June is National Iced Tea Month, and the North American Tea Championship (NATC) is naming the 25 best, premium iced teas in key categories. The NATC is the only independent and professionally-judged tea competition in North America and the premier platform for showcasing quality teas. Visit TeaChampionship.com for a complete list of first, second and third-place winners in the NATC Iced Tea Class.
Some of the NATC victors are scheduled to be featured in the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo (WorldTeaExpo.com), May 29 – 31, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, Calif. And all of the high-quality NATC-winning teas are commercially available in the marketplace.
Companies with 2014 first-place iced tea awards from NATC include: Argo Tea; Bhakti Chai; Crystal Geyser Water Company; Dr. Pepper Snapple Group; Honeybush Health Ltd.; Immaculate Leaf; ITO EN (North America); Kelley Organic / Eastsign Foods; Mellow Monk, LLC; QTrade Teas & Herbs; S&D Coffee and Tea; Shangri La Tea Co.; and Walters Bay.
ITO EN (North America), S&D Coffee and Tea, QTrade Teas & Herbs and Kelley Organic / Eastsign Foods boast the most first-place wins in the NATC Iced Tea Class.
“All of this year’s North American Tea Championship winners in the Iced Tea Class are exceptional and highly recommended for summer 2014 and beyond,” says George Jage, director of the North American Tea Championship at The Beverage Group, a division of F+W Media. “The NATC had a lot of high-quality iced teas to choose from. Most notably, we’re seeing an increase in premium iced tea offerings for foodservice, so we added four ‘Best Value Awards’ in Foodservice in different categories. We also presented a ‘Best Packaging Award.’ Congratulations to all of this year’s winners; we expect them to gets lots of attention from consumers and the foodservice industry, especially in the warmer months ahead.”
North American Tea Championship first-place winners include:
(Company, Website, Category, Name of the Winning Tea)
New NATC categories and winners include:
(Company, Website, Category, Name of the Winning Tea)
All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.
Wilbur Curtis, a leading manufacturer of tea brewers and accessories, is the official equipment supplier for the North American Tea Championship Iced Tea Class evaluation. Global Customized Water is the official water supplier.
The next North American Tea Championship will be held in summer of 2014 for an evaluation of spring teas. Entries will be accepted and details will be at TeaChampionship.com once dates are established. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building on its reputation as one of Michigan’s leading coffee roasters and nut distributors, Ferris Coffee & Nut Company today announced it has acquired Holland, Mich.‐based JP’s Coffee. The move bolsters Ferris Coffee’s increasing commitment to high-end beverages while providing JP’s new potential markets and additional resources for future growth.
Best known for its classic coffeehouse feel, JP’s has been serving customers for more than 20 years. The store offers a large selection of whole bean coffees, fresh-baked treats, and loose leaf tea served by its staff of trained baristas. JP’s Coffee will remain an independent location and continue to operate under the JP’s brand and the direction of the Company founder, Jack Groot, while benefiting from the added resources, team and national reach of Ferris Coffee. The Midwest Barista School at JP’s will also continue its commitment to developing exceptional industry professionals from around the world.
Ferris Coffee will use the acquisition to help spark new approaches to its efforts in high-end beverages as it looks to build on more than 90 years of success. According to Ferris Coffee, the addition of JP’s brings new, world-class coffee and service expertise, as well as important insights into the intersection of coffee and community.
“Adding JP’s Coffee is a great move for our organization and our customers given our highly complementary locations, values and strong community commitment,” said John VanTongeren, President and Owner of Ferris Coffee. “Ultimately, we both view coffee as a relational beverage that brings people together. This move will improve both companies while setting a strong foundation for growth.”
In addition to his continuing leadership role at JP’s Coffee, Jack Groot will be named Director of Retail Operations for Ferris Coffee. In that role, Groot will oversee Ferris’ growing retail operations and continue to train and develop new talent through JP’s Midwest Barista School. His experience will also provide invaluable insight as Ferris Coffee opens its flagship coffee bar onGrand Rapids’ west side this summer. No staff changes are planned at either company.
“West Michigan has always been home to both of our businesses. We share the same values and the same service-first culture, so we see no better place to invest and grow together than in Michigan,” said Groot. “We are excited to partner withFerris Coffee, as our similar cultures and complementary service strengths make this transaction a natural fit. We see great opportunity in combining to create an organization focused on quality coffee with enormous potential for future success.”
Two major events in the beverage industry – World Tea Expo(#WorldTeaExpo) and Healthy Beverage Expo (#HealthyBevExpo) – take place this week, May 29 – 31 in Long Beach, Calif. at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. The co-located B2B events are set to attract thousands of attendees and command more than 50 percent of the hotels in the City of Long Beach, as well as two-thirds of the Convention Center, as they explore “what’s next?” for consumers in these key drink categories. Healthy Beverage Expo focuses on better-for-you beverages with healthful ingredients, facilitating the dialogue surrounding what “healthy” means to the industry and ultimately the consumer. World Tea Expo is the leading tradeshow and conference focused 100 percent on premium teas and related products. Details are at WorldTeaExpo.com and HealthyBeverageExpo.com.
When: Thursday, May 29 from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (expo hall open from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.); Friday, May 30 from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (expo hall open from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.); and Saturday, May 31, from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (expo hall open from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.);
Healthy Beverage Insights: Jonas Feliciano, beverages analyst, Euromonitor International, who’s set to present at Healthy Beverage Expo, says, “Health and wellness beverages – whether categorized as naturally healthy, fortified/functional, better for you or organic – continue to reach new heights in the U.S. market, eclipsing the U.S. $64 billion mark in 2013. Consumer demand for naturally healthy and organic beverages has surged in recent years, and the demand for transparency will continue, underscoring the need for beverage manufacturers to clean up their labels and produce beverages that are both refreshing and healthy.”
Tea Insights: World Tea Expo presenter David Sprinkle, research director for MarketResearch.com and publisher of Packaged Facts, says, “The U.S. tea market is undergoing a transformational change driven by flavor, variety and quality innovation. At the heart of the change lies specialty tea. Competition by product type and retail channel is fierce, but ultimately the tea industry as a whole is the winner, because specialty tea products translate to more consumer enthusiasm, as well as higher prices at the cash register, than the more commoditized products they are replacing.”
Angelic Bakehouse, a producer of sprouted whole grain products including breads, buns and specialty items, continues to make waves for the sprouted whole grain industry by increasing its presence in several major grocery retailers in and around the Chicago metro area.
In addition to its current placement at all Chicago Whole Foods and Sunset Foods retailers, Angelic Bakehouse products will now be available 22 Mariano’s locations, seven Treasure Island Foods locations and the inaugural Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets location, a natural grocer that is expected to grow to 60 stores in the next three years.
“Times are changing,” says Jenny Marino, President and CEO of Angelic Bakehouse. “Consumers are looking for great-tasting, better-for-you options, and they are savvier than ever. Clean ingredient decks with no gimmicks are key, and Angelic Bakehouse is proud to offer products that only use pure, non-GMO ingredients – Exactly what consumers are looking for. Mariano’s, Treasure Island and Fresh Thyme are retailers that recognize this and are eager to satisfy the demand for delicious, nutritionally superior products like Angelic. We are looking forward to strengthening our presence in the Chicago area, and with such innovative and forward thinking stores selling our products, we are well on our way to doing just that.”
Sprouted whole grain products have seen a quick increase in popularity with both mainstream and health-conscious consumers due to superior nutritional benefits, a low glycemic index, higher protein values and ease of digestion relative to products made with traditional flour.
By Lucas Witman
At a press conference on February 27, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that the Food and Drug Administration is proposing major updates to the nutrition facts labels for packaged foods. If passed, the FDA’s proposed revisions will be the first changes made to nutrition facts labeling since 1994. The agency is currently soliciting public feedback on the revisions until at least June 2, although that deadline could be extended.
“Our guiding principle here is very simple: that you as a parent and a consumer should be able to walk into your local grocery store, pick up an item off the shelf, and be able to tell whether it’s good for your family,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a press statement announcing the proposed changes. “This is a big deal, and it’s going to make a big difference for families all across this country.”
If the current revisions are approved, the FDA will mandate a series of revisions both to the form and content of nutrition facts labels. Among these, packaged foods will have to declare their added sugar content, as well as potassium and vitamin D. Vitamins A and C, not considered nutrients of public health concern, will no longer be required to be listed on the label. A major change will be made to requirements regarding the serving sizes for many products, with companies being required now to list the serving sizes based on what most people actually eat today as opposed to what they “should” be eating. In addition, the format of the label will be refreshed to boldly emphasize the calorie amount, serving size and percent daily values of certain nutrients in the product.
Although not everyone is excited with the FDA’s proposal, a number of specialty food companies have expressed their pleasure that changes are being made to the decades-old nutrition facts labels currently in place. “At the end of the day, I want to believe that folks weren’t trying to be misleading, but let’s face it—that’s not the world that we live in,” said Janie Hoffman, CEO and founder of Mamma Chia, maker of chia seed-infused beverages. “I’m delighted for the changes. It would be great to be working on a level playing field.”
Nadia Leonelli, Co-founder of Element Snacks, maker of healthful rice and corn cake desserts, is happy with any move that compels food companies to be more open about what exactly goes into their products. “For us, being transparent is part of our business model. It’s not just a high level philosophy. It’s not just talk. We believe that by being transparent we can show who we are to others,” she said. “When companies are more transparent they are able to engage the consumer on a deeper level … We don’t have anything to hide, and transparency will give us a competitive advantage.”
Perhaps the biggest change that food companies will have to comply with when it comes to changing their nutrition facts labels concerns the serving sizes currently listed on many food packages. Dr. Robert Post, former head of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and current Chief Science Officer for nutrition communications consulting company FoodMinds, estimates that 20-25 percent of the 700,000 labeled products in the U.S. marketplace will undergo a change in serving size. “Serving sizes are being increased to reflect current consumer eating patterns,” said Post. “We know consumers are eating differently today than they were in 1993. For example, we know today that consumers are eating bagels and muffins that are larger than they were in 1993. We know those reference amounts that are used to calculate serving size are different.”
Hoffman has been fighting misleading serving sizes at Mamma Chia since the company’s inception, when she was originally told her bottles contained 1.2 servings. “From day one, I insisted that a bottle was a full serving size, because that’s what it is. How many people really leave two ounces in the bottle?” she asked. “The idea of the serving sizes changing—I think that’s fantastic. That kind of transparency is something that we are delighted about and have been doing since day one.”
Another change that some food industry leaders are particularly excited for and others concerned about is the requirement that companies list the added sugars in their products. With nutrition experts stating that eaters today consume too many calories from sugar, it has become important to inform shoppers that they are purchasing a product to which sugar has been added in some form.
“At Mamma Chia, we sweeten our beverages with fruit juice, but also less than 1 tablespoon of organic agave nectar. We always wanted to call out that we are lightly sweetened. We’re not trying to hide anything,” said Hoffman.
“We are happy to list our five grams of sugar as ‘added’. Given our product is mostly rice and chocolate or cream, we want people to understand this is a snack and not their main meal, and if they want zero sugar we are not for you,” added Leonetti.
Although it is unlikely that food companies will be required to adapt their nutrition facts labels for at least several years, many in the food industry are already looking at what it will take for them to make the change. A number of challenges are expected, especially for smaller companies with limited operations.
Perhaps the biggest anticipated challenge is the practical concern of how a company will go about recalculating the nutritional content of its products and how much it will cost it to redesign the label. This is a particular concern for Element Snacks, a new company that designed its first label just months ago. “We’re a little company. We just made labels. We are eight months old. We made our full size packaging eight months ago, and we were hoping it would last. It won’t,” said Leonelli. “We are trying to get the most expensive packaging we can afford. We invested a lot of money in the packaging, and now it’s going to be all garbage and need to be redone from scratch.”
Another more philosophical concern some food industry professionals have when it comes to redesigning their labels is how best to communicate this change to their customers while at the same time maintaining consumer confidence in the brand. “How do you communicate with the customers who really look to these companies that have iconic, premium, craft products?” asked Dr. Post. He explained that companies need to plan to communicate these changes so that the consumer has continuity with the product, his or her expectations are continued to be met and the product has continuity in the marketplace.
“Transparency is a critical issue not only with government legislation but to build customer confidence in your brand. If they are not confident in what’s in your product, they cannot have loyalty to your company,” said Michelle Duerst, Marketing and P.R. Director for Selerant, a regulatory software provider for the food industry. Selerant serves food companies looking to prepare themselves for the nutrition facts label change. Duerst argues that it is vital that food companies make their labels as clear and transparent as possible, so that the consumer knows the company has nothing to hide.
For Duerst, one solution food companies have for increasing the transparency of their products is to offer even more information about their nutritional content than what is required. She recommends that companies include QR codes on their packaging that can be scanned, linking consumers to additional information about ingredients and nutrition content, but also information about potential allergens, GMO ingredients and more. “There is a capability for companies to do more with labeling,” she said.
For companies that are concerned about what the FDA’s proposed changes mean to them, the best way to deal with potential challenges may be to prepare themselves as far in advance as possible for distant deadlines. “It’s always my advice to think proactively. We’re talking about proposed rules … A final rule will be developed based on public comments,” said Dr. Post. “All of this could take a year or a year and a half. I think we can expect that more or less these changes will occur. It could be 2017, but that shouldn’t stop companies from planning and planning forward.”
Although many in the food industry are as yet unconvinced that the new nutrition facts labels will yield a significant benefit to public health, since a large number of consumers choose not to read these labels at all, there is hope that these changes will at least aid those who are making a concerted effort to plan their diets in an informed way.
“A greater percentage of consumers today are using the nutrition facts label, because they are looking for lower sugar or lower calories,” said Dr. Post. “This is one important tool for helping consumers make an informed healthy choice or simply an informed choice at the supermarket.”
“Hopefully by making the nutritional information clearer, it will result in consumers making healthier choices,” added Hoffman. “I think knowledge is power. In order to make an informed decision, we have to have that information more clearly defined. I certainly think it will be helpful to those consumers who are interested in making healthier choices.”
By Lorrie Baumann
Marty Palmer, President of Palmer’s Candy Company and Bob O’Neill, Vice President of Sales took a break from setting up their booth at the Sweets & Snacks Expo to talk with me about how the Palmer’s products can add incremental sales for the bakery department of the grocery store.
With five generations of family ownership, Palmer’s Candy Company is the oldest continuously-operated family-owned candy company in the U.S. “At Dairy-Deli-Bake, we’re unique in being a confectionery firm that’s really figured out the bakery world, and as a result, we have a very large market share of the business in the bakery segment,” O’Neill says. “We’re one of the last of the general-line manufacturers. We do most everything. We do everything from peanut brittle to divinity to fudge – everything the bakery world is looking for. We’re one of the only candy companies that manufacture all those products.”
That makes Palmer’s Candy Company a one-stop shop for bakery departments that don’t have either the labor force or the equipment to make products like peanut brittle themselves, they way they might have done in the old days when the bakers came to work at 4 a.m., and with its complete line, Palmer’s provides an easy way to regain those incremental candy sales without cutting into sales for the traditional bakery items. “It’s also been a way for them to get better quality. We can deliver a consistent product that meets the high specifications that today’s grocery store market demands. We have a long shelf life and a high margin,” Palmer says. “The average bakery department assumes there are going to be some stales. With our shelf life of greater than six months, there are very few stales, which means a very high profit margin.”
Barks are a hot item in the confectionery world this year, and Palmer’s is offering new bark items that grocers and bakers aren’t going to find anywhere else, including Red Velvet Bark, Birthday Cake Bark, and the Creme de Menthe Bark. “It’s fabulous,” Palmer says. “And there’s the Sea Salt Caramel Pretzel Bark. It’s a mouthful of a name, but it’s really tasty.”
“We also will be introducing new items for fall harvest. There’ll be Caramel Apple Pretzels and Cinnamon Roll Pretzels,” O’Neill adds. “We’ll be adding new items to our Bakery Delight packaged line, such as Pumpkin Pie Pretzels and Drizzle Caramel Corn.”
Palmer’s will also be talking to folks at Dairy-Deli-Bake about a line of Bakery Delight To-Go Cup Kits that have both the product and the cups all in one box, so the store can fill the cups at store level. “It’s a very easy way for the store to get impulse buys. It appears to be a bulk item, but it’s already got packaging that contains the nutritional information on it. It’s high margin and easy to do. We have counter racks, spinner trees and hanging racks available to make it easy,” Palmer says. “This seems kind of goofy, but it’s been a huge item. People grab them as they’re going out the door and take it with them in the car. It’s just a cup full of goodness.”
Palmer’s Candy Company will be exhibiting in booth #1463 at Dairy-Deli-Bake, June 1-3 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. After the show, call 800.831.0828 or visit www.palmercandy.com.
By Lorrie Baumann
There’s no sign that Americans are going to drop the habits they learned during the Recession and start eating more of their meals in restaurants, a panel of industry experts told an audience at the National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show yesterday.
Americans today are busier and more time-stressed than ever, and they’re saving time as well as money by stopping in and picking up grab-and-go offerings at grocery and convenience stores. Those stores have responded by improving the quality and variety of their in-store offerings, and Americans aren’t likely to be willing to give up the convenience and cost savings that grocers have taught them to appreciate, the panelists said.
“Convenience stores have changed. Grocery stores understand that they can take market share away from you,” said They’re not just rotisserie chickens anymore – they’re grab and go,” said Bill Cross, Vice President for Restaurant Brand Licensing at Broad Street Licensing Group. He pointed out that 80 percent of the time, Americans don’t know at 4 p.m. what they’re going to have for dinner. Their answer to that question is that they’re going to stop off at a grocery or convenience store on their way home from work and pick up something from the freezer case or fresh food departments and take it home to eat. Grocers have stepped up by providing more and better offerings for them to do that. He didn’t mention that the current trend among grocers is to build smaller stores, that will be even more convenient for customers to dash in and out of when they’re making that stop, but he did point out to the restaurateurs in his audience that there’s no sign that the outlook for their businesses is going to get any better. Americans are busier than ever; grocers have found ways to help them out with that problem, and restaurateurs are no longer competing just with each other — they’re now competing with everybody in the food business, the panelists said.
Good Groceries Co. Owner Martin Sokoloff is excited about several new products that he’ll be bringing to the Summer Fancy Food Show this year. Those include Chocoliva, a chocolate spread made with 55 percent olives that has less fat and calories than Nutella. The Original Chocoliva spread is made from olives, cocoa and hazelnuts sweetened with apple juice. Sokoloff will be bringing that along with a Sour Cherry variety and Orange Chocoliva to this summer’s show.
Good Groceries will also be exhibiting sprouted grain cookies, crackers and pasta as well as Vegzels, which are veggie sticks shaped like pretzels. Good Groceries will be in booth #4058 during the Summer Fancy Food Show.
Here at the National Restaurant Association Show, Sokoloff is talking to attendees about Suzie’s Carrot Fries and Parsnip Fries, which launched three months ago as the company’s first frozen food product. The Carrot Fries and Parsnip Fries are made with sliced vegetables, coated with a wheat batter that helps them come out of either fryer or oven crispy. The product contains no potatoes and is made from strips cut from the whole vegetables rather than processed and puréed veggies. “These are truly what they say — parsnips and carrots,” Sokoloff said. See Good Groceries in booth #3684 at the NRA Show.
We can expect to see holiday items in the Lucy’s line of all-natural, gluten free cookies at the Summer Fancy Food Show, says Elisa Krafchin, National Sales Manager for the Foodservice and Convenience Channel. Those items include Pumpkin, Holiday Sugar and Chocolate Merry Mint cookies, she said.
The entire Lucy’s line is gluten free, peanut-free, tree nut free, and allergy-friendly, Krafchin said. The products are made in a dedicated allergy-friendly facility under the direction of the company founder, whose son has food allergies, she added.
It’s not hard to find the specialty food products at the National Restaurant Association Show #NRAShow when they bring along their collection of sofi Awards and set them out on the shelf in their display. That alone says something about the respect in which the sofi Award is held by all those foodies who know how to find the sure sign of the very best. Around the company’s sofi statuettes, Creminelli Fine Meats is displaying its line of artisan salami, all made in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the climate is ideal for curing meats, says Andy Dallas, the company’s Regional Sales Manager for the central U.S. The company was started in Salt Lake City by Christian Creminelli, who is originally from Biella, Italy. He’ll be bringing the entire line to the Summer Fancy Food Show, where you’ll be able to see them in booth # 668. Here at the National Restaurant Association Show, find Creminelli in booth #3679 in the South Hall.