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Gourmet Newswire

Italy a Partner Country for 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show

As part of Italy’s “Extraordinary Italian Taste” campaign, aimed to promote authentic Italian food in the United StatesItaly will become the first-ever partner country of the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco next year.

Under the “Extraordinary Italian Taste” banner, food companies from most Italian regions will present their best in pasta, cheese, olive oil and cured meats to buyers looking to bring more specialty food from Italy to U.S. consumers.

“There is a noticeable change in consumer trends,” said Maurizio ForteItaly’s Trade Commissioner in the U.S. “Americans are increasingly enjoying authentic Italian food, the Mediterranean diet, which is tastier and healthier. We now need to take advantage of this trend. It’s the right time to go full speed ahead.”

According to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Italian food exports have climbed 24 percent in the first nine months of 2015, with products such as Italian olive oil, cheese and pasta ranking as number one in their individual sector.

“Food from Italy has long set the standards for excellence in the U.S.,” said Ann Daw, President of the Specialty Food Association. “Our partnership will further raise awareness of the authenticity, taste and quality of Italian food. Together we are changing the way consumers eat.”

The Italian Trade Agency enjoys a long-standing partnership with the Specialty Food Association as well as the key Italian food and wine shows, such as Vinitaly, Cibus and Tuttofood. Italy has long been the largest international exhibitor at the Fancy Food shows.

FDA Approves Genetically Engineered Salmon

By Lorrie Baumann

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a New Animal Drug Application for the production, sale, and consumption of AquAdvantage® Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that has been genetically enhanced by biotechnology company AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.  to reach market size in less time than conventional farmed Atlantic salmon. The approval has drawn immediate denunciations from environmental and consumer advocacy groups.

Ronald L. Stotish, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of AquaBounty, commented, “AquAdvantage Salmon is a game-changer that brings healthy and nutritious food to consumers in an environmentally responsible manner without damaging the ocean and other marine habitats.  Using land-based aquaculture systems, this rich source of protein and other nutrients can be farmed close to major consumer markets in a more sustainable manner.”

The U.S. currently imports over 90 percent of all the seafood, and, more specifically, over 95 percent of the Atlantic salmon consumed in the country.  AquAdvantage Salmon will offer the opportunity for an economically viable domestic aquaculture industry while providing consumers a fresh and delicious product, the company says. “The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee encourages Americans to eat a wide variety of seafood—including wild caught and farmed—as part of a healthy diet rich in healthy fatty acids. However, this must occur in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner.  FDA’s approval of the AquAdvantage Salmon is an important step in this direction,” said Jack A. Bobo, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Intrexon, AquaBounty’s parent company.

Environmental groups are taking issue with both AquaBounty’s claim that its product is environmentally responsible and the idea that Americans are willing to eat it. A New York Times telephone poll conducted in January 2013 found that three quarters of those polled said that they would not eat genetically modified fish and two thirds would not eat genetically modified meat. “Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon.” said Lisa Archer, Food and Technology Program Director at Friends of the Earth, which claims that more than 60 grocery store chains representing more than 9,000 stores across the U.S. have made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon, including Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi and others. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”

Carla’s Pasta Launches in Big Y Markets

Carla’s Pasta’s new line of frozen, ready-to-eat pastas and pestos will be launched at all 64 Big Y locations starting this month. Big Y® is a family owned and family oriented retail food company headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts.

“We could not be happier or more proud to launch our best in class pasta products with the best in class grocery chain like Big Y,” said Sandro Squatrito, Vice President of Business Development for Carla’s Pasta. “To this day, we make everything the way that Mom always did, just a bit more of it.” Carla’s Pasta is made at a state of the art production facility in South Windsor, Connecticut. The company has about 165 employees.

The Carla’s Pasta product line at Big Y includes Cheese Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, Gluten Free Penne and Six Cheese Sacchettini, which come in a revolutionary microwave bag that has been over a decade in development. The line also includes microwavable steam bag meals, which include Mac & Cheese, Six Cheese Ravioli with Marinara, Tortellini Alfredo and Buttered Noodles. In addition to the microwavable line, which is ready in minutes, they have a line of frozen specialty raviolis in clam shell packaging which include Spinach & Egg Striped Cheese Ravioli, Tomato & Egg Striped Ravioli, Tuscan Style Vegetable Ravioli, Sage & Egg Striped Butternut Squash Ravioli, Spicy Italian Sausage Ravioli, Shrimp Scampi Ravioli, Vegan Ravioli and Gorgonzola Pacchetti. In addition to the eight year round flavors, Carla’s Pasta has a seasonal rotation program of four specialty ravioli flavors; fall’s flavor is Pumpkin Ravioli. The product line also includes four varieties of pestos: Basil PestoBasil Pesto with Pine Nuts, Sundried Tomato Pesto and Wild Mushroom Pesto. In addition to the four current pesto offerings, Carla’s Pasta is working on introducing Kale Pesto, which will be coming soon.

Thanksgiving Menus Getting a Free-From Overhaul

There is a growing trend among American consumers, as well as in global markets, toward the avoidance of a host of specific food ingredients and components. The ingredients not found in our foods are scrutinized just as much as the ingredients that are included. The result is an influx of recipes and food products aimed at providing American’s with the gluten-free, non-GMO, sugar-free, dairy-free, fat-free, and various other free-from alternatives they seek, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts in the report “Food Formulation Trends: Ingredients Consumers Avoid.”

Even iconic family recipes and culinary sacred turkeys—err, sacred cows—that have a longstanding tradition at our dinner tables during special occasions such as Thanksgiving are receiving a free-from overhaul in many homes nationwide.

“America is in the midst of a free-from food movement. Organic, free-range, heritage turkey and other poultry. Gluten-free cornbread dressing. Lactose-free mac and cheese. Desserts and cranberry sauces made from sweeteners with a low risk for GMOs such as cane sugar, agave, and maple syrup. These are all within the realm of what we can now expect to potentially cook or be served during our holiday meals,” says David Sprinkle, Research Director, Packaged Facts.

Survey data published in “Food Formulation Trends: Ingredients Consumers Avoid” reveal that 44 percent of U.S. adults somewhat or strongly agree that food restrictions, food allergies, or foods/ingredients they avoid play an important role in what they eat. There are, of course, consumers who have to avoid certain foods due to allergies and sensitivities or specific health problems, such as celiac disease, diabetes, or lactose intolerance. But then there are those consumers who choose to avoid certain foods and food ingredients. Main motivations behind the trend towards elective food avoidance include:

  • Dealing with perceived health problems, e.g., “wheat belly”
  • Preventive health and wellness measures, e.g., maintaining proper weight, pre-natal care, avoiding acne, etc.
  • Supporting political, social, and/or environmental positions
  • Following dietary parameters of a religion
  • Peer pressure

Likewise, there are cases in which people aren’t intentional avoiders, but don’t consume certain specific foods or ingredients because they don’t have access to them in the first place. Inuits living in the Arctic region, for example, have limited access to plant-based carbohydrates.

The food avoidance trend can also be viewed in a larger social context of people wanting to simplify their lives, or to have fewer intrusions from outside forces such as big government and big industry. In some instances, this is driven by a nostalgia for less complicated times, either remembered or imagined. In other instances, the desire for simplicity is forward-looking, not focused on re-creating the past as much as on trying to control a future that seems to be heading in the wrong direction.

American Born Moonshine Celebrates Second Anniversary

American Born Moonshine celebrated its two-year anniversary with a nod to the past and a push to the future. Founded in 2013 by Patrick Dillingham and Sean Koffel as the lead product of Windy Hill Spirits, American Born Moonshine has expanded its reach to 24 states, while also staking its claim as the fastest growing moonshine brand in the United States, doubling its sales volume over the past year.

“2015 has been an incredible growth year for American Born Moonshine,” says Co-founder Sean Koffel. “We are now available in 25 states across the nation and we have expanded our reach with national marketing campaigns in music and racing as well as local bartender campaigns to help give people the best moonshine experience. We are looking forward to a great rest of the year with more growth on the way for 2016.”

In the past year, Windy Hill Spirits’ first brand has achieved overwhelming success. American Born Moonshine is identified by many as the most authentic and best tasting in the category and is poised to be the category leader. Earlier this year, Windy Hill Spirits kicked off a number of partnerships with large national retail and grocery chains including Kroger’s, Walmart, Safeway, and Albertson’s and expects this to be a significant area of future growth for the brand. In addition, American Born Moonshine has grown geographically and organically over the past 12 months, doubling sales volume and depletions in the same time frame.

“We have seen tremendous positive feedback on American Born Moonshine since we rolled this out in Florida earlier this year,” said Eric G. Pfeil, Vice President of Sales, Premier Beverage Company. “The volume has surpassed our initial expectations and projections. Additionally, the folks from ABM have been very responsive with the market needs, and have provided excellent resources. We are looking forward to continued success with the brand and with Windy Hill Spirits as a whole.”

To celebrate its incredible growth over the past two years, American Born Moonshine will be unveiling a new program called #sharetheshine, which will honor the bartenders, retailers and bootleggers who serve the company’s moonshine this fall and winter. American Born Moonshine will be utilizing the hashtag #sharetheshine to track pictures of bartenders serving these participants and will select the most creative image as a winner every two weeks. The winner will be contacted and will receive an American Born Moonshine crate filled with the best “ABM Moonshine Bootlegger gear.” To participate, people just need to like or follow @AmericanBornMoonshine on Instagram and post their most creative image embodying #sharetheshine. Participants can tag a friend or two they’d like to share the shine with and then hashtag #sharetheshine. Winners will be chosen randomly.

There are three different types of American Born Moonshine – Original, Apple Pie and Dixie:

  • American Born Moonshine Original “White Lighting” is a 103-proof, unaged corn whiskey made from a blend of corn, sugar and water. The recipe is high in corn content yet still embraces the sugar to allow for a smooth finish and remarkable mixability.
  • American Born Moonshine Apple Pie is 83 proof made from a 100 percent corn base with natural apple and cinnamon flavors.
  • American Born Moonshine Dixie is an 83-proof sweet tea-flavored moonshine. Dixie is made from a corn base combined with natural tea flavors.

Patent-Pending Packaging Protects Coffee Flavor

 

For the first time in the history of coffee, there’s a packaging that will preserve the cold-brewed beverage without refrigeration. Coffee concentrate packaged in a bag-on-valve system is shelf-stable for three years or more and comes out of the can with the same taste and aroma it had when it was freshly brewed, according to BOV Solutions Founder and CEO Paul Hertensen.

“The packaging is specifically designed for today’s cold coffee drinks,” he said. “It looks like an aerosol can, but it’s not aerosol. This is a pure, natural coffee product with nothing added. There are no preservatives. No refrigeration is required.”

BOV Solutions has partnered with the world’s largest coffee-brewing company, which is making the coffee concentrates that are packaged inside the BOV Solutions’ bag-on-valve cans. The coffee concentrate itself is enclosed inside a bag so that it’s in an oxygen-free environment and is never touched by propellants. Then the can is pressurized outside the bag, and that pressure provides the force that propels the coffee concentrate out of the can when the valve is opened. The can is made from 100 percent fully recyclable aluminum, so there’s no landfill impact, and shelf-stability tests have shown no change in the coffee after three years without refrigeration. “The flavor is still there; the aromas, still there. It’s exactly the way it was when it was put into the can,” Hertensen said.

Flavor stays the same because the sealed bag protects the coffee from the oxidation that changes the flavor of coffee as it sits in an open container. “Our coffee tastes the same from the first cup to the last cup with no changes whatsoever,” Hertensen said.

All the consumer has to do to prepare the beverage is to dispense a quarter of an ounce of the coffee concentrate into hot or cold water. “You absolutely need no equipment whatsoever. All you need is hot water or cold water or milk, whatever you use to make your coffee drink,” Hertensen said. The coffee concentrate can also be used as a flavoring ingredient for foods like ice creams or baked goods. “It has no bitterness,” Hertensen added. “All the bitterness has been removed.”

The same technology can also be used to package tea concentrates. At-home preparation for those also requires just the dispensing of a quarter of an ounce of the concentrate into a glass of ice water or a cup of hot water. “Tea is also a cold-brewed process,” Hertensen said. “We get the pure flavor of the tea.”

The technology has patents pending around the world, Hertensen says. “What we actually patented was the ability to put a coffee or tea concentrate into a bag on valve. We also patented putting the bag-on-valve into a dispensing system.”

“This is the most exciting product I’ve ever had my fingers on by far,” he added. “People are dying for us to get it onto the market.”

BOV Solutions’ profits from sales of the coffee and tea packaging will be donated to a new veteran’s organization that’s providing an outdoor recreational retreat area for disabled veterans and first responders. “It’s a good cause. There are organizations helping these veterans get mobile, but there’s no place they can go to enjoy outdoor sports that has equipment modified for them,” Hertensen said. “It’ll be totally free of charge to the veterans. This is drastically needed for those who serve and protect us and have been disabled doing so. It’s a marvelous thing because it will help them feel whole again.”

The recreational facility will also be available to firefighters, police officers and other first responders who have become disabled through the performance of their duty as public servants, Hertensen said. “It’s a great organization.”

 

FDA Proposes New Rule for Gluten-Free Fermented Foods

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released a proposed rule to establish requirements for fermented and hydrolyzed foods, or foods that contain fermented or hydrolyzed ingredients, and bear the “gluten-free” claim. The proposed rule, titled “Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented or Hydrolyzed Foods,” pertains to foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, cheese, green olives, vinegar, and FDA regulated beers.

In 2013, the FDA issued the gluten-free final rule, which addressed the uncertainty in interpreting the results of current gluten test methods for fermented and hydrolyzed foods in terms of intact gluten.  Due to this uncertainty, the FDA has issued this proposed rule to provide alternative means for the agency to verify compliance for fermented or hydrolyzed foods labeled “gluten-free” based on records that are made and kept by the manufacturer.

The proposed rule, when finalized, would require these manufacturers to make and keep records demonstrating assurance that:

  • the food meets the requirements of the gluten-free food labeling final rule prior to fermentation or hydrolysis, and
  • the manufacturer has adequately evaluated its process for any potential gluten cross-contact, and
  • where a potential for gluten cross-contact has been identified, the manufacturer has implemented measures to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process.

Distilled foods such as distilled vinegars are also included in the proposed rule. Distillation is a purification process that separates volatile components from non-volatile components such as proteins.  Thus, when properly done, gluten should not be present in distilled foods. The proposed rule states that FDA would evaluate compliance of distilled foods by verifying the absence of protein (including gluten) using scientifically valid analytical methods that can detect the presence of protein or protein fragments in the distilled food.

The FDA is accepting public comments beginning Wednesday, November 18. To electronically submit comments to the docket, visit www.regulations.gov and type docket number “FDA-2014-N-1021” in the search box.

To submit comments to the docket by mail, use the following address. Be sure to include docket number “FDA-2014-N-1021” on each page of your written comments.

Division of Dockets Management
HFA-305
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852

American Demand for Organic Food Outstrips U.S. Production

 

By Lorrie Baumann

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just released figures that tell us how well organic farmers are doing in the marketplace. The big surprise? While U.S. sales of organic food products broke records this year, the number of acres of farmland devoted to organic agriculture in this country declined between 2008 and 2014. The USDA found 14,540 organic farms in the U.S. in 2008, compared to 14,093 in 2014. The number of acres devoted to organic production declined from just over 4 million in 2008 to 3.67 million in 2014.

The figures come from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which gathered information on all known certified organic, exempt and transitioning organic farms throughout the U.S. in the first few months of this year. “Exempt” refers to farms that follow national organic standards but have less than $5,000 in annual sales. These farms are allowed to use the term “organic;” they just can’t use the USDA Organic seal. Transitioning farms are those that are converting acreage to organic production but haven’t reached the three-year period under organic management that’s required before produce raised on that acreage can be certified as organic.

While the acreage devoted to organic agriculture in this country has fallen, purchases of organic food have been growing. In the U.S. last year, consumers spent $35.9 billion on organic food, representing 4 percent of total food sales, and an 11 percent increase over the previous year, according to the Organic Trade Association. The majority of American households in all regions of the country now purchase organic food, from 68 to almost 80 percent of households in southern states to nearly 90 percent on the West Coast and in New England, the OTA says.

The total market value of organic agricultural products sold by American farmers in 2014 was $5.5 billion, of which $3.3 billion was for crops, including vegetables, fruit, nuts, grain, hay and soybeans, and $2.2 billion was livestock, poultry and products like milk and eggs. Milk is by far the most important organic livestock and poultry product in the U.S. market.

American farmers have also become global suppliers of fresh organic produce, with more than $550 million worth of organic products exported from the U.S. in 2014, according to an OTA study released in April. The top five organic products exported from the U.S. in 2014 were apples, lettuce, grapes, spinach and strawberries. However, imports of organic product outpaced those exports, amounting to nearly $1.3 billion in 2014. The top five organic imported products are coffee, soybeans, olive oil, bananas and wine. “At the rate that organic is growing, organic will double in size in six years. The current theory that my company is using is that by 2020 we [organic producers] will be at least 10 percent of the U.S. food market. How are we going to do that if we lack the raw materials? We are importing more soybeans than we produce, significantly more than we produce,” said Lynn Clarkson, President of Clarkson Grain.

He noted that in 2013, U.S. imports of organic corn went up by 67 percent, with much of that coming from Romania. India is an important source of the soybeans imported into the U.S., according to Clarkson. “We are turning over our best markets to other countries,” he said. “When you can’t find supply, you go to countries that are organic by default. Until we can tell American farmers that there’s a secure market, we need to convince them that it’s good enough that they can step in…. Every small town has a ‘table of wisdom,’ and many of those tables are extraordinarily adverse to organic farming. With the downturn in corn prices, farmers are starting to pay more attention to the possibility, and that’s making cultural concerns less important as economic concerns grow.”

Also from the USDA report, 10 states account for 78 percent of all organic sales in the U.S. California alone produced $2.2 billion worth of organic products in 2014 from 2,805 certified and exempt organic farms and a total of 687,168 acres devoted to organic production, up from 470,903 in 2008. California farmers accounted for half of all organic crops produced in the U.S. in 2014. Washington, in second place, produced 12 percent of organic crops in the U.S. and totaled up $515 million in organic sales. In order, the top 10 states in organic sales were California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Wisconsin, Texas, New York, Colorado, Michigan and Iowa.

California also leads the nation in organic livestock and poultry sales, with $271 million, or 41 percent of all organic livestock sales in the U.S. and $301 million in livestock and poultry products – milk and eggs. Pennsylvania came in second in livestock and poultry sales with $112 million, or 17 percent of all organic livestock sales. Wisconsin came in second in organic livestock and poultry product sales, with $127 million or 8 percent of the U.S. total.

 

JSB Industries Partners With SnackSafely.com

 SnackSafely.com, publishers of the Safe Snack Guide – a curated catalog of peanut and tree nut-free foods used by thousands of schools nationwide – has welcomed JSB Industries to its growing partnership of manufacturers.

Muffin Town, the brand founded by JSB in 1978, specializes in the supply of high quality baked products to foodservice & retail companies. Its individually wrapped SunWise SunButter and Jelly Sandwich is manufactured in a peanut and tree nut-free facility and is an exceptional option for people sensitive to these allergens.

“Families coping with food allergies often have difficulties finding foods that are safe to eat, especially in public settings,” says Jack Anderson, President and CEO of JSB Industries. “Our products provide safe, delicious options for families avoiding peanuts and tree nuts, at home and when they’re on the go. SnackSafely.com’s deep roots in food allergy and school advocacy make them the ideal partner to help us reach out to those families. We’re proud to be featured in their publications.”

“We welcome JSB Industries to our growing partnership of over 50 responsible manufacturers,” says Dave Bloom, CEO of SnackSafely.com. “They’ve committed to providing more complete information regarding the potential for allergen exposure than the FDA requires, and in doing so embrace the needs of those with severe food allergies.”

Joining the partnership is absolutely free, as are listings in the Safe Snack Guide and Allergence, the free allergen screening service. Manufacturers are encouraged to inquire at snacksafely.com/contact-us or call 347.915.4777.

To Meat or Not to Meat

White-tablecloth chefs are beginning to pass the word that they’re interested in moving meat off the center of the plate, and they say that that’s in response to request from their customers who are interested in eating less meat but have no intention whatever of cutting back on flavor. Specialty food producers are hearing those whispers as well, and they’re also responding.

Sweet Earth Natural Foods is producing a line of handheld sandwich options that include no meat but will appeal to consumers who want options for multiple day parts. Think about McDonald’s decision to offer breakfast all day long and the early success of that strategy and about growing acceptance of the burrito as a breakfast option, and you’ll see why this is an idea with legs.

Quorn is a market leader in meat alternatives because it tastes great and even mimics the texture of poultry. Made from mycoprotein, which is derived from a fungus, the taste and mouth feel of the company’s chik’n and turk’y products are winning fans.

While the meat alternatives are offering great options for people who want to cut back on the amount of meat they’re consuming, other consumers are bound to decide that the way they prefer to go is to find meat choices that will give them more satisfaction. For some of those folks, Lone Mountain Wagyu, which won awards in this year’s sofi Awards competition, will be an option to consider. Vermont Smoke & Cure offers another line of meat snacks with great taste that will hit some of the same marks.

 

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