Specialty Food Magazine


Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 70 of 139

Also resonating with consumers is the company's eco-friendly efforts. "The cartons have a 70 percent smaller carbon footprint than metal cans and are made primarily from sustainably harvested trees," Hummel adds. "They are not only recy- clable but made from a renewable resource." Lim creates refrigerated, fresh, ready- to-heat soups and chili in BPA-free stand- up pouches. Her product line is among a growing segment demonstrating a push away from typical shelf-stable cans to a fresher soup category. Still, while packaging innovations may draw new customers, they can pose pricing challenges. "New innovations like Nona Lim's are great, especially because they tend to be healthier. But often, because of higher price points, they don't move quite as fast," says Robert Bradley, owner of Ramona Family Naturals, in Ramona, Calif. Bradley says most of his customers might try something new, but won't make a repeat purchase. Instead, he explains, "our customers gravitate towards cans like Amy's or aseptic carton soups like Pacific or McDougall 's." As suppliers continue to roll out f lavor and packaging innovations, this category is enjoying its revival. Whether choosing an old standby like a can of tomato soup or something with trending ingredients or bet- ter packaging, consumers are showing that soups are still a powerful comfort to them. category spotlight Nicole Potenza Denis is a contributing editor to Specialty Food Magazine. recipes," she says. "The names are the romance of the soups." Anderson's visually oriented packaging was one early innovation. "I packaged in layers so people could actually see the ingredients," she explains, such as the eight colorful layers of beans, grains, and vegetables in her Dakota Territory Beef Barley Bean Stew Mix and the freeze- dried corn in her sofi Award–winning Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder mix. Acknowledging the desire for shortcuts, Anderson created a Homemade in Minutes line that uses quick-cooking dehydrated beans for a cook time of approximately 30 minutes. As Frontier Soups' distribution has grown, its selection has continued to evolve, with on-trend items as in the West Coast Kale & Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix. Recognition and education have been a boon for the company. "Early on I didn't want to use the word mix in my packaging," she recalls. "I felt it had a negative connotation and took away from the idea that home cooks can be inventive. Today, people recognize that mix means 'add to,' demonstrating an evolution in thinking on the consumer's part." Nona Lim Soups: Flash-Frozen, From-Scratch Varieties When Nona Lim relocated to San Francisco from London, she identified with the city's culinary melting pot—a reminder of the thriving food culture of her native Singapore. Drawing on flavor inspiration from Singaporean food stalls, the idea for a soup company came to life in early 2011, following her creation of a food detox program she devised for family and friends. "I was teaching people how to eat healthy and how to avoid common food allergens," Lim explains. "We were offering healthy, low- sodium soups as a snack. Eventually, I wanted to show more people that it's possible to create a convenient packaged food that is good for you." Health and quality drive her ingredient selection—olive oil instead of canola, fresh vegetables and herbs over frozen or dried, coconut or rice milk in place of stabilizers and thickeners—and she uses a vegetable broth made from scratch, never from concentrate, which also helps keep the sodium levels down. "Salt is a cheap way of adding flavor," she says. The soups are flash-frozen to preserve flavor and shelf life and packaged in a heat-and-serve BPA-free pouch, with a six-week refrigerated shelf life, or 20 months frozen. Across eight varieties, ingredients are 90 percent locally sourced, and top sellers include Thai green curry, carrot ginger, and zucchini. All are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Lim's flavor and ingredient profile along with her cooking and packaging technique have helped propel her company to national distribution at Whole Foods within a year of launching. In 2015 she plans to add spicier soups as well as flavors and ingredients more common in restaurants—like celery root—than in a packaged soup. New introductions at higher price points with simpler, more natural ingredient lists are expected to be a factor in continued growth. 68 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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