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    V-Day Victuals = Sweet Rewards

    Hearts on fire for crave-worthy Mascarpone Pie, Pink Lady apples
     

    Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating with the foods of romance – think chocolate, liquor, and yes, apples! – along with other rich-texture fare, such as mascarpone cheese. This year, Waterloo, Wis.-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheeses has put together a romantic gift basket filled with all the ingredients for a Chocolate Mascarpone Pie.

    The tempting, 8-serving recipe calls for Crave’s mascarpone, dark chocolate, a mini bottle of Kahlua coffee liqueur and a chocolate cookie crumb crust.

    Debuting during the “the year of the pie,” Artisan cheeses such as Mascarpone are also turning up on other top food trends lists, including the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” survey of American Culinary Federation chefs.
    Crave Brothers is selling the romance-inspired gift baskets on its website www.cravecheese.com, and also encourages retailers to bundle mascarpone pie ingredients on a sweet seasonal display to give customers a chance to do the same at home.

    Meanwhile out in scenic Wenatchee, Wash., the fine folks at Stemilt Growers are urging retailers and consumers to forget the chocolate and flowers and to give Valentine’s Day a healthy makeover this year with Pink Lady brand apples. Colorful display bins, POS signage, and a great picture-perfect array of premium quality Pink Lady apples are ripe for the picking for retailers to build a successful Valentine’s Day-themed promotion centered on this niche variety.

    Aside from their vibrant color, Pink Lady apples are a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day because the late winter months are when they’re at peak flavor, says Roger Pepperl, Stemilt’s marketing director, noting the versatility the premium apple packs for fresh eating, slicing into salads, or as the star ingredient in a final dessert course for romantic dinners.
     
    “Building large displays and setting up multiple ads for your Pink Lady promotion will bring attention to the produce department during a time of year that is dominated by sweet treats,” explains Pepperl. “Valentine’s Day gives retailers a great opportunity to build sales around Pink Lady, a highly attractive and flavorful apple.”

    The 2010 growing season and harvest produced the best crop of Pink Lady apples Stemilt has seen in recent years. “Pink Lady is the last variety harvested in Washington state, which makes it more susceptible to cold temperatures and frost. This year, the late fall weather was beyond favorable,” declares Pepperl, adding that both organic and conventional Pink Lady apples came off the tree in the right sizes and with phenomenal eating qualities. “There’s no better season, or time of the year, to build consumer interest and excitement around this fantastic apple.”

    Pink Lady apples are recognizable by their vibrant pink color and tangy-sweet flavor. They were discovered in 1973, after researchers from Western Australia’s Department of Agriculture crossed Golden Delicious and Lady Williams apple varieties. Pink Lady was later trademarked and released for commercial production throughout the United States. 

    To highlight both the health attributes of Pink Lady apples and their many culinary uses, Stemilt created a pop-up display bin for the apple back in 2010. The same black-and-pink display is back by popular demand for 2011 promotions. Pink Lady America’s well-known Flowing Heart logo appears across the front of the display along with the catchy slogan ‘Eating healthy, feeling good.’ On the side of the display, Stemilt placed three delicious recipes and health messages. Each display holds up to 80 pounds of bulk fruit or multiple bags. Corresponding POS cards are included with each display to further merchandise the apples in the produce department.

    Pepperl recommends that retailers plan ads on bulk and bagged Pink Lady apples in February, with at least one of those specials on organics. Organic three-pound bags make a great grab-and-go selection for the busy shopper, he sums.

    For more information, visit http://www.stemilt.com

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