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Slow Food USA launches Slow Food Nations

Slow Food USA is launching Slow Food Nations with an inaugural food festival in Denver, Colorado, from July 14 through 16, 2017. Inspired by Slow Food International’s biennial Terra Madre gathering in Turin, Italy, Slow Food Nations will combine the energy of a street food festival, rigor of an academic conference, and inspiration of a cultural exchange. Alice Waters, Ron Finley, Simran Sethi, Jack Johnson, Hosea Rosenberg, and Alon Shaya are just a few of many food movement leaders joining the festival.

Entrance to the festival is free and includes a taste marketplace with 100 exhibitors and producers, an outdoor culinary stage, gardening and cooking activities for kids and families, heritage food tastings, author talks, and many more events.

Slow Food leaders from around the globe will participate in an all-day delegate summit on Friday, including small group discussions, focused working groups, and a lunch by Alice Waters that will explore school lunch as an academic subject. Delegates will then serve as hosts and speakers during the weekend festival.

The first round of ticketed events went on sale Monday, April 10. Events include taste workshops, block parties, regional food and farm tours, roundtable discussions, and one-of-a-kind dinners.

Slow Food Nations reimagines the food festival to inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair. As Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini says, “If you want to change the world, don’t do it with sadness; do it with joy!”

For the full lineup and details, visit slowfoodnations.org.

Retail Strategies for Multicultural Shoppers

With the rapid growth of multicultural households in America and their unparalleled influence on the marketplace, market researchers suggest that there is a strong need for retailers to revise their in-store strategies to include a wider range of fresh food products and flavor profiles that cater to the multicultural consumer set. With this in mind, Nielsen has released a comprehensive report to help retailers understand the influence multicultural consumers wield across the meat, produce, seafood, deli and bakery categories. The report entitled, “A Fresh Look at Multicultural Consumers,” reveals strategic insights for retailers looking to leverage new growth opportunities across the perimeter over the next several decades.

Multicultural consumers are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population and the growth engine for fresh food categories within the grocery space. According to this Nielsen report, multicultural households spend a higher share on fresh food as a percentage of their total food spend compared to non-Hispanic white households. In fact, multicultural consumer shoppers make 3 percent more trips to the store containing fresh items and spend 4 percent more per year on fresh items. This results in a $2.2 billion opportunity for retailers.

For many multicultural families, fresh food is a dietary staple. The multicultural preference for fresh comes from cooking and eating norms that centrally reflect the unique cultures of African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics. That said, the allure of multicultural flavors and desire for fresh food are influencing a wider range of shoppers and becoming a key driving force for fresh growth.

“In order to tap this critical market, retailers need to rethink their delivery and assortment strategies of fresh products being offered to today’s increasingly multicultural shoppers,” said Courtney Jones, Vice President of Multicultural Growth and Strategy at Nielsen. “To be successful, retailers must understand the importance that culturally relevant, fresh offerings play in the multicultural shopper landscape. Retailers must also embrace the many layers of multicultural consumers and the undeniable ‘halo effect’ that those consumers are having on mainstream non-Hispanic white shoppers. The multicultural consumer covers a broad spectrum, from multi-generational families to Millennials, to Asian American, African American and Hispanic subgroups that have been influenced by distinct global culinary traditions. Retailers must consider the multi-ethnic tastes of their current and desired customers and recognize that the palates that favor multicultural flavors are influencing the taste preferences of non-Hispanic whites and society at large.”

The report’s key findings include the notion that multicultural flavors have moved into the mainstream for the deli department and continue to grow, also attracting non-Hispanic white shoppers who are inspired by the ethnic flavors found in the deli. Multicultural consumers are taking advantage of the quick and easy meal solutions and meals for large families within the deli department.

In the produce department, all kinds of shoppers are being inspired by the produce used in culinary traditions other than their own, and social media influences, television cooking programs and popular restaurant flavor trends are infiltrating the produce aisle. For example, the growth of habañero, with items popping like habañero grilled vegetable and even habañero margaritas.
Neilson’s research found that multicultural consumers spend more in meat and seafood departments than any other fresh department. Within the seafood department, multicultural households spend $62 a year, compared to non-Hispanic white households at just $43. Multicultural consumers are less willing to purchase branded fresh meat and seafood items; instead there is preference towards made-to-order, unbranded meat products, typically prepared behind the counter.

The bakery offers the biggest opportunity for multicultural consumers, who spend only 9.8 percent of their fresh dollars on bakery items, according to Neilsen. The report suggests that the bakery’s proximity to the deli should be leveraged to create strong cross-department connections for multicultural shoppers across multiple entertaining categories.

Emmi Roth USA Adds New Product to U.S. Kaltbach Cheese Line

Emmi Roth USA is expanding its sought-after Kaltbach line with a new imported cheese from Switzerland. Emmi Kaltbach Le Crémeux will join Kaltbach Le Gruyère AOP, Kaltbach Emmentaler AOP and Kaltbach Alpine Extra as available Swiss imports through Emmi USA.

Emmi Kaltbach Cremig Wurzig Laib dreiviertelMade in 9-pound wheels, Kaltbach Le Crémeux is a washed-rind cheese that is sweet and unassuming at first, but keeps you coming back for another bite as the flavor and texture develops and becomes reminiscent of a soft cooked egg yolk in a bowl of ramen. It is a semi-firm cheese that’s crafted with pasteurized milk and microbial rennet and aged a minimum of 120 days in the Kaltbach caves in the Alpine Valley near Lucerne, Switzerland.

Swiss cheesemakers and affineurs carefully handpick a select number of wheels to continue their refinement in the Kaltbach Caves. The caves are a 22 million-year-old natural sandstone labyrinth with a small tranquil river that runs through it. It’s that river that inspired the complex’s name – Kaltbach means “cold river,” and it’s what allows for a constant 96 percent humidity in the cool, mineral-rich cave air. The enormous amount of cave-wall surface area helps regulate the aging atmosphere and promotes a stable setting for the cheese to ripen. The porous nature of the sandstone acts as a give and take. It absorbs moisture when the air is too damp and releases it when it’s needed. This natural process regulates the humidity and is a crucial part of texture and flavor development that makes Kaltbach cheeses unlike any other in the world.

The demand for artisan cheese continues to grow in the United States,” says Tim Omer, President and Managing Director at Emmi Roth USA. “We remain the number-one importer of Gruyère in the country and are proud to continue to introduce new products to the United States from our parent company in Switzerland. Like all cheeses we import, Kaltbach Le Crémeux is unique and special.”

Emmi Kaltbach Le Crémeux was introduced in the U.S. at the Winter Fancy Food Show from January 21-23 in San Francisco. The entire Kaltbach line is available to retailers nationwide and will continue to be available in specialty cheese shops throughout 2017.

Specialty Food Sales Continue Strong Growth Trend

The Specialty Food Association is reporting that dollar sales for the specialty food industry grew by 15 percent between 2014 and 2016 and reached $127 billion in annual sales in 2016, now accounting for 14.8 percent of all food sales at retail. Snack food sales reached $16.3 billion in 2016, and snacks now account for about 28 percent of the entire specialty food market. Jerky and meat snacks led the growth for the snack food segment, leaping ahead by more than 86 percent between 2014 and 2016, while sales of chips, pretzels and similar snacks grew by 13.6 percent between 2014 and 2016 and now account for more than $3.5 billion in annual sales.

Cheese, including plant-based cheese alternatives, still continues to be the leading category in the specialty food market, with $4.422 billion in sales during 2016, for a 12.4 percent increase between 2014 and 2016.

The information comes from the Specialty Food Association’s annual report on the state of the specialty food industry. “The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2017” is a collaboration between the Specialty Food Association and market research firm Mintel. The report indicates that while specialty food sales continued to climb in 2016, growth in retail and foodservice channels slowed over the previous year, partly due to an increase in online purchasing for these products.

Some of the growth in the retail channel is coming in mainstream retail channels, with growth in sales in chain grocery stores and mass merchants outpacing that in natural and specialty chains for the first time. Growth is also happening in the foodservice channel, as more fine dining restaurants adopt specialty food products into their menus. Foodservice represents more than one fifth of specialty food sales and grew by 13.7 percent between 2014 and 2016.

Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day Coming Up

Cheese lovers (a.k.a. turophiles) around the world will have the chance to nibble on traditional raw milk cheeses at more than 600 events on April 22, 2017, designated Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day.

Created by the Oldways Cheese Coalition in 2015, and in association with the prestigious Guilde Internationale des Fromagers, this worldwide holiday offers cheese enthusiasts a chance to participate in events celebrating the distinctiveness and cultural heritage of cheeses made with raw milk.

This year’s celebration will highlight four worldwide flagship events at:

  • London: Neal’s Yard Dairy
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil: Mercearia Mestre Queijeiro
  • Mexico City: Lactography
  • Paris: La Vache dans les Vignes

Even if you can’t make one of the flagship events, there are hundreds more, taking place everywhere from Whole Foods to your local cheese shop. (Partial list)

“Raw milk cheeses are unique in flavor, history, and carry on traditional cheesemaking practices,” said Carlos Yescas, Program Director, Oldways Cheese Coalition. “The producers who make them are passionate about craftsmanship and animal husbandry. Their cheeses represent years, even decades, of knowledge and thoughtful innovation to better their products.”

Since cheese was first discovered many millennia ago it has been made with pure raw milk. In fact, it was only in the last century that cheese began to be made with pasteurized milk.

More than half of cheese lovers prefer raw milk cheeses and purchase them regularly. It’s no wonder since the natural microflora in raw milk produces cheeses — such as Le Gruyère AOP, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort and many American originals — that are characteristic of local environments, expressive of terroir, and evocative of complex flavors.

Another benefit? Scientific studies reveal that, when consumed in moderation, cheese is a tremendous way to add healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and probiotics to your diet.

Retailers, restaurants, producers and cheese enthusiasts are invited to participate with their own events. For more information about how to be involved with Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day or to join the Oldways Cheese Coalition, visit www.oldwayscheese.org.

Everyone is encouraged to join in the cheese conversation and celebration on Twitter and Instagram by using the hashtag #RawMilkCheese.

ACS Competition Now Open for Entries

The 2017 American Cheese Society Judging & Competition is now open for entries!

ACS’s annual judging of American cheeses and cultured dairy products will take place July 24-25, 2017 in the organization’s hometown of Denver, Colorado. The judging will be held immediately prior to Cheese with Altitude, the 34th Annual ACS Conference in Denver.

Winners in each category, including “Best of Show” honorees, will be revealed at the Awards Ceremony in Denver on Friday, July 28. Entry deadline is May 12, with late entries accepted until May 19 for a higher fee.

Sugarmade Completes Sriracha Seasoning Stix Manufacturing Facility

Sugarmade, Inc. has completed a California manufacturing facility that will produce Sriracha Seasoning Stix. The facility and an additional contract manufacturing site located on the East Coast will provide the company with an initial manufacturing capability of tens of thousands of bottles of Sriracha Seasoning Stix each week and a future capacity of tens of millions of Stix per month.

Already issued three U.S. patents, Seasoning Stix are a true innovation in the seasoning of meat, fish and poultry. Production of this new class of seasoning required the invention of several new culinary production techniques, which are now fully operational. Sriracha Seasoning Stixs are encapsulated Huy Fong Sriracha Sauce and other seasonings in the form of a “stick” that’s inserted into meat, fish and poultry prior to cooking. Sriracha Seasoning Stixs are a hard solid at room temperature, but as heat is applied, the sticks begin to liquefy, allowing the meat fibers to act like a sponge, absorbing all the spicy deliciousness of Huy Fong Foods, Inc. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce.

Insurance Broker Points out Risks of Grocery Store Foodservice

Grocery store takeout and in-store dining is the fastest growing segment in the foodservice industry. Lockton, the world’s largest privately held insurance broker, offers grocery stores with dining services insights on business risks.

Product recall expert at Lockton, Ian Harrison, explains what grocerants should look for to protect their business and their customers in Grocerants Are on the Rise, and So Are the Risks. The report points out that foodborne illnesses outbreaks linked to U.S. grocers more than doubled from 2014 to 2015, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While Millennial habits have led to the popularity of in-store meal preparation, consumer confidence that food in grocery stores is safe is decreasing. Food safety and sanitization methods are vital to this industry, and so are protocols for handling food poisoning claims. Serious damage can be done to an entire chain of stores from a food contamination claim or Food and Drug Administration violations.

Although the risks are broadening with this trend, so is insurance. Traditionally, economic loss protection insurance has been two separate policies; food manufacturing and food service. The rise of hybrid processing and service creates a new vertical integrated risk.

The new insurance policy combines exposures like foodborne illness, supplier contamination, and public health shutdown of retail locations in addition to processing exposures of accidental contamination.

Registration Open for PLMA Education Program

Registration is now open for the PLMA 2017 Executive Education Program, scheduled to be held June 12-15 at St. Josephs University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

More than 1,600 private label retailers and manufacturers have graduated the program since its inception. You can become one of the successful students, too. For further information, contact Sylvia Stein, PLMA Executive Education Manager, at 212.972.3131 or email education@plma.com.

Little Red Dot Kitchen Expands Production Capacity

Little Red Dot Kitchen’s move to a larger headquarters and production facility in the San Francisco Bay area is now complete following a successful USDA inspection of its production and co-packing facility.

The USDA inspection was completed earlier this month, said Ching Lee, CEO. The new facility also houses an FDA inspected commercial kitchen that began operation earlier this year. The production facility includes fully automated, high-capacity equipment that can accommodate production of a range of meat snacks and sticks, steak bites, jerky and sausages from mixing and grinding through packaging. Equipment includes a commercial oven that can cook from 500 to 700 pounds per cycle, capability for both slicing and emulsion extrusion, and an automatic bagging system.

Little Red Dot Kitchen began transitioning operations from San Jose, California, into the new facility in Hayward, California, in January to accommodate rising demand for its Bak Kwa meat snacks and to position the company for future growth. Bak Kwa is like a sweet and savory jerky infused with Asian spices and inspired by a traditional grilled Singapore and Malaysian street food.

Little Red Dot Kitchen’s Bak Kwa meat snacks come from U.S. family farms dedicated to raising animals humanely and without antibiotics or hormones. They are minimally processed with most ingredients having Non-GMO verification and also are free from artificial ingredients, wheat, dairy and eggs. The meat snacks are available in resealable 1- to 3-ounce packages with a suggested retail price of $6.99 to $7.99. Cases include 12 of the 2.5- to 3-ounce bags and 18 of the 1-ounce bags. The Bak Kwa is available in five flavors, including the 2016 sofi Award-winning Hickory Smoked Spicy Candied Bacon, which has no nitrates or nitrites; Spicy Chipotle Beef Bak Kwa; Pork Bak Kwa; free-range Turkey Bak Kwa and Lemongrass Beef Bak Kwa.

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