Saturday, January 03, 2009

Specialty Food News Weekend

Less than 40% of adults report purchasing products from major organic categories in the last six months, according to a study by TABS Group. Organic fresh fruit had the highest purchase incidence at 27%, with organic fresh vegetables registering a 26% purchase rate. Organic dairy products and eggs and milk were cited for purchase by 18% and 17% of U.S. adults, respectively. Frozen organic products including vegetables, fruit and ice cream were purchased by about 5-6%. Full Story

U.S. sales of gluten-free food are rising 15-25% a year, according to research firms Mintel International and Information Resources Inc. Manufacturers expect sales to remain strong because celiac sufferers do not outgrow the disease and diagnoses increased from about 120,000 cases through fall 2008 compared with about 40,000 in 2003. In 2008, more than 800 new gluten-free foods entered the market, more than six times as many that entered five years ago, reported The Associated Press. Full Story

The National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Performance Index stood at 96.7 in November, down 0.4% from October and its 13th consecutive month below 100. Meanwhile, 49% of operators expect economic conditions to worsen in six months, up from 40% who reported similarly last month. However, 40% of restaurant operators plan to make a capital expenditure for equipment, expansion or remodeling in the next six months, up slightly from 37% who reported similarly last month. Full Story

Maple syrup is selling at record-high prices at both wholesale and retail, leading to a better-than-expected 2008 for many of Vermont's 2,000 businesses, according to The Boston Globe. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Salted caramels went from being an elite culinary obsession to a popular American mass market treat in 2008, according to The New York Times on the Web. The flavor combination made this transition in about a decade, a relatively short period, according to food trend experts. Haagen-Dazs, Starbucks and Wal-Mart all introduced salted caramels last year. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Ingredients both savory and sweet, including basil and grapefruit, will be popular cocktail trends in 2009. The modern bartender is inspired by both culinary trends and international flavors, according to "master mixologist" Tony Abou-Ganim. Just as in kitchens, the trend is toward fresh, seasonal ingredients and premium artisanal goods, reported The Globe and Mail. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

A French Culinary Institute graduate is one of five rotating chefs who will begin cooking at Bradenton, FL-based Bonni Bakes restaurant again in January as part of a unique experiment by the restaurant's owner. Starting this December, Bonni Bakes began the concept of inviting different local chefs to cook in the establishment, offering varied cuisines each day. The rotating chefs rent the restaurant for six hours each day on a rotating basis, five days a week. They clean up at the end of service and make way for the next day's chef to prepare his or her dishes. Chefs must commit to one month of restaurant rental, according to Bradenton Herald. Full Story

Breast cancer survivor and registered dietitian Helene Gruber partnered with Burlington, OH-based KHI Foods to develop Comfort Care, a line of prepared fortified soups, oatmeals, vitamin waters, cookies and breads created for cancer patients. The products are aimed at tempting patients' appetites while giving them extra protein, fiber, vitamins and crucial nutrients, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer. Full Story

Cincinnati, OH-based Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. acquired the Little Kings Cream Ale brand from SBT Corp., an investment group in Wilkes-Barre, PA, where the ale is brewed. Greg Hardman, CEO of Christian Moerlein Brewing Co., wants to reposition Little Kings, started in 1958 as Schoenling Cream Ale, as a premium brand aimed at the 21- to 34-year-old crowd, reported The Cincinnati Enquirer. Full Story

The New York Times on the Web named the 10 best new restaurants of 2008. Topping the list is Momofuku Ko, David Chang's 12-seat, sushi-counter-style restaurant. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

The San Francisco Chronicle profiled the year's 10 best newly-opened restaurants, including Japanese restaurant Yoshi's, known for its cedar paper-wrapped vegetables and grilled robata steak. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Minneapolis, MN-based Manny's Steakhouse was named Restaurant of the Year by The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The 20-year-old restaurant is known for its high-quality beef, customer service and overall experience. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Gourmet sauce manufacturer More Than Gourmet is moving into a 41,000-sq. ft. warehouse in Mogadore, OH, reported CoStar Group. Full Story

The Wall Street Journal examined the various labels and systems food retailers in the U.S. are utilizing to communicate their stores' healthiest products. These range from Ahold USA's "Healthy Ideas" system and Delhaize's Guiding Star program to the Smart Choices program being developed by manufacturers including PepsiCo, Kraft and Unilever. Full Story (WSJ Subscription Required)

Restaurant Roundup: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. will roast and package Newman's Own Organics Blend coffee for more than 600 McDonald's restaurants in New England and Albany, NY. Full Story ... Starbucks introduced Full Leaf Tazo Tea Lattes and Tazo Tea Infusions. Tea accounts for one in every 10 beverages consumed at the restaurant, according to Michelle Gass, executive vice president, marketing and category for Starbucks. Full Story

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