Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mid-Week Natural~Specialty Foods Roundup

Natural~Specialty Foods Promotions of Note

Upscale department store retailer Macy*s is holding a buy local, organic and sustainable specialty and natural foods promotion on September 5, 2007 in its Cellar Specialty Foods department at the retailer's Union Square store in San Francisco.

Although Macy*s is an upscale general department store retailer it also offers a large selection on specialty, gourmet and natural foods in its Cellar departments in stores in major cities like San Francisco, New York and other U.S. metro regions.

The September 5 promotion is called "Local farmers and chefs help you go beyond the buzzwords and get green: Sustainable, organic, seasonal. Delicious."

Among the local farmers and artisan food producers participating in the promotion are Devoto Gardens located in Sebastopol, California, which is located about 35 miles north of San Francisco. Devoto Gardens produces 50 varieties of apples (many of them heirloom varieties), persimmons, vegetable greens and over 60 varieties of flowers.

Devoto uses sustainable farming practices on their farm and many of the crops they raise are organic. In addition to offering tastings of many of their locally produced crops, members of the Devoto family will talk with shoppers about sustainable farming practices and describe how they raise their crops in an environmentally-friendly manner.

Local winery Binziger Family Winery will be tasting some of its wines at the promotion. All of the wines offered are grown by the family winery using sustainable and biodynamic growing methods. Members of the local grape-growing and wine-making Benziger family will be on hand to discuss their farming and wine producing methods with shoppers.

Lastly, chef Greg Dunmore of the well-know San Francisco restaurant Acme will be part of the promotion. He will prepare dishes using the Devoto Family produce in addition to using other locally produced, sustainable products featured in Macy*s Cellar specialty foods department.

Macy*s is co-sponsoring in the promotion with a Northern California organization called "The Center for Urban Agriculture and Sustainable Farming." The promotional event cost shoppers $10.00 to get in-100% of which Macy*s is donating to the non-profit urban agricultural and sustainable farming center. For their $10.00 donation shoppers also will receive a reusable canvas grocery tote bag from San Francisco's popular Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market plus a sample kit from Origins Organic Skincare, a company which makes organic skin care products sold at Macy*s

The promotion ties a number of current industry hot-button trends together: buying local, green or environmental farming and food production, sustainable farming and organic products.

Another natural~specialty promotion of note...Also picking up on the buy local, sustainable agriculture theme, Stew Leonard's, a Connecticut-based four store independent retailer, is holding a promotion called "It's All Native." The promotional event, to be held throughout September and October at all four stores, will feature fresh produce and artisan foods produced by local area farmers.

The farmers will be on hand at the stores to talk about their crops, how they produce them, and offer tastings of the local bounty. The promotion has a farmers' market-style theme with an emphasis on buying local, food origins, and sustainable growing and production methods. All four stores will set up a "farmers' market" in front of each store entrance area where the promotional events will take place.

The retailer is creating a festival atmosphere during the promotion with free balloons for kids, face painting and a visit by local TV personality Produce Pete, in addition to the tastings and discussions with the farmers.

Speaking of buying local as well as organic...A new survey conducted by natural foods researcher Mambo Sprouts suggests consumers are torn when it comes to choosing between buying local foods and non-local organic products. The survey, by the firm's MamboTrack Research Service based in New Jersey, found 36.1 % of natural products consumers said they would choose local-grown produce over non-local organically grown. Another 33.3% said the opposite, and the other approx. 31% weren't sure which they would choose. This of course was a bit of a forced-choice question. However researchers probed the natural products consumers and did find the majority of them preferred produce that is both locally-grown and organic if it is available. You can read more about the Mambo Sprouts' survey and its other findings here:

Natural~Specialty New Product News

Kid-friendly healthy meals and snacks...Two pioneer industry companies, Amy's Kitchen and Clif Bar, have both introduced lines of "kid healthy" meals and snacks. Amy's "Kids Meals" is introducing two noodle entrees for kids--macaroni & cheese and ziti. The meals are organic and have all natural ingredients. The entrees include broccoli, foccacia bread and a fruit desert.
Clif Bar is introducing "Clif Kid," a new line of organic kid-friendly snacks made with whole grains and natural sweeteners. The bars, called Clif kid Zbars, come in a variety of flavors including chocolate chip, twisted fruit rope and honey graham.

Boulder, Colorado-based Celestial Seasonings is undergoing the most comprehensive packaging change in the company's history as well introducing a new tea line and entering the coffee category... Celestial Seasonings, a division of Hain Food Group, is revamping its basic line of tea boxes. The boxes will emphasis the "Celestial" name more so than the Seasons" name. Celestial is also introducing a new line of organic tea in a pyramid-shaped bag. The new high-end tea line will sell for about $7.99, about twice as much as the company's regular tea bag line.

Celestial is getting into the coffee business as well. The company's new line of organic, Fair Trade coffee will borrow names from their well-known tea line. Names such as Morning Thunder Coffee and the like. Celestial says increased competition in the tea category is prompting them to make the design changes as well as introduce the new, upper-end pyramid-shaped tea bag line. The coffee line they feel is a natural extension for them as they can capitalize on their brand equity in the tea category. You can read a feature story from the August 28, 2007 Rocky Mountain News for more details on the company's efforts. Click here:,2777,DRMN_23916_5683705,00.html

Supermarket chain Winn-Dixie to introduce new corporate specialty foods brand...Winn-Dixie, which operates 520 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, is introducing a premium line of specialty and gourmet grocery products. The line is called Winn & Lovett. The premium Winn & Lovett brand will include coffee, olives, olive oil flavored oils, fresh bakery products and other items such as condiments and other grocery items. The creation of the new premium line comes as the retailer is revamping the chain's entire corporate/private label program. Winn-Dixie says they plan to promote the premium line with in-store tastings, ads in their weekly circulars and other promotional vehicles.

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