your-news image

N.C. SweetPotato Commission offers chefs and restaurateurs some R&R

The North Carolina SweetPotato Commission kicked off a new program designed to recognize and reward chefs and restaurateurs who are supporting North Carolina sweet potato growers by including them and identifying their origin on menus.

Effective Jan. 1 and running through April 30, the commission will be accepting applications from chefs and restaurateurs in North Carolina and surrounding states who want to be considered for this program.

?The objective is identify 10 chefs and/or restaurateurs who are featuring North Carolina sweet potatoes by name on their menus, present them with a certificate of appreciation and reward them with a $100 check," said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission.

If an applicant includes a chain with 10 or more locations, that chain will receive a check for $500. The commission will include up to two chains in this program.

To be considered for the program, each applicant must include North Carolina sweet potatoes on the menu for a minimum of two months and provide documentation such as menus and/or purchase orders for sweet potatoes grown in North Carolina.

?Members of our Chefs Advisory Board have been showing this kind of support since its inception almost four years ago," said Ms. Johnson-Langdon. "A North Carolina sweet potato waffle is on Chef Brian Stapleton?s menu at The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, and Daniel Schurr, executive chef at Second Empire Restaurant in Raleigh has North Carolina mashed sweet potatoes on his menu. We want to encourage more chefs to do the same, so we?re making this investment on behalf of all of the sweet potato growers in our state."

The chefs on the advisory board also show their dedication and support for North Carolina growers by developing and donating recipes for use on postcards, recipe brochures and the commission?s web site.

Julie Scott, vice president of account service at The Thacker Group, the public relations firm that coordinates the Chefs Advisory Board and other public relations and promotion programs on behalf of the commission, added, "Several of the chefs have donated their time and energy to serve as spokespeople on local and national television and radio. Most recently, the chefs lent their names, faces and celebrity for a chef trading card program that features the chef on one side and a North Carolina sweet potato recipe on the other."

Currently, 14 chefs from around the state serve on the NCSPC Chefs Advisory Board.

For more information about the Restaurant Reward & Recognition program, contact Julie Scott at 918/382-7272 or by e-mail at Julie@thackergroup.com.

Aroma opens the door to a new dimension in produce marketing

As packaging is increasingly used in the fresh produce industry, consumers? sense of smell is eliminated as a marketing issue. But ScentSational Technologies, based in the Philadelphia suburb of Jenkintown, PA, is offering a new packaging technology that can make packaging smell like the product.

Since ScentSational began commercialization in the fourth quarter of 2003, it has been busy working with the world?s leading packaged food and beverage companies to apply its patented CompelAroma " a proprietary technology utilizing encapsulated flavor and aroma " to packaging.

In a Dec. 23 interview with The Produce News in the offices of U.S. Produce Exchange Inc. in Philadelphia, ScentSational?s chairman and chief technical officer, Steven Landau, announced that his firm is prepared to offer its services to the fresh produce industry.

Mr. Landau is a former business associate and close personal friend of Chris Gardella, director of business development for U.S. Produce Exchange. Mr. Gardella, through U.S. Produce Exchange, will be working with ScentSational to introduce the aroma marketing concept to the fresh fruit and vegetable trade.

?This is a new and innovative approach to produce marketing," Mr. Landau said. "It is another dimension. The sense of smell offers the greatest opportunity to appeal to customers."

He noted that "packages are designed to keep fruit and all products fresh. But they are then cut off from an important part of the whole experience: smell."

To doubters of the importance of smell, Mr. Landau pointed to the attraction of bakery fumes pumped into a street or supermarket. Until about 15 years ago, there were local laws requiring that food establishments vent their bakery odors above their rooflines so as not to attract customers with irresistible smells. "Odors were considered a subliminal marketing tool," he said. "Now they?re allowed. They?re not deceptive. People won?t do what they don?t want to do. But smells trigger something in people."

Mr. Landau noted that consumer shopping surveys show that a product has six seconds to attract attention as shoppers walk supermarket aisles. Attractive packaging smells can have a huge influence on gaining a marketing advantage.

?Smell is the most powerful sense and is the most underutilized tool in marketing," he said. "We?re working on changing that."

Mr. Gardella said of the involvement of U.S. Produce Exchange, "Steve asked me to pioneer this with the produce industry. We are a conduit for him into fresh produce. We are assisting him in developing this."

Mr. Landau explained, "We have only been commercialized for a year, and in that time we have been inundated with opportunities. I understand we have a huge market potential within fresh produce, and we will develop that with this publicity and U.S. Produce Exchange getting the message out there."

Mr. Gardella added, "I have a lot of connections with a lot of people in the produce industry. When you combine my experience with his technology, we will see with whom we can pioneer the technology. I am the market resource for him in the industry. We will research opportunities in applying the technology to value-added packaging."

Mr. Landau added, "Chris and [U.S. Produce Exchange owner] Jim DeMalo know the players and market. I have a lot of confidence in their ability to develop future industry applications."

Mr. Landau said that pre-cut products, including fruit cups, are an obvious entry point for CompelAroma within the fresh produce business. He noted that on microwavable products, the scent of what some term unhealthy food ingredients, such as butter, can be added to the packaging. Because there is a direct physiological link between smell and taste, the packaging can be designed to release a butter flavor without adding the calories or fat brought by real butter.

Sweet smells can also enhance product taste without adding calories. Mr. Landau noted that children are sometimes put off from eating healthy products because of unpleasant smells. If such products can be packaged to have an improved smell, that product would make a better first impression and therefore consumption might increase. As the firm?s marketing efforts within the produce industry begin, he said that all the applications within produce have yet to be discovered.

Mr. Landau added that he tries not to limit his company?s potential by making his own predetermination on which new applications might not be a commercial success. He suggested that the creative power of free enterprise might bring new uses for CompelAroma that he has not yet considered.

ScentSational promotes CompelAroma as "an exciting new advanced approach to brand building. CompelAroma compels consumers to use brands over and over again by incorporating an innovative new technology that generates powerful aromas and flavors that create a memorable and exceptionally pleasurable experience of the brand."

ScentSational?s CompelAroma technology allows food and beverage marketers to differentiate brands by encapsulating flavors within the structure of plastic packaging which release desirable aromas. These FDA-approved food-grade flavors are added directly to packaging materials at the time of manufacturing. During the process, the encapsulated flavors and associated aromas become integral parts of the package itself.

Mr. Landau emphasized that ScentSational Technologies did not develop the concept of scenting plastics, but the firm has pioneered scenting food and beverage packaging.

Mr. Landau said that the strength of a package scent can be very precisely controlled. Furthermore, ScentSational can offer generic scents, such as strawberry and pineapple, or work with individual companies to create a customized signature aroma for the brand that would remain unique to that company, like any other trademark. He noted, for example, that a tomato company might have its own branded scent, and then expand its product line to a processed tomato product, which would be marketed with the same scent. While ScentSational has focused on plastic packaged goods to date, the firm has a patent pending to include flavoring packaging for canned goods. It is also working on technology to scent paper packaging products.

CompelAroma packaging can be designed to have its encapsulated flavors be slowly and uniformly released into the packaged product during its packaged life, or the packaging can be designed to leave the scent of the product to its natural scent.

Mr. Landau became acquainted with Mr. Gardella 25 years ago when the former was the advertising agent for a Chilean fruit marketer Frupac, of which Mr. Gardella was an executive. The pair worked together for a while on an airline operated by Frupac.

In the advertising business, Mr. Landau has used scented inks to add to the appeal of his printed work. In addition to having his own advertising agency, Mr. Landau was a part-time inventor.

One day in 1996, he opened the packaging for a plastic toy for his dog. The toy had a very nice chocolate smell. Being inquisitive, he broke off part of the toy and detected that the plastic had no taste. He found this an interesting concept and filed it away in his memory. A few months later, while snow skiing, he applied cherry-flavored Chap Stick to his lips. When he later stopped for a drink of water, the water had a cherry flavor. By 1997, Mr. Landau filed his first patent for olfaction packaging technology, branded CompelAroma.

ScentSational began commercialization in late 2003 after five years of research, development and intellectual property protection initiatives. Currently, ScentSational is working with 17 of the nation?s top 25 processed food and beverage companies. Aromatic product packaging is being established for these firms, with releases scheduled for 2005. ScentSational has patented or patents pending on technology to serve every kind of plastic molding process that exists, including mesh bags.

Mr. Landau organized a company board of directors that reads like a Who?s Who of world leaders in the packaging business. His strategic and manufacturing partners include Geneva-based Firmenich, which is the world?s third-largest flavor and fragrance company and the largest such company that is privately owned. Founded in 1895, Firmenich maintains a proprietary flavor library for ScentSational that is comprised of natural and artificial flavors specifically engineered and tested to meet the requirements of ScentSational?s Olfaction Packaging technology.

Mr. Landau?s product demonstration includes a prototype bottled water. The plastic packaging smells like lemon, and this package was designed to release the lemon flavor into the water. The yellow plastic cap on the package also has a very pleasant lemon smell. While there is no lemon or lemon flavoring involved in the product, it has a very pleasant lemon taste.

?What you smell is what you taste. Perception is reality," Mr. Landau said. "If you hold your nose when you eat something, you don?t taste it. It's estimated that 90 percent of our taste comes from the sense of smell."

Through its strategic and manufacturing partner, Pliant Corp., ScentSational is working to improve military meals ready to eat. Mr. Landau said that if soldiers can smell something attractive within an MRE, the legendary "mystery meat? may some day disappear. For more information on ScentSational, log on to www.scentsationaltechnologies.com.

Edward S. Campion Sr. dies at 89

Edward S. Campion Sr., former chairman of the board of the Salinas, CA-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, died Monday, Jan. 10 in Salinas. He was 89 years old.

Mr. Campion was born in Chicago and lived in Salinas for the past 64 years. He began his career in produce with the A&P Co. before joining the Lewis Tervin Co. in 1946.

After several years, he and six other employees purchased the company and renamed the firm Merit Packing Co. After 40 years in the produce business, he sold the company and retired in 1979.

Mr. Campion served as chairman of the board of Grower-Shipper Association of Central California in 1953-54. In addition to his involvement in the association, he was a member of the Sacred Heart parish, Knights of Columbus and Salinas Golf & Country Club. He also was a Navy World War II veteran and one of three inaugural inductees into the DePaul University basketball Hall of Fame.

Mr. Campion was married 48 years to his wife, Frances, who preceded him in death. His survivors include four daughters, a son and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sunsweet Fresh launches ready-to-eat Anjou pears

Sunsweet Fresh announced the launch of its ready-to-eat gourmet Anjou pears packed in unique modified-atmosphere packaging.

After rigorous testing, Sunsweet Fresh was able to select what it has found to be the best MAP technology currently available, allowing for the ripening of pears to their peak of flavor.

?Unlike most competitive offerings, Sunsweet Fresh is able to ripen fully mature Anjou pears to a truly ready-to-eat state of ripeness, resulting in soft, juicy pears with incredible flavor and texture," said Steve Franklin, director of product development for Delicious Foods. "Adhering to a strict product selection and ripening protocol allows us to produce a product that is superior in flavor and, through the retention of moisture in our MA packaging, delivers exceptionally juicy pears to consumers. Our MA packaging allows us to hold the ripened pears at the peak of flavor through the supply chain so the stores receive fruit that is in perfect condition."

?Sunsweet Fresh is committed to providing flavorful products to our retail customers," said Michael Pereira, managing director for Delicious Foods. "Our internal research very much mirrored the survey results reported in Fresh Trends 2005, where 55 percent of consumers feel that the pears they buy lack flavor and 48 percent feel they have poor texture. Finding solutions to such problems, identifying superior tasting products with the well-recognized "Sunsweet? brand and actively marketing such products to consumers will unleash latent demand and grow category sales. Our p-o-s material says it all: "Unbelievably Sweet " Undeniably Sunsweet!??

Sunsweet Anjou pears are currently packed in single-layer, 15-pound Euro-boxes. Sunsweet Fresh is a consumer-driven sales and marketing division of Delicious Foods LLC. Sunsweet Fresh and its sister company, Made In Nature LLC, which handles organic products, are committed to satisfying consumer demand for flavorful, healthy products and identifying such products with recognized consumer brands, which are supported by innovative, direct-to-consumer marketing programs.

The "Sunsweet? trademark is owned by Sunsweet Growers Inc., a California grower cooperative, headquartered in Yuba City, CA. The "Made In Nature? trademark is owned by Made In Nature LLC, a division of Delicious Foods LLC.

AgriMissouri's finest recognized at governor's conference

JEFFERSON CITY, MO -- Retailers, chefs, foodservice providers and media from across Missouri were awarded AgriMissouri Excellence Awards Dec. 10 at the Missouri Governor-s Conference on Agriculture at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, MO.

These awards recognize individuals and organizations whose promotion of Missouri grown or processed products has been exemplary.

"The Excellence Awards are our way of recognizing above-and-beyond promotion of Missouri products," said Peter Hofherr, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. "It's a win-win scenario. Producers get credit for their fantastic products and businesses get to bring fresh, wholesome and local goods to their tables and shelves."

In the Retail Excellence category, a Gold Award was bestowed upon Hen House Markets, which received Retailer of the Year recognition; Silver Awards went to Summer Fresh Supermarkets and Woods Supermarkets; and a Bronze Award went to Straubs.

Hen House Markets, with 14 stores located throughout the Kansas City area, featured photos of many local farmers along with their products on the front page of its weekly grocery circulars. To further promote a buy local initiative, Hen House Markets featured a farmers table at select stores. The farmers tables provided an opportunity for producers to educate and sample food products to consumers and often would demonstrate signature recipes by regional chefs and producers.

Buy Local signage along with AgriMissouri price cards were displayed throughout stores to bring attention to this assertive initiative from Hen House Markets to source and promote products that are raised, grown and processed within a 1,000-mile radius of the chain's marketplace.

"We work with many local farmers to make our "buy local" campaign such a success," said Fred Ball of Ball Foods Inc. "Receiving this award is a true honor."

In the summer of 2004, Cynthia Haskins, a consultant to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, brought together more than 100 Missouri farmers to build networks between the farmers and the buyers at Hen House Markets. Ball Foods Inc.'s produce division increased local procurement by nearly 70 percent.

"Programs that link the farmers and retailers are a positive step," said David Ball, president of Ball Food Stores Inc. "Consumers like the homegrown feeling that a 'buy local' program brings."

Foodservice award recipients were Parkade Elementary in Columbia; South Elementary in Jefferson City; Jefferson City High School in Jefferson City; and Columbia Public Schools in Columbia.

The Foodservice Director Excellence Award was presented to Deanna House of the Waynesville School District.

The Waynesville School foodservice department sourced and promoted several Missouri food products such as Missouri apples and dairy, and held an annual mini food fair for all second grade students throughout the district in 2003 and 2004. The goal of the theme, "Missouri Products," was to promote healthy eating in a fun, hands-on environment and educate students about the products that are produced in Missouri. Additionally, the school district foodservice department actively pursued sourcing and promoting healthy food that is grown and processed in Missouri.

"We had fun with the mini fair and the teachers have asked that we continue the program," said Ms. House. Redee, the state's apple mascot, visited the school and provided handouts with information about Missouri apples. The Missouri Dental Association provided handouts and information promoting the Say No to Pop campaign. Other state organizations participating in the mini fair were the Missouri Rice Growers, Missouri Corn Growers, Missouri Egg Council, Missouri Soybean Association, Missouri Bee Keepers, Missouri Pork Association and the Dairy Council.

"The school promotions have been a big success," said Ms. Haskins. "Providing the school districts with creative promotional programs helps build enthusiasm for eating healthy."

Media Excellence Awards were presented to Missouri Ruralist, Sauce Magazine and The Produce News at the Gold Level; Silver Level awards went to Columbia Business Times and St. Joseph News Press; and the Bronze Level was awarded to The Holden Image and Southwest Region News Service.

Chef Excellence Awards were made to Chef James Clary of Clary's Restaurant in Springfield at the Gold Level; Silver Level award to Chef DeWayne Schaff of Celebrations Restaurant in Cape Girardeau; and Bronze Level awards went to Chef Stephen Morgan of Pat's Bar and Grill in St. Louis and Chef Marge Radtke of the Vintage Restaurant at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann.

A prepared recipe cook-off took place at the facility among 10 semi-finalists facility in August and September. Entries included recipes for appetizers, entrees, desserts, side dishes, and breakfast. The 2004 Gold Level recipe, "Missouri Mushrooms in Madeira Broth," created by Chef James Clary, featured several Missouri products. Some of the products included goat cheese supplied by Goatsbeard Farms, outside Columbia; shiitake and oyster mushrooms supplied by JT&C Enterprises; and sage provided by Autumn Lane Farms.