Friday, March 28, 2008

Sterol chocolate reduces cholesterol levels

An industry sponsored, peer reviewed study has found consuming chocolate containing plant sterols and cocoa flavanols can lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Published in the March edition of the Journal of Nutrition, the researchers from the University of Illinois, in conjunction with Mars Inc, compared groups eating sterol and non-sterol fortified chocolate with only those eating sterol chocolate registering significantly lower levels of cholesterol.

Sterol benefits

In the double-blind, placebo controlled, cross-over study, a group of 24-70 year-olds were fed Mars Inc sterol-imbued CocoaVia chocolate bars and, as part of a balanced diet, it was found that total cholesterol was lowered by two per cent and LDL cholesterol by 5.3 per cent.

They then consumed regular dark chocolate but no significant reduction in either form of cholesterol was detected. There was no wash-out period between the two interventions.

The CocoaVia-consuming group also recorded reduced systolic blood pressure levels of five per cent in the eight-week trial (four weeks on each chocolate form).The American Heart Association estimates about half of all Americans have high cholesterol levels and one third with high blood pressure.

Cocoa and cocoa-containing products, including chocolate, can be rich sources of a subclass of flavonoids known as flavanols and their structurally related oligomers known as procyanidins.

"We know that Americans are increasingly looking for foods to help them maintain their health," said study co-author and Mars research scientist, Catherine Kwik-Uribe, PhD. "Our study supports the possibility that chocolate products specially formulated to contain both plant sterols and cocoa flavanols can, in the context of a balanced diet, be a practical and enjoyable dietary strategy to help support healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy blood pressure"

Sterol call

Forty nine men and women with elevated cholesterol took part in the trial which had them eat an American Heart Association-recommended diet in addition to the chocolate products that were exchanged after four weeks.

The chocolate bars were identical bar the inclusion of sterols. Both contained 180mg of cocoa flavanols as well as identical levels of calories, nutrients, theobromine, caffeine and other nutrients.

The plant sterol-imbued CocoaVia chocolate bars contained 1.1gms of plant sterols. Participant blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body weight, and other cardiovascular measures were taken during the eight-week study.

Plant sterols, natural compounds found in certain vegetable oils, cereals, fruits and vegetables, have previously been shown to be safe and effective in lowering cholesterol levels, and this study adds to that body of research.

A 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association produced similar results.

Sterol foods and beverages were pioneered by Benecol in 1994 when it launched a spread in Scandinavia. The category has grown to include milks, yoghurts, cheeses, juices, chocolate and other confectionery and more.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Coca-Cola Company and illycaffe SpA Finalize Joint Venture, Launch Premium Ready-to-Drink Espresso-Based Coffee Beverages

European Consumers First to Experience New Products

The Coca-Cola Company and illycaffè SpA announced today the companies have finalized their global joint venture and will be introducing three premium ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee products in several European countries in April.

Through the joint venture, Ilko Coffee International, consumers in 10 European countries will be able to purchase three premium ready-to-drink coffee products. The products are:

  • Caffè: bold, full-bodied character, real Italian ‘chilled caffe.’ First ready-to-drink coffee to offer black (no milk) espresso-based coffee.
  • Cappuccino: intense uplifting aromas of illy espresso, blended with milk and dark cacao.
  • Latte Macchiato: smooth fresh illy espresso experience, swirled with milk.

The products will be available in stylish, premium cans (150 ml for Caffè and 200 ml for the milk variants). All three offerings will be available in 10 European Coca-Cola Hellenic markets including Austria, Croatia, Greece and the Ukraine. The initial launch is a result of a joint venture between Ilko Coffee International and Coca-Cola Hellenic.

Additional countries in Europe, Asia, North America, Eurasia and the Pacific are slated for expansion throughout the remainder of 2008 and into 2009 and will be delivered through the Coca-Cola system.

The highly profitable RTD coffee category globally is valued at just under $16 billion and has experienced several years of growth that is expected to continue. Globally (excluding Japan), the ready-to-drink coffee category has grown at an average rate of 10.1 percent over the past five years.

“When we announced the partnership between The Coca-Cola Company and illy a few months ago, we committed to deliver the perfect ready to drink espresso experience,” said Muhtar Kent, president and chief operating officer, The Coca-Cola Company. “Today, we believe we have delivered on that promise with an authentic Italian coffee experience. I look forward to this partnership delivering these great brands across the globe and enhancing our global leadership in the fast growing RTD coffee category.”

“Over the past few months, we put the effort into bringing to life the illy taste in three new ready to drink espresso-based products,” said Andrea Illy, illycaffè chairman. “Now, our objective is to give consistency – together with Coca-Cola – to what premium ready to drink coffee is. Coca-Cola in its history has invented entire new product categories. illycaffè is the company that greatly contributed to the definition of the espresso category. Together we will redefine how people engage with a ready to drink coffee in order to experience a true small luxury pleasure.”

The companies announced an agreement in October 2007 to focus on premium ready-to-drink coffee based beverages. Ilko Coffee International is based in Milan and will be led by Vinay Kapoor, a Coca-Cola executive with over 14 years of successful experience across a number of geographies and across multiple functions.

About The Coca-Cola Company

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. Along with Coca-Cola®, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company markets four of the world's top five nonalcoholic sparkling brands, including Diet Coke®, Fanta® and Sprite®, and a wide range of other beverages, including diet and light beverages, waters, juices and juice drinks, teas, coffees, energy and sports drinks. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate of 1.5 billion servings each day. For more information about The Coca-Cola Company, please visit our website at

About illycaffè

Based in Trieste, Italy, illycaffé produces and markets a unique blend of espresso coffee under a single brand leader in quality. Over 6 million cups of illy espresso coffee are enjoyed every day. illy is sold in over 140 countries around the world and is available in more than 50,000 of the best restaurants and coffee bars. illycaffè employs around 700 people and has a consolidated turnover of €246 million. (2006 results)

illy buys green coffee directly from the growers of the highest quality Arabica through partnerships based on the mutual creation of value. The Trieste-based company fosters long-term collaborations with the world's best coffee growers -- in Brazil, Central America, India and Africa -- providing know-how and technology and offering above-market prices. For more information about illycaffè:

Monday, March 24, 2008

BOTTLED WATER WHAT A RIP-OFF. Now someone says something about it!

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a restaurateur turned politician, called on his former colleagues in the restaurant business Thursday to stop selling bottled water to customers and start serving local tap water instead.

The mayor made international headlines last year when he banned city government from spending tax dollars on bottled water for its employees, saying the containers clog landfills and pollute the environment. But his new request that restaurants make the switch is just that - a request.

"Not every restaurant is going to be able to afford to do this," Newsom said, noting that restaurants make a significant profit on bottled water sales and conceding that even some of the restaurants he once owned still offer the bottled variety to customers.

"They still don't necessarily get it. I'm working on that as well," said Newsom, who was required to sever financial ties to the local restaurants, bars and wine shops he owned when he became mayor in 2004.

In a press conference at the Ferry Building - a hub of gourmet food shops and restaurants - Newsom and representatives of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which delivers water to 2.4 million Bay Area customers, announced the campaign to urge restaurants to serve San Francisco tap water piped in straight from the Sierra.

Earlier this month, the American Waterworks Association Research Foundation tested 20 of the nation's water systems for compounds typically used in medicines, household cleaners and cosmetics and found San Francisco's water almost alone in being free of contaminants. And blind taste tests have also shown that the city's water tastes as good as, and in some cases better than, bottled water.

"Bottled water is a con job and scam," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group that is leading a nationwide campaign against restaurants serving bottled water.

"When a patron goes into a restaurant, they don't have to feel cheap if they don't order bottled water," Hauter said. "They can feel virtuous."

Some restaurants already offer tap water to customers, but many do not, said Kevin Westlye, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, the trade group that represents restaurants in the city.

Westlye said the group had not taken a position on Newsom's request, but said some restaurants may see it as a case of City Hall piling on.

In recent months, local lawmakers have pushed restaurants to ban trans fats and Styrofoam takeout containers, print detailed menu labels to show the nutritional content of foods, and offer paid sick leave and health care to employees.

"Between the trans fats, Styrofoam and now the bottled water, there are just three examples of how the restaurant industry has been targeted on a social issue, while other industries have not," Westlye said.

Eric Rubin, co-owner of Tres Agaves, a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in the South of Market area, said his restaurant keeps bottled water in stock but that servers never offer it as an option. It is not on the menu, and customers must specifically request it, he said.

"You would prefer that government did not tell you how to run your business, but I do think this is a positive initiative and our guests see it as a positive, too," Rubin said.

Mark Pastore, who owns Incanto, an Italian restaurant in Noe Valley, said he has served only tap water to customers since he opened his business in 2002.

"It's filtered, chilled and we offer complimentary still or sparkling versions," Pastore said. "Our local water tastes as good, if not better than, fancy bottled bottler."

Stephen Kay, a spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, said restaurant sales make up just 6 percent of the bottled water industry.

"We're not in a totalitarian state," Kay said. "It's all about consumer choice, and consumers should be free to make those choices without having them foisted upon them."

One example that we should be irate about is Fiji Water. The people of Fiji receive only about 2 dollars per case of 24 bottles while the wholesale price in the USA is $49.00. Don't you think something should be done about this when SF water is better. It is an outrage to cheat people out of there product by packaging it in a colorful bottle that costs 275% more than the water. meaning the water costs NOTHING. Your choice.

This last paragraph was written in honor of Inny from Fiji, a dear friend

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Convenience at Its Best

No matter the foodservice format, sandwiches play a role in steering profits at lunchtime.

Perhaps the greatest thing since sliced bread is what goes between sliced bread. It defines the person and the eating establishment that poises itself to gain the midday moolah.

Consumers are pretty crazy about their sandwiches—from the college student who grills up a chocolate sandwich to the pregnant woman who assembles a folic acid sandwich with collard greens and kale. Even the French Laundry’s Thomas Keller developed a sandwich for actor Adam Sandler to whip up in the movie Spanglish that had viewers begging for the recipe.

All ingredients and all food outlets are prospects for sandwich success, especially if the finger fare falls within the trends of unique breads, flavorful ingredients, and a fresh aura.

Deli meat slapped on two pieces of Wonder bread and wrapped in plastic wrap won’t cut it anymore when consumers can buy a better sandwich anywhere. Quick-serve and fast-casual outlets have plenty of competition from convenience stores, grocery store prepared-meal sections, and school and business cafeterias. Leaders rise from each service segment with their renditions of sandwiches that satisfy—with equally amazing service.

Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase), said in National Lampoon’s Vacation movie, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a sandwich from a gas station.” That was hilarious back in 1983. “But I’m not so sure a 15 year-old kid gets that joke today to the level it inspired laughs 25 years ago,” says Jeff Lenard, vice president of communications for The Association for Convenience & Petroleum Retailing in Alexandria, Virginia.

Sandwich-serving convenience stores garner an annual average of $8,100 per store from the fare. It helps add to the bottom line when the outlets make 80 percent of their sales from gas and cigarettes, Lenard says. And it brings in a wider variety of customers.

“The challenge for c-stores is that there is an absolute quantum difference between being a retailer and being a restaurant, and if you’re selling sandwiches, you’re a restaurant. There’s a different mindset,” he says.

For that reason, some convenience stores partner with a chef or foodservice operator to take over the sandwiches.

Four of the 35 NOCO Express convenience stores with headquarters in Tonawanda, New York, partner with a local New York restaurateur, Charlie Roesch, who is known as Charlie the Butcher. Roesch taught NOCO how to assemble his signature sandwich, a carved roast beef on a kummelweck roll, or “beef on a weck.” The same sandwich is also served at Wegmans Food Markets, headquartered in Rochester, New York.

But that’s not all that NOCO does with sandwiches. From a central commissary, NOCO started a fresh sandwich program last April. The program is in 20 of the c-store chain’s units with plans to expand to all the locations this year. NOCO’s program is in line with national convenience-store trends. Ninety-four percent of convenience stores have commissary-prepared foods.

NOCO chooses to prepare its own sandwiches rather than buy from a wholesaler because consumers are looking for fresher food “with the perceived healthiness of freshly made sandwiches versus packaged stuff from the wholesaler that’s shrink-wrapped and good for 30 days. We’re trying to get away from that,” says Terry Messmer, NOCO’s merchandise manager.
Brentwood, Tennessee–based c-store chain MAPCO Express Inc. is in its infancy with its Grille Marx concept. Eleven of the 500 units offer the new made-to-order food brand. “The majority of what we sell is ordered from the touchscreen order machines and is made to order,” says Paul Pierce, vice president of marketing. The units offer BLTs, grilled or fried chicken sandwiches, chicken or beef cheesesteak sandwiches, burgers and subs. All sandwiches can be made on a kaiser roll, sliced white or wheat bread, ciabatta, focaccia, pita, or made into a wrap.

Sixty percent of consumers sometimes eat lunch at their desks, according to Mintel Menu Insights lunchtime eating report. This puts increased pressure on contract management companies to keep up with customer desires, food trends, and the latest equipment to ensure they are providing what desk-bound customers want.

Sodexho Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, operates 26 Pandini’s fast-casual restaurant concepts throughout its campus, corporate, and government services accounts. Its signature Labretti sandwiches are served on freshly baked and folded 8-inch pizza dough.

Sandwich-serving convenience stores garner an annual average of $8,100 per store from the fare.

One popular version is a peppercorn and mushroom sauce, says Rob D’Orsi, director of product development for Sodexho’s Retail Brand Group. After baking, a Labretti may be topped with a small salad or fresh greens, with dressing allowing for a hot and cold component. Fifteen flavors are available. “It’s more popular than our regular sandwiches rotating through the menu,” D’Orsi says.

Artisan and made-to-order sandwiches rule at Philadelphia-based Aramark’s Bleeker Street Café and Soluna Café and Bakery. “Fresh is foremost, which lends well to the ingredients that are ever changing,” says Scott Zahren, Aramark’s director of culinary development.

While customers at both concepts rave over paninis, the most recent spin on the toasted sandwich is the mini panini served at Bleeker Street Café units. Two small sandwiches make up a full order, allowing for more flavor variety, Zahren says. The most popular is the Southwest chicken with chipotle mayonnaise, grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, caramelized onion, and pepper jack cheese on the sour-dough batard. Flavorful crusty breads like wheat berry and ciabatta are also popular. As for cheese, asiago is a hit, he says.

Sixty percent of consumers sometimes eat lunch at their desks, according to Mintel Menu Insights lunchtime eating report. This puts increased pressure on contract management companies to keep up with customer desires, food trends, and the latest equipment to ensure they are providing what desk-bound customers want.

Sodexho Inc., based in Gaithersburg, Maryland, operates 26 Pandini’s fast-casual restaurant concepts throughout its campus, corporate, and government services accounts. Its signature Labretti sandwiches are served on freshly baked and folded 8-inch pizza dough.

Sandwich-serving convenience stores garner an annual average of $8,100 per store from the fare.

One popular version is a peppercorn and mushroom sauce, says Rob D’Orsi, director of product development for Sodexho’s Retail Brand Group. After baking, a Labretti may be topped with a small salad or fresh greens, with dressing allowing for a hot and cold component. Fifteen flavors are available. “It’s more popular than our regular sandwiches rotating through the menu,” D’Orsi says.

Artisan and made-to-order sandwiches rule at Philadelphia-based Aramark’s Bleeker Street Café and Soluna Café and Bakery. “Fresh is foremost, which lends well to the ingredients that are ever changing,” says Scott Zahren, Aramark’s director of culinary development.

While customers at both concepts rave over paninis, the most recent spin on the toasted sandwich is the mini panini served at Bleeker Street Café units. Two small sandwiches make up a full order, allowing for more flavor variety, Zahren says. The most popular is the Southwest chicken with chipotle mayonnaise, grilled chicken breast, tomatoes, caramelized onion, and pepper jack cheese on the sour-dough batard. Flavorful crusty breads like wheat berry and ciabatta are also popular. As for cheese, asiago is a hit, he says.

Pret A Manger stores make their own mayonnaise with high butter fat content, which does two things: provides a sensational mouth feel and protects the bread from moisture migration of the other ingredients, Ches says.

The store’s seven-grain bread is a proprietary recipe developed in the U.K. Pret contracts with a New York bakery to bake the bread fresh daily. In fact, Pret contracts with suppliers for nearly all the fresh ingredients. They all deliver their preparations to Pret’s depot, from where it all is delivered to the shops by 5 a.m. Shop associates assemble the sandwiches throughout the day. The chain hopes to avoid any food-safety issues by outsourcing the preparations.

Wichcraft, a New York chain of 12 sandwich shops, also develops its sandwich lineup with a gourmet eye using only fresh, preservative-free, and unprocessed ingredients, says Sisha Ortuzar, partner and chef. All the ingredients are prepared in its commissary kitchen. Customers order at the counter from a menuboard, and the various locations offer different sandwiches, depending on what’s popular at that location, he says.

Artisan bread, variety cheeses, freshly roasted turkey, and unique condiments all work together to bring outstanding flavor, Ortuzar says. “We think of them as compositions. ‘What condiment works well with this to create a nice, well-balanced dish?’ It doesn’t matter that it’s handheld.”

For example Wichcraft combines the house mayonnaise with garlic and chili flakes to make it a little spicy. Another popular sandwich topping is a jam-like balsamic onion relish. It gets its deep sweet flavor from onions cooked with balsamic vinegar.

For 2008, Atlanta Bread Co. International Inc., based in Smyrna, Georgia, plans to bring out a new menu that focuses more on the 135-unit chain’s signature sandwiches like the California avocado, bistro chicken, and caprese. That’s because customers prefer a little twist to the basic sandwich, which the chain accomplishes by using artisan breads and flavorful spreads, says Jennifer Madison, senior brand and communications manager.

Each Atlanta Bread Co. bakes its own bread daily, and that includes ciabatta and French baguettes. “Our focus is more toward handmade and crusty breads,” Madison says.

Food trends related to international flavors led the chain to create its Cubano sandwich, which combines Cuban-flavored pork, ham, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard, mayonnaise, and diced pickles served hot and grilled on fresh-baked focaccia bread.

And in keeping with the fresh trend, the chain just finished testing a new sandwich plate presentation where sandwiches arrive open faced so customers can see the stack of beautiful produce and meat. That new prep style will roll out systemwide this year.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rumblings at Charbucks

With more than 6,000 shareholders in attendance, Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) today unveiled a series of innovative customer-facing initiatives at its Annual Meeting of Shareholders. Howard Schultz, chairman, president and ceo, shared his vision for transforming the Starbucks customer experience and reinforcing a strong foundation from which to grow. The announcements marked the next stage of Starbucks transformation following nearly three months of passionate work that began with Schultz’s return as ceo on January 7.

Beyond the five initiatives the company said it would deliver, Schultz also announced that Starbucks had signed an agreement to acquire The Coffee Equipment Company and its Clover® brewing system.

“Eleven weeks ago, I made a personal commitment to every one of our customers and partners (employees) to reaffirm our place as the world’s coffee authority,” said Schultz. “By embracing our heritage, returning to our core - all things coffee - and our relentless commitment to innovation, we will reignite the emotional connection we have with our customers and transform the Starbucks Experience. I am confident that the ground-breaking initiatives we’ve announced today demonstrate our laser focus on living up to that commitment. We know that this is just the beginning, but we also know that there has never been a more exhilarating or promising time in our history.”

At the Annual Meeting, Starbucks unveiled the following new initiatives. They are focused on improving the current state of the U.S. business, re-igniting the emotional attachment with customers and making foundational changes for the long term:• A proprietary and revolutionary in-store Clover® brewing system that delivers the best cup of brewed coffee available anywhere; • A complete reinvention of brewed coffee in-store, that will be brought to life by baristas across the U.S., who will scoop and grind a new unique coffee blend, connecting customers to the early days of Starbucks;•

The introduction of a new state-of-the-art espresso system that provides the perfect shot every time and helps facilitate the critical connection between barista and customer;• The first phase of a Starbucks Card Rewards program, rewarding registered cardholders and providing unique new benefits when using their cards in Starbucks stores;• The launch of, Starbucks first online community, that takes the Starbucks Experience outside the store and enables customers to play a role in shaping the company’s future; and,• An expanded relationship with Conservation International that enhances Starbucks 37-year commitment to ethically sourcing the world’s finest coffees and reaffirms Starbucks leadership position in sustainable sourcing and climate preservation.

“There have been times in our history where others questioned whether we had reached our limit – yet time and time again, we have responded by reaching even greater heights,” Schultz said. “Today, we again demonstrated our commitment to surpassing the expectations of every one of our customers, shareholders and partners. We hope we’ve given everyone a reason to believe – not only in the endurance of the Starbucks legacy, but also in our ability to continually raise the bar for what it means to be the world’s leading roaster and retailer of specialty coffee.”


The Next Coffee Revolution – Clover® Brewing SystemStarbucks has entered into an agreement to acquire The Coffee Equipment Company, whereby Starbucks will become the exclusive provider of the revolutionary Clover® brewing system. With its proprietary brewing process, the Clover® machine has quickly become regarded as the gold standard in innovation in brewing equipment.

Clover’s unique brewing process is similar to the coffee press method, but utilizes a special vacuum technology that brings out the complex, rich and distinctive flavors of some of Starbucks rarest and most exotic coffees – such as Aged Sumatra and Ethiopia Yergacheffe. The Clover® brewing system also adds to the theater and drama of the coffee experience through its highly visual brewing method.

Some Starbucks stores in Seattle and Boston are currently using Clover® brewing systems and the Company plans to further accelerate the rollout of the machines in select U.S. and international markets. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“This acquisition will provide us with an opportunity to give customers individually brewed cups of some of Starbucks most exotic coffees,” said Schultz. “In my over 25 years with Starbucks, the Clover machine unequivocally delivers the best cup of brewed coffee I have ever tasted.”
The Reinvention of Brewed Coffee: Introducing Pike Place RoastStarbucks challenged its coffee and roasting teams to create the world’s most exceptional coffee blends. The result of those efforts is the new Pike Place Roast. Beginning in mid-April, this unique new coffee will be brewed in every U.S. company-operated store every day, giving customers a unique, consistent and fresh brewed coffee experience.

Pike Place Roast exemplifies Starbucks 37-year heritage and expertise in buying, blending and roasting the world’s finest coffees. Starbucks roasts Pike Place Roast to be smooth and bold, bringing to life the cocoa and toasted nut flavors in the coffee.

Also next month, all Starbucks company-operated stores in the U.S. will further elevate the customer experience when they begin to scoop and grind the beans they use for brewed coffee. To enable customers to enjoy the freshest, high-quality cup of brewed coffee, stores also will brew smaller batches with a hold time of no more than 30 minutes. Licensed stores in the U.S., as well as Starbucks locations outside the U.S., also will move to a 30-minute hold time over the coming months.

“We are returning to the very best elements of our heritage and bringing back the simple romance and excitement of coffee,” said Schultz. “Since 1971, we have sourced, roasted and sold the world’s finest coffees. By highlighting that history through Pike Place Roast, and bringing back the sounds and aromas of the coffeehouse, we are raising the bar on what it means to serve the perfect cup of coffee.”

Introduction of the Next Generation Espresso Machine: Mastrena™Over the last several months, Starbucks stores around the world have taken great strides to ensure that every customer receives a drink that exceeds their expectations, every time. From an unprecedented education and training initiative focused on espresso excellence, to the upgrading of Starbucks Verisimo® espresso machines in U.S. and Canada stores to ensure the highest-quality espresso with each shot, every partner at Starbucks has demonstrated a relentless commitment to quality.

As part of those continuing efforts, Starbucks today unveiled the Mastrena™, the next generation of world-class espresso machines exclusive to Starbucks stores. The Mastrena™ represents more than five years of development and collaboration between Starbucks and Thermoplan AG, one of the world’s leading espresso machine manufacturers.

The Mastrena™ is the gold standard among espresso machines. It grinds every shot to order and its other many exceptional features result in superior consistency of espresso shots, greater options for milk steaming and customization, and a lower profile to enable baristas to connect visually with customers for personal, immediate interaction and service.

As part of its investment in delivering a world-class in-store experience, Starbucks is planning an aggressive rollout of the Mastrena™. By the end of the year, more than 30 percent of U.S. company-operated stores will have the new machine and 75 percent will have the Mastrena™ by the end of 2010. Additionally, new international stores will receive the Mastrena™ starting in the summer of 2008, and all international stores will complete the Verisimo® upgrade by the end of this calendar year.

“With the Mastrena™ and the upgraded Verisimo, there is no doubt that our customers will enjoy the finest shots of espresso in the world,” continued Schultz. “We have brought the art of espresso to the world, and by providing our baristas with the best training and tools, we will continue to define the industry standard.”

Adding Rewards to the Starbucks CardSince its introduction in 2001, the Starbucks Card has revolutionized the way customers pay for their daily coffee experience. With more than 193 million cards issued in the U.S. and Canada since its introduction, there are approximately five million active Starbucks Card holders at any given time. This spring, every registered card holder will enjoy an elevated experience every time they use their cards.

In April, Starbucks will begin providing registered Starbucks Card holders these immediate, value-added benefits when they use their card at participating Starbucks stores in the United States and Canada:

• Complimentary customization on select syrups (including flavors such as vanilla, hazelnut and cinnamon) and milk alternatives (such as soy or half and half). For instance, a Tall Vanilla Soy Latte would be the same price as a regular Tall Café Latte because the soy and the vanilla are free. • Complimentary Tall beverage of choice (including Frappuccino® blended beverages) with the purchase of one pound of whole bean coffee (on the same visit).• Free refills on brewed coffee (on the same visit). • Two hours daily of free, in-store Wi-Fi, starting this spring in company-operated stores in the U.S. (per registered cardholder). • The opportunity to join Starbucks in supporting charitable causes.

“Already, one in seven customers uses the Starbucks Card, and now we are taking the first steps toward recognizing these customers by providing them value beyond any other coffeehouse,” said Schultz. “It is the personal relationship our customers have with our brand, our stores and our baristas that is the foundation of our success. Through this initiative, we are making it even easier to make the Starbucks Experience your own.”

Creating an Online Starbucks Community Network at MyStarbucksIdea.comThe Starbucks Experience grows, in part, from the unique combination of a shared passion for coffee and the exchange of great ideas. For years, Starbucks stores have served as the center of vibrant communities, welcoming customers and encouraging creativity and dialogue. Starbucks today announced the extension of that community beyond the doors of its stores with the launch of

Found at, the site is Starbucks first online community and enables customers to share their ideas, engage in conversations and play a role in shaping Starbucks future. This new community seeks to strengthen Starbucks connection with customers by:• Establishing a meaningful dialogue between and among community members and Starbucks, extending the coffeehouse experience outside store walls; • Creating a new space for customers to share ideas and be part of shaping Starbucks in the future; and,• Building an open forum to share the Starbucks story in a way that fosters authenticity, transparency and leadership in conversations about Starbucks.

The new website launches today and features an area – Ideas Into Action – where customers can track the progress of ideas that Starbucks is working to bring to life. Starbucks is also launching a site for Starbucks partners to share their ideas and engage in conversations.

“We engage in millions of conversations with our customers everyday, and those conversations and ideas have helped shape the company we are today,” said Schultz. “With the launch of MyStarbucksIdea, we are extending the Starbucks community online and creating a dynamic forum that enables us to capture and act upon our customers’ best ideas.”

Taking Ethical Sourcing to New LevelsToday, Starbucks also expanded its 37-year commitment to ethically sourced coffee with a renewed relationship with Conservation International (CI).
Starbucks and CI began working together more than a decade ago to further integrate environmental conservation principles into Starbucks coffee-buying practices to ensure the sustainable production of high-quality coffee. These efforts became the foundation for C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity) Practices, a comprehensive program that addresses the environmental, social and economic transparency issues that are so critical to the long term health of the farmers and suppliers with whom they work.

Starbucks today unveiled a renewed five-year global commitment with CI to tackle climate change, by working together to support farmers who are preserving forests in coffee regions. The project will begin with two launch sites in Sumatra, Indonesia, and Chiapas, Mexico.
To directly link customers to this effort, the company also unveiled a new mark for its coffee. This mark symbolizes Starbucks partnership with CI and its commitment to coffee that is responsibly grown, ethically sourced and proudly served. Starbucks will work with its suppliers and CI to meet the following goals to rollout the mark:• By mid-April 2008, our new brewed coffee offering, Pike Place Roast, served daily at U.S. company-operated stores will qualify for the new mark.• By mid-April 2008, all whole bean espresso and espresso-based drinks in Europe, Middle East and Africa stores will qualify for the new mark. • By March 2009, all whole bean espresso and espresso-based drinks in all U.S. stores will qualify for the new mark.• By the end of 2009, we intend to have all espresso-based drinks qualify for this mark.• The ultimate goal is for all Starbucks® coffee to qualify for this mark.

“This is a pioneering agreement built on the foundation of our 10-year relationship,” stated Schultz. “It will allow us to have a positive impact on one of the global community’s most pressing issues.”

“We are excited to grow this relationship, and prouder still to demonstrate our commitment by having Pike Place Roast be the first coffee to carry the new mark that symbolizes our renewed commitment,” added Schultz.

For more information, please visit

About StarbucksSince 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with nearly 16,000 stores and more than 170,000 partners (employees) in 44 countries, Starbucks is the leading roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at

Forward-Looking StatementsThis release includes forward-looking statements about certain company initiatives and plans. These forward-looking statements are based on currently available operating, financial and competitive information and are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Actual future results and trends may differ materially depending on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, coffee, dairy and other raw material prices and availability, successful execution of internal plans and initiatives, fluctuations in U.S. and international economies and currencies, the impact of competition, the effect of legal proceedings, and other risks detailed in the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the “Risk Factors” section in Starbucks Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2007 and Starbucks Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended December 30, 2007. The company assumes no obligation to update any of these forward-looking statements.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Specialty Food News

Consumers are expected to spend a total of $14.4 billion on Easter food, apparel, gifts, flowers, decorations and candy, according to the National Retail Federation's 2008 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch. The average consumer will spend $135.03 on the holiday, with the majority of consumers spending the most on meals at $41.09 on average. Full Story

The Los Angeles Times profiles Dan Kim the North America president and chief executive of Red Mango, a frozen-yogurt chain founded in South Korea. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Global confectionery sales will increase as a result of healthier eating patterns and strong economic growth, in both developing and developed markets, to $159.6 billion by 2010, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts. The market will average compound annual growth of 3.95%, due to products such as sugarless sweets and functional chocolate, reported Food Production Daily. Full Story

Tropical Traditions added Organic Raw Coconut Water Vinegar to their product line. It is believed to be the first product of its kind introduced to the US market, as vinegar made from the water inside of coconuts is a cottage industry in the Philippines, and not a commercial one. Full Story

For Immediate Release: News from the Specialty Food Trade

Harrisons & Crosfield USA LLC, Chatham, N.J., has expanded its range of English teas to include organic tea in boxes. Full Release

Bel Air, MD-based McShane's gourmet shop will donate 15% of its receipts this week in support of Harford County nonprofits, reported The Baltimore Sun. Full Story

Publix Super Markets will likely build a new distribution center in Orlando instead of Punta Gorda because Orlando's central location would be more efficient as a distribution site. Publix originally planned to build a 600,000-sq. ft. distribution center on 87 acres in Punta Gorda, noted The Lakeland Ledger. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

For Immediate Release: News from the Specialty Food Trade

Charleston Cookie Company, Charleston, S.C., has been honored with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blue Ribbon Small Business Award. Full Release

The Irish whiskey category is growing globally, with U.S. Irish whiskey sales growing 20% in 2007 alone. In addition to its increasing appeal to 25 to 35-year-olds, Irish whiskey is also becoming more of a year-round drink, reported Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Lance, Inc. acquired privately held Brent & Sam's, Inc., a producer of branded and private label premium gourmet cookies. Full Story

Crain's Detroit Business profiles King Coffee Tea Services and Mokarabia USA, which began distributing Mokarabia coffee in 2005 through a 50-50 joint venture with China Mist Tea Co. Last year, U.S. sales of Mokarabia exceeded $1.2 million, and this year sales are expected to exceed $2.5 million. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Lifeway Foods, Inc. introduced a line of probiotic Kefir Wellness snack bars, to be available in three flavors, Chocolate, Sweet and Salty, and Pomegranate. Full Story

Nutritious Living debuted three new cereal products under its Natural Living line. These cereals target specific high-demand nutritional attributes, and comes in Antioxidant Indulgence, Artisan Inspiration, and Omega-3 Harmony flavors. Full Story

NEW STORE NEWS: Planet Organic Market opened a new 13,400-sq. ft. store in Vaughan, Ontario. Full Story ...

Roundy's Supermarkets Inc. will open a location in Minneapolis, MN, reported The Business Journal of Milwaukee. Full Story (Free Registration Required)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Baby boomers change food habits to fight feeling old

Chicago attorney Ray Gordon looks at food in a whole new way.

At 59, he has taken over the responsibility of grocery shopping and cooking, a role his wife had for 30 years.

"The kitchen is now my domain," he said. "I enjoy cooking. It's like a hobby."

This transformation was spurred by rising blood pressure and cholesterol levels that landed Gordon at Northwestern Memorial Wellness Institute. After identifying his "food personality," working with a dietitian and exercising for the first time in his life, he dropped 30 pounds and lowered his blood pressure enough to scale back on medication.

"I never used to think about my meals or what I was eating," he said. "I knew I had to make changes."

Gordon is typical of other baby boomers who are getting their act together when it comes to what they eat. They are taking their health into their own hands and changing the American foodscape along the way.

Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers have driven some of the most powerful cultural shifts in our nation's history, and that includes food, said Michelle Barry, an analyst with the Hartman Group, a market research firm in Bellevue, Wash.

This huge demographic is behind a majority of today's food trends -- everything from nutritionally enhanced foods and functional beverages to fresh local produce and artisanal foods.

"This generation is redefining what it means to have quality food," Barry said. And, she added, they're investing the time to become more knowledgeable about food.

Aging boomers approach food with a sense of optimism and hope, and view it as a way they can help control their future, she said.

Nearly 80 million strong, this generation may have grown up on meat loaf, mashed potatoes and tuna casserole, but now they're seeking foods that can help them stay young, or at least feel young.

Boomers have traded in their Tang for orange juice fortified with ingredients that can lower their cholesterol. They've ditched their beloved Pop-Tarts for high-fiber flaxseed cereal and said good-bye to Tab for acai berry smoothies and green tea.

"The boomers do not view themselves as 'old' like their parents tended to at this age," said Matt Thornhill, president of the Boomer Project, which collects marketing data.

But today's boomers are not looking for the fountain of youth; rather, they seek the fountain of vitality, he said. "They accept that they're no longer 25, but they want to be the best they can be at 50 or 60."

As luck would have it, there's no shortage of advice on what boomers should eat to stay vital and fit. In fact, an anti-aging diet movement seems to be sweeping the nation: Bookstores and grocery stores are filled with how-to tomes and foods promising to keep your mind sharp, arteries clear, bones strong and joints pain-free.

A major champion of this movement is Dr. Michael Roizen, creator of the RealAge program and coauthor of the new book "You Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty" (Free Press, $26).

His approach is based on research suggesting that your food and lifestyle choices can add years to your life. For instance, one recent study found that people who eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, drink moderately, exercise and quit smoking live on average 14 years longer than people who adopt none of these behaviors.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Nutrition Facts About Fat

Product formulas don’t flash like a car’s dashboard light indicating it is time for an oil change. However, the Nutrition Facts label contains information that might suggest it’s time to adjust a food’s lipid profile.

The chemical group “lipid” refers to a range of lipophilic molecules, including fat and oil ingredients, which are almost always long-chain triacylglycerols, (a glycerol backbone with three fatty acids attached to it by esterification), as well as cholesterol, phospholipids, steroids, waxes and others. FDA requires food manufacturers to quantify, on a per serving basis, select lipids in a food: total fat, which must further be broken down into saturated fat and trans fat, and cholesterol. It is optional to quantify polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat contents under total fat.

In addition to the Nutrition Facts label, some FDA-sanctioned health claims require a limit on the amount of total and/or saturated fat if the claim is to be made on a food product. While that might be obvious in a claim linking “Dietary Saturated Fat and Cholesterol and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” (Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), section 101.75), it also plays a factor in other claims that discuss effects on heart disease and stroke: “Fruits, Vegetables and Grain Products that Contain Fiber, Particularly Soluble Fiber, and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” (21 CFR 101.77); “Soluble Fiber from Certain Foods and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” (21 CFR 101.810); “Soy Protein and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” (21 CFR 101.82); “Plant Sterol/Stanol Esters and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease” (21 CFR 101.83); and “Potassium and the Risk of High Blood Pressure and Stroke” (Docket No. 00Q-1582). All of these must be low in saturated fat, meaning they must meet the criteria or they will be disqualified: On a per-serving basis, individual foods must have less than 4 grams of saturated fats (6 grams for main dishes, or 8 grams for meal products).

Nutrition unfacts

Technically, the labeling terminology on the Nutrition Facts and in the rules for the health claims is inaccurate, as triacylglycerols contain three fatty acids, and those three fatty acids are seldom the same, regardless if the triacylglycerol comes from a plant or animal. One fatty acid may be saturated (no double bonds). While the other two might be unsaturated (one or more double bonds). If the triacylglycerol has undergone partial hydrogenation, one or both of the unsaturated fatty acids may now be in the trans configuration, rather than in the traditional cis configuration.

In other words, fat and oil ingredients contain a mixture of fatty acids, some saturated, others unsaturated. Of the latter, some contain one double bond and are referred to as monounsaturated, while others have two or more double bonds and are appropriately called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Thus, the Nutrition Facts should more accurately read as saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids. Unfortunately, this inaccuracy has consumers and industry misusing the terms. While that’s not all bad when it’s knowingly used as shorthand, it does result in consumer confusion and some unfair labeling of “good” and “bad” fat sources. That becomes more of an issue as growers and manufacturers manipulate products’ fatty-acid profiles to optimize healthfulness and functionality.

Changing consumer habits

More consumers than ever are reading the Nutrition Facts, as well as ingredient legends. According to the International Food Information Council (IFIC), Washington, D.C., 66% of consumers use the Nutrition Facts when deciding to use or purchase a food--up from 58% a year ago. Fifty-nine percent use the ingredient legend, which is up 2%.

When it comes to fats, consumers know what they don’t want in their foods. According to data collected in 2007 by the United Soybean Board (USB), St. Louis, 91% of consumers view trans fatty acids as somewhat to very unhealthy. Furthermore, when comparing saturated and trans fatty acids, substantially more consumers perceive saturates as healthier (42%). Three-quarters of consumers consider trans as very unhealthy, a significant increase from 2006 (63%).

Consumers also know what they do want. According to a survey released in May 2007 by Flax Canada 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba, 80% of 1,199 U.S. consumers ages 35 to 65 said they would switch to omega-3-fortified foods if they were available at the supermarket without additional cost.

This all presents dilemmas, as well as the associated opportunities, to the food industry. The shift away from trans fatty acids has again focused the nutritional spotlight on the fats and oils used in today’s food products.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Starbucks names new U.S. president

In another high-level executive change at Starbucks Corp., Cliff Burrows was named to succeed Launi Skinner as president of Starbucks’ U.S. operation, effective March 12.

Also on Monday, the company appointed executives to serve as senior vice presidents of four domestic geographic regions, reporting to chief operating officer Martin Coles until Burrows assumes his new duties. Burrows is currently president of Starbucks Coffee’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division. His successor in that role was not named. Starbucks said the senior executives of the EMEA region will report directly to Starbucks Coffee International president Jim Alling on an interim basis.

Skinner resigned after only six months in the post to spend more time with her family, the company said in a statement.

“We are very sorry to see Launi go, but we know that her legacy at Starbucks is strong and that we are a better company, thanks to her passion, commitment and leadership,” Coles said in a statement. “We are also very pleased that we were able to name a new leader for our U.S. business from within our company. Cliff has led our business and brand to tremendous success in the EMEA region most recently, and in the U.K. prior to this. We now look to him to apply that same drive and business acumen to leading our U.S. business.”

Burrows joined Starbucks in April 2001 as a vice president and managing director after working for the home furnishings retailer Habitat Designs Ltd.

The appointment of Burrows is part of Starbucks’ previously announced plan to restructure the company during the next year. The effort is being undertaken to eliminate bureaucracy and intensify the company’s focus on patrons’ experiences. The company’s turnaround program also calls for shifting the bulk of the chain’s development outside of the United States, where about 100 units are slated to close.

The other executive changes announced on Monday include the promotion of Chris Carr, who was named senior vice president of the Northwest/Mountain division. Previously, he served as regional vice president of the South Central United States.

Cos LaPorta, formerly senior vice president of the Western Division, has been named senior vice president of Western/Pacific.

Jim McDermet, formerly senior vice president of U.S. Store Services, has been named senior vice president of Northeast/Atlantic.

Paul Twohig, formerly senior vice president of the Eastern Division, now holds the title of senior vice president of Southeast/Plains.

Starbucks operates, franchises or licenses about 16,000 coffee outlets worldwide, including more than 7,000 in the United States.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Expanding Your Franchise Concept

Five key strategies to attract bank financing and franchisees.

With many franchise concepts looking to expand, banks will be selective about which business models to finance. And potential franchise buyers will be attracted to franchisors who offer the best opportunity to operate a profitable business. For the franchisor looking to expand, this five-point checklist provides strategies that determine the success of his growth plans.

Profile Your Customers

The first priority when planning expansion to new markets is to profile your customers. Understanding your customers is the basis and driver for the other strategies presented here. An accurate customer profile allows you to target markets that have high concentrations of consumers with a similar profile.

If you have a customer address list, it’s easy to profile customers. Customer addresses are the foundation for a profile. Commercially available demographic, lifestyle, and buying behavior data can be correlated to a customer address and used to develop a composite profile of your customer. Retail POS data, if available, can also be part of the profile.

If you don’t have a customer address list, you can still develop a customer profile. Quick-serve restaurants, for example, can collect survey and customer address data on site. In addition, commercial survey data from MRI and other sources can be used in developing customer profiles.

The most important point is that you must know your target customer. Your bank will ask. Your potential franchisees will ask. The better you can define and profile your customer, the easier it is to find more of them.

Find Successful Markets

What other markets will your franchise concept work in? Where might it fail? Analyzing market potential will tell you. There are two basic approaches to analyzing market potential, depending on how you developed a customer profile:

For established retail franchises with a customer list, a bottom-up approach to analyzing market potential is most appropriate. You start with data on current customers. How much and how often do they buy? What is their demographic and buying profile? And, the big question: What other markets have high concentrations of consumers with similar profiles?

A new franchise concept or a franchise that may not have a valid sampling of customer data will use a top-down approach to estimate market potential. A top-down approach starts with market, demographic, and industry data. It looks at a geographic area and creates an estimate of the potential in that area, based on the density of potential customers who are likely to purchase your franchise’s product or service.

  • A comprehensive market potential analysis to support market expansion often includes:

  • A customer profile to understand where to find similar consumers

  • Market penetration and market-share reports showing performance in existing markets and expected performance in new markets

  • Market ranking reports allowing you to prioritize markets

  • A geographic view of market opportunity on detailed maps and reports

  • Allocate Franchise Territories

Most franchisors form territories so they can license their brand and offer franchisees exclusive rights within a specific geographic area. But many questions must be answered: How many franchise territories? How big or how small? Where are they located? Getting the right answer to these territory questions is a big factor in determining the overall success or failure of a franchise business.

A study performed by the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences showed that 91 percent of successful franchises have defined territories. The study also showed that new franchise chains that adopt exclusive territories are more likely to survive than chains that do not.

Given the importance of well-defined franchise territories to the success of a franchise system, it’s a wonder why many franchisors still rely on paper maps, instinct, or simply picking the hottest markets. Instead, franchisors need a reliable scientific approach to allocating franchise territories that will provide market coverage as well as an opportunity for the franchisee to make a profit.

Once a franchise territory is defined, analysts can develop a territory model that represents a successful franchise. This model is used to allocate territories in new markets. A model that accurately defines the size and estimates the potential of franchise territories allows franchisors to:

Identify the ideal number of locations
Measure franchisee performance
Maximize royalties from a given territory
Select Store Locations
Optimal site selection can make or break franchised quick-serves.

Who is responsible for selecting the site--the franchisor or the franchisee? While franchisees may have local knowledge, they may not fully understand the complex analysis required to choose successful sites. The franchisor may need to provide resources to ensure successful site selection. In fact, your financing bank may ask about your site-selection strategy.

One flawed strategy is to work only with real estate agents or developers. While real estate agents have an important role to play in securing a location, their portfolio of properties might not include sites that are optimal in terms of capturing market potential or the customer you are trying to attract.

That’s why it’s more productive to think of site selection first as a market and analytical challenge and later as a real estate decision.

One way to determine the potential success of new sites is to analyze the trade area of currently successful franchise locations. If customer address data is available, it can be mapped. The franchise trade area is then defined by an area that encompasses the majority of customer locations. Once the trade area is defined, key variables within the trade area such as demographics, customer profiles, and competition can be analyzed. This information can help franchisors choose high-potential sites when establishing new franchises.
Remember, customer behavior as defined by a customer profile drives market potential, leading to the right answer about where to place your next store. In a multiunit market, one store location impacts the overall network of franchise sites. It’s important to analyze the impact of a new location on the network of stores and take this into account when selecting a site.

Develop an Expansion Model

Market opportunity varies by geography. Consumers behaviors change. Competition comes and goes. How do you overcome conditions over which you have little or no control? By making the most of what you can control.

The four strategies outlined above should be integrated into your franchise expansion plans, giving you a territory and site-selection model you can apply to help ensure success in an ever-changing market. This approach can also help you demonstrate a sound growth strategy to banks and potential franchisees.

To develop and incorporate this model, consider partnering with a firm that has the consulting experience, analytical expertise, software, and data to understand and offer solutions to your franchise expansion challenges.

Since 1985 Capico International has worked with businesses to profile customers, accurately assess marketing opportunity, plan territories, and select successful sites, helping contribute to overall growth and profitability for their clients.

Monday, March 03, 2008


The Premium Chocolate Category in the US Grew by 24% in 2006, Compared with Overall Growth in the Chocolate Market of 3.9% - United States Food & Drink Report Q1 2008

( has announced the addition of United States Food & Drink Report Q1 2008 to their offering.

The United States Food Drink Report provides independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the United States food and drink industry.
The premium chocolate market in the US has been growing rapidly over recent years, and manufacturers are increasingly adjusting their product portfolios to benefit from this trend. Within the sector, dark chocolate has experienced the strongest growth, owing to the health benefits attributed to its consumption.

According to figures published by AC Nielsen, the premium chocolate category in the US grew by 24% in 2006, compared with overall growth in the chocolate market of 3.9%. Thus, in November 2007, Mars Snackfood US announced that it will expand the Dove Chocolate brand with more premium varieties, including Dove Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Dove Milk Chocolate with Almonds, Dove Flavored Caramels, Dove Beautiful and Dove Vitalize. According to company spokespeople, chocolate distribution to the convenience store channel has almost doubled in the past year while, across all channels, the premium chocolate segment is experiencing double-digit growth.

Also in November, Ghirardelli added three new flavours, Midnight Reverie, Evening Dream and Mint Bliss, to its Intense Dark range with the aim to capitalise on the increasing popularity of dark chocolate in the US. According to company sources, the dark chocolate category grew 49% between 2003-2006, with 2006 sales having reached US$1.2bn. The newly launched varieties cover a range of high cacao percentage dark chocolate products, from 60-86% cacao content.
Ghirardelli spokespeople stated that, ‘while we see growth in both non-premium and premium segments, the premium dark chocolate segment demonstrates the strongest sales and share increase, as consumers recognise the quality difference among dark chocolate brands is more prominent. US consumers want to trade up to enjoy luxury versions of everyday products and are no longer content with the average chocolate product. We see the American palate changing as consumers crave not only a darker chocolate but also more sophisticated recipes.’

Other chocolate producers also continue to invest into the premium segment. Lindt USA, the US subsidiary of Swiss premium chocolate manufacturer Lindt & Sprüngli, recently expanded its US headquarters and production facilities following ‘robust year-after-year growth and increased consumer demand’. CEO Thomas Linemayr stated that he expects growth in the premium chocolate sector to continue and that Lindt is planning future expansion efforts in coming years in order ‘to accommodate the impressive growth of the premium chocolate category in the US.’