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Chocolate stars in The Fancy Food Show

BY CSA STAFF

NEW YORK Chocolate is ready to explode into new directions. The Fancy Food Show, held this week in New York, showed that vendors are doing all in their power to build on the demonstrated health benefits of chocolate and are ready to take the product segment to a whole new level.

Chocolate producers are making a larger number of higher quality products to interest a wider variety of consumers. Of course, dark chocolate has grown enormously since research indicated that it included important antioxidants. For some, though, certain other common ingredients in chocolate pose problems. To help people who have problems with sugar, Valor Chocolates featured a line of sugar free chocolates at the show including a dark chocolate bar. Organic chocolates are taking off, too, as vendors reach out to natural food devotees who want the health ­ and taste ­virtues of cocoa. Terra Nostra featured organic dark chocolate flavored with goji berries and Himalayan mineral salts for their nutritional effects and even more flavor.

Inevitably, the trend toward exotic flavors is entering the chocolate sector, a development that provides a vehicle to continually freshen it. Chuao offered Choco Pods, bite-sized chocolates filled with flavorful creams including Spicy Macadamia Praline.

Flavors were important throughout the show, as were organics, which got their own special section. For many vendors, though, organic was simply an element in the mix as they worked with multiple trends. Ford’s Gourmet Food offered Earth Family organic Sea Salted Peanuts, Margarita Mix Wine Nuts and Fire Dancer Jalapeno Nuts, not to mention, on the condiment side of the business, sweet hot Bone Suckin’ Mustard.

Health has become a bigger issue even among gourmet food producers, and particularly when it comes to kids, given concerns about childhood obesity. To address the issue flavorfully, Honest Tea has introduced Honest Kids, a low-sugar, caffeine-free drink line in flavors such as Berry Berry Good Lemonade and Tropical Tango Punch.

As much as consumers want fresh flavors, they want convenience as well. Simply Asian Foods has identified two segments of the convenience market, those who want maximum ease and those who want to make a little contribution in order to call a meal their own. For the former, it developed a line dubbed “Take Out Meals” in a  package that resembles the type of rice box most consumers are familiar with from experience with Chinese and other Asian restaurants. The six-product line under the Thai Kitchen banner includes Original Pad Thai, Tangy Sweet & Sour and Garlic & Roasted Pepper. For the latter, it has introduced the three-flavor Simply Asian Stir-Fry Meal line in a shelf stable package that includes pre-cooked noodles so the Mandarin Orange, Honey Teriyaki and Spice Kung Pao dishes can be prepared in15 minutes.

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Tuesday Morning 2Q sales up 5.6%

BY CSA STAFF

DALLAS Tuesday Morning Corp. today reported net sales for the second quarter ended June 30 were $219.4 million, up 5.6% from second quarter 2006 sales of $207.7 million. For the six-month, year-end period ended June 30 net sales were $408.5 million, up 3.3% from 2006 same-period sales of $395.4 million. Comparable-store sales increased 0.1% for the second quarter and decreased 2.5% for the six-month, year end period ended June 30.

Based on the second quarter sales results, the company currently expects diluted earnings per share for the second quarter to be in the range of 4 cents to 6 cents. Diluted earnings per share last year were 7 cents for the second quarter of 2006.

Kathleen Mason, president and ceo, stated, “Our second quarter comp-store sales results were firmly within our expectations and we are pleased with the improvement in the quarter. Earnings expectations for the quarter are just below plan as a result of a slightly higher cost related to energy. Nonetheless, these results continue to demonstrate our ability to generate positive operating income and earnings per share in what continues to be a challenging operating environment.”

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Target chief says comps met expectations

BY CSA STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS Target today reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks ended July 7 increased 7.6% to $5.5 billion from $5 billion for the five-week period ended July 1, 2006. On this same-basis, comparable-store sales increased 3.3%.

“Consistent with our June mid-month sales update, our comparable-store sales were near the lower end of our planned range of 3% to 5%,” said Bob Ulrich, chairman and ceo of Target.                                      

For the year-to-date period, Target reported net sales of $23.4 billion, an increase of 8.9%. For this same period, comparable-store sales rose 4.3%, compared with a 5.2% increase last year.      

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