The mystery of Mother Nature has proven to be fruitful in more than one way for Dream Foods International. In Sicily, the eruptions of the Mount Etna Volcano in 2003 pushed Dream Foods International from being a one-woman operation selling blood oranges to a company selling award-winning organic juices throughout North America, with accolades from the press.
The history of Dream Foods International begins with the Founder and President, Adriana Kahane, who conceived the idea of her company for a student project while completing her MBA at the University of Southern California. Ms. Kahane was drawn to the citrus orchards surrounding the Mt. Etna volcano in Sicily. It was apparent how the volcanic ash-enriched soil of the land surrounding Mt. Etna nourishes the growth of the citrus trees. In fact, the European Union recognizes this as a special growing region for blood oranges the same way it recognizes special grape-growing regions for wine. In 1999, Ms. Kahane started her business by importing and distributing blood oranges from the Mt. Etna region in Sicily.
Not until 2003 did the forces of Mother Nature push the door open for Dream Foods to expand the business into organic varietal citrus juices. At that time, Mt. Etna erupted beyond its normal activity and the ash damaged the skin of the fresh blood oranges. From this, the opportunity arose to squeeze the blood oranges into juice, which marked the introduction of Italian Volcano® Blood Orange Juice that eventually became a NASFT Silver Sofi Award winner for outstanding beverage.
This juice is made in the traditional manner of the fresh-squeezed Succo di Arancia Rossa as found in Italian cafés. Shortly thereafter, Italian Volcano® Tangerine and Lemon Juices were successfully launched and found their way onto the grocery shelf. Ms. Kahane correctly predicted that the future of the organic food market would keep growing and foresaw organic food consumers to be brand loyal. Today, we see proof of her conviction.
The unexpected and fortunate expansion of Dream Foods’ business into the organic juice market is founded on a complex and interesting process of getting organic juices from Mt. Etna in Sicily to the supermarket shelf in North America. During the picking season, workers arrive at the orchards early in the morning and commence the ritual of getting a campfire started as the first order of business to prepare a perfect place to cook lunch. Then, the workers are ready to carefully hand-pick the fruit. One can see the patience and sense of pride each picker has as they work through the harvest season. They see their work as a part of their culture that partially defines their family’s and country’s history.
There is a saying in Italian, “Chi canta e’ felice,” which means, “He who sings is happy.” During the harvest, you will hear these workers singing while they work throughout the hillsides. When the picking is done, the fruit is brought to the packing house to begin the production process. Because Italian Volcano® Blood Orange, Tangerine and Lemon Juices are strictly 100 percent juice, only the best fruit is discriminately selected to be further processed. At this time, the fruit is then washed and brushed so that it can be processed in extractors. This first filtration allows the juice to be centrifuged to reduce the pulp and then stored in refrigerated stainless steel tanks before being sent to the filling machine.
Dream Foods’ premium juices are matched with quality packaging for the final processing step. Italian Volcano® Juices, Lemonade and Limeade are in glass bottles, which help preserve that fresh-squeezed taste. The new single-serve Italian Volcano® Blood Orange and Tangerine Juices are put into recyclable plastic bottles with UV protection in the labels and a tamper-proof aluminum seal. Volcano Lemon Burst® and Volcano Lime Burst® have a distinctively unique packaging similar to real citrus fruit shapes and a patented cap that sets this product apart from the competition. The finished product is palletized and sets sail for Dream Foods’ warehouses in New Jersey, Florida and California for distribution throughout North America.
Ms. Kahane’s choice of importing and distributing Italian Volcano® Juices was not based solely on their organic characteristics but also on their long history of health benefits. Blood oranges in Sicily were first mentioned in the 17th century. Today, we know that a health benefit from blood orange juice is its high level of antioxidants, which is higher than the levels in traditional blond orange juice. Research also shows that one 8.5oz glass of blood orange juice contains twice the RDA of Vitamin C than blond orange juice. Tangerine juice is a rich blood purifying agent and it has natural antiseptic qualities that defend against the bacteria that spread sepsis in the human body (See: http://bit.ly/dmzAWU).
Dream Foods also saw the chance to fill a tremendous need in the market to sell organic lemon and lime juices in squeeze bottles and to do so under the brand name, Volcano Lemon Burst® and Volcano Lime Burst®. Although the juicing process is the same, it is the patented cap with the lemon or lime zest that gives the juice the essential oils in every squeeze for the great fresh-squeezed smell and taste. Sales data have proven that Volcano Lemon and Lime Bursts® increase category growth by 30 percent. Volcano Bursts® have outsold competitors’ brands that use harsh chemicals as preservatives.
Dream Foods has expanded even further with the introduction of its Italian Volcano® Juice line by adding new single-serve Italian Volcano® Blood Orange and Tangerine Juices. In the growing organic food market, Dream Foods wanted to offer these great tasting and healthy juices in a single-serve option for the organic consumer to conveniently enjoy on the go. This is the same 100 percent pure premium organic Italian Volcano® Blood Orange and Tangerine Juices that are sold in the family size. The interest and immediate acceptance of this product continues to confirm Dream Foods’ early vision of the growth of the organic food market.
Dream Foods also launched its refreshing Italian Volcano® Lemonade and Limeade. The Italian countryside inspired the development of these premium traditional beverages when one summer day in Sicily, Ms. Kahane was traveling among what seemed to be an endless horizon of lemon groves. In this old-fashioned premium lemonade and limeade, the consumer will taste how Dream Foods brought back the essence of this longtime favorite beverage by using organic and simple ingredients to achieve great flavor.
There are no powders, chemicals or preservatives in Italian Volcano® Lemonade and Limeade like in other lemonades and limeades. The three simple ingredients in these products are proportioned in such a way that gives a smooth refreshing flavor and a refined balance of sweet and citrus. Dream Foods has developed in its Italian Volcano® Lemonade and Limeade the same great taste that you find when buying these types of beverages in little kiosks in Sicily where they squeeze the lemons to order by hand. As with the Italian Volcano® Juices, the new Italian Volcano® Lemonade and Limeade have gained immediate nationwide distribution.
Dream Foods has been aware of the importance of its products being organic and kosher. Today, more than ever, there is a synergy between organic and kosher specialty products that health-conscious consumers are requiring. Ms. Kahane stated, “While all of our products were kosher certified, the prestigious OU certification is an important recognition of the quality of our beverages and juices. The certification will help to meet the demand of the growing organic and kosher markets. We are delighted that our consumers will enjoy seeing the OU kosher certification on our entire product line in the first quarter of 2011.”
Rabbi Nosson Neuberger is Orthodox Union Rabbinic Coordinator for Dream Foods International.