Baltimore is Relaunching Grocery Delivery to Neighborhoods Without Stores

admin | July 31st, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Baltimore on Wednesday will resume offering a program that lets residents order groceries online and pick them up in areas that lack grocery stores.

MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blake is scheduled to announce the relaunching of the city’s Virtual Supermarket program at noon Wednesday. She will be joined by Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, the city’s interim health commissioner, and officials from ShopRite Holdings Ltd., which will provide the food.

The city’s Virtual Supermarket program provided food delivery to more than 450 residents until October when Santoni’s Super Market closed. Santoni’s in Highlandtown was the only grocery store that participated in the program.

ShopRite has partnered with the city to relaunch the program, which is scheduled to begin delivering food immediately following Rawlings-Blake’s announcement. United Way of Central Maryland and the Walmart Foundation will cover the delivery costs. Delivery locations for the service in the past included senior citizens housing complexes and Enoch Pratt Free Library branches in Washington Village and on Orleans Street.

As Baltimore relaunches the Virtual Supermarket, it also is launching a new website, called Baltimarket, which provides information about healthy food and where it can be found in the city.

Source:; 7-29-2014

Mobile slaughter houses, their market potential and the food safety issues involved.

admin | July 30th, 2014 - 10:45 am

Save A report was conducted recently on mobile slaughter houses, their market potential and the food safety issues involved.

Towed behind a Ford F-250 pickup, Island Grown Initiative’s mobile poultry-slaughtering unit is on the move in Martha’s Vineyard, ready to feed the growing appetite for locally raised products on the Massachusetts island best known as a vacation playground for the Kennedys.

Without that unit, some would not be able to farm. Those who tend small flocks on the north side of the island and provide fresh chicken to local restaurants.

While fruit and vegetable growers can often handle their own harvest needs, livestock requires slaughter — a messy business that could be unwelcome in affluent communities, where demand for locally produced food is highest. Enter Island Grown, a nonprofit formed by Munroe and others that comes to the farm to slaughter, scald and pluck.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates 20 mobile units are in operation around the country. Units from Texas to Alaska butcher birds, cows, pigs and other animals as the market for locally produced food has grown from a beachhead of hippie co-ops and health-food stores to Whole Foods Market Inc.,Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co.

USDA Encouragement

“Mobile slaughter is crucial” to building local and regional food systems, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an interview. “It’s still a relatively small piece of agriculture, but what I like about it is it offers local opportunities. You don’t have to be a large operator, or a production-sized operator, to get into this business.”

The department expects the number of units to grow and has provided financial assistance to at least four in the past half-decade. Along with $17 million in aid to the local-meat sector since 2009, the department has given advice on feasibility and technical assistance. Island Grown received $9,300 from the USDA for education and promotion.

The number of farmers engaged in local-foods sales rose 24 percent to 144,530 in 2012 from a decade earlier, according to an agriculture department census released in May. That growth took place even as the total number of producers fell 0.9 percent to 2.11 million in the same period.

A consolidation of agriculture has squeezed out smaller slaughterhouses that could profitably serve alternative producers. Bigger facilities, which offer economies of scale and advantages in waste handling, can be out of place in upscale areas such as Martha’s Vineyard, 70 miles (113 kilometers) south of Boston.

Farmers outside Seattle were early adopters of mobile slaughtering more than a decade ago. Roving units have processed lambs and goats in California, buffalo in Nebraska, elk and boar in Texas, and turkeys, pheasants and quail in Kentucky. A unit in Nome, Alaska, slaughters reindeer.

Local-foods businesses tend to work best near cities, wherepricey farmland and affluent consumers create incentives for high-value rather than commodity-based farming.

Safety Concerns

As farms have grown larger and food processing has become more centralized, infrastructure needed to make small operations work has deteriorated, in some cases keeping a market from emerging.

You had less demand for smaller facilities. You also had more concern with food safety, with larger businesses better able to absorb regulatory costs.

The USDA inspects red meat and poultry sold across state borders. Food produced for consumption in-state is typically inspected by that jurisdiction and must meet federal standards.

Safety is a priority no matter the size of the operation. One thing that could damage the potential of this market is any sort of food-safety problem.

Island Grown started in 2007 as a way to jumpstart a local-poultry industry on Martha’s Vineyard — overcoming the same barriers alternative-foods entrepreneurs across the U.S. face in a food system that isn’t designed for them.

Upscale Restaurants

Dripping with affluence — median home prices in the first quarter of this year were $655,000 for Martha’s Vineyard, compared with $305,000 for Massachusetts — the island supports a number of upscale restaurants and fresh-food markets.

Vineyard-killed chicken can sell for twice the standard grocery-store price, said a local-source restaurant in Vineyard Haven, a town on the island. The BBQ pulled-chicken plate, in some cases from birds that two days earlier were wandering across the street, is a popular item.

Support Local

Government policy, now overweighted in favor of large growers of corn, wheat and soybeans, should do more to encourage such local entrepreneurs.

The goal of government policy isn’t to support food. It’s to support commodities that can be traded. Grants for local foods are a subsidy to combat the effects of a bigger subsidy somewhere else.

The USDA supports all forms of agriculture, offering technical assistance to small producers and more tailored programs through the farm bill that passed Congress earlier this year.

As the market expands, Vineyard growers have started raising money to build a permanent slaughter facility on the island that could handle four-legged animals, including cattle and sheep along with chickens. That will cost about $800,000 and process red meat as well as poultry during the summer.

Residents have voiced concern about the effect of a slaughterhouse on noise, smell and property values. Island Grown plans to locate the operation as far from neighbors as possible and will enclose the composting unit and possibly cover the slaughter yard.

Source:, 7-22-2014


U.S. chicken consumption, popularity rises sharply: NCC report

admin | July 29th, 2014 - 7:44 pm

More chicken is finding its way onto American plates than ever before – especially among Millennials – according to new survey presented by the National Chicken Council (NCC).

The NCC reports that the average number of meals or snacks containing chicken consumed by survey respondents within a two-week period rose by 17 percent to 6.1 meals versus results two years ago. Millennials – consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 – were the most likely to eat chicken-based meals at 7.7 in the period, the survey of more than 1,000 adults noted.

Chicken consumption does not differ significantly by gender, and the Midwest was the only U.S. region not to post a higher rate of consumption since 2012.

The survey also spotted positive news for grocery chicken sales: 24 percent of consumers surveyed plan to eat more chicken over the next 12 months, three times the proportion noted two years ago. Health/nutrition (34 percent) and taste (32 percent) were the dominant factors for eating more chicken bought at grocery stores while cost (17 percent) landed in third place in influence.

One in five respondents to this survey say they’re likely to buy more chicken at restaurants and other foodservice outlets this year, a net gain of 9 percent among the general population, according to the survey. Consumers cited taste (25 percent) and health/nutrition (24 percent) as the driving forces behind eating chicken meals in restaurants.

Source:, 7-22-2014


admin | July 24th, 2014 - 2:58 pm

Responding to a report by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), groups representing Maryland poultry farmers say restoration goals for the Chesapeake Bay are being met ahead of schedule.

The EIP assessment of a decade’s worth of data concluded that no improvement had occurred and said the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may be overestimating reductions in farm pollution.

But Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI) and the Maryland Farm Bureau called the EIP report flawed propaganda in a long rebuttal that addresses its contentions point by point.

They note EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program office found that Maryland finished 2012-13 ahead of schedule with reductions exceeded by more than 3.5 million pounds for nitrogen, by nearly 147,000 pounds for phosphorus and by nearly 90 million pounds for sediment. The progress puts Maryland farmers on track to reach 2017 and 2025 EPA goals, the groups said.

The limited monitoring results included in the EIP study show that even after a decade of continued urban sprawl in the watershed, phosphorus levels have not increased. This definitely indicates success of the efforts that are underway.

DPI and the farm bureau agreed with EIP on one point, that the EPA’s model for assessing the bay uses outdated data and needs to be fixed.



admin | July 22nd, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Ice cream sales may have cooled off in the past few years, but consumers are expected to be melting over the frozen treat once again. It looks like we’ve reached the turning point where the industry is going to bounce back and some are certainly forecasting a rebound. Trends toward healthier eating as well as […]

Holy jalapeno! How hot will menus get?

admin | July 21st, 2014 - 10:50 am

The temperature isn’t the only thing rising this summer. Restaurant dishes are too, courtesy of increasingly ubiquitous ingredients such as Sriracha and jalapenos.

The demand for a little heat picked up a little bit around 2006.

However, menus began to cool in 2008, when a salmonella outbreak was traced back to jalapenos. Fast forward a few years and restaurant concepts across every segment are not only bringing back the heat, but dialing it up a few notches.

Pizza brands jumped on board, too. Some menus have incorporated jalapeno-infused pepperoni as well as fresh-diced jalapenos.

Sriracha ‘skyrockets’

Jalapenos aren’t the only ingredient setting mouths ablaze.  In January the U.S. hot sauce market had grown 150 percent since 2000. As with the growth in jalapenos, many analysts attribute the growth in Sriracha to the adventurous palate of younger generations, as well as its versatility.

Some believe the reason Sriracha sauce and jalapenos have become so popular reflects consumers’ growing preference for pepper flavor and heat. They can be applied to a wide range of products that cover every QSR menu day-part, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, afternoon, dinner or late night.

Whereas jalapenos used to be found mostly on spicy-focused concepts, they are now found on every day menus at brands as large as McDonald’s and Subway.

Part of a larger trend – ethnicity and diversity

According to additional information, jalapeno mentions have grown by 3 percent on unique menus across all segments in the past year. Overall, jalapenos have grown by 8 percent on unique chain menus across all segments in the same time period, and 3 percent on independent menus.

Overall, jalapenos have grown 100 percent in terms of item percentage across all segments, from 1 to 2 percent in the past year. They are now available at 35 percent of all locations, up from 25 percent a year ago.

It’s believed the rise in jalapeno mentions is part of an overall theme we’ve noticed in the growth of spicy ingredients. This is also being fueled by the alignment of two larger themes – growth in ethnic flavors in more diverse segments, and the need for operators to market to Millennials that crave more adventurous flavors.

Spicy is becoming more approachable, and lends itself to interaction, another Millennial-driven trend.

With spicy it’s fun.  You can put some in the food and some on the side and let customers dial it up as much as they want. It allows them to interact with their food.

With that said, these ingredients may very well be just the tip of the iceberg (heatberg?).

Foodservice providers would be wise to experiment with other pepper sauces to set themselves apart from the Sriracha-selling pack. Consider alternative peppers such as Anaheim, Peppadew or Poblano to stand out from the pack, or explore different applications that haven’t yet been widely covered.

Source:, 7-16-2014

There was a time when an all-American menu was like a restaurant magnet.

admin | July 18th, 2014 - 12:09 pm

There was a time when an all-American menu was like a restaurant magnet.

Not any more, according to a new report from the research.   As population demographics change and as more consumers jump on the health-conscious train, U.S. food service operators must adapt, the study concludes.

Which means the big, familiar All-American restaurant chains may have to increasingly get less American in their menus, and more multicultural, to attract diners going forward.

Food for thought, if you will, for restaurant investors.

The immigrant population (defined as those with no U.S. citizenship at birth) as a percentage of the total U.S. population has risen from less than 5% in the 1970s to about 13% today, according to the Migration Policy Institute.

And Millennials — the restaurant industry’s growth engine – often prefer the ethnic eateries, too.

The changing demographic composition of the United States is giving rise to a wide variety of cuisine choices for U.S. consumers. As a result, ethnic cuisine is expected to play a larger role in the food-services sector over the next five years, as industry players continue to alter their menus to accommodate ever-changing consumer preferences.

That’s a lot for the All-American burger joints to chew on.

Source:, 7-14-2014

Mushroom Ravioli

admin | July 17th, 2014 - 3:23 pm

Mushroom Ravioli 26062 5ea Pasta Forest Mushroom Ravioli 1/72ct 3151 Sauce Pesto Roasted Red Pepper 3154 Sauce Pesto Southwest/Chipotle 3157 3oz Sauce Pesto Tomato/Garlic 3152 Sauce Pesto with Basil Procedure: Cook ravioli in boiling water and toss in pesto and serve.

Nine tips for opening a food truck

admin | July 17th, 2014 - 12:02 pm

As food trucks become more popular, you may want to consider opening one.

From big cities to small towns and burgers to bánh mì, food trucks are becoming mainstream. According to NRA research, 49 percent of quick service operators say they believe food trucks will become more popular in the future and one-fifth of restaurant operators will consider starting one in the next year or two.

Here are nine tips for potential food truck operators.
How to find your food truck. You can get a food truck for as little as $25,000 and up to $125,000 or more. But don’t cut corners on your build. It’s the only chance you have to create an efficient mobile kitchen for your business. To search for secondhand trucks, connect with the local food truck community, contact any company that has a fleet of used box trucks (such as FedEx, UPS, bread companies), or search eBay. Tip: Get a diesel truck to save on gas prices, familiarize yourself with the truck’s engine and parts so you can save money by fixing small problems yourself.

Be creative. Many food trucks have succeeded by offering innovative food. Be creative when developing your menu.

Consider catering and festivals. Food trucks do especially well from May through October. To supplement income throughout the year, consider private party catering and festivals in addition to lunchtime street vending. You can bump prices at festivals because people expect to pay more at events with limited food offerings. However, a festival might require more employees than usual. Many people are hiring food trucks to cater house parties and weddings. Think about developing a special catering menu.

Find customers on social media. Because street vendors can respond quickly to demand, Facebook, Twitter and Yelp are good ways to interact with customers and decide where to go each day. Think about giving coupons to social media followers. Consider inviting customers back for a complimentary meal if they posted a bad experience on Yelp.

Educate customers on cleanliness. Some potential customers perceive trucks as dirty, but today’s food trucks maintain a high standard of cleanliness. Operators might have to educate customers on this to win their business. Consider training your employees in safe food handling with ServSafe, and post the ServSafe certificate in your window.

Prepare food at a commissary or brick-and-mortar restaurant. In many cities, food trucks must use commercial kitchens (known as commissaries) to prepare food. Commissaries can be catering kitchens or brick-and-mortar restaurant kitchens. They also can be a place to dump grey water, wash the truck and load food in without exposing it to the elements. Finding a commissary can be one of most significant challenges to opening a food truck. Try connecting with the food truck community in your area to find one.

Be a good neighbor. Being a responsible operator in your foodservice community will go a long way toward eliminating conflicts with brick-and-mortar restaurants. For example, don’t park in front of a restaurant that serves similar food.

Know the laws. Get familiar with food truck laws in your area. Cities regulate truck size, vending locations and hours, GDI level sanitation, and more. The laws change frequently as cities figure out how to adapt to this new business model. Be flexible in the face of changing laws and consider getting involved in the process.

Connect with your community. Get to know other food truck operators and ask them questions. Food truck communities are close-knit and regularly help each other. Working with your state or local restaurant association to help them understand the food truck position can also be beneficial.

These tips are from a food truck education session at NRA Show 2014.
Source: July 2014

Image Credit – Jed Kirschbaum

New report suggests people are paying attention to menu labels

admin | July 16th, 2014 - 3:38 pm

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows 57% of U.S. adults over 18 use menu labeling information like calorie counts to make their orders.

The researchers looked at surveys from 17 states and found that women were more likely to use menu labels, and that labeling helps customers pick lower-calorie options. A 2010 federal law requires restaurants that have at least 20 locations to list calorie information on their menus (though regulations to implement the law have still not been finalized).

The new study is important, because it shows that Americans actually do care about menu labels, though perhaps only by a slight majority. Several earlier studies have shown the opposite. For instance, a 2012 studyconcluded calorie listings would have little impact on the obesity epidemic. Another 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health, examined the receipts of 1,100 McDonald’s diners. Some of the participants were given calorie information as well as education about how many calories are recommended for men and women and others were given no information. Both groups ate more than the recommended amount of calories, and there were no differences between the groups, suggesting people underestimate what they’re eating, even with calorie numbers.

All of which means that while it’s great, consumers are looking at calorie counts, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are acting on the information.

There are a few criticisms of nutrition labeling in fast food restaurants. Two Johns Hopkins obesity experts wrote an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicinelast year arguing that without any context, people have no idea how many calories they should be eating, making the data essentially meaningless. Some researchers have suggested that health authorities use other measurements, like how much physical activity it would take to burn off a 550 calorie burger. Finally, a focus on calories, say some experts, misses the point, since a small Coke could have the same calories as a handful of almonds, though to say they are the same nutritionally would be absurd.

The researchers conclude that the data could help create more targeted health communication strategies that could help up awareness for menu labels and benefit Americans. With more education, diners may at least realize just how much junk is their fast food.

Source: 7-10-2014

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