By Lorrie Baumann
Le Bon Magot® surprised the specialty food community at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show with a display of five sofi Awards, all earned this year with the new company’s very first entries into the sofi Award competition. Naomi Mobed, the company’s Founder and CEO, launched the brand in February 2015 and then exhibited in the 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show to test its flavors with Fancy Food Show attendees before she was really ready to face the sofi Award competition. “Actually, we validated the taste and flavors of our products with trusted palates even before being incorporated into a company,” she said.
With her five 2017 sofi Awards on her shelves, Mobed is ready to scale up production to meet the demands of the national market. She’s debt-free and looking for investment capital to help her grow. “We’re keen to attract external investment and believe we have a sound and scalable business model,” she said.
Le Bon Magot currently offers just five products, all based on regional African, Middle Eastern and South Asian flavors, with sophisticated spice blends with depth and nuance that also appeal to contemporary American palates. Each of them reflects their branding – “magot” is a French word that means a hidden treasure. “The name was for a variety of reasons – one was the pure marketing reality that the common language among gourmets continues to be French,” she said. “I like the fact that it doesn’t have one specific meaning, not just a treasure, but jewels, loot, coffers, bounty and booty. Each one of our products is of a vibrant gem-like color. I came from a finance background and I am passionate about jewelry, so our name also has a tongue-in-cheek element to it.”
Her Tomato and White Sultana Chutney, winner of this year’s gold sofi Award in the condiments category, was her first product and is still her company’s top seller. The chutney marries the sweet fruitiness of tomato to Kashmiri chiles, ginger and garam masala. Next in production were the White Pumpkin and Almond Murraba and the Brinjal Caponata, made of purple aubergine, cumin and curry leaves and the winner of the bronze sofi Award in the pickles category. The Brinjal Caponata is a traditional western Indian condiment made from a recipe that came from Mobed’s grandmother by way of her mother, who tweaked it a little bit, and that Mobed herself played with also before settling on its current formulation. The White Pumpkin and Almond Murraba includes cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla in a preserve that’s traditionally used for celebrations in Central Asia and Middle East.
Spiced Raisin Marmalata won a gold sofi Award and an award for the best new product in the jam and preserves category. This product offers jumbo black raisins imported from South Africa blended with ras al hanout, dried rose petals, green cardamom and smoked cinnamon. “We wanted to recreate the oud scent but for the palate,” Mobed said. While oud is the distinctive scent of a resin found in agarwood trees that is used for incense and perfumes and valued in many cultures for its distinctive fragrance, Mobed uses smoked cinnamon alongside dried rose petals, cardamom and other spices to recreate the musky notes. Like the other products in the Le Bon Magot line, Spiced Raisin Marmalata was made to pair with cheese and charcuterie, but can also be used as a cooking ingredient, perhaps to be added to a spiced oatmeal raisin cookie or a Linzer cookie. The company’s final product is its Lemon-Sultana Marmalata with Caraway and Saffron, the winner of a bronze sofi Award in the jam and preserves category.
All of the products are made from recipes that came from Mobed’s grandmother and great-grandmother that were originally written down in a dialect that Mobed speaks but doesn’t read. Her mother translated them, interpreting measurements that came from a system that was once used across Asia but is no longer common.
Mobed is a Parsi born in Pakistan with family from India. Her father was employed in the oil industry, while her mother worked in the pharmaceuticals industry, and they raised Mobed in Iran, Hong Kong and Europe as well as in the U.S. Her first American home was in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. She left the U.S. to go to the London School of Economics when she was 21, after receiving her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. “I’d always wanted to be in the food business since the latter years of my undergraduate degree,” she said. “I was applying to grad school and culinary school. I decided to go to the London School of Economics, thinking I could do culinary later.”
Mobed lived in London after finishing her education there, eventually moved to Muscat, Oman, then came back to England, and did some more moving around from Johannesburg to Dubai and all points in-between before returning to the United States two years ago. Her business is now based in New Jersey, where she says she is settled for the immediate future. “A business settles you,” she said. “My mother lives here. My grandmother now lives here. I’m as settled as I ever will be.”
She says that, while she brings her finance experience with her into her business, making and selling food is a part of her family culture that she values highly, and a number of her female family members have flourishing food businesses around the world. “For a lot of women in Iran and Pakistan, catering and foodservice is a way for women to gain independence and empowerment without leaving their homes,” she said. “The same goes for other countries in the Middle East as well. That’s why you have so many female entrepreneurs.”
By Lorrie Baumann
Davidson’s Organics celebrates its 40th anniversary with rebranded packaging, a new line of tea jellies and a new line of specialty tea chocolates.
“Consumers today live very busy lifestyles. They’re looking for simplicity, value and health benefits – all in a simple format,” said Kunall Patel, Davidson’s Organics Owner and Director. “Our new package design meets all those needs while providing a very visual, trendy and high-profile look.”
While Davidson’s Organics has been in business since 1976, Patel and his family bought the brand in 2007 after the company, which had been growing organic teas in India since the 1920s, decided to vertically integrate by acquiring a business active in the North American market. Today, the same farmer cooperative of third-generation tea growers grows the tea leaves in India, and Davidson’s Organics imports them to its plant in Sparks, Nevada, where the teas are blended, manufactured, packaged and shipped to retailers.
“We’re the only tea company today that’s 100 percent vertically integrated from farm to cup,” Patel said. “This is different from the majority of other operations who outsource sourcing, blending, manufacturing and distribution. We do everything under one roof.”
The company currently offers about 300 flavors of USDA-certified organic and kosher-certified tea – the largest product range of organic teas on the market. They include 11 distinct product categories: black, green and white teas; dessert teas that mimic the flavor profiles of classic desserts without the calories; honey teas that contain real organic honey inside the teabag that dissolves out into the cup as it’s infused; tulsi “holy basil” teas; rooibos-based red teas; holiday teas inspired by the season but available year-round; decaffeinated teas, chai; and traditional favorites – the Darjeeling, Ceylon and Irish Breakfast teas. They’re available in tea bags, as loose leaf tea and as brew bags designed for iced tea.
“The brand’s new packaging is designed to stand out on the shelf and portray the products’ clean-label health benefits, company story, key certifications and simple ingredients that are easily and quickly assimilated to influence buying decisions,” Patel said. “The consumer has very little time to analyze a product,” he said. “To engender loyalty you need something more than just price.”
The celebration continues with a new line of tea jellies, the first of their kind on the market. The tea jellies are made by infusing real tea leaves, grown by the farmer cooperative of third-generation tea farmers in the Darjeeling region of India who grow the company’s other tea products. Pectin and cane sugar are then added to make the jelly. The jellies come in four flavors that reflect the four best-selling Davidson’s Organics teas: Earl Grey, White Pomegranate, Classic Chai and Coconut Vanilla.
“The jellies reflect the true flavors of the tea blend,” Patel said. “There are a lot of jellies out there. There’s no other real tea jelly that’s made out of infused organic tea.”
The Earl Grey Tea Jelly pairs very well with meat or cheeses, according to Patel. “It’s a wonderful addition to any backyard barbecue or dinner,” he said. “It makes a perfect combination of salty and sweet at the same time.” Consumers would use the Chai Tea Jelly as they might use a pumpkin butter in a holiday feast – as a complement to bread or cheeses. White Pomegranate Tea Jelly is a tart and fruity spread that pairs well in spring-time treats, and the Coconut Vanilla Tea Jelly is perfect as an addition to scones or croissants.
Following along with the thought that tea need not be just for drinking, Davidson’s Organics is also introducing a new line of specialty tea chocolates made with certified organic dark cacao chocolate sprinkled with loose leaf tea, molded into bars, and then sprinkled with more tea. The chocolate comes from a cooperative of 400 third-generation cacao farmers from the Esmeraldas region of Ecuador.
“It’s a perfect marriage and celebration of three generations of organic agriculture,” Patel said. He noted that although there are cultural differences between the two groups of farmers – the tea growers in India and the cacao growers in Ecuador —the partnership has benefited from a shared respect for each other’s agricultural tradition.
The 70g bars are 65 percent dark chocolate in three flavors: Earl Grey Lavender, Classic Chai and Coconut Vanilla. They retail for about $6.99.
The Bonne Maman wide-mouth jars with their red gingham-print lids are familiar sights in center store jam aisles. Now they’re coming to the deli department, and they’re bringing their fans along with them.
This year at the Summer Fancy Food Show, Bonne Maman introduced Bonne Maman Spread for Cheese in three delicious flavors, all specially created to spread beautifully and to pair perfectly with all types of cheese. Black Cherry, Purple Fig and Quince Spreads for Cheese are all made with simple, high-quality ingredients from a homemade-style recipe.
Bonne Maman also introduced a new flavor in its regular fruit preserves line: Mango Peach, a unique flavor in the preserves category. Like the other fruit preserves in the line, Mango Peach is made with perfect fruit and natural sugars, carefully prepared with traditional expertise, to create the memorable taste of Bonne Maman, which is French for Grandma. Bonne Maman products do not contain high fructose corn syrup and have no additives or preservatives. They’re gluten-free, kosher and are Non-GMO Project Verified.
All Bonne Maman products bring along with them a heritage of quality and a true French appreciation in great cuisine. The company was started just after World War II as a family of fresh fruit wholesalers who’d been exporting walnuts and canned fruit around the world realized that an emerging market for store-bought products with homemade quality was growing up around them. At the time, almost 70 percent of the fruit preserves made in France were being made in someone’s home kitchen, but as women had begun to enter the work force during and after the war, they no longer had time to put up preserves at home.
Taking advantage of this demographic shift, the family behind the Bonne Maman brand made several attempts at producing a fruit spread that met their particular grandma’s high standards. Once they succeeded, they named the brand after her. Today, Bonne Maman is the single best-selling premium brand of fruit preserves in the U.S. and is a key driver of the category growth in the U.S. Bonne Maman is the No. 3 brand in the category and has the highest loyalty rate. Bonne Maman produces 16 flavors of preserves, including the Mango Peach introduced at the show, as well as four jelly flavors: Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Muscat Grape and Redcurrant, and now also Bonne Maman Spread for Cheese.