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Top Stories for 10/20/14

US Cocoa Supply Sufficient to Weather Potential Ebola Disruption

U.S. cocoa stocks are high enough to prevent disruptions well into 2015, diminishing concerns that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa could affect supplies, according to a Hershey spokesperson. More than half the annual cocoa supply needed is already in the U.S., and supplies from Ivory Coast and Ghana have not been hit by the virus. Hershey also noted that while West Africa produces more than half of the world's cocoa beans, other regions could be sourced if needed, including Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. While the disease has spread in other parts of Africa, Ebola has yet to make it to the major cocoa-producing regions, reports Reuters. Full Story

Fully Sustainable Restaurant to Open in San Francisco

Restaurateurs Anthony Myint and wife Karen Leibowitz recently became part of a new nonprofit called Zero Foodprint, which helps restaurants reduce their carbon footprint and fight climate change. They are now using those principles in The Perennial, their new restaurant that will focus on sustainable food, slated to open in February in San Francisco. The meat will be certified as sourced from "carbon farming" projects and the breads and baked goods will be made with perennial grasses, which are grown more sustainably than wheat. They will have an aquaponic greenhouse, in which fish will be fed with leftovers from the restaurant, and the fish waste will fertilize a vegetable garden. The kitchen will also be energy-efficient. Additionally, Paramo Coffee will use the aquaponic greenhouse as a roasting facility, and, in turn, it will have a kiosk inside the restaurant, reports San Francisco Eater. Full Story

Brooklyn Brew Shop, Pereg Gourmet Win SIAL Innovation Awards

Brooklyn Brew Shop, Pereg Gourmet Win SIAL Innovation Awards

Both companies are exhibiting in the USA pavilion Oct. 19–23 at the Paris trade expo.

By Stephanie Cain

Two Specialty Food Association members will be recognized tonight at the Salon International de l’Agroalimentaire (SIAL) Innovation Awards and exhibition in Paris, France. New York’s Brooklyn Brew Shop won top honors in both the Alcoholic Beverages and Food Retail categories for its Beer Making Kit, one of 16 grand prize winners selected from 1,700 entries. Pereg Gourmet earned a SIAL Innovation Selection award.

SIAL, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, brings together more than 6,000 exhibiting brands with its annual exhibition, featuring food producers from around the world and is expected to draw some 150,000 attendees this year. It runs through Oct. 23.

Brooklyn Brew Shop, which launched in 2009, offers home-brewing kits with easy-to-use instructions and stylish packaging. Co-founder Erica Shea says her mission is to simplify the beer-making process without dumbing it down, so that more people can enjoy the experience of brewing at home. The kits are sold nationwide at major retailers and specialty kitchen stores as well as internationally in 23 countries.

“Winning the Grand Prize in Alcohol for SIAL Innovation ... Continue Reading

Meal Ingredient Delivery Services Boom

Home delivered meal kits could reach $3 billion to $5 billion in sales over the next decade, according to Technomic. Services like N.Y.'s Blue Apron deliver high-end, pre-measured ingredients to "customers [who] love sitting back and letting us do the grocery shopping for them," commented CEO Matt Salzberg, whose company reaches an estimated 84 percent of the US and specializes in gourmet items like husk cherries and fiddlehead greens, reports The Journal Gazette. Meanwhile, Plated launched a food truck to bring its meal creation kits to customers offline. The truck offers the same packages available on the Plated website, but caters to commuters on their way home who want an easy, fresh dinner to prepare and who might not be able to receive deliveries to their home. Food truck customers can buy the 30-minute meals à la carte, unlike online, where they must order a minimum of four plates. The food truck will operate through December, with plans to continue if the experiment is successful. The meals use local and organic ingredients when possible and are planned by chefs, reports Crain's New York Business

Sacramento Arena to Showcase Local Cuisine

The new downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings will feature food and beverages sourced from within the region, and Michael Tuohy, formerly the executive chef at LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar, will be the arena's chef. More than 740 local farms, vineyards, breweries and other food sources will contribute to the food offerings. Kings president Chris Granger says 90 percent of the food at the arena will come from within 150 miles, which he believes will be well-received by the fans. Legends Hospitality will manage the foodservice, and Shervin Mirhashemi, president and chief operating officer, says that if a new concept becomes popular in the area, arena visitors will see dishes inspired by it very quickly. There will also be an advisory council of local chefs and food professionals who will assist in the foodservice decisions, reports Sacramento Business JournalFull Story

AZ Raising Minimum Wage

Arizona will raise its minimum wage by 15 cents to $8.05 an hour starting Jan. 1, thanks to a 2006 voter initiative requiring the Industrial Commission of Arizona to keep wages in line with the Consumer Price Index. The move will affect about 17,000 workers, most of whom are employed in the restaurant industry. The new wage, which reflects an uptick in inflation, translates into an annual salary of $16,744, and will be about 80 cents an hour more than the federal minimum wage. The increase, however, is not as high as those elsewhere in the western part of the country; California, Oregon, and Washington have raised their minimum wages over to $9 an hour, reports AZCentral.com. Full Story

New Website Helps NJ Small Businesses Assist Uninsured Workers

If a New Jersey small business can't provide health insurance to all of its employees, it can now help those workers in another way. The new website GetWorkersCovered.org aims to help employers and employees navigate medical insurance plans to encourage all people to get coverage. GetWorkersCovered.org was launched by the Employers Association of New Jersey, a nonprofit group, and the community Health Law Project, which received a $350,000 federal grant to promote sign-ups through the federal health exchange.

About half of New Jersey's small businesses do not provide health insurance to their workers, according to the website. With the goal of getting more people to sign up for coverage, the groups believe employers "are best positioned to reach uninsured workers," says John Sarno, president of the Employers Association. The website aims to build awareness of options and support New Jersey residents in the process of signing up, arguing that doing so benefits employers and employees alike, reports NorthJersey.com. Full Story

CA Ice Cream Shop Plans Expansion

The ice cream sandwich shop, CREAM, debuted in San Jose, Calif., earlier this year and business has been booming, not only at this location but at its Silicon Valley shop as well. The company has decided to open up 10 new locations in Santa Clara County to meet demand. A multi-store development agreement has already been signed with the company's San Jose franchisee to open four additional California locations in Cupertino, Milpitas, Los Gatos, and Almaden Valley. Expansion efforts also extend beyond the Bay Area. CREAM stands for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me and was started in Berkeley, Calif., in 2010, reports Silicon Valley Business JournalFull Story

Gourmet du Village Appointed Exclusive Distributor, Introduces New Products

Gourmet du Village has been appointed the exclusive distributor for the Caron & Doucet Cuisine line of natural, mineral oil-free alternatives for kitchenware care. The collection features products for cast iron, wood, and bamboo, and carbon and stainless steel for the barbecue. Other new products are hot apple or cranberry cider and mulled wine made with Gourmet du Village's blend of spices. And adding to its hot chocolate collection are two seasonal favorites: pumpkin pie-flavored hot chocolate, which features its signature Double Truffle blend with a hint of pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and nutmeg. The second new variety is a spicy Mexican flavor, made by adding chili spice for an extra bit of warmth. These new products and the entire collection of gourmet gifts can be seen at Gourmet du Village's showrooms in Dallas, Atlanta, and Philadelphia.

Food Businesses Tap Bloggers to Attract Local Customers

Specialty food businesses are turning to bloggers to connect with local customers. According to BlogHer, a national women's blog network, 49 percent of women read blogs, with 74 percent of those being between the ages of 25 and 34. Mom Saves Money blogger Nicole McDonald and four other bloggers recently partnered with Omaha Steaks to host a sampling event in Bellevue, Wash., that drew more than 100 attendees, and 80 percent of those making purchases were first-time customers. Omaha Bloggers, which consists of some 50 writers, partnered with Plank Seafood Provisions on two September events to call attention to the restaurant's happy hour offerings.

Blog advice is popular because millennials trust someone they know rather than advertising pitches, according to Owen Shapiro, president of Shapiro, a Chicago-based market research firm. Both businesses and bloggers, however, caution that too much advertising on a site could turn away rather than retain potential customers. Companies are advised to research a blogger's background to see if it will help them with their marketing, reports Omaha.com. Full Story

British Seasoning Firm Looks to US, Australia Expansion

The Flava People, a British supplier of marinades, sauces, and seasonings, is planning expansion in the US and Australia after supplying butchers and retail outlets in Britain and several other countries for the past 30 years. The Manchester-based firm sells branded marinades, sauces, seasonings and crumbs via its Flava-it Professional Collection sauces and marinades and Flava-it sachets. Business for the Flava People is reportedly up 11 percent this year and the firm is looking to expand operations to meet growing demand, reports Manchester Evening NewsFull Story

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