In Chef News

La Marina Foods is a treasure trove of fantastical ingredients, inspiring through quality and variety available. We chatted with owner Kirsten Jooste about why she started the company, challenges and highlights of the last year, and trends that she thinks will be big in 2017.

 

I consider the constant discovery and learning of new and amazing products from truly amazing people and interacting with our clients to be a few of the highlights of my career at La Marina. When I started La Marina Foods about 20 years ago, I saw that people were looking for authentic and quality products. We started with 100 products and are currently sitting with over 2500. These products are driven by quality before anything else.

 

The process of sourcing ingredients involves constant awareness of seasonal produce, and knowing where shortages
are due to natural causes. We experiment with brands and test within our market to ensure that we can supply the best possible quality to the client. Sometimes it’s on a trial and error basis but this contributes to fun in our industry. A lot of times, these experiments end up being winning combinations and stay on our list for years.

 

The drought was a massive challenge last year, where not only was there a spike in pricing but also challenges in sourcing products and still ensuring the quality remains the same. I have an amazing and dedicated team at La Marina Foods, though, and their attention to detail and passion for the industry strives through their daily routines.

 

A highlight from last year was the upgrading of La Marina’s factory. We installed a new state-of-the-art ERP system to add to our solar panels, water tanks and generator. Also, some of the highlights were adding more vehicles to our newly branded fleet of trucks. We are in the process of changing the deli slightly for a warmer, more foodie feel.

 

Some of the shifts in buying trends we’ve noticed is that people are more conscious of where they spend their money. Fresh and sustainable are some of the most important buying factors due to the massive online food presence and also, all unique food channels.

 

Notable styles of cooking that will grow in popularity in 2017 will be Asian and Mexican foods, which are growing at a fast rate, plus open fire cooking. I can’t wait to see what amazing flavours and dishes will emerge this year. Ingredient trends that took off in 2016 were Valrhona French Chocolates and Spanish SOSA products. Chefs and home cooks are just loving the variety these two companies offer.

 

As for underrated ingredients, truffle sales have been slow. You don’t necessarily need to import fresh but there is a huge variety of other truffle products available. One of the most amazing truffle products out there is the Truffle Zest we keep. Easy to use and even better to eat. Caviar is also becoming more popular as cost is drastically reduced so all caviar lovers can enjoy the best. This is due to more sustainable farming methods being used.

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