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Natural Grocers Teams with Oregon Food Bank to Help the Hungry During the Holidays

This holiday season, Oregon Food Bank and Natural Grocers are teaming up to provide hunger relief and emergency food for Portland-area families in need during the holidays. For every turkey purchased by customers of the Beaverton Natural Grocers store, the company will donate a 12-pound bird to Oregon Food Bank to add cheer in holiday food boxes.

“Natural Grocers will be donating high quality naturally-raised turkeys to Oregon families in need,” says Kemper Isely, Co-President of Natural Grocers. “The holidays are a special time of year for families, but can be especially difficult for families with limited resources. This buy one/give one free offer is a simple and effective way for our customers to help out another family in a healthy way.”

Oregon Food Bank will distribute the donated birds during the 2013 holiday season. In cases where a whole bird is not needed, or a vegetarian option is required, Natural Grocers has offered to donate $30 cash instead. The buy one/give one free turkey offer is part of Natural Grocers’ ongoing commitment to providing emergency food relief across the nation. The company donates five cents to Oregon Food Bank each time local customers check out using their own reusable bags, and runs a donation campaign for two months each year with a healthy $50,000 dollar-for-dollar match. In addition, all excess and distressed food items are donated to local food banks.

The need for emergency food remains at record high levels across the U.S. – and particularly in Oregon. In an average month, an estimated 270,000 people in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., eat meals from an emergency food box.

“We are happy to have a new local grocery partner to help to support our efforts,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank’s CEO. “Natural Grocers has a long history of providing both food and cash donations to food banks across our country. It’s a good example of how a grocer can involve communities across the country to help neighbors in need. And it’s a good reminder that ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference by becoming involved with their communities to raise awareness and take action.”

Krysti Weddle, manager of the Natural Grocers store in Beaverton, reminds customers that turkeys need to be pre-ordered now, well in advance of Thanksgiving. “These are not hard-frozen birds from factory farms. They are naturally raised without antibiotics or growth promoters, and they are delivered just-in-time. Customers who want to take advantage of the buy one/give free one turkey offer need to reserve a turkey now at the store or on our web site. We’ll take care of the rest.” The turkey pre-ordering page can be found at http://www.naturalgrocers.com/store-locations/beaverton-oregon/OR/turkeys.

Natural Grocers offers only natural and organic products on its shelves. Shoppers will find only USDA-certified organic produce and meats from animals raised naturally without the use of antibiotics or hormones. The affordable grocery chain also offers an extensive natural dietary supplement and body care department, and a large selection of gluten-free and other products for special diets.

Natural Grocers has some of the highest standards for a grocer in the country, and is equally as well known for what it does not sell: it will not carry foods that contain artificial ingredients such as colors, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, antibiotics, hormones, or produce grown with synthetic pesticides. (See: “What We Won’t Sell and Why.”)

Beaverton Natural Grocers is open Monday through Saturday from 8:56 a.m. to 8:04 p.m. On Sunday the store will be open from 9:56 a.m. to 7:06 p.m.

About Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NGVC), founded in Colorado by Margaret &Philip Isely in 1955, was built on the premise that consumers should have access to affordable, high-quality foods and dietary supplements, along with nutrition knowledge to help them support their own health. The family-run store has since grown into a successful national chain with locations across Colorado, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico,Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Arizona and Oregon—employing more than 2,000 people.  The company went public in July 2012; however, Isely family members continue to manage the company, building on the foundation of their parents’ business. Natural Grocers’ popularity and success can be traced back to its founding principles: providing customers with high quality products at every day affordable prices. See store for details on buy one/give one free turkey offer.

 

Grocery-Anchored Shopping Centers Change Hands

Phillips Edison–ARC Shopping Center REIT Inc. has announced the acquisition of two grocery-anchored shopping centers. These acquisitions added the first Schnucks grocery store-anchored shopping center, and a Cub Foods grocery store-anchored shopping center to the company’s portfolio and expand the company’s presence in Minnesota and Iowa.

Cahill Plaza is a 69,000 square foot shopping center located in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, approximately 20 miles southeast of the city. The shopping center is anchored by a 52,017 square foot Cub Foods grocery store. Cub Foods is the No. 1 traditional grocer by market share in the greater Minneapolis area.

Duck Creek Plaza is a 134,229 square foot shopping center located in Bettendorf, Iowa, part of the Quad Cities bordering Iowaand Illinois. The shopping center is anchored by a 63,706 square foot Schnucks grocery store, one of the largest privately owned grocers in the Midwest. In addition to the Schnucks grocery store anchor, Duck Creek Plaza also features a 28,270 square foot Marshall’s store.

With the acquisitions of Cahill Plaza and Duck Creek Plaza, the Phillips Edison-ARC current portfolio is comprised of interests in 61 properties anchored by 26 leading grocers in 21 states, with an aggregate portfolio purchase price of approximately $885 million.

 

NestFresh Awarded First Non-GMO Project Verified Seal for Full Line of Nationally Distributed Egg Products

 

NF_Non-GMO_Brown_1NestFresh cage-free eggs is the first nationally distributed egg line to receive the Non-GMO Project Verified seal from the Non-GMO Project, a third party certification program that assures a product has been produced according to consensus-based best practices for GMO (genetically modified organism) avoidance. NestFresh (a division of Hidden Villa Ranch) is also the only egg brand to offer liquid and dry egg products that are also Non-GMO Project Verified.

To achieve non-GMO egg status, NestFresh chickens are fed non-GMO feed consisting of corn and soybeans, which are the most at risk for GMOs. The non-GMO corn and soybean feed is costly due to the limited amounts available. There is a routine schedule for the non-GMO feed to be tested and approved by the Non-GMO Project. On the non-GMO diet the chickens produce non-GMO eggs.

This unprecedented commitment to non-GMO verification by NestFresh is currently impacting approximately 400 acres of non-GMO corn and 380 acres of non-GMO soybeans. NestFresh is looking to expand its non-GMO impact by attracting more retailers, manufacturers and food service customers to the brand.

NestFresh works with multiple small farms across the country in a co-op system, providing more opportunities for family farmers so they can be competitive with larger companies.

“Non-GMO farming has a major environmental impact not only on the eggs we produce for NestFresh but also for my family that lives on the farm and for our entire community,” says Joseph Kropf, who is part of a Mennonite group of farmers in Tampico, Ill. “We grow and mill the corn in our community so low pesticide usage is important to us.”

This year, Whole Foods Market honored Hidden Villa Ranch for its private label version of NestFresh’s Non-GMO Project Verified eggs called Nature Fed (that are sold to Whole Foods Market exclusively), calling their commitment to non-GMO verification and supply chain development “groundbreaking.” For Whole Foods Market the non-GMO Nature Fed cage free eggs are helping them reach their self-proclaimed 2018 goal of becoming the first national grocery chain with total GMO transparency.

According to a recent report by Packaged Facts called, “Non-GMO Foods: U.S. Market Perspective,” products that do not contain GMOs will account for 30 percent of U.S. food and beverage sales by 2017.

The Non-GMO Project third-party verification program was launched in 2008 as an initiative of independent natural foods retailers who were interested in providing their customers with more information regarding the GMO risk of their products. For details on the Non-GMO Project Verified seal, visit: http://www.nongmoproject.org/learn-more/understanding-our-seal

NestFresh cage-free and free-range eggs are Non-GMO Project Verified and available nationwide (MSRP: $3.49-$4.99). For distribution information call 877-241-8385; for more on the NestFresh brand visit: www.nestfresh.com.

 

Effortless Sunday Brunch

By Lorrie Baumann

With a very little advance planning, you can pull off a post-coital Sunday brunch that’s nearly effortless in its execution. The key to this is a lovely quiche from La Terra Fina, which has brought out a new line of ready-to-bake quiches in three varieties, all made from egg whites, so you won’t undo the healthy effects of a night of orgasmic passion with a dose of artery-clogging cholesterol. Put one of these gorgeous quiches in the toaster oven for a bit less than half an hour and then set it out on the table with a bowl of fresh raspberries and you’re almost there.

If you’re particular about your coffee, and who isn’t, look for one of the quality coffees bearing the Harvested by Women label that assures you that a fair share of the price you paid for the beans is going back to the women who would otherwise be powerless to fight sexist oppression in the poverty-stricken Third World areas where much of the world’s coffee is cultivated. You probably already have a coffee maker that produces a brew you like from these excellent beans, but if you don’t, the good folks at Kitchenware News can help you decide which of the many on the market is right for you.

Set out your quiche and coffee with a bowl of fresh raspberries (Driscoll’s is a brand that will assure you that you’re getting some of the best.), and a basket of muffins you baked from a Robert Rothschild mix, and you’ve served a brunch that will convince your lover that you’re definitely a keeper.

Improvisational Italian: Actor Louis Lombardi Introduces New Italian Food Line

By Lorrie Baumann

_MG_0005_ll_Louis Lombardi is a character actor who is best known as Agent Skip Lipari from The Sopranos. Lombardi has also had guest roles on Entourage, Heroes and CSI. His film work includes roles in Beer League, Natural Born Killers and Spiderman II. Lombardi has publicly stated his opinion that acting success is 10 percent about acting and 90 percent about hustling. In this spirit, he has turned the energy and ambition that led to his success as an actor toward the launch of a new line of pastas, pasta sauces, olives and olive oils named—what else?—Lombardi’s.

Lombardi recently took the time to speak with Gourmet News about the Lombardi’s product line in an interview he managed to fit in between lunch and picking his daughter up from school. We would present that interview to you in classic question-and-answer format, except that once you get Louis Lombardi started talking about food, you don’t really need to ask any questions. He will just tell you what you want to know. And he speaks so fluently and eloquently that you do not want to interrupt the flow.

“I cook like I’m an actor,” Lombardi says. “I like to improvise.” He adds, “I’m one of these guys who will spend ten hours in the kitchen cooking and cleaning.”

When it comes to the topic of meatballs, Lombardi varies from his grandmother’s recipe, making them from organic ground chicken and baking them instead of frying. “I sauté up some garlic and grill some onions and mushrooms, and then I add cilantro, fresh Parm, some mozzarella inside the meatballs. Roll them in panko and bake them with a little rosemary and garlic-infused olive oil on the baking pan so they absorb the flavor from the oil and get the crunch from the panko,” he said. “Don’t be stealing my recipe. I like to put garlic oil on the bottom, on the baking pan, and then [on] the meatballs, and then drizzle a little rosemary oil on top. Bake them up, and then keep them for the week. Put them in the sauce when you only have a few minutes to make a meal. My mother’s a true Italian…When she ate my meatballs, that’s what she talks about. They’re like her favorite thing now.”

Lombardi’s cooking style is all about using quality ingredients to cook modern, healthier versions of his Italian family favorites on the weekends and then organizing those into meal components from which he can improvise home-cooked meals after work on weekdays. He likes to make 20 or 30 pizza crusts at a time and store them in the freezer. He can then pull them out as he needs them and bake them topped with whatever he has on hand in the refrigerator.

“My favorite thing to cook is pizzas. I make 20 or 30 different kinds of pizza,” he says. “Pizza is dinner on an edible dish. Whatever you’d eat from a plate, you can put on a pizza.” That means southern fried chicken pizza, bacon and egg pizza for breakfast, even “grilled cheese with bacon and tomato pizza with cheese sauce, little bit of butter, little bit of garlic, cheese, chop up some bacon.” Lombardi’s southern fried chicken pizza is made with baked chicken cutlets, green onions, a little Tabasco sauce and southern gravy. Lombardi says, “Pizza is like a blank page. It’s like, ‘What can I write on this thing? What can I add to make this great?’”

Don’t feel like pizza? How about a pork chop? Lombardi prepares “pork chops pounded out thin and then stuffed with three or four different cheeses. Bake for 20 minutes, and then what you have is that gooey cheese between pork. Put in some hot pepper or mango chutney. You try that.”

Too early for dinner? How about lunch? “If I want a lunch, I get a healthy, nice lunch. Make three, four, five things on Sunday. Make some chicken cutlets and use them through the week,” Lombardi says. “Next week maybe eggplant, next maybe chicken meatballs, maybe a chicken salad. I’ll make grilled chicken breast, put them in the Tupperware. Then one day, you come home for lunch, chop up one with a little mayo, a little dill—you have a healthy lunch in five minutes. Maybe a pizza—garlic, oil, grilled chicken, maybe a little cilantro pesto, some mozzarella, maybe not even a sauce. It’s like a baked open sandwich, a cool meal that you would eat in a restaurant.”

_MG_9747_ll_publicityLombardi’s new line of retail food products comes out of that same insistence that food should taste good, that it should be healthy and that it should be a bonding experience for families. The line includes five kinds of pastas, olive oils and olives imported from Calabria, as well as pasta sauces made in New York from ingredients imported from Italy. They have all been extensively taste-tested by people whose opinion he respects as well as by members of the general public. “The marinara and vodka sauces are the two best sauces on the market,” Lombardi says. “I guarantee it.”

Lombardi says that this is food that he would feed his seven-year-old daughter, who is in the kitchen with him all the time “It’s for regular people. That’s what I am,” he says. “I want to be more for the regular person.”

Lombardi expects to have his online retail site for the products up and running within a few weeks, and he is currently seeking a distributor to put his products in stores. “I want to be in every market,” he says.

Once the products have reached the marketplace, Lombardi hopes that families will gather with them around the dinner table, the way that his Bronx Italian family gathered around the table every night with whoever else happened to be around at the time. “Don’t eat poison fast foods. Sit down with your kids. Spend $10 at the market, and put down a real meal, and talk to your kids,” he says. “It’s almost like a movement I’m trying to create. Sit down with your kids and make them a healthy meal. I believe that. I believe that children are the most important thing. I think food is the biggest bonding thing. Whether you’re fighting or whatever, everyone likes to eat.”

Emmi Roth USA Announces Marquee Sponsorship of Fifth Annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival

For the second year in a row, Emmi Roth USA is supporting the Annual Wisconsin Cheese Originals Festival as a marquee sponsor. Hosted by Wisconsin Cheese Originals, a member-based organization dedicated to celebrating Wisconsin artisan cheeses and cheesemakers, the festival will be held Nov. 1-2 in Madison, Wis.

Themed “The Arrival of American Artisan Cheese,” the festival offers attendees the opportunity to meet more than 40 artisan cheesemakers during two days of tours, seminars, dinners and the popular Meet the Cheesemaker Gala on Friday, Nov. 1 at Monona Terrace.

Emmi Roth Grand Cru OriginalEmmi Roth USA Cheesemaker Israel Gonzalez will be at the gala serving samples of Roth® specialties including Grand Cru® Original, Grand Cru® Reserve, GranQueso®, Buttermilk Blue® and Moody Blue. Plant Manager and Cheese Guru Robert Frie will co-host a cheesemaker dinner with Chris Roelli of Roelli Cheese at The Old Fashioned on Saturday night.

“We are proud to have helped lay the groundwork for the rise of the specialty cheese industry in Wisconsin over the last 20 years,” said Steve Millard, president and CEO of Emmi Roth USA. “Wisconsin Cheese Originals shares our passion for specialty cheeses and we are thrilled to sponsor their festival, which brings together Wisconsin cheesemakers and cheese enthusiasts to celebrate our state’s vibrant cheesemaking industry.”

Visit www.wicheesefest.com for more information or to purchase tickets.

Product Review: SousVide Supreme Brings Celebrated Cooking Technique to the Masses

By Lucas Witman

SousVideSupreme-PRFew culinary techniques are as trendy right now as sous vide cookery. Peruse the menu at almost any fine dining restaurant in the country, and you are almost certain to find meats, vegetables and even eggs that have been prepared using this method. Celebrated chefs such as Joël Robuchon, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià have endowed sous vide cooking with an almost mythic air of haute cuisine through their impassioned support of the technique. However, since its inception, this technique has been reserved primarily for professionals, as the equipment used to conduct it (often repurposed laboratory thermal immersion circulators) is expensive and difficult to obtain. This is changing today, however, as kitchenwares company SousVide Supreme is finally bringing sous vide cooking to the masses.
Sous vide cooking is a particular method of slowly poaching foods at a steady, relatively low temperature. Foods are sealed in airtight plastic bags (often vacuum-sealed), where they are submerged in a water bath. Sous vide meats in particular retain a succulence that is often lost through conventional cooking methods. In addition, cooking tougher cuts of meat at a low temperature for a long time tenderizes them.
As an admitted connoisseur of kitchen gadgets and appliances, learning about the existence of SousVide Supreme’s home kitchen sous vide cooking equipment immediately piqued my interest. I was curious to find out if I could in fact use this appliance to recreate sous vide dishes from some of my favorite restaurants.
Upon receiving the equipment, I immediately knew what item I wanted to cook first in my SousVide Supreme. At a favorite local Italian restaurant, the chef has re-imagined the traditional bacon-and-eggs pasta dish, spaghetti carbonara, by putting something he calls a “perfect egg” on top. When the dish hits the table, one mixes the delicately poached egg into the pasta, and it forms the sauce for the dish. It did not take much coaxing from the chef to get his recipe for the perfect egg: He sous vides an egg in its shell for 45 minutes at exactly 145°.
The SousVide Supreme could not be easier to use. One simply fills the large metal water oven (there are fill level markings inscribed on it) and inputs the desired temperature and, if desired, cooking time. The machine quickly heats the water to the specific cooking temperature, where it is kept perfectly steady. An alarm sounds when the desired cooking time has been reached. Simply remove the cooked food from the water bath and enjoy.
My first attempt at creating a “perfect egg” was an immediate success. The low and slow cooking method creates a smooth, luxurious, delicately poached egg that practically disappeared into my pasta dish. One could also use the SousVide Supreme to create delicious poached eggs for eggs benedict or for use as a topper in a hearty soup. I doubt I will ever again poach an egg in the traditional manner.
In addition to the water oven itself, SousVide Supreme offers an extensive line of cooking equipment that completes the sous vide cooking experience. A zip sealer enables one to carefully seal plastic bags for submersion, while a vacuum sealer does the same thing, simultaneously removing all air from the bag. SousVide Supreme also offers an array of cooking pouches, sous vide seasonings, cookbooks and other accessories.
Already satisfied with my perfect egg, I then decided to use the equipment to cook some vacuum packed vegetables. Using the SousVide Supreme Vacuum Sealer and Vacuum Seal Pouches is practically foolproof. I filled a bag with chopped carrots and winter squash, added a couple pats of butter and some seasoned salt and positioned the top of the bag in the Vacuum Sealer. One simply clicks down on a latch, holding the bag in place, and presses a button. The machine then removes all the air from the bag and seals it tight. In a matter of seconds, my bag was ready to be placed in the SousVide Supreme water oven.
When doing sous vide cooking, one needs to be patient. Cooking my vegetables in the SousVide Supreme took two hours. I know that I could have boiled the vegetables in less than a quarter of the time. However, the results were worth the wait. The vegetables came out perfectly tender and cooked completely evenly. And by cooking them in a vacuum-sealed pouch, they were infused with the flavors of the butter and spices with which they were cooked. It was truly a home run.
The SousVide Supreme is destined to become a staple in my kitchen. And with the holidays coming up, I am excited to have a new gift to present to the many foodies in my life who, like me, think they already have everything they could need in their kitchens. Chance are, they don’t have this.

Culinary Collective Celebrates 15 Years of Spanish, Peruvian Imports

By Jazmine Woodberry

CulinaryCollective-SDGourmet importer Culinary Collective celebrated its 15th anniversary in September, marking a decade and a half of importing goods from Spain and bringing them to the taste buds of eaters stateside.
The business started as a hobby for Betsy Power and her business partner, Pere Selles, after relocating from Spain to Seattle so Power could attend graduate school.
“We moved and realized there wasn’t any good food from Spain in the Northwest,” Power said. “And we ended up starting at the right time. The commercial offices from Spain were really promoting wines from Spain then, and people were asking, ‘Well, what do I eat with those wines?’” That’s where Culinary Collective came in.
First a small business with a couple vendors, Culinary Collective now works with more than 30 vendors distributing more than 140 different products, many of which fall under the Matiz España line, which focuses on traditional Spanish ingredients like olive oil, paella rice and spices.
The Matiz España line launched in 2003 as a Culinary Collective brand used to promote and showcase the vendors behind the products. “Having one brand made a lot of sense from a marketing and financial standpoint, while allowing us to highlight the vendors and connect them to the consumers,” Power said.
After the bump in the exchange rate in 2006 and 2007, Culinary Collective pushed to incorporate Latin American items into its offerings. “When the exchange rate started going crazy, we expanded into Latin America using our same model—small producers, native foods. We weren’t looking to replace items from Spain but to use our same model in a new region,” Power said. “We bounced around and landed on Peru because there’s so much food diversity in Peru. It’s one of the most diverse food cultures in the world next to Mexico.”
This push brought to light the Zócalo Gourmet line, which marks the company’s expansion to South America. Zócalo Gourmet features Peruvian vendors powering a collection of all-natural foods such as grains, flours, beans and chili pastes.
“When we turned to Peru, we wanted to have a completely different brand and a different division,” To the delight of both Power, who suffers from celiac disease, and others with gluten sensitivity, the line contains only naturally gluten-free items.
Culinary Collective uses strict sourcing criteria to ensure that their products are all-natural and that their producers are rooted in their communities and operate under a fair trade model.
However, Power said what truly sets Culinary Collective apart from others is focusing on foods native to the countries from which they are importing. “A lot of importers bring in such things as piquillo peppers and white asparagus from Peru and it’s had an impact on Spanish vendors,” she said. “We wanted to focus on such items as kañiwa, purple corn, and aji or chili peppers—items that are native to Peru.”
The company’s expansion has spread to Culinary Collective customers as well, as the importer has branched out from importing select products to Seattle to serving customers throughout the United States and Canada. Through September 2014, Culinary Collective will be highlighting and promoting different vendors monthly to commemorate this milestone. Providing foods through both direct sales to retailers and through distributors, Culinary Collective will be going over each region’s vendors with a fine tooth comb and allowing retailers and consumers to access a passport-style voyage through Spain and Peru via Culinary Collective foods.
“The hard part is getting the products into the American market,” Power said. “Our resources are very limited, and competition is very high. I would like to let our customers know about our mission and why we’ve chosen each vendor and product and why they should purchase it. Consumers are really ready for that message and we could do a better job of making that known and getting customers on board, [as well as] working with the sales staff at the retail level to help promote these products.”

Online Markets Changing the Way Consumers Shop for Groceries

By Jazmine Woodberry

An increasing number of consumers across the country are ordering their groceries online, both from dedicated web outlets and from the digital iterations of brick and mortar stores, simply having these groceries delivered to them at home. Now, specialty foods companies are looking to adapt to this new retail climate in a $1 trillion grocery retail industry where more than $4 billion are spent by companies on online ads each year.
Working with more than 140 grocery brands, including Kroger, Shoprite and Albertsons, as well as more than 200 Consumer Packaged Goods brands, MyWebGrocer provides a suite of leading-edge eCommerce and eMarketing solutions to the grocery and CPG industries, with products for every digital touch point. Grocers can utilize MyWebGrocer’s software platform where shoppers can head online and do a range of things—from creating shopping lists, acquiring coupons and pulling up digital promotionals, to purchasing goods online for home delivery. Consumer packaged goods companies have the ability to follow a different path, with digital marketing campaigns for grocery websites, as well as ways to measure the effectiveness of those digital advertising efforts.
“Changing consumer behavior is pressuring grocers and CPGs to adopt digital solutions,” said Hudson Smith, Principal at HGGC, a MyWebGrocer investor in a release. Smith said he thinks “new eCommerce-focused entrants seeking to take share from traditional grocers” can look to online grocers both to shop online and enrich brick and mortar experiences via digital offerings.
MyWebGrocer is not alone in the push to move the grocery industry online. Founded in 1989, online grocery ordering and delivery service Peapod now serves customers in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Peapod offers a unique online grocery shopping option that fits into consumers’ busy lives.
“In a time when schedules are more demanding than ever, Peapod offers more than an online shopping service—it’s a lifestyle solution,” said Bradley Porter, Peapod’s Director of Marketing. “And it’s evolving to help people knock out their grocery shopping wherever and whenever they’d like via a Peapod mobile app, virtual stores, and more.”
Peapod is expanding convenience with home delivery or drive-through-style pick-up. Same day, next day and advance scheduling are available, accommodating “anytime, anywhere” grocery shopping with a handy mobile app and virtual stores. Peapod also adds value with built-in sorting features for nutritional requirements and a ‘checkout counter’ that helps manage spending as you go. In a Consumer Reports study from fall 2012 on how online grocery shopping eases grocery bills, Peapod.com topped the list as a money-saving site where shoppers can spend less and get more.
In addition to dedicated online grocery services like Peapod, food retailers are also utilizing other online venues, not usually known for their edible offerings. This includes online megastore Amazon.
Daphna Havkin-Frenkel’s business, Bakto Flavors, started in 2006 with a few options but has since expanded to several dozen gourmet spice and flavoring options that move far past the company’s initial vanilla starting point. The growth of Bakto Flavors has been in part due to the availability of Bakto Flavors’ products on Amazon. With Amazon behind the company’s sales, the former small shop now has global customers.
According to Havkin-Frenkel, Bakto Flavors still utilizes brick and mortar stores in the New York City area to reach consumers, but the company’s proprietary website sales, partnered with the sales it makes on Amazon have made the Internet the company’s biggest overall sales forum.
Of course, despite the growing trend of online grocery sales, experts are quick to point out that time honored physical trips to the grocery store are not going away any time soon. Still, retailers and CPG companies that are not yet online would be wise to consider this as an important venue for future sales. “While weekly trips to the grocery store are a time-honored tradition, consumers in 24 markets across the country are eating up the idea of online shopping…where hand-picked, hand-delivered groceries are always just a click away,” Porter said.

British Specialty Food Companies Queuing Up to Enter U.S. Market

By Lucas Witman

Less than a decade ago, many Anglophiles and British expatriates living in the United States were compelled to seek out niche specialty retailers and online food stores when looking for their favorite U.K. brands. Today, however, nearly every major grocery store contains at least a small section of British imports, and picking up a package of PG Tips or a Cadbury Flake bar can be as simple as heading to the local market. For a country that once viewed British cuisine with a collective air of disdain, the recent explosion in popularity of U.K. imports in this country may have come as a surprise to some. However, for those involved in the burgeoning British specialty food industry, this trend has been a long time coming.

British culture has perhaps never been more omnipresent in the United States than it is today. One cannot navigate contemporary American popular culture without a proper education in Harry Potter, Downton Abbey, Simon Cowell and Adele. Recently, the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee and the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton have put Great Britain at the epicenter of international attention. It was perhaps somewhat inevitable that British cuisine would follow as the logical next trend to emerge from the British Isles

“I think British products have got a real sort of cache here,” said U.K. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson. “Obviously there is a very longstanding close relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. The Olympics gave, I think, a huge shove in this great campaign of British culture, British history, British fashion, British music—and I think British food is part of that. There’s a real interest.”

According to Paterson, it is the British specialty food industry’s emphasis on family-run companies producing artisanal products in small batches using high quality, locally sourced ingredients that particularly appeals to a 21st century U.S. clientele.

“I think that probably the attraction for U.S. consumers is that they know that these are made by small niche family businesses working in small rural areas where you will have completely impeccable traceability of raw material and very reliable systems of production,” Paterson said. “You’re not buying anonymous meat products washing around the world commodities circuit in gray frozen blocks. These are local materials converted very rapidly into top class products and sold by the people who bought the material, who converted them into a food product and who actually shipped them and marketed them. I think that’s really attractive to many American consumers.”

Nina Uppal, Owner of New York Delhi, a British snack company most famous for its ViP Nuts brand, echoes Paterson’s sentiments. “There is such a desire for good food, for quality food and for innovation in food as well. You get all of that in the U.K.,” Uppal said. “The British brand alone draws so much attention from around the world, and that’s the impression we get wherever we go…People want to know what the Brits are doing next. That’s what we see. We not only offer the quality, but it’s also the innovation. Those are really the two things that you need when it comes to great food.”

Unfortunately, for British companies anxious to enter the U.S. market and reach out to a brand new consumer base that is increasingly hungry for U.K. imports, there are potential roadblocks as well. Navigating U.S. regulations, getting FDA approval and filling out necessary paperwork can be serious challenges to small food companies hoping to introduce their products to the United States. However, Paterson emphasizes that his office and the U.K. government are committed to helping small companies overcome these obstacles, and he sees nothing that is truly insurmountable for companies that are committed to navigating the process.

For Paterson, the biggest challenge British food companies will face is finding the right American partners to help them get their products into the hands of consumers.

“I think the challenge is finding a good distributor and a good agent who they can work with,” he said. Uppal cites the same issue, saying her biggest concern is “getting a credible importer, somebody that understands your product, who is passionate about your product, and can get the right sort of distribution for it as well.”

Looking to the future, U.S. specialty food retailers are anxious to predict what might be the next major food trend to emerge from Great Britain. Both Paterson and Uppal have their own predictions for what foods, flavors and fashions are sure to show up next in the international aisles of grocery stores across the United States.

For Paterson, the one trend really dominating the British food scene today is the use of particularly strong, bold flavors. He joked, “With deepest respect to American chocolate…It does tend to be a bit bland compared to our chocolate. And I think bland might be another adjective one could apply to American cheese.” Taking a more serious tone, Paterson continued, “I think there is interest in quite strong flavored products. [British] chocolate is really strong. There’s [also] quite a lot of hot products, chili products.”

Uppal points to the growing interest among British consumers in eating healthier, cleaner foods. “The huge emphasis is on natural and non-GMO. People are very specific about what they’re eating. They’re very aware of what they’re eating and what goes into their food,” she said. “So I think the cleaner the ingredient, the better…It’s not so much the organic thing, though I believe that’s still popular, people just need to be reassured that what they’re getting, it’s nutritious. It’s good. It’s clean. That’s what they’re looking for.”

Paterson hopes to be able to promote increased trade between the United States and the United Kingdom, recently meeting with officials in Washington D.C. in an effort to promote a potential free trade agreement between the two nations. Ensuring that the recent successes experienced by British specialty food companies in this country are not merely the evidence of a fleeting fad but rather represent the beginnings of a long and fruitful relationship will require sustained work on the part of government officials and industry leaders alike.

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