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Top Stories for 10/22/14

Canada Threatens Trade Sanctions over US Meat Labeling Law

Canada is threatening to add trade tariffs on U.S. meat, wine, cheese, and other exports as retaliation against the United States' meat-labeling law. Canada and Mexico have both denounced the law, which has been in effect since 2013, stating it discriminates against those countries' exports of beef and pork. The World Trade Organization ruled in their favor, calling the country-of-origin labeling law, known commonly as COOL, unfair.

The U.S. has 60 days to appeal the ruling. Consumer groups are urging an appeal, saying that the labeling rules are essential for food safety and transparency in the meat industry, reports Los Angeles TimesFull Story

Crackdown on Raw Milk Sales in Europe

European officials are taking aim at raw-milk dispensaries that have been popping up across the continent, from town squares to supermarket parking lots, in recent years. Italian regulators have begun shutting down or suspending sales, citing failure to meet stringent hygiene standards. Italy is said to have some 1,300 currently operating machines. In the U.K., the sale of raw milk is legal but only on the farms where the milk is produced. English health officials sued department store Selfridges after it installed a machine in 2011. The U.K.'s Food Standards Agency is currently deciding whether to allow more widespread sales.

Raw-milk proponents are lobbying to have restrictions eased, claiming that mechanical milk dispensers are safe to use. Some also argue restrictions will lead to black markets, although one already exists in Britain. Raw milk rules vary from country to country, with some instating outright bans, reports The Wall Street JournalFull Story (Subscription Required)

Hanson Faso Acquires Midwest Foodservice Broker

Hanson Faso Acquires Midwest Foodservice Broker

Hanson Faso's president says the move will benefit both companies with added visibility and reach in foodservice.

By Stephanie Cain

Hanson Faso Sales & Marketing announced Monday that it acquired Cheese and Deli Sales, a Chicago-based food brokerage specializing in perishable and premium foodservice sales. The merger positions Hanson Faso as a leading Midwest brokerage in specialty foods and confections, covering a total of 22 states and giving both companies greater presence in the grocery store.

“There are really two reasons we got together,” explains Stewart Reich, president of Hanson Faso (pictured). “On the Hanson Faso side, we were very interested in a stronger presence in the perishable and foodservice side. For CDS, they wanted to expand their geographic footprint. So it’s a complementary deal for both of us.”

The combined company will provide sales and marketing experience to leading food establishments and the perishable departments, business as usual for each company. CDS will move to the current Hanson Faso headquarters, offering the company 12,000 square feet of newly constructed space, plus a test and demonstration kitchen for tasting and educational events.

From a corporate standpoint, CDS will be part of Hanson Faso, but marketing and sales-wise, the ... Continue Reading

Groupon Introduces Personalized Merchant Pages

Groupon has launched a new listing tool for merchants called Pages, which allows businesses to create and manage a business profile to highlight unique features and customer ratings and tips. Giving business owners the opportunity to create and customized a profile through the site, Pages aims to help merchants connect with potential customers and drive more sales using offers, specials, coupons, and other promotions. Businesses can customize their page to include specific company information, receive real-time feedback from customers, and engage with them to build connections. Premium features will provide promotion, customer engagement, and analytic tools.

Pages offers new features for consumers as well. Users can request deals from their favorite businesses and make recommendations to others, or serve as verified local experts for their area. The program was successfully piloted in Chicago, D.C., New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, and more will continue to roll out across the country. Groupon is currently inviting businesses to "claim" their pages to start customization.

Italian White Truffle Prices Drop 37%

Surplus crops have helped bring down prices for Italian white truffles by 37 percent this year. Heavy rains in the summer led to a record number of the fungi, which now cost about $280 per 100 grams, compared with $445 in 2013 and $636 in 2012, according to the National Centre for the Study of Truffles. Production of white truffles this year is about 30 percent more than the same period last year.

Italy's truffle hunters and dealers are now seeking emerging markets to boost demand. "Emerging markets, like Brazil, China, India, [and] Vietnam will become very interesting for us," says Alessandro Bonino, who owns a shop in Alba, in the northern region of Piedmont, that sells truffles and other local foods. "They will see in the white truffle what they see now in caviar," reports Bloomberg. Full Story

Boyd’s Launches Winter Brew Organic Coffee

Boyd’s Coffee is launching a new seasonal beverage, Winter Brew Organic Coffee. The dark, hearty roast, which will be available in 2.75-ounce ground portion packs from Dec. 1 through February 2015, is Rainforest Alliance certified and USDA organic. It joins Boyd’s other seasonal drinks, including Peppermint Twist Hot Cocoa and Highlander Grogg. Peppermint Twist Hot Cocoa is currently available through February and offered for foodservice in 2-pound bulk packs. Highlander Grogg flavored coffee, now available year-round, is a medium-light roast blend with hints of caramel, vanilla, and Scottish brandy, available in 2.75-ounce ground portion packs.

Point-of-purchase merchandising and easy-to-operate equipment options are available. Founded in 1900 in Portland, Ore., Boyd’s has provided restaurants, hotels, and convenience stores with its coffee, tea, and other beverages offerings.

MN Promotes "Brewcations" to Draw Tourists to Craft Breweries

A crop of emerging craft breweries has Minnesota inviting tourists to enjoy a "brewcation." The state sees its growing craft beer industry as a potential tourist attraction, and a new promotion aims to lure visitors to plan vacations around brewery visits. To push the idea, Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild are leaving "brewcation" brochures at the state's 10 visitor centers.

Craft brewery growth is attributed in part to passage of the "Surly Bill" that now allows state brewers to open their own taprooms so customers can come for a taste. About 60 breweries are currently operating in the state, including Fulton Brewery in Minneapolis, Big Wood Brewery in White Bear Lake, and Fitger's Brewhouse in Duluth. Some already see their businesses as tourist destinations, reports Star TribuneFull Story

Gourmet Chocolatier Plans $2.5M Pittsburgh, PA, Expansion

Century-old chocolate business Edward Marc Brands will invest more than $2.5 million to expand operations in Pittsburgh, Pa. The company, a boutique-style chocolatier founded by the Edwards family in 1914, leased a 50,000-square-foot space in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. The expansion will enable the company to produce its newly launched line of confections called Snappers, a snack made with pretzels, caramel, and chocolate.

The company received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, including a $100,000 Pennsylvania First Program grant, $51,000 in Job Creation Tax Credits, and a $22,950 grant that will be used to train the expanding workforce, reports Area Development. Full Story

Artisanal Ice Finds Eager Customers in Cocktail Industry

Artisanal ice is rising in popularity as restaurants and bars look for ways to increase the appeal, and margins, of their unique cocktails. Co-founder of hand-cut ice company Favourite Ice, Joe Ambrose, supplies about 30 restaurants and caterers in the D.C. area with specialty ice, and several similar businesses are operating across the country. The big attraction is in creating crystal-clear ice in large pieces, which have the appeal of melting slower and thus slowing dilution to maintain the flavor of cocktails for longer. A combination of machinery and handicraft go into the end result, reports NPR. Full Story

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