April 16, 2014
Bitter Italian liqueurs, known as amari, have been on our trend radar for a little while now. Though their recent reemergence was led by bartenders and mixologists, it's not because these cocktail thought-leaders were adding them to menus; instead, amari became popular because drink mixers were downing them after-hours as a way to end the night and reinvigorate tired tastebuds. Word got out, of course, and we're now in the midst of a revival of complex, bitter cocktails.
And if you need any more proof that tastes are changing, consider the news that Gruppo Campari, maker of the eponymous amaro, recently purchased Fratelli Averna, a major player in the bitters industry, for €103 million. While sugary cocktails will likely always be with us, the high valuation of Fratelli Averna is a sign that drinkers are truly interested in exploring the more complex side of the cocktail world. And who knows where those flavors could show up next?
Read more at Spirits Business.
April 1, 2014
Massive Chinese e-tailer Alibaba has announced plans to launch an IPO in the United States, leading to a flurry of speculation about the potential for investors to bet on the Chinese web-shopping boom. But if you think Alibaba is just Amazon-East, you're only seeing part of the picture. Here are 6 key facts you should know about this retailing giant - and about the future of China's web-savvy middle class.
1. Watch out, Kickstarter - Alibaba is moving into crowdfunding; they've just announced three movie projects and a social media game, and are offering micro-investments in the properties. Investors will even have a say in future projects, stars and directors.
2. China's middle class shops online for safety; in 2013, Alibaba saw huge sales of baby formula over the big November 11th online-shopping day. Concerns about the purity of domestic products continue to drive Chinese shoppers to foreign suppliers when it comes to their most critical purchases.
3. Alibaba's numbers might be impressive, but they aren't the only game in town: online shopping rival Jingdong boasts that, unlike Alibaba, it also controls its own delivery platform, meaning that it can offer next-day shipping in more than 150 Chinese cities. Amazon's recent foray into drone-based delivery, while far-fetched, suggests that they, too, have been thinking about ways to take control over package delivery.
4. Both Alibaba and Jingdong are moving, slowly, westward. Alibaba has established an English-language site, AliExpress, and Jingdong has countered with en.Jd.com. While they might not pose much of a risk to Amazon at the moment, they are reportedly doing well selling items that appeal to Chinese ex-pats, and Jingdong boasts 700,000 registered users in Russia.
5. Alibaba isn't the only Chinese web powerhouse making a US stock splash; microblogging service Weibo also recently filed an IPO in New York. With 129 million active users, it's smaller than Twitter but looking west for new markets.
6. The death of brick-and-mortar retail has been widely reported, but Alibaba isn't buying it - in fact, they're buying up shares in Intime Retail Group, a major department store operator in China. According to the New York Times, they've invested $700 million in Intime and are planning to form a new "online to offline" business.
March 20, 2014
Contemporary meatless eating has come along way since its days as a hippie fad in the 1960s. Starting in specialty health food stores and macrobiotic restaurants, it really began to impact the mainstream by the early '70s. And a new article in Smithsonian points out that much of its success since that moment has been spearheaded by the veggie burger, invented by Londoner Gregory Sams and initially known as the VegeBurger. It was an innovation that made the vegetarian lifestyle accessible to otherwise squeamish diners and gave established restaurants an item that was easy to add to their menus. So the next time you hear about Meatless Mondays and Flexitarians, remember that it wouldn't have been possible without that simple veggie patty.
For the full story, check out the article here.
March 6, 2014
We're proud to announce that Good Morning America aired a segment today on Oscar Mayer's new protein-packed snack line, P3, which we helped to develop. With protein's benefits becoming more apparent - and compelling to consumers - every day, we're happy that we were able to help create an exciting brand that delivers valuable nutrients in a fun, portable way. Check out the video here to see the product and even hear a few nutrition experts weigh in.
February 26, 2014
We love unusual snacks, and the Japanese market is full of them – with a fast product cycle and lots of limited-time offers, it seems like there's always something new to try. Recently, we got our hands on one of 2014's most coveted Japanese snack oddities: Mountain Dew Cheetos.
At its core, the snack is a conventional corn-based Cheeto. But instead of a cheesy dusting, it's coated in a sweet, rather tangy Mountain Dew powder with a flavor that reminded us slightly of Trix cereal. But what really surprised us was the carbonation, which delivers some seriously powerful fizzing action.
The Verdict: The idea of a puffed corn snack with a bright, fruity flavor is interesting, and the carbonation kept us going back for more. Eat more than a handful or two, though, and you'll start to notice the corn flavor of the Cheeto substrate coming through – and reconciling that with the Mountain Dew flavor can be a little tough. On the whole, though, we hope the hype these snacks have received in the US will lead to a proper release stateside; we think the success of unusual crossovers like the Doritos Locos Tacos have shown that American snackers are open to taking some delicious risks.