Get The Scoop With Smirk's Podcast

Smirk's Natural Food Team

The Bulk Ingredient Network for the Natural Food Industry It’s our mission to help you navigate the world of high-quality bulk food ingredients, so you can produce and market products you are passionate about. This podcast is where we share everything we know about bulk ingredients. You’ll hear a wide range of industry feature stories, commodity market news, and expert insights into bulk nuts, seeds & grains, coconut products, dried fruits and much more. Each episode will include Smirk’s own Industry Market Report one of the resources our current clients depend on. It's the latest natural foods industry news compiled by Smirk’s commodity buying experts. You will know the key takeaways for the bulk items your company relies on. We’ll also will go deep into specific ingredients with our product category experts sharing origin info, applications, specs, and new product innovation ideas. We’ll even touch on cosmetic and pet food industry ingredients. You’ll hear the natural products industry stories of our growers direct from their locales around the world. There are amazing people in these communities and our relationships make it possible to source the best ingredients for you. You can count on us to provide boots on the ground information from our grower and processor relationships that you won’t find anywhere else in the industry. So hit the button where you listen to your favorite podcasts and subscribe to the show. https://smirks.com/podcast/ read less
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Episodes

Animal & Petfood Bulk Product Ingredients & Industry Trends EP12
Jun 14 2024
Animal & Petfood Bulk Product Ingredients & Industry Trends EP12
In episode 12 of "Get the Scoop with Smirks," hosts Zach Schwint and Garrett McBride dive into the evolving landscape of the pet food industry. Fresh from their debut at the Pet Food Forum in Kansas City, they discuss current trends, ingredient innovations, and future directions for the industry. They also highlight the various bulk ingredients Smirks offers for pet food manufacturers and share insights on market demands and product development. Market Growth and Trends  The U.S. pet food market, valued at $43.9 billion in 2023, is expected to reach nearly $60 billion by 2032. Key drivers include premium pet food products focusing on overall wellness, healthy aging, and good digestion. Innovation in pet food is booming, with a significant portion coming from new companies that have emerged in the last five years. Interestingly, Mintel Insights indicates there's even more new product development and innovation going on in the pet food industry, 50 % of which is for dogs and cats, than in human food. Sustainability and Functional Foods There are trends in the pet food industry that mirror what Smirk’s sees in the human food industry including a growing emphasis on sustainable practices, such as recyclable packaging and upcycled ingredients. Pet food facilities are increasingly powered by renewable energy. Pet owners are also looking for functional pet food products focusing on better gut health are trending. Ingredients like quinoa flakes, pumpkin powder, and psyllium husk are in demand for their digestive benefits. The days of a few brands of kibble are long gone! Ingredient Innovation Plant-based proteins, such as pea protein and pumpkin protein powder, are becoming popular in pet food. Gluten-free and non-gluten-free options cater to various dietary needs. Some pet owners are getting DNA tests to determine the best diet for their family pet so options for all types of conditions are being considered. Fruits and vegetables like banana, apple, strawberry, sweet potato, and potato starch are commonly used in pet foods. Alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar and functional oils like coconut and flaxseed oil are also gaining traction. Ingredient benefits and versatility are key for pet food producers, and we discuss ingredients that Smirks offers for animal and pet food and pet treats. These items are typically offered in non -GMO conventional and organic formats. 1. Coconut Products   Coconut is a major ingredient in pet food beneficial for dogs. Smirks offers a range of coconut products, including desiccated coconut, coconut sugar, and coconut flour. Coconut oils, such as virgin coconut oil and MCT oil, are noted for keeping pets' coats shiny and healthy. 2. Seeds    Flax seeds, chia, sunflower seeds, and quinoa flakes are highlighted for their nutritional benefits in pet food. Flax seeds are available in various forms, while chia seeds are noted for their digestive health benefits. Sunflower seeds are a cost-effective nutritious option, and quinoa flakes are easier for dogs to digest. 3. Plant-Based Proteins and Grains  Plant-based proteins like pea, sunflower, pumpkin, and rice protein powders are increasingly used as substitutes for animal proteins. Smirks also deals in various grains and starches, many of which are gluten-free, such as sorghum, tapioca, and cassava flour, providing fiber and protein for pets. 4. Dried Fruits   Smirks stocks a variety of dried fruits, including apples, pineapple, mango, cranberries, and banana chips, which are used in pet foods and treats to add nutrition and fiber. Monthly Market Report June 2024 Here's the latest update on ocean freight and key commodity trends impacting the pet food and treat industry. Ocean Freight Updates Ocean freight rates from Southeast Asia have surged to $7,000-$8,000 and are expected to exceed $10,000 by the end of summer. These rates were just $1,500-$3,000 a few months ago. This drastic increase is primarily due to equipment shortages triggered by disruptions like the Suez Canal blockage. Higher freight prices and shipment delays are anticipated throughout 2024. Even with contracts, there are no guarantees of equipment availability when products are ready to load, making it challenging to hedge freight costs. Coconut Products Prices for coconut products have skyrocketed due to El Niño-induced extreme heat and drought in the Philippines. Supplies are tight, with limited offers for the end of 2024. Vietnam presents a viable alternative with ready-to-ship supplies at comparable prices to previous offers from the Philippines. Cashews The cashew market is under pressure due to a shorter crop and an export ban on raw cashew nuts (RCN) from Ivory Coast. This has led to significant price increases and tight supply, with quality concerns adding to the challenges. Pumpkin Seeds Prices for pumpkin seeds are decreasing due to large plantings in China. However, the benefits are offset by rising ocean freight costs, which diminish the savings from lower origin prices. Overall Market Outlook Expect higher prices and shipment delays across many commodities. For coconut, Vietnam is a recommended source due to more stable supply. For cashews, immediate action is advised to secure coverage due to tight market conditions. Despite lower prices at origin for pumpkin seeds, ocean freight costs continue to impact overall savings. For more detailed insights or to secure supplies, connect with Smirks through our website or email us at whatsnew@smirks.com
ExpoWest 2024 Recap & Product Focus: Gluten Free Bakery Ingredients EP 11
Apr 22 2024
ExpoWest 2024 Recap & Product Focus: Gluten Free Bakery Ingredients EP 11
The Smirk’s team is breaking down Expo West, the largest natural and organic products trade show in the US. It happens every March in Anaheim and this year Smirk’s had 11 people attending to see what’s new and connect with some of the 65,000 people who attend.  Jessica Warden and Zach Schwindt join Garrett McBride to review the highlights.   TRENDS and INNOVATIONS Regenerative Organic (RO) Certification - RO certified products were widespread, indicating a growing trend towards regenerative agricultural practices.  Functional Foods - The trend of functional foods continued, with an emphasis on products promoting gut health and incorporating ingredients like adaptogens.  Alternative Sweeteners - There was a shift towards natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, date sugar, and stevia in various food and beverage products. Plant-Based Alternatives - Plant-based products were prominent, including innovative alternatives like plant-based bacon made from seasoned shredded coconut. Nostalgic Flavors - Brands showcase nostalgic flavors in innovative products, appealing to consumers' childhood memories with modern twists. Eco-Friendly Products - A rise in eco-friendly products was observed, including shampoo and conditioner bars and thin soap sheets for laundry. THE EXPO EXPERIENCE The hosts described the bustling atmosphere of Expo West, with crowded aisles and vibrant booths. The value of face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities is significant and one of the best reasons to participate. Smirk’s continues to connect with producers and potential partners. The overall experience was positive, with many new products and connections made. GLUTEN-FREE BAKED GOODS With the prevalence of alternative flours such as nut-based, seed-based and others, there is now a wide variety of options in the allergen-friendly bakery world.  There's a particular focus on crackers, showcasing unique blends like buckwheat flour with cranberries and the use of ingredients like organic banana flour, hemp flour, cassava flour, and more. Smirks offers a comprehensive range of organic and non-GMO seeds, nut butters, dried fruits, and alternative sweeteners like coconut sugar and maple syrup. They also emphasized their ability to meet specific customer needs, such as origin preferences and glycemic-friendly sweeteners. MARKET REPORT Donny Edson shares this month’s report and starts by covering the on-going delays due to shipping and freight issues. It’s likely to continue to take longer to get products, especially on the east coast. He recommends planning ahead keeping the adding longer shipping times to your forecasts. On a good note, new shipping contracts that begin in May will have minimal price increases from last year, which is a big relief since prices were trending up.  Donny also covers the new rules affecting the shipments of organic items and the need to have the proper certification filed with customs before picking up product. Smirk’s and others have run into issues and it’s causing delays until things can be sorted. Big picture, things are getting tighter so planning ahead is recommended and expect price increases until availability improves. Product specifics:  Desiccated coconuts which had been plentiful are now delayed. Processors are having trouble getting product so we’re seeing delays from six to eight weeks right now. We're seeing prices increase anywhere from 40 to 70%, depending on the origin and depending on the grade. If you're not covered through the end of the year on coconut, you should get covered immediately. Another issue is coconut sugar. As Ramadan ends, packers in Indonesia are concerned about the lack of raw material available to process Most packers are offering new shipments only in June and July forward with limited availability.  Stocks in the US are getting very tight, and the spot market is getting tight as well. We expect the shortages to happen and carry on throughout the summertime until new shipments in June and July arrive in the US. Coconut oil prices have risen anywhere from 20 to 30 % depending on if it's VCO or RBD. The demand in the US has been high as many people have delayed shipments. Bottlers are trying to get anything they can to keep the retail shelves full.  We don't anticipate the coconut oil price to correct itself for quite some time. Plan ahead.  Demand for organic cashews has increased. There’s little inventory and the new crop is slow arriving for processing. Two of the suppliers we work with are fully booked this year on their broken grades and whole grades. We expect this market to stay firm and to get tight.  Macadamia nuts are no longer the value they were last year. Supplies are booked out and we’ve seen price increases. The new crop should be in soon, and that should help with availability and better pricing.  Amaranth is finally shipping again. Prices have dropped, which is great to see and we hope they remain stable.  Organic flax is coming in as well. Prices are stable with reports that the crop is smaller and increased prices are anticipated throughout the summertime. Smirk’s has some organic golden flax arriving in May, so reach out if there’s a need.  Chia supplies in South America are sold out of the 2023 crop. The new crop could be late, so we’ll continue to watch and see what develops. There is a large stock of Chia available in the US right now. A lot of importers have extra inventory, including Smirk’s, to weather the storm.  Pumpkins seeds are available, and we don’t see any issues moving forward. The organic crop is smaller so it's highly recommended to cover yourself through December with your suppliers to ensure that you have enough product until the new crop arrives.  That’s the April market update. If you have any questions or need more info on a specific product, hit us up at whatsnew@smirks.com
Unveiling the World of Organic: Featuring the Organic Trade Association EP10
Feb 12 2024
Unveiling the World of Organic: Featuring the Organic Trade Association EP10
Hosts Elisa Louis and Donny Edson dive into the dynamic world of organics with the Organic Trade Association's (OTA) experts, Adrienne Messe and Scott Rice. Smirk’s Garrett McBride and Dean Soicher also share insights about the evolution of the organic products industry over the last 30 years. The popular market report completes this episode.  The podcast covers key topics including regulatory updates, insights from the OTA's member survey and valuable resources for businesses dealing with organic products.  Adrienne, the OTA's event engagement manager, shares details about the association's mission and its efforts to bring together diverse stakeholders in the organic industry. She emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, citing the recent success of the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act. If you are in the market or have questions about any  natural food products, reach out at: whatsnew@smirks.com  OTA Resources: Organic Trade Association The Organic Center OTA Member Benefits Farm Bill Priorities Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Strengthening Organic Enforcement OTA Member Communities Organic Opportunity Communications Toolkit Organic Fraud Prevention Guide Diversity and Entrepreneurship Program Organic Industry Survey Global Organic Trade Guide Organic Week in Washington D.C. Organic Education Webinars ·         USDA Certifier Locator ·         USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database ·         USDA Organic Insider ·         USDA SOE Final Rule Primers
Vanilla History, Origins, Applications & Trends EP9
Nov 28 2023
Vanilla History, Origins, Applications & Trends EP9
Host Nick Erker shares the captivating history and origins of vanilla. Discover the incredible journey of this aromatic spice from its discovery in Mexico, its commercial production in Madagascar, to its status as the world's most popular ice cream flavor!  As we explore the global vanilla market valued at $1.43 billion, we'll uncover the secrets behind its production, including the labor-intensive process of hand-pollinating vanilla orchids. Expert Zach Schwindt shares his personal journey in the world of vanilla, from backpacking through Asia to starting his own brand, Origin Vanilla. Smirk’s is happy to have Zach on the team since 2019, helping expand the vanilla product offerings. Learn about the different forms of vanilla and why natural vanilla is a superior choice over imitation. Whether you're a food enthusiast or a culinary professional, this episode will provide valuable insights into the intricacies and unique qualities of vanilla beans. Join us now and get ready to indulge in the irresistible world of vanilla! Smirk’s offers both organic and conventional vanilla products to their customers, ensuring that they can provide the right product at the right price. Product Feature: Vanilla ●        Hear the fascinating story behind vanilla's history and origins and gain a deeper appreciation for this beloved flavor. ●        They explore the intriguing world of vanilla production and learn about the intricate techniques used to cultivate and process vanilla beans. ●        Learn the key differences between imitation vanilla and natural vanilla and understand why the latter is highly valued by food enthusiasts and culinary professionals. ●        Learn about the various forms of vanilla products and their versatile applications in both sweet and savory dishes, expanding your culinary repertoire. ●        Gain insights into the global vanilla market and understand its impact on the food industry, allowing you to make more informed choices. ●        Get the secrets of using vanilla effectively in your recipes and discover the flavor profiles and combinations that can take your products to the next level. ●        Learn how to properly store and care for vanilla beans to ensure they retain their freshness and flavor, prolonging their shelf-life and enhancing your cooking experience. This week’s market report  29:25 Donny Edson is breaking down market trends and events starting with what’s happening in Panama. Changes in the weight limits going through the canal mean there is now a two-to-four-week delay in shipments getting through. The good news is that prices on most commodities are stable. There are a few exceptions, but overall, there aren’t any big price changes happening right now. ●       Sunflower is lower than it has been for a bit and availability is good. ●       Chia prices are also stable and availability may get tight if shipments continue to be delayed. ●       Coconut sugar shipments are normalizing. ●       Ramadan may impact products coming out of Indonesia. ●       Coconut is stable, and many clients are booking into February of 2024 to take advantage of the favorable pricing. ●       Organic mango is just now being harvested. Smirk’s has availability for now, but new product isn’t expected until April of 2024. ●       Organic quinoa is still high as we see demand drop a bit. Smirk’s recommends spot buying as needed for now. ●       We’re also watching organic amaranth since the supply in India has been exhausted until the new harvest. Product from South America is available at higher prices. Smirk’s recommends getting coverage through July of 2024. ●       Tree nuts are stable with no major changes. New crop quality is higher than last years. ●       Pumpkin seeds from China are 8% to 10% higher than last year, but availability is good. If you are in the market or have questions about for vanilla or any other natural food products, reach out at: whatsnew@smirks.com Origin Vanilla
Pumpkin Seed Products, Market, & Trends with Gino Hartounian from Mixed Nuts Inc. EP 8
Nov 10 2023
Pumpkin Seed Products, Market, & Trends with Gino Hartounian from Mixed Nuts Inc. EP 8
Elisa Lewis and Donny Edson are talking with Gino Hartounian of Mixed Nuts Inc. They are diving into the world of pumpkin seeds. What started as a simple partnership with Smirk's, exploring mixed nuts and sunflower seeds, took an unexpected turn. Gino's connection with Smirk's led to the discovery of a hidden gem: pumpkin seeds. Gino Hartounian, of Mixed Nuts, Inc. based in Los Angeles, joins us. As a family-owned business, Mixed Nuts specializes in dry oil roasting, flavoring, and mixing of various nuts, seeds, trail mixes, and dried fruits. With their vertically integrated operations, they are able to provide high-quality products at competitive prices. Nick's expertise and passion for the industry make him the perfect guest to delve into the latest trends and insights in the pumpkin seed market. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn from one of the best in the business. Are you a food manufacturer or packager? Then this episode is perfect for you! Join us as we chat with Nick Hartounian about the latest trends in the pumpkin seed market. From the grading system to the different varieties, we'll explore how pumpkin seeds are making waves in the food industry. Discover the versatility and allergen-free properties of pumpkin seeds and get inspired by innovative uses like pumpkin protein powder and seed butter. Learn about the growing popularity of pumpkin seeds as a healthier alternative to other nuts and seeds and find out how the United States is increasing production to offer an alternative to Chinese-produced seeds. Whether you're looking to incorporate pumpkin seeds into your products or spice up your culinary creations, this episode will provide valuable insights and tips. Tune in now and stay ahead of the curve in the pumpkin seed market! Questions about products email: whatsnew@smirks.com Mixed Nuts Inc.
Chia Seeds & Plant-Based Protein Powders Trends EP 7
Nov 1 2023
Chia Seeds & Plant-Based Protein Powders Trends EP 7
Elisa Louis and Donny Edson are talking with Tom Merrow, the owner of Onset Worldwide. His career in the food industry was kickstarted by an opportunistic meeting during his stint as a freight forwarder in Boston. Tom quickly evolved a curiosity for the import-export dynamics into a thriving business, Onset Worldwide.  Alongside his wife Sarah, Tom has managed to establish Onset as a recognizable name in the food industry in just a decade. Today, he focuses on enhancing the brand by pioneering innovative processes, producing premium quality, allergen-free seeds, grains, and flours and pushing the envelope with new products like plant-based proteins and cold milled oil seeds. Donny’s introduction to the chia seeds was nothing short of serendipity. It was 2010, and Tom was occupied at a sunflower booth during a trade show in Paris. Out of the blue, a stranger approached him with a bag of chia seeds, asking to trade. Intrigued, he decided to take a closer look at this new contender in the market.  Over time, he discovered the incredible benefits of chia seeds, not just as a thickening agent but also as a key ingredient in granolas, energy bars, baby foods, pet treats, and even horse feeds. His business, Smirks, began to import chia seeds from Argentina, leading to an unexpected surge in sales. Today, chia seeds are one of the top selling items at Smirks, a testament to Donny’s innovative approach and keen eye for recognizing potential market trends. Understanding how to pitch to brands effectively is crucial in any industry, especially when it comes to the food industry. A brand partnership can lead to expanded reach, increased credibility, and the potential for lucrative deals. However not all pitches are welcome. It's not uncommon for larger brands to refuse ideas from external sources, choosing to innovate in-house instead.  This isn't a death sentence for your idea though, shifting focus on adding value to the customers directly can create a more refined, targeted product that can compete with the big brands, winning over their customers instead.  Tom shares his experience pitching to established brands like Puma, but getting turned down as they don't accept outside ideas. Instead of letting that stop him, he channeled his energy into creating products that add more value to their customers offering products at a competitive price without compromising on quality. Tom's approach offers a masterclass on perseverance and how important it is to stay focused on the customer's needs. Like any other commodity, the price of chia seeds fluctuates due to numerous factors. Some of these key factors include changes in growing regions, crop conditions, market demand, and weather patterns.  By keeping a close eye on these aspects, businesses can anticipate and respond strategically to potential price changes to ensure efficiency and profitability.  Donny made a deep dive into factors impacting chia prices, explaining how they have experienced periods of extreme highs and lows. He emphasized the need to closely monitor crop conditions owing to their direct impact on market prices. He suggested a strategy of purchasing chia in two cycles: November-December and June-July to mitigate risks associated with frost damage. Chia Seeds: History and Market Garret McBride and Donny Edson talk all things chia seeds. Chia seeds are an increasingly popular health food known for their impressive nutritional profile. Originally used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, these seeds are packed with protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. The market for chia seeds has been on the rise for the past several years, thanks to their classification as a superfood and their widespread use in various health and wellness products. They can be consumed raw, cooked or added to various dishes for an easy health boost. In the podcast, Nick and Tom discussed the phenomenal growth witnessed in the chia market. They discussed the historical significance of chia seeds tracing its origin and use by ancient civilizations. They also extensively touched on the upsurge in chia seed consumption, attributing it to their nutritional benefits and the increasing wellness-conscious consumer base proving that chia seeds are more than a fad; they are a market with a lot of growth potential. The Market Report with Donny Edson Prices in Peru are going  up due to weather conditions. This has affected both quinoa and cacao which is trading at multi-year highs Organic mango show prices 20% higher than last year. The new crop harvests in a few months  Amaranth, especially organic amaranth is almost sold out from India and the prices from Peru are expected to be higher  Coconut prices are creeping up a bit in Sri Lanka and in the Philippines prices are stable  We can book contracts for coconut through June 2023 so locking in now is a good idea Coconut sugar is still behind and shipments are booking for later this year. Get coverage as far out as you can to avoid shortage Almond report shows lower shipments due to the late crop.  Pine nuts have fallen to a great value  Macadamia processors are slowly increasing prices, but they are still a great value We’re watching harvests on oats, sunflowers and organic sunflower oil We’re watching the pumpkin market especially with the consumption in China and Europe  Organic pumpkin seed pricing is firm so buying now will ensure availability Have questions or want to receive the market report in your inbox? Connect with us at whatsnew@smirks.com
Bulk Ingredients for Soap and Cosmetics with Soap Creek EP 6
Nov 1 2023
Bulk Ingredients for Soap and Cosmetics with Soap Creek EP 6
Today’s episode is hosted by Jason Stroud and Garrett McBride. A growing part of Smirk’s business is in the natural and organic soap and cosmetic industry. Just like the with the natural foods business, they supply organic and natural ingredients to this market segment as well.  To highlight the industry, they’ve invited Fred and Roxy Johnson, co-owners of the Soap Creek company based in Utah. They’ve been a customer for several years now and we’re excited to have them with us. What started as a hobby sharing soap with family and friends grew into a local brand selling their projects around their community. When they were accepted into the Natural Products Expo West, it opened the doors to new opportunities.  Now they are making products for nearly every big box retailer across the country! We’re shooting to have more around 100 to 120 employees mark. We feel like that’s a good size company for us and it really has helped a lot to have vendors like Smirk’s helps us along that journey and help us through that growth and support us through that. It’s made a huge difference.”  Hear how the Smirk’s and Soap Creek relationship has grown. What started with organic coconut oil has led to many more products.  What Soap Creek looks for in a supplier:  Certified organic and/or fair trade. Ease in gaining certifications to keep their organic designation. The ability to source a number of products. Pricing and availability.  Smirk’s products are food grade which is a great benefit for the soap and cosmetics industry. Hear how Soap Creek uses the ingredients purchased from Smirk’s to make soap. They use more than one process and it’s customized for each customer.  Fred reminds us that some of their products have ingredients from the Philippines, France, Mexico and more. Trends in the industry include solid products, saving on costs of packaging and increasing the ability to recycle.  Product Feature Today we are highlighting organic and non-GMO ingredients used in the soap and cosmetic industry. The global natural cosmetics market is expected to reach 48.4 billion dollars by the end of 2023, with 82% accounted for here in the US.  The FDA has not defined the term “natural” for cosmetics. Smirk’s defines natural cosmetics as products that contain ingredients that are derived from plants and minerals and are minimally processed.  The consumer trend is for products with fewer ingredients, without chemicals and additives. Today’s consumer is also looking for products with less packaging and packages that are easily recyclable.  Smirk’s offers a full range of products for use in the natural cosmetic industry:  6 oils including avocado and coconut  Cocoa butter Pink Himalayan salts Arrowroot powders and starch Vanilla extract Smirk’s contracts these ingredients over time to maintain a consistent supply  Monthly Market Report  Ocean freight – overall we have no concerns.  Interest rates and the cost of money continue to be a concern for both supplies and clients. Sunflowers – when bombing happened in Ukraine, prices went up for a bit but have fallen back to standard prices.  Pumpkin seed demand has been soft, it’s a good time to secure your needs for the fall. Chia is being harvested and we are watching to see how the market responds.  Coconut sugar is very tight in the US. It may be October before we have ample product.  Overall, things are stable, and we encourage our clients to book for the rest of 2023 and early 2024 to take advantage of good pricing and availability.  Questions about products email: whatsnew@smirks.com Check out Soap Creek Products
The Best Bulk Ingredients for Snacks and Trail Mix Products EP 5
Nov 1 2023
The Best Bulk Ingredients for Snacks and Trail Mix Products EP 5
Many snack brands face a familiar problem: the need to create trail mix products that truly resonate with consumers and offer something different. With so many options out there, it can be challenging to differentiate yourself from the competition and capture the attention of your target audience. Here’s what you’ll learn about the snack market:  Navigate through the thriving snack industry with a focus on the prominence of trail mixes.  Delve into the intriguing flavor profiles and distinctive attributes that give trail mixes an edge.  Learn how to leverage the impact of non-GMO and gluten-free labels to your advantage.  Gain insight into the rising popularity of keto and protein references in trail mix branding.  Reflect on the careful considerations required in choosing ingredients and packaging for trail mixes.  Every brand can position their own trail mix in so many different ways to compete in the marketplace and capture their own following. - Nick Erker  Nick and Donny explore the relevance of callouts in trail mixes with a special highlight on keto and protein. With more and more people hopping on the keto bandwagon or looking for protein-rich meals for an active lifestyle, these callouts can be particularly appealing.  They also talked about how labels like no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, are increasingly vital for today's informed consumers. Clearly, callouts can add that extra spark to your trail mix!  The world of unique trail mix flavor profiles and trends is wide and worth exploring. With people's taste preferences changing and diversifying, sticking to the basics isn't going to cut it anymore. Offering a wide variety of flavor profiles for your trail mix, from spicy and sweet to umami and savory, can cater to everyone's palate.  Donny also discuss the influence of other ethnic snacks on the trail mix market. Nick explains this is a really interesting direction for trail mix brands to consider. Spicy, sweet, tangy, and umami-rich flavor profiles can offer snackers a little culinary adventure through their snack, making it a refreshing departure from predictable flavor combinations.  Hear how it can open up avenues for brands to reach out to niche markets and establish a different sort of brand-consumer relationship. Adopting a customer-centric approach and actively engaging with your audience, we can gather valuable insights and feedback to constantly improve and refine our trail mix offerings. Lots of ingredients have been discussed in the snack category. Donny shares specifics on a few that are really popular including:  Cashews, macadamia, Brazil nuts, walnuts  Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds Banana chips, mango, pineapple, papaya (dried fruits that may have sugar added) Organic cranberries and goldenberries (great alternatives) Coconut chips Cocoa gems Smirk’s is here to help with all the ingredients that you want to use in your natural food snacks. Got a question or need help with sourcing Smirk’s is happy to help. Market Report [19:07] Listen for the details for this month’s market report including:  The almond crop was better than expected, so prices are expected to remain stable.  Chia harvest is expected to be good. Recommendations to secure your chia supply now for the rest of this year and into 2024. White chia supply may be more plentiful. We’re seeing good prices and availability on gluten free oats.  Demand is exceeding supply right now for coconut sugar and we expect the market to remain tight so letting your supplier know what you need is our recommendation.  If you need quinoa, we recommend getting your coverage for as far out as you can on quinoa and getting your price locked up. Sunflower seeds are plentiful and US growers can be one of the best sources this year.  Email: hello@smirks.com
National Coconut Day: Coconut Origins & Products EP 4
Nov 1 2023
National Coconut Day: Coconut Origins & Products EP 4
Nick starts today’s episode reminding us that June 26 is National Coconut Day which inspired this topic.  National Coconut Day started in 2019 thanks to our friends at the Coconut Coalition of the Americas. The recognition is well deserved too. Coconut is an incredibly versatile and diverse crop. We’re going to focus on the origins, and the major product categories.  In this episode Nick and Donny will introduce you to the versatile and sustainable crop of coconuts and how it can be used in various industries. With its countless applications, you'll be able to create more versatile and sustainable products that align with your values. With innovation and creativity, the possibilities are endless with coconut. Let's push boundaries and create products that excite and inspire. – Donny Edson Donny has dedicated his career to exploring the endless possibilities of the coconut crop. Having traveled the globe to witness firsthand how coconuts are grown, harvested, and processed, he brings a wealth of information about the versatility and sustainability of this incredible natural resource.  With a passion for promoting the development of new and innovative uses for coconut-based products, he’s on a mission to inspire food industry entrepreneurs to consider the immense potential of this wonder fruit. Donny shares how he became just an advocate for coconut products and their manufacturers. Hear how he and Nick embarked on an unexpected journey into the world of coconuts when they attended a trip organized by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Visiting suppliers in the Philippines, they found themselves captivated by the industry and its numerous applications.  The humble coconut, often thought of as just a tropical fruit, revealed itself to be an incredibly versatile crop, utilized in a myriad of products and industries. Smirk’s began importing coconuts and exploring the vast potential of this natural wonder. From beverages to bakery applications, coconuts continue to play a significant role in Smirk’s business ventures, proving that the possibilities for this tropical treasure are as diverse as the fruit itself. Key topics covered in this episode: Keep up with the current market trends encompassing coconut, pumpkin seed, and more nutritious superfoods. Unravel the countless applications of coconut as an agricultural wonder crop. Find out about desiccated coconut's production process and how it enhances bakery and confectionery items. See why relying on multiple origins when importing coconuts contributes to supply chain resilience. Coconut Product Trends and Innovation As research and development continue to uncover new coconut applications, food industry entrepreneurs have an opportunity to ride this wave of innovation by incorporating coconut into their product offerings. The emergence of coconut-derived products like coconut water, coconut sugar, and coconut aminos has led to an increased demand for this versatile, sustainable ingredient across various markets.  In their discussion, Donny and Nick explore the growing popularity of coconut and how businesses can capitalize on this trend. They mention how coconut cream and milk are being used in ice creams and yogurts, while coconut milk powder has seen a significant increase in demand for coffee creamers, oatmeal cups, protein drinks, and shakes.  A surprising and growing use is in the cosmetics and skin care industry. There is a growing demand for coconut products in this industry. With the steady rise of coconut's popularity, entrepreneurs should not miss the chance to incorporate this versatile ingredient into their product line. June Market Report  [27:37] Ocean freight and ports are smooth sailing.  Warehousing is trending to more just in time. Older stocks are catching up and there’s warehouse space available, but prices are up for warehouse space.  Due to carrying and storage costs, suppliers are keeping inventory levels low so planning ahead for your product requirements is recommended. Overall it’s a buyers’ market. Hear details on the specifics for almonds, cashews, sunflower and coconut.  One are of concern is coconut sugar. Supplies are a bit behind and inventories in the US are going to be tight for a bit.  We’ve been watching the chia crop. Early concerns have been mitigated by a bit by an earlier than expected harvest. Supplies are tight and won’t likely change until October here in the US.  Pumpkin seeds carryover is strong, and we may see some price relief with the new crop. Demand is lower in the US and Europe.  Macadamia nuts are lower than we’ve seen. There’s never been a better time to use this great quality product.   Brazil nuts are firming up.  Bananas and mangos are going up and we’re keeping a watch on pricing trends.  Pineapple is also increasing and we’ve brought in a new supplier so give us better pricing options.  Oat prices are holding. It’s a good time to buy or book your gluten free oats.  For more information about coconuts, or if you want more details on any of the products mentioned in the market report, reach out via email; hello@smirks.com
Trends from Expo West, Product Focus: Coconut and Smirk’s Market Report EP 3
Nov 1 2023
Trends from Expo West, Product Focus: Coconut and Smirk’s Market Report EP 3
Nick is starting the show today talking about Expo West. It’s the largest natural products expo and this year it was in Anaheim in March. Over 65,000 people attended, and 3000 companies were there to see what’s new in natural foods.  Donny shares his insights and felt like it was a perfect size. It was well attended but not so large you couldn’t meet people and see the exhibits. The vibe was encouraging, and he also felt like there was more innovation which is great to see.  Jessica felt like the energy was good, and people were genuinely ready to engage. Nothing is better than the chance to meet customers in real life to rekindle relationships.  Trends they mention:  Functional foods and beverages – they share a few great examples of things happening in this area.  A bit of nostalgia with a twist. Think peanut-butter crackers with unique ingredients.  Coconut products in better use packaging. Donny shares a few great examples.  Plant-based proteins aren’t new but are still very popular.  Fruit-based foods, great innovations here which are great to see.  Sustainability is a thread that all categories mention and are making a priority.  The Unexpected:  Water and assorted powders, flavors and options. There were so many options and new ideas shared here.  Probiotics as add-ins. This was showing up I the snack category and others.  Product Focus: Coconut A prevalent ingredient at the show so Donny is sharing a deep dive on coconut. Did you know that Smirk’s sold over 20 million pounds of coconut products? Coconut is known as the tree of life, and you can use every part of the tree.  The key products that Smirk’s sells are:  Coconut sugar Coconut milk powder Coconut cream Coconut Oil Coconut milk and cream are growth products and are trending now. It’s plant based, non-dairy and very versatile. One of the benefits is that you don’t have to do any major processing. It’s a natural part of the coconut.  It’s fun to cook with and can be packaged in a variety of ways which benefits manufacturers and home cooks in our kitchens.  Coconut oil is used in lots of products and when it’s processed it removes the coconut allergen. It’s also used in lots of baking applications. Hear how the process to create the oil, the by product is coconut flour.  Did you know MCT oil comes from the coconut? This oil has become popular in the keto diet space.  Coconut sugar is delicious and very sustainable. It has a caramel flavor to it and can be used in place of brown sugar. It’s also low-glycemic which is a big health benefit for those of us who want to have our cake and eat it too!  Coconut is one of our favorite products, in large part because we get to check out the cool places where they grow them. The applications are endless, and it continues to be a growth industry.  Smirk’s Market Report – Coconut [31:32] Smirk’s tracks coconut production from 4 main countries; the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Vietnam.  Pricing varies based on demand from other countries and harvest time. The big question today; has coconut hit bottom?  Summary: There is older inventory on the market so you may see prices vary. Smirk’s  doesn’t expect prices to go lower so it’s a good time to plan for what you’re going to need in the future.  If coconut sugar, coconut milk or coconut cream are on your list, get the details about securing the best product and savings on the shipping side.    To get regular updates between shows or to request a product sample contact us at Smirks.com  You can also email us at whatsnew@smirks.com
A Smirk’s Partnership Story, The Revdried Process for Delicious Tasting Fruit and the Market Report EP 2
Nov 1 2023
A Smirk’s Partnership Story, The Revdried Process for Delicious Tasting Fruit and the Market Report EP 2
Today Elisa Louis is hosting the podcast. She’s the VP of marketing and the Dried Fruit Specialist at Smirk’s. She is joined by Jaime Modonese from NXTDRIED based in Peru and Colin Garner, the VP of Global Accounts.  Hear how the Smirk’s team got to know the NXTDRIED team. Being a dried fruit fanatic made her interested in the products and that’s when she knew it was time to learn more about this amazing company.  Jaime shares the NXTDRIED story. It was a journey to find ways to support growers in Peru, giving a longer life to the fruit grown in the area. One of the unique value propositions is the opportunity to work with smaller farmer groups. The company is proud to support them while also bringing quality products to the market. Jaime explains their certifications they have in the industry, and why it’s important to the NXTDRIED story. They are proud to be socially responsible.  As part of their organic and BRC certifications NXTDRIED offers complete traceability from farm to packet.  NXTDRIED may be competing with freeze-dried products but there is really no comparison. The carbon footprint is just one factor that makes the NXTDRIED process preferable. Freshness and taste are the real advantages here. The company is always looking for ways to be even more sustainable.  Jaime is a consumer of natural foods too and shares how they support him in his endurance sports. He participates in Ironman competitions and plans to run in the NYC marathon later this year!  What you need to know about Revdried Technology Colin shares how NXTDRIED takes the produce from raw to real in their unique process. He explains that processing isn’t a bad thing, it’s changing the product to often provide more value, longer shelf life and better taste. Everything that the Smirk’s clients are looking for.  There’s a bright future for collaboration between NXTDRIED and Smirk’s. If you’re listening and want to know more you can email us at:  whatsnew@smirks.com. We’d love to hear from you.  NXTDRIED Products Uses and Applications  There is a range available for fruits that are revdried. They can be purchased as whole fruits, in pieces. flakes or powders. No matter the application, it’s important that the fruit color and flavor is consistent.  Smirk’s can help you find the best option for you. If you’d like a sample or detailed information, you can visit Smirks.com and request a sample.  Smirk’s Market Report - Tree Nuts [47:10] Today’s report covers:  Almonds – Buy what you need, and check with Smirk’s for an update to see if unusual weather is going to affect the costs later this year.  Cashews – The market is stable, with regular growth. Spot purchases may be a challenge so plan ahead. Macadamia Nuts – The supply is plentiful, and it’s a good time to work with macadamias. Prices are nearly half of what they were, and they have a high perceived consumer value. Walnuts –. The supply is great right now and prices are good too. You may see prices vary on lighter colored walnuts out of California but overall good prices and supply. Pecans – The price gap for pieces vs halves is closer than it’s ever been due to the growing demand for pieces.  Summary: There’s never been a better time than now to use these products. Prices are good, the quality is high and availability is great.  To get regular updates between shows or to request a product sample contact us at Smirks.com  You can also email us at whatsnew@smirks.com
The Smirk’s Company Story and Values, Featured Product: Sunflower Seeds & the Smirk’s Market Report EP 1
Nov 1 2023
The Smirk’s Company Story and Values, Featured Product: Sunflower Seeds & the Smirk’s Market Report EP 1
Welcome to Get the Scoop with Smirk’s! We’re glad you’re here.  Today’s episode covers some fun history about Smirk’s. You’ll hear everything from one of their first products (chocolate covered sunflower seeds!) how they moved from putting retail products into mini marts to the bulk ingredient company they are today.  As you might expect there’s lots of talk about food, and not just the bulk ingredients! Nick shares why food and the joy around food is so important to the team.  They explain from humble beginnings (working from a server closet – really!) how friends have worked together and consider their customers and their vendors as friends as well. They are invested in their success and it’s a big part of their focus every day.  What Makes Smirks Unique? One of the things that makes Smirk’s unique comes from their manufacturing background. They have invested in their quality department to make sure that the quality is consistent.  Food safety issues are important to everyone from the supplier, the distributor and the manufacturers who buy their products. Hear how Smirk’s uses a documented process to evaluate every new product and new supplier before adding it to their offers. The story and history of each product is key.  Donnie also shares how they source back up suppliers. This ended up being a big help when COVID restrictions hit, and shipping prices were impacted.  Product Review: Sunflower Seeds and Kernels Donny and Nick explain everything you want to know about sunflowers in the food industry. You’ll hear about how they are grown and harvested, as well as how they are used after they’ve been processed.  They also explain how oil pricing impacts the price for kernels. Did you know Ukraine was the largest grower of oil sunflowers in the world? Hear how the conflict has affected the supply and how Smirk’s handled things so they could make sure their clients had what they needed.  Hear what one of the biggest markets for sunflower kernels is. It’s not going to be what you expect. They cover this and lots of other ways that sunflower kernels are used in a variety of products.  Smirk’s Market Report – Sunflower Seeds [42:12] Prices for sunflower seeds peaked in March of 2022 and have been dropping since then. Demand is down for a few reasons. Suppliers purchased excess inventory due to the concern of the crop in Ukraine and the instability of the supply chain during COVID.  We see pricing in the US down about 20% from last year, with fewer acres going in. Wet weather has been a factor so that may still change in the next few weeks.  Summary: It’s a buyers’ market especially if you can plan ahead.  To get regular updates between shows or to request a product sample contact us at Smirks.com  You can also email us at whatsnew@smirks.com
Get The Scoop with Smirk's The Natural Foods Industry Experts
Oct 31 2023
Get The Scoop with Smirk's The Natural Foods Industry Experts
It’s our mission to help you navigate the world of high-quality bulk food ingredients, so you can produce and market products you are passionate about.   This podcast is where we share everything we know about bulk ingredients. You’ll hear a wide range of industry feature stories, commodity market news, and expert insights into bulk nuts, seeds & grains, coconut products, dried fruits and much more.    Each episode will include Smirk’s own Industry Market Report one of the resources our current clients depend on. It's the latest natural foods industry news compiled by Smirk’s commodity buying experts. You will know the key takeaways for the bulk items your company relies on.  We’ll also will go deep into specific ingredients with our product category experts sharing origin info, applications, specs, and new product innovation ideas. We’ll even touch on cosmetic and pet food industry ingredients.   You’ll hear the natural products industry stories of our growers direct from their locales around the world. There are amazing people in these communities and our relationships make it possible to source the best ingredients for you. You can count on us to provide boots on the ground information from our grower and processor relationships that you won’t find anywhere else in the industry.   So hit the button where you listen to your favorite podcasts and subscribe to the show. https://smirks.com/podcast/