getting fresh: Passport to pleasureYesterday was my last day in Germany - the culmination of an extraordinary trip involving a visit with Rausch Chocolates in Peine and Berlin, as well as a jaunt to Bell Flavors and Fragrances in Leipzig.
During this whole past week I’ve watched more financial news than throughout my entire life, transfixed by the collapse of the some of the world’s leading financial institutions and governments’ subsequent attempts to stem the bloodletting.
Of course, a vested personal interest in seeing how banker greed was whittling down my retirement savings had much to do with it. Let’s just say my 401K has been transformed to a 201K.
But back to more pleasant topics, such as the world’s oldest flavors and fragrances library housed in the administration building of Bell Flavors and Fragrances in Leipzig. Founded in 1870 by the Fritsche family, in conjunction with the creation of the Schimmel company, the library houses the world’s largest collection of historical knowledge involving botanicals, flavors, aroma chemicals, essential oils and fragrances. With more than 30,000 volumes in place, many dating back to the early 1700s, the library provides scholars from all over the world the opportunity to rediscover a wealth of research and writings that provides both perspective and place in today’s frenetic Internet-driven world.
While visiting with Jim and Raymond “Buz” Heinz, the two brothers heading up Bell, I had a chance to see hand-painted illustrations from the library’s Encyclopedia of Botanicals, the colors ever-vibrant on the page portraying everything from “love” fruits to linden flowers.
I also had the chance to chat with the people involved in researching and developing flavors and fragrances for the confectionery industry. (You’ll be able to read a more comprehensive overview of the company as well as follow my visit to Rausch Chocolates in Candy Industry’s upcoming November issue.)
The primary influences affecting confectionery development these days are wellness and premiumization. No surprise there. What’s interesting, however, is how the marketers and scientists at Bell have incorporated these trends into flavor concepts.
For instance, by combining fruit and vegetable flavors, the food technologists have come up with fusions that are applicable to gums and jellies -- fusions that one should keep an eye on.
Consider a pairing such as spicy cherry, which combines cherry flavor, red paprika puree and apple juice concentrate. Then there’s orange harmony, which uses an apricot flavor with carrot puree and apple juice concentrate. These are definitely more adult-like flavor formulas, but given the way preteens and teens think today, I wouldn’t be surprised if they jumped on such sophisticated fusions.
Moreover, these concepts aren’t “pie in the sky” proposals. For example, the Mederer Group launched its Actifruit line of gummies at ISM this past year. Actifruit combines fruit and vegetable essences to deliver bioactive benefits within a gummi format. Two years in development, the fruit/vegetable combination helps strengthen a body’s natural defenses.
What’s critical to note is that such nontraditional pairings aren’t possible just in fruit gummies or hard candies. Take the ubiquitous snack bar. I found Bell’s “Indian Nuances’” combination adventuresome enough to warrant closer investigation. It combines mango and curry flavors to deliver a sweet-and-spicy combination that breaks the traditional snack bar mould.
Now I know that many older consumers still don’t know what curry tastes like. Nevertheless, that younger generation is a bit more adventuresome and most likely would be willing to try such exotics, particularly when it delivers extraordinary taste. So don’t feel confined to traditional tried-and-true when experimenting with product development. I believe everyone is more than willing to have their passport to pleasure stamped, especially during these stressful times.
Trick-or-treating reverses rolesUnder a program created by human rights advocacy group Global Exchange, children will give adults more than a quarter million Fair Trade-certified chocolate samples as part of a “reverse trick-or-treating” program this Halloween. For the second consecutive year, the chocolates will be distributed across the United States and Canada to end poverty in cocoa farming communities, end forced or abusive child labor in cocoa fields, promote Fair Trade chocolate and protect the environment, according to www.reversetrickortreating.org.
Along with samples of the chocolate, youths will distribute informational cards, supplied by Equal Exchange and Alter Eco in the United States and La Siembra in Canada, explaining how Fair Trade chocolate provides a solution to problems in the cocoa industry.
Fair Trade chocolate companies involved in “reverse trick-or-treating” include Equal Exchange, Alter Eco and La Siembra. Lead nonprofit organizations involved include Americans for Informed Democracy, Coop America, Fair Trade Federation, Global Exchange, International Labor Rights Forum, Oasis/Stop the Traffik, Slow Food, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, United Students for Fair Trade and United Methodist Committee on Relief.
For more information, visit www.reversetrickortreating.org.
ADM celebrates plant openingCocoa supplier Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) has announced the opening of its cocoa processing plant in Hazleton, Pa. Construction for the 500,000 sq.-ft. facility began in September 2006 and is located on a 74-acre site. The facility will manufacture chocolates, cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder for chocolate manufacturers in the confectionery industry.
“The Hazleton facility is ADM’s newest and most technically advanced cocoa processing plant,” says Mark Bemis, vice president, Cocoa and Milling. “We look forward to meeting our customers’ growing needs for quality chocolate and cocoa products through this facility.”
For more information, visit www.admworld.com.
Lesley's goes organic & Fair TradeHumanitarian Lesley Byrne plans to make all her company’s existing chocolate collections certified organic and Fair Trade within the year, and she’s already transformed three. Lesley’s Life Is Sweet features USDA/Fair Trade and Organic Autumn collections via Organic Bouquet (www.organicbouquet.com). The company also offers an Organic Breast Cancer collection; portions of every sale of these chocolates are donated to breast cancer research. Every Lesley’s Life Is Sweet collection features recyclable and biodegradable packaging.
In November, Byrne hopes to introduce three new collections: African, Holiday and Kids Are Sweet International. USDA and Fair Trade chocolate bars also will debut in November.
A portion of the proceeds of every collection goes to different humanitarian projects around the world.
For more information, visit www.lesleyslifeissweet.com.
Marroquin Organic hits top 5000 listOrganic and non-GMO ingredient supplier Marroquin Organic International has been named number 2210 by Inc. 5000 as part of its ranking of the top 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the country, according to a press release.
President and CEO Grace Marroquin of Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Marroquin Organic International reacted to the award, saying, "This award is proof to me that the organic industry is not only a vital, growing part of our daily lives, it is also a sustainable, successful economic path."
For more information, visit www.marroquin-organics.com.
sweet of the week: HomeFree cookiesFood allergies have become commonplace among children today, and snack manufacturers are taking note. Case in point: Windham, N.H.-based baker HomeFree offers a new line of organic, ready-to-eat, certified whole grain cookies and coffee cakes that are free from peanuts, tree nuts, dairy and eggs. Each product is certified kosher pareve; the oatmeal cookies and coffee cakes are certified vegan, too. HomeFree cookies are made without corn sweeteners, artificial colors or flavors, MSG or GMOs. Customers can choose from the following varieties: chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip and oatmeal, as well as mini chocolate chip, mini chocolate chocolate chip and mini oatmeal chocolate chip.
The suggested retail price per box is $4.99. Individually wrapped cookies are $1.79 each or $16.90 for a case of 12. HomeFree apple and cranberry coffee cakes, net weight 32. oz, are available for $27.95 and $28.95, respectively.
For more information, visit www.homefreetreats.com.