Sunday, June 1, 2014

What-What?! Week of June 1st

It's my birthday!  Yay!  Happy birthday to me, and many good wishes for me and all of you. :)

Oh, yes, and happy birthday to my twin brother. <3

This week, I packed some stuff, because the husband and I are pretty sure we've got an apartment sorted out in the Seattle area.

I've been working on my newest eBook, which will be about the specialty grocery industry more generally, and include profiles of Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Sprouts, and The Fresh Market.  I'm nearly done with the profiles section, but I still want to do a compare/contrast section, as well as update the industry profile and a few other facts.  Oh, and write out the bibliography.  Make a new book cover.  Create a product description.  So, there's a still quite a bit to do, I guess.

This Hummus has Standards, OK?  via Yahoo! Food

The Sabra Dipping Company, producer of hummus and other Mediterranean dips, has recently petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to place "Standard of Identity" requirements on hummus products, which defines guidelines that a product must follow in order to be labeled as hummus.  Many other food products have standards like these, including ice cream, peanut butter, yogurt, white chocolate, and so on.

Hummus, as defined in the proposed standards, would be as follows:
Hummus is the semisolid food prepared when mixing cooked, dehydrated, or dried chickpeas and tahini with one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraph (b), and may contain one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraph (c) of this section.  Chickpeas shall be the predominate ingredient by weight, except water.  Tahini (sesame seed paste) shall comprise not less than five percent by weight of the finished product. [...] Other food ingredients may be added [...] provided that, in total, they comprise less than 20 percent by weight of the finished product.
There are both good things and bad things about this petition.  The question becomes, has hummus, in the mind of consumers, expanded from its original definition, to now include dips predominately made with other ingredients, even sometimes without chickpeas and/or tahini at all?  If consumers expect that products labeled hummus follow the traditional recipe, then it makes sense to enact standards.  Of course, the thing about these standards is that they can easily be used to squash competition.  Sabra's products all meet this definition, but that's to be expected; if a company is going to write the definition for a product it makes, it's going to make sure that it doesn't go awry of its own standards.  Sabra currently accounts over half of the market share for hummus, and a move like this could easily increase that.

I don't particularly care for hummus, but it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the long run.  I'm curious to see if the FDA enacts standards, but perhaps ones that are more lenient than Sabra's definition.

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