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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Food Producers' Prices Highest Since 1974


February 2011 marked the largest one-month increase in 37 years for wholesale food prices, climbing by 3.9%.

An analysis of the latest Producer Price Index Report by The Food Institute, Upper Saddle River, N.J., indicates that wholesale prices have not experienced an increase this great in many years. This number was only exceeded in November 1974 when spiraling oil prices resulted in sharp food price increases amounting to 4.2%.

"Food retailers in the U.S. have been very adept at holding price increases at a minimum for the past 18 months but the February surge will make that task more difficult in future months," says Brain Todd, President and CEO of the non-profit trade association that has been providing information about the food industry since 1928.

This latest increase in the Producer Price Index for finished consumer foods is driven by a 49% jump in fresh vegetable prices due to freezes and other crop issues in many farming areas. Price increases of 4% or more during the month for beef and pork also added to the surge in the overall index.

Of the 17 categories the Food Institute tracks on a regular basis, 13 posted increases during February, led by fresh vegetables, and followed by a nearly 10% jump in shortening and cooking oil, a 7.6% jump in egg prices, a 4.1% gain in dairy prices and a 3.2% jump in coffee prices.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Vegetarian ‘Balancing’ Act


Balanced Vegetarian is a new line of vegetarian Indian entrees from Tandoor Chef now available in supermarket freezer cases.

The vegetarian Indian meals were created “to provide vegetarian consumers with smarter and healthier at-home dining options,” say officials with Tandoor Chef, a brand manufactured and marketed by Deep Foods, Union, N.J.

Palak Paneer is one of five varieties in the
Tandoor Chef Balanced Vegetarian line.
 Balanced Vegetarian offers complete Indian meals with lower sodium, higher protein and fiber, and no trans fats, says the company. All five of the Balanced Vegetarian Meals are made with olive oil and select dishes are also vegan and gluten-free. Each item sells for $3.99.

The five Balanced Vegetarian meals are: Kofta Curry with Channa Masala & Spinach Basmati Pilaf, Mutter Paneer with Dal Palak & Cumin-Infused Basmati Rice, Palak Paneer with Dal Makhani & Tumeric-Infused Basmati Rice, Paneer Tikka Musala with Rajma Dal & Onion Basmati Rice, and Vegetable Korma with Dal Rajasthani & Cumin-Infused Basmati Rice.
Each dish offers multiple nutrients that are particularly beneficial for those following a meatless diet.
“Vegetarian consumers make up a large percentage of both the Indian and American population, yet truly healthy vegetarian dining options remain limited—especially when it comes to eating at home,” says Mike Ryan, vice president of sales and marketing, Tandoor Chef.

“That’s why we we’ve introduced Balanced Vegeterian, a better-for-you initiative and an industry first,” says Ryan. “We’re proud to share this with the vegetarian community as a way of letting them know that we have their best health and interests at heart.”

TFFG SAYS: Tandoor Chef has indeed struck a balance here, as these Indian entrees are flavorful—encapsulating the spices of Indian that identify a dish as “Indian”—but not overly spicy or pungent, which could easily put off the less “spice aware” American consumer.