Vanda Asapahu, founder of Ayara Thai Sauces, is the winner of the Specialty Food Association’s second annual advertising contest for specialty food professionals to tell a compelling story about their passion for specialty food.
Asapahu’s story was selected from 142 inspiring entries about family businesses, culinary breakthroughs, childhood memories, career changes, and more. The prize is a professional ad that will be part of the Association’s national advertising and marketing campaign. The ad will be featured in leading specialty food trade magazines, online, and at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. The show takes place Jan. 11-13, 2015.
More than 12,000 votes were cast in the not-for-profit trade association’s second annual “My Story, My Ad” contest. The 10 entries with the most votes went on to a final round of judging by a panel of advertising and specialty food professionals. The contest was open to members of the Specialty Food Association.
Ayara Thai Sauces was born out of requests from loyal fans of Asapahu’s family-owned restaurant, Ayara Thai Cuisine in Los Angeles, for takeout containers of its distinctive sauces. This company’s Ayara Thai Peanut Sauce was a finalist in the Specialty Food Association’s sofi™ Awards contest for the outstanding products of 2014.
“As our restaurant grew, visitors came to love not only the food we prepared, but also the sauces served with them,” says Asapahu. She adds that customers would return with “amazing stories of how they creatively used our sauces to impress their friends and share in the joy of cooking.”
The contest also included a People’s Choice Winner, based on a popular vote. The trio of women behind Simply Panache, maker of Mango Mango mango preserves, emerged as winners. They are Tanecia Willis, Lakesha Brown-Renfro, a military spouse, and Nzinga Teule-Hekima, a family physician. The company is based in Hampton, Virginia. The prize is an iPad.
For the winning entries, click here.
The contest spotlights the Association’s brand for the industry, “Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy.” It is designed to highlight the people behind the small businesses that fuel the $88.3 billion specialty food industry and the innovative foods and beverages they create and bring to market.
“This year’s entries showed how much passion and care our members bring to their work,” says Association President Ann Daw.
The panel of judges included Katherine Alford, Senior Vice President, Culinary Productions, Food Network; Tom Cook, Executive Creative Director, York & Chapel; Tracy Nieporent, Partner and Director of Marketing, Myriad Restaurant Group; Beth Snyder Bulik, freelance writer for Advertising Age; and Denise Purcell, editor of Specialty Food Media.
Bridor Inc., which makes authentic European breads and Viennese pastry for the retail and foodservice industry, is expanding its U.S. facility at Vineland, New Jersey. The plant will continue to produce Bridor’s broad line of baguettes, breads and rolls that reflect the company’s 30 years of European heritage and baking mastery. The $32 million expansion will enhance its laminated pastry dough and signature flaky croissant capacity. The enlarged facility will increase from 136,000 square feet to 183,000 square feet, and its employee count will grow from 132 to 177 employees.
“This expansion represents our deep commitment to our U.S. customers and significantly enhances what we can offer them,” said Jean-François Duquesne, CEO, Bridor Inc. and Bridor USA Inc. “We pride ourselves on being an industrial baking company that combines advanced manufacturing technology with traditional European baking techniques. This enables us to produce on a large scale the highest quality, authentic European pastry and breads in the world.”
The pastry line that Bridor will manufacture in its expanded Vineland facility will cater to the taste and other preferences of the U.S. customer. It will include a wide variety of croissants and Viennese pastries with distinctive homemade fillings that incorporate locally-sourced, high quality ingredients. Bridor’s research and development department of master bakers travels the world to stay ahead of consumer trends and baking innovations. The company continuously adapts and makes new bread and pastry products to meet its customers’ evolving needs.
Passage Foods offers lines of ready-to-use simmer sauces made from all natural ingredients to help home cooks create authentic restaurant-quality Asian dishes in 20 minutes or less. Newest to the brand is the Passage to Vietnam™ Lemongrass Chicken Stir-Fry Sauce, which draws together ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal and lime into a stir-fry with the traditional flavors of Vietnam. Just reading the list of ingredients is like stepping into a white tablecloth Vietnamese restaurant.
Vietnamese cuisine is one of the fastest growing segments in the food category, according to Mintel, and the growth of the Vietnamese population in the U.S. augurs for increasing acceptance and familiarity with Vietnamese flavors among the mainstream population, particularly as American palates become more adventurous and more Americans travel outside the country, where they have the opportunity to taste authentic examples of other culinary traditions.
“It is important to recognize the growth of cuisines from countries like Vietnam,” said Passage Foods’ Mark Mackenzie. “Currently, 80 percent of the Asian category sales originate from mainstream products designed for the U.S. palate, however, the category growth is being driven by authentic products and recipes. With our Lemongrass Chicken sauce, we tried to capture the most authentic and fresh recipe to satisfy the consumer looking for a true Vietnamese meal.”
What began in 1887 in a small fishing village in Spain is now available on a supermarket shelf near you. Not only is Isabel bringing its tuna, sardines, octopus and squid to the U.S. market, the company is also bringing its wildly popular Salad Bowls (shelf stable and ready-to-eat prepared salads) to the U.S.
The Salad Bowls have been a homerun in the European market for years. The healthy, ready-to-eat meals include everything anyone needs for a quick meal on the go in a single bowl. All you have to do is open, mix, and enjoy. The bowls even come with a spoon included! Isabel is introducing three Salad Bowl flavors here in the U.S.:
Isabel was the first to come out with the Salad Bowl product in Spain and is still the largest pre-packaged salad bowl producer in Europe. With the America desire for healthy eat on-the-go options, Isabel’s Salad Bowls are a perfect solution. And this product is already winning American fans.
For the Isabel Tuna purists who have tried one of the Naturtuna products — solid light tuna packed in either extra virgin olive oil or water — you already know the difference that distinguishes Isabel Tuna. It’s actual sliced tuna loin. No vegetable broth. No mixed chunks. Just tuna.
“There’s a noticeable difference even before you taste it,” said Sean Crotty, Isabel North America Vice President and General Manager. “One of the things we like to do is open a can of our tuna and then open a competitor’s. We flip them upside down on a plate. The other comes out as a lump of tuna pieces and ours comes out as one big piece. The tuna looks different. It doesn’t have the smell that’s associated with canned tuna. It’s milder. The taste and texture is very moist and mild.”
Isabel will also bring its line of specialty products including sardines in olive oil, octopus (in garlic sauce or olive oil), squid pieces in ink sauce and mussels in pickle sauce. These products appeal to the growing ethnic consumer base as well as the broadening American palate.
Already in Harris-Teeter stores (primarily along the East Coast) and other independent grocers from New York to Miami, Isabel products are expected to be in stores across the country soon.
“The heritage of our brand is important. We are a 125-year-old company. Although we’re new to the U.S., we’ve been a leader in the world market for many years. We also have significant involvement in the sustainability side of the industry especially working with the World Wildlife Foundation,” said Crotty. “We’re looking forward to continuing that work, as we introduce our products to the American market.”
Victoria Fine Foods has just launched new packaging for its Victoria premium brand of artisanal pasta sauces listing ingredients on the front of the label.
Extensive consumer research was conducted among primary shoppers and meal preparers of pasta sauce that led to the revolutionary decision to place the ingredients on the front of the label. Consumers indicated that placing ingredients on the front was very positive and helped show that Victoria had all natural fresh ingredients without preservatives that were similar to ingredients they would use in their own pasta sauce. They also indicated it would make shopping easier.
This new label approach supports Victoria’s philosophy of Ingredients Come First™, making Victoria the only major pasta sauce brand to highlight the ingredients on the front of their package.
“We are proud to be first major brand in the pasta sauce category to declare our ingredients on the front of our package; It’s not just a location, it’s a philosophy” says Don Davide, Chief Strategy Officer, VFF. “We are committed to using only fresh ingredients and the most authentic slow kettle-cooking process for a true homemade taste, and by announcing this on the front of our new label, we believe our new package allows the consumer to make an informed decision about what they are feeding their families.”
Victoria maintains small-batch, home-style cooking methods on a larger scale by slow kettle cooking all of their sauces starting with freshly chopped ingredients. Unlike leading national brands, Victoria never adds water, paste (tomato byproducts), or dried ingredients and never compromises taste for processing alternatives like quick heating transfer tubes. Victoria maintains that life and food, like a gondola ride, is better when taken slowly.
This summer, up your noodle salad game with some Asian rice noodles by Nona Lim. These extraordinary noodles are sold in the refrigerated section fresh for delicacy.
Nona Lim Noodles have a suggested retail price of $4.39 for a 14.8-ounce package.
Veggie Patch, which makes vegetable-based foods, announced today the debut of two new unique creations: Roasted Red Pepper Falafel and Moroccan Red Lentil Cakes.
Veggie Patch’s new Roasted Red Pepper Falafel offers a tasty twist on one of the brand’s top sellers, its Classic Falafel. Combining the palate-pleasing tastes of red pepper and hearty chickpeas with the brand’s unique blend of falafel spices, the new Roasted Red Pepper Falafel’s outstanding flavor profile allows it to be served on its own or incorporated into another dish.
The new Moroccan Red Lentil Cakes are a delectable and healthy snack made from 70 percent vegetables. A blend of red lentils, carrots and zesty spices, the tasty cakes deliver a mouthful of flavor, while also providing an excellent source of protein (8 grams per serving).
Veggie Patch’s new Roasted Red Pepper Falafel and Moroccan Red Lentil Cakes have a suggested retail price of $4.49 and are rolling out this month in the produce section of grocery stores nationwide.
The two new vegetable products debut as attention increases on the benefits of vegetables. From the First Lady’s healthy school lunch initiative and revisions set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture stating that half of one’s plated meal should consist of vegetables, to recent obesity studies that have brought healthy eating to the forefront, increasing attention has been paid to adding more vegetables to American diets. Vegetable purchases have grown by 14 percent over the past five years and are expected to experience a double-digit increase over the next five years.
“These mouth-watering new products are as flavorful as they are exotic, and as healthy as they are convenient,” said Adam Carr, CEO of Veggie Patch. “We’re proud to lead the way in introducing unique and great tasting items that excite and appeal to our consumers.”
Prior to these new product launches, Veggie Patch most recently introduced its Mediterranean Patties this past December. The unique patties contain an exotic blend of Mediterranean spices combined with spinach and chickpeas.
In addition to its new products, Veggie Patch is also debuting a new look, including a modernized logo and updated package complete with mouth-watering photography and suggested preparations for the items. Each product now features a more descriptive name that better speaks to the item’s flavor profile, such as the full-bodied sweetness of the Roasted Red Pepper Falafel and the unique spices of the Moroccan Red Lentil Cakes.
“We know a lot of people eat with their eyes and for a product as distinctive and delicious as Veggie Patch, it starts with the product photography,” continued Carr. “We’re especially proud of our new look because it undoubtedly gets consumers excited about our products, both new and current.”
The complete Veggie Patch line consists of eleven products, including its well-known Savory Spinach Bites and Garden Broccoli Bites, which are two of the brand’s more kid-friendly products. All items are nutrient rich, non-GMO and contain 0 trans fat.
By Lorrie Baumann
In a matter of hours, Riccardo Felicetti of the Pastificio Felicetti will know whether he’s eating his Monograno Felicetti pasta with butter and anchovies for a celebration dinner or because that’s his ultimate comfort food. “It’s very easy, very simple, but it’s exactly the pasta meal I eat when I come back from my travels,” he says. “This is exactly my comfort food.”
The pasta has been named a finalist for two sofi Awards: one for Best Organic Product and one for Best Pasta, Rice or Grain, and it’s the first time that Pasta Felicetti has ever been in the running for the Specialty Food Association’s ultimate recognition for outstanding food innovation. Felicetti wangled an invitation for dinner at a friend’s New York apartment with the understanding that his favorite Spaghettoni with Butter and Anchovies would be on the menu. “And if I don’t get the award, then I will need a heavy comfort food,” Felicetti says ruefully.
He believes that his product was considered by the award’s jurors because it’s a single-source organic pasta from the biggest organic pasta producer in Italy. The buyers from Pastificio Felicetti travel Italy and the world searching for the best organic grains and then combine that grain with pure spring water from springs in the Italian Alps around their pastificio production facility. The pasta’s taste and its elegant packaging probably also played a role, he acknowledges.
He hopes that American consumers will appreciate the premium pasta for its great taste and texture, regardless of the degree of al dente to which it’s cooked. Even in Italy, there’s no consensus about that proper degree of firmness for the cooked pasta, and so the Felicetti pasta is made to be good no matter the al dente preference of the cook who prepares it. “It cooks to your preference,” he says. “The most important thing is that you cook it the way you like it.”
Putting food into the body is an extremely intimate act, and Felicetti hopes that the consumers who ultimately purchase, prepare and eat his product will choose it because they understand and appreciate that the pasta was made in a modern production facility with 21st century sanitation practices using a safe process that enhances the grain’s natural flavors. “I trust that always more people will be interested in knowing what they are eating,” he says. “We will continue to offer high-quality product to interested American customers because we believe they will understand the difference between a high-quality pasta and another pasta.”
Visit Pastificio Felicetti in booth #2615 at the Summer Fancy Food Show.
By Lorrie Baumann
The British government settled its own controversy about the sanitation of cheeses aged on wood a decade ago, and government regulators there have come down on the side of permitting cheese makers to age their cheeses as they think best, says the Right Honorable Owen Paterson, British Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. “It should be the cheese manufacturers who decide what to do. They’ve got a long history,” he said. “We believe very strongly that people should be responsible for their own production systems. What counts is the outcome.”
The outcomes that count should be that food should be safe to eat and it should taste good, and the British government has decided that the way to achieve that is to let the experts who are making the products decide how to get to that goal, and the government learned that through its own missteps in trying to regulate cheese production methods, he said. “Cheese is not suited to being produced on plastic. It sweats,” he said. “It’s a natural product, and it sweats.”
Paterson stopped in to promote British food at the Summer Fancy Food Show on his way to a meeting with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, with whom he’s negotiating a trade agreement that he says he’s “mad keen” to get through as a step in opening up the American market to more food imports from the European Union. He says that British food producers are well positioned to capitalize on access to the American market. Americans ar already enthusiastic about British products and are already purchasing $3.5 billion/year worth of British food products — about 10 percent of British food exports. British food production is a $170 billion/year industry that employs just under 4 million people. “It’s by far the most innovated food sector in Europe,” Paterson said. As an example of how fast British food production is growing, he points to Walkers, which has gone from a small family bakery with 16 employees baking shortbread cookies to a large enterprise that currently employs 1,600 people in a business that’s based primarily on exports. And shortbread isn’t the only Scottish product that’s enjoying the world’s good opinion, he said. “The French drink more Scotch whisky in a month than the French drink French cognac in a year,” he said. “We’ve got more varieties of cheese than the French have.”
The British dairy industry has been deregulated and is poised for growth at a time when world demand for dairy products is growing hugely, Paterson said. “We’re ideally placed to take advantage of it,” he said. “I opened the world’s largest fresh milk dairy inn Aylesbury last week.” Britain is home to the only USDA cheese producer in Europe, which introduced the Kingdom brand of cheddar cheese in the U.S. late last year. The milk in Kingdom Cheddar comes from a small group of organic family farmers in South-West England, where cheddar cheesemaking first began in the 12th century. “We use old-world artisan techniques, conducted under today’s exacting organic standards, which makes for an exceptional product,” said Nicola Turner, Export and Marketing Director at the Organic Milk Suppliers Cooperative (OMSCo,) the largest organic dairy farmers’ co-operative in the UK. OMSCo manages the production of Kingdom Cheddar.
Paterson recommends the Kingdom Cheddar along with other British cheeses, which are made with a long history of cheese production, very modern plants with rigorous production standards and a great deal of innovation in presenting new varieties and flavors of cheeses onto the market, he said. “These guys are really motoring, and there’s potentially a huge market.”
Along with cheese, Paterson aims to provide new opportunities for British meat exports into the U.S. Americans are ready to eat British beef again, he said. “They love eating British beef when they come to London,” he said. Britain has the landscape and the beef breeds, including the Aberdeen Angus, to export high-quality grass-fed beef to an American public that will welcome it, he said. And after he’s gotten beef coming to America, his next step will be to follow up with lamb. “There are a lot of Americans of Scottish descent who are being prevented from exercising their ancestral right to eat haggis,” he said.
Peacock Brand’s gluten-free, 100 percent fat free, cholesterol free and non-genetically modified rice-based vermicelli and spaghetti noodles from Singapore are wholesome and packed with natural goodness. Peacock products offer a healthy choice to consumers around the world. Since its founding, the company has dedicated its resources to creating products that are all natural, high quality, reasonably priced and delicious to the last strand
Peacock Brand will be showcasing its line of products at the Summer 2014 Fancy Food Show. Learn more about the delicious all-natural Peacock Brand noodles at booth #1150 during the Summer Fancy Food Show.