Saturday, May 30, 2009

Consumer packaged goods manufacturers are starting to reduce prices

Costco Wholesale Corp. here said yesterday consumer packaged goods manufacturers are starting to reduce prices, possibly in reaction to rising private-label sales.

According to Richard A. Galanti, executive vice president and chief financial officer, “The branded companies are not passing all the savings back yet, but we're starting to see them do so, which is the right thing to do — and it's great for customers.”

He suggested the CPG actions may be in response to the 300-basis-point increases Costco has seen in private label penetration relative to brands during the current fiscal year — increases Galanti pegged at 10% to 15%, compared with normal increases of 0.50% to 0.75%.

“That increased penetration of private label is equal to the decline in the sale of those branded items,” Galanti pointed out. "And until recently, the branded companies seemed content to make more money."

Galanti made his remarks during a conference call with investors to discuss financial results for the third quarter, which ended May 10. Net income fell 29% to $209.6 million in the quarter and 19.6% to $711.8 million for the year to date, while sales fell 4.8% to $15.5 billion in the quarter and 0.7% to $48 billion for the year to date. Comparable-store sales fell 7% overall and 5% in the U.S. for the quarter, and 3% overall and 1% in the U.S. for the 36-week period.

Costco Dumps Foie Gras Cruelty

The Animal Protection & Rescue League ( has just convinced to stop carrying "foie gras"--liver from cruelly force fed ducks and geese.

"After learning that foie gras is always produced by force feeding ducks or geese to enlarge their livers to over 10 times their normal size, Costco decided it would be irresponsible to continue supporting this cruelty," states Lisa Osborne, APRL campaigns representative. "With a majority of their sales being in California, and state law banning the sale of this product in a few years, they decided to get ahead of the curve."

A lawsuit filed by APRL and In Defense of Animals spurred enactment of Cal. Health & Safety Code section 25980 in 2004, banning the sale or production of foie gras in California, effective 2012. The cities of San Francisco, Berkeley, West Hollywood, Solana Beach and San Diego have recently passed resolutions in support of the ban after being contacted by APRL.

Whole Foods has also had a no foie gras policy since 1997 after representatives observed the force feeding. Sonoma Foie Gras recently settled a lawsuit against Whole Foods for causing their duckling supplier to cut ties with them. On June 16, APRL co-founder and attorney Bryan Pease goes to trial against SFG owner Guillermo Gonzalez for implying to the media that video footage Pease took on his farm in animal cruelty investigations was "staged."

Other establishments to remove foie gras recently after being contacted by APRL include Bay Area based Andronico's Market, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's Plumpjack Group, all of the Wolfgang Puck restaurants, and several resort hotels in the San Diego area including the Hotel Del.

"We are happy that Costco is making the compassionate decision to no longer sell this product of extreme animal cruelty. The only way to make foie gras is by force feeding the ducks to enlarge their livers to over 10 times their normal size, resulting in difficulty walking and breathing, and causing immense pain and suffering," states APRL campaigns coordinator Christina Tacoronti.

More on APRL's animal cruelty investigations into the "foie gras" industry can be found at and Broadcast quality footage of APRL's animal cruelty investigations into the foie gras industry is available on request.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Survey Confirms Americans Get An 'F' in Fiber

The importance of fiber to overall health is well documented, yet more than nine out of 10 American adults and children do not get enough fiber(1). Why? According to a recent Kellogg Company survey, the answer may be two-fold. Consumers don't know where to find fiber, and mistakenly believe products that tout "whole grain" provide it.

"The consumer confusion around fiber and whole grains is staggering," says Nelson Almeida, vice president, global nutrition for Kellogg Company. "Survey results highlight the fact that even people who are trying to improve their diets may be failing to do so because of this confusion."

FIBER-pe-dia Helps Raise the Grade

"Fiber brings big benefits. Yet only five percent of Americans get enough of it," said nationally recognized dietitian Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN. "Confusion about how to find foods with fiber likely contributes to America's fiber deficit."

To help consumers better understand fiber and choose foods that offer its important health benefits, Kellogg Company has teamed up with Bonci to offer FIBER-pe-dia: A comprehensive look at fiber. This online report provides consumers with knowledge they need to incorporate good sources of fiber into their diets. FIBER-pe-dia also clearly explains how fiber can be beneficial to a healthy weight, digestive health and heart health, as well as the important role fiber plays in helping to keep children's digestive systems healthy so they can absorb nutrients. It is available online, along with other helpful tools, at or

Flip for Fiber

According to the Kellogg survey, nearly 70 percent of American adults are making an effort to increase the amount of fiber in their diet by eating more "whole grains." Of those surveyed who see the words "whole grain" on a food package, 75 percent assume the product is either a good or excellent source of fiber. But as it turns out, this isn't always the case. The fiber content of whole-grain foods can vary greatly. Not all foods made with whole-grain ingredients are good (at least three grams) or excellent (at least five grams) sources of fiber. And some fiber-rich foods do not contain whole-grain ingredients at all.

"Along with Kellogg Company's FIBER-pe-dia, flipping to the Nutrition Facts Panel can help people understand how to find foods that provide fiber, which is the first step in bridging America's fiber gap," said Bonci.

Survey results also show that consumers expect foods "made with whole grains" to provide digestive-health benefits (63 percent) and help reduce cholesterol (47 percent). In reality, the powerhouse nutrient in whole grain that is consistently linked to these and other health benefits is fiber(2). With this information, it's easy to see why consumers are confused about which foods to eat to increase their fiber intake.

"Kellogg is taking a leadership role in helping consumers understand how to get more fiber in their diets. Cereal is a great way to do so, and Kellogg has more ready-to-eat cereals that are at least a good source of fiber than any other food company(3), including All-Bran, Kellogg's Raisin Bran and Frosted Mini-Wheats," said Almeida.

Kellogg was founded more than a century ago with a philosophy that encouraged people to improve their health. The company introduced its first fiber cereals, Kellogg's Bran Flakes and All-Bran, in 1915 and 1916 respectively, and Kellogg's Raisin Bran in 1942.

With 2008 sales of nearly $13 billion, Kellogg Company is the world's leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods, including cookies, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit-flavored snacks, frozen waffles and veggie foods. The Company's brands include Kellogg's(R), Keebler(R), Pop-Tarts(R), Eggo(R),

Cheez-It(R), All-Bran(R), Mini-Wheats(R) Nutri-Grain(R), Rice Krispies(R), Special K(R), Chips Deluxe(R), Famous Amos(R), Sandies(R), Bear Naked(R), Kashi(R), MorningStar Farms(R), Gardenburger(R) and Stretch Island(R). Kellogg products are manufactured in 19 countries and marketed in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit Kellogg Company's Corporate Responsibility report including its approach, progress and future direction in the marketplace, workplace, environment and community can be found at For information on Kellogg Company's commitment to nutrition, visit

(1) Mosfegh, Alanna; Goldman, Joseph; and Cleveland, Linda. 2005. What We Eat in America, NHANES 2001-2002: Usual Nutrient Intake From Foods as Compared to Dietary Reference Intakes. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

(2) LSRO Report: Whole Grain Intake and Cardiovascular Disease and Whole Grain Intake and Diabetes: A Review, November 2008.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Restaurants cut lunch prices to bring in diners

Whether sit-down or take-out, restaurant chains are finding the key to persuading people to spring for lunch these days is keeping the tab below $10.

"There is no reason why anyone should spend more than $10 for lunch," said Zach Brooks, a stay-at-home dad and blogger who writes about lunch spots in Midtown Manhattan.

Restaurants certainly appear to be listening. Many have conducted extensive consumer research to determine the magic price that will get customers through their doors.

Hot sub maker Quiznos, for example, launched a new toasty sandwich in March called the Torpedo at $4 after testing it with focus groups at $4, $4.29 and $4.59 to figure out what consumers were willing to pay.

"$4 really went over the cliff," said Chief Executive Rick Schaden. "If I can get fed a good-size portion for $4 and that's my lunch, they're highly interested."

Schaden said Quiznos' overall sales jumped by double-digits and traffic is up more than 30 percent this spring. Quiznos sells a variety of toasted sub sandwiches. In January, the company cut its prices on 37 of its menu items, taking 20 of its subs under $5.

For chains without waiter service, the $5 mark seems to generate the most interest, said David Urban, a professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"There seems to be something about that $5 price range give or take a dollar or so that seems to sing with consumers as sort of a threshold point in their minds about whether it's worth it to go out or not," Urban said.

T.G.I. Friday's is pursuing the parsimonious with nine new salads and sandwiches in April for $5 — a move Andrew Jordan, senior vice president of marketing, said has boosted the company's lunch business. The regular prices for the nine salads and sandwiches range from $6 to $11 and will go back into effect June 1. The company is also offering "endless" refills on soup, salad, breadsticks and drinks during lunch for $6.99.

Urban said fast-casual and even sit-down chains are stealing a strategy that has long worked well for fast-food chains. McDonald's Corp., the fast-food industry leader, has offered $1 meals and value deals for years. And its same-store sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 4.3 percent in the three months ending in late March, while those at most other restaurants dropped sharply.

Lunch has been an especially difficult meal for most chains since it is one of the easiest for customers to cut out or replace with a brown bag from home.

"Obviously, when money is tight, things like lunch are out," Urban said, "especially sit-down lunches at full-service restaurants."

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association, said lunch traffic goes down whenever the number of employed consumers drops. Those without jobs have less need for convenient lunch options and have less cash to spend.

Most consumers who are still working are still eating out — just not as frequently.

"I have been brown bagging it more often recently, but sometimes I just have to get out of the office to get some quality face time with my colleagues," said Dan Brown, who works at a technology public relations company outside Chicago.

In Atlanta, brand research consultant Bryan Oekel said he goes out to lunch about three times a week and typically spends about $8. Lately, he's been cutting back on ordering drinks with a meal to save a bit of cash.

"Most of the places I go to don't have the value meal," Oekel said. "The drink typically is $1 or $2 more."

Brian McAfee, a training manager for Strayer University in Newington, Va., said he tries to keep lunches out under $6 but is willing to go up to $10 if "it's something better" like Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Urban and Riehle both said most restaurants' lunch prices aren't likely to go back up soon.

"It's actually a very good time for consumers to get great deals and restaurant meals," Riehle said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Grape expectations

29 Reasons to Look Beautiful?

We often hear that a glass of red wine is good for your heart, now it seems wine is good for your skin as well. 29 Cosmetics creator, Lydia Mondavi has revolutionized makeup and skin care by adding one key ingredient, grape seed extract. Mondavi explains, “Grape seed is the most powerful anti-oxidant for the skin. It is 50 times more powerful than vitamin E and 20 times more powerful that vitamins C and D.”

Lydia Mondavi and her mother, Anita Wilbanks, launched 29 Cosmetics two years ago at Neiman Marcus’ San Francisco store. Mondavi’s experience with Ralph Lauren Cosmetics and Spa Sydell sparked her desire to develop her own brand. 29 Cosmetics (named after the picturesque Highway 29 which runs through Napa Valley) was cultivated when Mondavi realized the great anti-aging power of grape seed extract and the opportunity that was literally right at her fingertips. As you can probably tell from her name, grape seeds were quite easy to come by.

Mondavi set out to create makeup that not only makes women look beautiful but also helps improve their skin. “29 represents a state of mind. We care about your skin and understand that in order to maintain youthfulness, you must nourish your mind, body and spirit while protecting your skin and body from the harms of everyday living,” says Mondavi. Research shows that most of the makeup available in the market was aging women by drying out their skin, lips and even eyelashes. Every product in 29, from the foundations and powders, to the lipsticks and mascara, contains grape seed extract and moisturizers to promote healthy, beautiful skin for women of any age.

Of the products in her line Mondavi says she always has two things in her purse: the Napa Mist and lipstick, “As a woman from the South, I hardly go anywhere without lipstick, even if I’m just running to the grocery store. And, traveling frequently back and forth between coasts can wreak havoc on your skin. Napa Mist, made from rose water and grape seed, replenishes and hydrates your skin and can be used over or under your makeup.”

Skin Deep

?After the success of the makeup line, (29 cosmetics can be found at 13 Neiman Marcus stores nationwide and will be available at all 40 stores by 2010) the obvious next step was to create a skin care line that complimented the makeup. In May 2008, 29 Cosmetics Skin Care launched in conjunction with the opening of their first signature spa~ 29 Spa~ the only 4-star spa in Georgia and located at the Mansion on Peachtree! Like the makeup, the skin care products contain grape seed age protecting treatments and are rich in anti-oxidant polyphenols. This formula is believed to help destroy free radicals and protect the skin’s collagen to promote healthy elasticity, suppleness and combat the signs of aging.

There is more than just science behind the creation of each product. Mondavi aspired to make products that are also easy for women to use. She feels the most important part of taking care of your skin is as simple as cleansing your face. She relates to the fact that after a long night many women will crawl in bed before washing their face. So she created a face wash that is so easy to use that you can literally wash your face in bed!!!! The 29 Cream Cleanser doubles as a mask. Simply rub on the cleanser and tissue it off. Or better yet sleep with the cleanser on your face. It will moisturize and replenish as you sleep, in the morning massage the remaining cleanser into your skin- no water necessary.

29 Cosmetics, Skin Care and Spa have all been designed to make it easy and convenient for women to look and feel youthful and beautiful. And there is more to come.....29 is adding a soy candle collection, expanding internationally and more spas are on the way. The next 29 Spa is slated to open in Napa Valley.

29 Cosmetics can be found at, Neiman Marcus and 29 Spa at The Mansion on Peachtree.

Angie Manjos

Vinifera For Life
PO Box 331
Jordan Station
Ontario,L0R 1S0

Protein-fibre combo offers ‘promising’ gluten-free options

Adding protein and fibre sources like pea protein and Psyllium fibre may improve the physical structure of gluten-free dough, and boost the nutritional content, says a new study.

Writing in Food Research International, researchers from the University of Milan and Michigan State University state that Psyllium fibre enhanced the physical properties of the dough by forming a film-like structure. Combining this with a continuous protein phase was found to be “critical for the workability of a gluten-free dough”, they said.

“Generally, the more complex experimental formulations (containing corn starch, amaranth flour, pea isolate and Psyllium fibre) investigated in this research looked promising in terms of final bread technological and nutritional quality, even when compared to commercial mixtures already present on the market,” wrote the authors, led by Manuela Mariotti.

The study taps into the growing trend for enhanced gluten-free foods, a rapidly growing market. According to a recent report from Packaged Facts, the gluten-free market has grown at an average annual rate of 28 per cent since 2004, when it was valued at $580m, to reach $1.56bn last year. Packaged Facts estimates that sales will be worth $2.6bn by 2012.

Coeliac disease, a condition characterized by an intolerance to gluten in wheat, is reported to affect up to 1 per cent of children and 1.2 per cent of adults, according to a study in the BMJ’s Gut journal.

Study details

Using corn starch, amaranth flour, pea isolate, and Psyllium fibre, Mariotti and her co-workers formulated six types of gluten-free dough, containing different levels of the ingredients: 0 or 40 per cent amaranth flour, 1 or 6 per cent pea isolate, and 0 or 2 per cent Psyllium fibre. Corn starch levels were varied in response to the amounts of the other ingredients used.

In terms of handling and workability, the researchers found that the worst product was, made mainly of corn starch (94 per cent), while replacing 2 per cent corn starch with 2 per cent Psyllium fibre improved both the structure and workability of the dough, “indicating that Psyllium fiber, despite the higher amount of water required to form a dough, could act as an improver of the cohesion of starchy matrix,” said the researchers.

The best performance was observed for the formulations containing all four ingredients: 57 per cent corn starch, 40 per cent amaranth flour, 1 per cent pea isolate, and 2 per cent Psyllium fibre; or 52 per cent corn starch, 40 per cent amaranth flour, 6 per cent pea isolate, and 2 per cent Psyllium fibre.

The researchers also noted that staling of the new formulations would be delayed.

“Psyllium fiber generally enhanced the physical properties of the doughs, due to the film-like structure that it was able to form, and the most complex among the experimental formulations looked promising in terms of final bread technological and nutritional quality even when compared to two different commercial GF mixtures,” concluded the researchers.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Certain foods may thwart age-related vision loss

A new study suggests that older adults who eat diets rich in citrus fruits, leafy greens and fish oil, but low in "glycemic index," may have a lower risk of age-related macular degeneration -- the leading cause of vision loss among older U.S. adults.

AMD, also known as "age-related macular degeneration" refers to gradual damage to the macula, a structure in the retina that allows for seeing fine detail. The condition affects more than 1 million Americans, usually after the age of 65.

A number of studies have suggested that individual nutrients, including the antioxidants lutein, vitamin C and vitamin E, can help protect against AMD. This latest study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the overall diet patterns of 4,000 older adults and the links to AMD risk.

Researchers found that participants who tended to eat fish rich in

omega-3 fatty acids, or foods high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, lutein and zeaxanthin, had a relatively lower risk of AMD. Lutein and zeaxanthin are plant pigments that act as antioxidants; the nutrients are found in broccoli, spinach and other leafy green vegetables, as well as egg yolks.

The study also found that diets containing foods with a low glycemic index, also appeared protective against AMD.

Not surprisingly, older adults who combined all three dietary patterns showed a decreased AMD risk as well.

Glycemic index (GI) refers to how rapidly a food causes blood sugar to rise. High-GI foods, like white bread and potatoes, tend to spur a quick elevation in blood sugar, while low-GI foods, such as lentils, soybeans, yogurt and many high-fiber grains, create a more gradual increase in blood sugar.

The blood-sugar surges associated with high-GI diets may eventually damage the macula, explained lead researcher Dr. Chung-Jung Chiu, an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

That's because excess blood sugar interacts with other molecules, like fats and proteins, to form what are called glycated molecules, he told Reuters Health. This process, in turn, can put the body under more oxidative stress, which over time damages cells and may lead to various diseases, including


Foods rich in nutrients that may ward off AMD -- including citrus fruits, leafy greens, oily fish like salmon and mackerel, and vegetable oils -- are also seen as beneficial for overall health. So it's a good idea to try to eat more of them, Chiu said.

This is especially true for older adults, the researcher noted, since the body's "self-defense systems" generally decline with age.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vitamin D 'key to healthy brain

Scientists have produced more evidence that vitamin D has an important role in keeping the brain in good working order in later life.

A study of over 3,000 European men aged 40-79 found those with high vitamin D levels performed better on memory and information processing tests.

The University of Manchester team believe vitamin D may protect cells or key signalling pathways in the brain.

The study features in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

It follows research published in January which suggested that high levels of vitamin D can help stave off the mental decline that can affect people in old age.

The latest study focused on men from eight cities across Europe.

Their mental agility was assessed using a range of tests, and samples were taken to measure levels of vitamin D in their blood.

Men with high vitamin D levels performed best, with those who had the lowest levels - 35 nmol/litre or under - registering poor scores.

The researchers said the reason why vitamin D - found in fish and produced by sun exposure - seemed to aid mental performance was unclear.

Hormone link

They suggested it might trigger an increase in protective hormonal activity in the brain. However, the only data to back this up so far comes from animal studies.

There is also some evidence that vitamin D can dampen down an over-active immune system.

Alternatively, it may boost levels of antioxidants that in effect detoxify the brain.

The researchers stressed that many people, particularly in older age, were vitamin D deficient.

Therefore, if it were possible to stave off the effects on ageing on the brain with vitamin D supplements the implications for the health of the population could be significant.

Professor Tim Spector, of King's College London, has carried out research into the effect of vitamin D on ageing.

He said: "This is further evidence from observational studies that vitamin D is likely to be beneficial to reduce many age-related diseases.

"Taken together with similar data that shows its importance in reducing arthritis, osteoporotic fractures, as well as heart disease and some cancers, this underscores the importance of vitamin D for humans and why evolution gave us a liking for the sun.

"We also know that our genes also determine our vitamin D levels which explains why individuals can vary so much.

"We now need to study the best way to give using vitamin D properly in prevention."

Dr Iain Lang, of the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, carried out the earlier research.

He agreed there was mounting evidence suggesting vitamin D was good for the brain, but warned that it was possible that poor mental performance could be down to an inadequate diet, of which vitamin D deficiency might be just one manifestation.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hotels placing room service menus online

Add the room service menu to the list of hotel items collecting dust. A growing number of hotels are using online menus, allowing guests to order via smartphones or laptops.

Online menus offer more detailed information about food choices, including photos and daily specials, and allow guests to bypass phone chats with kitchen attendants. For hotels, the new technology means freeing employees from the phones for other chores and creates opportunities for "upselling" with recommendations.

Generally, the system works like this: A guest uses Wi-Fi to download an Internet page that contains the hotel's online menu. Once the order is placed, the system directly bills the room or the credit card. Some hotels also allow housekeeping, valet and requests for services such as additional towels or wake-up calls to be ordered online.

Omni Hotels has been testing an online order application at Omni Mandalay in Irving, Texas, since last year. Developed by Vancouver, Wash.-based GBCblue, the system will be expanded to several other Omni properties in coming months. The company hopes to install it chain-wide by the end of the year, says Kerry Kennedy, Omni's director of e-commerce.

Starwood Hotels has approved GBCblue's technology for all of its hotels, says Joe Adkisson of GBCblue.

Among other hotels that offer a similar service: Hyatt Regency Monterey, Calif.; Grand Hyatt San Francisco; Casa del Mar in Santa Monica, Calif.; Westin Maui; and Westin-Kierland in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Omni and GBCblue are developing a mobile menu "app" — or a software application — for iPhone and Blackberry users that can be downloaded to the phone directly and bypass the Internet browser.

To encourage more online orders, Malibu Beach Inn distributes Apple's iTouch to customers if they don't have their own Internet devices. GBCblue is working with a hotel in Hawaii for a similar project to distribute iTouch to guests sitting poolside.

For now, online orders are used mostly for room service. Once Malibu Beach Inn started using online menus last year, it saw a 25% increase in room service orders in the first six months, says Matt Allard of service creator Runtriz. GBC says Omni Mandalay's orders have similarly risen.

Omni Mandalay also has noticed that guests spend more — by about $3 an order — when ordering online. Omni plans to add a function that will recommend accompaniments to go along with the item ordered.

"If someone ordered just steak, we can remind them of the drink," Kennedy says. "We can have it set up to recommend the right wine."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Americans love their coffee, and brewers want to help them make it right at home

Even in this bumpy economy, Americans are holding on tight to their coffee cups.

That's the word from the National Coffee Association, whose latest study finds American coffee consumption holding steady in this recession.

One change, though, is we're making and drinking more java at home — in fact, 5 percent more than we did a year prior.

This may spell bad news for cafe owners who could see lighter traffic, but some of America's top specialty-coffee purveyors see this as an opportunity to deepen the public's appreciation for good coffee as they teach them how to treat their home beans right.

In recent months, Caffe Pronto Coffee Roastery of Annapolis, Md., has been offering workshops that range from proper coffee brewing to the importance of coffee origin to, most recently, pairing coffee with cheese.

A newly launched Web site,, allows folks to order home machines as well as beans from an array of specialty roasters across the nation.

And Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea's Web site (intelligentsia this month started selling home-brewing kits complete with a certificate for a brewing class.

For these purveyors of fine coffee, it's not just about education but also a point of professional pride. And it's about ensuring their lovingly procured and roasted beans find good homes.

finished product," said Vincent Iatesta, owner of Caffe Pronto. "And so even if we do an amazing job of choosing the farmer and ensuring it is harvested, milled, stored, transported and roasted right, we are still dependent on the consumer to prepare the coffee correctly at home. All of our hard work could go to waste if it is not brewed properly."

Iatesta and others shared their suggested steps for brewing a good cup of coffee:

· Use fresh coffee beans. Minimize the coffee beans' exposure to air by storing in an airtight container. Don't store beans in the freezer; it can cause damaging condensation during the thawing process.

· Use simple, nonelectric brewing methods, such as a French press or the manual makers like Melitta and Chemex, which allow you to stir the water and grounds while they are steeping for the most even extraction.

· Splurge for a good burr grinder ($40-$600). Experts say propeller grinders produce uneven grinds. Grind the beans just before you brew them.

· Use a good scoop to measure the recommended 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 to 8 ounces of water.

· Don't make coffee with water you wouldn't drink plain. Experts often use filtered or bottled water. For manual makers, heat the water to a full boil; wait 30 seconds before pouring. Warm your coffeepot with a swish of very hot water.


Coffee Ice Cream Soda

Author Daniel Young includes this recipe in "Coffee Love: 50 Ways to Drink Your Java" (Wiley, 2009). "Ice cream sodas taste better when milk is added to the syrup-flavored soda," he writes. "Using melted vanilla ice cream instead of milk multiplies that milky-creamy effect tenfold."

Makes 1 serving.

3 tablespoons coffee syrup (see recipe at right)

1/4 cup vanilla ice cream, melted

1/2 cup soda or seltzer water

1 large scoop coffee ice cream

Pour syrup into tall glass. Add vanilla ice cream. Stir. Pour in soda water, stirring, to within 2 inches of top of glass. Add large scoop of coffee ice cream.

Nutrition information: One serving provides 374 calories (41 percent of calories from fat), 17 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 52 milligrams cholesterol, 54 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams protein, 105 milligrams sodium, 0 fiber.

Cold-Brewed Coffee Syrup

Use this syrup in ice cream sodas and sundaes or over coffee or vanilla yogurt. Recipe adapted from "Coffee Love."

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

1 1/4 cups cold water

1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee

1 cup sugar

To make coffee mixture: In large jar or glass con-tainer, combine water and coffee. Let sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours and up to 12 hours.

To make syrup: Pour coffee mixture twice through paper coffee filter or sieve lined with cheesecloth. Combine coffee mixture and sugar in saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking, to just below boiling point. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken and has reduced by about a quarter for thinner syrup or by a third for thick syrup. Let cool. Cover tightly. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.


Labels on bags of coffee often can be confusing. Here's a guide to some of the terms you'll find, with information from coffee experts and from

· Bird-friendly certified: Coffee that has been verified by a representative of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and comes from a farm that meets "organic standards, canopy height, foliage cover and number of bird species, among other criteria," according to birdwatchers Farmers volunteer for the inspection and pay nothing to the Smithsonian for the certification, but 25 cents per pound goes to support the center's research and conservation programs, according to the center.

· Coffee blend: Coffee that has been blended from more than one farm, ideally to complement and enhance the flavor of each.

· Coffee terroir: The characteristics of the land on which coffee is produced including soil composition, weather, sun exposure, altitude, proximity to other plants, terrain and drainage. Although a coffee's origin and terroir can play a part in its flavor, experts agree the beans from the very same plot of land can change year to year, harvest to harvest and season to season.

· Direct trade: A broad term for coffee purchased directly from the farmer by the roastery, without middlemen. This allows farmers to get more money for their coffee and for terms to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. (For details, check your roasters' Web sites.)

· Estate coffee: Coffee farmed on a single plantation, which can have better consistency and higher quality control compared with coffees collected from many small farms.

· Fair Trade coffee: A certification from Transfair USA that guarantees a certain price for the farmer, certain working and economic conditions for the laborers and sustainable agricultural practices, including a restricted use of agro-chemicals and no GMOs (genetically modified organisms), according to Transfair. Coffee quality is not a factor. Many in the coffee-supply chain must pay a fee to the Transfair USA organization to be allowed to use the label.

· Organic coffee: Coffee verified by a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative to be produced on a farm that has not used synthetic pesticides or other prohibited substances for at least three years and has a sustainable crop rotation plan, according to the Organic Trade Association.

· Rainforest Alliance Certified: According to its Web site (, this means coffee grown on farms where "forests are protected, rivers, soils and wildlife conserved; workers are treated with respect, paid decent wages, properly equipped and given access to education and medical care. The Rainforest Alliance seal ensures experienced inspectors have verified that the farms meet demanding social and environmental standards, and are on a path toward true sustainability."

· Shade grown: Coffee grown in shade or partial shade, which some say results in better flavor because it needs a longer ripening time. Shaded coffee trees also offer natural habitat for songbirds and reduce the need for fertilizers.

· Single origin: Unblended coffee from a single country, growing region or plantation. (Also called straight coffee.)

· Varietal: Coffee made from a single type of coffee, such as arabica or Bourbon. Sometimes, just from a single country or region as in Brazil Bourbon Santos coffee.


What is the best method of brewing coffee? This question seems to be more important than ever, as the latest studies show that even if Americans are clinging to their coffee during this recession, more and more are making that fine java at home.

In discussions with coffee experts, we found general agreement on the four best ways of brewing it. None of them includes America's most popular method — the automatic drip machine.


Proponent: Vincent Iatesta, owner of Caffe Pronto Coffee Roastery in Annapolis, Md.: "I personally love it, and it's what I use at home every day," he said. "It produces a rich, complex, sweet cup of coffee, and there are never any bitter or sour notes that you can get from a traditional brewing process. And it looks cool."

How it works: Invented in France in the 1840s, this method was favored in early 20th-century America but got muscled out by automatic drip. With the renewed interest in fine coffee brewing, the vacuum has made a comeback. The device consists of a glass coffeepot and an upper glass chamber connected by a siphon tube. Water is placed in the lower coffeepot while ground coffee goes in the top chamber, fitted with a cloth filter. When the water heats to a boil on a stove, it travels up through the tube into the top chamber to mix with the coffee grounds. When the device is removed from the heat source, coffee is pulled back down through the filter into the pot, finishing with a gurgly flourish. It creates not only a complex pot of java but also a fun show. Good for those who want to retain richness from coffee oils, have the patience to carefully monitor their coffeepot and enjoy a good spectacle.

Price: The Bodum Santos Vacuum Pot costs $70 at


Proponent: Tony Dreyfuss, co-owner of Metropolis Coffee Co., Chicago: "I like all four methods, but Chemex or even the Melitta-style cone cost very little, and they are just fine. It's very simple, but it requires attention to the coffee. It gives a nice, clean flavor. But the thing to remember is the coffee requires 2 tablespoons per 6 ounces of water, and the water should be 30 seconds off the rolling boil."

How it works: Place ground coffee in a paper-filter-lined cone on top of the carafe; pour some just-boiled water to moisten the grounds and let it bloom. Then, add the rest of the water and let it drip through to the pot. Good for people on a budget who like a clean coffee flavor.

Price: Chemex brewer costs $40 at intelligentsiacoffee. com. The Melitta brewing system costs $17 on


Proponent: Doug Zell, CEO of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Chicago: "I like this because you get a little more viscosity, akin to a French press, but still a nice sweetness. You get a lot of the positive traits you get with a French press without any of the negatives, like sandiness."

How it works: Put grounds in the glass flask, pour hot water over them, stir them for 10 seconds. Then, place a filter funnel and a tip-up lid in the mouth of the flask, wait four minutes and pour. Good for those who go for a rich mouth feel but don't want any sediment. Also great for table pouring because it comes with a felt or neoprene zip-up jacket for the carafe.

Price: Eva Solo CafeSolo makers range from $98 to $111 on Also $118 at


Proponent: Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks: "I use a coarsely ground Sumatra, and I make it in a French press with water right off the boil," Schultz said. The Starbucks chief likes the "rich mouth feel" of French press coffee but acknowledges that "it isn't for everyone."

How it works: The French press (plunger pot) has a cylindrical glass carafe that holds the grounds. Hot water is poured to fill the carafe; after about four minutes you push down a plunger with a stainless-steel mesh filter to the base of the pot, thus straining and pressing the coffee grounds to the bottom. Good for those who will drink their java very soon after plunging and who like a full, rich body to their coffee.

Price: Bodum French press pots range from $20 to $50 at and other stores.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some 62% make finding healthy foods a top priority when shopping for groceries

Americans trying to eat healthier are looking to nutrition labels to help make better choices at the grocery store. But consumers who take those labels at face value may find they're not eating as healthy as they think.

Nearly two-thirds of adults -- 62% -- make finding healthy foods a top priority when shopping for groceries, according to a recent nationwide survey of 2,100 adults conducted by Greenfield Online.

Some 72% of consumers report reading nutrition fact labels and/or ingredient lists is the number one way they determine which foods to buy at the grocery store to stay healthy. And 61% of adults surveyed rank "zero grams trans fat per serving" as the most important statement they look for on the label for heart health.

But consumers may be surprised to learn "zero" isn't always zero when it comes to trans fat. Products labeled "zero grams trans fat" could contain up to .49 grams of trans fat per serving under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines. That means consumers could easily -- and unknowingly -- exceed the American Heart Association's recommended limit of no more than 2 grams of trans fat a day.

"It's easy to see how despite their best efforts, consumers eating foods labeled 'zero' trans fat could exceed the daily limit before they even sit down to dinner," said Steve Hughes, CEO of Smart Balance, Inc., which commissioned the survey.

Even seemingly insignificant amounts of trans fat can have a significant impact on health. The AHA reports trans fat has been shown to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol and lower HDL ("good") cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary disease or stroke; and it has been associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Adding just 4 grams of trans fat to your diet -- about 2% of your daily calorie intake in a 2,000 calorie diet -- can increase your risk of heart disease by 23%, according to the New England Journal of Medicine(1). The Journal reports one gram of trans fat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease 15 times more than one gram of saturated fat.

What Can Consumers Do to Determine Whether "Zero" Really Equals Zero?

"The key is to look for 'partially hydrogenated oil' in the list of ingredients. That's a dead giveaway that there's trans fat in the product no matter what it says on the package," said Alyse Levine, a registered dietitian. "Here's a simple rule to follow -- if you see 'partially hydrogenated oil' listed on a product's label, just put it back on the shelf and find another product that doesn't," Levine added.

"It's also important to pay attention to serving size which can be much smaller than you think. If you're eating multiple servings of the food, you may be consuming a significant amount of trans fat and putting yourself at risk for many negative health consequences," Levine said.

Smart Balance CEO Steve Hughes believes the U.S. needs to take it a step further and ban trans fat altogether as Denmark has done, resulting in a 20% drop in heart disease. "It's time consumers know the truth about trans fat and time the FDA takes action to protect their health by simply banning partially hydrogenated oil," Hughes said. "Partially hydrogenated oil has no nutritional value and poses a real health risk."

"The good news is Americans are making healthier food choices a priority and they clearly recognize the dangers of trans fat. But unfortunately reading the fine print is necessary to ensure they're not getting more trans fat and putting their health at greater risk than they bargained for," Levine said.

Now more than ever, with 67% of those surveyed saying they are eating out less and cooking at home more in the past six months, the choices consumers make at the grocery store can make a real difference in their health.

The "Healthy Shopping" Survey was conducted by Greenfield Online, Inc., a global research company that uses proprietary interactive technology to measure consumer attitudes. Greenfield surveyed 2,100 U.S. consumers ages 18 and older on April 20, 2009. The survey was commissioned by Smart Balance, Inc.

Smart Balance, Inc. (Nasdaq: SMBL) is committed to providing superior tasting heart healthier alternatives in every category it enters by avoiding trans fats naturally, balancing fats and/or reducing saturated fats, total fat and cholesterol. The company's products include Smart Balance(R) Buttery Spreads, Milk, Butter Blend Sticks, Peanut Butter, Microwave Popcorn, Cooking Oil, Mayonnaise, Non-Stick Cooking Spray and Cheese.

(1) Medical Progress: Trans Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease' (April 13, 2006). By Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., M.P.H., Matijn B. Katan, Ph. D., Alberto Ascherio, M.D., Dr.P.H., Meir J. Stempfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., and Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H. The New England Journal of Medicine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Recession Changing Consumers Shopping Behavior at the Supermarket

American consumers are changing their food shopping behavior and focusing on price and value at the supermarket, according to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) 2009 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report released today.

“Shoppers in every income bracket are facing budgetary pressures, and they are making different choices when it comes to the foods they purchase,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and chief executive officer. “The recession is affecting shopper decision making in ways that may endure. Retailers are challenged with a great opportunity to win over shoppers with money-saving ideas that appeal to their customers.”

Consumers Adopting New Behavior to Save on Food

Shoppers are economizing when it comes to food purchases. Trends identified three stages of consumer behavior:

  • Stage One — Shoppers save money on eating out by switching from fine dining to fast food. They also seek supermarket meal solutions in place of restaurant fare.
  • Stage Two — Consumers change their saving measures in the store by buying more private brands, using coupons, buying basic ingredients and shopping with a plan.
  • Stage Three — Shoppers switch store formats and choose supercenters, warehouse clubs and limited assortment stores.

A majority of consumers (69 percent) say they are eating out less. An additional 50 percent are eating out at less expensive places.

When deciding how to save money on their grocery bill, consumers are making plans before heading to the supermarket, resulting in fewer impulse purchases. In fact, 53 percent say they make a shopping list, 40 percent search newspaper or advertising inserts, and 35 percent report they look for coupons in the mail, newspapers and magazines.

The effort to save money continues once they are in the store. The popularity of private brands continues to grow with 97 percent of shoppers saying they plan to purchase the same amount of private brands or more during the next year.

(See Figure 1.)

(FMI will host a Private Brands Summit to bring industry leaders together to address strategic opportunities in private brands. It will be held this June 14-16 in New York.)

Retailers understand the importance of marketing private brand products. Some stores are conducting in-store comparison tests to measure shoppers’ preference for store brands versus national brand alternatives. Words associated with private products in the minds of consumers include “quality,” “value,” “cheaper” and “inexpensive.” Shoppers view private brands as a value-added offering in tough economic times. (See Figure 2.)

Price and Value Are Important to Shoppers

“Shoppers are focused on finding the best prices for the food they purchase,” said Sarasin. “It is the number one reason consumers pick which stores they shop at to stock up and which ones they choose for fill-in trips.”

Full-service supermarkets were identified by 56 percent of shoppers as their primary store, down from 60 percent last year. Customers are loyal to their primary store with only 6 percent saying they switched stores to save money on groceries, but when it comes to making a secondary trip, 42 percent of shoppers occasionally shop at other stores such as supercenters and warehouse stores to take advantage of specials. Supercenters have 27 percent of the market share when it comes to grocery shopping and are steadily increasing their share from 22 percent in 2005.

Most shoppers say they frequent a full-service supermarket either fairly often (31 percent) or almost every time (44 percent). Supercenters are the second most popular format, visited regularly by 39 percent of consumers.

The most price-sensitive shoppers report making more frequent trips to the store (2.3 weekly visits versus the average of 2.0 trips) to take advantage of the specials offered at different retail formats.

More than three-quarters of shoppers (76 percent) almost always check the price of a product before they decide to purchase it for the first time.

Consumers spend an average of $98.40 weekly on groceries, up slightly from $97.80 in 2008. However, this increase is offset by the 5.7 percent food-at-home inflation rate.

Advantages of Eating at Home — Healthier Meals and Costs Less

“The recession has brought consumers home — 55 percent say they are preparing more meals at home than last year,” said Sarasin. “Preparing meals at home is the best way to control food costs and ensure healthy eating.”

Consumers say they are concerned about the nutritional content of their food, and 92 percent say they eat healthier when dining at home. (See Figure 3.)

Shoppers admit the foods they eat at home could be healthier (57 percent), but they believe food prepared at home is better for them. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say food they consume away from home could be somewhat (48 percent) or a lot (24 percent) healthier.

Consumers seek time-saving, affordable and healthy choices for mealtime. They are most interested in:

  • Easy-to-make recipes (48 percent).
  • Recipes for cooking a meal for $10 or less (44 percent).
  • Convenient placement in the store for dinner items such as pasta, sauce, bread, meat and salad (28 percent)
  • .

Retailers are providing tools and information on their websites and in their stores to help customers make healthy choices at the supermarket, including:

  • Nutrition and health information (71 percent).
  • In-store pharmacists (70 percent) to provide health and wellness advice.
  • In-store health clinics (8 percent).
  • Dietitians or nutritionists (6 percent).

Consumer Confidence in Food Safety Remains Fragile

A majority of shoppers (83 percent) say they are either “somewhat” or “very confident” in the safety of food in the supermarket. However, this level of confidence is fragile because 72 percent say they are only “somewhat” confident. The report also found that nearly one-third (31 percent) of consumers stopped purchasing a food product because of safety concerns.

Consumers are more comfortable with food produced or grown in the U.S. than imported products: 90 percent of shoppers are either very or somewhat comfortable with U.S. foods compared with only 42 percent for foreign foods.

Unchanged from 2008, the majority of shoppers (89 percent) trust grocery stores to sell safe food but hold less trust in the government to make sure the food they purchase is safe: 79 percent agree with the statement, “I trust the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure that the food I purchase is safe,” and 76 percent expressed the same view about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“The most important goal of America’s food retailers and wholesalers is to sell safe products,” said Sarasin. “We actively work with the government and all partners in the supply chain to collaboratively undertake the responsibility to protect the safety of the food supply.”

“Supermarkets are in a unique position to help restore consumer confidence in the safety of food because they can enhance change in several areas: consumer education, supermarket operations, product recall management and improved working relationships with manufacturers and suppliers,” she said.

Retailers are working to enhance food safety in many ways including:

  • Implementing safe food-handling procedures throughout the store and continuously educating store associates through programs such as FMI’s SuperSafeMark®.
  • Improving the recall process by establishing electronic communication between manufacturers and retailers using the FMI Product Recall Portal, powered by GS1 US (formerly the Uniform Code Council).
  • Request suppliers to become audited through recognized, accredited certification programs such as FMI’s Safe Quality Food (SQF) to ensure suppliers comply with international and domestic food safety regulations.
  • Participating in the Partnership for Food Safety Education, which brings together consumer groups, federal agencies and industry associations to develop food safety education programs for consumers.

Consumer Interest in Locally Grown Products and Sustainability

Consumers continue to show strong support for locally grown products. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of shoppers say they purchase locally grown products on a regular basis. Some of the reasons they like to buy local:

  • Freshness (82 percent).
  • Support the local economy (75 percent).
  • Taste (58 percent).
  • Environmental impact of transporting foods across great distances (35 percent).

The economy has not had a major impact on consumer interest in sustainability. More than half (59 percent) of shoppers say retailers’ efforts in the areas of recycling and sustainability are important. The vast majority of retailers (94 percent) sell reusable shopping bags and more consumers (40 percent) are bringing their own bags when they shop for groceries. There is growing evidence that sustainability can make sound business sense, reducing costs and increasing consumer loyalty.

(FMI will hold its Sustainability Summit in San Francisco, CA, August 17-19, 2009, to bring together key stakeholders to create an opportunity for education, develop new partnerships and help the industry move forward with innovative new sustainability strategies.)

Methodology Data for U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2009 were collected through surveys conducted by Harris Poll Online among a nationally representative sample of 2,040 U.S. shoppers. Respondents must have met the following requirements to participate in the survey: a minimum of 18 years of age, primary or equally shared responsibility for food shopping, and they must have shopped for groceries in the past two weeks.

This report was made possible by the generous support of PepsiCo. To purchase a copy ($95 for FMI Retailers/Wholesaler Members, $175 for FMI Associate Members and $250 for nonmembers), contact the FMI Store at 202-220-0723 or visit