Oser Communications Group

Gourmet News December 2015

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GOURMET NEWS DECEMBER 2015 www.gourmetnews.com Naturally Healthy NATURALLY HEALTHY 1 8 BY MICAH CHEEK In the current seafood market, the desire for heart healthy proteins, risks of over fishing and concerns about preparation all seem at odds with one another. According to Dave Rudy, owner of Catalina Offshore Products, this complex environment pres- ents an opportunity for retailers. "People are looking for a place where they can ask questions about their seafood and know where their seafood came from," says Rudy. With the right information, the fishmonger can be a helpful guide to the stormy seas of an increasingly complex seafood counter. The seafood species that represent 80 percent of seafood sales are referred to as The Big 5. Shrimp, tuna, salmon, whitefish and crab have historically been best sellers in the seafood case. According to Shawn Cronin, Business Program Manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, breaking away from the Big 5 rep- resents a valuable opportunity for retailers. "It's a trend across all food systems, people love local. It adds an exciting element to supporting the communities you're sur- rounded by." Cronin adds that west coast retailers have seen success with local sole, flounder and rockfish. These varieties be- long to the larger category of rockfish, a fishery that has gained a great deal of atten- tion in recent years. While rockfish were greatly overfished in the 1990s, the reduc- tion of bycatch, or unintentional catching of the wrong species, and new technology have made groundfish an ecologically re- sponsible option. Bycatch reduction, efforts to reduce ocean acidification, and sustainability ini- tiatives have been increasingly successful, and a more informed customer is more aware of these issues. Tommy Gomes, ex- pert fishmonger at Catalina Offshore Prod- ucts, has witnessed the change over time. "I'm 55 years old, I'm the first generation of the TV dinner. Our food is changing. Everyone's excited about dock to plate, and farm to market. Now it's very critical to ed- ucate people on how to use the whole fish and how to prepare it in a healthy way." To get a wide variety of seafood to a consumer focused on sustainable and local eating, the key is communication with a distributor. According to Seafood Watch, 90 percent of American seafood is imported, and tracking the chain of custody of any given fish can be difficult. "The only way you'll know is diving deep into your supply chain to find out. Having a strong traceability policy in your organization is important," says Cronin. "If you're doing that work and you're proud of what you're sourcing, com- municate that. Let the customers know, let them make purchasing decisions based on that information." The role of the fishmonger is becoming more and more involved, as customers want to know more about their seafood. "Sometimes a piece of fish gets bent or bro- ken, it happens. I'm going to take them and grind them and show people how to make meatballs," adds Gomes. "If you can take fish that's broken, run it through a grinder, sell it for 5.99 and educate people on how to cook it, people will do amazing stuff." Aquaculture, or fish farming, presents another opportunity for discussion with customers. "A lot of the things we do are educate, promote and have fun. A lot of people have questions about farmed fish; these are the questions consumers are now asking," Gomes says. Aquaculture has been something of a dirty word in the seafood sector for the last 20 years, after environmental groups found overly dense and unsanitary conditions in Chilean farm fisheries. Since then, the aquaculture industry has made great strides in quality and is now considered an impor- tant part of sustainable seafood consump- tion. Unfortunately, the stigma has been difficult to shake. "This is one of the most frustrating things for me, because I believe that aquaculture is the future," says Jacque- line Claudia, Co-Founder and CEO of Love The Wild. Using current advances in tech- nology, farmed seafood has been able to en- courage consistently healthy growth, elim- inate antibiotic use in favor of probiotics and vaccines, and using feed that is com- posed of as little as one percent fish meal. "There are even some guys out in San Fran- cisco that are basically making tofu for fish. You can replace fish meal in aquaculture feed with this alternative protein and get a farmed fish with a very similar omega-3 content as a wild fish." While seafood is gaining more interest with consumers, the barrier of entry re- mains high. The chance of making a mis- take with a delicate filet is a strong concern for potential customers. "Seafood, more than any other category, has the possibility of stinking up your house for three days. It's pretty high-risk for someone who doesn't know what they're doing," says Claudia. The recent increase in value-added seafood products is a response to these fears. Love The Wild offers prepackaged sets of two fillets paired with sauces. The meal for two is designed to be easily assembled, wrapped in paper, and baked. "Value-added seafood helps people get the training wheels to add seafood to their diet," says Claudia. "They're not looking for fish sticks anymore, they're looking for clean- labeled fish that's hard to screw up." GN Navigating Your Customers Through the Fish Case BY MICAH CHEEK The potato may be a bland vegetable, but new sizes and varieties are spicing up the spud sector. While russet and white po- tato sales are declining, sales of more var- ied sizes and types of potato are increasing. "There are a lot more SKUs of potatoes of potatoes being offered right now," says Sarah Reece, Global Retail Marketing Manager for the United States Potato Board. The greater variety in the potato market is in part due to the slump in traditional potato popularity. After briefly plateauing from 2010 to 2011, potato consumption has been on the decline, with the decline centered on russets. "They're still a little over half of potato volume, but they con- tinue to lose volume," says Don Ladhoff, Director of Fresh Sales Marketing. "Other potatoes are growing and outperforming the category. Small potatoes are doing even better." Tiny tubers offer a certain novelty that appeals to more adventurous customers. "It's something new to the category. It's in- teresting and fun to take home to the fam- ily," says Reece. According to a study by the United States Potato Board, an in- crease in the frequency of potato con- sumption has been driven by working parents and active seniors. These groups have also boosted sales of colored pota- toes. "With the interest in premium vari- eties and smaller potatoes, we've been planting more of these red varietals," says Leah Brakke, Director of Marketing for Black Gold Farms. Black Gold Farms has focused on red potatoes because of the consumer perception of red potatoes as a more valuable and healthy option. Small spuds have proven effective for in- package cooking, includ- ing preseasoned roasting pans and microwavable bags for steaming. Roast- ing has become a more popular option for petite potato preparation both with and without value- added packaging. "Mil- lenials are 30 percent more likely to prepare potatoes by roasting," says Lahdoff. The trend toward smaller sizes has extended past potatoes them- selves. Smaller packaging sizes of pota- toes have been selling better than the traditional five to 10 pound bags, reflect- ing a greater change in purchasing habits. "[Customers] are trying to shop for what they need. 51 percent of Millenial shop- pers buy for one meal at a time. Smaller potatoes fit into that trend where I want to cook enough potatoes for one night," says Ladhoff. "From what we hear from retailers, it's less about portion control, and more about reducing waste." GN This Spud's For You! Maple Leaf Farms, a producer of quality duck products, has added Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast to its re- tail product selections. The gourmet-flavored duck breast is mar- inated with a robust, Southwestern spice blend featuring garlic and cayenne pepper. The marinade enhances the duck's delicious natural taste which makes this product great as a main menu item or an addition to salads, pasta, stir-fry, quesadillas or fajitas. Featuring all natural ingredients, the gour- met-flavored duck breast comes with un- scored skin and offers easy-to-follow cooking instructions on the inside package label. "This is the third flavor for our mari- nated duck breast line," says Duck Market- ing Director Cindy Turk. "Providing the duck breasts already marinated with gour- met flavor helps consumers create restau- rant-quality meals with minimal time and effort in the kitchen." For convenience, Maple Leaf Farms Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast is available frozen in clear, vacuum skin packaging that gives full view of the product. Nine duck breasts (7.5 ounces each) come per case for retail stores. Branded freezer trays are also available for display of the product. Manufacturer's sug- gested retail price for the Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast is $8.95. GN Maple Leaf Farms Introduces Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast

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