By Lorrie Baumann
KeHE prides itself on offering products to help grocery retailers get out in front of emerging trends, so it was no surprise to see that many of the vendors who came to KeHE’s Holiday Show came prepared with options to help home cooks add a punch of flavor to a meal that’s easy and quick to prepare. The KeHE Holiday Show was held June 12-13 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Meal kit services have been making bank by providing consumers with a scratch-cook experience that doesn’t require a lot of last-minute thought, much time or advanced cooking skills. Grocers have watched aghast as these services have elbowed their way into this market with offerings of premeasured grocery products and a recipe card delivered to customers’ homes. Grocers have responded by finding ways to offer home delivery themselves, but Blue Apron in particular has turned the tables on grocers by marketing itself as a healthier alternative to the food that consumers might otherwise buy in their local supermarket. KeHE’s Holiday Show vendors brought the goods to help grocers ante their way back into that game, proving that there’s more than one way to appeal to a consumer with a sense of adventure and an urge to cook at home along with limited culinary skills and no set recipe repertoire.
The Spice Hunter, for instance, has some good ideas that make it easier for a home cook to roast a moist, flavorful holiday turkey with its Original and new Lemon, Garlic & Herb Turkey Brine & Bag. One 11-ounce pouch that retails for $7.99 to $9.99 provides the necessities for brining a turkey up to 25 pounds. The home cook stirs the brine mix into a gallon of boiling water to dissolve it, then chills the brine before submerging the turkey into it. After the turkey has brined for 12 to 24 hours, it’s ready to be patted dry and roasted, smoked or deep-fried.
The Spice Hunter is also launching this year its new Korean BBQ and Mango Habanero Global Fusion Rubs. These versatile rubs season grilled proteins and vegetables, but they can also be used as seasonings for dips or salad dressings or even as a popcorn topping. These rubs join a line that includes Mild Sriracha, Coriander Lime, Chipotle Cinnamon, Smoky Chile, Smoky Turmeric, Spicy Garlic and Tandoori. The Spice Hunter Global Fusion Rubs offer home cooks a convenient way to add a hit of flavor to everyday foods, and the range of spices has something to appeal to consumers with varying tolerances for heat.
Cook’s All-Natural Pantry offers pickled vegetables that provide an easy side dish, particularly for consumers who are following the trend to include more vegetables in their diets. A line of organic pickled vegetables packed on farms in the area around Krakow, Poland, will appeal to consumers looking for ethnic authenticity and includes Organic Whole Beets, Organic Sliced Beets, Organic Polish Dill Spears, Organic Polish Dill Slices, Organic Polish Dill Pickles (which are packaged whole), Organic Spicy Sauerkraut (spicy with red peppers and garlic), Organic Beet Sauerkraut and Organic Sauerkraut.
Cook’s Pantry also offers Organic Medium Red Enchilada Sauce, Mild Red Enchilada Sauce and Mild Green Enchilada Sauce. The enchilada sauces retail for $7.99 for a 16-ounce jar.
Tasty Bite is offering new hot and spicy Asian vegetarian dishes in pouches that serve two. The dishes are microwaved for just 60 seconds and retail for around $4.
Indian Coconut Vegetables is vegetables and sweet potatoes simmered in a spicy coconut yogurt sauce. Indian Vindaloo has vegetables and tomatoes in a spicy curry sauce. And Thai Vegetable Curry has potatoes and vegetables stewed in a spicy curry. All of them are GMO- and gluten-free.
Tasty Bite is also launching out a line of Spice & Simmer entree kits that takes its inspiration directly from those boxed meal kits. Each Spice & Simmer peggable package includes whole spices, a marinade and a simmer sauce to make an Asian specialty entree by marinating vegetables or protein, heating spices in oil, adding the marinated vegetables and/or protein and then adding the simmer sauce and simmering. The line includes kits for Korma, Tikka Masala, Kashmir Curry, Thai Green Curry, Szechuan and Teriyaki. The kits are all vegan and have an 18-month shelf life. They contain no preservatives, additives or MSG, and they don’t require refrigeration.
Pickled Pink is a line of Southern-style pickles made according to old family recipes of friends and business partners Jim Lawlor and Charlie Stephenson, who both spent many years in the restaurant business. They launched their company in 2013 and pointed out at the KeHE Holiday Show that their pickles have been successful because they sell year-round and are popular for grilling and tailgating season as well as for the winter holidays. They work well as part of a charcuterie platter, as an accompaniment for a pork tenderloin or over vanilla ice cream, Stephenson said. “A lot of them taste like Christmas,” he added.
The line includes Sweet Heat Jalapenos, Spiced Watermelon Pickle, Gourmet Jalapeno Pickle, Smokin’ Okra, Perfectly Pickled Peaches and Vidalia Onion & Peach Relish. Coming later in 2017, we can expect to see Spicy Pickled Green Beans and Garlic Dill Pickles join the line.
Lemon & Vine, offered by Erotas Enterprises, a woman-owned family company in Napa, California, is a line of entrees and appetizers made from Greek family recipes given a modern twist. These will work well either for family meals or for a party. Vegetable Pastichio is pasta layered with savory vegetables and tomatoes and baked in a creamy custard – rather like an Italian lasagna with a custard instead of cheese. Packaged in a family size to serve four or in a one to two serving size. The family package retails for $15.99, and the smaller package retails for $9.99.
Meat Pastichio has pasta layered with beef, lamb and tomato baked in a custard. This is also offered in a family size or a single size. The family size, again serving four, retails for $19.99, while the one to two serving size retails for $11.99.
Lemon & Vine Keftethes are savory beef and lamb entree-size meatballs baked in a red wine tomato sauce. A package that serves four retails for $21.99.
For party appetizers, Lemon & Vine offers Lemon Chicken Triangles, Spanakopita, Cheese Tiropita and Eggplant Artichoke Triangles. Each is made from crisp, flaky fillo dough and a filling that includes feta cheese. A 12-ounce box contains 12 appetizers for each variety, and the retail price for these is about $8.99.
Simply Asia is launching Vietnamese-Inspired Pho Broth that requires only the addition of noodles, beef and vegetables to make an authentic pho and Japanese-Inspired Ramen Soy Ginger Chicken Broth that can be turned into an authentic ramen soup with noodles, chicken and vegetables.
To make home preparation easier, Simply Asia also offers the noodles: Japanese-style Soba, Ramen and Udon noodles and Chinese-style Lo Mein. The Pho and Ramen broths will retail for about $2.99 for a package that serves about three. The 14-ounce boxes of Soba, Udon and Lo Mein noodles and the 8-ounce boxes of Ramen noodles will retail for about $2.49.
Southeastern Mills is offering Louisiana Gold pepper sauces in red and green, both made with tabasco peppers. Bottles holding 5 fluid ounces will retail for $1.99, and 2-ounce bottles will retail for $1.49.
The company also offers Better Than Bouillon food bases, and is launching a new Roasted Garlic flavor. The paste can be used right out of the bottle as a seasoning for meats or for grilled vegetables. The website at www.betterthanbouillon.com offers hundreds of recipes for the products, including a whole section devoted to 30-minute meals.
Tillen Farms, the brand behind the leading range of Northwest grown vegetables and cherries, has a whole new look. Tillen Farms® has rebranded the vegetables to showcase their uniform quality while simplifying key selling points. In addition, the entire line of pickled vegetables is now non-GMO certified.
The new look will make its official debut at the Winter Fancy Food Show. It is the first major label redesign since Tim Metzger purchased the brand more than 14 years ago.
The rebranding includes new, clear labels that showcase the products’ uniform quality and list on the front of the jar pertinent attributes such as vegan, gluten free, kosher certified and low sodium. The new non-GMO-certified seal is front and center. The lids now boast “Northwest Fresh,” and the blue lids and blue scalloped banding will make the product instantly recognizable on shelf. The new tagline for Tillen Farms pickled vegetables is “We’ve got nothing to hide.”
“Perfectly picked, perfectly presented, that is what we are all about,” says Tim Metzger, Owner of Tillen Farms. “This is a revolutionary change for us.”
Before, the labels partially obscured the contents and did not include the product attributes in front. “The idea is to appeal to a new generation of specialty food consumers who are looking for those key call outs on the front panel,” Metzger says.
In addition, the company is launching a new trade theme line, “Every great meal begins and ends with Tillen Farms.” The line includes eight crispy vegetables to liven up cocktails and appetizer time, and three cherries to add a sweet touch to cocktails and spark up dessert. Tillen Farms’ award-winning Bada Bings®, Merry Maraschinos and Rainier Reserve are hand-packed and sourced from the Pacific Northwest. The cherries are all pitted, with stems on and are made with no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or corn syrup.
Tillen Farm products are available in all 50 states at select supermarket chains, liquor supercenters, specialty food and natural food stores, and online at Tillenfarms.com and Amazon.
By Lorrie Baumann
Away out West where the sun sets over the ocean, Bradley Bennett is a pickle-packing pro. He’s the founder of Pacific Pickle Works, which is making a name for itself as a maker of some of the zippiest garnishes you can plunk into a cocktail.
Last year Pacific Pickle Works’ Jalabeaos won a Good Food Award, and this year, Brussizzle Sprouts won the Specialty Food Association’s sofi Award for the best appetizer and Asparagusto! won a Best of Show award from the Los Angeles International Spirits Competition. “That run of victories was kind of fun!” commented Bennett, Pacific Pickle Works’ Principal Pickle. Those are on top of awards for the company’s Bloody Mary Elixir from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Los Angeles International Spirits Competition and the SIP Awards, an international spirits competition in which consumers are enlisted to judge.
Bennett defines the Pacific Pickle Works product line as a West Coast take on pickles. “So much of the pickle tradition in the U.S. is an old East Coast, New York kind of a thing that came mostly from European immigrants who brought their tradition over,” he said. “We saw that as an opportunity to do something a little different.” The West Coast influence gave the Pacific Pickle Works products their Latin flavors inspired by the cuisine to be found in the local taquerias and Asian-inspired flavor fusions like Fenn Shui, for instance, which is a fennel root pickled in a rice vinegar blend spiced with citrus zest, ginger and Thai chili. The Asian-influenced ingredients make a nice complement to the fennel root, which doesn’t work with a traditional savory treatment, Bennett said. “We’re just sort of paying homage to those kinds of things – using chiles, keeping everything very fresh and crisp,” he added.
Pacific Pickle Works also relies heavily on southern California’s bounty of produce. Bennett buys much of his produce from local organic farmers the day after it’s picked, and then it’s in the jar soon afterwards. The speed of that transition from field to pickle jar produces a product with both extra crispness and fresh taste, he said.
Bennett’s been playing with combinations of local produce and spices for about a decade, making batches of pickles and handing them out as gifts to friends and family before he started selling them to a few local Santa Barbara retailers in 2011. The pickle packing continued to be a small side project for the next few years, but then more retailers started spotting his pickles on their competitors’ shelves and began coming to him. By late 2012, Bennett realized he had a full-time business on his hands and started looking for ways to increase his production with the construction of a new facility to take the place of the shared space in which he’d been working, trading his pickles for the use of a kitchen. He found an old warehouse and built a kitchen into it, leaving the rest of the space as storage for his pallets of jars and the product that’s waiting to be shipped. The new facility opened in September, 2015, and the increased capacity has meant that Bennett was able to team up with a distributor and expand the distribution of his products outside southern California. “We make everything here, by hand. No outsourcing, no copacking of anything,” Bennett said. “It has really changed things for us – allowing us to scale our business to these new demands.”
Retail prices for Pacific Pickle Works products range from $8.99 to $10.99 depending on variety. For more information, visit www.pacificpickleworks.com.