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Specialty Egg Market Continues to Grow Despite Label Confusion

 

By David Bernard

 

SpecialtyEggs1-MW for webSometimes free-range eggs are not really so free range after all. While the growing specialty egg industry has advanced animal welfare and supplied retailers with more nutritious, flavorful eggs to sell, it has also misled at times, and there continues to be confusion among consumers over the various types of eggs. With no legal standards as to what constitutes most of the main types of specialty eggs, including free-range, cage-free and pasture-raised, retailers can end up selling eggs laid by hens that are not treated as well as one might think.

The term “free-range” is generally taken to mean that hens have access to the outdoors. It does not necessarily mean, however, that the bird actually goes outdoors. “Free range often means there is just a small hole allowing passage from indoors to outdoors,” said Dan Brooks, Director of Marketing and Communications for Vital Farms, a national specialty egg producer based in Austin, Texas. “However, the birds are often given no encouragement to go outdoors, and the small hole inherently makes it difficult for the bird to get outside. Or a producer might let the birds outside, but only for a small amount of time each day.”

For many consumers, free-range is an attractive term that conjures images of wide open spaces and grass-covered hills where hens wander freely. However, that definition more closely applies to another type of specialty egg: pasture-raised. Vital Farms, the only third-party certified national producer of pasture-raised eggs, as defined by respected verifier Certified Humane, provides 108 square feet of outdoor space per bird. In addition, the company rotates hens between areas that contain fresh grass and feed. Unlike typical commodity egg-laying hens, the company’s birds are not treated with hormones or antibiotics.

Pasture-raised eggs provide a wealth of benefits for consumers. Compared to commodity eggs from caged hens, pasture-raised eggs have been demonstrated to provide more vitamin D (four times the amount), beta carotene (seven times), vitamin E (three times) and vitamin A (66 percent more). They may also contain 33 percent less cholesterol and 25 percent less saturated fat. According to Brooks, pasture-raised eggs taste better as well. “We get so many emails from customers where they say, ‘Thank you. This is the best egg I’ve ever tasted,’” he said.

In addition to pasture-raised and free-range eggs, there are also cage-free eggs, in which hens typically live indoors in a floor-based housing or aviary system, rather than in the small, two- to-three-bird cages typical of the commodity egg industry.

SpecialtyEggs2-MWStill, even within the three main categories of specialty eggs, there can be even further demarcations, such as organic and Non-GMO Project Verified eggs, as well as nutritionally fortified eggs. Through the use of specialized feed, nutritionally fortified eggs contain higher levels of one or more nutrients, such as omega fatty acids, protein, beta carotene, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate and various antioxidants. USDA organic, the only regulated category in the specialty egg industry, pertains mostly to the feed that is used to grow hens. The label means the producer uses feed that is non-GMO and has been grown or produced without the use of pesticides. Free-range and pasture-raised eggs can be certified as organic. Cage-free eggs cannot be certified in this way.

Whether it is because of the more humane treatment of hens, enhanced nutritional benefits or better flavor, consumers have spoken, boosting the specialty egg industry to roughly 10 percent of the larger $9.4 billion U.S. table egg market. This is double what the specialty egg market was just five years ago. There has been a particularly sharp increase over the last 18 months. This jump is partly due to an increase in the price of commodity eggs (attributed to higher grain prices). Now that consumers are absorbing less of a hit when they move up to specialty eggs, there appears to be a changing consumer mindset.

“Food isn’t just something that people are using for nutrition nowadays,” said Jasen Urena, Director of Specialty Eggs at NestFresh, a national specialty egg producer and distributor based in Fullerton, California. “It has actually become part of their value system. The animal welfare aspect of specialty eggs and the environmental sustainability aspect with organic and non-GMO – these are becoming hot topics to consumers. And this has caused amazing growth over the last 18 months.” According to Urena, some mass retailers on both coasts are seeing specialty eggs account for a whopping 30-35 percent of sales, up from 6-7 percent just five years ago.

NestFresh produces and distributes cage-free, free-range, pasture-raised, non-GMO and organic eggs, including nutritionally enhanced varieties, through its brands NestFresh, The Country Hen, Horizon Organic and a variety of retailer private labels. The company forgoes the use of hormones or antibiotics, as is typical of commodity egg producers. Its products are all certified as humane by several third-party verifiers.

Consumers are not the only ones driving the specialty egg trend, however, with state regulators getting into the game as well. Beginning in January, California will outlaw the use of conventional cages, although legal wrangling continues over whether the statute as written also bans larger, so-called “enriched” cages that hold 15-20 birds. Other states are considering similar laws.

While both consumer awareness and specialty egg sales are increasing, there appears to be much room for growth. At least 90 percent of domestic table eggs come from caged hens that average just 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches of living space. “Our research indicates that most consumers are simply not aware of this, and those that are do not support it,” said Jenni Danby, Marketing Director at The Happy Egg Co., a national specialty egg supplier based in San Francisco. “Consumer education is such a large part of what we do. For a bird with a 30-inch wingspan to have a space that is smaller than a piece of standard printer paper – we think consumers are entitled to know this.”

The Happy Egg Co. supplies free-range eggs from hens that do not receive antiobitics or hormones and are free to roam in grassy fields every day with at least 14 square feet of space per bird. This space allotment handily exceeds all current third-party free-range standards. The two-and-a-half-year-old company supplies over 4,000 retailers, and its products are all certified as humane by several third-party verifiers.

Some producers are finding that humane treatment of hens pays a production dividend. John Brunnquell, President of Warsaw, Indiana-based Egg Innovations has seen the benefits of moving from a commodity, caged production model to various levels of specialty production. After taking over his family’s egg farm following college, Brunnquell decided to transition to specialty eggs. “Every time we took another step forward in animal welfare, whether it was adding perches, letting the birds outside [or] expanding the outside area – every time we did this, our production went up,” he said.

Not only did Egg Innovations’ egg output increase, so did the quality. “We’ve seen deeper, darker yolks and improved shell strength, and we attribute this to a healthier bird” Brunnquell said. “Now on flavor, that’s obviously a subjective discussion, but it’s typical for consumers to come back to us and say, ‘These eggs taste different. They taste better.’” Egg Innovations is a national supplier of free-range and organic free-range eggs, including several types of nutritionally enhanced eggs. The company, which is preparing to launch a third-party certified pasture-raised egg, does not use hormones or antibiotics, and its products are certified as humane by several third-party verifiers.

This story was originally published in the December 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

 

Artisan Bistro Announces New Premium Frozen Burrito Line

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:

  • Beef, Jack Cheese & Ancho Chili – A classic Oaxacan-inspired mix made with organic brown rice, robust ancho chilis, red bell peppers, onions and antibiotic-free beef.
  • Chicken Tinga & Chipotle – A traditional Mexican-inspired wrap made with organic brown rice, onions, cilantro, smoky chipotle and all-natural chicken.
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon & Poblano – A uniquely delicious blend made with poblano peppers and wild Alaskan salmon, combined with organic brown rice, spinach and parsley.
  • Meatless Carnitas & Salsa Verde – A savory and flavorful combination made with meatless carnitas, tomatillos and onions.

 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.

Coco Polo Chocolate Now in Your Dekalb Farmers Market

 

Coco Polo is now offered for sale in Your Dekalb Farmers Market in Decatur, Georgia. Your Dekalb Farmers Market is a pioneer in fresh food distribution; receiving direct shipments of unique products from around the globe, without costly warehousing and distribution delays. The result is a collection of the highest quality, lowest cost, and largest variety of fresh and organic food products currently available.

“If you have not heard of them, they have quite a story of their growth….this family business was literally built by the hands of the community. Up to 100,000 customers per week have supported the store for over 40 years. It’s an honor to be included in their family of products,” says Diane Yamate, Co-Founder of Coco Polo. “They do all the things that we would like to see done in the natural community: simplicity, responsibility, and a commitment to health.”

Coco PoloCoco Polo offers a unique and healthy addition to the chocolate shelf. Unlike standard chocolates in dark colored packages, Coco Polo features bright, exciting packaging contrasted with gold that catches the eye while scanning the store aisle. These rich chocolate bars come in both Milk and Dark flavors with 13 rich varieties. Coco Polo’s seven dark chocolate bars are all vegan and include: 70% Dark, Elderberry, Cherry, Cocoa Nibs, Almond, Ginger, and Toasted Coconut Chia. Coco Polo also offers milk chocolate in the following varieties: 39% Milk, Almond, Cherry, Elderberry, Hazelnut, and Mango.

Already in Whole Foods Market, Mom’s Organic Market, Sprouts Farmer’s Market, and The Fresh Markets, Coco Polo aims to offer the most delicious, sugar-free, real chocolate available in traditional and brand new flavors.

 

Authentic Dijon Mustard Flavored With Napa Valley Wine

mustardEdmond Fallot is adding a new mustard to its condiments line with its Napa Valley Pinot Noir Dijon Mustard. Grape must, mustard seeds mainly from Burgundy’s Terroir and Napa Pinot Noir are finely blended into a vividly-hued crimson purple paste. The flavor is delicate and will exquisitely enhance red meat, game, fish, sandwiches, pasta and sauces.

Wine and mustard are historically entwined: back in the day, the Romans consumed a fiery mixture comprised of wild mustard seeds and grape must – this famous “mustum ardere” (mustum, fermenting grape juice and ardere, to burn, blazing, from which the word mustard is derived).

Although Pinot Noir has been known for a very long time in Burgundy (apparently brought to France by the Romans), its history subsequently became mixed up with that of monasteries, which played a key role in the reputation of Burgundy vineyards. Well vinified, it produces wines characterized by great subtlety and a wide range of aromas (fruit, wood undergrowth).

Emmi Roth USA Honored with Six Medals at 2014 World Cheese Awards

Emmi Roth USA took home six medals at this year’s World Cheese Awards in the United Kingdom, a record for the company at this competition. These wins bring the total number of awards for the company’s U.S.-produced cheeses to 23 in 2014.

The company’s flagship cheese, Roth® Grand Cru® Surchoix, received a “Super Gold” award, earning the title of one of the 62 Best Cheeses in the World. This best-in-class distinction is the bookend in a banner year for Grand Cru — the line of Grand Cru cheeses has taken home a total of 10 awards in 2014.

It’s a journey that began 4,000 miles away, among the rolling hills of Wisconsin. There, the flavors of this perfect land, climate and fresh milk go into each wheel of Roth Grand Cru. This Alpine-style cheese is crafted in traditional copper vats and carefully cured by Roth cellar masters to reflect the distinct terroir of America’s Dairyland. Grand Cru Surchoix, hand-selected as “the best of the best,” cures for a minimum of nine months to create a firm texture and complex flavors of caramel, fruit and mushroom.

“This is truly our life’s passion,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “The quality of the milk, the cheesemaking traditions, the dedication and expertise of our cheesemakers and cellar masters—you can taste all of that in each wheel. We don’t do all of this for the awards, but it’s humbling and an honor to have our flagship variety recognized among the top cheeses in the world.”

In addition, team Emmi Roth USA received the following honors at this year’s World Cheese Awards:

The Gold award for Grand Cru Reserve was also an extremely prestigious win for Emmi Roth. Grand Cru Reserve was competing in class 5514 against cheeses that had previously been awarded Supreme Champion, or the equivalent, in a national or international cheese awards competition in any country. Grand Cru Reserve earned the right to compete in this elite category after being named Grand Champion at the 2014 World Dairy Expo.

Emmi Roth’s parent company, Emmi of Switzerland, took home 11 medals, including three Gold awards for Piz Bever Extra, Kaltbach™ Cave-aged Le Gruyère AOP and Kaltbach Cave-aged Emmentaler AOP. Kaltbach Cave-aged Le Gruyère AOP was also named Best Le Gruyère AOP cheese in the sponsored trophy awards.

Hosted by the U.K.’s Guild of Fine Food, the World Cheese Awards is the world’s largest cheese event and the most respected competition of its type. This year, more than 250 judges scored nearly 2,600 cheeses from 33 countries.

Read more here and here about Emmi Roth USA and its 2014 cheese contest results.

Paso Robles Wine Country to Celebrate Inaugural BlendFest on the Coast

The Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance (PRWCA), in conjunction with the Cambria Tourism Board, San Simeon Tourism Board and Wine Coast Country announced a new partnership to bring a Paso Robles wine event to the north coast of San Luis Obispo County. On February 21, 2015 the 1st Annual Paso BlendFest on the Coast will showcase the best characteristics of each partner, combining the scenic beauty of the coast with Paso Robles Wine Country, only miles away. Held during off season, BlendFest is sure to become an annual marquee event helping to promote stays at the area’s lodging properties and celebrate Paso Robles Wine Country in a beautiful setting.

BlendFest will invite visitors to San Simeon and Cambria to Grow Wild beyond a glass of everyday wine and will feature 25-30 of Paso Robles’ renowned wineries, each featuring two distinct blends! Held at The Cavalier Resort in San Simeon, guests will be able to enjoy spectacular wines, only surpassed by the stunning coastal views.

“As evidenced by Paso’s recent honor as Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine, the region has become known for rule breaking, unconventional blends,” said Jennifer Porter, Executive Director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “It is now time those blends got their own dedicated festival!”

Read the rest of this story at Food & Food Equipment News, another publication of Oser Communications Group. You might also be interested in this story about Mollydooker wines.

Evolving U.S. Caviar Market Stocked with International and Domestic Products

 

By David Bernard

SONY DSCTime was, when you wanted to experience top-quality caviar, there was one game in town (or rather one sea in town): the Caspian Sea. The Soviet Union and Iran, with Caspian shoreline, had sole access to the species of sturgeon that provided the worlds most delicious caviar, which retailed for hundreds of dollars per ounce. However, today, retailers wanting to procure some of the best Russian caviar available, may take their shopping trip far and wide – to China and Uruguay, for example.

With exports of wild caviar from the Caspian Sea and other locations banned or mostly banned since 2006 due to poaching, overfishing, pollution and shrinking habitat, American caviar importers have turned to a growing global aquafarm industry. This is yielding some delicious results.

The key to sourcing the best caviar is to keep your eye not so much on the fish, but on the farm. While most aquafarms started their operations with the prized Caspian Sturgeon, Russian Osetra or Siberian Sturgeon (chosen for its rapid rate of maturation), it is the individual farms processes and practices that determine whether the fish turn out world-class Russian caviar or an also-ran product. While feed is not typically a distinguishing factor in product quality – there are only a few large-scale feed producers worldwide – aspects such as how much and what kind of vitamins are given and the strength of a countrys regulatory practices play important roles in ultimately determining caviar quality.

My job is to go to visit every single farm to see if they have close to a natural situation, said Max Moghaddam, President and owner of Bemka House of Caviar & Fine Foods, a Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based importer and distributor. The quality of the water is most important. If a farm is landlocked and water is a limited resource – maybe theyre using only 10 percent fresh water and recycling the rest – thats not really a farm we want to work with.

In addition to China and Uruguay, countries producing farmed caviar include Italy, the world leader in the production and export of such caviar, Germany, France, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Israel, Canada, South Korea and Saudi Arabia, as well as Iran and a number of former Soviet Republics. Russia produces a significant amount of caviar, but most is consumed by the country’s large domestic market.

Today, the main varieties of caviar imported into the United States continue to be Russian Osetra and Siberian Sturgeon. Some hybrids are sold as well, for example Bester, which is a hybrid of the Caspian native Beluga and the smaller Sterlet Sturgeon. Beluga caviar itself is banned from import or sale in this country, because the Beluga Sturgeon is an endangered species.

Markys, based in Miami, sources its top-selling Osetra from an Israeli aquafarm that uses a continuous flow of mountain stream water. The Karat Osetra caviar is sold in Black, Amber and Gold varieties. The Amber is a particular hit, juicy but with a firm grain and distinctive nutty clean taste.

While foreign aquafarms are turning out quality caviar, domestic production has grown as well, thanks to both lower pricing and increased demand. With the overall dip in world production that occurred between the banning of much wild caviar and the growth of the farmed caviar industry, domestic producers were able to fill part of the supply void.The caviar from California White Sturgeon, similar to Russian Osetra in size and taste, if a bit more fishy, now makes up more than 70 percent of authentic domestic caviar production and provides consumers with a gourmet product at a somewhat lower price.

We find that White Sturgeon is a very good middle ground, said Christopher Hlubb, President and COO of Markys. It does not usually compete with products at the top such as Russian Osetra. Like most products, it depends on grade, but it positions itself as a very good product, although the price has risen and is nearing that of Russian Osetra.

For retailers looking to offer consumers fish roe at an even lower price, there are a number of non-sturgeon American caviar products available (note: this term is also often used to refer to the authentic caviar from California White Sturgeon). Paddlefish roe, the cousin of caviar, comes from fish native to the Yellowstone River and Mississippi River system. Salmon and whitefish roe are also lower price-point options.

We talk to customers and ask them what their need is, said Dale Sherrow, Vice President of Seattle Caviar Company, which sells American caviar as well as a full range of imported caviar. If its an event, what kind of event, how many people, whats their budget. And for some customers, salmon roe is the perfect choice. You get that strong salmon flavor. It has a larger bead. Its just delicious.

While there are a number of tasty non-sturgeon roe products available, these are not necessarily a steppingstone for consumers to move into imported caviar. We find a lot of customers have their preference, their budget, and they stay with it,” said Sherrow. “They get great tasting American caviar that can be used most ways.”

This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

 

Today’s “Cooking from Scratch” Starts from a Mix

 

By Lorrie Baumann

 

For many home bakers today, “made from scratch” means using a mix that is convenient, economical and includes the same quality ingredients they would use themselves if they just had the time, energy and a real urge to buy flour in bulk. This is according to Donna Cook, owner of Rabbit Creek Products, which makes an extensive line of “scratch baking for today” baking mixes.

“In the old days, you measured out your flour and your sugar. Now it’s become convenient, and when people ask if that’s homemade, you can say, ‘Yes, it’s homemade.’” she says. “Most people do not have all these ingredients on hand, so you’d have to buy five pounds of flour and five pounds of sugar to make something, when maybe all you need is a half a cup. So using a mix instead is economical and convenient.”

“This saves so much time, and it’s easier just to buy a mix, hurry up and have the cookies or the cake done, and you’re ready to go,” Cook continues. “This is still considered a homemade product.”

Part of the time-saving convenience comes from a quicker clean-up: using the mixes saves utensils – there’s no flour sifter or separate mixing bowls for wet and dry ingredients to wash. “Basically, you have a spoon and a bowl, maybe a measuring cup for the butter to clean up,” Cook says. “They’re delicious, and they’re convenient and easy. Beer Bread takes one can of beer, and the Mudd Brownie takes butter and eggs, and most people have those in their refrigerator.”

The holiday season is home baking season too, and Rabbit Creek has a whole range of products to bring to the feast, including Brownie for the Reindeer Mix, with chocolate, peanut butter and white chips; Santa’s “Naughty” Brownie Mix; Jolly Old Saint Nick’s Cinnamon Apple Quick Bread mix and Merry Moose Holiday Cinnamon Pull Apart Quick Bread, among other treats to take to a party, add to a holiday gift basket or contribute to the family celebration. There is even a mix for Peppermint Hot Chocolate to offer the carolers when they come a’wassailing.

For home cooks who are more likely to have wine in the rack than beer in the refrigerator, Rabbit Creek Products offers a whole line of mixes that call for the addition of wine to make treats like Raspberry with Cabernet Wine Brownies, Drunken Cherry Wine Brownies, Red Red Wine Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. For everybody’s favorite character at a New Year’s Eve party, there is even The Intoxicated Nut Brownie.

“Since we’re from Kansas, we have a whole Land of Oz category of mixes for breads and brownies,” Cook adds.

These products all represent Rabbit Creek’s creative twist on classic recipes, and it is Cook’s keen attention to current food trends that sparks the company’s innovation. “Once I have in my mind what I want to do, then product development happens very quickly. If I’ve been out to a restaurant and had something that made me say, ‘Oh, this is great,’ then I’ll take those flavors and put them into a bread,” she says.

Right now, foodies are embracing coffee flavors. “We’re seeing coffee with chocolate, coffee dribbled on things, coffee-infused meat rubs,” said Cook.

Very hot peppers and pepper sauces, including sriracha, are trending as well, and Rabbit Creek’s recent addition to its line of dip mixes is called “Damn!! That’s Hot!! Vegetable Dip Mix.” As Cook tells it, the name came from a taste-tester’s reaction to a dip that gets its heat from jalapeño and a dose of cayenne.

For the foodies who are following the locavore, clean-eating or Farm to Table movements or who are just trying to find more creative ways to incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into a healthier diet, Rabbit Creek Products offers Farm Fresh Creations, a mix that calls for the addition of fresh vegetables and another that requires fresh fruit. The home cook just sautés four cups of fresh vegetables from the farmers market or the backyard garden, adds the Rabbit Creek topping and bakes it.

“There’s also a fruit one that lets people pop out a dessert from their farmers market fruit. As long as you have four cups of fruit, you can use anything you want,” Cook says. “It’s a great use for leftovers. If you have four cups of anything, you can use it. Once I had an apple I had to use, and I had some blackberries and some strawberries. You sauté those and then add the topping, bake it, and flip it upside down, so it’s like an upside down dessert. If it’s warm, it’s wonderful with ice cream on top.”

For further information and a look at other offerings from Rabbit Creek Products, visit www.rabbitcreekgourmet.com.

This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

 

Simply Panache Supplies “A Party in a Jar” with Versatile Mango Mango Preserve

By David Bernard

When developing a successful specialty food company, usually you work hard to create a product, market that product and build the business. Then you have some fun after success hits. The team at Hampton, Virginia-based Simply Panache, maker of Mango Mango preserve, took the opposite route.
Simply Panache’s three co-owners, Lakesha Brown-Renfro, Nzinga Teule-Hekima and Tanecia Willis started out having quite a bit of fun as corporate and special event planners. While organizing these events, the trio wanted to give guests something special to remember the occasion, and that turned out to be a signature mango preserve. They had their chef add the preserve to everything from mimosas and lemonade to cream cheese dip and ginger shrimp. And the preserve simply took off from there.

“Our event clients always wanted to know, what was in the shrimp, what was in the punch,” said Brown-Renfro, co-owner and Product Executive at Simply Panache. “They started asking if they could buy what was in all of these things we made. We looked at each other and said, ‘We think we have something here.’”

Immediately a hit, the preserve actually landed its co-owners a coveted spot on the television show Shark Tank. While the owners did not end up partnering with the Shark, they did field 15,000 new orders in the 48 hours after the show aired. “We have people who order from all over the world now,” said Brown-Renfro. In the year ending in September, the company sold more than 60,000 jars, a whopping 300 percent increase over the previous year’s sales.

Simply Panache’s Mango Mango preserve is an all-natural, four-ingredient preserve that just two and a half years after its debut is now sold in all Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods stores, and in gourmet and other specialty stores nationwide. When creating the preserve, Brown-Renfro and her colleagues had all-natural and less sugar in mind. Mango Mango contains no preservatives and uses less sugar than most commercially available preserves.

“It’s a very distinctive taste,” said Brown-Renfro. “It’s the blend that does it. You don’t really see commercial preserves with lime juice and vanilla. The blend is what sets it apart from other mango products and other preserves. And with no fillers, you get more of the mango fruit.”

Simply Panache will open a new production facility and bistro in Hampton, early next year. The company has several new products in the works, including two vinaigrettes – one with red wine, olive oil and vinegar and one with mango and Dijon mustard – a mimosa mixer, lemonade and cocktail sauce. If all goes to plan, these products will start rolling out next spring.

For three friends who were happily operating an event planning business, this fruity turn has been a pleasant surprise. “This was an accidental business,” said Brown-Renfro. “But once we started making the preserve, with our event clients requesting it, and then the positive early feedback we got, we thought it would be successful. And we’re hoping that it will be a lot more successful. We’d love for it to be a household product, because it just has so many uses.”

This story was originally published in the November 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

West Coast Kate and Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix

Frontier Soups WestCoastKaleQuinoaVegSoupEMThe new West Coast Kale and Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix from Frontier Soups is a vegetarian and certified gluten-free soup that’s part of Frontier Soups’ Homemade-In-Minutes™ line. The soup has a hearty mix of white quinoa and flakes of kale and butternut squash that are freeze-dried to preserve nutrition. Home cooks add canned tomatoes, cubed butternut squash and chicken or vegetable broth and simmer for 25 minutes to make soup for the family. Everything else is in the soup mix, including onions and carrots and a savory seasoning that combines garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary and a peppercorn blend.

This soup mix answers consumer requests for more vegetarian options and for soups that offer an easy way to incorporate popular superfoods into their diet. West Coast Kale and Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix is available in 4.5-ounce clear cellophane packages that display the colorful ingredients at a suggested retail price of $5.95 to $6.49. Frontier Soups’ 34 varieties are all natural with no added salt, preservatives or MSG.

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