Oser Communications Group

Gourmet News October 2013

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BUYERS GUIDE: UPDATE: UPDATE: Salty Snacks Oils & Vinegars Chocolate SEE PAGE 24 SEE PAGE 15 SEE PAGE 21 GOURMET NEWS ® T H E B U S I N E S S VOLUME 78, NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2013 n $7.00 N E W S P A P E R F O R T H E G O U R M E T I N D U S T R Y Fracking Worries Some Farmers, Sustains Others As controversial drilling method gains momentum, it stirs up a variety of responses SPECIALTY RETAILERS n Clever Hen Serves as Destination Online Shop for Health-Conscious Foodies PAGE 11 GROCERY & DEPARTMENT STORES n Costco, Hy-Vee and Trader Joe's Top Grocery Chains in 2013 Customer Service Survey PAGE 12 SPECIALTY DISTRIBUTORS & BROKERS n Culinary Collective Celebrates 15 Years of Spanish, Peruvian Imports PAGE 13 SUPPLIER BUSINESS n Stöger Oils: A Family Tradition Becomes an Award Winning Delicacy PAGE 14 News..............................................3 Ad Index .......................................27 Smorgasbord/Classifieds ..............27 www.gourmetnews.com BY JAZMINE WOODBERRY The jury is still out on fracking's impact on water, both in groundwater aquifers and oceanic fishing yards, and suppliers' feelings about this heated topic are not escaping the thoughts of retailers and restaurateurs. Hydraulic fracturing, more popularly known as fracking, is a drilling process that has been used commercially for nearly 65 years. Using a highly pressurized liquid mixed with water, sand and chemicals, rock fracturing is induced thousands of feet below ground. Sand is employed to hold open fractures in order to extract oil and gas from the well. However, there are many holes in popular understanding of fracking, the most dramatic of which surround public health and fracking's effect on food supplies. Across the United States, critics of fracking have pointed to reports of animals dependent on the groundwater supply falling ill and being affected (their meat possibly tainted) by chemicals found deep in the earth that are introduced in the fracking process. These chemicals include arsenic, barium, bromide, chloride, sodium, radon and uranium. Famed chefs and restaurateurs Mario Batali and Bill Telepan point to this as one of the main reasons they are against fracking in the state of New York. "New York's agricultural economy is strong and vast, and is an important economic driver for our state. We have the secondlargest number of farmers' markets in the country and the fourth-highest number of organic farms—and [we] are the third-largest dairy-producing state. New York is second only to California in its wine production," Batali and Telepan wrote in an op-ed in the New York Daily News. "As more states pump natural gas from beneath the earth, the negative effects American coffee roasters and their customers are teaming up in various ways to better the lives of women in coffee-producing areas. In many impoverished areas of the world where coffee is grown, women typically do most of the work to produce the coffee but have very little control over the proceeds from their crops. "We think it is a very important movement in coffee," said Nancy Moore, a member of the manage- ment team for Almana Harvest, a nonprofit corporation that works in conjunction with the International Women's Coffee Alliance. The IWCA has chapters of registered women coffee producers around the world. Almana Harvest is a marketing and certification organization whose role is to develop American markets for coffee produced by IWCA members as well as to certify coffee growers for the "Harvested by Women" certifica- BY LUCAS WITMAN tion program adopted by the IWCA. The Harvested by Women certification is intended to allow coffee producers to sell their coffee to American roasters at premium prices. Almana Harvest is the auditor that ensures that the producer meets standards for gender diversity as well as traceability, social responsibility and environmental responsibility. The organization also provides an Each October, foragers in France, Italy and a handful of other European locales head into the wilderness, armed with a sack and a shovel and hoping to procure one of the rarest and most luxurious ingredients in the culinary world: the white truffle. Often accompanied by a specially trained dog, these modern foragers harvest truffles today in much the same way as adventurer-gourmands have done for centuries, navigating the forest floor and carefully digging along the roots of oak and poplar trees in search of the elusive, highly prized edible fungus. It is difficult to imagine a specialty food product that originates in a peasant's sack on a French hillside and eventually finds its way into the finest gourmet shops in the world's biggest cities. However, this is precisely what is happening today, as foodies across the globe are purchasing fresh truffles and truffle products that find their way to market in this way. The truffle has long been a popular ingredient in Italian and French cuisine, but in recent years, there has been an explosion in interest in the product within Continued on PAGE 4 Continued on PAGE 4 focus is specifically on gourmet and specialty fresh-prepared foods and high-quality indulgences, including produce and other perishables. There are fullservice bakeries staffed with bakers, decorators and pastry chefs, wine cellars staffed with expert cellar masters, and complete floral departments staffed with floral teams that regularly supply weddings and local resorts. The company's aim is to make each guest's visit to AJ's a total experience rather than just a shopping trip, says corporate Assistant Director Jayson Mead. Mead was particularly excited at the time of this writing by plans for a September chain-wide celebration of southern Italian foods and culture. "We sent a team back to Italy to experience southern Italy and Sicily," Mead says. "We went back to source products that won't be found in the States. Our team visited 14 different cities." The products they sourced during that trip included fresh-harvest vegetables, peppers, olive oils and balsamics, anchovies and seafood, chocolates and marinated onions. Continued on PAGE 6 Non-Profit Programs Help the Women Who Grow Coffee BY LORRIE BAUMANN As Truffle Season Begins, U.S. Consumers Line Up for Luxury AJ's Fine Foods: Celebrating Every Season BY LORRIE BAUMANN At home in the most beautiful desert environment on Earth and headquartered in one of the nation's half-dozen largest cities, Arizona-based AJ's Fine Foods is a gourmet and specialty retailer with a focus on fresh and freshly prepared foods. "Quality is paramount, and customer service is as well," says Ike Basha, Director of Operations for AJ's Fine Foods, the gourmet brand for Bashas' Family of Supermarkets. AJ's Fine Foods operates 12 locations, all in Arizona—one in Tucson and 11 in the Phoenix metropolitan area. There are no immediate plans for further expansion, as the company readies itself to exit the reorganization process attendant on a 2008 bankruptcy. "The recovery is going incredibly well. We're very blessed," Basha says. "The support we've received from our vendor community is unparalleled." In general, AJ's Fine Foods stores do not attempt to meet every market basket need for their guests, although there are a few locations that do provide the product range to serve primary shoppers. Instead, the company's Continued on PAGE 6

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