Specialty Food Magazine

Spring 2020

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1220124

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Page 44 of 75

42 SPECIALTY FOOD SPECIALTYFOOD.COM and rubs that incorporate gourmet or artisanal salts. Tarallo says Steel City's salt and spice blends—all of which he produces in-house—have become the dominant portion of his business. The company's best seller is its Steeltown Garlic & Herb flavor, which is made using Himalayan salt. One of the newer blends is Dill Pickle Salt, which is made using a Sicilian salt as a base and combined with dill and coriander. "It tastes just like a dill pickle, but it's great for fries and popcorn," among other uses, Tarallo says. He says blends may be popular among consumers who are unsure about exactly how to use other gourmet or artisan salts. "People might say, 'I could get this coarse Peruvian salt, but I'm nervous. Let's try the Garlic and Herb first. It's easier, I can put it on everything, and if I like that, I can try something else,'" Tarallo continues. He is always on the lookout for unique salts from around the world, such as Sal de Gusano from Oaxaca, Mexico, which is ground with agave worms and roasted chilies, yielding a smoky and earthy flavor. The salt is particularly favored by drinkers of mescal. "It's pretty difficult to find, but when they find it, they buy it up," says Tarallo. Custom Blends One of the growing parts of The Spice Lab's business is creating custom blends for retailers to use in their prepared foods operations. "We do custom blends specifically for [clients] so that their customer gets a blend that's unique in the marketplace, and they love that," Cramer says. Jacobsen Salt Co. seeks to distinguish itself with an assortment of GMO-free seasoning blends, including Steak, Seafood, Taco, and Ramen varieties. Infused salts including Black Garlic, Rosemary, and Black Pepper are also among top sellers. This year, Jacobsen has more seasonings planned, as well as collaborations with other spice companies such as Diaspora Co., and Burlap & Barrel. Cramer says many consumers have become accustomed to specialty salts having a particular hue and might not be aware that some of the best, most interesting salts on the market are actually white. To gain more traction for his company's less- colorful salts, he's offering a fleur de sel from South America that he's co-branding with celebrity chefs, including Curtis Stone and Wolfgang Puck. "When they say it's good, people will buy it," says Cramer. "If I say it's good, who the heck is Brett saying this white stuff is any good?" Emerging Flavors Mark Zoske, founder and CEO of gourmet salt producer SaltWorks, says he expects to see the demand for smoked and flavored salts—as well as flaky sea salt and pink Himalayan salt—continue to rise, especially as consumers seek out higher- quality ingredients. Flavor preferences in the coming years will lean toward savory, smoky, and umami flavors; bold and spicy flavors; and international flavors, he says. Among the flavors in the company's Fusion Flavored Sea Salt line are Black Garlic, White Truffle, Wild Porcini, Ghost Pepper, and Thai Ginger. SaltWorks also recently introduced a cold-smoking technique it calls Perfect Smoke Technology that uses "real wood and premium salts," Zoske says. CPG manufacturers are also making increasing use of specialty salts, he says. The company supplies brands such as Pipsnacks that are seeking high-quality, clean-label ingredients. "We're working with a lot of manufacturers who are looking to feature gourmet salt like Pink Himalayan Salt or a flaky sea salt in their products," Zoske says. "Gourmet flavors like black garlic, truffle, and even ghost pepper are being used in everything from chocolates and nut mixes to popcorn and potato chips." Telling Salty Stories at Retail Retailers should be ready to explain what differentiates their specialty and artisanal salts, while keeping in mind that their customers may be coming to the table armed with considerable knowledge already. "It's always been the consumer leading this [trend toward craft salts]," says Mark Bitterman, founder of The Meadow, a four-store specialty retailer known for its carefully curated salt selection. "Consumers are attuned with aligning the food that they buy, and cook with, with their values." He says he seeks to instill an air of discovery and learning in his stores that appeals to today's curious shoppers. "We are focused on engaging with every customer we see, trying to respect people's intelligence and the joy of discovery," says Bitterman. Ben Jacobsen, founder of craft salt producer Jacobsen Salt Co., agrees that retailers should be prepared to talk with customers about the origins of the salt, how it's made, and why it's special. As a practical matter, he suggests encouraging consumers to taste gourmet and artisanal salts by sampling salts sprinkled on a buttered baguette. When it comes to merchandising, Mark Zoske, founder and CEO of gourmet salt supplier SaltWorks, suggests that retailers can drive incremental sales of specialty salts through seasonal cross-promotional opportunities. "For example, during the summer months or tailgating season, sales of smoked salts could increase if they were also promoted in the butcher section," he says. "Similarly, flavored gourmet salts could be promoted during the holidays for everything from fancy cocktails to desserts." "We will start to see gourmet salt mentioned more frequently as a descriptor on menus, especially fast casual and quick service. It's only a matter of time before America's favorite fast-food chains start offering items like French fries with truffle salt or chocolate chip cookies with flaky sea salt." CATEGORY EDUCATION Mark Hamstra is a regular contributor to Specialty Food. PHOTO: STEEL CITY SALTS John Tarallo, owner of Steel City Salts PHOTO: SALTWORKS

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