Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Tip #269: Celebrate National Almond Buttercrunch Day on June 29



With National Almond Buttercrunch Day at the end of the month, now is the time to make plans to perfect your recipe or introduce this popular confection into your product line. Keep reading for expert tips on how to achieve the signature crunch as well as a formulation worthy of a national holiday.

ALL ABOUT THAT CRUNCH

According to Walter Richmond, author of Choice Confections, this buttery and crunchy treat is “one of the finest confections made.” So how do you get the perfect crunch? This confection’s signature crunch comes from a high cook temperature and the right formulation of ingredients, namely butter and sugar. Typically made by caramelizing sugar with butterfat at a high temperature of 290-300° F. Equally important, the ratio of butter and sugar will have an effect of the grain of the crunch. Richmond recommends 37-42 percent butter and 63-58 percent sugar (nuts excluded) for the confection to gradually become softer and melt in your mouth when eating.

Use the following formulation to adapt this classic recipe in your own candy kitchen.
Click here to download formulation

Maybe it’s the crunch or rich buttery goodness, consumers love buttercrunch enough to honor it with a national holiday. If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of how to make great buttercrunch (or toffee) with consistency or how to make corrections when issues arise, make plans to attends RCI’s upcoming Caramels, Toffees & Brittles course August 15-17, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. Caramels, Toffees & Brittles offers students optimal hands-on learning experience while benefiting from the knowledge and skills presented by confectionery and chocolate experts.

Caramels, Toffees & Brittles is open to both RCI members and non-members. Event organizers encourage those interested to register now, as the course is limited to the first 24 registrants. For detailed course information, visit www.retailconfectioners.org/caramels.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tip #266: Save with Special Offers from Exhibitors at RCI Industry Expo



RCI’s Annual Convention & Industry Expo is right around the corner! If you haven’t done so already, there's still time to join RCI in Cleveland from June 18-22, 2018. Click here to see who’s exhibiting by viewing the expo floor plan which includes exhibiting company descriptions and contact information. Visit retailconfectioners.org/annual for more information and to register to attend.

Not only are industry tradeshows a great opportunity to see new product innovations and connect with suppliers and fellow confectioners, you can also save money on items such as packaging, equipment and ingredients. Many exhibitors will provide show specials just for those who take advantage of placing orders while at the show. For example, you could secure a reduced shipping rate or discounts on the same orders you may place a couple months from now, when the need arises. Keep in mind, most suppliers will allow you to place an order and arrange for later shipping dates so you could even place your Christmas order and know it will arrive at a later arranged date.


As an added incentive, every order placed during RCI’s Industry Expo is entered into a drawing for great prizes provided by exhibitors.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Throwback Tip #11: Make Less Mess with Moulds



Is shaking out excess chocolate from your moulds leaving your work place a mess? Sure, you have parchment paper to catch the chocolate as it falls, but it probably still lands in other undesired places. Dennis Witzel with Linnea's Candy Supplies says a small or medium plastic storage bin can take care of this problem for less than $10. Simply set the tub on your work table and set your mould upside down on edges of the tub, so gravity can drain the chocolate. Be sure the bin has a wide enough opening at the top allowing your mould to easily fit into it. When you are ready to shake the excess chocolate from your mould, place the mould into the tub so as you shake it, all of the chocolate that flies out will land in the tub—not on you, the floor or the table.      

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Use this Trendy Color to Stand Out



Looking for inspiration to launch a new product or add a fresh a new look in your retail shop? Look no further than Pantone’s Color of the Year, Ultra Violet. 

Said to evoke originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking, shades of Ultra Violet are increasingly used in packaging and graphic design by forward-looking brands seeking to stand out, according to The Pantone Color Institute.

 Incorporate Shades of Violet into Products and Merchandising

Since it was first introduced in December, ultra violet has been the inspiration for apparel, cosmetic and home decor brands as well as well-known personalities and artists. Let ultra violet light the way for your product development efforts and even when ordering gift items and other merchandise for your retail shop.

Photos: Disco Strawberries, Spring Flower Lollipops by Sprinkle Bakes
and Blackberry Marshmallows by The Road to Honey
Create cosmic strawberries with metallic violet luster dust or take a more literal approach by incorporating edible violets into your candies, like Sprinkle Bakes (click here for easy lollipop tutorial). For a fresh spin on homemade marshmallows, add blackberry puree to get a natural violet hue (check out recipe).

Party City

Make an Impact with an Ultra Violet Candy Buffet

For maximum impact in your store, group together your favorite ultra violet (and other shades of purple) treats in a candy buffet. Consider adding violet lollipops, foil-wrapped chocolates, Jordan almonds, taffy and jelly beans to create more of a variety.

Gain inspiration from brands like Sephora and Gap for their use of
the color of the year in past product promotions. Images: xrite and Selectism

Create a Color of the Year Promotion

Pantone is recognized globally as the leading source of color information and trend forecasts. If you’re not already familiar with Pantone, there’s a good chance consumers in your community are, especially if your retail shop is near a university. According to an article published on NYTimes.com, “Pantone [has] tremendous influence over the visible elements of the global economy — the parts of it that are designed, manufactured and purchased.”

December is pretty much the Super Bowl for Pantone, after the Color of the Year is officially announced. You can expect consumer products in industries spanning from fashion to home d├ęcor, packaging and beauty products to jump on the bandwagon, why not the candy industry? If this seems like a good fit for your business, now may be a good time to identify these consumers.

Pantone’s color of the year could just be the spark of inspiration you need for a new product launch or fresh merchandising plan. Have you ever used Pantone’s color of the year as inspiration in your business? If so, please share in the comments below.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Throwback Tip #9: Use Google Alerts



Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your business online. Be sure you’re aware of any online coverage your business receives by setting up Google Alerts. Using this free tool, you will be alerted via email when your business name or the name of a competitor shows up in Google results.

Creating Google Alerts is simple and you don’t have to have a Google account to use this free tool. Go to google.com/alerts to get started. In the search query field, enter the term(s) of which you wish to receive notifications. For the purposes discussed here, enter your business name in this field. You must create one alert at a time, but you can create multiple alerts (e.g., one for your business name and one for your signature product’s name).

To customize the delivery of your alerts, select “show options” before creating your alert. Here you will be able to select your preferences when it comes to the frequency of your notifications and the sources for alerts (e.g., news, blogs, videos and more). For greater accuracy, you may choose to limit alerts to only best results.

Now you can be in the know when your business is being talked about online!

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Tip #264: Celebrate Christmas in July


Do stagnant summer sales leave you longing for Christmas (well, maybe, minus the crazy schedule)? If so, you’re not alone. Blame it on the heat, summer vacations and the lack of major holidays, if you’re in the retail industry it’s no surprise summer is likely going to be a slow season (unless your business is in a tourism location).

A summertime spin on Christmas, could be a great opportunity for your business to heat things up this summer! Get the most out of your Christmas in July promotions by meeting these three objectives.

Photos: Dallas News
STAND OUT & INCREASE SALES
You wouldn’t expect to hear Christmas carols or see Santa posing for photos in board shorts and a Hawaiian shirt in the peak of summer. Make your business stand out by hosting a Christmas party in July, complete with a sampling of your favorite Christmas treats, giveaways, live music and Santa in his vacation attire.

GENERATE NEW CUSTOMERS
A study published by Adobe Digital shows repeat customers spend 25% more per transaction during the holiday rush, compared to a new customer who spends only 15% more during the holiday season.To help convert new customers into return customers, CaffeineInteractive.com suggests offering those who make a purchase during your Christmas in July promotion, a discount on future purchases between Black Friday and New Year’s Day. Consider keeping a separate email list for these customers, to send them a coupon just before Black Friday.

REWARD LOYAL CUSTOMERS
Celebrate loyal customers by throwing a Christmas-themed customer appreciation party or offering a free gift for shopping in July. Shopkeep recommends inviting loyal customers to a flash sale in their honor and offering additional incentives for bringing a friend. Spread the word by sending invitations with details via email or snail mail.

Creating memorable shopping experiences for new and return customers may help pad more than just your summer sales. Kathy Allen of the National Retail Federation told USA Today, “When the holiday season does come, maybe that person who had a wonderful experience shopping in July remembers to come back, and will spend their holiday dollars there, or their Halloween dollars or their birthday dollars.” Do you celebrate Christmas in July? If so, share your ideas in the comments below.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Throwback Tip #230: Refresh Your FSMA Knowledge


It has been seven years since the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law, which also means if you manufacture food and operate with less than $1 million in sales, September 17, 2018 is the deadline to comply with the FDA's regulations. This week's tip offers a refresher on FSMA and its requirements in an excerpt from an article written by Michael Koch of Morley Candy Makers/Sanders Candy for RCI's Kettle Talk magazine.
Click here for further clarification on compliance dates.
WHAT IS FSMA?
FSMA was designed to shift the focus on food safety from responding to contamination issues to a more proactive approach of preventing contamination before it happens. Through the passing of this law the FDA has gained more leverage in its ability monitor and control the safety of our food supply chain.

In September of 2015 the FDA published its "Preventive Controls for Human Food" guidelines. As part of FSMA, it outlines the mandatory requirements being placed on all food manufacturers to have and implement a written food safety plan.

Before putting a plan together, first, identify the individual or individuals in your organization that are going to administer your program. FSMA requires that your plan be written and managed by a qualified individual. Currently the only way to verify that an individual is qualified is to have your food safety administrator attend a certification course.

IDENTIFY HAZARDS

Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) is a documented food safety program that you need to develop and implement for your facility. The first step toward developing a HARPC is to conduct a hazard analysis for every food product you handle in your facility—this is not limited to the items that you manufacture. The second step is to put in place preventive controls for each food product to ensure it will not become contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

VERIFY PLAN’S EFFECTIVENESS

Verifying the effectiveness of your plan ensures preventive controls are consistently implemented and sufficient. Verification includes evaluating the accuracy of process monitoring, calibrating instruments, such as thermometers, and reviewing records to verify monitoring and corrective actions are completed. Product testing and environmental monitoring by a certified third party are also reliable verification methods.

CREATE RECALL PROCEDURES
Your plan must contain details on your recall procedures. If a contaminated product is shipped, you must be able to identify where the product has gone and have the ability to perform a recall. A recall plan should include the procedures for identifying the contaminated product. Having important contact information in the plan will help move the process forward. Contacts should include the local health department, local FDA office, news media and anyone else that you may deem important to the process.

FSMA covers a much greater spectrum of the food chain and more details than covered in this brief post. The realm of information and procedures that you are responsible for also cover such things as your supply chain management, good manufacturing practices, corrective actions and etc. The FSMA is no small task and it is designed to protect the consumer from obtaining contaminated products.

In order to operate a successful candy making business, it is essential that you are knowledgeable on federal regulations and take the proper action to ensure you are in compliance with FSMA guidelines. Click here for more resources and updates.          

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Surprising Tool to Keep Colored Cocoa Butter in Temper


Using an airbrush to apply colored cocoa butter to your chocolate moulds can help create a dramatic effect. But if you are using several colors at once, it may seem like a juggling act to keep them all in proper temper. 

RCI member, Brian Donaghy with Tomric Systems, Inc, says although colored cocoa butter usually arrives tempered, it is important to heat it slowly and then hold the cocoa butter in a 90℉ environment. Brian recommends using a yogurt maker to retain the temperature over time and help ensure the cocoa butter doesn't lose temper.



With lots of options available online, most ranging in price from $29-$60, this piece of equipment could prevent your airbrushed chocolates from having a dull finish or sticking to the moulds.

Stay connected with RCI through Facebook for more tips and inspiration dedicated to the retail candy maker. Not a member? Click here to learn how RCI can help you build your sweet business.