Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2018

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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"Greek f lavors are abundant and diverse in our products," says Elias Athanasiou, chief executive officer of Enterprise Greece. "They are winning over consumers and buyers, hands down. It's hard to compete with the freshness of a rich, deep green olive oil or the texture of olives where each variety yields a distinct f lavor." Expanding Exports to the U.S. Enterprise Greece, which promotes Hellenic products around the world, has tracked the steady upward trend of food and beverage exports from the country that now accounts for 25 percent of total exports to the U.S. Much of the increase can be linked to the growth of local farms in Greece in the past 10 years. "Farmers are developing their own style of cultivation," says Athanasiou. " They are staying true to indigenous varieties and methods of production that yield high fla- vor." Top products are no surprise: table olives, olive oil, cheese, fish, and, of course, Greek yogurt. In fact, one cannot talk about Greek products without first discussing yogurt, which accounts for half of all yogurt sales in the U.S. Greek yogurt alone hit $3.7 billion in sales in 2015, according to Statistica. The strained yogurt, which is inherently higher in protein than standard lines, has won over consumers with its thick, creamy texture, lower acid profile, and global appeal, explains Suzy Badaracco, president of food industry think tank Culinary Tides. She believes that Greek yogurt led the U.S. market to focus on the protein content of dairy products and even resulted in nearly 20 percent of product launches being centered on the macronutrient. Finding Authenticity in Restaurants Many consumers encounter the wider range of Greek ingredients when dining out. In pockets of Greek communities, including Astoria, Queens, in New York City, consumers flock to traditional restaurants. But a growing number of chefs in the U.S. are elevat- ing the cuisine beyond the neighborhood taverna, such as the James Beard Award-nominated Helen Greek Food and Wine in Houston, Texas, and Loi Estiatorio in New York City. Chef Maria Loi of Loi Estiatorio cooks with the healthy ingredients of olive oil, yogurt, wine, herbs and spices, beans, nuts, seafood, fruits, and vegetables, which she says, "come together to exemplify the vibrant flavors of Greek cuisine." Dishes include mussels with Greek oregano, a spinach and dill pie, and a lamb shank braised in red wine. She has seen the interest in Greek dishes rise in the past five years, not only from consumers but also in methods of cookery on all types of menus. "I believe the growing trend of knowing where your food comes from, knowing what goes into your food, and the overall growth of people's concern with their everyday health, all contribute to the increase in popularity of Greek food," says Loi. "The simplicity and quality of ingredients do not leave a lot of places for less than stellar foods to hide." These f lavor combinations, ingredients, and cooking methods are finding their ways into other types of restaurants. Athanasiou explains that Japanese chefs are swapping in Greek olive oil in their traditional dishes, and Paris native Christophe Poteaux offers a hummus and f latbread with white sesame seeds on the menu of his French restaurant Bastille Brasserie & Bar in Alexandria, Virginia. global cuisine "The growing trend of knowing where your food comes from, knowing what goes into your food, and the overall growth of people's concern with their everyday health, all contribute to the increase in popularity of Greek food. The simplicity and quality of ingredients do not leave a lot of places for less than stellar foods to hide." 128 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE specialtyfood.com

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