Iron Chef America Debuts Home Meal Kits
Iron Chef America brand has launched À La Cuisine home meal kits, inspired by the Food Network’s Iron Chef America (ICA) series. À La Cuisine home meal kits arrive in the U.S. under license to Premier Meat Packers, which acquired the North American License for all food categories.
À La Cuisine home meal kits are packed with premium meats, farm-picked veggies, gourmet sauces and aromatic basmati rice. A meal kit can feed four in as little as 12 minutes. The product line features an assortment of flavors like Garam Masala Chicken, Beef Mongolian, Thai Green Curry Beef and Spicy Szechuan Chicken, among others.
Additionally, À La Cuisine home meal kits provide fresh ingredients that are low in sodium and preserve their nutritional value.
“ICA is the main source of inspiration. The chefs are impressive. Foodies like myself are hooked,” says Anthony J. Elman, SVP of sales and marketing for Premier Meat Packers. “People love a bold and delicious dish. We felt the need to supply them with varied meal kit essentials, inspired by Iron Chefs. À La Cuisine caters to people’s cravings. We also designed two introductory sweeter flavors. It’s food they can conveniently and quickly cook up. This is a product people can identify with.”
Loko Rita Marks Latest Adult Beverage Product From Phusion Projects
Phusion Projects is introducing a new adult beverage, Loko Rita.
Available in Margarita and Peach Margarita, Loko Rita is 8 percent ABV and uses natural flavors and real fruit juice. Loko Rita is available in 16-oz. single cans.
“With the introduction of Loko Rita, we are showcasing our ability to develop new flavors and innovative packaging,” said Jim Sloan, EVP with Phusion Projects. “The tactile can is something we feel will draw consumers to the product and the taste will keep them coming back for more.”
Loko Rita is launching in four test markets this month: Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Richmond, Va.; and Las Vegas, Nev.
Phusion Projects is a Chicago-based, multi-brand alcoholic beverage company that sells its products—including Four Loko, Poco Loko, Earthquake, Moskato Life and Island Squeeze—in the U.S. and Canada.
UGA Plant Produces Blueberries Up To Four Times The Average
by Sharon Dowdy/UGA, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
Special to The Shelby Report
When it comes to choosing fruit, most people reach for the biggest piece. Titan, a new blueberry variety bred by a University of Georgia scientist, makes that an easy task. It produces berries two to four times the size of average blueberries.
“People like big strawberries and big blackberries. Now they can get big blueberries,” says Scott NeSmith, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences researcher who bred the new variety.
The UGA Research Foundation has applied for a plant patent for Titan.
For commercial and homeowner use
Titan was designed for both commercial and homeowner use. NeSmith says backyard growers will like the berry size and so will visitors at pick-your-own farms.
“Common sense tells you that picking blueberries by hand takes a long time. Not with Titan,” he says.
Average blueberries are usually a little smaller than a dime. NeSmith has seen Titan berries grow as large as a quarter. A rabbiteye blueberry, Titan is well suited for growing in Georgia and produces well in USDA hardiness zones 6a through 9a.
Released in 2012, Titan hasn’t been added to Georgia blueberry farmers’ fields yet, but it is available in limited supplies for homeowners.
“Right now, most nurseries have waiting lists for Titan plants. That’s how popular it is,” NeSmith says. “They have more orders than they do plants.”
Ask stores to stock Titan
He encourages homeowners to contact their local garden center and request the variety.
“If enough people ask for it, hopefully the big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot will start carrying it,” NeSmith says.
Titan is officially available through the following licensed nurseries: Ken James Greenhouses (www.jamesgreenhouses.com); Cornelius Farms (corneliusfarms.com/nurserydivision.html); and Oregon Blueberry (www.oreblueberry.com).
No matter which blueberry variety you add to your home landscape, NeSmith says to set aside the first year as a growing year for the plant.
“You may see a small amount of fruit the second year, but the third year will bring a good blueberry crop,” he says.
While some varieties are self-fruiting, NeSmith advises planting two or more varieties to ensure good pollination and fruit set. Two additional homeowner varieties that recently were released are Summer Sunset and Blue Suede.
Award-winning blueberry breeder
Based on the UGA campus in Griffin, Ga., NeSmith has been researching blueberries in Georgia since 1990. He recently was awarded the UGA Inventor’s Award for his research efforts that include the release of 10 new patented commercial blueberry varieties and two patented ornamental blueberry varieties. The award is presented each year by the UGA Research Foundation to recognize an inventor for a unique and innovative discovery that has impacted the community, state and/or world. UGA-developed blueberries are grown around the world on all continents except Antarctica.
Blueberry production has surpassed peaches as the No. 1 fruit crop in Georgia.
“Nationally, we may be close to No. 1 in acres now, and we are second or third in production,” NeSmith says. Georgia farmers use about 21,749 acres for blueberry production, and the farm gate value was more than $254 million in 2011, according to the Georgia Farm Gate Value Report.
In the featured photo at top: A Titan blueberry plant can produce berries ranging from two to four times the size of traditional blueberries. This photo shows two berries from the same Titan plant. One berry is so large it nearly covers the quarter it sits on. (Photos courtesy of Scott NeSmith)
- Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Frieda’s Launches New Label For Champagne Grapes
Frieda’s Champagne Grapes, with a new green and purple label, are available for pre-booking. Packed in a 16/1-lb. clamshell to protect the fruit, Frieda’s will have supplies of Champagne Grapes beginning in July.
“Frieda’s new label stands out in your grape displays, which makes it easier for consumers to find them and pick them up,” says Karen Caplan, Frieda’s president and CEO. “No grape display is complete without Frieda’s Champagne Grapes.”
Frieda’s recommends displaying Champagne Grapes refrigerated with other grape varieties. The grapes also can be cross merchandised with gourmet cheeses and wines for entertaining ideas. They also are an addition to a “Year of Purple” display.
Founded in 1962 by Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s was the first wholesale produce company in the U.S. to be founded, owned and operated by a woman, and it is still a family- and women-owned business today. Frieda’s has introduced more than 200 specialty items to U.S. produce departments, including Kiwifruit, Spaghetti Squash, Habanero Peppers and Black Garlic. Frieda’s officially declared 2013 as “The Year of Purple.”
Beyond Meat Launches Chicken-Free Strips
Beyond Meat, the makers of plant-based protein foods that take the animal out of meat, is rolling out Chicken-Free Strips—offering consumers a plant protein that the company says is being touted as the most realistic chicken substitute to hit the market.
Beyond Meat provides consumers with clean, plant-based proteins that replicate the taste, texture and nutritional benefits of meat. Backed by Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams’ Obvious Corp. investment firm and San Francisco-based Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Beyond Meat’s first introduction—Chicken-Free Strips—has been in the works for a decade.
Passionate about improving health, reducing ecological footprint and improving animal welfare, Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown believes Americans are ready for more choices when it comes to protein—specifically clean, plant-based proteins. By launching a chicken substitute that doesn’t sacrifice on taste, chew or satisfaction, he believes anyone looking to reduce meat consumption will be able to do so easily.
“We believe the future of protein is animal-free. We want Beyond Meat to be sold as a meat alternative in places where you would ordinarily find meat. Whether that is in the meat case at your local grocery store or at your local fast food restaurant chain,” Brown said. “This is very different from how meat alternatives are positioned today where you have to hunt them down in a separate refrigerated section far from areas where you would find meat.”
Beyond Meat launched its Chicken-Free Strips nationally in Whole Foods Market in April. Tropical Smoothie will be the first national restaurant chain to offer Beyond Meat as a substitute for chicken in salads and sandwiches in 338 locations across 36 states beginning Tuesday.
Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips are made with a blend of pea and soy protein offering consumers 20g of protein per 3-oz. serving and 120 calories. The strips have no saturated or trans fat and are cholesterol free, gluten free, dairy free, meat free, egg free, GMO free, hormone free and antibiotic free. They are available in three flavors: Southwest, Lightly Seasoned and Grilled.
Snikiddy To Preview New Individual-Size Bags At Snacks & Sweets Expo
Snikiddy will introduce 1.5-oz. bags of Snikiddy All-Natural Baked Fries and Eat Your Vegetables at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago next week, May 21-23. The new smaller, portion-controlled bags will be available in Snikiddy’s most popular flavors, including All-Natural Baked Fries Cheddar Cheese, Sea Salt and Hot & Spicy, and Eat Your Vegetables Sea Salt and Sour Cream & Onion, the company says. The company will offer samples of the new bags at its booth, No. 2373, and will be featured in the new product showcase during the expo.
“We’re thrilled to be able to offer more accessible packaging options for the most popular flavors of our All-Natural Baked Fries and Eat Your Vegetables snacks,” says Mary Schulman, founder and EVP of marketing for Snikiddy. “As a family brand, we’re devoted to making wholesome better-for-you snacks easy and delicious. Our new 1.5-oz. bags make it easier than ever before for the whole family to enjoy healthy snacking anywhere, any time.”
Snikiddy All-Natural Baked Fries contain 50 percent less fat than regular potato chips and 35 percent less fat than regular veggie sticks and straws, the company says. Eat Your Vegetables is a flavorful line of crisps made with a blend of vegetables—offering a good source of vitamin A and fiber and containing 3g of protein per serving.
The 1.5-oz. bags currently are available at select retailers nationwide—including Safeway, select Target stores, Sprouts Farmers Market, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market, Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us as well as online at Snikiddy.com.
United Fresh 2013 Attendees Recognize Best New Products
Attendees of the United Fresh Produce Association’s annual convention and expo in San Diego cast their votes Wednesday and recognized this year’s New Product Awards in five categories. More than 30 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations competed in the categories of Best New Food Safety Solution, Best New Fruit Product, Best New Packaging, Best New Packing/Processing Equipment and Best New Vegetable Product.
The 2013 New Product Award winners are:
• Best New Food Safety Solution: FoodLink Item, Food Link.
• Best New Fruit Product: Lil Snappers, Sunkist Growers Inc.
• Best New Packaging Product: Sunset Display Ready Box, Mastronardi Produce.
• Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: RayFly Optical Sorter, Raytec Vision, SPA.
• Best New Vegetable Product: Pumpkin Pie Baking Kit, AMF Farms/Bay Baby Produce.
“These winning products have been selected by United attendees as outstanding representations of the new approaches, ideas and processes that are driving the fresh fruit and vegetable industry forward, and we applaud them for their product development,” said John Toner, United Fresh’s VP of convention and industry relations. “From its very beginnings, the United show has been the undisputed home of innovation for the produce industry, and these awards continue to showcase the best and brightest minds in the produce business.”
The finalists in each category were on display in the United Fresh membership booth on the trade show floor, and the winners were selected from votes cast by show attendees.
United Fresh launches Recall Ready Program
United Fresh this week launched the Recall Ready Program to help produce industry companies prepare for recalls as well as provide professional assistance for managing recall events. Ron Midyett, CEO of Apio and incoming chairman of United Fresh, announced the new program at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego.
“The Recall Ready Program is all about meeting the needs of our members in regards to one of our industry’s most critical priorities—food safety. If any of you don’t have an up-to-date recall plan, or haven’t been through recall training, I strongly urge you to consider this program,” said Midyett.
Recall Ready is designed to give companies peace of mind, and the confidence that they are prepared in advance and have the resources to respond to any recall situation. The program is a partnership between United Fresh and the legal and communications experts at OFW Law and Watson Green, who are counted among the food industry’s leading crisis counseling firms, according to a United Fresh news release.
Companies can choose program service options that include a recall plan review, creation of a custom recall plan and mock recall training. These program plans, with fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, help produce companies prepare for recalls and to learn how to deal with the surprises that can arise during recalls.
Additionally, once companies have completed one of these services to be prepared for a recall, they can engage United’s Rapid Recall Response Team to provide assistance from United and outside experts from the first moments of a recall crisis. The plan offers a 24/7 recall hotline and eight hours total consultation from United and Watson Green. The plan includes discounts on legal and communications services, if needed, beyond the initial consultation period.
“For minimizing the impact of a recall on your business, there’s nothing more important than having a plan and making sure your team is prepared to execute that recall plan,” said Dr. David Gombas, SVP of food safety and technology at United Fresh.
United will begin providing service under the Recall Ready Program in June. Members attending United Fresh 2013 in San Diego were able to register onsite for the program and receive a 10 percent discount.
MorningStar Farms Debuts Mediterranean Chickpea Veggie Burger
MorningStar Farms is introducing its Mediterranean Chickpea Veggie Burger, packed with chickpeas and vegetables.
“The Mediterranean Chickpea Veggie Burger is a bold addition to the MorningStar Farms’ lineup of meatless burgers,” says Michael Allen, president of Kellogg Frozen Food. “And with hearty, delicious chickpea recipes gaining popularity, we are excited to be bringing the brand’s first chickpea burgers to market, especially as summer grilling kicks off.”
The MorningStar Farms Mediterranean Chickpea Veggie Burgers come four to a pack and can be found in the frozen food section at retailers across the country.