Aunt Berta was a real woman who brought her recipes for jams and preserves with her when she left Europe for Israel so many decades ago, and she and others who went with her were soon using the recipes, and perfecting them, as they set about to feed the Beth El kibbutz.

Today, the 800-person community owns Beth El Food, which in 2005 took the leap from cottage industry to commercial producer of both private label brands and Aunt Berta’s branded preserves, marmalades and sauces, said business development director Muli Flint. On Sunday, the company was one of 11 showing their wares in the Israel Pavilion at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

In the next booth, representatives from olive oil producer Olia poured tiny tasting spoons of flavored vinaigrettes infused with fruits such as figs, apples and kumquats, all of them grown in Israel. The company sells its lines, which also include tapenades and mustards, at a high-end boutique as well as a bustling market stall in Tel Aviv. (read more…)

Manhattan, always a mecca for new food trends and a melting pot of diverse flavors, will take it up a notch this weekend, as food and beverage companies from around the globe gather in New York City for the Specialty Food Association’s Summer Fancy Food Show. The celebration of chocolates, cheeses, teas, coffees and a wide selection of other sweet and savory treats runs Sunday through Tuesday at the Jacob Javits Center, with a sold-out trade show floor.

This year’s show will include a New Brands on the Shelf pavilion to showcase emerging new specialty food ventures and goodies including green smoothie popsicles, beer cheese, coffee-flavored syrup and Lavender Martini mocktails.

The pavilions and trade show floor will provide plenty of tastes of the latest in fancy foods and trends, but there’s also an a la carte menu of educational opportunities, including a seminar for seasoned food entrepreneurs on the ins and outs of selling the businesses they’ve built. (read more…)

The task of improving the nutrition of a restaurant’s offerings overall might seem daunting, but eateries that don’t make an effort are missing out on a major opportunity to attract increasingly more diners who want healthy choices. At a session during the National Restaurant Association Show titled “Nutrition trends: How can your restaurant capitalize?” three panelists spoke about how restaurants of any size can implement health-focused changes that resonate with consumers.

Darden Restaurants, parent of casual-dining juggernauts Red Lobster and Olive Garden, is an example of how healthy initiatives can be rolled out on a large scale, said Cheryl Dolven, director of health and wellness for the company. Darden’s restaurants source from more than 2,000 suppliers worldwide and use more than 2,500 ingredients to create their menus. The company has committed to reducing overall calories and sodium content by 20% during the next decade.

Another example of a chain that has successfully made healthy food a mainstay of its menu is Rockville, Md.-based Silver Diner. (read more…)

The way Americans eat is changing. Consumers are eating more meals away from home, and eating out isn’t always a special occasion. But even when grabbing breakfast on the way to work, buying a snack between meetings or picking up a weeknight dinner, consumers expect fast service, fresh ingredients and a fair price.

Places that people turn to for on-the-go meals also are changing. Once considered a gastronomic last resort, prepared food from grocers and convenience stores is gaining popularity. More stores are emphasizing prepared food that includes fresh, healthy ingredients and on-trend flavors. Consumers are turning to these stores as an alternative to quickservice and fast-casual restaurants, sometimes even viewing them as a dining destination in their own right.

Several education sessions at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show addressed this change in the foodservice landscape. In a session titled “Convenience Stores’ Prepared Food Future,” Don Longo, editor-in-chief of Convenience Store News, and Joe Sheetz, executive vice president of the Sheetz convenience store chain, discussed how c-stores are stepping up their food and beverage offerings. (read more…)

Alternative BiteStyle pavilion at NRA ShowMore than 2,000 suppliers exhibited their products at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The energy on the show floor was high as more than 60,000 attendees visited the booths, sampling food and beverages and watching vendor demonstrations. Here is a look at the top three trends among exhibitors.

Special formulations steal the show

The NRA debuted a new pavilion this year with Alternative BiteStyle, a portion of the show floor dedicated to special dietary needs, including gluten-free, low-sodium and allergies such as nuts and dairy. Whether consumers need a special diet because of an allergy or illness, or they are just trying to eat healthier, there is an ever-growing collection of companies that offer something made with their needs in mind. Brands such as Udi’s Gluten Free , Hail Merry and WowButter Foods, maker of a nut,- dairy- and gluten-free peanut-flavored spread, specialize in products for consumers with special dietary needs, but there were plenty of traditional suppliers touting their gluten-free or nut-free products. (read more…)