By Robin Mather
Meatcrafters, an artisanal producer of specialty cured meats, debuted its Skinny Salamis at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York recently. Skinny Salamis are the only lactic-fermented meat snacks on the market, said Mitch Berliner, one of the company’s three founders and self-proclaimed “Chief Sampling Officer.”
“They are cured, uncooked products, made in traditional ways that date back to the Egyptians and early Romans. They are high in protein, low in calories, have no sugar or carbs and are gluten-free. They’re made from antibiotic- and hormone-free meats.”
Skinny Salamis are unique for several reasons, Berliner said.
“We were just at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago,” Berliner said. “All the other meat snacks we saw were cooked, whether dehydrated like jerky or extruded and cooked like the familiar meat sticks.”
Meatcrafters is among the few companies in the US to have gained USDA approval to produce such products, and the only one in Maryland, Berliner said. “We don’t outsource our production,” Berliner said. “We do everything ourselves, from sourcing the meat from local farmers to grinding our own spices to producing and packaging the salamis.”
Skinny Salamis are designed to be a portable snack that fits easily into a pocket or purse. The snack salamis are available in three flavors: Original Black Angus Beef, Truffle (pork) and Street Cart Schwarma (lamb). Three more flavors will be available later this year: Merguez (lamb), Spicy Argentinean Chorizo (pork) and Casbah (pork), flavored with North African spices. The salamis come four to a package, and suggested retail is $6.79—$7.95.
Berliner said the company trialed its products at farmers markets and were selling more than 300 salamis a week from very early on. “And then a wine distributor tried them and said, ‘If you put this in grown-up packaging, I’ll buy it for distribution.’ So we went to work on grown-up packaging.” The company’s designed-from-the-ground-up packaging recently won awards for its graphic design, Berliner said.
Chefs visiting the market also liked Meatcrafters’ salamis, and they now appear on menus at restaurants in Maryland and Virginia, including Patrick O’Connell’s much-lauded Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia.
“We like to help local farmers,” Berliner said, noting that they work with local producers of Black Angus beef, heritage breed Duroc pork and all-natural lamb. “In addition to our own products, we make specialty sausages with our farmers’ meats so they can offer their own customers salami made from only their meat. We also make specialty sausages for brew pubs using their beers, and for local vineyards using their wines.”
Meatcrafters has been in business since 2009, producing duck breast prosciutto as well as a variety of specialty salamis. They include Chajari, an Argentinian-style salami flavored with garlic, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and whole peppercorns; Chorizo de Pamplona, an aged Spanish-style classic with cayenne and Spanish smoked paprika; Chesapeake, seasoned with Maryland crab seasoning; Cacciatore, a traditional Italian hunter’s sausage of Duroc pork flavored with sea salt, pepper and garlic; Truffle Mania and Porcini Salami, two fungi-forward flavors that capture the best of the much-loved ingredients; Cinta, another Duroc pork salami flavored with long pepper, lemon zest and mace; Ararat, a Duroc pork salami seasoned with smoked paprika, fenugreek and the Turkish pepper called urfa biber; a wild fennel pollen Duroc pork sausage called One Wild Fennel; a traditional Spanish salami called Fuet, simply seasoned with salt and pepper to showcase the flavors of the Duroc pork and the lactic fermentation; and Dillio, made with dill pollen, garlic and red wine.
The Landover, Maryland, company, founded in 2009 by Berliner, his wife, Debra Moser, and their friend Stan Feder draws on decades of experience the three share in charcuterie and the food business. Berliner, who’s been in the food business for more than 50 years, started as a food distributor. Moser brings a diverse background in food and business experience. Feder, who’s studied with charcuterie experts in Spain, Italy and the US, has a lifelong passion for salumi.
“We’re Baby Boomers who failed at retirement,” quipped Berliner. “We pulled money out of our retirement funds to start this company, and have never taken loans or investments from anyone else to keep going.”
The founders were inspired to start the company when they realized that “we had visited Italy many times and we didn’t know why there wasn’t more good American salami. So we were an upscale charcuterie and then, a little over three years ago, we thought, ‘why don’t we take our salamis and put them in a meat snack product?’ “
The “failing at retirement” thing seems to be working for the company’s founders. “We just knocked out a wall to expand our space,” Berliner said.
By Lorrie Baumann
The oldest members of the Millennial Generation are now in their mid-30s, which means that a great many of them have become parents who now have school-age children. That simple calculation has the food industry scrambling to provide products that those parents will feel comfortable about packing into their kids’ lunch boxes.
As one example, Creative Snacks Co., which just won a 2017 sofi award best new product in the savory snacks category for its Organic Coconut Snacks with Cranberries, Cashews, Almonds, and Chia Seeds, also offers Baked Almond Clusters in five flavors that include various combinations of dried fruit, nuts and seeds for a snack the company is marketing as “Real Good, Feel Good Snacks.” The Almond Clusters are made in small batches and offer a 28-day shelf life. The 4-ounce bag retails for $3.99. The company is also launching 1-ounce, 2.75-ounce and 3.5-ounce snack packs, so there’s a range of sizes that will work in lunches.
GoodnessKNOWS Snack Squares are a similar product that amps up the sweetness with more fruit and dark chocolate. Four bite-size snack squares are packaged together into a bar-sized pack with a 150 calorie count that retails for about $1.49. There are currently six flavors, with five more scheduled to launch in 2018. The current offering includes top-seller Cranberry & Almond, Strawberry & Peanut and Mixed Berry & Almond, each of them combining fruit, whole nuts and dark chocolate. Next year’s launches will be nut varieties without fruit, which will amp up the protein and lower sugar. The snack squares are non-GMO and gluten free, and they contain no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. They’re offered in 12-count singles cartons and 5-count multipacks.
Cheesewich, which is a product with two slices of high-quality cheese from Burnett Dairy sandwiched around a slice of deli meat, is currently offered in four varieties: Cheddar Jack Cheese & Hard Salami, Colby Jack Cheese & Hard Salami, Provolone Cheese & Hard Salami and Pepper Jack Cheese & Hard Salami. They’re packaged in a 2.5-ounce single-serving that’s vacuum sealed for a refrigerated 12-month shelf life. Each offers 14 to 16 grams of protein and is gluten free.
This fall, Cheesewich will launch Bacon N Eggs, a gas-flushed vacuum-sealed package of two hard-cooked eggs and turkey bacon. The packaging offers grocers a 60-day shelf life, and the product will retail for somewhere around $2.59.
G.H. Cretors, better known for its popcorn, just launched Hi I’m Skinny vegetable sticks with a front-of-label claim of 100 calories in each 0.71-ounce single-serving bag. There are three varieties: Sweet Onion, Sweet Potato and Sea Salt. The Sweet Onion and Sea Salt varieties are made with quinoa and whole grain corn meal, and each offers 2 grams of protein and 140 calories per serving. The Sweet Potato variety is made with rice flour and offers 1 gram of protein and 140 calories per serving. Individual packs will retail for 99 cents to $1.49.
The company also makes Hi I’m Skinny Protein Snacks in a Mesquite BBQ flavor that offers 5 grams of protein in a 140-calorie serving and Hi I’m Skinny Superfood Sticks in a Mean & Green flavor that includes green pea flour, kale powder and spinach powder in a snack that offers 2 grams of protein in a 130-calorie serving.
Nature’s Bakery, which markets “Energy for Life’s Great Journeys,” is offering Organic Brownies in twin packs that are packaged as six twin packs per box. Flavors are Double Chocolate, Cool Mint and Salted Caramel. The company also offers several flavors of Oat Bars that combine oats with various fruits or organic honey. These are also packed in boxes of six twin packs and retail for $4.99 per box. All of these feature the USDA Organic seal on the front and top of the package.
One bar of the Honey & Oat bars has 60 calories with 10 from fat and contains 6 grams of sugar. The Organic Brownies, made with stoneground whole wheat flour and organic cane sugar syrup, have about 70 calories per brownie, depending on the flavor, and 6 grams of sugar.
SunRidge Farms, makers of organic and natural foods, has just launched its all natural kids mix at the Sweets & Snacks Show in May. The all natural kids mix combines almonds, peanuts, raisins, apples, milk chocolate, peanut butter cups and milk chocolate rainbow drops for a snack that offers 4 grams of protein per serving and is a good source of minerals with low sodium. There are no trans fats or hydrogenated oils, and the kids mix contains no artificial ingredients. The milk chocolate for the rainbow drops is made with certified Fair Trade Cocoa, and it’s non-GMO. Kids mix is offered in bulk cases for parents to package themselves for those lunch boxes.
Finally, You Love Fruit Leather has come up with a healthier alternative to mass market fruit leathers with You Love Fruit and You Love Veggies leathers made with 100 percent fruit and vegetables, so they’re gluten free, USDA organic, kosher and non-GMO. The leathers are offered in Mango, Mango Coconut, Apple Cinnamon, Pomberry Acai, Tart Peach, Passion Fruit Punch, Key Lime as well as others, and Carrot & Chia Seed, Spinach & Kale and Spiced Beet Root flavors for the You Love Veggies. They’re packaged in 2-serving bags with 45-50 calories per serving. One-ounce packages retail for about $1.99.
Enjoy Life Foods is launching three new flavors joining its line of Baked Chewy Bars: Caramel Blondie, Carrot Cake and Lemon Blueberry Poppy Seed. The launch follows Enjoy Life’s steadfast portfolio expansion across multiple aisles of the grocery store as it fuels the growth of the Free-From industry, which is projected to reach $20 billion by 2020.
“The foundation of our brand is to give the millions of people with food allergies quality products, but it’s equally as important that our offerings are delicious with knockout flavors that today’s shoppers will gravitate towards,” said Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Joel Warady. “Our new Baked Chewy Bars are crafted with innovative ingredients that are perfect for the health-conscious consumer, and the authentic flavors are great options for breakfast, a mid-day snack or a post-dinner indulgence. From bars to baking mixes, we’re taking over the center aisles so when people see our logo they know that they’re getting a superior product without the worry of what’s inside.”
The new Baked Chewy Bars are packed with pure and simple ingredients, featuring real inclusions and a proprietary Pure Life Balanced Dry Blend™ (hulled sunflower kernels, cassava flour, white pearled-grain sorghum flour, quinoa flakes). As with all Enjoy Life products, the new bars are made in a dedicated nut-free and gluten-free bakery, are certified gluten free, Non-GMO Project Verified, kosher- and halal-certified, and are free-from the top eight common food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soy.
They’re offered in three flavors. Caramel Blondie offers the sweet sensation of caramel bits and chocolate chips in every bite, while Carrot Cake brings sweet and spicy flavor notes derived from real shredded carrots, hull-roasted pumpkin seeds and California raisins. Lemon Blueberry Poppy Seed offers tangy and light lemon combined with bold blueberry,
The new Baked Chewy Bars will ship to natural and conventional retail stores in July with a retail price of $4.29 per carton. Each carton contains five 1.15-ounce bars, an increase from the original line’s 1-ounce sizes.