Get Adobe Flash player

Natural Grocers to Host Midland Strong 5K Run to Support Community

Registration is now open for the highly anticipated Midland Strong 5K Run, an event inspired by the oil downturn that caused the loss of thousands of oil and gas jobs in the Midland-Odessa (Texas) community. The run will take place on Saturday, September 24 at 7:30 a.m. and will be immediately followed by a community celebration, which will include snacks, music, prizes, a bouncy house, and activities for the entire family.

The whole community is invited to come and be part of this fun and inspirational event.  To register for the 5K, visit  Early bird registration is open now through September 19.  Adults can sign up for $18, teens for $10 and kids under 10 are free!  All registration dollars will be donated directly to Midland Need to Read.

What is Midland Strong?
The Midland Strong program is a six month-long series of fundraisers and community events coordinated by Natural Grocers to directly benefit local organizations that contribute to empowering, educating and connecting with the community.

The program was developed as a response to the recent oil downturn impacting jobs in the Permian Basin.

Midland Need to Read is a non-profit organization that seeks to empower and educate the community by offering adult literacy and G.E.D preparation programs. This organization directly contributes to helping those impacted by oil field layoffs to qualify for and secure new career opportunities, tying in perfectly to the goals of the Midland Strong campaign.

Additional Sponsors
In additional to Natural Grocers’ commitment to coordinating and leading the Midland Strong 5K Run, several sponsors have committed funds that will directly benefit Midland Need Read.

Sponsoring organizations include Yoga Works, Four Seasons Health & Wellness, My Sol to Soul Nutrition, Midland YMCA, and Lacy J Pilates. Together, these sponsors have already raised a total of $1,100 in donations.

New Snacks Appeal to Nutrition-Hungry Americans

By Lorrie Baumann

Hungry Americans are snacking more than ever before, but for many, the between-meal food is a guilt-ridden, sometimes furtive attempt to stave off hunger and boost energy long enough to get them through the day to their next meals. Snack food manufacturers are making a wealth of products to meet precisely these needs.

These are trends found by market research firm Canadean, which conducts three consumer surveys annually of more than 50,000 consumers in 47 countries. The research was presented in Chicago by Canadean Innovation Insights Director Tom Vierhile at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo in May. The surveys found that snacking behavior is nearly universal in the U.S., with 96 percent of Americans saying that they snack at least occasionally. Among people between the ages of 18 and 44, almost everyone is snacking between main meals, with 97 percent of 18-24-year-olds, 98 percent of those aged 25 to 34 and 97 percent of those between 35 and 44 saying that they snack. Snacking tends to skew towards young and male consumers, with young and middle-aged men much more likely to snack regularly than any other group, according to the surveys.

Most of this snacking takes place after lunch, with 55 percent of U.S. consumers saying that they snack between lunch and dinner and 39 percent saying that they snack between dinner and bedtime, and most of it happens at home. While hunger is the obvious motivation for snacking, treating or rewarding oneself, boosting energy and relieving boredom are also top drivers.

This snacking isn’t necessarily guilt-free; younger consumers in particular, those between 25 and 34, say that they’re judgy about people who eat junk foods. A fair number of Americans are getting around that by eating snacks that contain “a healthy ingredient.” About a third of all Americans and more than half of 25-34-year-olds say that they feel less guilty about consuming unhealthy foods or drinks if they contain a healthy ingredient.

The Sweets & Snacks Expo exhibit hall provided a wealth of evidence that Vierhile knew what he was talking about and that many snack food manufacturers had already figured most of it out for themselves. The market is seeing a proliferation of snack foods that offer protein rather than added sugar for that between-meal energy boost, and many of them are offering front-of-the-package claims of some kind of nutritional benefit, even if it’s just an offset for a product that might otherwise be considered an indulgent treat rather than a component of a nutrition plan.

Stoneridge Orchards‘ line of all-natural dried fruits is Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten-free, free of preservatives and sulfites and contain no hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors or colors. They’re high in Vitamin C and free of common allergens. The fruit is grown in family-owned orchards in central Washington by third-generation family farmers. Organic Cranberries enrobed in dark chocolate join an organic product line that now includes four items, together with Organic Blueberries, Organic Montmorency Cherries and Organic Mixed Berries. The 4-ounce package retails for $4.99 to $5.99.

Country Prime Meats’ Country Bites Naturals are meat snacks available in four flavors, including Hamalyan Inspired, flavored with tandoori spice, and Tuscan Inspired, flavored with tomato and pepper, cooked, smoked and dried turkey sausages. They’re gluten free and lactose free, with no added nitrites and no lactose. Turkey for the snacks was raised without antibiotics, and the snacks are bite-sized to aid in portion control. The 4.4-ounce bag retails for $7.99.

Simply Smart 1Simply Smart and Smart Kids snack bars are targeted directly at the nutrition-conscious, with Smart Kids bars formulated to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements for school lunch programs. Simply Smart is the adult version, targeted at the consumer aged 16 and older who wants a healthy snack bar. Simply Smart bars contain no added refined sugar and contain 190 to 200 calories and 10 grams of protein per bar. “Everything we do is all-natural, Non-GMO Project Verified and certified gluten free,” said Chief Operating Officer Rob Zelickman. Simply Smart bars are packaged for individual sale at retail and sell for $1.99 each. The Smart Kids bars sell for $1.30.

AWAKE Bar 1AWAKE Energy Granola Bars offer caffeine along with B vitamins and some added sugar for that late afternoon energy boost. Each bar contains as much caffeine as half a cup of coffee plus B vitamins. Each bar contains 5 grams of protein and 150 calories or less. They come in four flavors: Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate Caramel, Coconut Apricot and Cinnamon Bun. They contain no artificial flavors or colors and are gluten free.

Peeled Snacks are designed to appeal to the consumer who looks for a clean ingredient deck with no added sugar. Peas Please are the newest item in the product line, which also includes Gently Dried Fruit and Apple Clusters. Made with 70 percent peas, brown rice, sunflower oil and salt, these crunchy snacks are all organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and gluten free. They come in four flavors, with White Cheddar the newest. Other flavors are Sea Salt, Garden Herb and Southwest Spice. Peas Please are made by a certified B Corporation started in 2005. A 3.3-ounce bag that provides 3-1/2 servings of vegetables per bag sells for $2.99.

Snack pastries from Bakerly are for those who start their snacking with breakfast. Four product lines of bakery products include authentic French crepes filled with strawberry or chocolate, mini brioche, and a chocolate croissant. They’re made with real eggs and real butter, individually wrapped and delivered frozen to stores for a 30-day shelf life after thawing. “We are the only brioche to go available in the market,” said Damien Callery, the company’s Vice President of Sales. The products are made in France with clean recipes and no genetically modified ingredients. The newest in the line is a chocolate filled petit cake – something like a standard American-style snack cake but without all the artificial ingredients, Callery said. “We want America to go back to an American tradition, but with clean ingredients and better quality,” he added.

The bakerly petit cakes contain no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup and no palm oil. They’re non-GMO. They come in three flavors: chocolate, apricot and strawberry, with all-natural fruit fillings. A package of five individually-wrapped cakes has a three-month shelf life and retails for $3.49.

Summer Fancy Food Show Largest Ever

By Lorrie Baumann

If you came home exhausted from this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show, there’s a reason for that. The 2016 Summer Fancy Food Show occupied the largest show floor since the show was started in 1954. More than 47,000 specialty food professionals, including 2,670 exhibitors, filled the six football fields’ worth of space in the halls of Javits Center in New York with the latest in specialty food and beverages from across the U.S. and 55 countries.

“The show is the place to be to discover the latest in specialty food and what’s next for stores and restaurants,” said Laura Santella-Saccone, the Specialty Food Association’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Record sales for specialty food have contributed to the strength of our show.”

Ariston Specialties used the show as an opportunity to debut its My Dressing Center to the industry. My Dressing Center, shown in prototype and expected to be available to the market in the coming months, is an automatic dispensing station that allows users to customize their own blends of salad dressings and marinades to suit their own tastes. The machine stocks 18 products, including any of the Ariston Specialties olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Consumers choose a bottle size – either 8.5 ounces or 17 ounces – and use a touch screen to custom-blend their mixtures, which can include four to six items in a blend that’s selected by adjusting sliders on the screen. “You can do your own. You can say, ‘No, I feel creative today. I want to do my own,’” said Tom Doukas, Ariston Specialties’ Founder.

The dispenser provides entertainment and engagement value for consumers together with a gourmet experience. “It is not a dressing created in a lab with flavor enhancers and additives,” Doukas said. “This is totally fresh and totally natural. It’s totally yours – you created it.”
Any mixture will sell for the same price – about $6 to $9 for the 8.5-ounce bottle and about $12 for the 17-ounce bottle. “We want to be inexpensive because our dressings are competing with the larger brands, but these are better because they’re all natural, award-winning products at a reasonable price with a fun way to buy them,” Doukas said.

LaClare Farms introduced new goat milk yogurts in blueberry, strawberry, vanilla and plain flavors. Fondy Jack from LaClare Farms is a goat milk version of Monterey Jack – the name is a play on Fond du Lac – that shares Monterey Jack’s excellent melting characteristics. Fondy Jack is also available in pepper jack and tomato-basil flavors.

Laurie & Sons, the winner of the 2015 sofi Award for the Best Chocolate for Dangerously Delicious Black Licorice Chocolate Toffee, was at the show this year with Single Origin Ginger Toffee, which won a silver award at the International Chocolate Awards. It’s made with four different types of ginger, including the raw powder, ginger syrup and ginger crystals on top to give the confection a distinctive, but not overpowering, hit of ginger flavor.

Propelled by the 2015 sofi Award win, Laurie & Sons’ founder Laurie Pauker’s creative approach to quality snack foods has found a place in the market, and we can look forward to future expansions of the product line to include some savory options, according to Andrew Pauker, Laurie’s son. “It’s been taking off over the past two years, and the Fancy Food Show has been important to that,” he said.

The Brooklyn Brew Shop came to the show with a new line of Farm Steady do-it-yourself kits for making gourmet foods at home, including kits for making four fresh Italian cheeses and pretzels with beer cheese. The kits are sold in a variety of specialty shops representing the home goods, gift and brew supply industries.

Chuao Chocolatier announced the launch of its Fair Trade, organic chocolate bar line, the Enamored Collection. An ode to women with a mission of celebrating who they are inside and out, the brand has partnered with Girls Inc. and for every seven Enamored Collection bars that are sold, $1 will be donated.

The line was created by the brand’s Master Chef and Co-Founder, Michael Antonorsi, as an ode to all women: “With the Enamored Collection, we wanted to create a product that celebrated ‘you,’ because who you are is enough,” said Antonorsi. “Spreading joy is the intention behind everything we do, and with this new collection we hope to bring a moment of joy to every person who experiences it.”

The Enamored Collection will be available in three varieties, all featuring luscious fruit and a hint of floral in organic, Fair Trade certified 72 percent dark chocolate: Raspberry Rose, made with radiant raspberries sugared with rose petals; Blueberry Lavender, made with juicy blueberries lightly infused with luxurious lavender; and Coconut Hibiscus, made with creamy coconut and a hint of sweet hibiscus.

“For us, it’s more about delivering a message – chocolate is the bonus,” said Chuao Communications Director Brooke Feldman. “It’s been fun to be able to have those conversations with people…. Traffic’s been really good. There’s been a great response to the whole line and the new collection.”

The company is also bringing out a pair of holiday seasonal bars: for the love of peppermint and hope, joy & gingerbread. The 2.8-ounce bars will retail for $4.99. “Our intention is to spread joy. Sometimes we do that with nostalgic flavors. Sometimes we do that with new ingredients,” Feldman said. “If we can make people smile, we’ve done our job.”

Lilly’s Hummus made its Fancy Food Show debut this year with handmade hummus made from organic garbanzo beans. The company, in business since 2003, started when CEO Michael Miscoe’s wife whipped up a quick hummus recipe for a barbecue the couple was hosting at home. “People went crazy for it,” Miscoe said. Lilly’s Hummus now offers 12 varieties in 12-ounce packages and just launched this year a single-serve snack pack with crackers on top and hummus on the bottom that retails for about $3.59. The high protein lowfat snack in its single serving package appeals to mothers, kids, Millennials and anyone who’s taking lunch to the office, he said. “It’s been great. People love it,” he added.

Droga Chocolates won the sofi Award in the Confections category this year for Money on Honey, a salted caramel that incorporates honey as its sweetener. It’s covered with Guittard dark chocolate and topped with a sprinkling of French sea salt. “It’s been our best seller for the past five years,” said Droga Founder and President Michelle Crochet. The Money on Honey product line now includes four SKUs, each made of the same caramel but with different mix-ins, including sea salt, crispy rice or roasted peanuts. This year, the company introduced the products with Fair Trade chocolate and will also be donating a portion of the profits to support the health of honey bees.

This is Droga’s fifth year at the Fancy Food Show and its first sofi Award. “It’s made a big difference,” Crochet said. “It’s drawn people in to taste this product. They’re really curious about it.”

Money on Honey started with a recipe that Crochet’s mother used to make. Then Crochet adapted it to substitute in honey instead of the high fructose corn syrup that’s the sweetener for many of the caramel candies on the commercial market, and the product was an instant hit. “In my own life, I’m always looking to eat clean foods,” she said. “Once I started sharing it with people, I knew it was a winner. Everybody seemed to like the product.”

Emmi Roth USA Wins Best of Show at Wisconsin State Fair

Marc Druart named Grand Master Cheesemaker

Emmi Roth USA continues its winning ways with a best of show win for its Roth’s Private Reserve at the Wisconsin State Fair Cheese & Butter Contest. In addition, Emmi Roth’s Marc Druart was named the contest’s Grand Master Cheesemaker.

Roth’s Private reserve, which took first place in the smear ripened category beat out 340 other cheeses in 28 classes to win best of show.

Druart, who has been with Emmi Roth USA for five years said, “Seeing our Roth’s Private Reserve be recognized as best in show at the State Fair is a source of pride for all of us at Emmi Roth. We are all passionate about making great cheese and the quality of Roth’s Private Reserve is the result of that passion.”

Roth’s Private Reserve is made in small batches with raw milk in traditional copper kettles. It is aged at least six months in Emmi Roth USA’s cellars where it is washed, brushed, flipped and cared for throughout the aging process. It has won several previous awards including a first place in its category and a 2nd place best of show at the 2015 American Cheese Society.

Pavino cheese, from Emmi Roth USA, also won second place in the smear ripened category.

Sonoma Brands Launches SMASHMALLOW

SMASHMALLOWSonoma Brands, a consumer products incubator and venture fund founded by Jon Sebastiani, the founder of KRAVE Jerky, is now launching SMASHMALLOW, a premium ‘snackable’ marshmallow brand that will make its exclusive retail launch at Sprouts stores nationwide and is now available on the website. A broader West Coast launch in other retailers throughout the Pacific Northwest, northern and southern California is slated for November 2016.

Sonoma Brands launched in January 2016 as Sebastiani’s next entrepreneurial endeavor following the acquisition of KRAVE Jerky by The Hershey Company. “At Sonoma Brands, we seek to adapt to ever-changing consumer needs and cravings by invigorating sleepy categories, such as the $36 billion confectionery space,” said Founder of Sonoma Brands, Jon Sebastiani. “As an avid marathon-runner, I’ve often found myself indulging in a marshmallow or two from my cupboard when I needed a sweet fix, as a ‘better-for-you’ and fat-free option. Then on a trip to Paris, I was struck by the fact that bakeries in Europe have decadent marshmallows on display, alongside macarons and other gourmet treats. I knew then that we, at Sonoma Brands, could reintroduce the classic American marshmallow in a fun, delicious and healthier way, taking it far beyond traditional s’mores.”

SMASHMALLOW delivers taste and wow-factor beyond an ordinary marshmallow. The premium on-the-go treat marshmallows are made with organic sugar and all natural ingredients; nothing artificial. SMASHMALLOW ranges from 70-90 calories per servings and is a gluten-free, clean-label indulgence.

SMASHMALLOW comes in seven flavors, including Cinnamon Churro, Strawberries & Cream, Espresso Bean, Mint Chocolate Chip, Toasted Coconut Pineapple, Meyer Lemon Chia Seed and Root Beer Float.

Coming soon to Sprouts stores nationwide, 4.5-ounce SMASHMALLOW bags will be available for a suggested retail price of $3.99.

BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella Wins Best in Class

Expert judges at the 2016 American Cheese Society Contest awarded BelGioioso Fresh Mozzarella with a first place, best in class blue ribbon at a blind judging in Des Moines, Iowa last week. Touted as the yearly “Cheese Oscars,” the contest drew a total of 1,843 entries, with the highly coveted awards handed out to a packed room of artisan cheesemakers.

“This recognition from the ACS is greatly appreciated and our Cheesemakers will use this award as a reminder to keep their teams focused on quality,” said Gaetano Auricchio, Vice President. “We are the leader in the fresh mozzarella category and work diligently to deliver a consistently fresh and delicious cheese for our customers.”

Along with the first place award, BelGioioso also received a second place ribbon for Burrata in the burrata category. “The fresh, local Wisconsin milk we use is key to our quality,” said Sean Moran, Vice President of Sales. “Our Fresh Mozzarella and Burrata have a delicate, clean flavor and soft, milky texture, the finest available in the market. Along with quality, we also offer options,
from 1-ounce snacking cheeses to 1-pound pre-sliced logs and 2-ounce, 4-ounce and 8-ounce Burrata. Chefs and consumers both enjoy the variety and convenience of BelGioioso.”

  • BelGioioso Cheesemakers were recognized with a total of four awards in the contest.
    • 1st Place Best of Class – Fresh Mozzarella – Fresh Mozzarella Category – Cheesemaker Byron Hall – This soft cheese has a delicate, milky flavor and is perfect in fresh salads, sandwiches and on pizzas.
    • 2nd Place – Burrata – Burrata Category – Cheesemaker Jason Radke – This ball of fresh mozzarella is filled with shreds of mozzarella soaked in cream. Its delicate texture and flavor is best enjoyed fresh on bread as an appetizer.
    • 3rd Place – Mascarpone– Mascarpone Category – Cheesemaker Bill Codr – This fresh, soft cheese has a sweet, creamy flavor and is versatile in both sweet and savory recipes.
    • 3rd Place – Fontina – Traditional Regional Italian Cheeses Category – Cheesemaker Jonathan Stender – This soft cheese has a sweet, buttery flavor, perfect for snacking or melted on pizzas or into sauces.


Henry’s Hard Soda Launches New Hard Cherry Cola Flavor

Following a strong launch at the beginning of the year, MillerCoors is expanding its Henry’s Hard Soda offerings to include Henry’s Hard Cherry Cola. Now available on shelves nationwide, Henry’s Hard Cherry Cola joins the rest of the Henry’s family of flavors, Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale and Henry’s Hard Orange Soda.

At 4.2 percent alcohol by volume, Henry’s Hard Cherry Cola is made with real cane sugar and delivers a refreshing cherry cola flavor with a subtle hint of almond taste, giving it a distinctive twist from Henry’s other two flavor offerings.

“We are thrilled to see such strong excitement for Henry’s Hard Soda. Consumers are raving about both Hard Ginger Ale and Hard Orange flavors,” said Bryan Ferschinger, MillerCoors senior director of innovation. “We believe our Hard Cherry Cola hits that perfect balance of familiarity and appeal, and we can’t wait for people to try it.”

Since launching in January 2016, Henry’s Hard Soda has become the No.1 hard soda. Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale is the top-performing ginger ale in the category and Henry’s Hard Orange is the fastest-turning product in hard sodas.1

Henry’s Hard Soda offers a fun and exciting way to put an unexpected, adult spin on familiar flavors. The brand is supported with a national, Gen-X targeted marketing campaign that kicked off in January 2016 and features adults who have grown up, but have not grown old. The campaign includes TV, digital media, social media, billboards and point-of-sale marketing.

“Our focus remains on the Gen-X audience because we believe this is a group that continues to be overlooked,” said Ferschinger. “We know Gen-Xers have stuff to do tomorrow, which is why we created Henry’s Hard Soda. Henry’s provides just the right amount of fun, helping people embrace their ‘Live Hard-ish’ lifestyle.”

Going Organic, a Natural Choice for JSL Foods

JSL Foods has announced that it has gained organic certification from Quality Assurance International for products made in its Los Angeles, California, plant. This plant produces Asian noodles, rice, grain and Asian wrappers. Currently five noodle SKUs have been given the “Certified Organic” stamp.

“The word ‘organic’ should stand for something more than just a marketing hype to entice consumers,” said Teiji Kawana, company President. “At JSL Foods, it is a very personal commitment to quality – quality ingredients and quality manufacturing,” he added.

JSL’s two-step process of purchasing organic ingredients and then mixing the formulas goes beyond the processes used by many other organic manufacturing companies.

“We believe it is important that the manufacturing process be certified as well. Organic certification is the only way you can be sure a company’s product truly complies with organic standards,” said Wayne Nielsen, Vice President Sales & Marketing.

The company will continue to add more certified organic products to its line. JSL Foods is a third-generation family-owned business that markets to grocery retail, foodservice and industrial segments with its brands: Fortune, Twin Dragon and JSL Foods Professional Products.

Unified Grocers to Host Expo August 17-18

Unified Grocers is hosting its annual Expo for the company’s members, customers and vendor community at the Long Beach Convention Center on August 17 – 18, 2016. The show will include more than 900 booths representing industry suppliers and Unified product and services departments. It will also feature several educational sessions for attendees covering topics such as, Scan Data for Sales Planning, Mobile Ordering, Ecommerce and Social Marketing.

Among Expo’s many other highlights will be Unified’s “Signature” brands — products that the company owns or has exclusive rights to distribute. Everything you could find in a grocery store — and more — will be on display and available to try at Expo. Unified has made it easier for its independent retailers and participating vendors to do business at Expo with a mobile app for navigating the show and taking full advantage of its many buying and selling opportunities.

Explore Cuisine to Launch Gluten Free Pad Thai Noodles

Explore Cuisine will be launching its new Thai Rice Noodles at Expo East 2016.  There are two varieties.

Brown rice noodlesBrown Rice Pad Thai Noodles are made with organic, nutrient-rich whole grains. Brown Rice Pad Thai Noodles take the guesswork out of gluten-free Asian cooking by providing you with Pad Thai Noodles that are perfectly packed in a 2-ounce package.

Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles utilize nutritious red rice grain for authentic texture. Explore Cuisine’s Red Rice Pad Thai Noodles are a healthy alternative to traditional Pad Thai. With 4g of protein, this three-ingredient Pad Thai pasta is made with whole foods directly from the farm.

These pastas are certified organic and vegan, non-GMO and gluten free. They’re high in protein and fiber.

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter