By Dave Bernard
Already under fire amid recent reports of government complicity in widespread forced labor practices in its vast seafood industry, Thailand on Friday received an official downgrade by the U.S. State Department for its overall handling of human trafficking.
With the release of its yearly report on efforts by the world’s goverments to combat human trafficking, the U.S. State Department placed Thailand and also Malaysia in the lowest, so-called Tier 3 status, which includes such nations as North Korea and Iran. Both countries were downgraded from their previous Tier 2 “watch list” status – a country is automatically downgraded after four consecutive years on Tier 2 unless judged by the State Department to have made significant progress to correct human trafficking issues.
Just this month, major U.S. retailers faced criticism for buying large quantities of prawns (sold as “shrimp” domestically) from the world’s largest prawn farmer, Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand (CP) Foods, a company that admittedly purchases fish feed from suppliers that use slave labor on their fishing vessels. One of the American retailers implicated in the scandal is Costco, CP Foods customer that says it’s actively attempting to verify the reports of slavery in CP’s manufacturing chain. Costco has a longstanding Supplier Code of Conduct that specifically prohibits human trafficking, among other practices.
A report following a six-month investigation that appeared in the prestigious The Guardian newspaper on June 10 documented systematic exploitation of Burmese and Cambodian immigrants, with workers being sold into slavery on Thai-based fishing vessels. Various U.S. government officials and international human rights organizations point to Thai government complicity and even involvement in human trafficking as the core issue perpetuating the country’s human trafficking problem.
While designation in Tier 3 does not automatically call for penalties, the downgrade puts Thailand at risk of losing out on some forms of U.S. aid and could also result in the U.S. opposing certain types of assistance from the International Monetary Fund and other international bodies. The downgrade starts a 90-day period during which President Obama will determine what if any action to take.
While specific penalties may or may not ensue, the stigma of being relgated to Tier 3 status could prove a motivating factor for Thai reform. The New York Times had reported that Phil Robertson, the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Asia, suggested that the State Department report could help spur reform due to Thailand’s embarrassment of “being grouped into the worse of the worse.”
The Thai goverment recently disputed assertions that it is not doing enough to combat human trafficking, with the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating in a news release last week that Thailand produced significantly more trafficking-related investigations, prosecutions and convictions last year than in 2012.
While conceeding that the country had shown some improvement, mostly with regard to sex-trafficking, Luis CdeBaca, the State Department’s Ambassador at Large at its Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, stated that very little progress has been made on the front of migrant worker abuses and related government complicity. “That (migrant worker issue) is an area that needs more policing, more enforcement,” said CdeBaca, according to the New York Times.
Today’s thriving specialty food industry was built by the brilliance and hard work of many members of the Specialty Food Association. To honor those who have pioneered the way, the Association announces the debut of its Lifetime Achievement Awards.
As defined by the Association’s Lifetime Achievement Awards Committee, the purpose of the Award is to “identify and celebrate the actions and special qualities of those persons widely recognized as having grown the industry, improved the Association, inspired companies and nurtured individuals.”
Working from a list of more than 100 individuals, the Committee selected the following specialty food leaders as recipients of the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award:
To learn more about these leading figures in specialty food, click here.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented at the Summer Fancy Food Show as part of the red-carpet keynote event and sofi™ Awards ceremony. The event is Monday, June 30 at 5 p.m. at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
A special display about the lives and accomplishments of the Lifetime Achievement honorees will be presented at Javits Center in the center’s Crystal Palace throughout the show. The show takes place June 29 – July 1.
The 2014 Fresno Food Expo, presented by Union Bank, is excited to debut the innovative new products, varietals and packaging concepts entered into the New Product Awards, presented by Baker Peterson Franklin CPA, LLP, that recognize industry trendsetters and look to build community and consumer awareness about the diverse food products grown and manufactured in California’s San Joaquin Valley.
A total of 44 new products were submitted to the New Product Awards from 35 different San Joaquin Valley-based companies, ranging from fresh and frozen produce; to flavor-infused water, tea, wines and liquor; to specialty ethnic foods and value-add fruits and nuts; to specialty dips, sauces and seasonings; and everything in between – all highlighting the rich diversity of food and beverage products coming from the region. All products entered are competing for the Buyer’s Choice Award and the People’s Choice Award.
Public voting for the People’s Choice Award is now open, and members of the public are encouraged to share their thoughts as a consumer on what innovative new products stand apart in the marketplace and pique their interest. A photo and brief description of all 43 products submitted as part of the Fresno Food Expo New Product Awards can be viewed at www.FresnoFoodExpo.com by clicking on New Product Showcase or by visiting the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/FresnoFoodExpo.
Votes are counted by the number of “Likes” on Facebook combined with the votes cast by email through the Fresno Food Expo website between now and the Fresno Food Expo public event. After voting for their favorite new products, the public is encouraged to buy their tickets for the Fresno Food Expo on July 24, 2014 in order to take advantage of the opportunity to discover the local thriving food industry and create a renewed sense of pride in what is offered in the San Joaquin Valley. The winner of the People’s Choice Award will be announced that night by Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin at approximately 6 p.m.
Last year, public voting on the Fresno Food Expo website and Facebook page captured more than 5,000 votes during the three-week voting period – eventually crowning Rosa Brothers Milk Company as the People’s Choice Award winner. The attention garnered through the People’s Choice Award boosted product awareness online and gave added promotional value and marketplace energy to all 33 participating companies and the San Joaquin Valley as a whole. Additionally last year, Cold House Vodka’s Cake Batter Vodka and Bella Viva Orchards Pure & Natural Dried Fruit Slices were awarded the “Industry Award” – renamed this year as the Buyer’s Choice Award – after a tie was determined by the judging panel.
“The Fresno Food Expo provided an opportunity to build an awareness of our products in the San Joaquin Valley, helping to drive consumer demand, as well as connect us with new buyers who didn’t have us on their radar,” said Brean Bettencourt of Bella Viva Orchards, winner of the 2013 Fresno Food Expo “Industry Award.”
During an exclusive New Product Awards preview event on June 18, all New Product Award entries were reviewed, ranked and narrowed to 10 products by a panel of marketing and food industry leaders, and the finalists for the Buyer’s Choice Award were announced by Mayor Swearengin.
Finalists for the 2014 Buyer’s Choice Award are:
These products will be advancing to the Celebrity Judging Panel comprised of industry experts, including world-renowned chef Erna Kubin-Clanin, owner of five-star Erna’s Elderberry House and Chateau du Sureau; Whole Foods “local sourcing guru” Harvinder Singh; and Matt Jones, an influential buyer from Kroger – who will judge the finalists during the Fresno Food Expo on July 24.
The celebrity judges bring extensive experience to the awards with their unique understanding of an ever-changing consumer market from different categories within the food buying industry, but equally value the introduction of new, innovative products and concepts within an astute and very competitive industry.
Often referred to as the bread basket of the world, the San Joaquin Valley grows, manufactures and distributes enough food to feed over one-third of the nation every single day. The region has branded itself as an ideal place to find local sourcing solutions, innovative products and leading-edge packaging. The region’s proximity to fresh products and access to markets around the world, has not only made this region the most productive place for growing and processing food and beverage products, but has become the powerhouse for innovation in the food industry.
Food and beverage companies located within the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region can still sign up as an exhibitor for the 2014 Fresno Food Expo at http://fresnofoodexpo.com/registration/exhibitor-registration.
The 2014 Fresno Food Expo will be held on Thursday, July 24, 2014, at the Fresno Convention & Entertainment Center New Exhibit Hall. There is a closed business-to-business portion starting at 9 a.m. that is only open to pre-registered and pre-qualified buyers and a public event in the evening from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Tickets to the public portion are $40 and can be purchased at any Ticketmaster Box Office or online at http://fresnofoodexpo.com/registration/public-tickets. For more information about the public event and ticket discount opportunities, visit www.FresnoFoodExpo.com.
The 2014 Fresno Food Expo is made possible in part by the support of the following well-known Valley businesses that have signed on as sponsors in support of the regional food show and its mission:
B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Co., a pioneer in modern-day California extra virgin olive oil and other locally-made food products, is taking a page from the fine wine business with the introduction of its new limited-release Sonoma Syrah Vinegar. Small-lot production and aging in French oak casks characterize this new vinegar, which makes its debut at the Fancy Food Show, June 29, in New York City.
With the release of the Sonoma Syrah Vinegar ($19.99/200ml), B.R. Cohn is the first specialty food company in California to introduce the concept of limited-release vinegars to the U.S. Made from 100 percent Syrah grapes from Sonoma County using the Orleans vinegar process, the Sonoma Syrah Vinegar ages for three years in French oak casks, which provide the ideal environment for cultured vinegar bacteria. B.R. Cohn’s Sonoma Syrah Vinegar contains no additives or preservatives. Total production is 170 cases.
“For our vinegars we use a time-consuming production process that dates back to the Middle Ages,” noted CEO Dan Cohn. “Our hand-crafted Sonoma Syrah Vinegar starts with the finest Syrah grapes and, like fine wine, it develops exceptional complexity and nuance of flavor with the aging process. We cut no corners and limit production so we can make a truly distinctive vinegar of the finest quality.”
The B.R. Cohn Sonoma Syrah Vinegar shows notes of berry, lavender and sweet plum and has six percent acidity. Cohn notes that in addition to its myriad uses with meat and vegetable dishes, the Sonoma Syrah Vinegar is an ideal ingredient for cocktails. One of the hottest trends among mixologists is using vinegar in specialty cocktails as part of a ‘shrub’ base (fresh fruit, sugar, water) to blend with spirits.
B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Co. is one of the top award winning producers of fine oils and vinegars, and B.R. Cohn olive oils and vinegars have captured more than 120 awards, including frequent Best of Show, Double Gold and Gold medals at leading competitions. Additional information is available at www.brcohn.com/oliveoilcompany or by calling 877-933-9675, extension 141.
B.R. Cohn Olive Oil Co. will be at the New York Fancy Food Show June 29 – July 1 at the Jacob Javits Center, booth #2166.
Premium chocolatier Lindt USA introduces EXCELLENCE Lemon into its dark chocolate collection as the most recent innovation to join the brand’s sophisticated offerings. The new bar will first be featured at the 2014 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen from June 20-22, where Lindt EXCELLENCE will serve as the Official Chocolate Sponsor.
The Lindt EXCELLENCE collection is the world’s most exceptionally crafted premium chocolate, and with the start of the summer season, EXCELLENCE Lemon is a timely addition. Created with passion by the Lindt Master Chocolatiers and made with the finest ingredients, its bright citrus flavor is pure and nostalgic of summertime year-round. EXCELLENCE Lemon masterfully combines silky dark chocolate with the refreshing taste of lemon and the delicate crunch of almond slivers. The thin, refined profile and harmonious duo of elegant contrasts offer consumers a unique sensory experience.
“EXCELLENCE Lemon tantalizes the five senses with its vibrant citrus flavor, smooth dark chocolate and crunch of almond slivers,” said Lindt Master Chocolatier Ann Czaja. “We’re excited to share this new fruit innovation, offering consumers a refreshing and palate-pleasing experience just in time for summer.”
EXCELLENCE at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen
During the three-day FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, Lindt will host a special seminar and tastings, showcasing its premium dark chocolate collection to culinary experts, tastemakers and consumers. In addition to formally introducing EXCELLENCE Lemon during Grand Tastings, Lindt will also offer attendees an exclusive first taste of EXCELLENCE Pineapple with Toasted Hazelnuts, developed with fine wine partner J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines to pair perfectly with J. Lohr Estates Riverstone Chardonnay. The “Perfect Pairing” will be available to consumers nationwide in the fall.
The Perfect Chocolate and Wine Pairings
To celebrate the summer season and J. Lohr’s 40th year of family winemaking, Lindt Master Chocolatier Ann Czaja and J. Lohr Red Winemaker Steve Peck worked together to create the perfect dark chocolate and wine pairings, elevating the tasting experience. Exclusive pairings will be highlighted at the Classic, including the newest Lindt EXCELLENCE offerings and limited-edition J. Lohr anniversary varietals:
The 3.5-ounce Lindt EXCELLENCE Lemon bar will be available at retail locations nationwide including Target, Lindt Chocolate Shops and www.Lindt.com. To learn more about the Lindt EXCELLENCE collection and perfect wine pairings, visit www.Lindt.com. For additional Lindt news and images from the Classic, “like” the company’s Facebook page or follow Lindt on Twitter.
With 20 years in the food industry at his back, Don Martineau has joined Wild Rose Marketing, where he will work with distributors, vendors, and sales reps to develop programs to grow select brands. Martineau brings a comprehensive view of the industry with experience that includes retail management, sales, customer training, brand development and production management. Throughout his career he has maintained the steadfast belief that success is achieved by keeping the focus on the end customer. In his spare time, Martineau enjoys cycling, hiking and music.
Wild Rose Marketing is a natural and specialty group of professional representatives founded in 1996 in Boulder, Colorado. Wild Rose Marketing was recently named one of Boulder County’s top fastest growing independently owned companies.
Anthony Anderson is on a mission to discover the most flavorful food festivals in the country on the new primetime series, “Food Fest Nation,” premiering Monday, July 21 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Food Network. Tasting everything from classic interpretations of regional fare to surprising twists of favorite foods, Anthony uncovers what is truly at the heart of America – one delicious food festival at a time.
“Viewers got a taste of Anthony Anderson’s true passion for food during his appearances as a judge on ‘Iron Chef America’ and ‘Chopped,’” said Bob Tuschman, General Manager and Senior Vice President, Food Network. “Anthony’s love of food, quick humor, and engaging way with people make him the perfect guide through the quirky and wonderful world of food festivals.”
Over the course of eight half-hour episodes, Anthony visits the most unique food fairs in the nation, sampling local specialties and meeting the characters devoted to the regional cuisine. Along the way, Anthony visits the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach, Fla. and highlights delicious classics such as shrimp tacos, shrimp boil and shrimp jambalaya, as well as innovative shrimp ice cream. In one episode, he attends the Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off inMagnolia, Ark., where more than 4,000 different kinds of mouthwatering ribeye steaks compete to be the best of the best and for a $10,000 prize. Anthony also visits the Long Grove Strawberry Festival, where over 20,000 attendees flock to Long Grove, Ill. for three “berry” special days of enjoying all things strawberry, including Strawberry Ricotta Ravioli and Strawberry Balsamic Chicken. In another episode, he stops by Ribfest Chicago for a world-class rib-eating showdown that draws top competitive eaters from around the globe. Throughout the season, Anthony also gets a taste of the South Carolina Poultry Festival in Batesberg, S.C., the Jambalaya Festival in Gonzalez, La., the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival in Tyron, N.C., as well as the Rockwood Ice Cream Festival in Wilmington, Del.
Fans can visit FoodNetwork.com/FoodFestNation all season long for additional video, blogs and photo galleries from Anthony’s travels, as well as connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FoodFestNation.
Anthony Anderson is no stranger to the Food Network audience, having competed on “Chopped” and appeared as both a judge and competitor on “Iron Chef America,” making his transition to host of “Food Fest Nation” a natural and delicious progression. He is an accomplished actor with roles on both the big and small screen, including more than 20 films and the Emmy® Award-winning drama “Law & Order,” playing Detective Kevin Bernard. His performance on that series earned him four consecutive NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. Anthony also appeared in the DreamWorks’ blockbuster “Transformers,” directed by Michael Bay; as well as in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar® winning feature, “The Departed.” Anthony can also be seen in the upcoming ABC sitcom, “Black-ish,” this fall, in which he will both star and produce.
Food Fest Nation is produced by Magnetic Productions.
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) has named J. David Carlin to the position of senior vice president of legislative affairs. In this role, Carlin will be responsible for managing all of the association’s legislative, political and economic policy activities. He replaces Jerry Slominski, who left IDFA earlier this year.
Carlin, who was a partner with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP until joining IDFA, has extensive experience in food and agriculture policy. He has represented numerous food and agricultural companies, cooperatives and trade associations before the House and Senate Agriculture Committees and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Dave knows agriculture policy well, having served as assistant secretary for Congressional Relations under Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman,” said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO.
Carlin was an associate at Akin Gump when President Bill Clinton appointed him in 1995 to serve with Glickman at USDA. As head of the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, Carlin served as the primary USDA liaison with Congress and the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. He returned to Akin Gump in 1998 to focus his practice on public law and policy matters.
But his interest in agricultural and public policy began on the family dairy farm.
“Dave grew up on a dairy farm founded by his grandfather in 1940. He reports that during the early days, they sold their milk to JoMar Dairy in Salina, but by the time he was active on the farm, they sold their milk to a Wichita coop,” said Tipton. “They milked about 40 cows and had the top producing herd in Kansas in 1977 and 1978. His father, John William Carlin, ran the operation from 1962 until he became governor of the State of Kansas in 1979. “
In Washington, D.C., Carlin also is active in many community, civic and charitable organizations. He co-founded the Homeless Children’s Tutorial Project, Inc., a volunteer program serving children in Washington, D.C. He also is chairman of the board of directors for Video/Action, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization and serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Capitol Hill Day School along with Tipton.
Carlin received a B.A. summa cum laude in political science and modern languages from Kansas State University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as co-chairman of the Harvard Law School Legislative Research Bureau. He is a member of the District of Columbia and Missouri bars.