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Expo West Offers Products to Woo the Health-Conscious Consumer

By Lorrie Baumann

The Climate Collaborative’s second annual Climate Day program will take place this year on Wednesday, March 7 as part of Natural Products Expo West, which will take place March 7-11 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Exhibits located in the convention center’s new North Halls will be open March 8-10, while exhibits in the Main Halls will be open March 9-11. The North Halls are located across the plaza from the Anaheim Convention Center Arena, in space formerly occupied by a convention center parking garage. More than 3,000 vendors are scheduled to exhibit at the show.


Fishpeople will be among those companies exhibiting in the North Hall this year. The company, founded in 2012, produces seafood entree kits as well as a line of seafood bisques and chowders packaged in ready-to-eat pouches that have drawn attention from outdoor enthusiasts, who appreciate that the shelf-stable pouches provide a chef-inspired gourmet meal that can be heated in about 90 seconds and enjoyed on-the-go right out of the pouch, according to company CEO Ken Plasse.

Fishpeople’s seafood entree kits are designed to meet the needs of consumers who don’t trust seafood or don’t trust themselves with seafood, either because they don’t know where the fish is coming from and how it’s caught or because they think that fish is difficult to prepare. “You spend a lot on a nice piece of fish, and people are afraid of screwing it up,” Plasse said, adding that these factors help explain why two thirds of the seafood consumed by Americans is ordered in restaurants.

Fishpeople seafood kits are offered in four varieties: Meyer Lemon & Herb Panko Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit, Cajun Shrimp & Sweet Pepper Wild Alaskan Salmon Kit, Chipotle & Lime Wild Alaskan Cod Kit and Garlic Parmesan Potato Wild Alaskan Cod Kit. Sold from the grocer’s freezer case, they’re designed to solve all those consumer fears. The company’s website offers traceability information for each product, so consumers can go to the website to find out more about how, where and by whom the fish was caught, and the kits offer all the components necessary to turn the kit into an entree for two. “We’ve taken that fish and provided a custom topper and foolproof instructions so you get great results every time,” Plasse said. “In addition to two portions and the recipe card, we provide a foil for each fish to keep the moisture inside for a tented baking – you stop the drying and overcooking. You get a lot of flexibility [on the exact cooking time].”

“The entire experience from the minute you open the box is about 20 minutes,” he added. Actual baking time for the kit after it’s thawed is about 10 to 12 minutes, and although the company recommends cooking the thawed fish, the kit can also be prepared right out of the freezer. Each of the two servings is packaged individually, so the consumer can cook the kit one serving at a time if desired.

The seafood kit is the most recent addition to the Fishpeople range of products that also includes a line of chowders and bisques packaged in single-serving packages that can either be microwaved for 90 seconds or heated in a boiling water bath. In either case, the soups can be eaten right out of the pouch. Varieties include Wild Crab Bisque, Alder Smoke Wild Salmon Chowder, Wild Seafood Bouillabaisse and Razor Clam Chowder. A dairy-free soup will be launched this fall.

The suggested retail price for the single-serve soups is $4.99, while the seafood kits that serve two retail for $9.99.

Wild Garden

Ziyad Brothers Importing will be exhibiting its Wild Garden products in Hall E at Expo West. The company has a new line of simmer sauces and marinades that will capture the interest of Millennial consumers who are looking for convenient ways to bring authentic ethnic flavors to their tables. The line includes Tunisian Shakshouka Simmer Sauce, Chermoula Marinade, Chicken Shawarma Marinade and Beef Shawarma Marinade. The Tunisian Shakshouka Simmer Sauce is packaged in an 8.8-ounce pouch and is made from ripe tomatoes, onions, red peppers, garlic and spices with simple instructions for preparing the breakfast dish that has a cult following among New York hipsters and food bloggers. The cook pours the contents of the pouch into a small skillet and brings it to a simmer, then uses a spoon to create wells in the sauce in which to drop in eggs for poaching. A few minutes later, breakfast is served. The sauce is also an excellent base for poaching fish or shrimp, according to Ziyad Executive Chef Maher Chebaro, who developed the recipe for the Wild Garden sauce.

Munk Pack

Munk Pack is also among the exhibitors in Hall E at Expo West, where the company will be showcasing its lines of Protein Cookies and Oatmeal Fruit Squeezes. Both product lines are manufactured in the U.S. with several nutrition and safety certifications: they’re gluten free certified, kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified and vegan certified.

Munk Pack targets its products to active adults, said co-Founder and co-CEO Michelle Glienke. “The brand is meant to elicit a love for the outdoors and appeal to people’s love of nature, as well as encourage active and healthy living. Our products are also for any on-the-go purpose,” she said. “You can keep them in your purse or grab them on the way out the door.”

The Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze, which is available in five varieties, was the first product line for the company that launched into retail in April 2015. Co-Founders Michelle Glienke and Tobias Glienke were living in New York City at the time and felt like they didn’t have a good option for a quick grab-and-go breakfast that was made with real food ingredients. “At the time we were making a lot of smoothies and oatmeal, but it was time-consuming and messy,” Michelle said. “We discovered the pouch packaging, which enabled the cooked food to be packaged without fillers or preservatives, and it would keep for a long time. We decided that the innovation we wanted to bring to the market was an adult nutrition product, in this packaging format, to be eaten on the go.”

Munk Pack Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze is sold nationally in major grocery retailers and is available in Apple Quinoa Cinnamon, Maple Pear Quinoa, Peach Chia Vanilla, Blueberry Acai Flax and Raspberry Coconut. They retail for $2.49. The company’s Protein Cookies, launched last year at Natural Products Expo West, are available in four varieties: Double Dark Chocolate, Coconut White Chip Macadamia, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin Spice. They retail for $2.79.

Chosen Foods

Chosen Foods will be bringing a new flavor of Avocado Oil to Hall E, extending its product line into the flavored oil space as well as a “very allergy-friendly” mayonnaise. Specifics will only be available closer to show time, so keep an eye on Gourmet Newswire for more details. Gourmet Newswire will also offer its readers the first look at Naturally Healthy, the Gourmet News special supplement covering a much wider range of the products and brands exhibiting this year at Expo West. If you’re not already a subscriber to Gourmet Newswire, which arrives in email in-boxes each Tuesday, you can subscribe at – just tell the website that you want the weekly Gourmet Newswire.


Toufayan will be bringing gluten-free chips, gluten-free cookies and organic items to Hall E. Those will include Toufayan’s Organic Pita Bread, Organic Naan, Organic Garlic Naan and the brand-new Smart Pockets, which are square “bread wallets” for sandwiches. “There really isn’t anything like it in the marketplace,” said Richard Gilfert, National Sales Manager for Toufayan. A package of six Smart Pockets will retail for $2.99 to $3.99.

Lundberg Family Farms

Grounded Snacks’ Baked Grain Bites will be in the Lundberg Family Farms booth in Hall C at Expo West. These snacks made from brown rice, sorghum and amaranth are made in Richvale, California, and offered in 4-ounce bags in five flavors launching at Expo West: Vanilla Chai, White Cheddar & Jalapeno, Smoky Sweet BBQ, Aged Parmesan and Garlic & Herb. The 4-ounce bag retails for $3.49. Single-serve packaging for Baked Grain Bites will also be reaching store shelves this summer.

They join a Grounded Snacks product range that already includes whole grain chips in a variety of flavors made from rice and quinoa and sold nationwide.

Brooklyn Crafted

In Hall A at Expo West, Brooklyn Crafted will be showing its ginger beers, including the line’s new extension, packaged in 7 fluid-ounce bottles, in the BCGA Concept Corp. booth. Brooklyn Crafted is a line of ginger beers that launched last year with Extra Spicy Ginger Beer, Sugar Free Extra Spicy Ginger Beer and Sugar Free Ginger Ale in 12-ounce bottles. The ginger beers are spicier versions of the company’s Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, BCGA Concept Corp’s initial product line. “All of our products carry fresh, unfiltered ginger, so when you look at the bottle, it looks like there’s sediment in the bottle, which is the fresh ginger,” said Keli Roberson, the company’s Marketing Director.

The Brooklyn Crafted ginger beers kick up the ginger flavor a notch with the addition of organic ginger extract. They create great cocktail mixers that work well in recipes for a Dark and Stormy or a Moscow Mule – a cocktail trend that’s still spreading across the country. “They’re very refreshing, while offering the healthy components of ginger,” Roberson said.

As the name suggests, the Brooklyn Crafted products are made in Brooklyn, New York. Last October, the company launched Brooklyn Crafted Mini Bottles, a line of the craft ginger beers packaged in 7-fluid ounce bottles. They’re available in four flavors: Traditional, Earl Grey, Lemon & Lime and Mango. The Mini Bottles retail for $1.49 per bottle.

SIAL Paris Just Around the Corner

It is now more than half a century since SIAL (Salon International de l’Alimentation – International Food Exhibition) first espoused the ambition to become the world’s most important network for food professionals. A daring wager, but one which has paid off, as evinced by the success foretold of the upcoming edition of SIAL Paris, to take place from October 21 to 25, 2018 at Paris Nord Villepinte. This key biennial event has become the go-to, inspirational meeting place for the entire food processing industry, because it is here that the food of today goes on show and the food of tomorrow is conceived.

“All eyes in the food industry will be turned toward Paris in October 2018,” predicts Nicolas Trentesaux, Director of the SIAL network. “Let us not forget,” he said, “that the food industry is one of the most dynamic industries in the majority of the G20 countries! Coming to SIAL Paris is about discovering opportunities for growth, and new trends; it is about benefiting from an excellent springboard to attain the ambitious objectives aspired to by the actors in the food industry. SIAL Paris is a unique, inspirational platform for testing new markets, launching new products and meeting the main professionals in the sector to discuss the challenges that lie ahead. It is also a veritable laboratory, with research and development departments from around the world finalizing their innovations to test them in the aisles of the exhibition. More than 2,500 innovations will be unveiled to the world for the very first time as part of SIAL Innovation, serving up yet more inspiration to the food processing industry.”

At about nine months before its opening, almost 90 percent of the exhibition’s floor space has been reserved, and more than 80 countries have already confirmed their attendance. More than 160,000 visitors from around the world are expected to arrive at the exhibit hall. Among the offerings on the show floor will be organic products, free-from products, eco-friendly products, sustainable products and semi-processed foods, which will all be shown in a new exhibit sector: Alternative Food. The pavilion will have at its core a space for roundtables and talks, as well as guided tours.

Two other pavilions will showcase beverages and products made in France, which will be exhibited under the same banner, and equipment and services, which will allow micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises to present their technologies and equipment. The 2018 edition of SIAL also welcomes a new feature event dedicated to forecasting trends: “Future Lab.” This will accommodate European start-ups, global studies and experiential spaces.


Cheeses from the PrairyErth: Green Dirt Farm

By Lorrie Baumann

PrairieTomme for webGreen Dirt Farm was born of Sarah Hoffmann’s desire to give her children the kind of grounded life that her parents provided for her on the various farms to which her family moved as her father’s duty assignments as a pilot for the U.S. Navy took him from place to place. “We moved every two years, but wherever we moved, we lived on a small farm,” says Hoffmann, who is the Proprietor at Green Dirt Farm today. “My dad did the work when he got home from work.”

Even today, Hoffmann’s father, John Hoffmann, though at 83, long since retired from his Naval career, still maintains draft horses. “My dad, we always teased him that he was a closet farmer, but he’s not a closet farmer – he’s a farmer at heart,” Sarah Hoffmann says. “He grew up loving the farm, and he communicated that to his kids.”

ewesfacesHer experience of growing up on various kinds of farms, from simple family subsistence-style farms with vegetable gardens and a few animals to more robust kinds of farming operations, gave her both knowledge of a wide range of farming styles and an enduring desire to raise her own family on a farm even after she grew up and went her own way with a career in medicine. She met her husband while they were in medical school together in San Francisco, pursued her residency in internal medicine while he completed a residency in cardiology as well as a masters degree in public health and then fellowships to prepare for an academic career. When he finished his fellowship, he realized that the family would have to move so he could teach, since universities rarely hire their professors from the ranks of those who’ve trained in their institution. Hoffmann took that move as a chance to exercise her dream of living on a farm so that her children could have the experience of spending time outdoors, of seeing the cycle of life and death, of knowing that hard work can be challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. “I said to him, ‘Here’s the deal, this is what we’re going to do,’ ” she says, “ ‘Target academic medical centers within 30 miles of affordable farmland.’ ”

JulyGrassThere weren’t many of those, since major teaching hospitals tend to be located in the heart of a big city. Kansas City, Missouri, had one of the five hospitals that filled the bill. “When we got here, they offered us both fantastic jobs, and when we looked around, we said, ‘Good farmland. This is where we’re coming,’ ” she says. “I had actually never lived in the Midwest.”

They found the farm they’d been seeking in Weston, Missouri, a rural town of about 1,500 people that’s close to Kansas City and started a grass-based sheep dairy with the intention that eventually they’d be a farmstead cheese operation. Hoffmann spent the six years from 2002 to 2008 getting the farm set up and learning how to make cheese, then started making cheese for commercial sale in 2008. It was a role for which her education in chemistry, biology and medicine stood her in good stead, since cheesemaking is largely a matter of chemistry and microbiology, she says.

Of course, commercial cheesemaking isn’t just a matter of chemistry and biology – there’s still the commercial part of it. “We still needed to reach that goal of economic sustainability,” she says. Hoffmann’s not the first to discover that it’s extremely difficult to make a living in the U.S. with sheep milk cheeses, even if the cheeses are really good, even if they’re winning prizes in competitions. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from considerations of international trade to the complexities of ovine biology to market forces in the American economy. Her solution to the problem was to form partnerships with nearby Amish dairies who were raising sheep and cows. They agreed both to sell her their milk but also to follow her rules about how they raised their animals. “Those dairies promised to uphold all the same farm practices we think are very important for producing great cheese,” Hoffmann says. Those farm practices include raising the animals on pasture and that they be Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World. “We think that’s really important because there’s a lot of research that shows that a diverse grass diet will concentrate a lot more flavor compounds in the milk,” Hoffmann says. “We think it’s important to have a third-party come in and validate that our farm practices are both humane and environmentally responsible. … That helps our customers know that we pay particular attention to those details on our farm and that we really care about the health and welfare of our animals.”

While Hoffmann made all her own cheeses in the early days of the operation, Rachel Kleine is now Green Dirt Farm’s Head Cheesemaker. She’s responsible for developing the recipes for the mixed milk cheeses that the creamery makes today in addition to its 100 percent sheep milk cheeses, which include Dirt Lover. the dairy’s flagship cheese, a soft-ripened lactic style cheese with an ash coating that helps control how the rind develops as it ages. Dirt Lover tastes buttery, lemony, and mushroomy, and becomes earthy and beefy with age. It smells of wet dirt, like working in the garden, according to the dairy’s description. It won a third-place award for sheep milk cheeses aged between 31 and 60 days this year at the American Cheese Society’s Judging and Competition.

Green Dirt Farm’s Prairie Tomme won a third-place ACS award for a cheese made in the U.S. in an international style. It’s a rustic, mountain style, hard cheese made with sheeps milk. The curd is cut very small and slowly cooked, resulting in a lower moisture cheese. It is aged at least four months, during which the rind is washed with brine. This creates a beautiful, natural rind with an earthy flavor, according to the creamery’s website.

YumAux Arcs, pronounced like Ozark, won a second place ACS award for a blended milk cheese in an international style. It’s a rustic, mountain style, hard cheese made with blended sheep and cow’s milk, made in the summer while the animals are on pasture and aged for at least two months. Aux Arcs is milky and buttery with sweet pineapple notes and hints of flowers. Its rind is evocative of damp earth and mushrooms.

GreenDirt_FreshGreen Dirt Farm also won a second-place award for Fresh Plain, a fresh rindless sheep milk cheese aged less than 30 days, and a first-place win in the category for sheep milk cheeses aged between 31 and 60 days for Woolly Rind, a bloomy rind aged cheese that’s a classic lactic style cheese that undergoes progressive ripening as it ages. Woolly Rind tastes buttery, tangy, and mushroomy. With age, the cheese gains earthy and beefy qualities. Its aroma frequently evokes thoughts of forest floor, or fresh soil. It is a good option to introduce people to aged sheep’s milk cheese, as it is relatively mild, according to Green Dirt Farm.

Bossa won a second-place award in the American Originals category for cheeses made from sheep milk at the 2017 ACS Competition and Judging, tying with Bleating Heart Cheese’s Fat Bottom Girl. Bossa is a signature cheese for Green Dirt Farm, a washed-rind cheese that’s aged for five weeks before wrapping. It reaches its peak at about eight to nine weeks, when it’s very runny, with a custard-like paste that can be spooned out of the rind onto crusty bread. This is a stinky cheese that tastes meaty, with buttery or nutty notes and a delicate honey-nectar flavor.

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