By Lorrie Baumann
Australia’s leading olive oil producer, Boundary Bend Olives, had been in California just long enough to get stationery printed with its address at a former John Deere dealership in Woodland, California, about 20 miles northwest of Sacramento, before the company started winning awards for its California oils at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. The April 15 competition drew nearly 700 olive oils from 25 countries for judging by an international panel of experts, and Boundary Bend took home four NYIOOC awards for Cobram Estate oils produced from California olives as well as five awards for oils produced in Australia.
Cobram Estate Ultra Premium Picual, a medium picual oil from the U.S., won a NYIOOC Silver. Cobram Estate Super Premium Robust Blend, which combines leading varieties from California and Australia for a blend with a cut green grass nose, a strong spicy aroma and complex fruit flavors, earned a NYIOOC Gold Award. Cobram Estate Super Premium Medium Blend took home a NYIOOC Gold Award for appealing fresh fruity aromas and penetrating flavors, and Cobram Estate Ultra Premium Mission, from olives ultra cold-pressed within four hours of picking, received a NYIOOC Silver Award. The company’s NYIOOC awards for Australian oils included two Best in Class Awards for Cobram Estate Ultra Premium Hojiblanca and Cobram Estate Super Premium Premiere, a Robust Blend oil that also won a Best in Class Award in 2014; Cobram Estate Robust Flavour Intensity, a full-bodied blend from Australia that was pressed within six hours of picking, which won a Silver Award; Cobram Estate Classic Flavour, a medium blend from Australia also pressed within six hours, which won a Gold Award and Cobram Estate Ultra Premium Picual, which was ultra cold-pressed within four hours of picking and won a Silver Award in both 2015 and 2014.
Boundary Bend Co-founder and Executive Chairman Rob McGavin announced the company’s plan to expand its operations to the United States in May, 2014, and in January of this year announced that it had set up operations on eight acres near Woodland, California under the guidance of fifth-generation California farmer Adam Engelhardt, formerly of California Olive Ranch, and now CEO of Boundary Bend’s U.S. operations. The company had a small crush last October using another company’s plant for trial runs with small batches of oil. Boundary Bend plans to be in commercial production in California this calendar year. “We do plan to plant our own groves. We’ve got the trees for the plantings ready and are assessing suitable land and expect to have that in process within the next year,” McGavin said. “We’re just waiting for all the balls to line up.”
The company is eager to enter the American market because the country’s olive oil consumption is quite high, but domestic production is quite low, McGavin said. The U.S. is the fourth-largest consumer of olive oil globally, with consumption growing spectacularly over the past 25 years from a bit more than 100,000 metric tons per year in 1990 to the current figure of almost 300,000 metric tons per year, according to the International Olive Council. Per capita consumption in the United States is only 0.9 kg, which is comparable to per capita consumption in the U.K. and Germany, and the vast majority of that is imported, with only 3.8 percent of the olive oil consumed in the U.S. produced domestically. “Consumption of U.S.-produced oil is growing but is limited by supply,” McGavin wrote in a May 2014 letter to Boundary Bend stockholders in which he announced the plan to expand to the U.S.
Boundary Bend Olives, founded in 1998 by college buddies McGavin and Paul Riordan, currently sells more olive oil in Australia than anyone else, and its Australia production, from its own groves in the Murray Valley region of Victoria, is greater than the entire volume of olive oil currently produced in the U.S. “We’ve grown from nothing 10 years ago to the number-one selling brand in Australia,” McGavin said. To his stockholders, he wrote that, “We believe we can replicate, in the USA, the success of our Australian integrated business, but we will be taking a conservative, long-term approach to our business strategy.”
Boundary Bend is starting up agricultural operations in California at a time when the state is in the midst of a historic drought. Agricultural economist Richard Howitt and others from the University of California, Davis and ERA Economics reported to the California Department of Food and Agriculture in May of this year that following three critically dry years, many irrigation districts had exhausted their surface water reserves and the groundwater table had been drawn down in many parts of the Central Valley. The economists estimated that this year’s drought, coming on top of the three previous drought years, will result in the fallowing of about 564,000 acres and an $856 million reduction in gross crop farm revenues across the state. About 18,600 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs may be lost this year, and the total economic loss to California’s agriculture industry is estimated to be $2.7 billion.
None of that scares McGavin one whit. “We know it’s going to be difficult. It’s never, ever easy, but if we do it in a methodical way not to sound arrogant, but we are confident that what worked in Australia’s severe drought conditions will work in California,” he said.
He points out that he and his company have had some experience with drought in Australia. “We had the most awful drought. The scientists were calling it a thousand-year drought, and it went on for seven years,” he said. During the drought, the farmers at Boundary Bend learned how to monitor the water needs of their trees through telemetry-equipped sensors that monitor the percolation of irrigation water through the ground to the tree roots. They learned when the trees needed to be irrigated and when they could stay dry and still survive, thus minimizing the amount of irrigation necessary. “Olives really came into their own in Australia during the drought, and having that experience is something that we can bring to the U.S.,” McGavin said. He added that the experience in the best watering practices to make olive trees thrive on the least possible amount of water was a painful lesson, but he thinks that his neighboring California olive tree farmers will be eager to see how Boundary Bend does it, and that will be beneficial for California agriculture in the long run.
In addition, olive trees require half the irrigation water of nut trees, so replacing some of the nut trees currently growing in California’s Central Valley with olive trees will save water too, he said. “Being able to plant twice the area of olives versus nut tree crops for the same amount of water is a good use of the water,” he said.
When it has secured the land, Boundary Bend will plant the olive trees much less densely than the typical California super high-density planting. While Boundary Bend’s groves will have fewer trees planted per acre, the overall yield of olive oil per acre will be similar because the trees will grow bigger. They’ll also be more drought-tolerant.
The trees will be a mix of varietals rather than the Arbequina monocrop that’s typical in California. This will result in extra-virgin olive oils with outstanding shelf life, better health benefits and complex flavor profiles as well as lowering the risk of crop failure, McGavin said. A good Arbequina oil has a shelf life of 18 months if it’s stored properly, while other oils, such as the Coratina variety originating in southern Italy, can last on the shelf for up to three years because they contain more antioxidants. Those antioxidants are also credited with some of the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oils. “A mix of olives extends the harvest and offers different flavor profiles,” McGavin said. Stretching out the harvest allows the olives to be picked at optimum ripeness and rushed to the mill for pressing within hours. The precise timing of the harvest and the speed of that processing is important in the protection of the volatile components of the oils. What makes a good extra-virgin olive oil is the minor components and how fresh they are and how much is expressed in the oil to contribute to flavor as well as health benefits, according to McGavin. “We think it works well here [in Australia], and we think it’ll work well in the USA, and we’re really excited about coming over and bringing it to American consumers,” he said. “A really important part of our strategy is to introduce the varieties that we grow in Australia and our way of growing them – different varieties of olives that give greater complexity to the oil.”
“We’re all a bunch of farmers,” he added. “Our company stands by farmers. We’re farmers, and today we own 2.5 million trees on our own land, and the reason we’re successful is that we love what we do and have a brilliant product.”
By Lorrie Baumann
World Centric is just going into production with a line of compostable packaging for prepared foods made out of fiber that’s grown in the USA and turned into clamshells and covered plates in an American factory under American environmental regulations and sustainability ethics. They comply with the regulations of an increasing number of cities across the country that now require take-out food to be served in packaging that can go into municipal composting facilities instead of into the landfill.
The new containers are made by World Centric, which was started in 2004 as a nonprofit organization. “For us, the business initially was a result of trying to support a nonprofit mission of raising awareness of social and environmental issues,” says World Centric Founder Aseem Das. “We have kept a lot of those values for making change and trying to do our part, in whatever small way, to create a better world and make a difference…. Packaging was opportunistic. We were looking around for a way to support the nonprofit, for products and services that would be sustainable and beneficial to the environment or services that help mitigate social disparities that exist in the world.”
World Centric is headquartered in Petaluma, California, and in those days “polystyrene,” known commonly by the brand name, Styrofoam, had already become a bit of a dirty word in California. Cities around the state were becoming concerned about the material’s durability in the environment and the expense of picking it up off beaches, and they started passing bans on the material. “In 2005, we were at the Green Festival in San Francisco. We were so busy because everybody was so interested in compostable packaging as an alternative to Styrofoam,” Das remembers. “People just got the concept of compostable packaging. There was a fair amount of interest in it.”
Interest was so great that, gradually, Das started spending more time running the business and less time tending to the nonprofit organization. Finally, after some soul-searching, Das decided in 2009 to end the nonprofit organization and become a for-profit enterprise while keeping many of the same values that propelled him into business in the first place. World Centric was registered as a certified B corporation in 2010 and a California Benefit Corporation in 2013. The company donates 25 percent of its profits to organizations that address social and environmental issues.
Back when Das was deciding that he needed to focus all his attention on the business of making a profit, Scott Coye-Huhn and a group of business partners were exercising their own combination of idealism and profit motive with a plan to create biomass reserves for renewable fuels. They were looking at marginal farmlands around the U.S. that might be able to grow a perennial crop even if they couldn’t support annual crops like corn or wheat. The thought was that they’d plant once, harvest a crop year after year, and use the plant fibers as biomass to make fuel. “A perennial gives sustainable characteristics; you use much less fuel, much less chemicals, create less erosion,” Coye-Huhn says. “That’s the game-changer here.”
They found that an Asian plant called Miscanthus would grow in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where farmers had land that wouldn’t grow an annual crop. Coye-Huhn and his partners worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get the plant certified for planting in the U.S., after demonstrating that Miscanthus doesn’t make viable seed and can’t become an invasive pest, and started signing up farmers who needed an income from fallow farm lands. “It’s a big deal. The average age of U.S. farmers is almost 60 years,” Coye-Huhn says. “When you plant a crop that grows for 20 years, it solves a lot of problems that come with transitioning family farms from one generation to the next.”
Along the way, the focus changed from using the plant fiber as biomass for fuel to finding other ways to use it. “Why packaging? The capital to build a full-scale pulp mill is significant, but we can do something like this on a much smaller scale,” Coye-Huhn says. “Consumers are asking for this kind of packaging. We learned from our research and development that we can make a pretty darn good package.”
Coye-Huhn and his company, Aloterra, then went looking for somebody who could sell the packaging if they made it and found World Centric, which by that time had a decade of experience importing compostable packaging from Asia and distributing it to customers in the U.S. and which shared the sense of conscientious capitalism that motivated Aloterra. “Getting into distribution is monster work, filled with holes you can fall into. World Centric is good at selling and distributing the product,” Coye-Huhn said.
The new packaging made by Aloterra and marketed by World Centric will start coming off the line this August. World Centric is offering it first to the company’s existing customers but will start taking orders from new customers shortly. “We sell a lot of products and we are nationwide. The products are currently made in Asia. For us, we’ll be replacing those products with the ones that Scott will be making,” Das says.
“These jobs can never be exported. The economics implode if you try to truck biomass more than 50 or 75 miles,” Coye-Huhn adds. “Technically we’re reshoring here. We’re moving jobs from Asia for this manufacturing plant.”
Rodelle, Inc.’s newest premium vanilla extract is Rodelle Reserve French Oak Aged Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. With a suggested retail price of $50 for a 6.75 ounce bottle, Rodelle Reserve elevates the company’s already highly-regarded line of superior baking essentials. This high-end gourmet vanilla extract is for savvy consumers.
Eighty years in the making, Rodelle Reserve is the most complex and carefully crafted vanilla extract available. Founded in 1936, Rodelle has created high-quality vanilla products for both professional and home baking applications. Rodelle Reserve celebrates the traditional aspects of vanilla manufacturing while utilizing the most-advanced extraction techniques to provide a luxury experience. Rodelle’s team carefully crafted small batches of two-fold, pure vanilla extract with premium quality gourmet vanilla beans handpicked from Madagascar. Then, the vanilla was aged for months in French oak barrels to enhance the natural flavors and aromas inherent in vanilla extract. Dr. Krishna Bala, Co-founder of Rodelle, explains: “Aging vanilla in oak barrels softens the harsher elements of the alcohol that all [vanilla] extracts must contain, while smoothing out complex vanilla flavors and increasing the intensity by generating more flavor molecules.”
Rodelle Reserve offers a small-batch, aged vanilla experience that was previously unavailable to consumers. The flavors and quality found in Rodelle Reserve will enhance any baking occasion from an everyday experience to a memory that your family will cherish forever. Rodelle Reserve brings the quality standard of professional bakers into the home to make bakers’ dreams come true. “Rodelle has pioneered vanilla traditions and processes since 1936,” says Joe Basta, Co-founder of Rodelle, Inc. “Rodelle Reserve is the best vanilla extract available with the purest of ingredients and a vintage feel that honors the heritage of the world’s favorite flavor,” he says. “Rodelle is excited to launch this innovative, luxury vanilla extract,” Basta concludes.
For more details on Rodelle Reserve, visit http://rodelle.co/reserve. Rodelle Reserve can be found online at Amazon.com and in the near future at select retailers.
The board of directors of the Congressional Hunger Center has appointed Shannon Maynard, an accomplished leader in the movement for social change, as the organization’s next Executive Director, effective September.
Maynard succeeds Ed Cooney who will retire later this summer after nearly 15 years of service. Cooney announced his retirement in December.
Maynard comes to the Congressional Hunger Center from the Grameen Foundation where she has served as the Chief Talent and Knowledge Officer; and a leader in the Foundation’s Bankers Without Borders global initiative, harnessing the skills and services of the world’s brightest minds and institutions to accelerate the progress of social entrepreneurs connecting the poor to their potential.
Maynard began her career in the social sector as an intern with the Congressional Hunger Center in 1993 and completed the Hunger Fellows program in 1998.
“I am honored to lead the Congressional Hunger Center’s important work in developing leaders in all facets of society who are committed to living in a world where our citizens’ most basic human needs are met. My own fellowship experience with the Hunger Center had a tremendous influence on my career, so it is indeed a privilege to come full circle and now lead this terrific organization,” said Maynard upon accepting the offer.
Before joining Grameen Foundation, Maynard served as the Executive Director of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation under the George W. Bush Administration and led strategic initiatives for the federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service, where she spent almost nine years designing and implementing national service policies and programs. In 2008, she spearheaded the creation of A Billion and Change, a national campaign to mobilize $1 billion of pro bono and skills-based service to address core issues our communities face. Previously, Maynard held various leadership positions managing AmeriCorps programs for local and national nonprofits focused on hunger relief and food security, civic participation, and youth empowerment.
Maynard received an MBA from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in journalism and political science from the University of Richmond. She has served as adjunct faculty for the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy teaching nonprofit leadership and management.
2015 marks 30 years since Blue Crab Bay Co. founder Pamela Barefoot sat down at her rural kitchen table to create herb blends for clam and crab dip. Since that day, her company has safely navigated the perils facing small businesses on Virginia’s isolated eastern shore. The internationally recognized specialty foods producer has come back from a fire in the start-up months, weathered recessions and successfully reached beyond a remote location to a larger market seeking their high-quality specialty foods and crab stoneware.
Blue Crab Bay’s location is the source and inspiration of many of its products, including clam-juice infused Bloody Mary mix or Bay-seasoned spicy snacks. In addition to the scores of jobs Blue Crab Bay has kept in the community over many years, it is a beacon for other businesses and a testament to resilience on the eastern shore. Hit by the recession not long after expanding its facility in 2005, Blue Crab Bay is still working to rebound by implementing many of the resilience strategies developed over the past three decades. “We know full well what companies in economically challenged areas must go through to survive,” noted Barefoot.
Blue Crab Bay, operating under the corporate umbrella of Bay Beyond Inc., offers a variety of gourmet items for entertaining, including mixers, party dips and coastal-themed peanuts, along with imported stoneware decorated with a blue crab, which was designed by a local artist. Its consumer site is www.bluecrabbay.com and the business to business site is www.baybeyond.net.
Chobani introduces three new Chobani Flip™ products as part of its largest portfolio expansion to-date, building on the tremendous success of offering better options throughout the day. The introduction pushes the boundaries of Greek yogurt across the company’s entire portfolio—including Chobani® Oats, Chobani Simply 100®, Chobani Flip™, Limited Batch Chobani Greek Yogurt, Chobani Kids™ Greek Yogurt Tubes and Chobani Indulgent™.
Chobani Flip is the company’s offer for a better afternoon snack, combining creamy Greek yogurt with real, delicious, natural ingredients to mix in. After record-breaking success in the first-half of 2015, Chobani is introducing Peanut Butter Dream, Coffee Break Bliss and a Limited Batch Strawberry Summer Crisp, for a taste of the season served in an iconic red cup. The new products were inspired by creations crafted at the Chobani SoHo® cafe in New York.
“This year we’ve really pushed the flavor boundaries of Greek yogurt as we continue making products that give our fans better options throughout the day, and we’ve been especially blown away by the love for our Flip products,” said Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing Officer, Chobani. “In the first half of this year Flip has become one of the biggest successes in dairy since we sold our first cup of Chobani.”
Building on the success of its Limited Batch portfolio, which taps into unexpected, unique fruits and ingredients, Chobani is launching Limited Batch Plum and bringing back popular Chobani Watermelon, both available through August.
In addition to new flavors, shoppers will also find an updated look with the reveal of new packaging across the portfolio that highlights core attributes of each product, such as “Only Natural, Non-GMO Ingredients” and “40% Less Sugar Than Regular Fruit Yogurt” on traditional Chobani products and “75% Less Sugar Than Regular Fruit Yogurt” on cups of Chobani Simply 100.
The newest additions to the Chobani family include: Chobani Kids Greek Yogurt Pouches Featuring Disney’s Doc McStuffins. Chobani Kids Pouches will have a new look – Strawberry and Vanilla + Chocolate Dust Pouches will now feature Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins on packaging. With 25 percent less sugar and twice the protein of the leading kids’ yogurt, Chobani Kids Pouches are a delicious and nutritious snack in partnership with The Walt Disney Company’s Magic of Healthy Living Initiative.
Limited Batch Chobani Watermelon and Plum: Spoon in and embrace the summer with new limited batch Plum with real slices of plum and the return of limited batch Watermelon, now on shelves through August 2015. The newest products celebrate the best flavors of the moment using only real fruit and natural ingredients.
Chobani Flip Peanut Butter Dream, Coffee Break Bliss and Strawberry Summer Crisp: Three new flavors join the Chobani Flip family—a collection of sweet snacks that pair delicious Greek yogurt with natural mix-ins.
In a return to our culinary roots, Americans across the country – most notably millennials – are turning to home preserving this summer to preserve and savor all the delicious flavors of fresh grown produce. Research conducted by ORC International on behalf of the iconic Ball® brand canning line determined that nearly half of all millennials (49 percent) are interested in canning this summer and the primary reason is because they love cooking and canning seems fun (38 percent). This research also found that 68 percent of Americans would rather make their own fresh foods than purchase store bought. Here’s more on what Americans will be enjoying this season and beyond.
Pick a Pickle
Red state or blue state, it doesn’t matter because we’re all green! Almost everyone likes pickles (86 percent), especially Baby Boomers (90 percent). Dill has universal appeal, and is favored more than two to one over any other kind of pickle. Bread and butter comes in distant second (21 percent), though only 12 percent of millennials pick bread and butter pickles as their favorite.
Forty-one percent of Americans say their favorite way to eat pickles is on a sandwich or burger, though straight from the jar is a close second (39 percent). Interestingly, busy households with kids ages 13-17 are more likely to eat them right out of the jar (42 percent) versus on a sandwich (34 percent).
While nearly everyone knows you can pickle cucumbers (84 percent), the majority doesn’t know or think about pickling other foods. Most people (84 percent) didn’t know or think they could pickle crabapples, but the newly released 37th edition of the Ball Blue Book has over 30 recipes for pickling alone, including Crabapple Pickles.
Jam vs. Jelly
One indicator that we could all use a little more time getting to know our food is the jam versus jelly trivia question. A full one-third of Americans don’t know the difference between jam and jelly. Jam refers to a product made with cut or crushed fruit, while jelly refers to a type of clear fruit spread simply using the juice form of a fruit or vegetable.
Not surprisingly, 64 percent of canners know the difference, and regionally Midwesterners were more inclined to identify the correct answer (52 percent). Despite the confusion, 81 percent of Americans agree that homemade jam tastes better than store bought. In fact, for those planning to can this summer, strawberry jam is the most popular recipe (61 percent).
United States of Produce
Fruit reigns supreme for Americans as four out of five of American’s favorite summertime produce items noted were fruit: watermelons (32 percent), berries (18 percent), peaches (14 percent) and tomatoes (11 percent). Regionally, peaches are more popular in the West and South coming in second ahead of berries.
One great use for tomatoes is homemade fresh salsa, a perfect canning recipe for new and seasoned canners. While 91 percent of Americans eat salsa, preference on heat level is pretty split: Mild is preferred in the Midwest (36 percent), but hot is preferred in the South (24 percent) and West (22 percent). Millennials also like to spice it up and were significantly more interested in hot salsa than Baby Boomers (26 percent versus 17 percent).
Taste for Adventure
Along with a renewed interest in home canning, Americans are branching out as 47 percent expressed interest in some form of preserving food beyond canning, including dehydrating (26 percent), smoking (21 percent), brewing (15 percent) and cheese-making (13 percent). Again, millennials lead the pack in exploring homesteading activities and are even more likely to seek out DIY methods as a whopping 60 percent expressed interest.
Some of the biggest names in the culinary world will grace the stage at the 2015 MetroCooking DC Show, October 24-25, 2015 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center as Giada De Laurentiis and Michael Symon return to headline this year’s event. This 10th Anniversary show is organized by E.J. Krause & Associates.
In addition, local and regional chefs all honored as James Beard Foundation winners, nominees or as guest chefs at The James Beard House, will cook on the Beard Foundation Stage presented by IKEA. Both days chefs from L’Academie de Cuisine will lead cooking classes; on October 25 more than 50 restaurants will offer signature tastes at the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s Grand Tasting Pavilion. In a new feature launching this year, Chef David Guas, author of “Grill Nation” and host of the Travel Channel’s “American Grilled” will host the BBQ Bash with the area’s top barbecue restaurants and pitmasters offering grilling tips and tastings. James Beard 2015 Pastry Chef of the Year and “Master Chef” judge Christina Tosi will take the Celebrity Theatre stage presented by 94.7 FRESH FM on Saturday, October 24.
Throughout the two day event there will be non-stop activities including ongoing tasting and entertaining workshops from knife skills to holiday entertaining and a beer, wine and spirits pavilion that will highlight local mixologists. Known as a great shopping show, this year 200+ specialty food exhibitors will showcase products – all for sale. The popular Natural Foods Pavilion will feature organic and natural products.
General admission tickets are $18, Celebrity Theater performances, cooking classes, BBQ Bash and Grand Tasting Pavilion are ticketed events sold separately. Ticket packages are available as well as VIP tickets affording meet-and-greet receptions with De Laurentiis and Symon.
By Lorrie Baumann
The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, Inc., better known as A&P, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York just before midnight on July 19. The company previously filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2010.
According to the company, A&P has also sold about 120 of its stores for approximately $600 million and has secured financing of $100 million. “For the majority of our customers, we do not expect this to have any impact on your shopping experience,” the company said in a statement on its website.
“The vast majority of our stores are operating normally and will be fully stocked during this process. While some stores will close in the near-term, the vast majority will continue providing customers with the same high-quality products and exceptional customer service. We will also continue to honor all existing customer promotional and loyalty programs,” the statement continued.
According to its bankruptcy petition, A&P currently has assets estimated to be worth more than $1 billion and also has liabilities in excess of $1 billion. The company’s largest creditor is C & S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., which is owed more than $39 million. Next is McKesson Drug Co., which is owed more than $8 million, followed by Facility Source, LLC, which is owed $6.7 million. Coca-Cola Enterprises is owed $4.8 million, and Mondelez Global LLC is owed $3.2 million.