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Wisconsin Cheese Companies, Retailers Anticipate Another Year of Increased Holiday Sales

The holiday season is a busy time for the Wisconsin dairy industry. According to data collected by Information Resources, Inc.’s (IRI) custom database for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), cheese companies and retailers continuously see an increase in sales of Wisconsin cheese and dairy products each December. In the 2014 season, cheese sales jumped 21 percent in the week before Thanksgiving and 34 percent in the week before Christmas. Sales were also up 50 percent or more for many cheese varieties, including asiago, Alpine-style cheese, brick, brie, butterkase, camembert, cold pack, cream cheese, edam, fontina, mascarpone and ricotta.

“We expect this year to be no different with many cheese companies poised to capitalize on the holiday season with unique product offerings and increased sales and marketing efforts,” says James Robson, CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Introductions of limited edition cheese varieties exclusively for the holiday season remain popular for 2015.

Most notably, the highly anticipated Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, returns after a one-year hiatus. This exclusive cheese is hand crafted from seasonal raw cow’s milk and aged for 60 days. It retails for approximately $30 per round and is expected to sell out by Christmas.

Sales of flavored cheese varieties are also on the rise, and many Wisconsin cheesemakers have released cheeses perfect for holiday entertaining and gift giving. Consumers can find unique flavors like Peppermint BellaVitano from Sartori in Plymouth, Wisconsin; Marieke Truffle Gouda from Holland’s Family Cheese in Thorp, Wisconsin; Cranberry Chipotle Cheddar from Carr Valley Cheese Company in La Valle, Wisconsin; and Cinnamon Apple Pie Heritage Cheddar made by Henning’s in Kiel, Wisconsin.

For those looking for unique gift ideas, many retailers offer a variety of holiday gift baskets that can be easily ordered online or by phone. A list of cheese companies, creameries and specialty stores offering mail order cheese and gift baskets can be found at WMMB also offers customizable holiday-themed Wisconsin cheese promotions to aid retailers in their marketing efforts during this busy time of year.

Brio Ice Cream Combines Delicious and Better-For-You

BRIO PFBrio features a creamy, richness rivaling that of premium ice creams, with half the fat and 65 percent less saturated fat. For consumers wanting healthier fats in their diet, Brio is the only ice cream featuring balanced Omega 3-6-9s.

“We are serious about ingredient quality,” says Co-founder Ron Koss. “Brio is made with fresh, whole r-BST-free milk from Wisconsin…. Our flavors feature Madagascar vanilla, organic sea salt caramel, Alphonso mango, ripe strawberries, real coffee and dark cocoa.” Five flavors include Coffee Latte, Mellow Dark Chocolate, Spring Strawberry, Tropical Mango and Vanilla Caramel.

Brio is non-GMO, certified gluten free and low glycemic. There are no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. For all of its satisfying richness, Brio has only 165 calories in a 4-ounce serving and just 17 to 19 grams of sugar. With 6 grams of protein and a suggested retail price of $1.99 for a 4-ounce cup, Brio is on trend with consumers seeking protein-rich snacks.

Brio ice cream is a product of Nutricopia, Inc., a Vermont-based company owned by aio Group of Hawaii. Brio offers consumers a smart new way to upgrade their ice cream, to a product that is both richly delicious and surprisingly nutritious. It is currently available in supermarket chains including Foodland and KTA, at specialty market chains including Central Market and numerous specialty and natural stores.Brio is distributed by KeHE.

Maple Leaf Foods Adopts Animal Care Commitment

Maple Leaf Foods has launched a formal animal care commitment that articulates the principles, goals and actions the company is taking to become a leader in animal care.

“As the largest meat protein company in Canada, we hold ourselves to a high standard of animal care,” said Michael McCain, President and CEO. “This requires building a strong culture of animal wellbeing, advancing continuous improvement within Maple Leaf and across the industry, and holding ourselves accountable for performance and progress.  We will provide the necessary organizational focus and resources, with a steadfast commitment to advancing the humane and science-based treatment of animals.”

Maple Leaf Foods will enhance animal wellness practices in a manner consistent with the Five Freedoms, the most widely accepted global standard for responsible animal care. They include:  freedom from hunger or thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury or disease; freedom to express normal behaviors; and freedom from fear and distress. These will be advanced through the following four pillars of its animal care program:

  • Culture: advancing a culture of animal care through communications, education and training; robust policies and well-defined standard operating procedures; and providing positive reinforcement and timely consequences for violations.
  • Accountability: regular reporting of performance, issues and progress against goals to a committee of the board of directors, senior leadership and across facilities; and conducting frequent, rigorous internal and independent audits.
  • Advancement: advancing best practices and technologies based on sound science; establishing an independent council of experts; and supporting research and advocating for improvements that raise standards across the industry.
  • Communicationsproviding clear, fact-based communication of goals, performance and progress, and seeking to build open and constructive relationships with all stakeholders.

Hunting and Gathering in the New Millennium


By Richard Thompson


Consumers are getting more comfortable about purchasing groceries online, and retailers who sell groceries both online and in-store are reaping the benefits. Across all demographics, consumer perceptions over increased costs and perishable product risks have declined, and as more retailers offer online services, more consumers are taking advantage of them, according to the recent A.T. Kearney report, “Capturing the Online Grocery Opportunity.”

Retailers who have adopted omnichannel messaging – engaging customers both in-store and on electronic devices – have seen more customers order groceries online for delivery or pick-up, says Michelle Cote, Vice President of Data & Insights at MyWebGrocer, a digital solutions provider that offers the most technologically advanced grocery solutions to brands and retailers.

“Today’s omnichannel experience [for consumers] is the 21st century version of catalog shopping,” says Cote. Combining in-store advertising with online services, omnichannel solutions take shape as digital marketplaces that bring small-batch stores into the consumer limelight, provide apps like on mobile devices to let consumers shop on their own time and create virtual landscapes that compliment traditional brick and mortar experiences.

“Grocery is one of the last verticals to go omnichannel, but growing consumer adoption is occurring because online services are becoming more widely available and, as a result, consumers are using it more reliably,” says Cote. She notes that consumer adoption of online services has grown by double digits (15 to 20 percent) in the last three or four years.

As the entire e-commerce market develops, grocery shoppers have grown past the need to show up in person to pinch the produce with many preferring to shop on their smartphones. “Consumers are ready to use shopping alternatives that are habitual and work for them.” says Cote, “As retailers offer flexible options like click and collect, delivery and email alerts – and become more digitally active – people are becoming trained in using grocery retailers online.”

Even for hesitant consumers who say they avoid online shopping because of perceived higher costs and questions over freshness, the A.T. Kearney study found that those views are softening and that paying more for home delivery was worth the price of convenience. “What we found is that now, around 80 percent of respondents surveyed would be willing to pay for home delivery instead of going to the store for pickup – even though the majority still visit stores to shop,” says Randy Burt, Co-author of “Capturing the Online Grocery Opportunity” and Partner at A.T. Kearney.

Burt and his colleagues at A.T. Kearney have studied consumer participation in online grocery purchases and noted that while the online market currently represents around two to three percent of the total food industry, that number is projected to increase to around 16 percent by 2023. As retailers interact with omnichannel shoppers with personalized offers, pricing and promotional strategies tied to shopping preferences and past purchases, they will create integrated experiences for every shopper regardless of where and when they shop or what device they are using, according to the report.

“The market is starting to appreciate the value of buying groceries online.” says Lior Lavy, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer for Artizone, a specialty grocery delivery company. “And at the same time, the market is also starting to appreciate buying sustainable foods from local vendors.”

Artizone is an online farmers market and home delivery service whose mission is to provide farmers and small store owners a direct connection to consumers who are looking for a diverse selection of locally produced groceries that can be delivered straight to their home. “We do whatever it takes to keep artisan shops from having to rely on the mainstream market.” says Lavy, “Even though walk-in marketing is still significant, our site can reach customers 30 or 40 miles away.”

When asked about the company’s biggest purchasers, Lavy pulls no punches and simply says, ‘Everyone.’”

“The elderly population uses us because they need the help; the [Millennials] use us because of the local sustainable movement and, of course, foodies,” he adds.

Lavy has watched the development of his artisan delivery service grow for the last five years, originating in Dallas at the end of 2010, opening a second facility in Chicago in 2012 and, most recently, opening a third facility in Denver earlier this year. Its success, he says, comes from the delivery logistics and online placement that his company focuses on, allowing the local producers to focus on bringing the best quality product to the table. “Currently we work with about 100 different local farmers and stores in the Dallas area, 120 in the Chicago area and around 13 or 14 in the Denver area.” says Lavy, “It takes some time to get to 100.”

While dried groceries and packaged foods still represent the majority of online purchased products, the share of purchased perishables is continuing to grow, according to A.T. Kearney. Currently, Artizone offers a selection of products that range from Holy Cow Beef – extra lean, grass-fed ground beef – for $8.79 a pound to Inglehoffer Dijion Stone Ground Mustard for $6.72 a bottle, providing gourmet products at prices that compete with brick and mortar specialty food retailers. “We are proud to say we don’t have any uplift on the prices for the consumer, I think we are better than Whole Foods,” say Lavy.

Earlier this year, Artizone received the Tech Titan Award, a technology adaptation award, in Dallas for its use of current technology services that keep delivered food prices similar to the cost groceries would be if purchased at a brick and mortar store.

Cote sees the recent adoption of buying groceries online as a positive sign that will not go away anytime soon. As long as customers have a wide range of choices on how they purchase groceries, there will always be a market for anyone selling food products online.

Burt understands this as well: “Shoppers want to transact when, where and how they want to…it’s the current incarnation of the ‘customer is always right’.”




White Coffee’s BioCup Honored at 2015 World Beverage Innovation Awards

 White Coffee’s packaging innovation, BioCup®, was honored last month as a finalist in the 2015 World Beverage Innovation Awards for the Best Environmental Sustainability Initiative category. BioCup, one of the leading entries, captured the ecological niche for wholly biodegradable pods. The award ceremony was held on Wednesday, November 11 at BrauBeviale, one of the largest trade shows for the global beverage industry, held in Nuremberg,Germany.

The awards feature 26 categories including “Best Juice” to “Best Functional Drink,” to “Best New Beverage Concept”; plus categories for brands; ingredients; packaging; design; manufacturing and processing; sustainability; and marketing and communications. BioCup was selected from 360 entries representing 40 countries.

With increased growth in single serve coffee offerings, comes increased responsibility for waste disposal. The revolutionary compostable and biodegradable single serve packaging offers 90 percent degradation after six months. “We are very proud to be honored by the international beverage community for BioCup,” says Jonathan White, Executive Vice President for White Coffee Corporation. “White Coffee is committed to be a leader in the industry in minimizing the effect of its activities on the environment.”

White Coffee presented the line of BioCup packaged coffees under the White Coffee brand. White Coffee’s Bio-degradable and Compostable Organic Single Serve Coffee BioCup is available in 11 flavors: Colombian, Breakfast Blend, French Roast, Full City Roast, Mexican High Grown, Peruvian, Rainforest Blend, Hazelnut, French Vanilla, Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Morsel.

White Coffee’s BioCup is available in retail outlets nationwide and offered in 10-count and 80-count boxes. The cups are 2.0 compatible, for use with the Keurig® system and similar coffeemakers.

McCormick Flavor Forecast 2016 Unveils Tastes of Tomorrow

McCormick & Company, Incorporated has unveiled its annual McCormick Flavor Forecast revealing the tantalizing trends that will shape culinary exploration and innovation – in home kitchens, at restaurants and on retail shelves – across the globe for years to come.

Among the emerging trends is a spotlight on underexplored Southeast Asian fare – Malaysian and Filipino – and the evolution of our insatiable appetite for spicy. Also featured are pulses which serve as a protein-packed canvas for delicious flavors – fitting as the United Nations celebrates 2016 as the International Year of Pulses.

“Since its inception in 2000, Flavor Forecast has been tracking the growing interest in heat and identifying upcoming spicy flavors including chipotle, peri-peri and harissa,” said McCormick Executive Chef Kevan Vetter. “Our latest report shows the next wave of this trend is complemented by tang. Look for Southeast Asian sambal sauce powered by chilies, rice vinegar and garlic to take kitchens by storm.”

Emerging Trends and Flavors Identified by a global team of McCormick chefs, food technologists and flavor experts, these trends offer a taste of 2016 and beyond:

1. Heat + Tang – Spicy finds a welcome contrast with tangy accents to elevate the eating experience.

  • Peruvian chilies like rocoto, ají amarillo and ají panca paired with lime
  • Sambal sauce made with chilies, rice vinegar and garlic

2. Tropical Asian – The vibrant cuisine and distinctive flavors of Malaysia and the Philippines draw attention from adventurous palates seeking bold new tastes.

  • Pinoy Barbecue, a popular Filipino street food, is flavored with soy sauce, lemon, garlic, sugar, pepper and banana ketchup
  • Rendang Curry, a Malaysian spice paste, delivers mild heat made from chilies, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, tamarind, coriander and turmeric

3. Blends with Benefits – Flavorful herbs and spices add everyday versatility to good-for-you ingredients.

  • Matcha‘s slightly bitter notes are balanced by ginger and citrus
  • Chia seed becomes zesty when paired with citrus, chile and garlic
  • Turmeric blended with cocoa, cinnamon and nutmeg offers sweet possibilities
  • Flaxseed enhances savory dishes when combined with Mediterranean herbs

4. Alternative “Pulse” Proteins – Packed with protein and nutrients, pulses are elevated when paired with delicious ingredients.

  • Pigeon peas, called Toor Dal when split, are traditionally paired with cumin and coconut
  • Cranberry beans, also called borlotti, are perfectly enhanced with sage and Albariño wine
  • Black beluga lentils are uniquely accented with peach and mustard

5. Ancestral Flavors – Modern dishes reconnect with native ingredients to celebrate food that tastes real, pure and satisfying.

  • Ancient herbs like thyme, peppermint, parsley, lavender and rosemary are rediscovered
  • Amaranth, an ancient grain of the Aztecs, brings a nutty, earthy flavor
  • Mezcal is a smoky Mexican liquor made from the agave plant

6. Culinary-Infused Sips – Three classic culinary techniques provide new tastes and inspiration in the creation of the latest libations.

  • Pickling combines tart with spice for zesty results
  • Roasting adds richness with a distinctive browned flavor
  • Brûléed ingredients provide depth with a caramelized sugar note

“Flavor Forecast is a catalyst for innovation,” said Vetter. “Around the world this year, we’re launching 56 new consumer products inspired by Flavor Forecast trends, and we’re working with our customers across the food industry – from chain restaurants to beverage and snack producers – to help them do the same.”

For mouthwatering recipes, images and more ways to explore this year’s top flavors, visit

New Ariston Organic Balsamic Vinegars

Ariston PF1The products in the new Ariston line of organic balsamic vinegars are characterized by a perfect balance between sweet and sour. This product is made exclusively with organically farmed grapes, without pesticides involved. The entire production process is certified in order to guarantee consumers compliance with the highest organic farming standards, guaranteed by the CCPB certifying body.

To make the vinegars, the grape must, cooked over a direct heat in an open vessel, simmers slowly and is concentrated until it is reduced to about one third of its original volume. It is then placed in the attic, in a series of casks of oak wood. Here the balsamic vinegar passes the years acidifying and aging until it has reached a balance that only the alchemy of time can provide, prodded along by the masterful hands of artisans.

This balsamic is naturally dark and dense, with a 5 percent acidity content. Add some over strawberries or on your favorite salad to add complexity.
For more information, call Ariston Specialties at 860.224.7184.

Verde Farms Refreshes Packaging for 100% Grass-fed, Grass-finished Beef and Lamb

verdeVerde Farms, which provides 100 percent grass-fed, grass-finished beef and lamb for both retail and food service, is engaging in several new brand initiatives, including a website re-launch and a packaging refresh to position the company towards a new phase of growth. The demand for grass-fed beef in the U.S. has fueled exceptional growth for Verde Farms. Founded in 2005, the company experienced 70 percent sales growth in 2014 and is on track for another record year of growth as 2015 comes to a close.

“I think you’re seeing a shift in how we think about beef here in the states. It’s not just about reducing meat consumption and depriving ourselves – it’s about eating better meat,” said Dana Ehrlich, CEO and Co-founder. “The reason we’re seeing such success is because Verde Farms has always been committed to sourcing and delivering the best 100 percent grass-fed and grass-finished beef products that are better across the board. Better for consumers, better for the animals and better for the environment.”

While the company’s first customers were upscale restaurants, caterers, and medical facilities that wanted an organic and grass-fed alternative, Verde Farms now services fine retailers nationwide. The company has also gained loyal food service accounts like Boston-based Boloco, among others.

Heading into 2016, Verde Farms has also quadrupled its sales team and plans to expand its branded retail presence so consumers know to look for the green and orange Verde Farms logo when seeking the best quality meat and lamb. Studies suggest that grass-finished beef may be lower in fat and calories than grain-finished beef and has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid — an essential fatty acid thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks), and more antioxidant vitamins, like Vitamins E.

verde2While visiting South America, Ehrlich was inspired by the expansive pastures and grass-fed cattle that roam in stark contrast to conventional beef farming in the U.S. A former engineer at Intel, Ehrlich leveraged his background in product development with a passion for sustainable, high-quality meat to found Verde Farms. Alongside Tuck School of Business classmate and Co-Founder, Pablo Garbarino, the two built the company on three guiding principles – health benefits for the consumer, animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Today, Verde Farms is the number 1 importer of grass-fed beef from Uruguay and also sources from family farms in AustraliaNew Zealand, and North America.

“Beginning with family farmers that we’ve diligently selected, we wanted to provide consumers with a better option – one that was not only more nutritious, but also better for the environment and for the animals themselves,” said Ehrlich. “We have been meticulous every step of the way to ensure that our cattle is raised as nature intended – on pastures and with grass feed only – and that we provide a delicious, premium product.”

Meatless Monday Advocates Rally Support at Paris Climate Talks

At the COP21 in Paris from November 30 to December 11, while the world’s focus will be on the goal from nearly 200 nations to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, scientists warn that if global trends in meat consumption continue, global warming will more than likely exceed those 2 degrees – even with dramatic emissions reductions across non-agricultural sectors.

“Unfortunately, the connection of meat consumption to climate change is not garnering the serious attention it deserves,” says Roni Neff, PhD, Attending Director of the Food System Sustainability Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) and an Assistant Professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Much of the talk at COP21 will be focused on government policies in energy and transportation, but we can’t get from here to there without also changing diets. That’s a win-win for climate and for public health.”

Representatives from 15 Meatless Monday countries including the US, Israel, Korea, DenmarkNigeria and Kuwait, will join leading scientists, politicians and chefs at COP21 to underline the link between meat and climate change and the impact that simple changes in our diet, like going meatless one day a week, can make in slowing global warming. CLF researchers will present a review of peer-reviewed research that suggests GHG emissions in 2050 from agriculture alone will total over 20 gigatons (Gt) if current meat consumption grows with GDP as the FAO predicts. This accounts for almost the entire emissions budget of 21 Gt, leaving little room for emissions from other sectors.

As an illustration of the impact of simple dietary changes like going meatless on Monday, studies suggest that the annual savings in GHG emissions in 2050 if everyone went meatless one day a week could be 1.3 Gt, the equivalent of taking over 273 million passenger vehicles off the road or closing 341 coal-fired power plants.

Meatless Monday was started in 2003 by former ad exec Sid Lerner to promote the health and environmental benefits of cutting out meat one day a week, but has since grown to include other global benefits like reducing climate change. The global movement picked up steam in 2009 when Sir Paul McCartney started Meat Free Monday in the UK, and followed by grassroots initiatives in 40 countries, from Brazil’s “Segunda Sem Carne” to “Luntiang Lunes” in the Philippines. The initiative has proven successful in shifting people to a plant-based diet in a variety of settings including schools, cafeterias and restaurants. Chefs like Mario Batali, who offers Meatless Monday in most of his restaurants, have also played a role in demonstrating that going meatless one day a week can be an easy, delicious way to eat healthier while helping the planet.

The Meatless Monday COP21 session will be held on December 9, 15:00 – 18:30, Nelson Mandela Auditorium, Climate Generations Area.

Le Parfait Canning and Storage Jars

Bannex PFDown To Earth Distributors is the exclusive North American stocking distributor for the Le Parfait product line, including the popular 80, 125 and 200 gram sizes. Designed for canning and long-term storage, the bright, clear glass is an international classic known for its strength and quality.

Available with either classic hinged, wire bail lids and orange rubber gaskets or high quality screw caps and lids, the jars feature a wide assortment of sizes that range from 80 grams up to 3 liters and come in straight-sided terrines, faceted jam jars and rounded body stylings. Perfect for home canning and storage, the entire Le Parfait product line makes excellent containers for manufactured products like preserves and pickles, bath products and candles, or coffee and tea, further extending the brand’s quality image.

Available in bulk commercial quantities by the pallet or smaller custom orders by the case to fit your needs. Made in France from virgin raw materials to ensure quality and purity.

For more information, call Down To Earth Distributors, Inc., 1.800.234.5932.

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