Thursday, June 30, 2011

Major ice cream players could threaten innovation, Keynote

Major ice cream players could threaten innovation, KeynoteIn a May 2011 report, the market analysts said that new mergers and acquisitions are making it harder for other companies to compete and also stated that “product innovation in the market could be threatened, as this requires a huge amount of money and time”.

R&R have the right to distribute brands such as Walls, and also hold a license to manufacture NestlĂ© ice cream. Similarly, Unilever owns brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum.

Estimated sales growth: Key Note estimated that the ice cream market had grown in value, with retail sales up by 5.5% from £879m to £927m in 2010 as against 2009.

The analysts attributed this to “new flavour variants for established brands, new size formats, crossovers from other food sectors and brands, such as confectionery, [and] healthy-eating products, such as frozen yoghurts or ice creams that have reduced fat and sugar levels”

Growth in the ice cream and frozen desserts market is predicted to continue, reaching £1.4bn in sales value by 2015, with Key Note attributing the increase to “inflationary pressures” and rising sales of premium brands as the economy continues to recover.

The report also notes the expected impact of the London Olympics, stating that in 2013 UK sales of ice cream are expected to top the £1bn mark for the first time.

Areas of opportunity: Key Note said that there are several opportunities to exploit gaps in the ice cream sector, with frozen yogurt one example. It noted that Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s brand has established a range of lower-fat frozen yogurt, but the market is currently under-developed.

The development is largely due to a March 2011 Department of Health (DOH) initiative which is encouraging companies to reduce calories, replace saturated fats and to remove artificial trans fats by the end of 2011.

Key Note said Unilever and R&R Ice Cream’s dominance was further evident in new ranges exploiting well-known confectionary brands. In 2011, R&R Ice Cream launched two new products under licence from NestlĂ© using the Rolo brand name: Rolo Sticks and Rolo Cones.

Despite predicted market growth, Key Note warned about the rising price of raw ingredients used in the manufacture of ice cream, as well as spiralling fuel and energy costs, factors compounded by a VAT increase to 20% introduced in January.

Such problems were highlighted by Ice Cream Alliance (ICA) ceo Zelica Carr in a recent letter to Chancellor George Osbourne calling for the reclassification of ice cream as a food rather than a luxury item, which would make it exempt from the VAT increase. But the ICA told this morning that it has yet to receive a response.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The great Toronto Ice Cream Sundae Challenge: Parfait presentation

The great Toronto Ice Cream Sundae Challenge: Parfait presentationOne of the things I like about The Thomson Hotel's 24 hour dineresque restaurant, the Counter, is the $7.00 PB&J sandwich on the menu. I've never tried it myself (PB&J will never win when bangerang fried chicken is on the menu), but just that they offer it, gives a little insight into the concept of the place. Now, I say dineresque because The Counter isn't really a diner. It's decent place, with nicer food dressed up to look like diner-style. Diner's, for instance, don't offer $7.00 peanut butter and jam sandwiches, they offer $3.00 ones. But diners also don't offer the same level of quality found at the Counter. It's all well and good to reminisce over greasy spoons and hot hamburger sandwiches and mammoth ice cream sundaes — oh right, ice cream sundaes.

So what the Counter does, at least in theory, is to take diner food and remove the frozen, pre-packaged, general shittiness out of it. The menu has all the hallmarks of a diner — all day breakfast, wild eclecticism — while skewing it a little and of course, bumping up the price. So in keeping with this theme, the restaurant obviously offers an ice cream sundae, which is, along with fruit pie, perhaps the dinerest of diner items. Here's what their take looks and tastes like.


Perhaps the biggest strike against the Counter's sundae is the ice cream itself, which actually isn't as big a thing as it might seem. Most of the places profiled in this challenge so far have been ice cream parlours and, as such, the bar was set pretty high, pretty early. The Counter's ice cream is more grocery store than creamery. It was also, surprisingly, the first sundae I've tried to use straight up vanilla ice cream, which has less in it to mask imperfections.

Not that the ice cream wasn't good, it was. It was just icier and grainier than the others. Not as thick and creamy, but as I said it wasn't a huge deal; it's still ice cream after all, even the bad stuff is delicious, and this stuff wasn't bad.


At The Counter they pass on things like crushed chocolate bars, nuts or other candies in exchange for shaved milk and white chocolate, both caramel and chocolate sauce and lots of whipped cream — almost equal parts of each. It's a great combo that keeps the flavours pretty streamlined and doesn't let anything overpower the dish. Just creamy sweet flavours of chocolate and vanilla.


That's right, full marks for a parfait glass. You eat with your eyes and this sundae won me over as soon as it was placed in from of me. Rather than a meager looking scoop hiding inside a paper bowl, this is piled high and ready for the spotlight. You could have filled this thing with soft serve and Kraft caramel and it would have been a winner (which would probably taste pretty good, too).

VALUE: 4/5

Here's the other thing about great presentation, people are often willing to pay for it. An ice cream sundae standing tall in an elegant piece of glassware looks like it's worth the $7.00 price tag, while a couple of scoops stuffed in a paper cup seems pricey at $5.00. And I won't even dwell on the environmental aspect of plastic spoons and paper cups because that's not what this is about; it's about getting to charge $7.00 for a sundae, and the Counter gets to charge $7.00.


My server asked me if I had a headache because he's never seen someone eat an ice cream sundae so fast. I couldn't help it though, it was delicious, and it might have even changed my opinion of sundae creation. I once belonged to the church of crushed chocolate bars, pieces of crunchy Skor, Crispy Crunch or even Smarties sprinkled on top or mixed in, but now they just seem like a distraction in comparison. Shaved chocolate is a perfect addition because it's not so stiff to detract from the rest of the dish, but still provides wonderful texture and flavour — parfait indeed.
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Monday, June 27, 2011

How to Make Healthy Homemade Ice Cream

Once, we made ice cream by beating together cream and sugar and adding a little milk before setting it outside on top of the tank stand - to set in the frost. It was hard work, and it was too bad if the cat got to it first!

Now, ice cream recipes have evolved into something a lot less fattening and, with the advent of home ice cream machines, a great deal easier to beat and freeze.

The hardest part about making an ice cream recipe successfully by hand was usually the second beating. The mixture was by then partly frozen, making it difficult to beat it up to the required thickness. However, if you have an ice cream machine that is all taken care of. You don't have to keep on checking the mixture to ensure it is not getting too frozen - and you don't have to beat it by hand.

Use the Internet to collect interesting and healthy ice cream recipes, and then have fun experimenting.
When making up ice cream recipes at home, you can actually make these treats very nutritious for fussy eaters by adding fruit, berries and all sorts of goodies. Don't be afraid to add a few more ingredients to the basic ice cream recipe.

Crushed berries swirled through a soft-serve ice cream recipe mixture are particularly tasty and will tempt almost anyone to eat them. Since many children never seem to eat enough fruit, this is a great way of getting them to eat more. Passion fruit, pineapple, mandarins, oranges and kiwi fruit are all good additions to your ice cream recipe.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Cigar ice cream, anyone?

Cigar ice cream, anyone?Karl Heinz does not hesitate when he names the strangest ingredient he has used in his exotic ice creams. The asparagus ice cream sounds odd as do the requests from customers for wasabi, brown bread and pineapple curry flavours.

But the cigar ice cream wins the prize as weirdest. No matter how unusual, the German ice-cream maker, who moved to Dubai four years ago, will make any flavour from scratch on demand.

And so when Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa called to order the tobacco leaf-flavoured dessert four months ago, he said yes.

"They asked for a cigar ice cream for a themed dinner held for the launch of a cigar in their hotel. Not my taste, but I did it," he says.

Mr Heinz bought a bunch of Cohiba cigars and cut them into tiny pieces. He added them to his basic ice cream mix of milk, sugar, cream and a stabiliser that helps give the ice cream a better texture and then strained the concoction to maintain the cigar aroma.

This month, the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi hosted 300 sheikhs for dinner - and asked for tomato, sweet balsamic vinegar and pumpkin ice creams.

The hotel also placed an order for baklava and date ice cream, with ingredients from the UAE. He also has a local supplier of edible flowers, allowing him to add rose and lavender petals to the ice cream.

"Every day I come up with new flavours. Hotels need special flavours for special menus for their functions so I send them samples after I taste it myself."

As a chef with 25 years' experience, Mr Heinz has become an expert. He owns a hotel in Germany where he started his ice-cream business - but in Europe, he says, homemade ice cream is "commonplace".

"It's not very popular here but it's picking up and I think in 10 years' time, it will really boom," he says. "People usually associate ice cream with walking, which is why it happens more in Europe."

Mr Heinz says he takes special care when it comes to sourcing his ingredients.

"I bring in vanilla sticks from Madagascar, 200kg of frozen fruits a day from France, mangos from India and chocolate from Belgium," he says. "It's better quality and it's fresh."

He makes more than 100 flavours at his Empire Ice Cream premises in Ras al Khor, with no minimum order or time restraints.

Other exotic flavours include black sesame seed, chocolate chili, spicy honey, Arabic coffee, camel milk, strawberry black pepper, red bean and a sorbet of ginger and dates.

He sells tubs of two, four and five litres, at Dh26 a litre for a basic flavour. More complex mixtures can run to Dh70 a litre.

"Some customers have asked me to incorporate gold in the ice cream, which has to be done by hand, and that costs about Dh260 a litre," he says.

One hundred litres of the ice cream take one to two hours to make, and his factory produces on average 500 litres a day. The ice cream is stored at minus 18°C and it is best eaten at minus 14°C as "it maintains the flavour".

Mr Heinz sells Empire to 45 hotels across the UAE, a few restaurants and coffee shops. Once the establishment puts in a custom-made request, the flavour is immediately labelled under their name.

"It's important to have this kind of business in the UAE because it's a niche market," he said. "People only knew about industrialised ice cream before, such as Baskin Robbins and Haagen Dazs."

"This isn't so heavy, it's healthier and as mindsets are changing here, people are thinking more about their food and their health."
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pierre's Ice Cream opens new $9.2 million production facility in Cleveland

Pierre's Ice Cream opens new $9.2 million production facility in ClevelandPierre's Ice Cream Co. officially opened its $9.2 million ice cream factory on Monday morning, inviting visitors to taste freshly churned French vanilla ice cream and Hola Fruta! pomegranate and blueberry sherbet straight off the production line.

The 35,000-square-foot addition to its corporate offices and distribution center has already doubled Pierre's capacity, with extra room to grow. Equipped with state-of-the-art computerized ice cream-making machines, the expansion enables Pierre's to better control its production, mix-ins and sanitation processes, automating tasks previously done by hand. Inside the factory, workers monitor gleaming stainless steel equipment as a half-mile-long conveyer belt carries freshly made ice cream spiraling up and down an 18-foot-tall silo freezer and delivers it to the adjacent warehouse rock-hard.

The warehouse, kept at a frosty 25 degrees below zero, can hold 36 million scoops of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet. The previous 1920s-era factory, located more than 600 feet away, required workers to flash freeze the ice cream and truck it across the parking lot to the warehouse.President and Chief Executive Shelley Roth said the new building also conserves water and energy, reduces waste and makes Pierre's more competitive. All 85 workers had to take on new tasks and learn to operate new equipment.

"We are all excited about our new home, with our new kitchen and our new equipment," she said. "With this factory, we have the tools to make the most delicious ice cream anywhere right here in Cleveland, Ohio."

Recalling her late father, Sol Roth, she said in a quivering voice: "In case you were wondering what he would be thinking today, his voice is saying: 'Are you crazy? What do you think you're doing? "Do you know how much ice cream you'll have to sell to pay for this?'"The City of Cleveland contributed $6.9 million in low-interest loans, and Cuyahoga County gave a $60,000 grant. Pierre's isn't the only Ohio ice cream company that's expanding.

• Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus brand founded in 2002, opened its first Northeast Ohio ice cream shop to long lines in Chagrin Falls on April 15. "Our ice creams have been so overwhelmingly well received at our Chagrin Falls shop that we have to consider opening up others in and around Cleveland," said Jeni Britton Bauer, president and founder of Jeni's.

"We have received a number of requests to open a shop on the West Side of Cleveland. We are flattered by the attention, and we are considering ways to make that happen."Jeni's, whose best-selling flavor is Salty Caramel, is also sold at local stores, including Heinen's Fine Foods, Whole Foods Market, Constantino's Market, Miles Farmers Market, Nature's Bin and Pat O'Brien's Fine Wines & Gourmet Foods.

• Mitchell's Homemade Ice Cream, which makes its ice creams and sorbets at its Rocky River store and sends it to stores Beachwood, Solon and Westlake, just opened a summer location at Huntington Beach in Bay Village. Mitchell's is also sold at Zagara's Marketplace, West Point Market in Akron, Heinen's stores and in dozens of restaurants. Co-owner Pete Mitchell said he and his younger brother, Mike, are also scouting locations for ice cream shops in Avon and Strongsville. "We hope to move our kitchen to a new, bigger location in Cleveland in the next year," he said via e-mail.

• Honey Hut Ice Cream, with stores in Cleveland, Brecksville, Strongsville and Parma, just opened a store at Edgewater Park. W. Benoy Joseph, associate dean and professor of marketing at Cleveland State University's Nance College of Business Administration, said that despite our greater awareness of fat, calories and the need to eat healthier, sales of super premium ice creams have continued to surge.

He compares the trend to our growing taste for luxury foods such as fine wines, imported cheeses, single-malt liquors and gourmet chocolates. "There are people who drive across town -- and pass other brands -- to buy Mitchell's Chocolates in Cleveland Heights," he said. People tend to justify such indulgences by saying "if we're going to eat something rich once in a while, we might as well get the good stuff."
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cicada ice cream causes international buzz

Cicada ice cream causes international buzzIf you missed the cicada ice cream fiasco, you haven’t been paying attention. After the Columbia Missourian reported last week that Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream had made a batch of ice cream full of the screeching insects, it snowballed into a media frenzy.

The Associated Press picked up the story, and things only got worse after the Missourian followed up this week and said the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services had advised against making the flavor.

Then media everywhere — Google shows the story’s coverage spiked Tuesday with more than 100 outlets running it — began incorrectly reporting that the health department had ordered the store to stop.

But let’s take a step back. The original plan was to debut the ice cream, which was full of cooked, de-winged cicadas, June 2. The shop made a small batch of about 30 scoops, but it sold out June 1 because word had gotten out among some of the store’s patrons.

Before making a second batch, the store called the health department to ask whether there were any rules barring bugs in ice cream. Environmental Health Manager Gerald Worley said the department merely “advised” against it, and the shop’s inquiry was voluntary.

The department doesn’t have any guidelines on cooking bugs, but there was some concern about unknown pathogens. Sparky’s owner Scott Southwick said in an email that he had no problem with the health department’s advice. The store followed it.

The flavor did boost sales at the shop by about 50 percent, Southwick wrote, even after turning away the customers only interested in the very limited supply of cicada ice cream. But he also has had to deal with a horde of reporters asking for interviews, most of which he declined.

“The publicity-to-product ratio was just so far out of whack,” Southwick wrote. “Like, I’m going to go on the BBC, international radio, and talk about a product that we only made one tiny batch of? We really did intend to sell it if we had gotten the health department to endorse it, and I always thought it could go national if we could sell it. What I wasn’t prepared for was it going international in the absence of any product.”

Sparky’s does crazy flavors all the time, Southwick noted. Some, like the “unhealthy breakfast” flavor that contained Rice Krispies and Jack Daniels, only get made once. “Believe me, it wasn’t international news when we chose not to make a second batch of that flavor,” he wrote.

TIGER CHANGES IN WORKS: Three months after the Columbia City Council approved Glyn Laverick as the new developer for the tax increment financing-backed redevelopment project, changes are brewing over at the Tiger Hotel.

Last week, the hotel took over the operation of The Vault, the swanky bar in the basement of the hotel, prompting the exit of beloved bartender Aaron Brown. It’s unclear why Brown left, and he couldn’t be reached for comment. The new owners plan to start offering food and keeping the bar open all week, Tiger Hotel Operations Manager Brad Weiss said.

And plans are in the works for a new bakery, The Velvet Cupcake. Weiss said the plan is to have the bakery, operated by Jackie Putnam, open in two or three weeks. The Velvet Cupcake will make all sorts of baked goods, but the hotel owners especially want it to get into the wedding cake business. “We kind of want to make the hotel kind of a one-stop place for weddings,” Weiss said.

On July 1, the hotel will take over the catering space in the building. Travis Tucker, who owns the next-door Bleu Restaurant and Wine Bar, has been running his establishment’s catering business out of the Tiger. He’ll be moving the catering business out of the hotel, and Tucker said he is looking to find another space to house Bleu’s catering operations. Weiss said there shouldn’t be any disruption in catering services.

By fall, the owners hope to have two floors of rooms remodeled and ready for occupants. Work has already begun, Weiss said, but he cautioned that the fall opening could change.

“The historic nature of the hotel is a delicate process,” Weiss said. “I guess they would rather sacrifice the deadline to achieve the highest quality of the work they’re doing.”

MORE CENTURYLINK JOBS: Bad news for a Warrensburg CenturyLink office is good news for Columbia. The Internet and phone service provider closed a work force management center that employed 30 people there May 19, and many of those jobs will move here, spokesman Greg Gaffke said.

The closure there is part of the company’s consolidation as it finalizes the merger between CenturyTel and Embarq, which started in 2009. That process is expected to be completed in mid-July, Gaffke said. “Many of those employees who lost their positions as a result of the consolidation were offered opportunities in Columbia if they were able to relocate, and some of them have.”

The addition to CenturyLink’s Columbia work force comes on top of the 35 or so employees the company has hired since February. The Warrensburg office closure could add another 30 or so employees to Columbia, Gaffke said.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ice cream with a hint of beer, bacon

Ice cream with a hint of beer, baconForget chocolate versus vanilla, how about a dish of ale and bacon ice cream? Or maybe you'd rather stay old school and order some rocky road - but made with homemade marshmallows and a sprinkling of sea salt, of course. The inside scoop on ice cream this summer in the United States is classic-meets-culinary avant garde.

Take Salt & Straw Ice Cream, which just opened with an ice cream pushcart (a scoop shop will be opening later). Not only is it offering an ale and bacon ice cream, but it's also a farm-to-cone concept using local ingredients.

The beer is from Portland-based Laurelwood Brewery and the bacon from Olympic Provisions. Not artisanal enough for you? Other beer flavours (made from the offerings of various breweries) will include pear with blue cheese, lemon basil with sorbet, and sea salt with ribbons of hand-made caramel.

By the way, salted caramel is hot in the world of ice cream; it's popping up at creameries everywhere. Another big trend in ice cream is soft-serve. But we're not talking the pale, bland swirl of tonsil-chilling sweetness you may remember from childhood.

At Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco, soft-serve flavours include vanilla, of course, but also spicy Mexican chocolate, and balsamic strawberry. They also have salted caramel, which marketing director Kirsten Bourne said was "the most popular flavour by far".

The Creamery added soft-serve to its ice cream offerings last year after realising that the shop, with its retro-vibe, was the perfect setting for the classic dessert. Just like the scooped ice cream, the soft-serve is made from Straus Family Organic Dairy products.

The two daily soft-serve flavours, based on seasonal, local ingredients, can be combined in a swirl. The popular Kris's Combo features vanilla soft serve with blood orange olive oil and Maldon sea salt.

The dream of a better ice cream extends to restaurants. Candace Rowan, pastry chef at A16 restaurant in San Francisco, remembers working in Bay area restaurants 20 years ago and having ice cream brought in. These days, chefs are churning out their own creations.
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