
9. Robert Rothschild Farm. The artichoke pasta sauce from Robert Rothschild Farm features tender artichokes blended with tomatoes, onions, celery and herbs, creating a truly gourmet pasta topping. The product is just one of a number of distinctive pasta sauces offered by Robert Rothschild Farm. The company’s other sauces include puttanesca, vodka, roasted portabella, roma tomato and more.
10. Sauces ‘n Love. Specialty food company Sauces ‘n Love recently introduced a line of gluten-free pastas, including ravioli, tagliatelle, rigatoni and gnocchi. These products have a premium gourmet taste that surpasses many traditional wheat pastas in flavor and consistency and pairs perfectly with the brand’s pasta sauces. It is an innovation both omnivorous gourmands and wellness-concerned customers can enjoy together with gusto.
Award-winning La Sovana extra-virgin olive oil, distributed in the United States by Mintie Wine & Spirits, is a renowned Italian single estate olive oil, combining a blend of leccino, moraiolo and coreggiolo olives. The olives are harvested at the peak of freshness and pressed by hand on the Olivi family’s Tuscan estate. Preserving the essence of the Italian countryside, the olives are pressed within 24 hours of being harvested.
La Sovana extra-virgin olive oil has been certified by the Consortium for the protection of PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil DOP Terre di Siena. In addition, the product was recently awarded a Mention of Merit from the national Sirena d’Oro di Sorrento competition.
Already used in some of the finest restaurants in Europe, La Sovana extra-virgin olive oil is now being introduced to the American market. The oil is now available online at www.zingermans.com, as well as at The Cheese Store in Beverly Hills, California and in a growing number of specialty food stores.
For more information, visit the company online at www.lasovana.com/en/olio.
For an effortless way to add zest to food, Doxy’s Fine Foods , a brand of artisanal seasoning blends, announces the launch of its newest product: Doxy’s™ Pasta Sauce Herbs. The Pasta Sauce Herbs mix, made of sweet garlic and natural spices, is the perfect addition to Italian-style home meals, without added preservatives or excessive sodium.
“Knowing Americans have limited time in the kitchen, I developed our blends to make meal preparation easy, delicious and fun,” says Nina Faull, Founder and CEO of Doxy’s Fine Foods. “Doxy’s Pasta Sauce Herbs is so versatile, and provides a feeling of la bella vita to weekday, home-cooked meals.”
All of Doxy’s seasonings boast gluten-free, fat-free, and no-added MSG natural goodness to meet another demand among Americans: health. With Doxy’s Pasta Sauce Herbs mix, Americans can add flavor to their meals without sacrificing health. Available on Doxy’s website for just $3.50, a package of Pasta Sauce Herbs takes quick home-cooking to the next level. Enhance simple canned tomatoes with a packet of all-natural Doxy’s Herbs to create an impactful, healthy dish. Mixed with extra virgin and olive oil for an herb vinaigrette, or dusted atop buttered baguettes, Doxy’s Pasta Sauce Herbs offer a new twist to a typical standby meal.
Tribe’s new Herb Infused Olive Oil hummus has a bold taste that is both rustic and refined. The brand’s beloved Classic hummus is blended with exotic za’atar, which is a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in Mediterranean foods. This distinctive blend is topped with dried roasted garlic, sesame seeds and then drizzled with olive oil that has also been infused with za’atar, the final touches on this complex flavor is that is simply delicious.
Tribe’s Limited Batch Herb Infused Olive Oil is as versatile as it is unique. Perfect for those looking to add flavor without loading on the sodium or fat, it makes for a great spread or dip for all types of breads, replacing every day table olive oil and butter. Additionally, it’s a great accoutrement for all vegetables including a simple crudite platter or roasted vegetables, namely cauliflower, eggplant and zucchini.
“We’ve gained a reputation of continually introducing new and exciting flavors and flavor combinations to hummus lovers, and the addition of za’atar really delivers on that,” said Adam Carr, CEO of Tribe Mediterranean Foods, Inc. “Once again I think we found a premium partner for our beloved chickpea.”
Herb Infused Olive Oil is the fourth installment in Tribe’s popular Limited Batch series. Its previous flavor, Rosemary Focaccia, which launched this past summer, was so well-received it recently became part of the permanent portfolio, rebranded as Lemon Rosemary Focaccia, joining the ranks of Everything, another former Limited Batch flavor that became part of the Tribe family of flavors back in 2013.
Tribe Limited Batch Herb Infused Olive Oil can be found at fine grocery stores nationwide. The suggested retail price of the eight-ounce bowls will be $3.49.
Organic Cracked Freekeh is now available from Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. It’s the latest ancient grain to join Bob’s Red Mill’s growing Grains of Discovery line. Freekeh is a whole grain food made in an old-world way, following a traditional process popular in the Middle East and Northeastern Africa.
“Since we introduced our Grains of Discovery line last summer, the response has been tremendous, and customers have been clamoring for more,”said Bob Moore, Founder, President and CEO of employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. “In deciding how to expand the line, we searched far and wide to find just the perfect grain, and we found that with Freekeh—something totally unique and virtually unknown in the West.”
According to legend, freekeh was created when a farmer’s crop of young green wheat was set on fire by a rival neighbor. Instead of letting the burned wheat go to waste, the farmer’s family harvested the roasted wheat and removed the chaff, and to their surprise it had a pleasantly nutty, lightly roasted flavor.
Cracked freekeh is made by lightly roasting whole wheat kernels, then cracking them to create a whole grain food with a texture similar to bulgur, with a mild, nutty flavor. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Cracked Freekeh, which retails for $6.99 for a 16-ounce package, cooks in just 25 minutes and adds wonderful texture and flavor to a variety of salads, pilafs and soups. It also can be enjoyed as a hot breakfast porridge. Freekeh is an excellent source of fiber, high in iron and other essential minerals, and provides 7 grams of protein per serving.
“We are really excited to add this ancient grain to our popular Grains of Discovery line and to share its history with our customers,” said Matthew Cox, Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill. “Legends aside, the flavor of this grain is so unique and delicious, our hope is that it will become a staple grain on every dinner table. That’s at the heart of what our Grains of Discovery are all about.”
Bob’s Red Mill Organic Cracked Freekeh is available now to retailers in cases of four, and also online at www.bobsredmill.com. To inquire about carrying the products, please contact the Bob’s Red Mill sales team at 800-553-2258 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the entire Bob’s Red Mill product line, please visit www.bobsredmill.com.
Passage Foods has released its latest edition of “Passage Briefs.” This edition presents a report entitled “Cooking Sauce Sales Simmer.” Within the brief, the U.S. cooking sauce market is explored through a detailed analysis of the industry and its consumers in five sections.
- Current cooking sauce market: The cooking sauce market has seen 25 percent growth in sales in the past decade, which is expected to continue due to factors such as at-home cooking, health, and less grocery spending.
- Ethnic flavor trends: Consumers have shown an increased interest in ethnic cooking sauces and food options. This category has quickly expanded to a high percentage of market share.
- Product claim trends: Consumer are looking towards alternative options for their at-home meals alongside the health food trend that has steadily been growing in the U.S.
- Millennials and cooking sauces: The Millennial Generation is expected to impact the economy of the U.S. as they continue to enter the work force. Their interests are driving the cooking sauce market expansion.
- Future of the cooking sauce market: A look into the current cooking sauce market provides insight into the development of the industry in the years to come.
The report is now available for free by contacting email@example.com or calling toll-free at 800.860.1045 ext. 204.
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