Among the leading challenges facing restaurant and foodservice culinary teams is how to create a recipe for success in 2023. Operators are battling significant obstacles led by a severely depleted labor force and supply chain challenges of being able to procure the foods needed to execute menus.
With that in mind, Nortera, a leading processor of both frozen and canned vegetables, is excited to introduce their Arctic Gardens brand to the foodservice market in the US. The company currently produces vegetables for major private label distributors and retail brands in the United States, the success of its Arctic Gardens brand in home country Canada has inspired Nortera to roll out the innovative line of vegetable products in the American market. Total Food Service spoke to Senior Brand Manager, Marie Eve Ooft and Vice President Sales North America – Foodservice, Kelley Martin about Arctic Gardens’ American roll-out and the product line’s efficiency and flexibility.
Nortera’s Arctic Gardens offering added seven unique and flavorful products: the Romanesco blend, a Kalebanzo blend, a Riced cauliflower and a rice pilaf, a mirepoix, and a slew of roasting vegetables. The brand, explains Ooft, was partly conceptualized to help highlight and showcase on-trend vegetable choices, like their Romanesco blend, which contains delicious heads of Romanesco broccoli alongside colorful carrots and green beans: “the blend is innovative, inspiring, and fulfills our goal of providing chefs with products that are easy to use, ready to cook, and are pre-washed and pre-cut.”
The Arctic Gardens mirepoix, for example, is a testament to the brand’s second focus: making the food preparation process less of a headache for chefs. The pre-prepared French soup and sauce base consisting of finely diced carrots, celery, and onions comes cleaned, peeled and chopped to save busy chefs and foodservice professionals invaluable time and labor.
The benefit of quick preparation and consistent product quality, while initially small, add up, explains Martin: “really all of the Arctic Gardens products help provide easy solutions toward driving labor and cost down.”
Nortera’s state-of-the-art Research and Development team follows market trends to create and develop new innovative solutions. They continuously test Arctic Gardens products to enhance them and provide additional usage recommendations. The team also works in tandem with Marketing to create delicious recipes and how-to videos. Both are featured on the website with a goal to inspire and educate chefs on proper product preparation and help elevate them to fulfill their highest potential. “Every year we add about twenty new recipes to the website,” noted Ooft, “so there are definitely plenty of options available to chefs and restaurateurs in search of inspiration!”
In addition to easing the burden of menu creation for both chefs and restaurateurs, Arctic Gardens also ensures flexibility as restaurants supplement smaller protein portions with more sides or vegetable dishes. “The three criteria that most restaurants are searching for in their products are lower calories, lower sodium, and lower fat,” observed Ooft. As both Americans and restaurants embrace the noticeable shift in dietary habits towards increasing vegetable consumption through the adoption of a vegan, vegetarian, or flexitarian lifestyle, Arctic Gardens continues to expand its pre-made product offerings, now providing chefs with over seventy different products ranging from a seven-bean salad to diced onions. Even better, noted Martin, is that “all of our Arctic Gardens offerings are grown from non-GMO seeds. They are also vegan and vegetarian appealing to a wide and growing audience.”
Being flexible and reliable was a tenet of Nortera’s business ethos during the pandemic and continues to be even as we settle into the current post-pandemic ‘new normal.’ “We actually experienced heightened demand for our frozen and canned products during the pandemic,” remarked Ooft, “primarily due to supply chain issues – we saw a renewed consumer interest in our ability to provide our goods quickly and consistently.” Similarly, Martin added that “as restaurants pared down their menu offerings, shrank their business, and contended with smaller staffs, they needed less expensive and conveniently-sourced products that had longer shelf lives.” Such remains the company’s focus as the economy endures a lengthy period of high inflation and subsequently elevated pricing of goods. Nortera’s pricing is normally locked in for the entire year as Martin put it, so that even if inflation increases during the year, “customers and chefs can still enjoy the same consistent product at the same consistent price determined at the start of the year.”
Nortera’s line of Arctic Gardens products is a clear win for chefs across the nation. Providing flavorful and well-rounded selection of high quality canned and frozen vegetable products, the company ensures restaurateurs receive a consistent and reliable product; “Most consumers,” quipped Martin, “don’t realize that getting from the field to the freezer takes approximately four hours, and by quickly locking in the fresh flavors, textures, and nutritional values, we’re providing a better product that has not been sitting on the grocery store shelf for so long.”
With quickly prepared products and fantastic chef support, menu creation flexibility, and the offer of cost-efficient solutions to combat rising inflation, Nortera looks out for its customers.
For more information regarding Nortera and its line of Arctic Gardens-branded products, visit their website.