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Restaurant-Inspired Private Label Foods

What do French pastry vegetarian pizza, Buffalo-style chicken meatballs, and orange citrus soufflés have in common? All of these products were on display at the recent Private Label Manufacturers Assoc. Trade Show in Rosemont, Ill. As private label foods continue to climb up the quality ladder, they are looking to restaurants and chefs for inspiration when developing new product concepts. This culinary trend was evident at the show, which was home to a multitude of food manufacturers offering value-added frozen and chilled appetizers, entrees, snacks, and desserts—many with an ethnic twist.

Olive Street Table, Santa Barbara, Calif., sampled several varieties of its French pastry pizza. The frozen vegetarian products feature a flaky crust and all-natural ingredients. The company has applied for a patent on the process for making the French pastry dough (pizza crust) in industrial-size batches. Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay named the Mediterranean-style pizza as one of his favorite products at the 2009 Fancy Food Show in New York. Gianni Foods, Linthicum, Md., showcased its Make & Bake Pizza Kit, which includes its own ovenable baking pan, crust, and individual pouches of cheese, sauce, and pepperoni. The 27-oz product may be refrigerated or frozen.

Rosina Food Products, Buffalo, N.Y., sampled Buffalo-style chicken meatballs. Made with all white meat chicken and Buffalo wing-style hot sauce, the products can be used as a standalone appetizer or as a pizza topping. Concord Premium Meats, Quebec, Canada, grilled chicken and pork kabobs. Product varieties include Chipotle Seasoned and Lemon & Herb Seasoned. The fresh, marinated product comes in a 16-oz package—four 4-oz skewers.

Cuisine Solutions, Alexandria, Va., a frozen food manufacturer specializing in sous vide cooking, displayed Bake & Serve Orange Citrus Soufflés. Double B Foods, DeSoto, Texas, showcased Mini Bagel Dogs—mini frankfurters enrobed in chewy pretzel dough. The chilled, 8-count product comes in a 16-oz bag. Preparation is fairly simple; just heat and serve.

The growth of restaurant-inspired foods is one direction for store brands, which may benefit from licensing or tie-ins with established or up-and-coming celebrity chefs.

What trends did you uncover at the Private Label Trade Show?
Bob SwientekBob Swientek
Director of Publications
Editor-in-Chief, Food Technology magazine

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