An online community for gourmet and specialty food retailers.

Welcome to Fancy Food & Culinary Products' blog, your place to read reviews of the great fancy and gourmet products we find in the marketplace.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Editor's Choice: Nonni's Biscotti

Good things come in threes. 

Hailing from a small town in Italy, Nonni’s Biscotti grew out of true Italian tradition. The authentic-tasting Italian flavors from Nonni's (an Italian term for "Grandmother") Biscotti follows the rule of threes by including three new flavors to the Biscotti Bites product line. Using original family recipes with gourmet chocolate, Nonni's devotion to quality doesn't go unnoticed here and it's proved to be the foundation for their continued success. The decadent flavor combinations in the almond dark chocolate, double chocolate salted caramel and very berry almond cookies are what I imagine heaven to be like. The vibrant packaging is a nice touch, making it more desirable to keep a bag at your desk (also allowing for more self-indulgence). 

The 5-serving bags would be a perfect amount, but with anything chocolate salted caramel acting as my kryptonite, I admittedly finished the entire bag before everyone had a chance to try them.  


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Editor's Choice: Funley's Delicious

They’re just regular humans with big mouths, just like you and I. That’s a slogan the husband-wife team over at Funley’s Delicious feels strongly about. They’re a passionate duo who take their enthusiasm for good and good-for-you food and shout about it from the mountain top that is their brand.

The Funley’s Delicious Snack Sets that landed on my desk told a story with a cast of talented characters including Millie, Moe and Lucy Funley that represented the enthusiasm and quirkiness of the brand perfectly. There’s no clip art or stock images on their packaging, it’s genuine characters that attracted and retained my attention before I even tried the snacks—a major point of sale for customers walking past a specialty food store shelf.

Inside the bag, though, Funley’s Delicious includes 100-percent natural ingredients, with no trans fat, no preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup—no artificial anything. Their Super Crackers, available in Cheddar, Cornbread, Ranch and Pizza—I tried the Cheddar—boast the ability to hide superfoods such as broccoli in the bite-size pieces. They were delicious and flavorful, and the taste of cheddar hid any reminder that vegetables were a prominent ingredient—something I’d imagine a major selling point for parents. Their Wholly Granolly Clusters in Double Chocolate Chip, Wild Apple Berry and Peanut Butter are also crunchy, whole grain snacks and a great source of Vitamin D, Calcium and Iron.

“We have a passion to spread good things out into the world in the form of fun experiences, great quality natural products, and initiatives that effect positive change in our world,” says Ashley and Shawn, founders of Funley’s. “We all need it. We are all connected on this planet and that means we are all one big family”

All of the snack packs are designed with the Funley’s characters and have this uncanny ability to portray their farm-to-table, all-natural brand in a way that significantly differentiates Funley’s from competitors. The solution to grabbing the customer’s attention will always be to tell a story. Often times the audience that brands are engaging in snacks goes beyond the parent or purchaser—it must resonate with children. Funley’s promotes the power of superfoods, yet refuses to brand these products with the boring, brown-paper labels so common with all-natural organic companies.

In the end, their crackers, granola and cookie cluster snacks are bite-size perfection, capturing my attention with flavor and branding. So go ahead, be a big mouth and shout about Funley’s from your storefront. 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Editor's Choice: Holly Baking

Looking for a delicious snack to stock your shelves with? Look no further than the Holly Baking Grab 'N' Go line of cookies. They're now available in five flavors: Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, French Butter, Butter Rich and Sweet Ginger. The cookies are flavorful, crispy and delicious. The Butter Rich Cookie Brittle melts in your mouth and Sweet Ginger Cookie Brittle has just enough "snap" to satisfy taste buds. The Chocolate Chip Classic Cookies will satisfy any chocoholic like myself. All of Holly Baking's products are made with all-natural ingredients so you don't have to feel guilty for indulging.

The decorative 3 oz. boxes are perfect for gift basket arrangements and for in-store impulse purchases for customers to enjoy.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Specialty Food Sales Break Records

Americans have a growing appetite for specialty food. U.S. sales of specialty food and beverages reached $88.3 billion in 2013, a record high for the fourth year in a row and a jump of 18.4 percent since 2011.
Cheese dominates specialty food sales at retail, with $4 billion in sales in 2013, followed by the categories meat, poultry and seafood; and chips, pretzels and snacks. The fastest growing categories are nut butters, eggs, and frozen desserts, according to new research from the Specialty Food Association.

“U.S. consumers are more sophisticated and discerning about their food choices than ever before,” says Ron Tanner, vice president of philanthropy, government and industry relations for the Association. “Retailers and restaurants of all kinds are responding by offering more specialty foods crafted by makers of artisanal cheeses, innovative vinegars, and health-oriented snacks.”

The outlook for retail is robust, with sales at specialty food stores and natural markets skyrocketing by 42.4 percent and 33.8 percent, respectively, between 2011 and 2013. Mainstream supermarket sales growth was more sluggish, at 6.9 percent.

Foodservice sales at caf√©s, fast-casual chains, restaurants and venues from casinos to cruise ships represent one fifth of the specialty food market. Sales in this sector remained steady at $18.1 billion in 2013, but manufacturers report it is their slowest-growing sales channel. Importers, however, report growth.
Distributors of specialty food say non-GMO has the highest potential for growth of all product claims during the next three years. Seventy percent of retailers surveyed cite “local” as the claim that interests consumers most today. Energy bars had meteoric growth in 2012; in 2013 the category lost some steam, ranking 21st in specialty food retail sales vs. seventh in 2012.

These finding are included in The State of the Specialty Food Industry 2014, an annual report from the Specialty Food Association prepared in conjunction with research firms Mintel International and SPINS. The report tracks U.S. sales of specialty food through supermarkets, natural food stores and specialty food retailers and includes surveys of food manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers and retailers. Specialty foods are broadly defined for the report as products that have limited distribution and a reputation for high quality.

Editor’s Choice: PackIt

One dilemma I’ve faced quite often (and my children too) is how to pack a lunch and keep it cool for extended periods of time, especially when the weather gets real hot.  But now that I’ve tried the PackIt freezable lunch cooler that dilemma has been solved.

The PackIt freezable lunch cooler keeps food and drinks cold for up to 10 hours and the best part is you don’t need to add a messy ice pack. (There have been way too many times my kids have left the ice packs in their other lunch bags and they sweat and leak all over).

With the PackIt all I have to do is put it in the freezer overnight, remove it in the morning, pack it and it’s ready to go. I like the convenience and I feel better about how long it stays cold, especially sitting in a school locker or a hot car.

It also folds up to the size of a paperback book so it’s very compact in my freezer. The designs are pretty and creative as well. And the product is free of harmful chemicals and made with nontoxic food-save materials, so that is an additional benefit I would be looking for.

If you are like a lot of families who need to pack a lunch or snacks for work, school, activities or day trips, you should give the PackIt a try. The company also makes really cool wine chillers too.