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When It Comes to Oils and Vinegars, Customers Always Seeking the Next Big Thing

By Lucas Witman

There was a time when shopping for cooking oil meant choosing between a few plastic bottles of vegetable, canola, peanut and olive oils, likely selecting the one with the most attractive price tag. Now, the average grocery store stocks dozens of different types of oils, and many consumers stock their pantries with a variety of them, each carefully selected to fulfill a different task in the kitchen. There is vegetable oil for frying, extra virgin olive oil for vinaigrettes, and sesame oil for finishing off a perfect stir-fry. These products may be accompanied by walnut, grape seed, cottonseed and avocado oil, or any number of additional products that are becoming increasingly popular among home cooks.

The U.S. vinegars marketplace has become similarly diverse in recent years. Gone is the simple choice consumers once had between white wine, red wine, cider and balsamic. Today, one may use French champagne vinegar in one dish, later switching to South Korean persimmon vinegar for another. Even within the world of balsamic vinegar, the number of different products available is staggering, including everything from a rich, syrupy 12-year-old balsamico di Modena from Italy to flavorful infusions with orange blossom, maple and even chocolate.

For oils and vinegars companies today, capturing the attention of the modern consumer means always looking for the next big thing. It is vital for successful companies to stay on top of current trends and work to offer consumers what they crave. One example of a company that is doing this is Kelapo, which is at the forefront of the growing coconut oil trend.

Coconut oil, extracted from mature coconut meat, has recently risen in popularity among U.S. consumers as a versatile cooking ingredient. Coconut oil can be used for a number of different purposes, from frying chicken to popping popcorn. It also works great for baked goods.

There are a growing number of companies currently bringing coconut oils and spreads to the American marketplace, but Kelapo founder Erin Meagher argues that her company’s products stand out above the rest.

“Everyone thinks, because they hear everything about coconut oil now, it’s all made the same, and it’s absolutely not the same,” Meagher said. “Beside being unrefined, organic and fair trade, ours is just a higher quality. You’re going to get it when you open up the jar and smell how light and flavorful it is. And when you cook with it, it’s going to have a great flavor and not leave any aftertaste.”

However, it is not just the quality of Kelapo coconut oil products that sets the company apart from its competition, but also the versatility of these offerings. “After the quality, it’s the innovation that we have,” Meagher said. “Just because you’re switching to coconut oil…you still want convenience. That’s why we have not just the jars. We have a cooking spray. We have the premeasured sticks, the pouches. If…I’m going fry my eggs with a cooking spray, why not coconut oil?”

With so many vinegar options available today, it is equally important for companies within this industry to do what they can to set themselves apart from the pack. This is what O Olive Oil has done, distinguishing itself for the quality of the vinegars it offers and their diversity. O Olive Oil offers no less than 19 different white wine, red wine, rice wine and balsamic vinegars, including everything from the rich and robust to the delicate and drinkable.

What truly differentiates O Olive Oil’s vinegars from those of the company’s competitors is the process through which they are created: barrel aging. “Most of the vinegars that you see on the market are aged mechanically,” said Mario Aranda, Vice President of O Olive Oil. “We’re in the middle of wine country, so we have access to all of the beautiful grapes and wines. Vinegar, by definition, is sour wine. Most of the vinegars out there do not use wine at all. They use sugar water, fruit water. But we use the actual wine, and then barrel age the vinegar.”

The makers of O Olive Oil also try to draw customers to the truly unique vinegars offered by the company by focusing on creating beautiful packaging. The company’s vinegars are so attractive that they have become quite popular as hostess gifts, even being featured on Oprah on an episode in which Oprah Winfrey herself presented some of her favorite holiday gifts. “We work very hard and say that we taste as good as we look,” Aranda said. “We won a number of design awards at [the Summer Fancy Food Show] and in design shows themselves. It ought to look and taste yummy as well.”

Ariston Continues Providing the Very Best in Olive Oil

Ariston-OVSThe Doukas family has been producing extra virgin olive oil for three generations and could only think of one word to describe it: “Ariston,” which in ancient Greek means, “the very best.” To keep offering the very best, at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show, Ariston introduced a line of Californian Koroneiki Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Californian Koroneiki Infused Olive Oils to meet customers need for products that are made here in the United States.

Since 1997, Ariston has been selling its extra virgin olive oil in the Ariston Refill and Save Program. Imagine that you buy six to 10 glass bottles per year of extra virgin olive oil. Now, imagine your neighbors, family and friends buy that many as well. When you are done with the bottle where does it go? By purchasing your extra virgin olive oil through Aristons Refill and Save program, you are able to reuse your bottle and save money on future refills. Due to the success of the Ariston Refill and Save Program, Ariston has now extended the program to its entire extra virgin olive oil, infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar condiments line. And while the rest of the EVOO world has caught on to the fusti bulk concept, Ariston sets itself apart by producing extra virgin olive oil from its own farms and neighboring farms, ensuring that consumers receive the very best oil from Koroneiki olive trees.

Ariston is planning to launch several new flavors, including chocolate-infused olive oil, thyme-infused olive oil, oregano-infused olive oil and pizza-flavored olive oil, as well as a series of premium flavored balsamic vinegars including chocolate-honey-orange, espresso balsamic, Sicilian lemon balsamic, mango balsamic, Calabrian tangerine balsamic and truffle-infused balsamic, just to name a few.

Arison also offers a line of all-natural honey from beekeepers local to where the olives are harvested as well as all-natural fruit preserves from Greece.

For more information, visit www.aristonoliveoil.com.

M2M Beverages Awarded for Unique Packaging

989-BEVERAGE-AWARDS-01 (3)H2M Beverages has paired creativity with technology to create unique new beverage concepts that give its products an edge—and H2M’s achievements haven’t gone unnoticed. H2M Beverages was recently awarded two different awards at the 2013 Beverage Innovation Awards in September for the unique bottle design of its star drink, 989 OnDemand.

The only company to receive two awards at the ceremony, H2M Beverages took home the prize for “Best New Beverage Concept” as well as “Best Closure” for its vitamin-enhanced drink, 989 OnDemand. The secret to the drink’s success is in the air-tight cap, which stores all vitamins, minerals and electrolytes until it is opened by the user, ensuring ultimate freshness at the exact moment of consumption. 989 OnDemand comes in an assortment of delicious flavors including grape, orange, punch, lemon lime, pomegranate blueberry and kiwi strawberry.

Cap_open1 (3)The patented cap, a two-piece unit designed to hold liquid or solid in an air-tight chamber, releases a combination of essential vitamins, minerals and electrolytes into the water when the cap is twisted by the consumer. Once the cap’s contents have been released, the bottom portion is turned counter-clockwise to remove, allowing access to the bottle’s now freshly-mixed ingredients.

The 2013 Beverage Innovation Awards saw more than 370 entries from 40 different countries. The competition consisted of 29 different categories ranging from Best Dairy Drink to Best Brand Marketing Campaign, and awarded the brightest and best in the beverage industry for their achievements.

Moschino gives DISARONNO a Holiday Makeover

DISARONNO, the bestselling Italian liqueur in the world, rounds off a successful year with the ultimate drinks cabinet addition: the iconic bottle, with its unmistakable squared bottle top, will be made over by the Italian fashion house Moschino. This collaboration between two stylish Italian brands will be available for purchase starting this October.

DiSaronnoThe “MOSCHINO loves DISARONNO” bottle will be designed in the fashion house’s signature style, adorned with its classic heart pattern in a bold black and red color palette. This distinctive limited edition combines the characteristics of Moschino with the unmistakable silhouette of the DISARONNO bottle. It’s an ideal gift for fashionistas this holiday season.

The DISARONNO and Moschino project will support the charity Fashion 4 Development (sponsored by the United Nations) through a donation of its profits to help the development of this unique initiative in Africa.  The overall mission of Fashion 4 Development is to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries in order to implement creative strategies for sustained economic growth and development in countries worldwide.

“We were interested in the idea of linking the iconic image of our bottle and brand to that of another that is also recognizable all over the world with a specially designed holiday look. Even though DISARONNO is already known for Italian quality and style worldwide, we’re always trying to reinvent ourselves and stay fresh, which is why we decided to get involved in the world of fashion, in particular Moschino, another dynamic brand with an extensive Italian heritage,” said Stefano Battioni General Manager of ILLVA Saronno, producer of the DISARONNO brand.

The exclusive “MOSCHINO loves DISARONNO” limited edition will be available this November for $24.99 at stores nationwide or through www.1-877-spirits.com.

 

Vestar Capital Partners Acquires Majority Interest in Roland Foods

Vestar Capital Partners VI, L.P. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a majority interest in the Roland Foods family of companies, including Bruno Scheidt, Inc., American Roland Food Corp., Pro Warehouse Corp. and Costamar Corp.

Roland Foods is a recognized leader in the imported specialty foods business in the United States and around the globe. “My parents started Roland Foods in the U.S. nearly 75 years ago, and the company has grown consistently over the years with the help of our valued customers, suppliers, and staff,” said Charles E. Scheidt, CEO of Roland Foods. “Vestar appreciates and shares our values, as well as our company’s single-minded focus on our brands, quality products and exceptional and reliable customer service. This evolution enables Roland Foods to build on its excellent foundation.”

“Roland Foods is a great company with a unique niche and superb reputation in the industry, and an exceptional initial investment for our new Vestar VI fund,” said Dan O’Connell, founder and CEO of Vestar. “Roland Foods is not only performing extremely well but also has impressive potential. Coupled with the bright growth outlook we see in the specialty foods sector, we believe Vestar’s resources and experience in the food and branded products arena can help Roland Foods grow substantially.”

Roland Foods’ current management team and staff will remain in place. Charlie Scheidt will continue as CEO and Chairman of the Board and will retain a meaningful investment in the company. The company anticipates that a new CEO will be named in the coming year. Roland Foods expects a seamless transition for the suppliers, vendors and customers, with continuity, stability and growth being top priorities.

Based in New York City, Roland Foods specializes in importing high-quality specialty food products from more than 40 countries. Founded in Paris in 1934 and established in the United States in 1939, Roland Foods has provided customers with exceptional specialty foods under the Roland brand as well as several other affiliated brands. The company has a national presence in the foodservice, retail, and industrial channels as well as international sales in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Roland Foods’ dedication to providing quality and consistency has made it a leader among food importers and suppliers. For more information, visit www.rolandfood.com.

Massachusetts Cheesemakers Form Guild

Twenty one artisanal and farmstead cheesemakers who collectively make more than 100 types of cheese have banded together to form the nonprofit Massachusetts Cheese Guild, which will launch officially with a gala cheese tasting on October 29.

“The time has come for cheesemakers in Massachusetts, who have toiled independently for years, to coalesce for their greater good and to wave a proud flag for all the awards and accolades they’ve accrued for their products,” said Peter Lovis of The Cheese Shop of Concord, who is both a charter sponsor and on the guild’s board of advisors.

The goals of the Massachusetts Cheese Guild are to educate each other as well as consumers, retailers and distributors about the exceptional cheeses that are made in Massachusetts, to encourage and support the production of farmstead and artisanal cheeses made from Massachusetts milk and to help cheese artisans to promote their products and their achievements. The organization also intends to draw the attention of the public to the wealth of cheese varieties that are available throughout the state. Those represent almost every type of cheese, from alpine to blue, from Nubian goat to Ayrshire cow, from fresh and soft to the cave-aged and hard varieties.

Barbara Hanley is the guild’s inaugural president. There is also a 10-person board of directors. Sponsors underwriting the formation of the organization are The Cheese Shop of Concord, Shubie’s Market and Seacrest Foods International. The Massachusetts Cheese Guild is funded by its members and supported by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and the Massachusetts Dairy Promotion Board. Its artisan members range in location from Topsfield to the north to Martha’s Vineyard on the south and from Somerville to the east and Williamstown to the west.

The organization’s website is live and offers information about the guild, its artisans, sourcing information for Massachusetts cheeses and directions for how to cook with Massachusetts cheeses. It also describes the factors that can affect cheesemaking and anoints the Jersey as the smartest cow on the planet.

Dessert and Baking Mixes Go Gourmet for Holiday Gifting

By Lucas Witman

When entrepreneurs came up with Bisquick and Jiffy Mix in the 1930s, they could never have imagined that these relatively simple mixes of flours and leavening agents would be the precursors of a massive 21st century market for baking and dessert mixes. These two originary brands are still going strong, but they have been joined by hundreds if not thousands of specialty food companies marketing mixes that help home cooks prepare gourmet delicacies. Today, there are mixes available to make anything from blueberry lemon lavender pancakes to shoofly pie to gluten-free Italian herb foccacia.

With the mixes market burgeoning into a truly gourmet enterprise, pre-packaged baking and dessert mixes have gone from basic blends to luxurious updates on classic kitchen staples. Gone are the days when home cooks pulled out a boxed biscuit mix in order to just get breakfast on the table. Today, consumers are more likely to pull out an organic southern buttermilk biscuit mix in order to treat family and friends to a special breakfast treat.

As the mixes market has gone gourmet, featuring high-end recipes, fine ingredients and appealing packaging, these products have become increasingly popular as gifts. The modern foodie is likely to find pre-packaged mixes in her or his Christmas stocking right alongside imported olive oils and stainless steel truffle shavers.

SONY DSCOne company at the forefront of the mixes-as-gifts movement is Ohio-based The Invisible Chef. The Invisible Chef markets a wide line of attractively packaged mixes for coffee and tea cakes, breads, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and more. The company’s products are made with premium all-natural ingredients and feature recipes like those one might find at a high-end bakery. Consumers can prepare Almond Crème Coffee Cake, Chocolate Chipotle Brownies and Chai Latte Cupcakes with the help of The Invisible Chef’s mixes.

We pretty much cover all the bases in terms of baking mixes,” said Jill McCauley, co-owner of The Invisible Chef. According to McCauley, it is the convenience of her company’s products combined with their gourmet flavors that truly set The Invisible Chef apart. “You can have something mixed up and in the pan before the oven is even preheated,” she said.

When it comes to giving mixes as gifts, The Invisible Chef has consumers covered. “We have some different or intriguing flavor profiles,” McCauley said. ‘If you’re going to buy something as a gift, maybe you want something a little different.”

For retailers, The Invisible Chef’s appealing packaging makes it ideal for holiday merchandising displays. Simply place the company’s Cheddar Chipotle Beer Bread Mix alongside a festive glass loaf plan, and customers have a ready-made gift right in front of them.

Finally, since they are a relatively inexpensive gourmet product, The Invisible Chef’s mixes can be given as gifts for virtually any occasion. “If you just go in and buy a mix, most are under $10 retail, so it’s a really affordable luxury,” McCauley said. “All-natural, great ingredients, nice flavor profile—and you don’t have to spend a lot of money.”

Another company that offers a line of unique mixes that are beautifully packaged and perfect as gifts, is Virginia-based Purely American. Purely American offers more than 80 dessert, bread, soup, chili, seafood and pasta mixes.

In particular, Purely American’s signature Storytelling line of mixes make great gifts by themselves, or they can be a terrific addition to a themed gift basket. Each mix in the Storytelling line,which has been crafted since 1984, tells its own story. Mixes for tasty treats like Amish Country Snickerdoodles, Shenandoah Valley Apple & Spice Cake and Santa Fe Cornbread each tells their own regional tales about specific American locales.

Our original line—the storytelling mixes—each has a story on the package that celebrates a famous American food, experience, place or tradition,” said Ray Leard, founder of Purely American. Each of the Purely American lines is all-natural, no MSG, low fat and high fiber.

This holiday season, Purely American is offering consumers a number of mixes for holiday-themed goodies, as well. These mixes are ideal as hostess gifts. “Our Christmas at Grandma’s Cranberry Bean Soup is an excellent gift idea,” Leard said.

For specialty food retailers trying to capture extra sales this holiday season, a carefully curated selection of gourmet mixes from high end companies like The Invisible Chef and Purely American is a great way to attract customers looking for the perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for foodie in their life. With so many expertly crafted mixes available today, however, the hard part is deciding which ones your customers will want most.

Baking for the Holidays with Robert Rothschild Farm Mixes

RobertRothschild-MSRobert Rothschild Farm offers a complete line of baking mixes. New muffin, scone, dessert and bread mixes were introduced in 2013 and have been very popular. All of the company’s baking mixes appeal to consumers who love to bake high quality, delicious treats but do not have the time to make them from scratch.

Two of the most recent additions to Robert Rothschild Farm’s line of baking mixes, Classic Shortbread Cookie Mix and Double Chocolate Fudge Brownie Mix, are simply delicious on their own, or they pair perfectly with many of the company’s other gourmet products. The Classic Shortbread Cookies can be topped with any of the company’s preserves, Pumpkin Curd or Buttery Cookie Caramel Sauce. The Double Chocolate Fudge Brownies are sensational topped with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Sauce or Peppermint Candy Cane Dip for a delightful holiday dessert.

Robert Rothschild Farm’s gourmet bread mixes make great side dishes or appetizers when paired with the company’s open and serve dips. The Pub Style Pretzel Bread can be served with new savory cheese dips. Customers can also dip the Italian Herb Focaccia Bread in the Italian Herb Dipping Oil to elevate any meal from ordinary to extraordinary.

For more information about the Robert Rothschild Farm’s gourmet baking mixes, call 800.356.8933, email info@robertrothschild.com or visit the company online at www.robertrothschild.com.

 

Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup from Frontier Soups is Homemade in Minutes

FrontierSoups-MSArizona Sunset Enchilada Soup, the newest addition to Frontier Soups™ line of 34 all-natural, gourmet soup mixes, is a healthier and easier way for consumers to enjoy a weeknight Mexican fiesta. With much less preparation time than tacos, the new soup satisfies consumers’ taste for culinary adventure. The product is also certified gluten-free.

Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup features warm chili seasonings and epazote, a spice used in many traditional Mexican dishes. These spices create an authentic Mexican flavor profile. The soup’s colorful golden yellow corn and red peppers are reminiscent of the bold colors of an Arizona sunset, creating point-of-purchase appeal when showcased in 5.75-ounce clear packaging.

A clock icon on the product’s packaging informs busy consumers the soup can be prepared on the stovetop in just 30 minutes. All Frontier Soups soup mixes have no added salt, MSG or preservatives. In addition, the company’s 28 gluten-free varieties have met the requirements of the Celiac Sprue Association® Recognition Seal Program. The SRP for the product is $5.95.

For more information on Frontier Soups, contact the company by phone at 800.300.SOUP (7687), or visit the company online at www.frontiersoups.com.

Stonewall Kitchen Pairs Peppermint with Wintertime Enjoyment

Specialty food creator Stonewall Kitchen is thinking peppermint—delicious peppermint baking mixes that are perfect for the holidays and wintertime enjoyment. The Chocolate Peppermint Cupcake Mix gives cupcake fans of all ages a wonderful combination of a rich, dark chocolate cupcake covered in sweet peppermint frosting that’s loaded with bits of peppermint candy. And the Chocolate Peppermint Crinkle Cookie Mix makes out-of-this-world, chewy, deep chocolate cookies with the chill of peppermint flavor.

In addition to chocolate peppermint baking mixes, Stonewall Kitchen also carries three additional chocolate peppermint treats, including Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Ideal after shoveling the driveway or building a snowman, this creamy and rich cocoa delivers a luscious combination of hot chocolate with a cool whisper of peppermint. For an ultimate chocolate peppermint dessert, look no further than Stonewall Kitchen’s Chocolate Peppermint Sauce. Served warm and spooned over ice cream, this smooth, rich sauce takes desserts to a whole new decadent level. Finally, for adults, there is the Chocolate Peppermint Martini mixer that can add a fun and delicious element to holiday get-togethers. Simply add your favorite libation, shake and serve.

With so many tasty chocolate peppermint options, Stonewall Kitchen is making it easy to start new holiday traditions. For more information, visit www.stonewallkitchen.com. or call 888.326.5678.