By Richard Thompson
Jeni’s Ice Cream reopened with fanfare after a voluntary recall and temporary closure of its shops following the discovery of Listeria in a couple of pints of its ice cream. Then the company shut down again on June 12 after finding Listeria in its plant through routine monitoring. This time, the company is confident that the new contamination did not affect any of its ice cream. There is at this time no date for a resumption of production, and if you visited the Jeni’s Ice Cream booth during the Summer Fancy Food Show, you noticed that there wasn’t any ice cream there anywhere.
Jeni’s reopened in late May after a month of reorganizing after the federal Food and Drug Administration determined a pint of ice cream for sale in Lincoln, Nebraska was contaminated with Listeria, prompting further investigation into the company’s practices. Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium usually found in soil or water, but can be found in unpasteurized milk and other dairy products, causing serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Healthy adults can experience symptoms such as fever, stiff neck, confusion, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Jeni’s immediately voluntarily recalled over half a million pounds of ice cream – about $2.5 million dollars worth – and shuttered its 20 shops while the company cooperated with the FDA and outside experts. “After the finding of Listeria, the FDA and our team took a fresh look at everything we were doing,” said John Lowe, CEO of Jeni’s Ice Cream.
The FDA told Jeni’s that between April 20 and April 30, the agency observed protocol issues, sanitary violations and a lack of contamination prevention oversight by the company. The closure gave Jeni’s staff and outside experts time to reevaluate its practices and locate the source of the Listeria outbreak. Jeni’s broad testing found a second pint to be contaminated, and the company isolated the source to a single piece of equipment. “When we found the ‘smoking gun’ we were than able to institute a plan based on recommendations from outside experts,” Lowe said.
The company spent $200,000 to overhaul its facilities and modify everyday procedures. “We installed new walls, new operating procedures, and we introduced new testing protocols,” said Lowe, “We want to put ourselves in the best position possible to never have this happen again.”
Jeni’s now requires that all equipment must be cleaned overnight by a third party operator. “Every morning now, we protein test all of the equipment before putting it back together. If it comes back all green, it’s all good. If it comes up red, then the equipment needs to be cleaned again,” Lowe said.
The processing of fruits and vegetables was also modified. Prior to the inspection, fruits and vegetables were processed in the same kitchen as the ice cream. “We won’t bring in fresh fruit directly into the facility anymore. Now there is an intermediate step. Fruits will be cleaned and processed before being brought into the facility,” Lowe said.
From the voluntary recall through the reopening on May 22, Jeni’s used its website and social media to communicate with customers in an effort to maintain consumer confidence. “We have always been an open company. We want to be transparent with customers and consumers. We sought to keep the public informed about what we knew,” said Lowe.
Jeni’s says that the time during the closure was its darkest hour and that community support and the welcome reception made its comeback particularly special. The company attributes its renewed success from its transparency during the closure. “We feel the love from the people that stood with us. We are in communication with all retailers and don’t believe we’ll have lost a single shelf slot,” Lowe said.
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.
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.
Divino USA, Inc. has entered the U.S. frozen dessert market with its distinctive line of Italian handcrafted gelato-filled fruit. The company is poised
to continue on the current trajectory of rapid growth in this country, having already secured national distribution available through KeHE, Haddon House, Nature’s Best and UNFI. Unlike any other gelato on the market, Divino is made from fresh Southern Italian fruit that is hand-picked near the Divino factory on the Amalfi Coast. The fresh fruit pulp is blended with volcanic waters from neighboring Mount Vesuvius, sweetened with natural sugar and lemon juice, and then filled into the halved fruit shell and frozen to a delicious single serving.
Divino varieties include Amalfi Lemon, Roman Kiwi, Ciaculli Tangerine, Apulian Peach and Black Diamond Plum. Each single serve item contains about 100 calories, and all are gluten-free certified, fat free and Non-GMO Project Verified. Each unit is individually packaged in a colorful box and includes a serving tray and spoon, allowing for easy display and grab-and-go. The fruit shell containing the gelato is also completely edible. The product has a shelf life of approximately 12 months. Divino calls its frozen treats ‘gelato’ because in Italy, both ice cream and sorbet fall under the gelato category.
Divino is available in natural foods stores, as well as select grocery and specialty stores across the country, with rapidly growing national distribution, and retails for approximately $3.99-$4.49 per single serving. For more information, visit www.lovedivino.com.
Brewla Bars will be unveiling its two newest flavors of ice pops in booth #4747 at the Fancy Food Show this year. The Lifeguard (strawberry and hibiscus tea) and The Luau (tropical fruits and white tea) will be the first two flavors without added sugar.
Brewla Bars are delicious all-natural ice pops created from blending brewed teas and botanicals with fruit juice or dairy ingredients. Each bar contains 50 calories or less, at most 10 grams of sugar, no artificial flavors or coloring, and a variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The resulting treat is packed with flavor and boasts a smooth, velvety texture, making it a guilt-free indulgence.
Brewla Bars are available for purchase in single-flavor boxes of five. Flavors are: THE HERO (cherry pomegranate red tea + zinc, vitamin B, and vitamin C), THE DOCTOR (craft brewed root beer float + calcium), THE LULLABY (peach ginger white tea + L-theanine and chamomile), THE LUAU (tropical fruits and white tea + electrolytes) and THE LIFEGUARD (strawberry and hibiscus tea + zinc and vitamin C).
In the past six months, Brewla Bars has been the recipient of two awards. The American Masters of Taste selected Brewla Bars as a winning product in the category of retail gourmet ice pops. The bars’ “five exciting flavor profiles” combined with the use of “quality, healthful ingredients” lead Brewla Inc. to be declared a U.S.A Taste Champion. Brewla Bars also won the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Pitch Room Contest this past December. The company was awarded a $10,000 grant and coaching and mentorship from Samuel Adams employees.
Compared to other top-selling cow’s milk ice creams, LaLoo’s Vanilla Snowflake has about half the calories, one-third the fat, is seven grams lower in sugar for folks watching their glycemic index and is easier to digest since goat milk is naturally lower in lactose and the fat particles are smaller in goat’s milk than in milk from cows.
To encourage millions of ice cream fans across America to “Give Goat a Chance” this summer, LaLoo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream is offering the chance to win an ice cream social party and other goat goody prizes to everyone who follows LaLoo’s on Facebook or Twitter (@LaloosIceCream) and shares an ice cream moment, photo or memory using hashtag #GoGoat throughout National Ice Cream Month in July. Prizes include a “Go Goat” Ice Cream Social party for 20, hosted by LaLoo’s; 10 goat goody packages consisting of a cooler full of LaLoo’s, a “Give Goat a Chance!” t-shirt, and a “Get Your Goat On!” tote bag; and daily free pint coupon winners.
LaLoo’s is available nationwide in four gourmet flavors, including: Deep Chocolate – rich dark chocolate ganache made with volcanic black cocoa and raw bittersweet cacao from acclaimed chocolate maker Scharffen Berger (77 percent cacao) – truly a chocolate lover’s dream; national award-winning Vanilla Snowflake, so delicate and yet so creamy you can serve it with everything from fresh berries to gazpacho (called “the holy grail” of ice cream by the Wall Street Journal); Rumplemint, which combines fresh organic garden mint (not peppermint) with a bold excess of dark chocolate tiles, slow churned for extra creaminess; and Capraccino, a gold medal-winning coffee ice cream made from real Italian expresso beans. To find LaLoo’s at a store near you, go to: laloos.com/shop. Attendees at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City June 29 through July 1 can get their goat on with LaLoo’s Goat’s Milk Ice Cream in LaLoo’s booth #4066.
Founder “LaLoo” (Laura Howard, based in Petaluma, Calif., who is also Founder of the Lexicon of Sustainability) has some great new recipes and real simple serving suggestions to help you get your goat on this summer that you’ll find at blog.laloos.com, like “Lemonade Stand” – just add lemonade powder on LaLoo’s Vanilla Snowflake (her daughter’s favorite); fresh berries macerated in Prosecco atop LaLoo’s Deep Chocolate for the 21+ crowd; and Capraccino topped with Honey Sesame Brittle.
Few desserts are as timeless and quintessentially American as the frosty ice cream cone. However, with specialty food companies today crafting everything from riesling and poached pear sorbet to doppelbock bacon ale ice cream to ice pops infused with kiwi, avocado and spinach puree, it is clear that the world of frozen desserts has gone positively gourmet. Check out these companies putting their unique spins on American classics.
1. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops. Forget your traditional frozen fruit bar. Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Pops are made with only three simple ingredients: fruit, water and a touch of organic cane sugar. They are all-natural, free of dairy, fat and gluten, non-GMO and have only 13-15 grams of sugar per serving. At just 60 calories, Chloe’s Pops are guilt-free fun on a stick.
2. Denali Flavors. Michigan-based Denali Flavors, Inc. is one of the leading inventors and marketers of specialty flavors for the ice cream industry, including its signature flavor: Moose Tracks®. Today, the product line consists of more than 30 flavors, including Caramel Caribou® (toffee ice cream with caramel) and Bear Claw® (dark chocolate with cashews).
3. Graeter’s. Artisan ice cream company Graeter’s is the only commercial enterprise to make all of its ice creams using a traditional small batch French pot process. The result is an irresistible creaminess. The company’s attention to detail even translates to the packaging process where nearly 20,000 pints are carefully packed by hand each day.
4. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. The team at sofi Award-winning Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has truly elevated ice cream to an art form. The company’s product line incorporates a slew of unique ingredients, including rosemary, whiskey, lavender, goat cheese, sweet potatoes, cedarwood, cardamom and more. Jeni’s also offers signature sauces, ice cream sandwiches and gravels (crunch condiments).
5. Ruby Rocket’s. Ruby Rocket’s fruit and vegetable ice pops are a refreshing, all-natural snack. These healthy pops are gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO. With less than 35 calories and 2 grams of sugar per pop, these treats are a healthier and delicious way to satisfy any summertime sweet tooth. Ruby Rocket’s are available in three delicious flavors.
6. Salt & Straw. Based in Portland, Ore., the team at Salt & Straw pride themselves on supporting their local community and celebrating Oregon in their flavors and ingredients. The company’s unique product line includes one-of-a-kind flavors such as Lumberjack Stack (blueberry pancakes with maple syrup), honey balsamic strawberry with cracked black pepper and Oregon pear with blue cheese.
7. Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto. Talenti® recently announced the launch of three delicious new gelato flavors that reinvent classic American desserts: caramel apple pie, fudge brownie and raspberries and cream. Talenti’s newest additions to its growing line of gelatos remind us that America’s favorite sweet treats are just as good enjoyed as delicious frozen desserts.
8. TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM. The goal of TEA•RRIFIC! ICE CREAM is to craft the finest all-natural tea-infused ice creams using only the best ingredients sourced locally and from around the globe. The company keeps it simple, while delivering a distinctly delicious ice cream experience that is flavorful, creamy, finishes clean off the palate and leaves you wanting more.
9. Velvet Ice Cream. Family-owned and operated, Velvet produces more than five million gallons of ice cream every year from its Ohio headquarters. The company celebrates its 100th anniversary on May 1. Velvet honors old fashioned tradition with its classic ice cream products and flavors, such as Buckeye Classic, peach cobbler and Italian spumoni.
10. Yasso Greek Frozen Yogurt. Made with only natural ingredients, Yasso Greek Frozen Yogurt Bars feature real Greek yogurt, rBST-free milk and natural sweeteners, Yasso is a great low-calorie frozen treat filled with protein and containing little to no fat. Yasso currently offers bars in 11 delicious flavors, and products can be found at major grocery and club stores nationwide.
By Zach Calvello
Frozen desserts experienced a 28.2 percent increase in sales over the past two years, making this the third-highest category for growth within the larger specialty foods industry. This is according to The State of The Specialty Food Industry, an annual report from the Specialty Food Association. Louise Kramer, Public Relations Director for the Specialty Food Association, attributes this rise in the popularity of frozen desserts to the amount of innovation being displayed by those involved in creating new frozen desserts. “There are many new and interesting products being released in the category of frozen desserts, such as non-dairy desserts, vegetable pops, soy-based products and indulgent desserts,” said Kramer.
Jerry Hancock, founder and CEO of Sub Zero, and Scot Rubin, co-founder of Nitropod, not only share in the benefits of this growth within the larger frozen foods industry, but the pair are also both somewhat responsible for the innovative thinking that is stimulating the trend. This is because both Sub Zero and Nitropod make ice cream using a unique, specialized process that involves freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Along with a small, select group of ice cream vanguards, including Iowa-based Blue Sky Creamery, Washington-based Flash Freeze Dreamery, California-based Smitten Ice Cream, Chicago-based iCream Café and a few others, Sub Zero and Nitropod have been working to transform the world of ice cream as we know it.
The process of flash freezing ice cream with liquid nitrogen results in a truly unique product. With a temperature of minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid nitrogen freezes ice cream mix in less than 15 seconds. Since this flash freezing process happens so quickly, milk molecules stay very small, and ice crystals do not have time to form. This results in the smoothest and creamiest ice cream possible. In addition, the process also preserves more of the natural nutrients in the finished product.
Neither Sub Zero nor Nitropod were the first to use liquid nitrogen to flash freeze ice cream. This honor belongs to culinary pioneer Theodore Gray. “Theodore Gray’s article made the possibilities known. However, our uniqueness lies in our process,” says Hancock. Instead of combining liquid nitrogen and ice cream mix in intervals, Sub Zero combines everything at the same time. This creates what Hancock calls “the lake effect,” allowing Sub Zero to cut each layer of ice cream, one by one, as it freezes.
Nitropod’s Rubin praises flash frozen ice cream for its particularly smooth and creamy consistency. He delivers liquid nitrogen ice cream to his loyal Los Angeles-based customer base in a specialized ice cream truck. Rubin believes liquid nitrogen is an important element that helps him to create a truly premium product, although he argues that it takes a deft touch to ultimately master the frozen dessert. “Liquid Nitrogen is great,” he says. “It makes for smoother and creamier ice cream. But it can’t be the only factor in making great ice cream.” Rubin counts Nitropod’s chef-inspired flavors and ingredients sourced from local artisans as two additional factors compelling his company’s success.
One of the benefits of freezing ice cream on the spot is that each customer has the option of including or excluding every element that makes up the final product. This sort of customization allows ice cream producers to cater individually to each customer’s dietary needs. “It starts with the milk, where we have low-fat, almond and non-dairy choices,” says Hancock. The company even lets customers bring in their own ingredients to add to the mix, making for a fun and individualized ice cream experience.
Rubin looks forward to eventually bringing liquid nitrogen-frozen ice cream to retailers. “Retailing is phase two of [Nitropod’s] plan,” he says. The ice cream entrepreneur thinks he will eventually be able do this without changing his company’s current flash freezing process. “There are those that love to watch the ice cream being made, and then there are those who just love it for the taste,” he says. “Sometimes there is a substantial wait time at Nitropod, so we want to be able to provide for people that just don’t have time for that.”
Still, despite how decadent the final product is, it is the science behind flash frozen ice cream’s production that is often the first thing to draw consumers to sample the product. And it is the science that ultimately inspires the team at Sub Zero to innovate the frozen desserts industry. “Science is the driving force behind our product,” says Hancock.
Click here for more companies who are blazing new trails in frozen desserts.