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Gourmet News is compiled by MELODY LAN. 

Product Reviews

 

Gourmet News & Views

April 2006

 


4.24.06

New Product Watch: Breakable Candy Plates. Sweet Madness Candies debuted about 2 weeks ago at Trifles Confectionary, a candy store in White Lake, Michigan. The line of flavored candy plates offers a remedy for a sweet-tooth craving as well as satisfaction for people angry enough to want to throw a plate against the wall. These dinner plate-shaped confections are hard candies specifically made to be, well—smashed. Plate flavors include banana cream, mint, root beer, piña colada, wintergreen and cherry. The candy plates are sold by Fabiano’s Homemade Candies in Michigan and online at Trifles Confectionary. Prices range between eight to eleven dollars. Click here for more information about the candy plates.

U.S. Wine Statistics. According to the Wine Institute, the public policy advocacy association of California wineries, has found new trends among U.S. wines. Statistics show that:

  • ACNielsen reports show that U.S. supermarket sales reflect the growth of high-end wines that are typically priced $6 or more, showing a steady double-digit increase by volume.
  • For the second year in recent history, red wine sales top white sales by volume in food stores, claiming 41.7 percent of the market share, while white wine sales accounted for 41.0 percent of the share.
  • Pinot Noir shipments experienced a dramatic 70 percent jump in food stores, as compared to 2004.
  • Chardonnay is still the most popular varietal wine followed by Merlot, White Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. All four wines totaled 53 percent of all table wine volume in food stores.
  • U.S. champagne or sparkling wine sales increased two percent in 2005. The total champagne or sparkling wine category holds about four percent of all wine sales in the U.S.

Click here to be taken to THE NIBBLE™ index page for reviews on our favorite wines.

New Product Watch: Be Well Red™ Teas. Republic of Tea recently launched its collection of wellness teas crafted with organic South African Rooibos.  Rooibos, also known as Red Tea, is caffeine-free, anti-allergenic, and high in antioxidants said to boost the immune system. Each of the nine Be Well Red Teas is tailored blended to specific needs, which include:

  • Herb Tea for Clear Skin: Hints of earthiness with berry-like flavor followed by fruity undertones of tart orange peel and flowery hibiscus.
  • Herb Tea for Regularity: Blend of mellow lemon and natural honey flavors.
  • Herb Tea for Energy: Mix of hibiscus with floral and citrus notes.
  • Herb Tea for PMS/Menopause: Forward-flavors of hicory and licorice blended with honey and coconut.
  • Herb Tea for Rest: Mint and citrus notes with a nuance of tropical passionflower.
  • Herb Tea for Weight Control: Punch of orange and warmth of cinnamon, with carob sweetness.
  • Herb Tea for Detoxification: Vanilla and almonds with a touch of roasted chicory in a soft, sweet herb blend.
  • Herb Tea for Scratchy Throats: Spicy ginger accented by tangy lemon and licorice.
  • Herb Tea for Digestion: Overtones of cinnamon, anise and peppermint.

Be Well Red Teas are sold individually and have a suggested retail price of $9.50 for a 1.65-ounce tin containing 36 tea bags. They are available nationwide at select natural and specialty food stores, and through the company website. Click here to go to www.RepublicofTea.com.

4.17.06

Cheese Consumption Jumps. Per capita consumption of cheese has almost tripled in the past three decades, from 11 pounds to 31 pounds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 60 percent of that increase came from foodservice, and a 2005 Mintel survey found that this number is expected to grow to 42 pounds per person by 2013. An article featured in Restaurant Business Magazine states that the Wisconsin Independent Procurement Alliance Program, which purchases cheese from over 100 different sources and sells to distributors, channeled 85 million pounds into foodservice in 2005, a 100 percent jump over 2003. Click here to be taken to THE NIBBLE™ index page of Farmstead & Artisanal Cheeses to learn more about cheeses.

New Product Watch: LesserEvil MaplePecan KettleCorn. LesserEvil recently introduced MaplePecan KettleCorn to their line of all-natural popped corn. MaplePecan is made with whole-grain maple kettle corn sprinkled with pecans, and is low in fat. This high-fiber, air-popped snack contains plant sterols, plant extracts found naturally in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds that studies have shown reduce levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol). It will be available in stores nationwide by the end of this month at a suggested retail price of $3.49. Click here to read our review of LesserEvil Gourmet Kettlecorn.

New Product Watch: Tropicana FruitWise. Tropicana just launched its new line of fruit bars, strips, and beverages, each made with 99 to 100 percent fruit and fruit juices. Each product contains between 1 to 2 whole pieces of fruit, and offers a one day’s supply of Vitamin C. With no added sugars, colors or artificial ingredients, these fruit products are great for those on the run, but want to make sure they get their daily recommended servings of fruit. Tropicana’s FruitWise products are now available nationally in natural food stores.

4.10.06
Consumers Rely Less On Supermarkets, and Choose Alternative Food Retail Channels. Along with shifts in other kinds of shopping, major demographics, and lifestyle, technological changes are creating a fertile environment for the re-invention of the food retailing as well. The Future of Food Retailing, a new report from market research publisher Packaged Facts, notes that supermarkets continue to see their share of the consumer dollar fall into the hands of warehouse clubs, natural food chains, convenience stores and even restaurants. According to Packaged Facts, food-focused retailers’ share of groceries and consumables has plunged from 73 percent in 1998 to an estimated 51 percent in 2005. At the same time, general merchandise-focused retailers’ share of the grocery business has grown from 16 percent in 1998 to 33 percent today.

“Supermarkets are being beaten at their own game by other food retail outlets that are doing a better job of continuously innovating, technologically advancing, and cautiously up-scaling food choices-steps that are better servicing today’s value-driven, gourmet-seeking consumers,” said Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts. “Many supermarkets will either suffer a ‘slow death by stagnation,’ or self-revolutionize to meet today’s consumers’ expectations.”

Supermarkets have not been completely remiss in responding to retail and consumer pressures. Many have added in-store eateries, well-promoted organic and private label choices, and “smart carts,” evidence that the future of food retailing is already happening. “Lifestyle stores” are taking off like wildfire, and well over 50 percent of retailers have invested in leading-edge technology systems, such as biometrics (finger print and iris identification) and self-checkout to quicken the shopping experience.

New “Product” Watch: Platial.Com. Food fanatics can map and catalog their culinary experiences online at Platial.Com. Currently, the website is available for select regions of London, San Francisco, Oregon, New York and Toronto. Platial is bridging the virtual world of online communities with the physical environments of real life. The site allows anyone to map and tag their memories and opinions of their food travels for their own reference and for others to explore. Click here to go to the website to check out the comprehensive culinary maps created by people from all over the nation. The service is free of charge.

Healthier American Grilling Trends. Grillmasters rejoice: you’re in good company. Zoomerang, an Internet-based survey company, conducted a survey on grilling from March 2 to 7, with a nationally representative sample of 1,526 Americans over the age of 18. The summary of results: four out of ten respondents stated that they already grill or plan to grill healthier foods much more than they did in 2005. According to an article from Business Wire, the study also found that:

  • Out of commonly grilled foods, 32 percent picked hamburgers and hot dogs as their top choice.
  • 28 percent chose lean meats, such as chicken, pork tenderloin or lamb to grill.
  • 35 percent picked pork tenderloin, another leaner meat, as a healthier alternative to red meat.
  • 26 percent said that juicy steaks was their top grilled food pick.
  • 8 percent preferred to grill ribs or anything else with a bone in it.
  • 67 percent of Americans, skinless chicken breasts were the top choice in healthier fare to fire their grill.
  • 36 percent stated that fresh vegetables was their favorite healthier grilling choice
  • 80 percent cook vegetables on their grills, and the most popular three vegetables are: corn, onions, and peppers.

Grillers also spilled their best secret weapons for grilling:

  • At 22 percent, it was their “great recipe and quality ingredients.”
  • For 21 percent of respondents, it was a “long-handled, spring-loaded tongs.”
  • 15 percent chose their own spatula.
  • Other useful tools were: a meat thermometer, a BBQ brush for basting, and a non-stick grilling spray.

With Father’s Day coming up, a pair of long-handled, spring-loaded tongs might not be a bad idea.

The People’s Choice Potato Chips. Last month we invited readers to participate in Kettle® brand’s contest to choose their new potato chip flavor. The winner has been unveiled. As with last year, it’s a tie; and the results are cheesy, to say the least. Tuscan Three Cheese and krinkle-kut Buffalo Bleu will be on your grocer’s shelf this fall.

4.3.06

2006 Expo West in Review. Expo West is the country’s largest exposition for organic food retailers and other related industry professionals, and this year more than 43,000 people attended. NutriNibbles columnist Stephanie Zonis and NIBBLE™ advisor Andy Whitman both visited Expo West in late March, and they share their findings with us. Click here to read Stephanie Zonis’ article, Trends From The World of Organics & Naturals. Click here to read Andy Whitman’s article, Expo West 2006.

Craft Beer Sales Enjoy Resurgence in Sales. According to Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights, craft beer, artisanal brews customarily made in small regional or local breweries, accounts for 3.5 percent of U.S. beer sales, and imports make up 12.5 percent. He predicts that those numbers will continue to increase, while sales of mainstream beers decline. An article in the Arizona Republic explained that production of craft beer, grew by 9 percent last year, the highest jump since 1996. Meanwhile, mainstream beer sales fell slightly.

While Beer Marketer’s Insights found that in 2005, Americans bought over 6.3 billion gallons of beer, primarily from mainstream brands like Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, Miller Lite and Natural Light. But the the Arizona Republic article cited Ed Stebbins, brewmaster and co-owner of brewing company, Gritty McDuff’s, who explains that consumers are demanding more beer varieties and more complex-flavored artisanal beers. Generally, these craft beers are made with malted wheat or barley, and do not contain any corn, rice or sugar additives. Of these beers, ales, bocks, stouts, marzens, and porters are traditionally more flavor-forward.

According to the Brewers Association based in Colorado, as of December 2005, there were 1,368 breweries and brew pubs making craft beer.

Click here to be taken to THE NIBBLE™ index page for Artisanal Beers, Craft Beers and Microbrews.

Event Watch: Fourth Annual Great American Dessert Expo. The Great American Dessert Expo, specializing in products for the multi-billion dollar dessert industry, will partner up with Coffee Fest, the trade show for specialty coffee, gourmet teas and other related categories at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The expo will take place June 9-11, 2006. Click here to find out more information.

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