nina | October 29th, 2012 - 9:00 am

All those warm days in September paid off for one of California’s signature crops. The almonds rolled in – plump, dry and on time.

Looks like a great almond year.   Overall, quality looks good, and harvest is right on target.
After pollination in late February and early March, almonds hang on the tree seven to eight months before harvest starts in late summer. By the end of October, this harvest will be complete.   Pretty much the norm this harvest, unlike the past two years.  Due to soggy springs and wet fall weather, this delayed the crop at both ends of the previous two seasons.

After the nuts are dried, hulling and shelling continues into January and February. That means there will be plenty of fresh almonds in stores and markets for holiday baking, gift-giving and everyday nibbling.

The one drawback of all that heat: The almonds lost some of their weight before harvest.  The September heat wave reduced their moisture content. The quality is still good, but that lower moisture content means we lost a lot of weight. Instead of another record crop of 2.1 billion pounds, as estimated, the total now will be in the 1.8 to 1.9 billion range.
California, the nation’s only almond-producing state, grows more than 80 percent of the global supply. In the past decade, the state’s crop has more than doubled.
Most of the almonds for the entire world are grown in California.  California has unique climate conditions. Most of the world can’t grow them.

California gets some competition from Australia, Spain, Chile and the Mediterranean countries where almonds have grown for thousands of years. But California is a natural for almond success.

It’s the Mediterranean climate that California has that makes growing almonds so successful. They need a cold winter to produce fruit, a mild spring for bloom and a dry, hot summer.

California almond growers are enjoying the global boom, pushed in part by more almond products such as almond flour, almond butter and almond milk.
Worldwide consumption is growing by leaps and bounds. At one time, there was concern that California couldn’t sell a 300 million-pound crop. Now, they’re pushing over 2 billion.
It’s a crop with demand up worldwide.  It’s a nutritious product, excellent tasting, enjoyed by many cultures worldwide.

sacbee.com, 10.17.12.


nina | October 26th, 2012 - 9:00 am

Shoppers had to pay a bit more for groceries during the third quarter of 2012, particularly due to increased prices for popular breakfast foods such as eggs and bacon.

The total cost of 16 food items that can be used to make one or more meals was $51.90, up $1, or about 2 percent, compared with the second quarter of 2012. Of the 16 items, nine increased and seven decreased in average price. The cost of the overall basket decreased some 2 percent compared to one year ago.

Most of the slight quarter-to-quarter increase resulted from higher retail prices for breakfast staples, apples and bagged salad.

Items showing retail price increases for the third quarter included bacon, up 19 cents to $4.23 per pound; boneless chicken breasts, up 8 cents to $3.17 per pound; and sirloin tip roast, up 5 cents to $4.74 per pound. 

Items showing modest retail price declines included ground chuck (19 cents to $3.47 per pound) and sliced deli ham (4 cents to $5.20 pounds).

Several items showed quarter-to-quarter and year-to-year increases, including sirloin tip roast, up 11 percent.

Source:  Meatingplace.com, 10.17.12

Oh Yum, Tater Tots.

nina | October 25th, 2012 - 9:00 am

Once upon a time, many years ago, a few brothers had just started a frozen food company to make, among other things, french fries. But what to do with the scraps of spud left behind? These potato pieces were too small for proper fries, but there were too many of them to be discarded. 

One day in 1953, the brothers came up with a delicious solution: They chopped up the potato scraps, shaped them into bite-size cylinders, then fried them golden and crunchy.

And the famous Ore-Ida Tater Tots were born.

As the last almost 60 years have proved, a plug of shredded potato 11/2 inches long, 7/8 inch in diameter — has been an enormous success. An estimated 3.5 billion Tater Tots are eaten by Americans every year, according to an associate marketing director for Ore-Ida.

Tater Tots are so golden they have morphed from brand to cultural phenomenon. After all, what would the famed hot dish casserole of the northern Midwest be without that crowning layer of tots?

It’s a tremendously handy potato item that people can use to put together a meal.  Tater Tots and its imitators long ago jumped from supermarket freezer cases to restaurant menus across North America. Many chefs make their own as do home cooks.  

While Tater Tots bring back childhood memories for many of us, they also have a very adult connotation as well.
Whether you make your Tater Tots from scratch or rely on tried-and-true Tator Tol originals, ketchup is often the condiment of choice.  For a different spin, try a cheesy dip, a spciy chipotle mayonnaise, or a quick soy-based sauce.
Source:  chicagotribune.com, 10.17.12

Handy Dip Tips!

nina | October 25th, 2012 - 9:00 am

Party Time Dip Tips.
*  Can’t decide how much to make? 
      Cocktail Party:  12 pieces per person
      Dinner Party:  Four to five pieces per person for an early meal.  Six pieces per person for a later meal.
      Variety:  Eight different appetizers, if 50+ people; Four or five different appetizers for 20+ people; Three different appetizers for small gatherings.
*Grocery bills can add up fast when you’re planning a party.  Be sure to plan ahead and check your local grocery ads for great deals on fresh produce, cheeses and dressing to help keep costs down for your party.
*To help you “keep your cool” on party day, prepare as many recipes as possible ahead of time. 
*When taking appetizers on the road, store in a covered plastic container with a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dip to prevent it from turning brown.
*Store cold dips in the refrigerator unitl it’s time to go, then transport them safely in an insulated cooler packed with ice.
*Some types of glass baking dishes come with tight fitting lids.  Assemble a layered dip in one of these types of dishes, then simply remove the lid when you get to the party!
*Transport creamy dips or spreads with veggie dippers separately in resealable plastic bags.  Transfer to serving bowls or platters just before serving. 
*Cutting vegetables or fruit into bite-size pieces can help discourage double dipping.
*Don’t let the vegetables get all the love – fruit platters can be a fun alternative!

Source:  Kraft.com, 10.23.12

Record Fed Cattle Prices Expected in 2013.

nina | October 24th, 2012 - 9:00 am

Cattle prices will continue to rise.

The impacts of the 2012 drought continue to play out in a beef industry discouraged by high feed prices and large cattle feeding losses.

In the latest Cattle On Feed report, the USDA confirmed that placements into feedlots dropped sharply in September following substantial declines in July and August. As a result, on-feed numbers are now down nearly three percent as the beef industry is doing its part to reduce corn and other feed usage.

Drought has been particularly cruel to the beef cattle industry.  A multiple year drought in the Southern Plains has been followed by a devastating Midwestern drought in 2012 that is now forecast to continue into 2013. Brood cows remain the last major livestock industry that is land extensive. So, when dryness causes wide stretches of land to be unable to support cow grazing, producers have to buy feed or send the cows to town.

The 2012 drought began in the Eastern Corn Belt in the spring and early summer, but migrated westward in the late summer and fall. Today the drought conditions still cover 62 percent of the lower continental U.S. according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The central Great Plains has become the epicenter with Nebraska having 95 percent of the state in the worst two drought categories. In addition to Nebraska, six other states have more than 50 percent of their area in the worst two drought categories: Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Iowa. These states represent 30 percent of the nation’s beef cows.

While some important beef cow areas have gotten relief from the drought, others have a discouraging outlook. Improved moisture conditions began in August and have continued into the fall in the Eastern Corn Belt and the Southeast. However, the forecast is for the drought to continue and possibly intensify into the winter for the area of the country that is west of a line roughly from Chicago Illinois to Lubbock Texas.

Beef cow numbers are likely to be two to three percent lower in the upcoming January inventory report. The mid-year estimates were already reflecting a four percent decrease in the national beef cow herd, and that was before the impacts of the 2012 drought began to be felt. The implications are for continued cow reductions until feed and forage supplies are restored. USDA is currently reporting 55 percent of the nation’s pastures and ranges in “poor” or “very poor” condition, the lowest two categories.

Negative returns for feedlots have continued with losses over $200 per head, according to Kansas State University. High feed prices, a small calf crop, and excess capacity in feedlots have all contributed to these large losses. Placements of calves in September were down 19 percent from a year-ago. Significantly, this was the smallest number of cattle placed in 1,000+ head capacity feedlots since USDA began the current series in 1996. The low September placements follow about a ten percent reduction in placements in both July and August.

As a result of the slowing placements in the past three months, the number of cattle on-feed dropped to three percent below year-ago levels on October 1. Cattle on-feed will play a role in rationing the short corn supply. The current three percent reduction in on-feed numbers contrasts with only a one percent expected reduction in on-feed numbers in USDA’s grain consuming animal unit calculations for the 2012/13 marketing year. Cattle on-feed represent 23 percent of the total USDA grain consuming animal units.

The cattle on-feed numbers were supportive to the overall expected reduction in per capita beef supplies of about three percent through the first-half of 2013. As a result, finished cattle prices are expected to continue to rise this year and into 2013. For the just completed third quarter, steer prices averaged near $120 per hundredweight. Prices are expected to be near $125 for the final quarter of 2012 and $130 in the first quarter of 2013. Spring prices may peak in the higher $130’s with the second quarter average in the mid-$130’s. Record high cattle prices will be in store for 2013 with prices now expected to average in the very low $130’s compared to an expected record this year near $122.

Calf prices, however, will be slower to recover due to high feed prices which will continue to depress calf prices until feed prices begin to moderate. That moderation could begin in a small way with lower soybean meal prices in the spring of 2013, assuming reasonable South American soybean production.

Further declines in feed costs could occur with a better grazing season in the spring and summer of 2013 and a return to larger U.S. corn and soybean crops next year. A more abundant feed supply in the second-half of 2013 could result in a robust price recovery for calf and feeder cattle prices. Replenishment of feed supplies would also begin beef cow expansion in late 2013.

Source:  meatingplace.com Editors, 10/23/12 


nina | October 23rd, 2012 - 9:00 am

And what an Extravaganza it was at the Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center on Wednesday, October 17th!!! In Paul Saval’s own words, the next day. . . .” “After every food show I send out this message of thanks  and genuinely thank all of you for your efforts in pulling off our best “food show” […]

Saval and ARFI

admin | October 11th, 2012 - 4:16 pm

Saval Foods, the number 1 independent broadline food service distributor in the Baltimore-Washington Metro area has partnered with the American Renewable Fuel Institute, known as ARFI, to provide an industry leading used cooking oil recycling program that pays SAVAL customers a very generous royalty on all used cooking oil collected from their establishments. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVAQXGwQEVM&feature=youtu.be

Michael Attias

admin | October 11th, 2012 - 4:14 pm

CATER OR DIE!Adding or Expanding Your Catering Profit Center. We are in a new economy. Catering is no longer an option if you want to maximize your profits! Selling catering, full service and drop-off, is a high return, low cost way to get “paid” to market your restaurant. The incremental sales can add a lot […]

Let Chef Max Help You!

admin | October 11th, 2012 - 4:09 pm

If you want to be prepared for the next generation of foodservice innovation, then there’s only one place you need to be: the 2012 Saval Foodservice Extravaganza. In honor of our 80th anniversary, we’re bringing the industry’s biggest, best and most forward-thinking ideas together for one can’t-miss event.

Celebrating 80 Years in Business

admin | October 11th, 2012 - 12:00 pm

Harry Saval would be proud to know that the company he started from the back of a Baltimore grocery store in 1932 has succeeded into its 80th year.  During the 1950’s and 1960’s, Harry’s four sons joined him in the business.  Through internal growth and acquisitions, now 80 years later, SAVAL is run by its […]

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