Get Adobe Flash player

Restaurateurs Ratchet Up Competition for Food Dollars

By Lorrie Baumann

Supermarkets in general aren’t getting a lot of loyalty from their shoppers these days, and restaurateurs are starting to think that if consumers are happy to buy ready-prepared food in supermarkets, they might also be willing to buy fresh, uncooked items in restaurants. Taking that business away from grocers might be an important new revenue stream for restaurateurs in the future, said Hudson Reihle, Senior Vice President of the National Restaurant Association’s Research and Knowledge Group.

More than 30 percent of consumers say that they shop for their groceries in four or more stores, and almost half of all adults who took part in a recent survey by the restaurant association say they would buy fresh, uncooked food items from restaurants. Young adults are even more likely than their seniors to consider their favorite restaurant as a source for uncooked food, with more than six out of ten 18- to 34-year olds saying that they would do that, Riehle said.

Restaurateurs used to figure that their competition came from other restaurants within their neighborhood. These days, they’re competing, not just with other restaurants nearby but also with grocery stores, convenience stores and anyone else who wants a piece of the 13 percent of the average person’ income that gets spent for food. The restaurant industry’s share of the average consumer’s food dollar is now 47 percent, up from 25 percent in 1955. That proportion will continue to edge up over the decade ahead, according to Riehle, as employment growth means more people with less time to prepare meals at home and more spending power as well.

In this dog-eat-dog marketplace, restaurateurs are responding by offering more healthful options on their menus, particularly their children’s menus, which are getting a lot of attention from chefs this year, said Annika Stensson, Director of Research Communications for the National Restaurant Association. She cited research showing that about 80 percent of consumers say that they’re finding more healthful options on restaurant menus now than they did two years ago. About three quarters of consumers say that they’d be more likely to visit a restaurant that offers healthy options, she said, and seven out of 10 consumers say that they’re ordering more healthy items when they dine out than they did two years ago.

They’re also offering more local food options, since seven out of 10 consumers say that they’re more likely to visit a restaurant that offers local food, Stensson said, adding that more than half of consumers also say that they’d be more likely to visit a restaurant that offers organic or otherwise eco-friendly options.

Restaurant operators agree that they’re hearing more of their customers asking for locally-produced food, and the industry’s top menu trends for 2015 among restaurants that provide table service include more locally-sourced meats, seafood and produce. Both table service restaurants and limited-service restaurants also say that they’re already changing their menus to offer healthier options on their children’s menus. Over the next five years, we can expect restaurants to be paying even more attention to offering healthier options and sustainably-produced, locally-sourced food on their menus as Americans continue to demand those things, Stensson said.

Wegmans Supports Children’s Exhibit at Smithsonian

 

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History will open Wegmans Wonderplace December 9 as the first exhibition on the National Mall designed for the learning needs of children 6 and under. Made possible by a $1.5 million gift and in-kind donations from Wegmans Food Markets, this space will allow curious kids to “cook” in a kitchen inspired by Julia Child’s; plant and harvest pretend vegetables and run the farm stand; find the owls hiding in a miniature replica of the Smithsonian’s Castle building; and captain a tugboat based on a model in the museum’s collection.

“Wonderplace,” a 1,700-square-foot children’s center located in the new Innovation Wing, will provide the youngest historians with age-appropriate activities and experiences over the next 20 years.

“We know that play is an integral part of sparking invention and innovation, and Wegmans Wonderplace will ignite that innate curiosity in children and help guide them on a path to lifetime learning at the Smithsonian,” said John Gray, Director of the museum.

Wegmans is also supporting the museum’s new demonstration kitchen in the Wallace H. Coulter Performance Plaza. Part of the museum’s Food History Project, the kitchen will host a diverse menu of programs and demonstrations that bring visitors together for relevant discussions that start with history and expand to the present and future of American food. Known as “Food Fridays,” a weekly series of cooking demonstrations will showcase a guest chef and a Smithsonian staff host as they make a dish, talk about the traditions in preparing and eating that dish, and explore a related theme in American food history. Wegmans is stocking the kitchen pantry every week with fresh produce and will provide culinary experts for demonstrations once each month.

“Wegmans’ mission is to help our customers live healthier, better lives, and that begins with children,” said Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman. “Having fun through play is the best way to inspire children to learn.” According to the company, the opening of Wegmans Wonderplace at the end of this year will also help to usher in Wegmans’ 100th Anniversary in 2016.

Wegmans Wonderplace will feature six sections, each with hands-on, play-based interdisciplinary activities. The sections include: the Farm, the Kitchen, the Port, the Construction Site, the Gallery and the Smithsonian Castle. Each area combines artifact displays with fun hands-on activities to engage young children and their families. Activities such as the 12 different kinds of blocks in the Construction Site will help promote creativity and advance motor skills.

More than 100 objects will be displayed around Wonderplace to stimulate early learners’ interest in museums and American history. These artifacts from the museum’s collections will be presented in fun ways to get families excited about what they are seeing. In the Castle section, children will get to look at objects from all angles as they climb around—and even under—them. In the Farm section, kids will “find the animals” among the weathervanes, milk bottles, farm toys and lunch boxes.

So that every age group can get the most out of Wonderplace, signs will guide parents and caregivers on how to help their children engage in the activities. The center will also contain family-friendly amenities to create a more comfortable environment for visitors. These amenities include family bathrooms with diaper-changing stations, parking areas for strollers and a quiet nook in the rear of the space where parents can feed and take care of infants.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History explores the infinite richness and complexity of American history. For more information, visit http://americanhistory.si.edu. The museum is located on Constitution Avenue, between 12th and 14th Streets N.W. Admission is free.

 

 

Produce Association United Fresh Supports Trade Agreement

By a vote of 60 to 38 the United States Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) yesterday. This legislation, which will allow the President to send a completed trade agreement to Congress for an up-or-down vote and no amendments, will now be sent to White House where the President is expected to sign this into law today. Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, every president has had authority from Congress to negotiate trade agreements that open up new market opportunities for the U.S. Congress last enacted TPA legislation in 2002, and it lapsed in 2007.

“United Fresh applauds the Senate for renewing Trade Promotion Authorization (TPA). Trade deals that break down market access barriers and create new economic opportunities benefit the industry at home and abroad, expanding consumption of America’s abundant supply of fruits and vegetables in rapidly developing regions of the world. We look forward to the President signing this legislation and working with his Administration to finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh.

Guenther testified before the U. S. House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee in March supporting TPA and encouraging Congress to pass this much needed tool for our trade negotiators. In addition, Guenther told Congress that export and import levels need to be put back on an even keel and urged Congress to ensure that future trade deals create new ways to break down these artificial barriers using sound science and the creation of a dispute settlement process that resolves non-tariff trade issues in a timely manner.

Trade agreements are critical to the livelihoods of U.S. fruit and vegetable producers. For example, in 2013, trade agreements resulted in $4.3 million of fresh peach and nectarine exports and $40 million of table grape exports to Australia, alone. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) forecasts fresh fruit and vegetable exports for Fiscal Year 2015 with a value of nearly $8 billion. Exports to key markets such as Canada, Europe and Japan are expected to continue expanding. However, while fruit and vegetable exports have doubled since the mid-1990s, fruit and vegetable imports in that same time period have nearly tripled. “TPA, as well as other potential trade partnerships, will open markets, create economic opportunities at home and abroad and promote trade balance for the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry,” Guenther stated.

With TPA being sent to the President, the Administration can now focus on finalizing trade negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which the U.S. is looking to enter with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries. It would be the largest trade deal in history, opening markets and expanding access to U.S. agriculture exports to more than 800 million people.

New York City Immigrant Entrepreneurs to Exhibit at SFFS

The 2015 winners of the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s Taste of NYC: Fancy Food Fellowship, a New York City-sponsored competition designed to send New York City-based specialty foods manufacturers to an internationally recognized trade show this summer in New York city, connecting small business owners to a global audience. The four winners of this year’s competition, which focused on immigrant entrepreneurs in the city—Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, City Saucery, Port Morris Distillery and Spoonable— each won an NYCEDC sponsored booth at the Specialty Food Association’s (SFA) Summer Fancy Food Show, which is being held at the Jacob Javits Center from June 28-30.

“These four businesses exemplify the diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of New York City’s unique and vibrant food industry,” said NYCEDC Chief Strategy Officer Benjamin Branham. “The specialty food industry is experiencing tremendous growth and it is important that we help connect immigrant entrepreneurs to new economic opportunities by helping them build their brand, increase production and expand into new markets. Congratulations to Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, Port Morris Distillery, Spoonable and City Saucery. I look forward to seeing them continue to thrive and grow.”

“Two-thirds of New York City small business owners are immigrants and initiatives such as the Fancy Food Fellowship, which celebrate and nurture immigrant entrepreneurs, are of the utmost importance to creating opportunities in our communities,” said Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal. “New Yorkers are very proud of their diverse food offerings, and this program wonderfully showcases our rich cuisine. I congratulate the winners and look forward to sampling their wares.”

“Specialty food sales are at an all-time high, and New York City food manufacturers are at the forefront of innovation,” said Ann Daw, President of the Specialty Food Association. “We have been helping food entrepreneurs succeed in the marketplace since we were founded in 1952, and share the same goal as NYCEDC to help foster growth in this important city sector.”

In addition to NYCEDC sponsored exhibit space, the fellows will receive promotional services and expert marketing and technical assistance to help them refine their sales pitch, product display and business plan to get the most out of their show experience and land important new contracts.

The four winners of the 2015 Taste of NYC: Fancy Food Fellowship, are:

Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen: Auria Abraham was born and raised in Seremban, Malaysia. Her company, Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen, is based in Flatbush, Brooklyn and specializes in helping people discover Malaysian cuisine. Her signature products: a traditional condiment called ‘Hot Chilli Sambal.’ Learn more about Auria’s journey here.
“It’s such an honor to be picked by NYCEDC for this Fellowship,” said Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen Founder Auria Abraham. “New York City is such a wonderful place to build a food business for so many reasons, and this is the icing on the cake. With this opportunity, we hope to reach a wider audience, build the business and be able to return the love and support that this great city has shown us.”

City Saucery: Co-founders Michael Marino, a Brooklyn native, Jorge Moret of Venezuela and Nonna Carolina, who emigrated from Italy to the United States in the 1970s, started their Staten Island-based artisanal tomato sauce company using regionally sourced ingredients to create unique, delicious and healthy sauces for the discerning palate. Learn more about the secret to a perfect tomato sauce here.
“I don’t have many words to explain what this means to me but I do know that this opportunity tells me all my efforts to put good and clean food on the American table has been recognized,” said City Saucery co-Founder Nonna Carolina. “It’s a wonderful feeling! I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity. Buon appetito!”

Port Morris Distillery: Rafael Barbosa and Billy Valentin, of Puerto Rican heritage, were both raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in the Frederick Douglass Houses. The duo produces spirits based on the heritage, traditions and family recipes of Guayama, Puerto Rico at their distillery in the Port Morris neighborhood of the Bronx. Learn more about the “moonshine” of Puerto Rico here.
“It is an honor to be selected as a Taste of NYC Fancy Food Fellow, and we are thrilled that we will be participating in the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show,” said Port Morris Distillery co-Founder Rafael Barbosa. “This program provides our business with an opportunity to showcase our products for important industry leaders and take major steps forward in growing our businesses. Never in our minds would we have thought or imagined that we would receive this great opportunity, and I’d like to thank NYCEDC for making this possible.”

Spoonable LLC: Michelle Lewis spent much of her life oversees and pulls from her French-Moroccan heritage to create her confectionary caramel sauces, including ‘Spicy Chili Caramel’ and ‘Brooklyn Butterscotch.’ Based in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Spoonable’s story begins with leftover caramel sauce turned into a gift to friends, proving the entrepreneurial spirit can strike at any time. Learn more about Spoonable’s ‘saucy’ inspiration here.
“Spoonable is so excited to have our own booth at the Summer Fancy Food Show this year,” said Spoonable Founder Michelle Lewis. “For the first time, thanks to the NYCEDC, we’ll have the space to feature our bulk and private label business and our wholesale business, as well as showcase the companies we partner with. All in all, we look forward to many more sales opportunities.”

This year’s runners-up will receive a year-long membership to the Specialty Food Association to help them grow their business through marketing assistance, special discounts, networking opportunities, educational workshops, advice from experts and a free consultation with Specialty Food Association’s legal or trademark advisor.

These three companies are:

Hungry Bars: Vlad Harkovski, a Bulgarian-born outdoor and fitness enthusiast decided to turn his hobby into a business when he opened Hungry Bars in Astoria, Queens. The company specializes in small batch granola bars using only organic, natural ingredients.

Pierre’s Spicy: Pierre Henry infuses a Haitian twist into his small batch premium almond and peanut butters. Based in East Harlem, Henry spends most of his time cooking and recreating the tastes that tantalized his palate as a child.

Xilli: For over 17 years, Mexico City-born chef Nacxitl Gaxiola has brought his extensive knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine to some of New York City’s most prestigious restaurants. Gaxiola, based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, is known for its handmade salsas, moles, escabeches and adobos using only the freshest ingredients and the most conscientious methods.

Over the last decade, there has been an 11 percent growth in employment in the City’s food and beverage manufacturing subsector. Today, there are nearly 1,000 of these businesses across the five boroughs, many of which are minority or women-owned business enterprises. The subsector supplies approximately 20 percent of total manufacturing jobs in New York City, and has been recognized for some of the most innovative, diverse and in-demand artisanal culinary products in the country.

The Fancy Food Fellowship is one of a suite of New York-led initiatives designed to support the artisanal and specialty food and beverage industry. Other programs include:

In March, NYCEDC announced the selection of Dinner Lab, Inc. to construct and operate Brooklyn FoodWorks, a 10,000 square foot shared kitchen and culinary incubator in Central Brooklyn designed to provide affordable space to burgeoning local food entrepreneurs as they prototype, launch and develop their businesses.

, NYCEDC has also partnered with the New York City Housing Authority, New York City Department of Small Business Services, Citi Community Development, Hot Bread Kitchen, and others to launch the NYCHA Food Business Pathways, a 10 week intensive business course to empower NYCHA residents to start and grow their own food-related businesses.

IDFA Applauds Bipartisan Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Authority

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today commended the Senate for passing “The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” the TPA-2015 bill.

“We commend the Senate for its bipartisan collaboration in passing the TPA-2015 bill,” said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of IDFA. “We thank all the senators and representatives who supported TPA and look forward to the president signing this important legislation into law as soon as possible.

“The U.S. dairy industry will continue to grow and prosper with increased trade opportunities, and TPA is critical to ensuring that U.S. dairy companies receive the best deal in future trade agreements,” Tipton said.

IDFA is seeking comprehensive and significant market access for U.S. dairy exports from the two trade agreements currently under negotiation – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Ahold and Delhaize to Merge

Ahold and Delhaize have ended months of speculation with an announcement that the two companies will merge. The merger, valued at $29 billion by the Wall Street Journal, will create one of the largest grocery operators in the U.S., with more than 6,500 stores worldwide. In the U.S., Ahold owns Peapod as well as the Stop & Shop and Giant chains, while Delhaize owns the Food Lion and Hannaford banners.

Mats Jansson, Chairman of Delhaize Group, will become Chairman of Ahold Delhaize. Jan Hommen, Chairman of Royal Ahold, and Jacques de Vaucleroy, Delhaize Group Director, will become Vice Chairmen of Ahold Delhaize. Dick Boer, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Ahold, will become Chief Executive Officer. Frans Muller, Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, will become Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer.

The transaction is expected to be completed mid-2016, following regulatory clearances, associated consultation procedures and shareholder approval.

 

John Kelly Chocolates to Unveil New Chocolate Bar Line at SFFS

John Kelly Chocolates, known for its award-winning truffle fudge, walnut caramel clusters and other handcrafted chocolate delights, has substantially expanded its product offering by introducing a line of solid chocolate bars, in six different flavors, at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The line serves as a complement to John Kelly’s existing products, and will appeal to customers who enjoy solid chocolate in addition to its signature creamy, unique gourmet chocolate fudge.

John Kelly Solid Choc Bars 3inThe line of solid chocolate bars features four flavors in dark chocolate (73 percent cacao) and two flavors in milk chocolate (41 percent cacao), some with nuts, many with exotic salts.

Each flavor is a proprietary recipe developed by the company in-house. The bars will be offered for sale at John Kelly stores and online, as well as offered as a wholesale item for its extensive list of customers nationwide.

The bars are packaged individually in a highly designed premium box, sealed in gold foil. Each bar is also custom molded with an intricately branded design in the chocolate, marking the bar as undeniably a John Kelly creation. For wholesale customers, the bars will ship 12 to a case, in a self-contained point of purchase box ready to be placed on-shelf.

Apart from packaging and presentation, the bars themselves are in keeping with John Kelly’s driving mission to create the most delicious-tasting chocolate that adheres to the highest quality standards. Each flavor has been carefully balanced with notes that complement each other and the underlying chocolate. And each bar is gluten free, soy free, non-GMO and all natural. The bars also contain fair trade ingredients.

The product line is the result of years of tinkering, and should satisfy pent-up demand. As co-owner John Kelson states, “Many of our customers have been asking us to create a solid chocolate bar line, but we wanted to do it our way and ensure it would be simply the best on the market. That’s what our customers expect, and that’s what we feel we have achieved.”

 

Wholly Guacamole Brand Introduces New 45-Calorie Mini Cups

The makers of Wholly Guacamole® brand have added Avocado Verde 45 cal Minis to their line of products. The new minis pack all the flavor of tomatillos, hand-scooped avocados, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro of the brand’s popular Avocado Verde dip in 2-ounce containers. The Avocado Verde 45 Cal Minis are the seventh flavor in Wholly Guacamole brand’s lineup of fan-favorite mini cups.

“Consumers are continuing to explore the variety of Mexican flavors and recognize the health benefits of avocados, so we asked ‘What’s the next thing they need?’” said Terrill Bacon, Senior Brand Manager of Wholly Guacamole brand. “Our fans love our Avocado Verde dip, so creating a mini cup was the perfect solution to help them continue exploring the culinary landscape at home and on the go.”

The new minis will appear on grocery shelves in the coming months and can be purchased in 4- or 6-pack product sizes. The 4-count suggested retail price is $3.99-$4.99 and the 6-count is $5.29-$5.99, depending on the retailer. Like all Wholly Guacamole products, the Minis are all natural, gluten free, dairy free and kosher certified.

McCormick Enters Agreement to Acquire Stubb’s

McCormick & Company, Incorporated has signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of the shares of One World Foods, Inc., seller of Stubb’s barbecue sauces, a privately held company located in Austin, Texas.

  • Stubb’s is the leading premium barbecue sauce brand in the U.S.  In addition to sauces, Stubb’s products include marinades, rubs and skillet sauces.  Annual sales of the business are projected to be $30 million in 2015 and are expected to grow at a double-digit rate annually for the next several years.
  • Stubb’s products complement McCormick’s range of grilling items with the addition of authentic, craft barbecue sauces.  McCormick plans to drive sales of the Stubb’s brand through expanded distribution, increased household penetration and innovative flavors.
  • McCormick has agreed to acquire the business for approximately $100 million in cash.
  • Acquisitions are an important avenue of growth for McCormick.  Stubb’s is McCormick’s third acquisition agreement announced in 2015.

Alan Wilson, Chairman & CEO of McCormick stated, “We are pleased to announce this agreement to acquire Stubb’s.  Based in Texas, Stubb’s is an authentic, craft brand with an enthusiastic and loyal consumer base.  Through marketing and innovation, we intend to build this base, increase household penetration and expand retail distribution in the U.S. and internationally.  The Stubb’s products round out the range of grilling products currently marketed by McCormick under the Grill Mates, Lawry’s and McCormick brands.  We look forward to working with the Stubb’s employees to drive increased sales and profit for this business.”

After opening his first Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q restaurant in 1968, C.B. Stubblefield began selling his popular sauces to retail grocers in 1992.  These products feature bold flavors made of high quality ingredients.  McCormick intends to maintain the headquarters of this business in Texas.  With newly expanded distribution and product offerings, annual sales growth exceeded 20 percent in both 2013 and 2014.  Annual sales of the business are projected to reach $30 million in 2015.

The acquisition should be completed by the end of July 2015, subject to regulatory approval.  The purchase price for Stubb’s is approximately $100 million subject to certain closing adjustments.  Due to the estimated impact of transaction, integration and financing costs, McCormick expects no earnings per share impact in 2015 from this acquisition.  However, with plans to achieve strong growth and significant cost synergies McCormick expects incremental EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of at least $10 million by 2017.

Mediterra Celebrates First Anniversary of Initial Product Launch

One year ago, the Mediterra® team launched its first nutrition bars based on the Mediterranean Diet. “From the nutritionals and flavors, to variety and packaging, we have received enthusiastic feedback from retail buyers, retail dietitians, the media and consumers,” says Telemaque Lavidas, Founder of Mediterra. “This has been an exciting year filled with much growth and many milestones, and we look forward to what this next year will bring.”

“Having worked for nearly two decades in the food business, Mediterra is one of those rare brands that continue to accelerate at a record pace,” says CEO Paul Pruett. “This year Mediterra carved its space in the category and now our goal is to be a leader.”

Mediterra bar ingredients are native to the Mediterranean region and all six bars adhere to the Mediterranean Diet, considered by scientists as one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world. Mediterra’s savory bars with low sugar and plant-based pea protein have helped to catapult the company into retailers nationwide.

First year anniversary highlights include:

  • Authorized distribution in more than 3,000 stores throughout North America including two of the largest retailers in the world: Kroger and Loblaws. Other retailers include Sprouts, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Pharmaca, Whole Foods Market locations in the West and more;
  • The winners of three consumer and trade industry awards including being named one of Grocery Headquarters’ “2015 Selling Trailblazers.” Mediterra also won The Lempert Report Innovator award and a 2014 BSC Bestie Kids Awards; and
  • Media Attention – Mediterra received more than 200 unique media mentions in trade and consumer publications, television, radio and blogs.

Mediterra’s six bar flavors come in three specific varieties:

Savory Bars with flavors that include Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives;  Sesame Honey Energy Bars featuring Sesame Seed/Pistachio/Greek Honey and Sesame Seed/Orange/Greek Honey; and Yogurt and Oat Bars in Yogurt/Oat/Cherry Pistachio and Yogurt/Oat/Apricot Pistachio flavors. All bars are all-natural, non-GMO and Gluten-Free. The suggested retail price $1.99.

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter