Category Archives: All About (101)

How to: Boost Holiday Sales and Profits

With U.S. sales of specialty food up 22% in 2014 to $109 billion, retailers are adjusting their holiday programs to include strong seasonal specialty/natural items. Building specialty off shelf displays as incremental profit centers has become increasingly popular and differentiates retailers. The holiday season is the single largest sales opportunity of the year and successful retailers are using innovative techniques to engage consumers and build loyalties that prove prosperous year round. more…

The average American household spends $94.04 on holiday candy and sweets every year with 1.8 billion candy canes and 19 million chocolate Santa’s sold. However, shoppers today demand much more than the classic holiday items or merchandising when doing their holiday shopping. The holidays have transformed into an interactive shopping experience that is inventive, stimulating, fun and convenient.

With proper planning and creative promotions you can maximize holiday sales with fewer problems. “Buying for the holiday season may already be set, but there is always opportunity to be creative with displays and promotional tie-ins as the season approaches,” says Neil Stern, senior partner, McMillan Doolittle LLP.

Four key principles apply:

  • Engage shoppers with seasonal specialty/natural merchandising early in their shopping pattern. Connie Cheng, executive director-shopper practice, Nielsen, notes “Eight in every 10 supermarket shoppers buy an impulse item from within the store, one in three purchase impulse categories from front-of-store, and one in five baskets contain an impulse purchase.” Feature “Easy Gift” front end sets that include truffles, gift packages & boxed chocolate. Offer high end stocking stuffer sets in your foyer that include maple candy, marzipan, torrone, candy canes, chocolate Santa’s and lollipops to create holiday spirit and set the tone for the shoppers experience.
  • Build cohesive themed displays. Construct themes that create experiences. Consumers seek solutions and buy more collectively than when items are spread out in different places. Build a holiday cookie destination with the top five sellers of the season; Sugar cookies, Gingerbread cookies, Butter cookies, Shortbread cookies and Ginger snaps.
  • Inject both surprise and continuity to create urgencies to buy. Build demand by creating promotions that alerts shoppers of a limited timeline to purchase product at a desired price. Also, grouping promotions can be very effective. For example, if a shopper spends $200 in a single visit they get a percentage off a seasonal purchase. Shoppers that are close may step it up and spend the extra $10-$15 to get the deal.
  • Utilize a 4th quarter Ad program with popular holiday themes creates excitement and drives shoppers to your store. Promote Holiday Cooking items and direct shoppers to grab-and-go holiday meal end caps that include stuffing, olive oils, stocks and brining kits. Make Holiday Entertaining a focus on the front of your holiday circular. Create an “easy appetizer” section that includes salami, pastry tarts and olives and provide party recipe ideas for shoppers located near entertaining ingredients. Offer combined savings on Holiday Baking items that go together to make holiday desserts, cakes and cookies. Huge payoffs can also come from blending these seasonal themes into your store’s year-round culture and executing it well.

Leading retailers find creative ways to engage the consumer including store announcements with creative recipe ideas, in-store food education events, coupon offers via social media, and themed seasonal food samplings. Simplify the shopping and meal preparation experience to give shoppers the confidence that they can serve their combination of specialty items successfully.

Finally, make sure to plan for that last minute rush. The last two weeks prior to Christmas will be your busiest time, when you’ll bring in a significant portion of your holiday sales. Make sure to keep enough product on hand during this time or you’ll be sending your sales to competitors. If you don’t have it you can’t sell it.

What You Should Know About Cold Weather Fruit

Winter-Fruit-at-PikeDecember is here and temperatures are reaching the lowest lows, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy fruit. Here’s what’s in season during winter, whether domestically or globally.


What are Winter Fruits?Fruits that are harvested from December through February and include; citrus, pears, bananas, as well as kumquats, passion fruit, pomegranates.

How to Buy:
Choose conventionally grown or organic but always select those with few or no bruises or brown spots. Fruit should seem heavy for its size, and its skins should be brightly colored. Local is preferred, as it’s usually freshest and most nutrient dense.

How to Read the Label:
On bulk packages or the labels on bulk bins, check for country or state of origin, conventional or organic.

How to Use:
Peel passion fruit, citrus and bananas; use only the seeds of a pomegranate; wash pears and grapes and eat with skin. Eat raw, steam or stew into compotes, or juice. Be creative, fruits are a great dessert.

Health Benefits:
Fruit contains high amounts of antioxidants. Blood, Mandarin and seedless Clementines, Tangerines, Tangelos, Satsumas, Sweet oranges, and Kumquats are high in vitamin C and fiber; Kiwis are high in vitamins A, C, E and fiber; Red grapes and Pears are high in vitamins A and C. Bananas have B-6 and Potassium. Pomegranates fight aging and heart disease with Vitamin K, (only its seeds are used either alone or squeezed into a juice.) Pummelo is a huge citrus, similar to grapefruit, but tastes sweet and mild; good source of Vitamin C and antioxidants.

How to Store:
Bananas, pomegranates, red grapes, and citrus can be kept at room temperature, but all others should be refrigerated, unwashed until ready to eat. When in doubt, refrigerate. Enjoy within 5-7 days.

Smarter Shopping and Tips:
Buy in bulk so it is easy to consume 3-5 servings a day, and keep within eyesight so you’ll remember to eat more!


From Supermarket Guru

Canned Tomatoes 101


Shopping for canned tomatoes and confused with all the choices? Learn the basics here!


What are Canned Tomatoes? Roma or plum tomatoes and their varietals are the most commonly used in cans. They are sold diced, sliced, stewed, roasted, crushed, and ready-cut or whole. They are often packed a “peak freshness” and so a great option when tomatoes are not in season.

How to Buy: Prepared tomatoes, sold in cans, are conventional or organic, sold plain, with basil, chilies or chili seasoning, fire roasted, with onions and garlic, onion and green pepper, or garlic and oregano. Some are imported or gourmet choices at substantially higher prices.

How to Use: Excellent time-saver for creating your own sauces, as peeling, cooking, and the flavoring, is done for you. Use in any recipe that calls for a tomato sauce or blend with cheese or milk for richer sauce. Can be used for Italian, Mexican or Caribbean recipes, or use in soups or stews with vegetable, beef or chicken stock. 

How to Store: Can be stored in a cool dry cupboard until ready to use; once opened, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.

Health Benefits: Tomatoes are high in fiber and antioxidants, partizcularly the carotenoid, lycopene, well known for promoting eye health and fighting some cancers. Cooked tomatoes have high amounts of vitamins C, A and K, potassium and manganese, and trace elements of many other nutrients. Cooking does not seem to diminish the nutrients significantly. Relatively low in calories (70-80 per ½ cup.) Sodium content varies from 280-700 mg per ½ cup.

Have you tried Daily Panty’s canned tomatoes? These Ohio Valley tomatoes are bursting with flavor and take you back to peak tomato season year round!


Tea Brewing 101

brewing tea

Brewing the perfect cup of tea is not as simple as it may seem; there are various ways to brew the perfect cup – involving the right combination of these six factors:


Tea Quality: use the best that is available to you, visit specialty shops and natural food stores to find teas without additives and natural flavors.

Water quality: water makes up 90 percent of the final product, so make sure it’s good quality. Tap water is fine as long as it tastes good by itself. Do not use distilled water.

Tea to Water Ratio: generally use 1 rounded teaspoon per 8 oz. water – but refer to specific instructions if available.

Steeping Temperature: this varies depending on the type of tea, usually being higher for stronger teas like black tea.

Steeping Time: varies with the different types ranging from 2-3 minutes for white teas to 7-8 minutes for Puerh teas.

Expansion: the leaf should expand 3-5 times in size, so the pot should allow for such expansion.

Remove the Tea: if the tea stands for too long in the water it will have a tendency to turn bitter. As soon as the tea is steeped for the suggested time, remove the tea leaves from the liquid.

Today, tea is grown in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, Tanzania, Malawi, Zaire, China, Argentina and many other places around the world.

So now that you know the tea basics, go grab yourself a cup!

Apple Season is Here! Here are 5 Varieties You Need to Know

176087-fruit-applesWe’ve all heard that an “apple a day keeps the doctor away” but most of us can’t remember why. Here is a little reminder: all apples are rich in fiber and potassium. The skin, or peel of the apple contains polyphenols, which are cancer-fighting antioxidants. Apples contain quercetin, which has demonstrated an ability to lower the risk of pancreatic cancer and help with allergies. Apples also have an ability to impact our waist. Research has found that those who ate apples on a regular basis were 21 percent less likely to have a large waist.


Here are five seasonal favorites.

Empire: a sweet/tart flavor, this solid red is crisp and great for snacking and salads. Season September to July.

Ginger-Gold: a sweet/tart flavor, this green-yellow, sometimes with blush apple is crisp and best for snacking and salads. Season August to November.

Honeycrisp: a sweet/tart flavor, this apple is mottled red over a yellow background. Crisp, it’s best for snacking, salads, pies, sauce and freezing. Season September to February.

Jonathan: spicy and tangy, this apple has light red stripes over yellow or deep red. It’s less firm and good for pies and baking. Season September to April.

McIntosh: a tangy, red and green apple, it’s tender and best for snacking, sauce and pies. Available September to July.

As you can see, the fall season produces some of the best tasting apples you can bite into. Do keep in mind that there are about 2,500 apple varieties in the US with over 7,500 internationally, each with its own unique flavor and texture. In general, red apples offer a sweet flavor while green varieties are tart and tangy. Remember apple juice is not a replacement for the whole fruit, it typically contains less fiber and in many cases has added sweeteners; and if you do your research carefully you’ll find that much of the apple juice concentrate that is used in packaged juices is actually produced overseas.

Think local and think whole fruit!

*Source: Supermarket Guru

Pasta 101

shutterstock_81645955Have you ever found yourself at an Italian restaurant trying to decide between tortiglioni and fusilli without knowing what any of them mean? Only to settle for the familiar penne pasta? There are countless pasta types and shapes. Let’s look at some popular (and unpopular) pasta types!


Orecchiette: Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian and refers to the shape of these pieces of pasta. Each piece of this type of pasta is a small, slightly cupped piece with small ridges on the outside.

Farfalle: You might recognize farfalle as a relatively common type of pasta with a shape that resembles a bowtie or butterfly.

Rigatoni: formed of tube-shaped pasta of varying lengths and diameters. It is larger than penne and ziti and sometimes slightly curved. Rigatoni is usually ridged, and the tube’s end is square-cut like ziti, not diagonal like penne.

Tofette: A short, grooved pasta in the shape of a small shell

Spaghetti: a long, thin, cylindrical pasta

Fusilli: long, thick, corkscrew shaped pasta

Tortiglioni: Tube pasta similar to rigatoni. Tortiglioni is narrower in width than rigatoni and its surface ridges spiral around the tube, rather than run parallel to the length as they do on rigatoni.

Kale 101

Kale What is Kale? Kale is a cruciferous vegetable with green leaves (Brassica oleracea), with several varieties: curly kale, ornamental kale, and dinosaur (lLcinato or Tuscan) kale, all differ in taste, texture, and appearance. more…

How to Buy: Look for firm, evenly colored, unwilted leaves (yellow edges indicate age) and moist hardy stems. Avoid those with brown spots or small holes.

Curly kale has ruffled leaves and a fibrous stalk and a lively pungent flavor with an edge of pepper. Ornamental kale (salad savoy) has either green, white, or purple leaves and its stalks coalesce to form a loosely knit head; mellow in flavor and tender in texture.

Dinosaur kale or Lacinato or Tuscan kale has dark blue-green leaves with embossed texture and a slightly sweeter, more delicate taste. Smaller-sized leaves are more tender and mild than larger leaves.

“Baby” kale is also available.

How to Use: Steam, bake, sauté or use in a stir-fry, or soup, or with grains. Lightly dress in olive oil and lemon for a raw salad. 1-1 ½ cups are a healthful serving.

How to Store: Place kale in a plastic storage bag removing air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (some can be stored longer), although age increases bitterness. Wash only before using to avoid spoilage.

Health Benefits: Kale is a nutrition dream, high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids (lutein and beta-carotene), and more than 45 flavonoids, particularly kaempferol, anti-inflammatory nutrients (omega-3), and twice the vitamin K as other cruciferous vegetables. Contains vitamins A, C, E, various B vitamins, as well as tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, protein, and more. NOTE: Does contain oxalates; those with kidney or gallbladder concerns should monitor intake.

Antioxidants 101

anti We have all heard of antioxidants by now and are aware that they have the potential to improve overall health, delay the onset of many age-related diseases, prevent macular eye disease and reduce the risk of some cancers. But what exactly are they? Find out here. more…

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nothing more than vitamins, A, C and E, the mineral selenium and bioactive compounds like carotenoids and polyphenols found in foods. Our need for them is derived from a paradox in metabolism. Our bodies require oxygen to function, but oxygen, by itself, is highly reactive, and creates byproducts through oxidation. These byproducts, called free radicals, are potentially damaging to cells. Antioxidants, as the name reveals, can stabilize free radicals before they cause harm.

Our body’s defense against oxidative stress decreases over time, which is why a diet rich in food containing antioxidants is needed as we age. Oxidation is a normal process that occurs in the body through normal cell function and metabolism- as well as from outside sources, which include pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, motor vehicle emissions, and many other processes. Environmental free radicals then enter the body through the skin, respiration, and other means. Therefore, achieving a balance with an antioxidant rich diet is crucial to maintaining good health.