Saturday, November 29, 2008

U.S. retailers wait to see Black Friday sales totals

Although reports might look good, we forget the spirit of the Holy Days that are about to arrive. I emphasize Holy Days not Holidays

A Wal-Mart employee was killed in New York when customers , early in the morning crashed the doors down and trampled a Walmart emplyee waiting to open the doors at 4:00 AM

I am at a loss as to why it is so important to get deals killing another human being to get a deal.

My Heart goes out to all the families who lost loved ones in Mumbai. Terroists are sick people who have no meaning in life.

Following is an update on this so called Black Friday:

Early reports from U.S. retailers, including Toys "R" Us and Macy's, suggest that this year's Black Friday has seen healthy crowds attending nationwide stores, but the buyers appear to be cautious about what -- and how much -- they are buying.

Black Friday, the name given to the shopping day following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, kicked off at midnight in many places across the country, with big retailers offering deep discounts at their stores and extended hours of service throughout the weekend.

At some retail stores, prices were slashed by as much as 50, 60, or even 70 per cent.

And in one case on Friday, the combination of large crowds of deal-hunters and killer discounts proved fatal.

A Wal-Mart worker in Nassau County, N.Y., died Friday morning, after he was trampled by shoppers storming into his store, shortly after it opened.

National Retail Federation spokesperson Ellen Davis told The Associated Press she was "not aware of any other circumstances where a retail employee has died working on the day after Thanksgiving."

ShopperTrak RCT Corp. reported that last year's Black Friday weekend accounted for about 10 per cent of the 2007 holiday sales totals.

The lineups for this year's Black Friday started early on Friday -- in some cases at the stroke of midnight.

Canadian shopping enthusiast Heather Gore described to CTV's Canada AM the long lineups at a Niagara Falls, N.Y., outlet mall where she was shopping at 12:01 a.m. on Friday morning.

"I have been coming here on Black Friday for the past five or six years," she said. "This year is the busiest I've ever seen it."

Gore, a Toronto lawyer and veteran cross-border shopper, said she had seen many Canadians at the malls on Friday morning.

Some U.S. retailers, in fact, appealed directly to Canadian shoppers, in an attempt to bring them across the border for Black Friday.

In Detroit, mall owner Taubman Centers Inc., offered a $20 gift card voucher to the first 2,008 vehicles travelling through the Detroit-Windsor tunnel between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Friday.

"For those Canadians who make Black Friday an annual shopping tradition, we would like to be their shopping destination of choice," Taubman spokesperson Karen MacDonald said in a release.

Prior to Friday morning, however, many analysts were not predicting that the turnout at the malls on Black Friday and its accompanying weekend would necessarily save the holiday season for retailers.

Morningstar analyst Brady Lemos told The Associated Press that his organization was expecting the retail numbers "to be pretty bad across the board."

America's Research Group chairman Britt Beemer questioned how long the shoppers would remain in the stores as the weekend progressed.

"I think we are going to see the busiest Black Friday ever, but will it carry over past 10 a.m.?" Beemer told The Associated Press.

"The bottom line is a great Black Friday does not make a season."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Some 128 million people will shop this holiday weekend

As retailers prepare to open their doors at the crack of dawn, many could be in for a welcome surprise. According to a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey conducted by BIGresearch for the National Retail Federation, up to 128 million people will shop this Friday, Saturday or Sunday. According to the survey, 49 million people will definitely hit the stores while another 79 million are waiting to see the weekend deals before making any decisions. This number is down slightly from the 135 million people who said they would or may shop over Black Friday weekend last year.

For the first time since March 2005, the average price of self-serve, unleaded gasoline is $1.91, leaving shoppers with a little extra padding in their wallets. While consumers are still expected to pull back in their holiday purchases, pent up demand from consumers who have been waiting all year long for great deals could also bode well for some retailers.

“Retailers realize that low prices will get consumers into stores this holiday season, and this could be the most heavily promotional Black Friday in history,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF President and CEO. “Shoppers who held off buying a DVD player or winter coat over the last few months will find that prices may literally be too good to pass up.”

NRF will release the results of its Black Friday weekend retail survey by 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 30. The release will also be available at at that time. Information will include what time people started shopping on Black Friday, where they shopped, how much they spent, and what they bought. NRF will also be releasing findings from a new survey on the number of people expected to shop on Cyber Monday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy thanksgiving and some peace to the world

I would like to wish all my USA friends in the US and abroad an American Thanksgiving for the blessings that we have and happiness to the less fortunate.

This should be a world holiday as it is meant to be with relatives and good friends, being grateful for the closeness that we share.

We should all together strive for peace and and wish a stranger to have a good day.

With much blessings

Ron Hari

Top 10 mistakes retailers make on Black Friday

Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year. Many retailers use this time to offer “door-buster” deals - ridiculously low prices on key items that entice eager shoppers to line up outside hours before the store opens. Nielsen has prepared a Top 10 list of common mistakes made by retailers who are trying to play and win in the competitive world of Black Friday.

Mistake #1: Sticking to traditional categories
Who says supermarkets can’t sell video games or that electronics stores can’t sell soda and snacks? Many smart retailers are breaking free of traditional channel definitions that may limit the merchandise categories where they compete. If you have a cash register, you can sell it.

Mistake #2: Not having a retailing objective
Determine your Black Friday retailing objective(s) in advance. Do your door-buster ads attract new shoppers? Do they generate profits? Do they drive traffic for purchases of non-deal items?

Mistake #3: Not measuring your objectives
If you have measurable objectives, you need to measure them. Was Black Friday profitable for your stores? Did you attract new shoppers who return to shop in the following weeks? Did heavy traffic drive sales of non-deal items?

Mistake #4: Leaving a bad first impression with new shoppers
Black Friday is a great opportunity to attract new shoppers or win back infrequent shoppers. Don’t let them have a bad shopping experience. For shoppers new to your stores, many will say either “I should shop here more often” or “I’m never coming here again”. Make sure their experience is positive.

Mistake #5: Missing loyalty opportunities
Black Friday presents unique opportunities for retailers with loyalty programs. Rather than just rewarding shoppers willing to camp out overnight, why not offer special pricing to your most loyal customers over the year? Or maybe offering the hottest deals to shoppers spending over $100 on groceries? Or $500 in spending for November?

Mistake #6: Sticking to Friday morning
What’s so magical about Friday morning? Rather than focusing on a few precious hours, many retailers now offer door-busters on multiple days. Some retailers choose the morning of Thanksgiving Day while others offer door-busters two weeks before Thanksgiving.

Mistake #7: Not having door-buster merchandise in stock
When a long line of customers is waiting in the cold and dark for your doors to open, you’d better deliver on the promises of your Black Friday ad and web site. If stock is limited for hot door-busters, let shoppers know in advance, or at least while they’re waiting in line. Don’t let them wait in line for products you don’t have.

Mistake #8: No sense of urgency
Shoppers are in a hurry and appreciate retailers who can keep the lines moving quickly. Under-staffed checkouts, associates unfamiliar with ad merchandise, inadequate traffic direction, and late store openings will all lead to angry shoppers. Retailers need all hands on deck.

Mistake #9: Shallow discounts on door-busters
Black Friday is the one day that shoppers will be bombarded with rock-bottom pricing. Shoppers will not be impressed by so-called “door-busters” listed at everyday pricing or modest discounts by any manufacturer willing to buy space in your Black Friday ad. If your ad includes modest discounts, don’t call them “door-busters”.

Mistake #10: Not scouting the competition
It’s more than just monitoring ad prices. Seasoned shoppers will tell you: some retailers are much better at Black Friday than others. Retailers need to have scouts in the field checking out the competition for best practices and talking to shoppers about their experiences. Use these observations to plan for next year starting this December.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In-store Displays Are More Effective Than Price Cuts

Price discounting is seemingly the one sure thing in an economic downturn, but research by WPP Group shopper-marketing agency OgilvyAction indicates it's still not as effective a sales tool as that old stalwart: in-store displays.

Research OgilvyAction conducted with more than 6,000 shoppers across multiple channels in the U.S. in February and March indicates far more impulse purchases are driven by tactics like those low-tech cardboard displays found at the end of aisles rather than temporary price reductions.

More recent evidence
And while that survey came before the economy turned much worse in September, research in the past month by the agency for a snack-food brand at convenience stores had similar findings -- in fact, display drove nearly twice the number of impulse purchases as price reductions.

Specifically, OgilvyAction's research from the spring indicates that 29% of U.S. shoppers impulsively buy from categories they didn't plan to when they entered the store. Of that group, 24% said they were influenced by secondary displays (away from the product's usual aisle), 18% by in-store demonstrations, and only 17% by price promotion.

The study also found 39% of U.S. shoppers have a category in mind but pick their brand in store, and of those, 31% were influenced by in-store demonstrations -- more than the 28% by price promotion and the 27% influenced by some other form of consumer promotion.

In each case, however, more than twice as many consumers said they bought impulsively because of display or some other form of promotion as said they did so because of price.

Hard to resist
The convenience-store study found an even larger share of impulse purchases were driven by display -- 49% in the case of the snack brand in question -- than the broader study taken months earlier, but no additional lift for price-driven decisions.

"We know price promotion will always be in the picture for any shopper," said Jeff Froud, senior strategic planner with OgilvyAction. "They will always say they don't want to feel like they're getting ripped off." But he said the research also indicates displays or other in-store promotions without price reductions can work.

Realistically, the two don't often happen in isolation. Especially in a recession, retailers are likely to demand funds for a temporary price reduction in order to authorize a display, Mr. Froud said. He just hopes manufacturers can use the data to try to convince retailers that both sides can fare better without as much price promotion.

OgilvyAction CEO Rick Roth said marketers can still convey value in stores without doing temporary price reductions, pointing to Kellogg's program with Wal-Mart Stores to highlight the 50¢ cost of eating breakfast at home, or a program Sara Lee began recently with a promotional tie-in to Disney's "High School Musical 3," which had a secondary message about buying bread and lunchmeat as "a sensible meal solution" compared to eating out.

Marketing-mix analytics long have shown that display alone can drive sales without price cuts, though analysts knew of no studies comparing the total return from price reductions alone to display alone.

Mike Hess, director-global research and consumer insights for Omnicom Group's OMD, hopes growing use of Nielsen's PRISM system for measuring the impact of various in-store tactics will ultimately help answer such questions.

Price cuts may have hidden benefits
But a recent OMD survey also suggests price promotion resonates more with consumers in a recession, he said, as consumers said they plan to buy as often in everyday or staple categories but will look to trade down. "One way to stop them from trading down is a temporary price reduction," he said.

At the same time, the research showed that in more expensive or luxury categories such as jewelry and vacations, people are more inclined to do without rather than trade down, suggesting price promotion may be of little value. "Price promotion is almost always the worst investment you can make in the long run," said Sunil Garga, proprietor of the analytics firm Mphasize, Norwalk, Conn. But he still expects more of it in the months ahead as marketers deal back recent price hikes in the face of moderating commodity costs and more frugal consumers.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Americans will spend $28.5 billion on Thanksgiving this year, down 3.4% from 2007

Thanksgiving spending is set to decline this year according to IBISWorld, one of the nation's' most respected independent publishers of business research. With the financial crisis looming, the 155 million American households celebrating the holiday will only spend $28.5 billion this year - down 3.4 percent from 2007 - 90 percent of which will be spent on food alone.

Home Cooking

Thanksgiving food consumed outside the home grew 36 to 43 percent from 1980 to 2006, respectively. But since then, families have shied away from restaurants in favor of home-prepared meals; a trend expected to continue as tough economic conditions strain American budgets.

Talking Turkey

With around 275 million turkeys raised this year - up 1.1 percent from 2007 - certified organic turkeys will account for just over half of total domestic turkey production. Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia, Missouri and California contribute to 64 percent of domestic production.

Side Dishes

In 2008 the U.S. will produce 700 million pounds of cranberries (up 1.5 percent); 1.65 billion pounds of sweet potatoes (up 3 percent); 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins (up from 1 billion); 1.9 bushels of wheat (up 5.5 percent); and 850,000 tons of snap green beans (up 1 percent).

Black Friday

This year, the total holiday expenditure will fall by 3.3 percent to $460 billion, with price the foremost factor when purchasing Christmas food, gifts and decorations. Gift buying is expected to be limited to immediate family, children and close friends only. Cards may be sent in lieu of presents, with around 20 billion mail items delivered by the U.S. postal service between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Across France, Cafe Owners Are Suffering

Nathalie Guérin, 35, opened Le Festi’Val bar and cafe here two years ago full of high hopes, after working at this little Burgundy town’s main competition, the Café du Nord. But this summer, business started to droop, and in October, she said, “it’s been in free fall.”

“Now there’s no one,” she said, standing in a somber room with a few sad holiday decorations, an idle pool table and one young man playing a video game.

“People fear the future, and now with the banking crisis, they are even more afraid,” she said, her eyes reddening. “They buy a bottle at the supermarket and they drink it at home.”

The plight of Ms. Guérin is being replicated all over France, as traditional cafes and bars suffer and even close, hit by changing attitudes, habits and now a poor economic climate. In 1960, France had 200,000 cafes, said Bernard Quartier, president of the National Federation of Cafes, Brasseries and Discotheques. Now it has fewer than 41,500, with an average of two closing every day.

The number of bankruptcies filed by cafe bars in the first six months of 2008 rose by 56 percent over the same period a year ago, according to a study by Euler Hermes SFAC, a large credit insurance company. No reliable figures are available for the latter part of this year, when an economic slowdown here has been accelerated by the general financial crisis, a collapse in consumer confidence and the quick tightening of credit.

But the impression is that business is bad and getting worse, with people and companies cutting back on discretionary spending and entertainment budgets. And that is only compounding longer-term problems stemming from changes in how people live and growing health concerns.

“The bar of a cafe is the parliament of the people,” as Honoré de Balzac wrote, but it is being less frequently visited these days, especially by the young.

Not only are the French spending less, and drinking less, cutting down on the intensity and quality of the debates, but on Jan. 1 of this year, after much huffing and puffing, France extended its smoking ban to bars, cafes and restaurants.

Marco Mayeux, 42, the bartender of Le Relais, a Paris cafe in the 18th Arrondissement, said the ban alone had cut his coffee and bar business by 20 percent.

“A place like mine doesn’t appeal to everyone; it’s very working-stiff,” he said. “There is a coffee-at-the-counter feel that isn’t attractive anymore.”

Before, clients would go inside a cafe, have a coffee, a cigarette and another coffee. But now they go out to smoke, and sometimes they do not come back, many cafe owners said.

Gérard Renaud, 57, owner of the Restaurant de L’Église in Marsannay-la-Côte, said that business was down at least 30 percent. “Now people don’t eat,” he said. “They come in for a coffee or a little aperitif and that is it. We are used to being busy, but now we feel lazy, and it is depressing.”

Ms. Guérin is trying to sell her cafe, but has had only one nibble in this lovely town of some 3,000 people, much visited by tourists, where the renowned hotel-restaurant Relais Bernard Loiseau is just down the street.

Jean-Louis Humbert is the district director of the Federation of Cafes, Brasseries and Discotheques, and he is blunt about Ms. Guérin’s chances. “It’s finished for her,” he said. “No one wants to buy it. The banks don’t want to lend her any more money, and it will end up in liquidation.”

Daniel Perrey, 57, owner of the Café du Crucifix in Crimolois, blamed social change, saying: “Sadly, it is the end to a way of life. The culture is changing, and we feel it.”

People are drinking less, smoking less and spending less, and even those who drink are newly wary of the local police, who now hover near the bar, especially at night, to test the sobriety of drivers. President Nicolas Sarkozy has asked the police to crack down on drunken drivers.

“Workers don’t take taxis,” Mr. Perrey said, stroking his lavish mustache and laughing. He gleefully showed photos of a small police car wrapped around a tree in his parking lot after an accident, saying, “They had to call the firemen to get them out!”

The cafe, he said, is a kind of public living room, especially in small towns and cities, and it is suffering as habits and laws change.

“We need the cafe to have an equilibrium between the village and the world outside,” Mr. Perrey said. “Without the cafe, you lose the conviviality. You lose your mates. Business agreements are made behind the zinc” of the bar.

“We have to be very careful,” Mr. Perrey continued. “If we standardize everything in France, and we study everything, and forbid everything, we destroy respect for our culture. We need to preserve the cafe bar. What is a village but a cafe, a school, a pharmacy, a bakery and a city hall?”

Edouard Etcheverry, known simply as Doudou, with a wide, friendly face and a well-tended belly, is an “Amélie” version of a bartender and the owner of L’Express, a crowded bar and restaurant on the Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. He keeps his prices down — a small coffee for a euro (about $1.25), a Pernod for two.

He pointed at a customer sitting alone at a table drinking a glass of tap water. “That’s our new customer!” he shouted. Then he turned to a group of bank employees at another table and said, “You see, they got 386 billion euros from the government, but they can’t spend a cent when they come here!”

Maria and Philippe Malichier, owners of the newly refurbished Duc d’Albret restaurant in Paris, look miserable. They have 35 seats, and on a recent day at lunch the place was almost empty, except for an old Spanish couple and a lone woman. With the economic crisis, Ms. Malichier said, “now it’s a carafe of tap water, main course and off you go.”

In Paris, Bernard Picolet, 60, is the owner of Aux Amis du Beaujolais, which his family started in 1921 on Rue de Berri. “The way of life has changed,” he said. “The French are no longer eating and drinking like the French. They are eating and drinking like the Anglo-Saxons,” the British and the Americans.

“They eat less and spend less time at it,” Mr. Picolet said.

People grab a sandwich at lunchtime and eat as they walk or sit at their desks. They stand in line to buy prepackaged espresso sachets, to drink coffee at home, or have coffee at the office, at the boss’s expense.

In Crimolois, at the Crucifix, Mr. Perrey’s wife, Nathalie, runs the kitchen and works 14 hours a day. “My wife is in love with her work; she loves her kitchen,” Mr. Perrey said.

But in fact Mrs. Perrey, 37, says she feels trapped. “The crisis started progressively, but now it moves very fast,” she said. “I worry it will last a long time.”

They thought about selling, she said, but it is not necessary now. “But the banks won’t lend to us, and if we shut, we can’t get any financial support from the state,” she said. “We’d have to go on unemployment, so we’re trapped.”

Mr. Quartier and his union have started a school for new cafe owners, to try to teach them to find a niche, to serve better drinks and food, to think about installing a flat-screen television, to make sure they serve the favorite bottled drink among French youth: Coca Light.

In Paris, Mr. Picolet, of Aux Amis du Beaujolais, said simply: “The bar-cafes? They’re finished. Twenty years ago, people would go in the morning before work for a coffee and a cigarette. And now, it’s over. Young people don’t drink during the day, and when they drink, they drink to get wasted. Smoking is forbidden and they eat en route, with coffee in a paper cup. They smoke and drink at home.”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Forthcoming Dietary Study Highlights Important Role of Ready-to-Eat Cereal at Breakfast Among Girls

Three important findings based on a decade of dietary data tracking reveal that children and adolescents who eat cereal for breakfast may have an advantage when it comes to getting both the essential daily nutrients their bodies need and physical activity. Complete results of the study, led by The General Mills Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition in Minneapolis, will be published in the November 21 issue of Nutrition Research.

"Our emphasis was to identify the healthiest eating practices for our children, and in doing so we examined the role that fortified cereal plays in a healthy diet and lifestyle," explained Dr. Ronald E. Kleinman, Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, co-author of the study. "This research strongly suggests that there's a link between well-rounded childhood nutrition and eating a bowl of cereal regularly for breakfast."

Researchers analyzed dietary data collected from more than 2,000 girls over the course of 10 years from childhood through adolescence and identified three reasons why parents may want to encourage their child to eat cereal for breakfast:

Nutrition Boost – Those participants who consumed cereal during the morning meal more often received key nutrients including fiber, iron, folic acid and zinc. And, they ingested less fat, sodium, sugar and cholesterol overall compared with the nutrients in foods eaten during non-cereal breakfasts, such as eggs, meat and quick breads;

More Milk – Pairing breakfast cereal with milk translated to higher milk consumption and thus, an increase in calcium intake. While this may seem obvious, higher milk consumption came at a critical time for participants as many adolescents in their tween years begin to turn to soft drinks and milk consumption typically drops off;

Get Moving – A significant association was found between the days where participants ate cereal for breakfast and an increased amount of physical activity. The study suggests that choosing cereal may be a marker to promote healthier behavior beyond nutritious eating to include regular daily exercise and physical activity.

“Around American breakfast tables, many children of all ages begin their day with a bowl full of their favorite cereal, including brands like Cheerios, Kix and Cinnmon Toast Crunch, among others, and we’re pleased to let parents know that based on our research they are making a good choice that can offer positive nutritional returns for their child,” said Susan Crockett, PhD, RD, Senior Technology Officer at the General Mills Bell Institute.

The study draws from the 10-year longitudinal National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study (NGHS), which recruited a total of 2,379 girls who were between the ages of 9 and 10. This consisted of 1,166 white girls and 1,213 black girls from communities in Berkeley, CA, Cincinnati, OH, and Washington, D.C. Their dietary data was collected 1987 through 1997.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Natural Products Industry Continues to Outperform in Conventional Retail

SPINS today released the results of recent research focused on the Natural and Organic Products Industry in Conventional Food, Drug and Mass retailers. The results of the study show that while the current economic environment is applying downward pressures on growth, the outlook remains positive. Key success determiners for both manufacturers and retailers include a continued commitment to the authenticity of the products, to the core consumer and to the underlying drivers of the NPI. These drivers include aspects of sustainability, a growing personal awareness of the environment and the direct affects of purchase decisions on the environment and health.

According to the study, the Natural Products Industry (“NPI”) posted sales of $13.4 billion on growth of +12.2% within Conventional Food, Drug and Mass retailers over the 52 weeks ending October 4, 2008. Body Care, General Merchandise and Frozen and Refrigerated continued to post double digit growth rates. Organic products continue to out-perform the overall NPI with growth of over +13% over the previous year. While the industry momentum has slowed in conventional retailers over recent weeks, the organic growth continues to be solid at +7% in the
recent 12 weeks. While the top sellers will continue to attract the majority of the sales, there are a number of extremely fast growing categories that will provide retailers and manufactures with additional organic expansion opportunities, especially in body care and pet products.

Authenticity is perhaps one of the most dominant themes of success in the NPI. Brands most heavily associated with the roots of the industry remain the dominant drivers of both sales and growth. Penetration of U.S. consumers also continues to increase across the majority of the product categories, indicating continued opportunities for product and shelf expansion. In addition, the “beyond organic” and health concerns segments are some of the strongest performing areas, including fair-trade, raw foods and gluten free.

“As evidenced by the performance in the natural channel, authenticity of natural brands and retailers continue to be one of the key factors in product performance,” said SPINS CEO Tony Olson. “Authenticity extends beyond whether a product is free of artificial flavors and ingredients and moves into the realm of overall health and wellness, social and environmental sustainability, nutritional benefits and other leading factors. A brand or retailer’s ability to resonate with a consumer on this level is a strong indicator of success in the conventional food, drug, mass channels.”

While there are a number of negative economic factors that will challenge the industry for the next few years, positive drivers offer significant counter pressures. These positive drivers will continue and strengthen over time, offering significant fuel for continued growth which should
begin to accelerate once the consumer and the economy regain their stability.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

There’s no such thing as organic fish –- yet

The National Organic Standards Board, the arm of the Department of Agriculture that rules on what is and isn’t officially organic, is currently pondering whether there should be organic fish. And on Tuesday, as part of a three-day meeting looking at various questions on organic labeling, the board's livestock committee will be discussing what an organic seafood standard might look like.

Up until now, no seafood has been considered organic on the theory that although fish are wild and free, there’s also no way to know what they’re eating or how clean the water they’re swimming in is –- both things that are important when deciding if something’s organic.

It’s pretty clear that fresh water pen-raised fish, such as tilapia and catfish, are easiest to make organic because they’re raised in closed tanks on land and they’re vegetarians, so it’s easy to feed them organic grain-based feed.

The big questions are ocean-grown species such as the farmed salmon that has become so cheap and popular in recent years.

A host of consumer and environmental groups are lining up against the idea because they say that while the fish might be "organic" there's no way that pen-raised salmon are environmentally sustainable, which they say makes them de-facto non organic.

That’s because of the threat pen-raised salmon can pose to wild salmon ...

Farmed salmon are grown in big ocean pens in bays and inlets, often in areas through which wild salmon migrate on their way to home streams to spawn. To make salmon farming profitable, those pens have to be pretty full. Having that many salmon together in a small space means diseases and a nasty little marine parasite called the sea louse can flourish. Growers use drugs and chemicals to protect the penned salmon, but there’s been research showing that salmon nearby can also be infected, further harming already fragile populations of wild salmon.

Lower stocking densities and some new techniques could go a long way to dealing with this problem, so it’s on the "potentially fixable" list.

Another problem is that salmon are carnivores: They like to eat other little fishies. It takes between two to 10 pounds of wild-caught fish to turn into feed to make one pound of farmed salmon. But the board wants to allow up to one pound of wild-caught fish to be fed to farmed salmon for each pound of salmon harvested.

And the board would only allow fish food made from scraps of sustainably harvested fish to be fed to farmed fish. But activists say that the food wouldn’t be organic. Up until now any animal labeled as organic has to be fed 100% organic feed. Opponents say these wild fish can’t be organic because they have the potential to carry mercury and PCBs, both of which are routinely found in some fish species.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Growing a Better Decaf

From Madagascar to Costa Rica, farmers, scientists and multinational companies have been racing to deliver an elusive product -- a gourmet coffee bean that's naturally low in caffeine.

Coffee companies have been spending millions of dollars identifying, breeding and, in some cases, genetically manipulating promising coffee varietals. They've rooted through seed banks, assembled teams of agronomists and tasted countless cups of coffee, all in pursuit of what some people call the industry's holy grail, a bean that produces a great-tasting cup of "low-caf."

Italian roaster Illycaffè introduced Idillyum, its low-caffeine bean, in Italy in early October and plans to offer limited quantities in the United States starting Monday. The UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., one of Japan's biggest roasters, has begun selling limited supplies of its low-caf Bourbon Pointu beans in Japan for about $300 a pound. Brazilian grower Daterra Coffee is selling its Opus I Exotic at a handful of coffee shops around the U.S. as well as to several wholesalers. And the Costa Rica-based Doka Estate, which is owned by the Vargas coffee family, plans to start exporting its own low-caf beans next year for roasting and taste tests, with commercial sales expected to begin in the U.S. in 2011. The company's clients include American chains such as Caribou Coffee and Peet's Coffee & Tea.

Coffee companies have been looking for ways to perk up the $2 billion decaf business, which has remained flat in recent years. A bean that is naturally low in caffeine but produces complex, flavorful coffee "would be a huge innovation," says Geoff Watts, green-coffee buyer for the Chicago-based specialty roaster Intelligentsia Coffee.

Decaf coffee has long been considered inferior to regular, something that coffee experts attribute to the decaffeination process itself. Typically, coffee beans are steamed open and then soaked in a chemical solution like ethyl acetate, which draws out the caffeine but also flushes away some of the fats and oils that give coffee its aroma and taste. Some decaffeinators use water processing to remove caffeine.

The new beans have more caffeine than most decaffeinated beans, but up to 50% less caffeine than regular Arabica beans, the type used to make specialty coffees. The low-caf beans are a glossy brown and, to the untrained eye, virtually indistinguishable from other coffee beans in both appearance and smell.

Some are getting high marks from top buyers in the industry. Lindsey Bolger, coffee director for Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, calls the Doka Estate coffee one of the best she's tasted in her 20-year career. "It was sweet, clean and juicy," she recalls of a tasting in Costa Rica last spring. "It was a refreshing coffee, and I never describe coffee as being refreshing."

Experiencing something "new and good is rare," says Doug Welsh, Peet's vice president of coffee, who attended the same tasting.

Most of the coffee cultivated commercially today is made up of two primary species. Robusta, a hardy bean that grows largely in a narrow band around the Equator and has about 3% caffeine by weight, is used in lower-tier coffees sold at most convenience and grocery stores. Arabica, typically grown in higher-altitude regions near the Equator, has about half as much caffeine and is used in the lattes, mocha grandes and double espressos sold at chains like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.

Illy was one of the first companies to embark on a serious quest to develop a flavorful, low-caf coffee bean. In 1989, Andrea Illy, 44, the third generation of Illys to head the 75-year-old Italian roaster, learned that an American coffee company was preparing to toss its research collection of some 185,000 coffee plants and acquired it. The collection included about 20,000 plants of a low-caffeine Arabica varietal called Laurina. The delicate varietal is known to produce high-quality beans but is also low-yielding and sensitive to disease and pests (caffeine is a natural pesticide).

Mr. Illy assembled a team of nine agronomists and technicians, who spent the next five years identifying Laurina plants in the collection on which to build a low-caffeine bean. They narrowed in on 15 "mother plants" based on characteristics such as productivity and coffee quality.

"It's like a funnel. You start from many and you reduce, reduce, reduce," Mr. Illy says.

The results of the earliest field tests in Brazil were so abysmal, however, that Mr. Illy considered scrapping the project. "There was a lot of mortality," he says.

By the time Illy began conducting more successful field tests of the plant in the rich volcanic soil of El Salvador in 2000, several companies had already begun assembling low-caf teams of their own, and others were soon to follow.

Like the llly crew, some were honing in on the Laurina plant, easily identified by its distinctive Christmas-tree shape. The Doka Estate began to experiment with the plant in Costa Rica in 2002, after Edgardo Alpizar, a member of the Vargas family doing his graduate studies in agronomy, stumbled upon a lone Laurina tree near the site of his field work in San Jose. He planted 80 seeds of the plant on the slope of a volcano on his family's coffee estate. At an elevation of more than 5,000 feet, he observed, low yields and disease did not seem to be a problem. He kept increasing his production.

That same year, UCC Ueshima teamed up with a French agricultural research group and a local cooperative of growers in Réunion, a French island off the coast of Madagascar, and began cultivating Bourbon Pointu trees, an Arabica varietal that some agronomists say is the same as the Laurina.

Meanwhile, Brazil's Daterra Coffee was hybridizing a descendant of a low-caffeine varietal from Ethiopia that had been stored at a Brazilian university's germaplasm bank. In Hawaii, a private research company called Integrated Coffee Technologies was trying to figure out how to turn off a gene in the caffeine pathway that would inhibit its expression in the bean.

Companies including Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts say they are not working on similar efforts. (A spokesperson for Kraft, which owns Maxwell House, declined to comment.) Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef and director of culinary development for Dunkin' Brands, says he is watching the development of the low-caf beans with great interest, although he has yet to taste the new varietals. He questions whether caffeine levels will be low enough to appeal to decaf drinkers and wonders how good the coffee will taste.

"When you're hybridizing for an over-expression of one attribute, the question becomes: Do I affect any other attributes within this variety? Is there any loss? Are there any other gains?"

Stephen Leach, the global buyer for coffee importer and exporter Maranatha, says it remains to be seen whether growers can keep their caffeine levels stable, since it can take years for the characteristics of a new agricultural product to stabilize.

Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world, and it's a profitable, if controversial one. A significant part of the profit many decaffeinators make comes from sales of the caffeine they extract from coffee beans and sell to soda and pharmaceutical companies, according to Frank Dennis, chief executive of Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co., a Canadian company that does not resell caffeine.

That coffee contains caffeine, which many consumers say heightens their sense of alertness and well-being, may account for the fact that demand for coffee has remained relatively consistent, despite price fluctuations.

Research also suggests that there's a natural, optimal level for caffeine or similar stimulants in the bloodstream, and that people regulate that level by adjusting how much they consume. Some coffee makers say a great-tasting, lower-caffeine coffee could result in bigger profits, in part because caffeine-seekers might be inclined to drink more of it. "If you have lower-caffeine content with higher pleasure, you might be able to repeat your little luxury several times a day," Mr. Illy says.

The Illy team is currently working on details of the American launch of their low-caf line. But recently, high above Manhattan in Illycaffè's New York headquarters on Madison Avenue, all attention was focused for a moment on the coffee. The low buzz of an espresso machine had just fallen silent, and Mr. Illy poured a cup of Idillyum. It looked similar to any well-made espresso, with a thick layer of foam and a burnished caramel color. And the taste? Strong and acidic, at least to someone used to sweet, milky coffee.

To Mr. Illy, who ticked off notes of jasmine and chocolate, the cup was the fruition of nearly 20 years of research. "Coffee can be about experiencing incredible flavor and taste, which is inspiring the emotion, or it can be about the caffeine kick," he said. "We hate that, because you can get your caffeine kick with a pill, with a lousy coffee, with anything."

Mr. Illy lifted his cup of coffee into the air and inspected it. "For us, the lower the caffeine content, the better."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chocolate Mousse, Our Favorite

Chocolate mousse is a great dessert for entertaining because 1) it looks pretty, 2) everyone gets their own serving, and 3) you can make it a day ahead of time. In fact, you do need to make it at least several hours ahead of time. I decided to prepare chocolate mousse using the darkest chocolate I could find (Trader Joe's has some Belgian 70% cocoa 1 lb bricks so does a good gourmet store).

Chocolate mousse is a little bit tricky. If you incorporate the egg yolks when the chocolate is too warm, it will cook, if too cold, it will seize up when the other ingredients are added. If you stir and not fold the egg whites and whipped cream in, your mousse will not be fluffy, but dense.

Almost all recipes I reviewed called for bittersweet chocolate. From what I can tell, bittersweet has a bit more sugar and a bit less cocoa than the 70% dark chocolate I used. If you are going to serve the mousse straight - with no added cream or fruit, and you love the taste of barely sweet dark chocolate, your mousse will be perfect with the 70%. If you layer in fruit (raspberries complement the chocolate quite well) and or more whipped cream, you'll want either to add sugar or use bittersweet chocolate to begin with.

Chocolate Mousse Recipe


4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee (I use espresso that I make myself or Dunkin Donuts espresso is just fine and not expensive)

1 cup cold heavy cream
3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar

(Optional) Raspberries and extra whipped cream


1 Whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate.

2 Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.

3 Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

4 When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.

5 Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes. If you wish, layer in fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Serves 5-8, depending on the size of the servings.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Through Proper Foods

Connecting Nutrition and Metabolic Syndrome and Chronic Inflammation

Heart health is already one of the most popular positionings for functional products, and as the baby boomer demographic ages, it will become even more pivotal. With this context in mind, global business intelligence provider Euromonitor International assesses the impact of two recently identified conditions implicated in heart disease: metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammation.

Adventurous baby boomers are attracted to functionality

Functional foods and beverages continue to do well in the United States in 2008, reaching value sales of $8.5 billion and $24.4 billion, respectively. Up until now, younger population segments were the industry’s most successful targets (e.g. two thirds of functional beverage sales are accounted for by energy drinks and sports drinks, aimed almost exclusively at young males), but the appeal of functional products is about to broaden significantly.

While it is true that today’s elderly consumers show a certain reticence toward functional products, their offspring, aka baby boomers, are much more adventurous in their food choices. This is going to translate into steadily increasing revenues generated by value-added functional food and beverage sales in the years to come. The sheer size of this demographic is impressive. In 2008, 38.7 million Americans are over the age of 65, and by 2020, this will increase to 47.3 million. Cardiovascular disease is of prime concern to this age group.

Baby boomers already constitute the key consumer group of functional spreadable oils and fats, which are almost exclusively marketed on the basis of cardiovascular health benefits by virtue of containing cholesterol-lowering plant sterols and/or heart healthy omega-3s. In 2007, value sales for this category jumped to $251 million, up from just $108 million in 2002. Euromonitor International predicts that by 2012, this will surge by nearly 30% to $322 million, while regular spreadable oils and fats, lacking distinguishing health benefits, are set to decline by almost 20%.

Metabolic syndrome—precursor of heart disease

When scanning the globe for new trends, Japan, the world’s most advanced functional products market, is an inevitable port of call. After all, this is the country that gave rise to the worldwide probiotics boom. The Japanese will spend $67.5 million per capita on functional packaged foods in 2008, compared to just $30.2 million in the United States. Not all Japanese trends make it to the West, but with the current national obsession with “metabolic syndrome,” it is virtually certain this trend will spread to Europe and the United States.

Metabolic syndrome is a term referring to a cluster of prime risk factors for cardiovascular disease. They include central obesity (where excess body fat is stored around the organs, resulting in the characteristic “apple” shape), elevated blood pressure, a disturbed lipid profile (including high levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides), as well as insulin resistance (where the body has stopped responding to its own insulin, resulting in high-fasting blood glucose levels, ultimately leading to diabetes). Lifestyle factors, such as an unhealthy diet and insufficient exercise, are the key triggers of this condition.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, Brussels, Belgium, people with metabolic syndrome are three times as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke compared to people without the syndrome. The American Heart Association, Dallas, estimates that around 47 million Americans have the condition. However, hardly anyone outside the medical community has heard of it – except, that is, for the Japanese.

Metabolic syndrome was propelled into mainstream Japanese consciousness in 2006, when a Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare report shocked the nation. It claimed that half of all Japanese men between the ages of 40 and 74, and one-fifth of women, either suffered or were at risk from the potentially deadly metabolic syndrome. In a desperate attempt to tackle the country’s spiraling health care costs, the Ministry introduced compulsory testing in April 2008. This includes taking the waist measurements of every employee over 40. Companies are expected to cut the number of overweight employees by 10% by 2012, and failure to reach this target will be punished with fines.

The Ministry’s grand initiative to tackle the issue, which includes ongoing media campaigns, as well as pressure on companies, had a profound impact on the Japanese health and wellness market. Since the metabolic syndrome threat was first publicized in 2006, a whole raft of metabolic syndrome-specific pr

According to market research carried out by Seed Planning Inc., Tokyo, the country’s most popular ingredients targeted at metabolic syndrome and found in packaged foods and supplements are dextrin and soy protein. Dextrin is an indigestible, non-fermentable carbohydrate said to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Soy protein is believed to have the same benefits, and also improves blood lipid profiles. In November 2007, Shaklee Japan launched a meal replacement product range, including shakes and bars (capsules are also available) for metabolic syndrome sufferers under its CINCH brand. These products contain soy protein, dextrin and a vitamin


Major Western food companies have already started to gauge the potential of what they foresee will be the next installment in the global battle against cardiovascular disease. Pharmaceutical company Phosphagenics, Melbourne, Australia, in collaboration with Nestlé, Vevey, Switzerland, is developing the patented ingredient Phospha E, which is said to be effective against a number of biomarkers implicated in metabolic syndrome. Completion of phase 2 clinical trials is expected this summer.

U.S. baby boomers, being fairly well educated on issues surrounding cardiovascular disease, should readily be able to grasp the concept of metabolic syndrome as a precursor of heart disease. It is highly likely that metabolic-syndrome-positioning will become a mainstream way of marketing functional food and beverage products in the U.S. in the not-so-distant future.

Inflammation sets “the heart on fire”

Inflammatory conditions are also high on the global health agenda, because they are responsible for a long list of debilitating chronic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. In recent years, it has come to light that conditions not previously associated with inflammation are, in fact, linked to long-term, low-grade inflammatory processes. Clinical studies have revealed that inflammation contributes significantly to the development of cardiovascular disease, coined with the evocative description of “the heart being on fire”.

The causes of chronic inflammation remain, on the whole, a mystery. Epidemiological studies point toward a link with modern lifestyles, and Western dietary habits, in particular. The incidence of inflammatory diseases is very low among the world’s rural populations, as their traditional diets consist mainly of plant-based foods. On the other hand, Western diets rich in meat, dairy and processed foods appear to feed inflammation.

A large intake of the “wrong” dietary fats is high on the list of culprits. Saturated fats and an oversupply of arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid found in large quantities of animal-derived foods such as dairy and meat, are known to contribute to inflammation, while unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 found in fish, inhibit the inflammatory cascade.

Since 2004, FDA permits a qualified heart health claim for two omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Omega-3s’ newfound role as inflammation fighters adds even more weight to its already solid status as a heart health protector. Thus, omega-3 fortified products, like the aforementioned functional spreads, already appeal greatly to the baby boomer demographic.

Bioflavonoids and other naturally occurring plant chemicals with powerful antioxidant properties, found in high concentrations in fruits, vegetables and spices, are also known to be capable of neutralizing the free radicals believed to act as triggers in the inflammatory process. Two culinary spices extremely rich in such compounds are ready and waiting to be catapulted to anti-inflammatory fame: Turmeric (curcuma longa) and ginger (zingiber officinale). Studies have shown that the yellow pigment in turmeric acts as a highly potent antioxidant, and that ginger contains substances that inhibit the formation of inflammatory mediators.

Turmeric and ginger are extensively used in Asian cooking, e.g. in Indian curries, and the culinary-curious baby boomers are already positively inclined toward trying new cuisines. Positioning ethnic dishes directly at this demographic, supported by a heart health message, could well turn into a golden opportunity for manufacturers wanting to broaden their market.

Sadly, cardiovascular disease is set to remain the number one killer of adults in the Western world for the foreseeable future. Today’s over-60 demographic wants to remain active and maintain a good quality of life for as long as possible. Gaining awareness of metabolic syndrome and of chronic inflammation, both of which are easily diagnosed by health care professionals, will enable them to take preventative measures before serious cardiovascular complications develop. Functional products may not be the solution, but in combination with other measures, they do have a positive role to play.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Popularity of prepared foods grow

Grocery stores say they've seen the popularity of their prepared foods grow as consumers try to save time, money and sometimes calories. And the economic downturn has helped boost the trend as folks trade down from restaurants to dinner at home. So grocers are boosting the selections in response to people's growing appetite for prepared foods.

"When they are trying to return to more meals at home, they don't want to start from scratch like we would a generation or two ago," said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO at the Food Marketing Institute, an industry trade group. "That's why the prepared foods are so popular."

They come in ready-to-eat form — like rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes or sandwiches. Or there are ready-to-heat styles like stuffed salmon, lasagna or meatloaf that just need to hit the stove.

"I've been doing (this) for years," said Michael Braun, 54, buying his dinner from the New Season's grocery deli counter in Portland. "It's just easier."

Grocery stores have taken note of the popularity.

Last month, Stop & Shop and Giant-Landover supermarkets added more than 100 fresh prepared foods such as soups and bourbon chicken. Last week, Supervalu Inc. introduced a line of more than 150 items that aim to rival restaurant-quality food such as pork carnitas enchilada casserole and pineapple upside-down cake.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which has long offered prepared foods at its stores, recently expanded its options to include items such as lobster bisque, baked ziti and dinner packages that feed a family of four for $10.

But many grocers say they are seeing the biggest growth in simple comfort foods.

Whole Foods Market Inc. said its best-sellers include macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes in some stores. The company has recently added a "family-size savings" program that allows shoppers to get a discount when they buy two or more pounds of some prepared foods.

"They can basically pick up dinner in one stop," said Whole Foods spokeswoman Libba Letton.

About 28 percent of shoppers do not know what they are having just two hours before the meal, according to the Food Marketing Institute, making the meal a great opportunity for grocers.

"I would think almost everybody is going to have their stores outfitted with a full-blown foods offering because they have to, or folks will go down the street," said Jack Horst, a grocery specialist and principal at retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates.

He said it's part of the trend of grocery stores expanding their offerings, trying to draw shoppers in with Web sites, recipes, cooking classes and other options beyond the traditional supermarket fare.

Hammonds said it's a change that isn't likely to end when the economy improves.

"It accelerating basic trends — recognizing that food at home is healthier, there is better control of the calories, content of food, less expensive and in tune with family values," he said.

"We are seeing the economic downturn speed up a transition that is tune with their lifestyles."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The coffee market in the U.S. is very strong

Customers still want gourmet coffee, just not at Starbucks' prices.

The good news for a struggling Starbucks: The recent economic slump hasn't quashed Americans' tastes for gourmet coffee.

From Pete's Coffee to McDonald's (nyse: MCD - news - people ) to Dunkin' Donuts, the market's awash in successful imitators, despite the downturn. Grocery store sales of premium coffee beans are growing at double-digit rates annually.

"No one wants Folgers," says industry analyst Steve West of Stifel, Nicholas, citing an entire young generation of professionals for whom upscale coffee has become the standard.

The bad news: Fewer people want it from Starbucks (nasdaq: SBUX - news - people ). The company announced Monday that fourth-quarter profit plummeted to a penny a share from 21 cents a year earlier, with same-store sales slipping 8% in the U.S. Aside from costs associated with store closings, profit was 10 cents a share, below estimates and less than half of last year's result.

The announcement came just hours after McDonald's said its October same-store sales rose 8.2% from a year ago, including 5.3% in the U.S. A McDonald's spokeswoman said the company does not release sales by specific product line, though coffee sales have been growing.

The tale of the two chains makes sense: An ongoing Stifel Nicholas survey shows that two-thirds of latte drinkers would opt for a quicker, cheaper version at McDonald's once it becomes available in mid-2009.

"McDonald's is cruising along, that's what happens when you can sell designer coffee at their prices," says Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consultant and investment bank Davidowitz & Associates.

Investors in Starbucks, meanwhile, need to accept the fact it's now a cyclical company. Sales will rise and fall with the swings in the economy as borderline upscale coffee drinkers opt for cheaper versions. Scaling down from overexpansion should prove fruitful for investors once the market turns, West thinks. The question is how long that takes. The company is in the midst of closing 600 U.S. stores as it tries to reverse a 74% decline in its stock price over the past two years. "I am concerned about Starbucks for the next year or so," he says.

The driving force of a Starbucks bounce-back will have to come from resurgence in same-store domestic sales since surveys show that many European coffee drinkers remain resistant to the Seattle-based juggernaut. Meanwhile, sales of out-of-store products, such as packaged drinks and coffee beans, still factor much into the company's bottom line. Starbucks outsources its distribution business to Kraft, owner Maxwell House, getting a royalty on sales. To a degree, the supermarket business is largely a marketing initiative to publicize the brand and draw people to stores.

The company's misfortune, in addition to overexpansion, is that recent economic turmoil came right on the heels of cheaper alternatives that were already chipping away at market share. There is a bright side: So far, the economy has driven few people back to brewing coffee at home in the morning. The number of people who drink coffee at home is at its lowest point in 20 years, according to consumer-market research firm NPD Group, while the number buying it out is at a 20-year high.

"There has been increased demand for specialty coffee," says NPD Group food and beverage analyst Harry Balzer. "But everything with premium price is going to come under pressure for awhile."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

About Carter & Cavero a Great Olive Oil Store

This is a great story and if you want some great gifts go to their web site

Welcome to Carter & Cavero, Old World Olive Company, created by four friends united in our commitment to create a retail concept that embraces a tasteful, authentic, healthy way of living. We are--Chris Ortiz, Chris Wall, Sam Berg and Cesar Colliga. We are unlikely partners--one born into a long line of olive growers in Spain, one from the world of advertising and marketing in New York City, one a renowned olive oil taster from Madrid, and one a lawyer from New Jersey. Our common bond is a desire to create a business that stands for everything that is not artificial, mass-produced, common or mainstream. Starting with a rare offering of extra virgin and whole fruit fused olive oils grown and pressed in special mills in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Australia and California, Carter & Cavero extends the olive experience through a unique environment of olive-related products for cooking, health, home and beauty.

Carter & Cavero was established at the end of 2007, in the charming town of Red Bank, New Jersey. We opened our doors just before the holiday season offering a unique olive oil tasting experience in a unique shopping environment. In an airy gallery-like space lined with light wooden shelves supporting utilitarian metal containers with spigots for dispensing a wide range of oils and vinegars, we allow the customer to explore and discover their own favorite blend. Once the oil or vinegar is chosen the store we pour it into one of Carter & Cavero’s handsome black custom-etched bottles that are then capped and sealed. This guarantees one of the most important qualities of a good olive oil --freshness.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Consumers Increasingly Embrace Online Shopping, 'Green' Shopping This Holiday Season

Seventy-one Percent of Consumers Will Purchase Online, Making it the #2
Shopping Destination; Almost Half Willing to Pay More for 'Green' Gifts,
Says Deloitte Annual Holiday Survey

Online retailing will continue to
grow this holiday season, with a record 71 percent of consumers spending at
least part of their holiday budgets on the Internet, according to
Deloitte's 23rd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends. This
figure is up five percentage points from 2004.

This popular medium for holiday gift shopping ranked #2 this year,
behind discount department stores. More than one in five consumers (21
percent) surveyed plan to shop primarily or entirely online this holiday
season (up from 19 percent last year), and almost one-quarter (24 percent)
of total dollars are expected to be spent on the Internet, compared with 22
percent last year and only 19 percent in 2004.

The survey shows that difficult economic conditions are a factor in the
Internet's continued growth. More than one-third (36 percent) of consumers
say they will shop more online and in catalogs this year in order to save
on gas. In addition, because of the economic environment, more than half
(52 percent) will be on the lookout for free shipping offers from online

Consumers are also looking for retailers to provide them with
flexibility this holiday season. Almost three-quarters of consumers (70
percent) surveyed will, for example, conduct online research in advance of
a store visit. Almost one in 10 (9 percent) say they'll use their mobile
phone to assist with online/in-store shopping; among 18-29 year olds, this
number rises to almost two in 10 (17 percent). These expectations are an
extension of existing shopper behaviors: over half of consumers (56
percent) say they have used multiple shopping channels over the past year,
most often purchasing a product in one channel (store, website, catalog)
after viewing or researching it on another channel.

"Consumers want a seamless multichannel retail experience," said Stacy
Janiak, Deloitte's U.S. Retail leader. "They want the option of touching
and feeling a product in the store and then being able to order it at their
convenience, and they don't want to be told that a product purchased online
can't be returned to a local store. Particularly in this economic
environment, a positive cross-channel experience can help retailers gain
market share and differentiate their brands. Integrated channels also
benefit retailers by allowing them to rationalize merchandise selection in
their stores while fulfilling customer demand from an expanded online

Green Retailing Remains a Big -- and Growing -- Draw

The survey also found that the "green" movement continues to build
momentum. More than four out of 10 consumers (44 percent) are willing to
pay extra for green gifts this holiday season. Of those, half say they are
willing to pay between 10 to 25 percent more, while the remaining half are
willing to pay 5 percent more.

Additionally, almost four in 10 (38 percent) surveyed say they will use
fewer plastic bags from supermarkets and other stores this year -- a
significant increase over the 27 percent who said the same last year. One
in five consumers (20 percent) say they will purchase more "eco-friendly"
products this holiday season than they did in the past. A similar number
(21 percent) say they will consider not wrapping holiday gifts to conserve

"The big question around the green movement has always been how it
translates into revenues for retailers," said Janiak. "Our survey shows
that a significant number of people will pay more for eco-friendly
products, which tells us that this issue is becoming a key factor in
consumers' purchasing decisions. Like multichannel retailing,
environmentally friendly strategies can help retailers differentiate their
brands, capture consumers' hearts and minds and increase share of wallet,
particularly in this economic environment."

Clothing Continues to Be a Popular Gift; Nintendo's Wii Takes Top

For the fifth year, clothing continued to be the second-most-popular
gift category in the survey (gift cards have been #1 for five years);
however, the popularity of clothing has fallen over the past several years.
CDs/DVDs for music and movies were again #3 and toys and games were #4.
Money and books were tied at #5.

The top gifts that consumers said they intend to buy for friends and
family include Nintendo's Wii gaming system, Apple's iPod (which has been
in the top 3 since 2005), Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Other top
gifts included two computer games -- Wii Fit and Guitar Hero -- Apple's
iPhone, Barbie, American Girl and Hannah Montana merchandise. The top
"generic" gifts mentioned were televisions (HD, plasma, flat screen etc.),
computers/laptops, GPS systems and digital cameras. As previously
announced, the survey found that gift cards/certificates continued to be
the #1 gift that consumers plan to buy; the top venues for these gift cards
were Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target.

About the Survey:

The survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted online by an
independent research company between September 26 and October 7, 2008. The
survey polled a sample of 13,276 consumers and has a margin of error for
the entire sample of plus or minus one percentage point.

For more information about Deloitte's Annual Holiday Survey, including
interesting statistics, historical data and useful links, please visit