Liberty Richter, a division of World Finer Foods, has added Valor Chocolates to the company’s comprehensive assortment of premium products. For more than 130 years (since 1881), Valor Chocolates, based in Spain, has crafted some of the most exquisite chocolates and bonbons, using the finest cocoa beans from various parts of the globe including Ecuador, Panama and Ghana. The master chocolatier has been honored with accolades such as the “2011 European Candy Kettle Award,” one of the most prestigious awards in this sector.
Produced with the very purest raw materials, specially selected from the best harvests, and by a unique, traditional manufacturing method, Valor Chocolates offers indulgent, “pleasure-igniting” flavors. Valor also offers more health-conscious yet equally delightful no sugar added, lactose-free and gluten-free versions. Among the artful chocolate treats now available in the U.S. exclusively through World Finer Foods and its Liberty Richter division are:
“We continue to focus on growing our portfolio of premium brands and Valor Chocolates is the perfect addition to our mix,” stated Susan Guerin, CEO of World Finer Foods. “The quality of their products, innovative recipes and unparalleled manufacturing capabilities deliver a premium range of chocolates. We look forward to raising awareness and expanding distribution of the Valor brand. We’re especially excited to promote the no sugar added assortment which offers consumers not only a healthier option but also the same great taste as the traditional line of chocolates.”
As a premier confectioner, Valor has adopted the quality strategy and focuses on continual innovation to bring the highest quality of chocolate goods to the customer. The Company’s latest creation of a range of no sugar added chocolates, blends an exclusive recipe developed by Valor’s Master Chocolatiers which preserves the richness and unique taste of its traditional chocolate products. Valor’s All Natural range is free of artificial flavoring and preservatives and is made with the finest cocoa grown, guaranteeing the full “from bean to bar” confectionary process. These all natural products have been specifically developed for the U.S. market where 100 percent natural products are increasingly appreciated and demanded by consumers.
Gonzalo Sanchez, Export Director of Valor Chocolates stated, “Valor Chocolates has been successfully marketed in the U.S. for the past 15 years and has a strong and loyal consumer following. We believe now is the time for expansion and in order to take our brand to the next level, we needed a partner that understands our heritage and offering, as well as one with an extensive nationwide reach. Liberty Richter, with their distribution capabilities, customer relationships, and sales and marketing support services is the perfect partner, and we look forward to working with them to bring our assortment of specialty chocolates to those consumers who demand and crave the very best.”
“As the pioneer in specialty products, we have extensive relationships nationwide across all retail channels and see tremendous opportunities to bring Valor Chocolates to consumers who demand the very best,” said Guerin. Our team is committed to delivering an unparalleled customer experience to both our brand and distribution partners, and the combination of Liberty Richter and Valor will be a powerful recipe for success in the premium chocolate market. We look forward to showcasing the product line at the Summer Fancy Food Show and meeting with our customers and partners to further drive innovation.”
Jade Monk is redefining the ready-to-drink tea category with its first-to-market line of organic, cold-brewed matcha green teas. Now available in five regions of Whole Foods Market, Jade Monk’s new line of premium matcha tea is a delicious, authentic offering of some of the finest tea to ever hit the mainstream beverage set.
Utilizing a cold-brewing method, no heat is ever introduced during the production of Jade Monk’s USDA Organic and Non-GMO verified matcha beverages. To extend shelf life of the perishable tea, Jade Monk uses high-pressure-processing, a new method of cold pasteurization that applies high pressure (over 30 tons worth) to inactivate bacteria and other unwanted hazards without the need for high temperature pasteurization, which can be detrimental to matcha’s delicate flavor and whole food nutrients.
“Matcha green tea is unlike any other tea on Earth,” said Mike Fulkerson, Chief Commercial Officer of Jade Monk, LLC. “Because matcha is made by delicately grinding the entire tea leaf into a fine powder, all of those whole food nutrients and health benefits that regular tea bags carry away stay in the beverage and are consumed when you drink Jade Monk matcha.”
Although matcha may seem relatively new to the US, it has been consumed for well over 800 years throughout the Far East. For nearly a millennium, the Japanese have been honing and refining the art of matcha production, which has culminated in a distinct green tea that contains unrivaled flavor, nutritional properties and health benefits. Studies have shown that just one serving of matcha green tea contains the antioxidant equivalent of over 10 servings of traditional steeped green tea. Matcha drinkers also benefit from the whole food trace minerals and amino acids that the tea contains.
The Jade Monk ready-to-drink beverage line consists of four initial flavors: Unsweetened, Slightly Sweet, Mint + Honey, and Matcha Cleanse. The line can currently be found in the refrigerated beverage sets of Whole Foods Market stores in the Pacific Northwest, Southern Pacific, Florida, South and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Dairy producer Clover Stornetta Farms is launching a new line of premium ice cream made from fresh organic Clover milk and cream. These 12 new, decadent flavors will debut as a six-month exclusive placement in local independent grocers and Whole Foods Market®.
“Giving Whole Foods Market and our independent stores an exclusive, serves our mission to support businesses with like-minded philosophies,” says Clover President & CEO Marcus Benedetti. “Craft ice cream is booming. The farming principles behind our nutritious milk coupled with interesting ice cream flavors and partnerships will put Clover’s best dairy foot forward.”
Each quart is made with organic milk from happy, humane-certified Clover cows living on family-owned dairy farms. Every scoop is blended with the best quality local ingredients to create these new flavors: Chocolate Nirvana (made with fair trade Organic TCHO Chocolate in Berkeley), Straight Up Vanilla, Mint to Be, Hoppy Hour (using Bear Republic Brewing Company’s Racer 5 IPA® from Cloverdale), Cowlifornia Sweet Cream, French Press, Eat Your Milk & Cookies, Strawberry Shindig, Creamy PB&C, Pistachio Perfecto, Petaluma Pothole (in honor of our hometown’s roads) and Tempt Me Toffee (made with San Francisco’s Charles Chocolates English Toffee).
The reveal of Clover premium organic craft ice creams will kick off with in-store samples, signage and a strategic radio campaign with social media messaging, and PR that reflects Clover’s core values of farm-fresh, sustainability, family, animal welfare and superior quality.
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit, a frozen treat made from fruit, filtered water and organic cane sugar, has expanded product distribution for its Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops™ to almost 2,000 placements nationwide this summer. Noteworthy accounts include 25 Bay Area region Whole Foods stores, almost 500 Kroger’s stores, HEB’s, Ahold’s Giant Carlisle, Fresh & Easy Markets, Mrs. Green’s Natural Markets, New Season’s Markets, Gelson’s Markets, Rosauers Supermarkets, Mother’s Markets as well as leading boutique health food stores such as Erewhons and Lambs Markets. In addition, Chloe’s will be available at select Costco locations this summer.
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co. delivers direct to retailers as well as through its national distribution channels, with distributor partners including UNFI, DPI Specialty Foods, Jake’s Finer Foods, as well as regional kosher distributors throughout the country.
“Consumers can now find Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops throughout the country, just in time for summer,” said Michael Sloan, CEO and Co-Founder. “Our Soft Serve Fruit Pops taste incredible and are made with just fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar, making a refreshing snack or guilt-free treat. This is why we have seen exponential growth across all retail channels: big box, national grocery chains, specialty retailers and health food stores. We are extremely excited that with our expanded footprint with these new retailers, customers will easily be able to find Chloe’s!”
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are available in five varieties – Dark Chocolate, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry and Strawberry. At only 60 calories and with just 13-15g of sugar, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are free of preservatives, additives, high fructose corn syrup and stabilizers. In addition, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are free of dairy, gluten, fat, and the eight major allergens and are certified kosher pareve and vegan. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are also Non-GMO Project Verified.
Consumers can find a single flavor four-pack box of Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops on shelf for a suggested retail price of $3.99 – $4.99. A 16 pack of Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops, which includes eight Mango and eight Strawberry Soft Serve Fruit Pops will be on shelf at select Costco locations this summer for an MSRP of $12.99.
In addition to retail, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are available through the wholesale food service channel, with distribution via Sysco, US Foods, UNFI, Cheney Brothers, specialty distributors such as Reliant Food Service, Southwest Traders, MRS Bakery Distribution Corp, Fortune Fish and Gourmet, and ice cream distributors across the U.S. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops and Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit mix are approved products into leading food service providers, including Compass Group USA, Sodexo and Aramark.
Santé Specialty Foods, maker of gourmet roasted and spiced nuts, has received a Gold Medal Endorsement from Chefs in America, a nationwide network of over highly-esteemed 7,500 corporate and executive chefs. In a triple-blind taste test, all 10 flavors of Santé Nuts scored a nine or higher, with the company’s newly-released Roasted Salted Mix receiving one of the highest scores. The nuts were judged according to six distinct factors: appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel, aftertaste and overall impression.
“Chefs In America believes that Santé Nuts superior-tasting product line of value-added nuts respects the history of this great food,” the organization said in a statement. “Santé’s products are obviously crafted with respect for tradition while offering a modern gourmet air. They are a delicious treat that can lower bad cholesterol and provide heart healthy nutrients—all while tasting great.”
By Lorrie Baumann
Polska Foods is bringing a traditional pre-Soviet Polish culinary staple to American grocers’ freezer cases. The young California company goes to great lengths to make its Organic Potato Cheese Pierogi, Mushroom Cabbage Vegan Pierogi with Sauerkraut, Organic Spinach & Feta Pierogi and Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi from high-quality organic ingredients and time- and labor-intensive methods to produce products that honor the culinary traditions of Chief Operations Officer Tomasz Piszczek’s Polish grandmother, says Bridget McQueen-Piszczek, the company’s CEO.
McQueen-Piszczek discovered pierogi when her new husband, Tomasz Piszczek, took her to Poland to meet his family in 2010. “Everything we ate at his parent’s farm was from the garden, the fields, or wild-picked from the neighboring forest – even the meat we ate was from a neighbor,” she says. “When I had their pierogi with all the fresh ingredients, I thought, this is incredible.” Piszczek’s parents and grandmother didn’t speak any English, and McQueen-Piszczek didn’t speak any Polish. “We ended up communicating through the food,” she said. “Good food allowed us to share a moment of love and appreciation when the language barrier prevented us from connecting.”
“When I came back to California, I said that we had to get some of these pierogi,” she continued. “We tried everywhere, even went to the East Coast, to delis where there were lines out the door.” But none of those pierogi compared to the ones made by her grandmother-in-law in Poland with thin delicate dough and stuffed with savory fillings. So finally, the Piszczeks decided that they were just going to have to learn how to make their own. They asked Piszczek’s grandmother for her recipes. “We started out making it just for ourselves, but when you make pierogi, you make a lot and you want to share them,” McQueen-Piszczek says. Dinner parties with friends turned into requests from friends and family members for a chance to buy the pierogi for their own tables, and then that turned into sales at local farmers markets and then a sale to the local Whole Foods market. “We just kept taking one step after the other, and then one day you wake up and think, Wow, we’ve got a whole company,” McQueen-Piszczek says.
It took a year after the Piszczeks decided to make the pierogi for the farmers market to find the right ingredients. “We visited the farms and the plants of all ingredient providers to guarantee quality and authenticity. Some of the ingredients, such as the cheese, had to be custom made to mimic the quality you find in Poland,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “Today we work with one of the only local organic mills in the Bay Area. Starting with exceptional ingredients is essential to gourmet pierogi, and all our pierogi are made fresh and flash frozen to preserve the flavor, texture, and nutrients.”
The Potato Cheese and Mushroom Cabbage Sauerkraut Pierogi were the first on the market. The Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi were added later because customers were asking for it, and the Organic Spinach & Feta Pierogi were added to the line as a more Americanized version of the traditional dish. “You see Spinach Feta pierogi in Poland today, but it’s not a flavor from many generations ago,” McQueen-Piszczek says.
The Potato Cheese Pierogi are certified organic and use handcrafted farmers cheese. The filling includes organic potatoes, organic caramelized onions, whole grain organic millet, roasted garlic, and fresh herbs. McQueen-Piszczek says that she occasionally gets questions about whether the inclusion of millet in the pierogi filling is quite authentic, but it’s true to the traditional Old World recipes from past generations. “The millet gives it more fiber and also has a nutty flavor. It’s a very old, ancient grain, and a lot of pierogi just had millet in them. It was used before potatoes,” she says. There’s a whole-wheat version and one made with unbleached, organic wheat flour.
Mushroom Cabbage Pierogi with Sauerkraut are made with a recipe that’s several centuries old and is the kind of pierogi that Poles eat during the Wigilia Christmas Eve vigil, when traditionally, people didn’t eat meat while they waited for Christmas Day. “It’s the tradition of giving something up in order to gain. Religious tradition has changed, but this flavor is still very popular year round,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “This recipe is from our family in Poland, from many generations of eating at Christmas-time. When Polish natives try this flavor for the first time, you can see in their facial expressions that this is the way their grandmother made it, and many tell us they haven’t had it for 20-plus years. We get that a lot.”
They’re vegan, and raw, fermented gourmet sauerkraut is the key ingredient, McQueen-Piszczek says. “ The second key is a slow cooking process where you caramelize the onions, and slowly cook all the herbs and vegetables together for hours, creating a complex, well-balanced flavor. We make pierogi just like home – no short cuts in our processing.”
The Organic Spinach Feta Pierogi are award-winning and vegetarian, made from organic spinach, organic caramelized onions, portabello mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers and feta cheese in a whole-wheat organic dough. They offer 16 grams of whole grains per serving. Savory Beef & Pork Pierogi are made with organic white flour, hormone- and antibiotic-free minimally processed beef round and pork along with caramelized onions, whole-grain organic buckwheat, crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic, smoky paprika, spicy peppers and herbs in a tomato base. “You almost don’t need a topping on the beef and pork ones,” McQueen-Piszczek says. “We used the best-sourced meats and ingredients that you can get.”
“We were the company that had the ‘weird’ fruits and vegetables,” explained Melissa’s Produce Director of Public Relations, Robert Schueller, describing the company’s early years in slightly amused tone. Whether the thorn-covered durian fruit from Thailand, or 60-pound jackfruit from Mexico and Costa Rica, Melissa’s prides itself on always offering customers something new and unique, a feature particularly prized by the company’s gourmet clientele.
The company, founded by Joe and Sharon Hernandez, has a catalog of approximately 1,200 items, many offered seasonally. The selection includes conventional and organic fresh specialty produce, as well as dried items. One of the first national organic brands to begin selling 15 years ago, Melissa’s variety is among the U.S. leaders for both organic and conventional specialty produce, as well as hispanic and Asian specialty produce.
While Melissa’s – named for the Hernandez’s daughter – distributes to the nation’s top 20 retailers as well as independent gourmet markets, it started out catering to local specialty ethnic food retailers. First delivering traditional favorite items to Hispanic markets and shoring up supply chains that had left stores with inconsistent stock, Melissa’s soon branched out to bring original, sometimes unusual produce to a range of retailers.
While many distributors source quality produce both locally and globally, Melissa’s prides itself on pioneering a path for American consumers to taste new fruits and vegetables. When the company identifies an item it thinks would go over well stateside, but for one reason or another cannot be imported – often due to the lengthy regulatory process required to clear international produce – Melissa’s innovates by bringing new farming to the U.S. “Ten, 15 years ago, people would visit Southeast Asia, or Central American, and taste the delicious dragonfruit,” explained Schueller. “Then we started getting emails and calls, with people saying, ‘I had this terrific new fruit, how can I get it? You guys are the company to get it!’ But 15 years ago, we couldn’t get it. It wasn’t yet legal for import into the U.S.”
Knowing that dragonfruit is in the cactus family, the company approached one of its growers, a cactus fruit producer in Fallbrook, California, to attempt cultivation of the plant. The crop was a success, and that producer now turns out 80 percent of all domestically grown dragonfruit. Still a relatively expensive item, due to the plant’s sensitivity to swings of cold and hot weather, Melissa’s now has a source of dragonfruit for late summer and fall, which it pairs with Florida-grown fruit that became available in 2010. When the USDA finally approved Melissa’s import of year-round Vietnamese dragonfruit in 2011, this completed the company’s move to supply American consumers with a delicious new exotic fruit whose sales continue to increase.
While some of the company’s unique fruit offerings catch consumer eyes, its flagship product is actually the routine-looking Dutch Yellow Potato, sold in retail stores and also favored by gourmet chefs for its buttery flavor. This creamer potato, grown in Idaho and often referred to (erroneously) as ‘Baby Yukons,’ is uniquely resistant to toxic greening, a common problem with creamer potatoes. Other proprietary items offered by Melissa’s, of which there are many, include kale sprouts – imagine a Brussels sprout appearing plant that produces miniature kale sprouts instead of balls of Brussels sprouts – and Muscato grapes.
While Joe Hernandez has brought Melissa’s a long way – he continues to serve as CEO and President of a company whose staff includes 25 family members, and the company has evolved to include the most exotic of produce from around the globe, Melissa’s remains true to its roots, covering those same – and some new – hispanic staples that gave the company its early success. Known for its variety of both fresh and dried chile peppers, one of the company’s exclusive partner farmers will begin growing the new world’s hottest pepper – the Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million Scoville heat units – this summer in California, to pair with the dried product the company currently sources from Mexico. The pepper will be one of many produce varieties that Melissa’s procures as exclusives from its growers.
For more information on Melissa’s Produce, visit www.melissas.com.
By Lorrie Baumann
In his fourth season as an artisan cheesemaker, Jeff Fenwick, cheesemaker at Back Forty Artisan Cheese in Lanark, Ontario, doesn’t regret leaving his job as director of admissions at a college in downtown Hamilton. His wife Jenna simply brought her own art and design business with her when they made the move, and although she’s streamlined the retail channels for her line of women’s bags and accessories to accommodate her new rural location, her studio still thrives. “We turned a barn into her studio here when we moved,” Jeff says. “She has a big Etsy store.”
Jeff and Jenna were living and working in Hamilton when his job at the college began to feel a little stale. The couple had always been interested in food, cooking and entertaining, and they’d started growing some of their vegetables. Jeff had gotten interested in fermenting and was making his own beer and cider. “I had made the odd batch of yogurt, but no advanced cheese making,” he says.
Jeff’s job required long hours at the college, and the two of them began to regret how little time they were spending together, too. All those yearnings prompted Jeff to start searching for a chance to leave his office job for a business related to food. They thought of opening a small cafe, perhaps. “While we were researching, this cheese business came up for sale. It’s a beautiful area, and we had some family in the area, and it turned out to be a great fit for us,” Jeff says. “A big part of moving out here was to spend more time together. The college job was very demanding. We weren’t seeing each other a whole lot.”
In business since late 1999 or early 2000, Back Forty Artisan Cheese was one of the first in Ontario to make raw sheep’s milk cheeses. Its former owner was ready to leave it behind but he wanted to leave the business in good hands, so he stayed involved long enough to teach Jeff how to make cheese from his recipes. “I had to learn a whole new art,” Jeff says. “I used his recipes, did some trial and error, made some mistakes. It took a good year to settle into it.”
Milking the sheep is outsourced to a nearby farm where the farmer has more livestock experience.“He has a flock of 200 sheep this year,” Jeff says. “He does what he does best and gives us high-quality milk that we can make good cheese with.”
Jenna handles the marketing and website management for the business, and today the cheese is being sold at specialty cheese shops and upscale grocers all over Ontario, with the majority going to the eastern half of the province, including Ottawa and some farmers markets and small retailers in Toronto. They just added the farmers market in Kingston to their distribution network.
Back Forty Artisan Cheeses makes four products in its regular line. Flower Station is a traditional-style feta. Highland Blue is a natural rind blue cheese that’s flavorful but a little smoother than most blue cheeses, with some extra butteriness from the sheep’s milk. “We’ve had a lot of success with that one,” Jeff says.
Bonnechere is a semifirm cheese, unique because it’s influenced by a Basque recipe. Its rind is flame-torched for a mahogany exterior and a hint of smokiness that gives it an interesting flavor on the rind around a body that’s tangy and a little fruity. It’s aged from three months to a year or more. Finally, Madawaska, a bloomy rind raw milk cheese that’s tricky to make. “It ripens from the outside in, so you get that ripeness right under the rind, with a little firmer body to it near the center,” Jeff says. “Madawaska is frequently back-ordered due to the high demand for this unique cheese and the fact that we can produce only limited quantities.”
Now that Jeff has settled into his new life, he’s growing it too. The couple just bought a new farm in North Frontenac, where they’re building a new facility that they expect to have in operation this summer.
For further information, visit www.artisancheese.ca. For more information about Jenna Fenwick’s line of screen-printed textile products, visit jennarose.ca.
By David Bernard
When it comes to frozen desserts and toppings, a number of the overall trends in gourmet food continue to push the category, such as healthful, and unique and global flavor profiles; but the producers of pints, novelties and toppings have taken things a step further, turning out surprising products, and in some cases turning back the clock as well.
In the freezer case, as in the snack, cereal and most other aisles, healthful trends are front and center. “Starting with frozen yogurt’s resurgence 8-10 years ago, the more healthful frozen dessert trend hasn’t really gone away,” explained Jillian Hillard, Marketing Manager for PreGel AMERICA, a supplier of dessert ingredients.
With the frozen pint being the dessert world’s currency of choice, and lower fat on the minds of many Americans, sorbet is gaining traction, according to Hillard, both in traditional single, smooth fruit and other flavors such as chocolate. Adventurous sorbet mix-ins are also appearing, like sea salted caramels, passion fruit sauce with seeds and peanut sauce with crispy cereal.
For healthful options that include a little more cream, or rather, “cream,” think non-dairy, a fast-growing subcategory fueled by 50 million lactose intolerant Americans, two million dairy-allergic children and one million vegans, and those avoiding saturated fats. Cashew milk ice cream is the latest iteration, wowing samplers at March’s Natural Products Expo West. Almond and coconut milk ice cream are players as well; one leading dairy-free producer now offers 17 varieties of coconut.
While healthful is in, flavor has always been in, and today’s consumers want more and varied taste experiences. “We work a lot of trade show circuits, and vanilla is still one of the top things we see requested,” explained Hillard. “But more and more, the variety of flavors is expanding, and global, more remote tastes are coming through. So while strawberry has always been an idealistic flavor, for example, now we’re seeing things like mango and guava come into play.”
There’s no need to search globally for one of the hottest flavor trends – savory. Hillard reported that PreGel recently launched popcorn, and pancakes and maple syrup flavors for frozen desserts, and they are selling briskly. “Tastes are really evolving and changing,” she said. “Look at salted caramel; when that flavor first emerged, people said, ‘Who would put salt in a dessert?’ And now … many dessert companies are actually adapting the flavor as a core part of their lines.”
As consumers embrace the frozen new, they’re also reaching out for the old. Nostalgia is in, with childhood-reminiscent flavors such as cereal-infused ice creams and novelties. And Hillard points out that with advances in food technology, those peanut covered cereal crisps and other mix-ins stay crunchy in ice cream.
Frozen pops are back, now often made of ice cream dipped in a flavorful coating like coffee or chocolate, rather than fruit centric. Novelty trends include both decadent and healthful, as more bite-size and mini ice cream sandwiches and other confections emerge.
Topping trends include simple-and-healthful, a dash of the exotic, and another page of nostalgia. A simple, thick honey sauce; ginger sauce with bits of the root, and graham cracker sauce containing pieces of the nostalgic treat; these are a few of the newer toppings that are changing the way people eat frozen desserts.
Native to Louisiana, but appreciated nationwide, Frontier Soups™ gluten-free, non-GMO New Orleans Jambalaya Soup Mix contains saffron- and turmeric-seasoned calasparra rice and peppers in the mix. Home cooks add broth, ham, tomatoes and shrimp for an authentic taste of the French Quarter in just 30 minutes.
Suggested retail price: $5.95-$6.49 for 4.5 ounce package.
Call Frontier Soups at 800.300.7687.