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Gluten-Free Label Becomes Secondary to Other Benefits

By Greg Gonzales

Disco didn’t really go anywhere; it inspired new forms of music, and eventually gave rise to nu-disco, a genre that blends the classic style with electronic dance music and modern rock, satisfying a larger and more diverse crowd. The same could be said for gluten-free foods. Sales growth peaked a year ago, but producers continue to launch and expand gluten-free lines, innovating them with nutritious, better-tasting ingredients that help the products compete with their gluten-containing counterparts. Though gluten-free food sales are growing at a slower pace, the brands and their fans are here to stay.

Going gluten-free is not motivated by gluten intolerance or sensitivities for most people, but a third of American consumers still purchase gluten-free products. According to the Packaged Facts July/August 2016 National Consumer Survey, 30 percent of consumers who bought gluten-free foods said they bought them for reasons other than gluten-free certification. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said the products are “generally healthier,” while 20 percent said they use the products to manage weight. Of those surveyed, nine percent of consumers said they buy gluten-free products for a household member who has celiac disease, a condition that affects only one percent of the population.

“The bottom line is, people are looking at the back of the package and being critical of what they put in their mouths,” said Barry Novick, President of Kitchen Table Bakers. “If the consumer turns the package over and the information is not there, the consumer suffers.”

Consumers seek out gluten-free, but want more than a gluten-free label. A 2013 New York Times poll found 75 percent of Americans were concerned about GMOs. A 2015 Gallup poll showed that 44 percent of Americans incorporate organic foods in their diet, too, and half of them avoid sugar. In addition, about 90 percent of those polled said they try to eat more fruits and vegetables. This lines up with Nielsen’s Global Health and Ingredient-Sentiment Survey, which found that 64 percent of respondents are avoiding or limiting consumption of specific foods or ingredients.

“Informed and savvy consumers are demanding more from the foods they eat, and some are prioritizing ingredients over brands,” said Andrew Mandzy, Director of Strategic Health and Wellness Insights at Nielsen, in the ingredient-sentiment survey report. “To many consumers, simple is beautiful, and foods with a short list of recognizable ingredients resonate strongly. Savvy manufacturers are responding to this trend by modifying product portfolios by simplifying food ingredient lists and creating natural and organic alternatives to existing offerings. Meanwhile, retailers are also prioritizing healthful foods and better-for-you brands in the center of the store, and emphasizing fresh and perishable foods around the perimeter in order to drive growth.”

Total sales for gluten-free foods this year are set to clock in at $1.328 billion, according to the Packaged Facts Gluten-Free Foods in the U.S. report. The report also said gluten-free food sales growth fell from 81 percent in 2013 and 30 percent in 2014 to 11 percent in 2015. By 2021, the report says, growth rates should end up at a steady five to six percent, with $2 billion in sales by 2020. “Sales do continue to grow, just at a slower pace,” said Mintel Senior Food and Drink Analyst Billy Roberts. “As manufacturers, large and small, enter the largely fragmented gluten-free marketplace, consumers gain an increased availability, quality and variety of options.”

Small Specialty Food Producers Find a Home in New Hampshire

By Lorrie Baumann

Swineheart product characteristicsMary Macdonald got just three weeks’ notice that her business, The Discerning Palate, was about to lose its home because the facility in which she was making and packing Swineheart’s Signature Sauces, Old’s Cool Wild Game Sauces and Our Local Table specialty food products had been sold and was closing. The other New Hampshire food producers who shared the space with her were out on the street just as suddenly.

She and her husband Gavin responded by building Genuine Local, a specialty food production facility that functions as an incubator for specialty food businesses, a shared use kitchen, co-packer and the new home of her house brands. “We wanted to figure out how to make something that worked for the people who were also displaced,” she said. “We found that not only did the people who were displaced by the other facility need a new production facility, but there was also a need within the central part of the state because there were no other resources like this anywhere.”

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Genuine Local opened for business on January 2016 in a 1,800 square-foot former warehouse, and now has 125 to 150 products coming out of the kitchen from 23 different producers. “We received our final notice of occupancy on January 25, 2016 at about 10:00 in the morning,” Macdonald said. “By 1:00, the first batch of sauce was in the kettle.”

In December 2016, Local Baskit, a meal kit subscription service owned by Beth Richards of Concord, New Hampshire, became Genuine Local’s first graduate. Local Baskit had launched in June 2016 using Genuine Local’s facility as the base of operations in which Richards packaged all her meal kits. As the business grew, she shifted her attention to customer service and recipe development, while Genuine Local took on assembling the meal kits. Then in December, Richards relocated her business to a space that will allow her to expand her offerings to include cooking and nutrition classes. “At lightning speed, she leaped and she landed,” Macdonald said.

Genuine Local, located in Meredith, New Hampshire, is in the middle of the state, about 40 miles north of the state capital in Concord and about 80 miles west of Portland, Maine, as the crow flies. It’s equipped as a small-scale commercial kitchen with 40-gallon kettles, which is large for a catering kitchen but small for a production facility. “We expect that people will come in and work for a year or two, but then move on as they outgrow what we’re here to offer,” Macdonald said. “The group that I’m most excited about working with are all the specialty food producers who need to take the next step.”

The facility doesn’t have a USDA license, so it’s not for meat products, and there’s no cold chain production capacity. “We don’t do cheese, but we can pretty much work with anybody else,” Macdonald said. “It’s a very purpose-built facility, so it has a very functional footprint. All of the equipment is on wheels. Everything we have is semi-automated, including the bottler and the labeler. It’s all about being the bridge.”

OLT OC SSSThe 23 producers who are currently sharing the space make a variety of products, including conventional hot pack products and a range of ethnic foods that include a unique West African pepper relish, Ruth’s Mustards, Little Acre Gourmet Foods’ condiments and Bleuberet’s microbatch relishes and jams. Local caterers also use the facility. “Products coming out of here are in distribution throughout New England into upstate New York, as well as pushing down into New York City. We have one customer that’s featured in all of the Eataly stores,” McDonald said. “We have another customer that’s really happy being able to drive to every single store that carries their product, and that’s where they want to be.”

3Pepper Ketchups“We have everything from one company that makes a northern Indian-style eggplant relish, and that’s their only product, to Little Acre Gourmet, which is really pushing to expand their line,” she added. “I’m thinking that in three years, we’re not going to be big enough for her, but we are for now, and we’re very glad.”

The facility is also home to The Discerning Palate’s house brands. They include Swineheart’s Signature Sauces, which offers seven flavors of handcrafted, small-batch sauces representing various styles of American barbecue. “We got into the food business as a hobby gone wrong. The kids gave their dad a small smoker for Father’s Day about 10 years ago,” Macdonald recalls. From that beginning, the Macdonalds started competing in the barbecue circuit and developed their own sauces. “From there, people started wanting to purchase the sauce, and the company just grew,” she said. Once they’d decided to produce the first Swineheart’s Signature Sauces on a commercial basis, they set up shop in a copacking facility that also rented space on an hourly basis. “It was historically a culinary training program run by the county,” Macdonald said. “It was set up as a catering kitchen that transformed into a production facility, whereas ours was set up to be a production facility from the get-go.”

OLT Logo clearNew brands grew up around that 2010 start, including Our Local Table, which offers a trio of onion relishes as well as salsas and spicy Peri Peri sauces, and Old’s Cool, a line of three sauces designed for wild game. “They’re fat-free and made with gluten-free ingredients with no preservatives or artificial flavors or colors,” Macdonald said.

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Genuine Local is also home to Genuine Local’s Bootstraps Program, an a la carte business development program that works by subscription and offers assistance with all the myriad problems that people have to solve when they’re starting a food business: labeling and nutrition panels, licensing, market development and recipe development. “For regular business planning, we refer those out. There are simply not enough hours in the day,” Macdonald said. “We have some people who are qualified to do a variety of types of production, and they’re willing to work with people on a freelance basis, so we do make those types of connections as well.”

“We developed that Bootstraps Program out of recognition that we’d never have been able to do what we’ve done without the generosity of other people,” she added. “It’s frankly not rocket science, but there’s no manual. We have a really strong commitment, with our focus on local, to help people take the next step.”

Spring Issue of The Cheese Guide Now Available

Click here or the cover image above to be among the first to read the spring 2017 issue of The Cheese Guide.

Featured stories include profiles of:

  • Bellwether Farms
  • Cypress Grove Cheese
  • Cheddars from Rogue Creamery
  • Minerva Dairy
  • Jacobs & Brichford Farmstead Cheeses
  • Yellow Door Creamery and
  • The Inspiration Behind Emmi Roth USA’s Creation of World Champion Grand Cru Surchoix!

Unique Ghee-Flavored Organic Popcorn to Launch

Gourmet ghee brand Fourth & Heart, has partnered with snack company LesserEvil to craft the first-to-market ghee popcorn snack. The new product Oh My Ghee, is a delicious organic, butter flavored popcorn that will showcase Fourth & Heart’s premium grass fed ghee for sensational flavor.

Light, crunchy, buttery, popcorn is the epitome of the perfect nosh. Many varieties are drenched in salt and artificial butters that are loaded with chemicals, transforming this otherwise delicious treat into a diet disaster. However, the new Oh My Ghee popcorn snack by LesserEvil is a tasty and healthy option.  Oh My Ghee brings together a pure and simple ingredient line-up of organic popcorn, Himalayan pink salt and savory Fourth & Heart original recipe ghee to boost the flavor factor and pump up the nutritional profile. Fourth & Heart sources its exceptional ghee from grass fed, pasture-raised cows in New Zealand, making it a nutritional powerhouse. Loaded with vitamin A, D, E, K and butyric acid, Fourth & Heart’s ghee turns the popcorn morsels into a nourishing snack. LesserEvil takes care in heating the ghee at a low temperature while applying it to the popcorn, ensuring consumers receive the full health benefits of ghee. Oh My Ghee popcorn is a great source of fiber as well as kosher, USDA Organic and Non GMO Project certified. Oh My Ghee is the latest addition to LesserEvil’s popular Buddah Bowl line.

“We are ecstatic to collaborate with LesserEvil as their ghee of choice for the launch of Oh My Ghee popcorn,” said Fourth & Heart Founder and CEO Raquel Gunsagar. “Fourth & Heart’s ethos and dedication to bringing only the highest quality food goods to consumers, perfectly align with those of LesserEvil. It brings us great joy to see our ghee help reinvent the classic popcorn snack as brought to life by Oh My Ghee.”

“We are committed to quality and innovation,” says Charles Coristine, CEO of LesserEvil Healthy Brands. “We searched out the best ghee on the planet and found a new friend and partner in Fourth & Heart right here in the United States. They are another family owned company with a commitment to amazing products.”

Oh My Ghee Popcorn will be available in all Wegmans locations as of February 1, 2017. Each 5.0-ounce bag will retail for $3.99. Oh My Ghee will launch nationwide through UNFI and other select distributors in March 2017.  For more information on Fourth & Heart or LesserEvil, visit their websites  at fourthandheart.com and lesserevil.com.

Ozery Bakery Unveils New Single-Serve Morning Round at Winter Fancy Food Show

Ozery Bakery, a family-owned bakery making superior quality bread from real, premium ingredients, introduced Muesli Morning Rounds® Single Serve to the brand’s category-leading Morning Rounds® assortment at Winter Fancy Food Show. This heart-healthy, portable snack is packed with five grams of protein per serving and uses naturally-sweet, sulfite-free apples and plump raisins in addition to a mixture of oats, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and other nutritious grains.

Adding convenience to a popular fan-favorite, the Muesli Morning Rounds Single Serve is the first Ozery Bakery Morning Round to be offered in a single pack, joining the full-size packs including Cranberry Orange, Apple Cinnamon, Cinnamon & Raisin and Date & Chia. Inspired by the philosophy that you can eat delicious food and feel healthy, Ozery Bakery is passionate about never compromising taste for health – a key factor in the decision to use real fruits and grains and zero artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, additives or GMOs.

“We believe real food has a powerful impact on our health, which is why every single ingredient we use is handpicked and taste-tested by our team,” said Alon Ozery. “With the growing desire for on-the-go breakfast and snack options, we’re eager to introduce a single-serve muesli option to give our customers a satisfying and healthy way to quickly curb their appetite.”

Muesli Morning Rounds Single Serve will hit stores in May 2017 for $.99. Ozery Bakery products are available at leading natural, specialty and grocery stores nationwide. For more information, visit http://ozerybakery.com/us-en/.

Milk Film Wins Campaign of the Year at Effie Awards Finland

Starring the rock legend Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, milk film by Valio, a Finnish dairy pioneer, has won the Campaign of the Year award at the Effie Awards Finland, a competition honoring the most effective marketing communications ideas. The video was shared through social and editorial media reaching more than 33 countries around the world and it was seen by over 87 million viewers, which is an exceptional figure considering that no money was spent on its distribution.

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister, the legendary frontman of the heavy metal band Motörhead, and Valio shot the milk commercial for international distribution during Motörhead’s visit to Finland in December 2015. Kilmister passed shortly after the shoot.

“When we heard the sad news, we thought long and hard whether to release the film at all. When Motörhead’s other members urged us to share our memories of Lemmy, it became clear that we should share our time with Lemmy with the whole world – but with a different angle than the one originally planned. This was the right decision. In the end, the film never became a commercial, but a unique tribute. However, we are naturally delighted for receiving this award,” says Hanna Savolainen, Business Manager at Valio. “Filming with Lemmy was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I expected to meet a cosmopolitan, egotistical rock star, but instead he turned out to be a genuine, warm and considerate person. I think he was an ‘old-school’ rock star.”

Effie Awards Finland is a competition measuring the effectiveness of marketing communications, organized by the Finnish Association of Marketing, Technology and Creativity (MTL) as the Effie Awards partner in Finland. The Campaign of the Year receives the Grand Effie award.

Valio’s milk advertisement was also successful at the international Golden Drum marketing communications competition in 2016, winning the Grand Prix for films.

The film starring Lemmy Kilmister is a retake on the 1990s hit commercial on Finnish television, “I don’t drink milk,” for the Dairy Nutrition Council and Finnish Dairy Association in 1997. The new version of the film was produced for Valio by advertising agency hasan & partners.

Flavor Meets Feeling: Jelly Belly Mixed Emotions is a Rollercoaster of Emotions

Whether you’re having a happy day or a grumpy one, there’s a Jelly Belly® jelly bean for everyone in the new Mixed Emotions Collection. Favorite flavors of Jelly Belly beans are paired with an emotion, and finished with the imprint of a corresponding face to show off those feelings. Five flavors in all will be available this spring, giving candy lovers everywhere a new way to express themselves.

“We’ve toyed with connecting feelings and flavors in various ways in the past,” explained Rob Swaigen, Vice President of Global Marketing for Jelly Belly. “Emojis are a big part of how we communicate with each other through text, social media and in email, and their popularity gave new life to this idea.”

Traditionally, Jelly Belly jelly beans are stamped with the Jelly Belly name in white food coloring. In the Mixed Emotions Collection, instead of the logo, the Jelly Belly beans are stamped with a matching face to represent one of five feelings:

  • Happy tastes like refreshing lemon on a sunny day.
  • Playful teases the taste buds with sour apple.
  • Grumpy sears like sizzling cinnamon.
  • Sad envelopes you in berry blue.
  • Love warms the soul with Orange Crush®.

In keeping with the Jelly Belly tradition of thoughtful flavor experiences, enjoy each flavor individually, or combine to create your own delicious mix of emotions.

The Mixed Emotions Collection launches with a variety of packages, including snackable and shareable bags and a gift box.

Sparkling Ice Named 2017 Product of the Year in United Kingdom

Talking Rain Beverage Company®, the maker of Sparkling Ice® flavored sparkling waters, has been recognized as a winner in the U.K. by the country’s largest consumer-driven award for product innovation, Product of the Year. Nearly 12,000 U.K. households responded to the survey designed to identify the top CPG products on the market, naming Sparkling Ice the winner in the “No Added Sugar” Drinks category.

Following the brand’s expansion to the United Kingdom and Ireland in 2016, Sparkling Ice has seen significant success in the marketplace, with presence in more than 15,000 stores.  First year sales success has shown that the beverage market in the U.K. and Ireland present a wealth of opportunity as consumers shift away from full-calorie CSDs to healthier alternatives like Sparkling Ice.

“Since our launch in the U.K. and Ireland this past spring, we have been energized by the excitement surrounding our brand,” said Kevin Klock, President and CEO of Talking Rain Beverage Co. “This award is a special honor as it has been voted on by the U.K. consumer, and we are proud to offer a beverage free of added sugar, that delivers the bold flavor, fizz and refreshment that the marketplace demands.”

Having hit shelves in April 2016 at major grocery and drug store retailers, Sparkling Ice is now available in four flavors in the UK and Ireland: Black Raspberry, Orange Mango, Peach Nectarine, and most recently, Strawberry Kiwi.

 

Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading research agencies conducted the research, offering an industry sector understanding and collating the survey from more than 11,600 people in the UK and Ireland.

For more information about Sparkling Ice, visit www.sparklingice.com.

Le Roule Spreadable Cheese Launches with 3 Flavors

Recognizable by its distinct swirl, Le Roulé is a fresh spreadable cheese that is sprinkled with either savory or sweet ingredients, and then hand-rolled to form a log before being sliced, revealing its ingredients in the form of its unmistakable spiral. The line-up of flavors for this new product includes: Garlic & Herb, Savory & Sweet Peppers, and Cranberry.

Le Roulé, which means ‘roll’ in French, is handcrafted in France’s northeast mountain region of Les Vosges, in the village of Neufchâteau. Made from locally sourced fresh cow’s milk, this specialty cheese is creamy and smooth, with a remarkably clean, fresh taste.

Unlike other spreadable cheeses, which are mass-produced, Le Roulé continues to be made just the way it was from the beginning, almost 40 years ago, with fresh curd spread atop a layer of spicy, tart or sweet ingredients, then rolled to form a log, sliced and individually hand-packaged.

  • Garlic & Herb: The fresh taste of herbs and mild garlic flavor are beautifully balanced by the refreshing taste of the cheese. A standout on any cheese platter, this flavor can also be used to enhance recipes such as pasta, soup, or atop a bagel with smoked salmon. The pillar of the Le Roulé line, Garlic & Herb is available in a 5.3-ounce package.
  • Savory & Sweet Peppers: The mild taste of red peppers is harmoniously combined with green peppers as well as spices and herbs such as chili pepper, paprika, cumin, and coriander, making for a complex yet perfect balance of flavors. Le Roulé Savory & Sweet Peppers is available in a 4.4-ounce package.
  • Cranberry: The characteristically tart yet sweet cranberry blends naturally with the fresh taste of the luscious cheese. The creamy texture makes this cheese ideal for spreading on a cracker or even on a bagel for an indulgent breakfast or snack. Le Roulé Cranberry is available in a 4.4-ounce package.

Le Roulé will be exhibiting at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

Poco Dolce Packaging to Feature Fine Art

San Francisco based chocolate company, Poco Dolce Confections, is announcing an upcoming collaboration with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. In addition, Poco Dolce will be revealing new packaging for its line of bittersweet chocolate bars, including a new milk chocolate bar – Poco Dolce’s first milk chocolate product.

Poco Dolce’s partnership with the Fine Arts Museums will feature three exemplary products, including the addition of the new 37 percent cacao milk chocolate bar, to add to its selection of award winning artisanal confections. The new, limited bar packaging will showcase artwork celebrating the special exhibition galleries at the de Young Museum as well as the Legion of
Honor. The first, Monet: The early years, debuts February of 2017.

The new bars and bar packaging are featured in Poco Loco’s booth at the Winter Fancy Food Show. In addition to the collaboration bars, new and improved packaging for Poco Dolce’s bittersweet bar line will also be featured, which will include cacao percentage as well as a vivid color scheme to highlight each variety.

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