Close to home and elsewhere

The food industry is an ever-changing landscape, but successful products and processes can change the tastes and health of whole generations. AURI food scientists have helped farmers and small business owners develop and market dozens of products to keep profits close to home. Refining recipes and processes, scaling up, packaging, labeling and marketing are some of the ways AURI has helped new food product development such as Soup Goddess ready-to-eat soups, Black Star yogurt, Kari Lee’s baking mixes, RBJ jellies, Minnesota Bison stew, Minnesota Wild jams, ForestEdge wines and others.

Here and far away

KimVig beef

St. Charles, Minn. — Cliff and Seth Kaehler found themselves and their beef cattle on the six o’clock news and the local front page after meeting with Fidel Castro during a fall 2002 trade trip to Cuba.

The boys, sons of Ralph and Filomena Kaehler, help their parents raise identity-preserved beef. The meat is marketed directly to consumers through KimVig beef, with partners David Lindevig and Dave Kimmes.

Raised in a 500-head feedlot in Cannon Falls, KimVig cattle are not fed any animal byproducts or implanted with growth hormones. Instead, through genetics, nutrition and careful handling, KimVig ensures that the meat will be tender and flavorful.

AURI has assisted KimVig with labeling, promotions, export referrals and marketing assessments.

Cool and cleansed

Meat Processing rinse and chill technology

St. Paul, Minn. — Rinse and chill technology, developed and refined over the past decade by Meat Processing Services Corporation, has seen increasing acceptance and implementation in recent years. Beef packing plants in Colorado Springs, Colo., Booker, Texas, and Geelong, Australia use the technology. It will come home to Minnesota when PM Beef Group begins using rinse and chill in its Windom plan about a year from now, says Darrell Bartholomew, AURI meat scientist.

The process flushes blood from a carcass’s circulatory systems with a water-based solution that quickly chills meat. AURI tests have shown reductions in bacterial contamination and cholesterol content with the technology, Bartholomew says.

A collaborative effort between the Minnesota Beef Council, the University of Minnesota and AURI has also found that rinse and chill technology has a residual effect that helps stop harmful E. coli from multiplying in beef.

Easy does it

deBarbeque pork ribs

Montrose, Minn. — Smoked and seasoned, ready-to-eat pork ribs were introduced just a year ago by deBarbeque, Inc.; 500,000 pounds have already sold in Twin Cities supermarkets.

“You can throw them right on the grill” without worrying about burning the sauce or making a mess, says Dan Conroy, deBarbeque president. A 30-year veteran of the wholesale food business, he left the corporate world four years ago and started the business with rib-smoker Gary Sterner.

Sterner, of Winsted, is carrying on his father’s smokehouse tradition of more than 20 years. AURI helped to modify his recipes so the ribs could be mass-marketed, conducted shelf-life tests, developed food safety procedures and aided with the complex licensing process.

DeBarbeque’s 5,000-square-foot, USDA-inspected processing plant includes computerized equipment that guides each step of production, from marinating and seasoning to the eight hours of cooking.

No-GMO to go

Earthwise soybean snacks

Moorhead, Minn. — Earthwise Processors, LLC recently received a $150,000 USDA grant to help increase sales. The company markets identity-preserved, non-GMO and organic crops. Its Earthwise Foods brand markets roasted soybeans.

With few big elevators able to supply identity-preserved, contamination-free ag products, investor and organic farmer Lynn Brakke believes Earthwise is in the right place at the right time. Growing demand for non-GMO food products will also help the company, Brakke says. “No GMO crops go through our facility.”

Earthwise Foods’ roasted soybeans are sold to food manufacturers on the East and West Coast, and the company is actively pursuing European markets.

Elsewhere

in food products

Ethnic and organic

Researchers at Ohio State University’s South Centers at Piketon are in their first year of organically raising exotic crops such as amaranth, jute, Alaskan yard-long beans and malabar spinach. Their goal is to provide growers with alternative vegetables and cash crops that grow well in Ohio and supply growing ethnic markets.

Source: Rafic Islam, (740) 289-2071, islam.27@osu.edu

Schwan’s smart pizza

Schwan’s Foodservice has introduced a soy-crust pizza for school lunch programs. Tony’s SmartPizza gives students the benefits of soy protein and reduces the need for other protein and dairy products, say company officials. Schwan’s is exploring an entire line of "Smart" products to help schools deliver nutritious meals.

Source: John Scroggins, (417) 875-5118; john.scroggins@noble.net, www.tonys.com, www.schwansfoodservice.com

Asparagus salsa

Asparagus Enterprises, Inc. of DeWitt, Mich., received a $25,000 grant to provide technical assistance for the launch of a its "Chunky Asparagus Salsa." The funds are provided via Michigan’s Julian Stille Value-Added Act.

Source: www.michigan.gov/mda

Selling fancy birds

The Nebraska Small Farms Cooperative in Pender will market value-added products including pork, emu and ostrich. It received a $69,000 grant from the Nebraska Agricultural Opportunities and Value-Added Partnerships Act for professional services, consultation and equipment.

Another group of value-added ag producers plan to start a year-round farmers market in downtown Lincoln, using a grant from the same source to purchase equipment and get technical assistance.

Source: www.agr.state.ne.us./valueadd

Prawns in the game

Strong demand for prawns has been noted by southern Illinois farmers. In 2001, the state had nine prawn growers on 14 acres; in 2002, there were 20 growers on 40 acres.

To raise prawns — fresh-water crustaceans resembling shrimp — farmers need a half- to one-acre pond. Start-up costs are about $5,000 per acre annually for the first three years. Net profits ran about $2,000 per acre last year, but profits will grow as ponds get more fertile and produce more prawns, which sell for $8 per pound.

Source: Daniel A. Selock, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, (618) 453-2276; siucnews@siu.edu; Laura Tiu, Ohio State University, (740) 289-2071, tiu.2@osu.edu

Organic seal says …

The USDA Organic Seal, part of a marketing program for organic foods, will indicate food products that are at least 95 percent organic. Products with 70 to 95 percent organic ingredients can use the word "organic" on the label but may not carry the seal.

Organic producers and handlers may tap into a $5 million cost-share program to help pay for certification. Competitive research grants are also available through the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension service.

For consumer information, see www.ams.usda.gov/nop. For information on organic food and beverage exports, see USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s organic Web site,www.fas.usda.gov/agx/organics/organics

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