By Lucas Witman
In the world of specialty food, it is possible that no subcategory of the industry is as well-established as the spices and seasonings market. In fact, the centuries-old spice trade can be seen as an embryonic enterprise that would later develop into a global fascination with gourmet edibles. Today, while each kitchen pantry is unique in the groceries it contains, nearly every one contains a requisite spice rack, most often replete with the same standardized selection of herbs and seasonings. It can be a difficult task to break into and innovative an industry that has been so firmly established over its lengthy history.
For companies hoping to shake up the seasonings market and compel consumers to introduce something new to their spice racks, it is important to find a way to stand out from the crowd and catch shoppers’ attentions.
Perhaps the best way for a seasonings and spices company to mark its products as truly innovative is to offer something that is not available anywhere else. This is the strategy employed by The Spice Lab, which has more than 200 different salts in its product portfolio, in addition to 24 spices. The Spice Lab goes out of its way to source unique products from all over the world, some of which have never before been available commercially.
“All of the salts, we source them from artisanal producers around the world,” said Brett Kramer, owner of The Spice Lab. “A couple companies out there, they have a couple dozen salts and that’s it—the same couple dozen salts for five-six-seven-eight years. We go out there, and we find the guy literally in Nowhere, Africa or Nowhere, Japan or Nowhere, Kauai…By doing that, you end up with stuff that’s not cheap, but it’s…phenomenal.”
According to Kramer, it is important that The Spice Lab fosters an identity as a high-end brand within the larger seasonings market. “We go out and find the best stuff. We’re by no means the cheapest guy on the shelf. We’re probably up there with one of the more expensive bottles on the shelf. When people buy the product, they know that they get what they’re paying for,” he said.
The Spice Lab is also working to stay competitive in the industry through presenting its products in creative packaging. “The packaging is innovative,” Kramer said. “The way we do the kits and the practicality of what we’re doing—We’re making not just a great product, but a great looking product.”
For some companies, finding success in today’s specialty seasonings and spices industry can mean reaching out to a new market. Popular brand Kernel Seasons has done this by marketing its diverse portfolio of popcorn seasonings in movie theaters. Kernel Seasons offers its seasonings in an array of creative flavors, both sweet and savory. The seasonings are great on popcorn, but also serve as a terrific addition to pasta, pizza, potatoes, vegetables, eggs and more. Brian Taylor, founder of Kernel Seasons, attributes his company’s success to finding its niche.
“The thing that really sets us apart is our presence in the movie theaters and the fact that we really pin our seasonings to popcorn,” Taylor said. “I think we’re innovative in terms of the types of flavors that we offer, the quality that we offer, the look and feel of the packaging…It’s a really fun look and feel for a really fun type of seasoning.”
As in all facets of the larger specialty food industry, in the world of seasonings and spices, successful companies are always in touch with what is trending among consumers. This can mean paying particular attention to cuisines, flavors and cooking techniques, but also to trends in consumer lifestyles.
“To remain competitive, we need to have our hand on the pulse of the industry,” said Ron Ratz, Director of Protein Development for Wixon. Wixon is a technology-focused company that has developed more than 7,000 flavors that keep customers excited about food.
For Ratz, one of the main food trends to which Wixon is currently responding is the omnipresent consumer desire to go gluten-free. The company is also reaching out to globalized eaters with what he calls: “more adventurous frequent flyer palates.” This means developing more international seasonings and bold flavors.
Kernel Seasons also makes a concerted effort to stay in touch with what is trending.
“There’s a real trend toward playability with food. Kids love to create their own,” Taylor said. He argues that today’s consumer wants to have fun with his or her food, and Kernel Seasons is actively courting this type of eater.
“We have really fun flavors. We’re a fun brand. We’re probably the most fun brand of seasoning out there,” he said.
One trend cited by both Ratz and Taylor as influencing the way their companies do business is the growing move toward at-home food preparation and a back-to-basics lifestyle.
“Foodservice has been struggling. People are eating at home. When preparing meals at home, people want delicious meals but also value added meals,” Ratz said. “If they’re going to trade down in price they want to add value with flavor.”
“There’s been kind of a back-to-the-earth [trend],” Taylor said. “People like popcorn because it’s the only snack that you can really make yourself, and Kernel Seasons fits right into that family process, that family tradition of making popcorn at home.”
Award-winning Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts is a new Hawaiian company that specializes in Hawaiian Sea Salts, flavored seasonings and Hawaii-grown cane sugars infused with fruits, like guava, mango, passion fruit, lychee, coconut and pineapple. Busy customers love the unique colors, tropical flavors and convenience of cooking a gourmet meal with Salty Wahine products.
Salty Wahine’s emphasis is on eating healthy. The company stresses the positive medicinal values of Hawaiian Sea Salts. Coupled with tropical flavors, Salty Wahine products make eating healthy fun.
Salty Wahine started in 2008 and has since grown into an international company. The company’s products are used by five star chefs worldwide. Salty Wahine salts, seasonings and sugars are sold at craft fairs, farmers markets and high-end retail stores in Hawaii, Alaska, the continental United States, Canada, Germany and Saipan.
Contact Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts by mail at P.O. Box 828, Hanapepe, Hawaii, 96716, by phone at 808.346.2942, by fax at 808.442.1230 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the company online at www.saltywahine.com.
Fresh Origins, producer of microgreens and edible flowers, recently introduced Herb Crystals® and Flower Crystals® at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food show. With dazzling, all-natural colors and the flavors of fresh flowers and herbs, the crystals are perfect ingredients for adding a distinctive finishing touch to any culinary creation.
Carefully hand-harvested at the peak of flavor and color, fresh herbs and edible flowers are combined with pure cane sugar to create vibrant, flavorful crystals. Their crispy texture and concentrated flavor brighten up salads, pair well with savory dishes and add crunch to baked goods and desserts. The crystals can even be tossed into a cocktail for a surprise of color at the bottom of the glass, whose flavor will be savored in the last sip.
Herb Crystals are available in basil and mint, and flower crystals are available in fennel and rose. Mini Herb and Flower Crystals—available in the same flavors but with a finer grain—are also available, perfect for rimming the glasses of creative drinks and cocktails.
All Fresh Origins products are kosher certified and have no added flavorings or colors. For more information, visit the company online at www.freshorigins.com.
New from Rabbit Creek Products is the Cracked Pepper Parmesan Vegetable Dip. Evoking images of a cabin surrounded by serene mountains, a brook burbling in the background and horses tied up to the hitching post, Cracked Pepper Parmesan is perfect for any season. This dip is light enough for hot weather, hearty enough for chillier months and perfect for everything in between.
Rabbit Creek Products’ Cracked Pepper Parmesan Dip features the pungent familiarity of aged parmesan cheese finishing with a little black pepper bite. This dip is fantastic for the centerpiece of a party platter, or it can serve as a fantastic accompaniment to grilled vegetables. Try it on roasted ears of corn.
The minimum order is only 12 dips, and Rabbit Creek still continues to allow customers to mix and match flavors to make a full case. Drilled for ease of display, the dips from Rabbit Creek Products can be merchandised by hanging, or they can fit perfectly in berry baskets to be set on a shelf. Contact Rabbit Creek by phone at 800.837.3073 or by email at email@example.com, or visit the company’s website at www.rabbitcreekgourmet.com.
Vanns Spices understands that the demand for organic products, including organic spices, is on the rise. That’s why they are constantly adding new varieties to their already sizable range of organic spices.
According to recent reports, sales of organic food sales have grown by 20 percent annually and represent more than 3.5 percent of total U.S. food sales. From a culinary perspective, and for retailers and manufacturers to keep up with the demand for new and engaging organic flavor experiences, a ready supply of high integrity and consistently flavorful organic spices and spice blends is essential.
“Retailers and home cooks are clamoring for reliable, high-quality organic flavor experiences from the spices they buy,” says Mick Whitlock, President of Vanns Spices. “Fortunately, we have great relationships with organic farmers around the world and have been able to maintain and expand the variety of organic spices in our inventory.”
Whether you are looking for specific organic spices, or wish to formulate organic spice blends from proprietary recipes, Vanns has everything you’ll need. Buyers are invited to visit Vanns Spices at the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, Booth 646. Alternatively, contact Vanns by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 800.583.1693.
New from Conroy Foods, the producer of Beano’s Deli Condiments™ and Sauces comes Beano’s Sandwich Shakers with Roasted Garlic and Parmesan Cheese. Beano’s has not been this excited about launching a new product to America’s Delis since the introduction of Beano’s Original Submarine Dressing™ back in 1989.
Beano’s Sandwich Shakers™ introduces a totally new concept that will enhance the flavor of food without adding fat, cholesterol or carbohydrates. “Just Shake the Taste”™ onto your favorite creations.
In addition to sandwiches, Beano’s Sandwich Shakers can be added to oil to make a dipping oil, or they can be used as a rub for chicken or fish. The possibilities are endless. Other suggested uses include sprinkling on baked potatoes, garden salads, pasta salads, french fries, chicken, pizza, seafood, wings or soups. One can even mix Sandwich Shakers with cream cheese to make a delicious spread for a toasted bagel.
Beano’s website, www.conroyfoods.com, provides a quick and easy reference point to see all of the varieties of Beano’s condiments and sauces. You can also follow Beano’s on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Twitter. For more information, contact Conroy Foods at 800.317.8316. Remember: “Beano’s Makes It Better!” “Live, Love, Get Sauced!” with Beano’s Deli Condiments.
According to Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth.” In fact, your tears and your blood contain the same balance of salt and trace elements as found in sea salt that has been naturally dried for 13 to 22 months. New Zealand Pacific Sea Salt is harvested from the clean southern seas surrounding New Zealand. It contains no anti-caking or free flowing agents, and it contains all the natural trace elements that your body requires in a perfect balance.
Pacific Resources is an exclusive importer of this high quality sea salt from New Zealand. It is packaged in several convenient sizes from 4 ounces to 26 ounces. In addition, the product comes in two styles: fine and coarse kosher and 16-ounce organic/kosher. The 2.2-pound bags can also be used as a very special rejuvenating bath salt
A new addition to the Pacific Resources family is Mesquite Smoked Pacific Sea Salt in coarse or fine, a great addition to any meal that requires a down-home country barbecue flavor. Also, the company’s new 4- and 16-ounce salt grinders work great for a fresh grind every time.
For more information, contact Pacific Resource by phone at 805.684.0624 or by email at email@example.com, or visit the company online at www.shoppri.com.
Busha Browne is most famous for an all-purpose jerk seasoning rub made from a selection of crushed herbs and spices, comprised predominantly of escellion (spring onion), Scotch bonnet peppers and pimento (allspice) berries.
Jerk is the authentic Jamaican method of cooking. The term refers to a method of grilling meats using a combination of highly spiced seasonings. The meat is then cooked over a pimento wood fire. The process is a slow and savory one that traps all the spice and juices inside the meat, resulting in an aromatic smoked flavor. Oven-baked jerk is the newest method and is currently taking hold in North America. For oven-based jerk, you simply season your favorite meats with Busha Browne’s Authentic Jamaican Jerk Seasoning, add some cooking oil, and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until done.
Busha Browne’s Authentic Jamaican Jerk Seasoning is the traditional hot and spicy seasoning paste specially compounded for jerk meat, fish, vegetables or tofu. Used prudently prior to cooking, this seasoning will provide the most pungent flavor and an absolutely irresistible aroma.
For more information head online to www.bushabrowne.com.
Fire & Flavor has created the perfect gift for grillers with the new John Wayne Spice Rub gift set. The set includes four all-natural rubs, including barbecue, beef, pork and chicken seasoning. Like all Fire & Flavor products, the spices are made from the highest quality ingredients and are gluten-free and kosher. The rubs complement a variety of cooking methods, such as grilling, smoking and roasting. To use the rubs, simply brush your favorite meat with olive oil, season generously with the rub of choice and allow meat to absorb flavor for an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
For more information and details on ordering, visit www.fireandflavor.com. For questions or assistance, call 866.728.8332.
Available from Viola Imports, See Smell Taste is an extensive line of premium spices, salts, blends and ingredients for molecular gastronomy. See Smell Taste was conceived from the desire to provide only the most exclusive choice of ingredients and tools to those with a discriminating appetite for culinary excellence.
See Smell Taste offers the world’s highest quality herbs and spices achieved through research into how each spice seed should be planted, harvested and processed. Location of best soil and weather are taken into account when looking for the right grower, and only a few growers meet these high standards. Drying, grinding and sorting equipment are monitored to achieve the best results. A comprehensive categorization system based on the intrinsic characteristics of each spice categorizes the spices into seven groups: seeds and pods, flowers, leaves and berries, roots and barks, chilies, peppers, salts and finally blends.
Expand your palette with the revered spices from Viola Imports. Some of the company’s popular products include Black Pepper Malabar, Pangasinan Sea Salts, Tahitian Grand Cru Vanilla Beans, Piment d’Espelette, Pimenton de la Vera Dulce and Iranian Saffron. Favored blends made on site and to order include Golden Vadouvan and Harissa Mix, Garam Masala, Shichimi Togarashi, Madras Curry, Ras el Hanout and more.
Viola Imports’ spices are available in 32-ounce jars and one-gallon containers for foodservice and in mini containers for retail. For more information, contact Viola Imports at 847.690.0790, or visit the company online at www.violaimports.com.