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The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company Brings Restaurant Flavor to Retail Shelves

2-Mustard Seed-CSSThe Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company has been crafting unique Asian-inspired sauces and dressings and serving them in the company’s eponymous restaurants for over 35 years. Now, consumers have access to these sauces in their local grocery stores with the recent launch of the company’s retail product line.

The Mustard Seed Sauce & Dressing Company product line includes Asian Oil & Vinegar, a delightful Asian twist on the classic vinaigrette; Osaka Sauce, the company’s signature sauce, delicious on chicken; Teriyaki Grill Sauce, a finishing sauce for proteins; and Ginger Dressing, a signature dressing that doubles as a finishing sauce for meat or seafood. The four sauces and dressings are also available in a variety pack.

All Mustard Seed sauces and dressings are all-natural, and they contain no MSG, trans fats or preservatives. The products are made in small batches from the highest quality ingredients.

For more information, visit www.mustardseedsauce.com.

Blackberry Patch Introduces Two New Premium Syrups

1-BlackberryPatchFILL-CSSTwo new syrups have been added to Blackberry Patch’s sofi-Award-nominated product line. Like other Blackberry Patch products, the new Pumpkin Spice and Apple Butter syrups are full of all-natural, old-fashioned goodness.

Pumpkin Spice syrup tastes just like a pumpkin pie. Add it to coffee with hot milk for a pumpkin pie latte treat. Apple Butter reminds one of apple cobbler fresh from the oven. Consumers love to start their day with Apple Butter Syrup mixed into a wholesome bowl of oatmeal.

Blackberry Patch was founded in 1988. It is owned and operated by two farmers seeking to provide unique, high-quality, handmade fruit and sugar-free syrups, toppings and salsas to the specialty food market. Today, Blackberry Patch offers five premium, all-natural, pure cane sugar syrups: Blackberry, Raspberry, Blueberry, Pumpkin Spice and Apple Butter. For more information, call 800.853.5598, or visit the company online at www.blackberrypatch.com.

The Chefs’ Warehouse Acquires Maryland-Based Euro Gourmet Inc.

The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc.. a distributor of specialty food products in North America, today announced that it has acquired substantially all of the assets of Euro Gourmet Inc., based in Beltsville, Maryland. Founded in 1999, Euro Gourmet is a wholesale specialty distributor of imported and domestic products along the East Coast.
“We are pleased to welcome Euro Gourmet to our growing family,” said Christopher Pappas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Chefs’ Warehouse, Inc. “The Chefs’ Warehouse entered the Mid‐Atlantic region in 2005 through the migration of top NY‐based chefs and restaurateurs into the area. We’ve continued to grow in the region organically and through the previous acquisition of American Gourmet Foods. The addition of Euro Gourmet both strengthens our existing employee base and complements our already extensive Mid‐Atlantic product selection.”
“Both The Chefs’ Warehouse and Euro Gourmet were founded on the idea that our customers deserve high quality products at an affordable price and we strive every day to make that happen. Joining forces will only help us further improve and thrive in this endeavor,” said Francesco Marra, President and CEO of Euro Gourmet Inc.
Euro Gourmet Inc. is expected to generate approximately $5.0 million in annualized net sales in 2014. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Litehouse Expands Award-Winning Consumer Favorite Opa Line

5-OpaGreekYogurt1FILL-CSSLitehouse® Foods, maker of salad dressings and dips, recently announced three extensions to its OPA by Litehouse line of Greek yogurt salad dressings. The new items pull from global flavor inspirations to add interesting, palate-pleasing flavors to consumers’ favorite dishes. The new flavors include Kalamata Feta, roasted pepper and jalapeño ranch.

Utilizing Greek yogurt as a salad dressing base provides a lower-calorie dressing with twice the protein of a traditional dressing. OPA dressings are free of trans fats, have no MSG or artificial preservatives and less than a gram of sugar per serving. The new flavors provide a balance of creaminess with a layer of spicy richness.

Kalamata Feta (60 calories per serving) provides a burst of Mediterranean flavor with the rich tanginess of handcrafted feta cheese. Roasted pepper (50 calories per serving) offers a sweet, smoky pepper flavor blended into smooth creaminess. And jalapeño ranch (50 calories per serving) contains a cool blend of garlic and onion with the right amount of kick

The new flavors join the existing Opa line of ranch, blue cheese, Caesar and Feta dill. The dressings are available at an SRP of $4.49 for an 11-ounce jar. For more information, visit www.litehousefoods.com.

New Meat Labels Begin Appearing as Country of Origin Rules Upheld by Federal Appeals Court

wagyu cows with baby

Wagu Cows at Skagit River Ranch

By Dave Bernard

New labels that have begun appearing on packaged meats stating where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered, the result of 2013 federal legislation involving “country of origin labeling,” took one step closer to permanency when a federal appeals court recently upheld the new rules.

In a blow to some of the nation’s largest meat packers, which had asserted the new labels would yield minimal benefit to consumers while forcing costly changes in production practices, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that consumers’ right to know the country of origin of their foods, and the government’s interest in protecting public health outweighed the “minimal” intrusion on meatpacker practices. The American Meat Institute, which represents the country’s largest packers and was joined in the appeal by other meat industry groups, has not yet decided whether it will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The new law, which fits with a growing desire for awareness on the part of consumers over what they eat, could favor producers and retailers of 100 percent American-born, raised and slaughtered meat products. Consumers wary of foreign meats can now select “purely” American beef, pork and other products. With the USDA limited in its capacity to test imported foods – only about 2-3 percent of the 10 million or so international food products on U.S. retail shelves have undergone testing – Americans will now be able to readily choose more rigorously tested domestic meat products.

“Consumers today want more information, not less, about the products they are buying and feeding their families,” said Colin O’Neil, Director of Government Affairs at the Center for Food Safety in Washington, D.C. “And this ruling is an import victory for those U.S. consumers.” In a survey conducted by the Consumer Federation of America, 90 percent of respondents favored requiring food sellers to indicate the country of origin of fresh meat products on the label.

While some large meatpackers are opposed to the new labeling requirements due to the expense involved in complying (for example, live animals imported from Canada, Mexico and other countries will need to be kept segregated from U.S.-born animals), many groups involved in the domestic beef and pork industry actually support the legislation. 

“We view country of origin labeling as a marketing tool,” said Dale Moore, Executive Director of Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau. “Our grassroots members are confident that if consumers have a choice, they will select the American product.” Moore and others in the industry view country of origin labeling as similar in nature to designations such as Angus Beef, in which producers meeting certain criteria can receive a premium price for a much-desired product.

Another such desirous label is ‘organic,’ and some organic ranchers are equally pleased with the new labels. “We’re happy to see it. It should be on all our foods,” said George Vojkovich, Owner of Skagit River Ranch in northwest Washington state. Skagit River Ranch is an organic farm that raises cattle, pigs and poultry. “Labeling is so important, and it’s becoming more important when we see issues [instances of food contamination] abroad. People are trying to eat healthier food, and they’re aware of quality issues.”

As consumers are given more information about the foods they buy, and country of origin labeling rules have evolved, some believe that a momentum continues to build that is felt on a broader scale, over and above a consumer’s choice on which package of tenderloin to buy.

“When people find out about this, they want to know more,” said O’Neil of the expanded information on meat labels. As consumers ask more questions and take more interest in what goes into the foods on their dinner table, gourmet retailers may see new opportunities to introduce shoppers to higher-quality products across all food categories.

This story was originally published in the October 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

DORVAL Premium Collection Cocoa Now Non-GMO Project Verified

2-Dorval

DORVAL Trading Co. Ltd. has received the Non-GMO Project Verification seal for its DORVAL Premium Collection Cocoa. “We recognize today’s retailers and consumers have high standards and are becoming more aware of the use of GMOs in some products,” said Roberta Cappel, President at DORVAL. “At DORVAL, we strive to add superior quality to the market with our chocolate and cocoa products using natural ingredients. We are confident that this verification will increase distribution of our DORVAL Premium Collection Cocoa brand into more outlets that are committed to non-GMO products.”

The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization and is North America’s only third party verification and labeling source for non-GMO food and products. Once products are Verified, they are authorized to bear the Non-GMO Verification seal indicating that the item has gone through Non-GMO Project’s strenuous Verification process.

DORVAL Cocoa is available in 12-count cases as well as a 32-count shipper. The product’s packaging has an upscale, premium look that stands out among the rest.

For over 45 years, DORVAL Trading Co. Ltd. has been an importer of an extensive range of high-quality confectionery products from major manufacturers around the world. Dorval has grown into a significant presence in the confectionery and specialty distribution arena.

 

Pure Epicurean Seasonings is Shaking Up the Salt and Pepper Market

1-Pure Epicurean Seasonings-SSTaking its cue from the farm-to-table dining philosophy, Pure Epicurean Seasonings has conceived and launched a new gourmet product for the hospitality and foodservice industries: pre-portioned packets of natural Himalayan salt and organic black pepper. Pure’s single-serving all-natural salt and pepper packages are the first of their kind.

The attractively packaged, easy-to-tear-open salt and pepper packets are meant to replace the glass shakers found on full-service tables and fast-casual counters. Glass shakers break, can be tampered with and, in some cases are unhygienic. And when done correctly, sanitizing glass shakers – which should be done daily – is a time-consuming and inefficient process.

Each all-natural salt and USDA-certified organic pepper packet is packaged with fresh ingredients acquired from regional and global sources. Packets are sold in quantities of 500 and 1,000 that can be used on self-service counters or for take-out. Refillable bamboo presentation boxes that hold 10 salts and 10 peppers are also available for dining tables.

For more information on Pure Epicurean Seasonings, visit www.pureepicurean.com.

Lift a Cup to Chocolate with Edible Dessert and Shooter Cups from Kane Candy

KaneCandy2-DFBy Lorrie Baumann

Kane Candy offers a line of chocolate dessert and shooter cups, giving party hosts an opportunity to make a splash with a gourmet treat for their guests that does not require a lot of time and effort to put together.

The Kane Candy brand launched in 2012. According to Joe Kane, President of Kane Food Group, the product line drew attention immediately, because it offered the high-end quality that had been missing from competitive products. “The whole concept of the brand is the at-home entertaining,” said Kane. “It’s for the consumer who wants to prepare pastries and desserts just like a world-class pastry chef would make.”

Kane Candy products are all made with real chocolate with a high cocoa content. They are also gluten-free, certified kosher (dairy) and made in the USA. None of the company’s products include high fructose corn syrup. “We’re a firm believer in all-natural,” Kane said.

KaneCandy1-DFThe chocolate dessert cups are easy to turn into gourmet treats. One simply fills them with a flavored mousse, sorbet or mascarpone cheese and tops them with a few chocolate curls, a couple of raspberries, a puff of whipped cream or even edible flowers. “The whole concept is for people to have fun with these and to be able to create,” Kane said. “We get emails all the time from people who say that these were the most popular dessert at their party.”

Kane also offers Cordial & Toasting Cups in white and dark chocolate, ideal for an after-dinner sweet of a more alcoholic kind. Fill them with port or a dessert wine or maybe a sip of amaretto or Bailey’s Irish Cream for elegance without effort. Home entertaining columnist, blogger and occasional talk show guest Cheryl Najafi filled the Kane Cordial & Toasting Cups with marshmallow fluff for an elevated version of s’mores. And TammyJo Eckhart, who styles herself a “Chocolate Priestess” in her blog The Chocolate Cult, noted that the Kane Chocolate Dessert Cups ranked among the best chocolate she tasted in all of 2013.

Mona Lisa Food ProductsWhen Kane Candy first burst onto the scene, retailers embraced the company’s products during the holiday season. However, since then, they have become a year-round item, sought out for weddings and graduation parties as well as dinner parties at home. “We don’t try to seasonalize the product,” said Kane. “We have one holiday variety only.” The Kane Candy brand sales volume has grown as the products have found new fans, and sales for 2014 have more than doubled 2013 sales. “We’re very, very happy,” Kane said.

The company is expanding the product line this fall with chocolate baking bricks and chocolate disks for melting into candy, both made of premium-quality chocolate. “There’s lots of premium chocolate on the market, but that upgrade has not happened in the baking aisle,” Kane said. “Our goal is to upgrade that aisle with a premium product line.”

This story was originally published in the October 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

Members of Organic Community Begin Registering Websites Under “.organic” Domain

Global registry services provider Afilias recently announced the launch of its newest top-level domain “.organic.” As of September 15, members of the organic community have been able to register website names under the “.organic” domain through Afilias. 

Interest in organic products is growing rapidly worldwide. However, terms like “natural” and “healthy” are often used interchangeably with “organic” on the Internet and elsewhere, causing consumer confusion. The “.organic” domain strives to reduce consumer confusion by provisioning a dedicated, protected place on the Internet for providers of bona fide organic products and services. Unlike open domains like .com and .net, the “.organic” domain limits eligibility to domain owners who have verified their organic credentials. This means consumers can have confidence in sites that have a “.organic” address.

“Given the demand for authentic organic products and services, the arrival of the ‘.organic’ domain will be welcomed by both consumers and providers of organic goods and services,” said Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and CMO for Afilias. “For the first time, consumers can now find organic sites on the Internet that are verified and reliable.”

The “.organic” addresses are only available to verifiably organic farmers, producers, manufacturers, co-packers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and official organic certifiers. Eligibility also extends to other organic-oriented entities such as restaurants and trade organizations that may not be certified but can meet special criteria tailored to their role in the community.

For more information about how you can register your company or organization for a “.organic” web address, visit www.get.organic.

As Government Regulators Have Their Say, Specialty Food Industry Looks for Ways to Influence Public Policy

Rush Creek Reserve from Cheese Co.

Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Cheese Co.

By Lucas Witman

In an announcement that shocked many in the American specialty cheese community, Andy Hatch, co-owner and head cheesemaker at Wisconsin’s Uplands Cheese Co., recently sent an email to cheesemongers and distributors stating that his company would not be producing its celebrated Rush Creek Reserve for at least the duration of the year. Rush Creek Reserve is a soft-ripened raw cow’s milk cheese inspired by the French cheese Vacherin Mont d’Or. The company’s decision not to move forward with production of the cheese comes amid the FDA’s ongoing vacillation over the safety of raw milk cheeses. Although Rush Creek Reserve’s 60-day aging period fits within current federal guidelines for the safe production of raw milk cheeses, the FDA has made it clear that it is considering revising this rule and requiring a longer aging period. In exiting the market before this potential rule change goes into effect, Rush Creek Reserve has become what could be the first of many casualties in an emerging battle over American-produced raw milk cheeses. 

“Is there a way that we can be more focused and maybe get a lobbyist group to help really push the sort of cheese agenda in Washington and really make changes,” asked Steve Gellert, World’s Best Cheeses’ Vice President of Business Development, at the recent American Cheese Society Conference. “I think a lot of people … want to see the changes happen, they just don’t know what to do about it other than bumper stickers.” As specialty cheese companies like Uplands Cheese Co. face the negative implications of government policies that they openly disagree with, affected parties are asking if there is more that they can be doing to directly influence those policies and work with federal officials to create a regulatory environment that protects their industry as well as the health and safety of the American consumer.

Many individuals within the larger specialty food landscape are already actively involved in lobbying legislators and regulators and advocating for public policy changes on the state and federal level. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the food and beverage industry spent over $30 million on lobbying in 2013 and directly employed 329 lobbyists. The top spenders included Coca Cola ($5.9 million) and PepsiCo ($3.7 million), but a number of industry trade groups, including the National Restaurant Association, the American Beverage Association and the International Foodservice Distributors Association also do their part to influence public policy.

In recent years, a number of food industry trade groups have demonstrated the power that their industry can exert on public policy. The American Meat Institute, for example, has been influential in shaping the USDA’s requirements regarding how meat is labeled for sale in this country. And the Grocery Manufacturers Association has been a key voice in ongoing public discussions over how best to eliminate childhood obesity, serving as an industry partner for First Lady Michele Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign. Food industry lobbying and public policy advocacy groups have been instrumental in shaping everything from GMO-related legislation to government subsidies and import tariffs.

A relatively new lobbying and public advocacy organization, the American Olive Oil Producers Association was founded less than two years ago. In that short time, the organization has become an important tool in protecting the interests of U.S.-based olive oil producers at home and abroad. Already in its short life span, the AOOPA was able to work with U.S. Rep. David Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee to launch an official investigation into the domestic olive oil industry. That investigation resulted in an independent government report that came out in August 2013 that discusses those issues in detail.

“We’ve been making great strides working with our government and recognizing the challenges that face our industry,” said Kimberly Houlding, Executive Director of the AOOPA. “We want to make sure that we have a fair and honest market.”

The cheese industry itself is not a stranger to public policy advocacy. Established in 2000, and recently re-launched, the non-profit Cheese of Choice Coalition has been an important resource in advocating for the rights of American consumers to purchase and consume raw milk cheeses. After the FDA proposed changes in 1999 to its regulations concerning the production of raw milk cheeses, the Cheese of Choice Coalition stepped in as a voice for the industry, and it was an important player in protecting raw milk cheeses from effectively being abolished during that time.

“The point of the organization was to allow consumers to still choose their cheese, because there was a threat to change the aging time for raw milk cheeses,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways, parent organization of the Cheese of Choice Coalition. “[We] support the production of artisan, traditional and raw milk cheeses and we do this through education, alliance, advocacy, consumer outreach and community engagement.”

Those who support organizing as an industry in order to advance the interests of specialty food in Washington argue that this type of coalition-building is necessary to collectively establish shared interests and to serve as a unified voice in advancing those interests. “If there is not an industry voice – one unified voice to speak to elected officials – there is going to be someone else filling that voice,” said Houlding. “In our case, that was importers and foreign producers … In many cases we do not have the same views as importers and foreign producers.”

In addition to serving as a unified voice of an industry, the AOOPA and other specialty food interest groups also have an important role to play in protecting the interests of consumers. “Consumers deserve an honestly labeled product. We need to provide them the assurance that they are receiving an honestly labeled product,” said Houlding.

The Cheese of Choice Coalition similarly serves as an advocate for consumers. Brad Jones, Program Manager for the Cheese of Choice Coalition worries what would happen if consumers suddenly lost access to the products they love. “Let the consumers have the right to purchase, consume and enjoy that cheese,” he said.

In addition, as many specialty food professionals strive to approach their industry scientifically, developing fact-based approaches to food production and food safety, these individuals are at the same time looking for ways to communicate the scientific data they have developed to those who have the power to effect change. The formation of a lobbying or special interest group can be of service to this goal as well.

 “We focus on bringing science-based information to consumers and to policy makers, taking complicated material and making it understandable for consumers and bringing the experts together with policy makers,” said Baer-Sinnott.

When it comes to specialty cheese in particular, those critical of forming a dedicated lobbying or public policy interest group argue that resources are scarce, and those resources are perhaps better spent on developing new products and getting them to consumers. Houlding, however, argues that for her organization, money spent has been worthwhile. “I think it’s an important use of resources, and certainly from an olive oil perspective and how our market is structured, if you don’t have a voice in Washington and you’re not working to educate your elected officials regarding challenges your industry may face … somebody is going to fill that void,” she said. “There’s something to be gained in creating relationships with the federal government … If you have somebody in Washington or at least you’re speaking as a unified industry voice, maybe you can get ahead of some of those issues and prevent some of those things.”

With FDA officials announcing at the recent ACS Conference a commitment to working with the specialty cheese industry as it moves toward developing new industry-specific regulations, industry representatives are now contemplating how best to pursue this ongoing dialogue. This is a question that is particularly important to the Cheese of Choice Coalition. “I think looking back 14 or 15 years and comparing it to today, there is more dialogue,” said Baer-Sinnott. “It’s a very hopeful thing, and that puts the Cheese of Choice Coalition and other organizations … in a position where it’s really possible to make a difference.”

This story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Gourmet News, a publication of Oser Communications Group.

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