Social Media in the Candy Industry

SPI Group is fortunate to be a member of the AACT, the American Association of Candy Technologists. We attend local dinner meetings, and enjoy listening to speakers, such as Michael Kelly, consumer communications manager at American Licorice.

For candy fans like us, Red Vines and Sour Punch are familiar American licorice products…..Red vines are a staple for nights at the movie theater! Michael’s talk detailed how American Licorice uses Facebook ads, Twitter, and other techniques to gain brand awareness with consumers. Michael has been creative and resourceful, resulting in rapid growth of their fanbase, creation of brand advocates and delivery of customer-specific marketing programs.

Traditionally, brands with the largest budgets command the greatest influence. As a family-run company competing in an industry dominated by 4 large global companies, American Licorice has learned firsthand how social and mobile marketing can be used to level the playing field, allowing companies with a modest budget to have a strong voice! Michael’s talk showed us how the most creative ideas and best content can earn just as much attention as a company with a large advertising budget!

At SPI Group, we’re starting our journey into the world of social media with a little blog……stay tuned for what’s coming next….leave a comment or contact us to let us know what you think!

Tapas and Paella!

Needing some project inspiration? Looking to add a little edge to that next presentation?
Try taking a cooking class!

On a recent training event in St. Louis, instead of going out to dinner at a restaurant, our Solae sales manager, Ms. Marty Boothman took us to a cooking class! After a long day of working in the meat processing lab and tasting and eating all kinds of soy protein enriched meat products, the last thing you think we would enjoy was making our own dinner – actually we had a fantastic time!

The Kitchen Conservatory is nestled in the back of a retail shop filled with unique kitchenware and is a completely stocked kitchen with an island large enough for our group of eleven to prepare a four course meal. Over the next hour and a half, we created four working groups to prepare Paella Valencia, Goat Cheese Baked in Spicy Tomato Sauce, Meatballs in Saffron Sauce, and Mango Sorbet with Sherry Glazed Peaches. All the ingredients were prepped for us and following Chef Beth’s recipes and instructions, we cut, chopped, seasoned, browned and baked. Of course, we had Dr. Arno Sandoval and Dr. Seok Lee, Solae’s PHD meat scientists, preparing and cooking the meatballs and Erin our own UC Davis food technologist helping Marty with the paella. Kathy and Claudio made a wonderful mango sorbet accompanied by glazed peaches. Tim and Don prepared garden fresh roma tomatoes, blended and baked in oven proof ramekins covered with slices of goat cheese, fresh thyme, olive oil, and a hint of paprika. (When you take a class they prep the ingredients, provide recipes, preparation methods, and of course do the dishes – it’s easy!)

Oh, and what about the Paella Valencia? It was delicious! A fine mixture of chicken, Spanish chorizo, mussels, shrimp, fresh tomatoes and peas, and special paella rice made in a special paella pan, it was perfecto!!

How is this relevant? Just when you think you’ve had enough, try something different:
Special Calasparra rice with a creamy texture
Dry aged sausage or a little lamb instead of pork
A pinch of unique spice like saffron or smoked paprika
What about green mango with honey?
Let caramelized sugars in roasted tomatoes take the edge off sour goat cheese

What else is new that might inspire you?

Reach a new level of taste sensation

Is this what it looks like when SPI Group goes on a camping trip?

No! Actually, this is a photo of what we brought to our most recent SPI Group Traveling Road Show, where we showcase ingredients from a variety of suppliers. We show finished products that demonstrate how the ingredients work.

One of favorite demos is from Ohly, one of the world’s leading suppliers of yeast extracts, yeast based flavors and specialty powders. We show 2 blue cheese dressings side by side – one has added Ohly yeast extracts, and the other does not. The version with the yeast extract is clearly different in flavor – the vinegar/acid notes have been toned, and the cheese perception has been enhanced. It’s a remarkable difference – a much more rounded, enhanced flavor when yeast extract is added!

Another one of our favorite demos is the honey mustard snack mix. When we get these samples, we have trouble keeping it around, everyone wants to eat it! This delicious mix uses honey powder and mustard powder from Ohly’s ProDry line of specialty powders. The ProDry line is designed to offer flavor ingredients in a powdered form, and covers a selection of vinegar powders, a variety of honey and molasses powder and pantry products (mustard, etc.).

Ohly offers a wide selection of flavor tools for use in savory food products. This includes yeast extracts, autolyzed yeast, yeast cell walls, yeast based flavors and also specialty powders. Yeast-based flavors can result in very specific flavors, such as, beef, roasted poultry, smoky, dairy, and deep roasted.

Give us a call today to discuss how to boost umami, tone acid, and make flavors pop in your savory food application!

Healthy Lunch Box

Like many, my children have issues at school. The 6 year old has trouble sitting still, he wants to participate so much he yells out the answer when it’s not his turn. The 9 year old is a bit quieter and will lose his energy in the afternoon resulting in a loss of focus and attention.

School is back in swing and that means our nations children are eating lunch on their own. I made some simple changes to our lunch boxes: a-septic milk with protein, fat and carbohydrates instead of juice with simple sugars. This energy lasts longer and releases slowly instead of a quick sugar spike with juice. We also make our own snack mix – roasted unsalted almonds, raisins, and a few M&Ms. The kids love it, they eat it all day and get fat, fiber and protein in one.
Other ideas from Kathy’s Mom kitchen:
-Yogurt in tubes can be frozen and put into a lunch box, by the time kids eat it’s thawed but still cold. Another great way to get calcium, protein, fat and they’re a little sweet so kids enjoy.
-Pre-cut celery and carrot sticks then store in your fridge in water. They stay fresh, are convenient on busy mornings, and if you add a dipper like peanut butter or ranch they always get gobbled. The high cellulose fiber content takes longer to digest keeping kids’ bellies busy and happy
-Skip chips! I know you eat that junk on special occasions, but the lunch box is not a special occasion!
-My kids get tired of pb&j. Try ham with a little butter on the bread, the butter is soaked in by lunch and tastes heavenly. The protein in deli meats is 75% lower in fat and triple the protein found in peanut butter. Be sure to check sodium before you buy.
-A quick energy boost is fruit snacks but be sure juice is the first ingredient. Gelatin and gums found in fruit snacks or leathers are fibers that slowly digest.
-Small tangerines are in season; my kids eat 2 or 3 a day. Little apples never spoil; buy both of these cheap in bulk bags.
-Small cheeses like Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, fun for little hands to open and a great source of nutrition.

Our behavior issues have improved and I am proud of my babies. Look in your lunch box and see if you can help our nations’ kids be better too! (Don’t forget your lunch box note – a little “I love you!” from Mom or Dad can go a super long way)

I ate 16 beef patties – and it wasn’t an eating contest!

SPI Group continues to add value to our customers through education and training, and pushing the limits of food science. After a weeklong visit to the Solae pilot plant in St. Louis, MO , we learned how to make good foods better!

Our first sets of tests were beef patties. All patties maintained same level of fat at 20%, and we tested formulas with different soy ingredients:

1. The first 6 trials were 0% extension up to 40% all with Response textured soy protein concentrate or textured soy flour. My favorite was 30% Response extension with flavor added.
2. Next set of 7 patty trials was 30% extension using Response, Cenergy soy fiber, Supro soy protein isolate, Supro Systems blended textured proteins and various combinations and processing. My favorites was Supro Systems blended ingredient and of course the tenderform plate.
3. Next set of 3 patties were vegetarian with varying binding systems such as egg, wheat gluten and gum contents. My favorite was the egg containing. Super cool – we used flaked palm oil, which made the vegetarian patties look fresh from the cow!

Then we ran 9 different chicken breast pieces looking for sodium reduction options. Our favorite hands down combined a low sodium soy protein isolate called Supro 620, a straight reduction in level of salt, and replacement of sodium phosphate with potassium. Super juicy! Then we ran these chicken breasts through injection vs tumble – INJECTION all the way!

Last trials were injected whole muscle roast beef, brisket and top loin steaks. Our favorite formulas were Supro 248 and HVF 56 at 60% injection levels – nice beefy texture, beautiful sliceability and appearance, and the taste was great!

Working in the Solae meat pilot plant was so enjoyable. Solae’s staff of meat scientists are extremely knowledgeable and experienced!
Ask us how we can help you make better meat products!