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Tillen Farms Rebrands Entire Product Line

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.

Tillen FarmsThe 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.

New Program Will Ease Farmers’ Transition to Organic Certification

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production.

Using standards developed by OTA, the National Certified Transitional Program (NCTP) will provide oversight to approved Accredited Organic Certifying Agents offering transitional certification to producers. This will help ease the transition process to organic, allow farmers to sell their products as certified transitional at a premium price and help encourage more organic production.

This announcement is an important step in helping to expand certified organic acreage in the United States. OTA designed the certified transitional program to create a consistent mechanism for certifying agencies to document operations’ adherence to organic regulations on land in transition to organic status. The new program provides certification and oversight to producers who are in transition to organic. It does not provide standards or criteria for labeling products certified under the program.

“The transitional certification program developed by OTA reflects perspectives from across the supply chain, and will provide an on-ramp to producers while safeguarding organic as the gold standard of food label claims,” said Nate Lewis, Farm Policy Director for OTA.

“USDA is excited to work with the Organic Trade Association on the National Certified Transitional Program, providing producers with a consistent transitional standard to market their products,” said USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator Elanor Starmer. “This program will help those transitioning to organic agriculture, encourage domestic production of organic products, and ultimately support the continued growth of organic agriculture in the United States.”

In a “Notice to the Trade” published by USDA, the department said the new program “will facilitate the investment in transitional agriculture through a consistent set of rules.”

Farmers must undergo a rigorous and sometimes challenging transition period of 36 months before they can gain organic certification and market their products as certified organic. This newly created program at USDA will harmonize existing transitional certification programs currently operated by Accredited Certifying Agents and provide a mechanism for additional certifiers to offer this service to new clients. The program is recognized by the USDA Quality Systems Assessment Program, housed within the Agricultural Marketing Service branch. USDA will accredit organic certification agencies that comply with the National Certified Transitional Program criteria, enabling those agencies to conduct certification of producers operating in accordance with the OTA-developed standards.

Demand for organic products has continued to grow by double digits every year, far exceeding the domestic supply of organic ingredients. OTA has been engaged in multiple efforts to boost the growth of domestic organic acreage and sees a harmonized transitional certification program overseen by USDA as a critical piece of this complicated puzzle.

OTA submitted an application to USDA in May 2016–after over a year of work on behalf of its members through a Transitional task force–to create the transitional certification program, thereby building the foundation for a potential market for transitional products. A transitional product market can offer premiums to farmers in transition and assist in the financial barriers that transition poses.

The oversight provided by USDA to certifying agents offering transitional certification to producers will consist of certifier audits and a uniform transitional production standard for both crop and livestock producers. Farmers will need to prove their land has been free of prohibited substances (synthetic pesticides and fertilizers) for a minimum of 12 months and must follow all other organic production standards to achieve transitional certification, including crop rotation, the fostering and conserving of biodiversity, and the avoidance of the use of genetic engineering. Once eligible for organic certification, land can only enter into the transitional certification program one more time. This provision, unique to the standards developed by OTA, will ensure that transitional certification acts as an effective on-ramp to organic production rather than a mechanism to create an “organic-light” marketing term.

The new program does not include certification of products labeled as “transitional” in the marketplace and is limited only to producers working towards their own organic certification. OTA anticipates working with certifiers, food manufacturers, and retailers to develop appropriate market-driven guidelines for proper use of the term “transitional” on consumer packaged goods.

To streamline roll-out of this new program, USDA will accept applications for the first round from Accredited Certifying Agents through February 28 to gain oversight for the transitional program, and on-site reviews of these certifying agents will occur at their next organic accreditation audit. Further applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis.

This program dovetails with USDA’s announcement in December of last year that it would expand the reach of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program to include transitional certification fees. USDA’s recent initiatives will bring more opportunity to farmers and handlers across the country, and they represent additional elements of solid federal support for the growth of the organic sector.

Pereg Natural Food’s Banana Flour Now Available

banana-flourPereg Natural Food’s Banana Flour was recognized with a SIAL Innovation Award, as one of the most innovative products around the world.

This flour is made from 100 percent ripe, yellow bananas and makes an amazing gluten-free alternative flour for baking way more than just banana bread. It’s Non-GMO Project verified, gluten free, vegan, and kosher.

Like all of Pereg’s alternative flours, this is packed in a stay-fresh zip-top pouch, for easy pouring and resealing without the flour clogging up the zipper. Pereg Natural Foods offers a wide range of alternative flours in addition to this Banana Flour: there’s also Almond Meal, Buckwheat Flour, Chickpea Flour, Coconut Flour, Farro Flour and Quinoa Flour. Each has its own unique features perfect for all cooking and baking needs.

Pereg Natural Foods Introduces Kaniwa

Pereg Natural Foods will introduce kañiwa – also known as baby quinoa, at the upcoming Kosherfest trade show, November 15-16, 2016 at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, New Jersey.

Kañiwa is an excellent source of complete protein and amino acids, is exceptionally high in iron and is gluten-free. It’s dark reddish-brown in color and about half the size of a tiny quinoa seed. It cooks up quickly to resemble a smaller version of red quinoa.

Unlike regular quinoa, kañiwa doesn’t have saponins, the coating that gives quinoa a somewhat soapy, slightly bitter flavor if not rinsed properly, so it’s actually easier to process. (Note that all quinoa from Pereg is pre-rinsed and ready to cook from the package.) Another advantage kañiwa has over quinoa is that it’s an even better source of iron.

According to Gill Schneider, CEO of Pereg Natural Foods, “This mighty little ancient grain cooks up with a crunchy texture, and offers a nutrient rich food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are excited to bring consumers yet another healthy choice to serve to friends and family, from our family-owned Pereg Natural Foods business.”

Kañiwa from Pereg Natural Foods is all natural, gluten-free, Non-GMO Project verified, vegan, OU and CRC kosher-certified, and produced in the USA. It is available in 5-ounce boxes ($3.57) and re-sealable 16-ounce bags ($5.50).

Dream Non-Dairy Yogurts Non-GMO Project Verified

All flavors of Dream® Non-Dairy Yogurt have earned verification from the Non-GMO Project. These products include Almond Dream® and Coconut Dream™ refrigerated non-dairy yogurts that contain live and active cultures. Available in a wide range of flavors including Vanilla, Strawberry and Mixed Berry, they provide a solution for consumers seeking a dairy-, gluten- and/or soy- free lifestyle or for those who just want to enjoy these delicious flavored yogurts.

“Dream Non-Dairy Yogurts have always been made with high quality ingredients, and the verification from the Non-GMO Project provides an additional level of assurance to our consumers and customers,” said Basel Nassar, Chief Operating Officer of Hain Refrigerated Foods Division. “The Non-GMO Project is such a trusted organization and provides a rigorous approval process from ingredient sourcing through manufacturing to ensure that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not intentionally added to products. We are proud to carry their seal on our products.”

Bob’s Red Mill Introduces Gluten Free Egg Replacer

Bob’s Red Mill, which has been producing whole grain and gluten free foods for more than 40 years, has developed a new Gluten Free Egg Replacer that, in addition to containing no gluten or animal products, is also without soy, corn, grains, or beans. The new Gluten Free Egg Replacer substitutes for whole eggs in recipes such as cakes, muffins, quick breads, brownies and pancakes. The new formula, which makes use of only four simple ingredients, is available in a re-sealable standup pouch and has a 24-month shelf life. Each 12-ounce package contains the equivalent of 34 eggs.

“We believe everyone should be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of a wholesome, homemade baked good, no matter what foods they are trying to avoid,” said Bob Moore, Founder, President and CEO of employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, with the help of our Gluten Free Egg Replacer, bakers can still have their favorite banana bread or buckwheat pancake.”

The new Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer, which retails for $4.49 for a 12-ounce bag, is a blend of potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk fiber. While the company has offered its Vegetarian Egg Replacer for a number of years, this new egg replacer is the first such product it has offered that is made without gluten or soy ingredients.

“We’re delighted to offer this Gluten Free Egg Replacer so that even more of our consumers can experience the joy of baking,” said Matthew Cox, Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, vegans, those with gluten or soy issues, or really anyone who wants a reliable baking staple stocked in their pantry can turn to this Egg Replacer and whip up a favorite recipe in a safe and easy way.”

As with all of Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free products, the Gluten Free Egg Replacer adheres to strict gluten free safety standards, including being produced in a 100 percent dedicated gluten free facility and ELISA tested to verify gluten free integrity.
Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer is available now to retailers in cases of eight, as well as online at www.bobsredmill.com.

Animal Welfare Rules at Stake for Organic Livestock

By Lorrie Baumann

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is getting ready to release new regulations intended to ensure that consumers who buy organic meat, eggs and dairy products are getting products that came from animals that were treated humanely. At stake is possible adverse reaction from consumers who believe that organic certification already includes animal welfare rules – which it does – but who might be disappointed in the way that the rule is interpreted and applied by various organic producers. “This whole question of animal care and animal welfare is really important,” said Organic Trade Association Executive Director Laura Batcha, who cited a recent study funded by OTA which found that among the randomly selected consumer families with children in the home who were surveyed, the Millennial generation takes into consideration, not just possible pesticide contamination, but also animal welfare, environmental benefits and possible exposure to antibiotics as criteria for their decisions to buy organic items.

The organic industry wants to get ahead of that potential backlash by clarifying the existing standards so that the rules mean the same thing to all organic farmers and can be enforced consistently and fairly across the nation. “What we’ve heard from the National Organic Program was that they’re intending to finalize the rule by the end of the year,” said Nate Lewis, the Organic Trade Association’s Farm Policy Director.

The proposed rule is opposed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, which argue that the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 doesn’t give the USDA the authority to prescribe practices to promote animal welfare. “With regard to livestock, the National Organic Program’s coverage should be limited to feeding and medication practices,” Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition wrote in its comment on the proposed rule. “Animal welfare standards not relating to feeding and mediation are not within the scope of the [Organic Food Production] Act and should be removed from this proposed rule.” Organic industry advocates are anticipating that once the final rule is issued, its opponents may sponsor a Congressional lobbying effort to attach riders onto next year’s national budget and appropriations bills that could prohibit the USDA from spending money to enforce the rule.

Lewis anticipates that under the final rule, farmers will have one year to comply with most of its provisions, three years to comply with the rules for outdoor space requirements and five years to comply with the rules about indoor stocking densities. The three-year delay for the outdoor space requirement will give farmers who need to add land to their operations enough time to meet the three-year requirement for organic certification, and the five-year delay for indoor stocking densities will give poultry farmers enough time to get their money’s worth out of the barns they’ve already built, which are, on average, seven years old. They have a depreciation life of 12 years, so a five-year delay in the requirement that they provide more space will mean that they get the full 12 years of life that are allowed by depreciation rules.

The regulations for organic livestock already require that the animals must be raised in an environment that allows animals to express natural behaviors such as spreading their wings and having the space to lie down naturally. They must be provided with adequate health care and protection from conditions that can jeopardize the animals’ wellbeing, such as predators and blizzards. The proposed rule is designed to clarify those existing requirements so they’re enforceable and transparent, “bolstering consumer confidence and strengthening the market for organic products,” according to the USDA, which published the proposed rule in April of this year.

The USDA received more than 6,000 public comments on the proposed rule, which would apply only to animals for which farmers receive organic certification, a voluntary program – it wouldn’t set up a mandatory standard for other livestock operations. According to the USDA, “the proposal aims to clarify how organic producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter.” It addresses the areas of the animals’ living conditions, health care, transport and slaughter. Among other things, it would clarify the existing regulation that organic livestock must have year-round access to the outdoors. This proposed rule specifies that “outdoors” means that the animals have to be allowed to go out into areas where they can see and feel the sun overhead and the soil beneath their feet – access to an open-air shelter or a porch with a concrete floor and a roof overhead wouldn’t qualify. Other provisions would set minimum standards for how much space is required for each chicken or turkey in a poultry barn, would require that organic pigs have dirt to root around in and would prohibit the transportation of sick, injured or lame animals for sale or slaughter and the use of cattle prods on sensitive parts of the animal.

The proposed rule follows recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, a federal advisory committee of 15 citizens appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture that includes representation from the various stakeholders involved in the organic industry, including farmers, handlers, a retailer, a certifier, scientists, a natural resource conservationist and a consumer. The Board has been working on development of animal welfare standards for 10 years, Lewis said. “It’s all very transparent.”

The rule’s supporters include the OTA, which represents organic businesses, including growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations and others involved in producing and selling organic products across the 50 states, and by The Humane Society of the United States, the country’s largest animal protection organization, which said in its comments on the proposed rule that “The HSUS supports higher animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program (NOP) and supports finalization of the proposed rule. In some areas, however, we advocate for stronger changes or wording clarification.”

Perdue Farms, which is the largest provider of organic-certified broiler chickens in the U.S., also supports the proposed rule, except that the company would prefer that the USDA lengthen the amount of time it would give broiler operations to reduce their indoor stocking rate from the 6 pounds (of poultry) per square foot that Perdue says is the current industry standard recognized by the animal welfare certifier Global Animal Partnership to the proposed rule’s level of 5 pounds per square feet to three years instead of the one-year timeframe specified in the rule. To adjust to the 5 pounds per square foot rule, the family farmers who supply Perdue Farms’ chickens will need to add at least the equivalent of 65 additional barns at a cost of more than $25 million to their operations. They won’t be able to do that with only one year’s notice, so if the rule goes into effect with the one year timeframe, they’d have to reduce their flocks, which would effectively reduce the country’s supply of organic broiler chicken by 20 percent, according to Perdue.

Nevertheless, “Perdue supports the NOP’s desire to strengthen what it means to carry the Organic seal. These proposed standards will significantly differentiate organic growing practices from conventional operations and meet consumer expectations that Organic production meet a uniform and verifiable animal welfare standard. We are with you; we need the 3 year timeframe to make it happen,” Perdue said in its comments to the USDA.

Millennials Choose Organic

America’s 75 million Millennials are devouring organic, and they’re making sure their families are too. Parents in the 18- to 34-year-old age range are now the biggest group of organic buyers in America, finds a new survey on the organic buying habits of American households released recently by the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

Among U.S. parents, more than five in 10 (52 percent) organic buyers are Millennials. And this influential and progressive generation is stocking their shopping carts with organic on a regular basis.

“The Millennial consumer and head of household is changing the landscape of our food industry,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Our survey shows that Millennial parents seek out organic because they are more aware of the benefits of organic, that they place a greater value on knowing how their food was grown and produced, and that they are deeply committed to supporting a food system that sustains and nurtures the environment.”

OTA has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct surveys of the organic buying patterns of households since 2009. This year’s survey marks the first time that generational buying habits have been studied. The survey looked at Millennials (born between 1981-1997, currently age 18-34 years), Generation-X (born between 1965-1980, currently 35-50 years old), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964 and currently 51-69 years old).

Compared to Millennials who account for 52 percent of organic buyers, Generation X parents made up 35 percent of parents choosing organic, and Baby Boomers just 14 percent.

OTA’s “U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2016 Tracking Study,” a survey of more than 1,800 households throughout the country with at least one child under 18, found that more than eight in ten (82 percent) U.S. families say they buy organic sometimes, one of the highest levels in the survey’s seven-year lifetime. The number of families never buying organic has steadily decreased, going from almost 30 percent in 2009 to just 18 percent today.

Organic and Living Green
While 35 percent of all families surveyed said that choosing organic products is a key part of their effort to live in an environmentally friendly way, a greater percentage of Millennials said buying organic is a key eco-conscious habit than any other generational group. For 40 percent of Millennials, choosing organic is an integral part of living green, versus 32 percent of Generation Xers and 28 percent of Baby Boomers.

Organic buying continues to be on the rise across the generations. Forty-nine percent of all households surveyed said they are buying more organic foods today than a year ago.

Knowledge about organic is also growing across the generational spectrum of parents, but Millennials in particular are likely to view themselves as very knowledgable about organic products, with nearly eight in 10 (77 percent) reporting that they are “well informed” (34 percent) or “know quite a bit” (44 percent). With that knowledge comes a great deal of trust for the organic label. Parents’ trust in organic labeling is the strongest and highest among Millennials, with 54 percent saying they have confidence in the integrity of the organic label. Almost 60 percent of Millennial parents say they have a “strong connection” with the label and feel the organic label is an important part of how they shop for food.

“The Millennial shopper puts a high premium on the healthiness and quality of the food they choose for their families,” said Batcha. “This generation has grown up eating organic, and seeing that organic label. It’s not surprising that they have a greater knowledge of what it means to be organic, and consequently a greater trust of the organic label.”

Organic sales in the U.S. in 2015 posted new records, with total organic product sales hitting a new benchmark of $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to OTA’s “2016 Organic Industry Survey.” Of the $43.3 billion in total organic sales, $39.7 billion were organic food sales, up 11 percent from the previous year, with non-food organic products accounting for $3.6 billion, up 13 percent. Nearly 5 percent of all the food sold in the U.S. in 2015 was organic.

Bob’s Red Mill Introduces New Gluten Free Egg Replacer

Bob’s Red Mill, which has been producing whole grain and gluten free foods for more than 40 years, has developed a new Gluten Free Egg Replacer that, in addition to containing no gluten or animal products, is also without soy, corn, grains, or beans. The new Gluten Free Egg Replacer substitutes for whole eggs in recipes such as cakes, muffins, quick breads, brownies and pancakes. The new formula, which makes use of only four simple ingredients, is available in a re-sealable standup pouch and has a 24-month shelf life. Each 12-ounce package contains the equivalent of 34 eggs.

“We believe everyone should be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of a wholesome, homemade baked good, no matter what foods they are trying to avoid,” said Bob Moore, Founder, President and CEO of employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, with the help of our Gluten Free Egg Replacer, bakers can still have their favorite banana bread or buckwheat pancake.”

The new Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Egg Replacer, which retails for $4.49 for a 12-ounce bag, is a blend of potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk fiber. While the company has offered its Vegetarian Egg Replacer for a number of years, this new egg replacer is the first such product it has offered that is made without gluten or soy ingredients.

“We’re delighted to offer this Gluten Free Egg Replacer so that even more of our consumers can experience the joy of baking,” said Matthew Cox, Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill. “Now, vegans, those with gluten or soy issues, or really anyone who wants a reliable baking staple stocked in their pantry can turn to this Egg Replacer and whip up a favorite recipe in a safe and easy way.”

As with all of Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free products, the Gluten Free Egg Replacer adheres to strict gluten free safety standards, including being produced in a 100 percent dedicated gluten free facility and ELISA tested to verify gluten free integrity.

Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer is available now to retailers in cases of eight, as well as online at www.bobsredmill.com.

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