‘Tis the season to indulge, and at Westco Foods, we’re bringing you a feast-worthy range that will have your taste buds doing a happy dance! This month, we’re turning up the heat in the kitchen with a sizzling selection of premium hams and succulent turkeys. Get ready to elevate your holiday spread!
HAM-tastic Deals: Unwrap the Flavour!
Our hams are not just any hams – they’re showstoppers! Juicy, flavourful, and oh-so-tender, Westco Foods’ hams are the secret ingredient to a holiday meal that will leave your guests begging for seconds. Whether you’re a fan of classic glazed hams or adventurous flavours like honey Dijon, we’ve got the perfect ham for every taste bud. Plus, with our unbeatable prices, you can stock up for all your festive gatherings without a second thought.
Turkey Triumph: Gobble, Gobble, Gone!
If your holiday table isn’t complete without a golden, crispy-skinned turkey, then you’re in for a treat. Our premium turkeys are the epitome of perfection – plump, juicy, and ready to take centre stage at your holiday feast. From whole turkeys to turkey breasts, we’ve got the options to suit your celebration, big or small.
A Guide To Understanding Food Labels: Making Informed Choices
In today’s fast-paced world, making informed food choices is crucial for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The first step towards achieving this is deciphering food labels. Understanding food labels empowers you to identify the nutritional content, ingredients, and potential allergens in the products you buy. In this guide, we’ll explore how to decode food labels, helping you make informed decisions and prioritize your well-being.
The Nutrition Facts Panel
The Nutrition Facts Panel is one of the most critical components of a food label. Located on the back or side of most packaged foods, this panel provides essential information about the product’s nutritional content per serving. Pay close attention to the following elements:
Serving Size: This indicates the recommended serving size for the product, which allows you to understand the nutritional values accurately.
Calories: The number of calories per serving helps you manage your daily intake.
Nutrients: Look for information on fats, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fibre, sugars, and protein. It is essential to be mindful of your intake of these nutrients.
Vitamins and Minerals: Some labels include information on vitamins and minerals, which can be beneficial for assessing your daily intake.
The ingredient list is located just below the Nutrition Facts Panel and provides a breakdown of all the components in the product, listed in descending order by weight. Keep in mind the following:
Read Carefully: Be on the lookout for added sugars, unhealthy fats, artificial additives, and high levels of sodium.
Allergens: The ingredient list will highlight common allergens such as milk, eggs, nuts, wheat, and soy. This is crucial for individuals with food allergies.
Health Claims and Buzzwords
Food labels often display various health claims and buzzwords like “natural,” “organic,” and “low-fat.” It’s essential to understand what these terms mean:
Organic: Foods labelled as “organic” are grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Look for the official USDA Organic seal.
Natural: The FDA’s definition of “natural” is vague, and products may contain artificial ingredients despite the label. Rely on the ingredient list for a clear picture.
Low-fat, Low-sugar, etc.: These claims may sound promising, but always verify the actual numbers on the Nutrition Facts Panel to ensure the product aligns with your dietary needs.
Understanding Food Additives
Food additives are substances added to food during processing to enhance flavour, texture, or appearance. Some additives are safe, while others may cause adverse reactions in certain individuals. Common additives include preservatives, artificial colours, and flavours. Familiarise yourself with the different types of additives and their potential effects.
The ‘Best Before’ Date
Every packaged food item comes with a “best before” or “use by” date. This date indicates the period during which the product is at its best quality. Consuming foods past this date might not be harmful, but the quality and taste may have degraded.
Understanding food labels is an essential skill that enables you to make informed choices about the food you consume. By paying attention to the Nutrition Facts Panel, ingredient list, health claims, and food additives, you can take charge of your health and well-being. As you become more familiar with food labels, you’ll find it easier to select products that align with your dietary preferences and nutritional needs. By prioritising your health, you can embark on a journey of conscious eating and overall well-being.
Understanding the factors behind the rises (and occasional price drops!).
Meat, known as the world’s most popular source of protein, is often perceived as a luxury dietary option. The prices of meat products can fluctuate significantly, influenced by a range of factors that shape the global meat market. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for consumers, producers, and policymakers alike. In this article, we will explore the various factors that contribute to the rise and fall of meat prices, shedding light on recent trends and their implications for the Trinidadian marketplace.
Global Price Trends
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, global lamb and beef prices experienced a decline towards the end of 2022 but have been steadily rising since the beginning of 2023. While they have not yet reached the all-time highs observed last year, the upward trajectory of meat costs contrasts with the downward trend in non-meat food prices during the same period. The poultry industry, in particular, has been severely affected, grappling with bird-flu pandemics that forced breeders out of business and increased the cost of health management in surviving flocks.
Production Cycles and Demand-Supply Mismatch
The production of meat operates on long cycles, varying from months for the likes of chicken, to up to three to four years for beef. This means that sudden increases in demand cannot be easily met by producers, resulting in significant price jumps. Even during periods of stable demand, when supplies are low, dealers must outbid each other to secure supply, further driving up prices.
When demand and supply are more balanced, producers and processes can make good efficiency improvements and offer better prices. However, it isn’t long before the balance is tipped, and the meat industry scrambles to adjust. Maybe it means finding new regions of supply, arranging different transport routes, etc.
Dependency on Animal Feed
The cost of animal feed, largely dependent on grain prices, plays a critical role in meat production. Increases in fertilizer costs directly affect grain prices, leading to higher expenses for animal feed. The global increase in both fertilizer and grain prices, triggered by factors like Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has had a knock-on effect on the cost of meat production. Although these input costs have now started to recede, the repercussions continue to affect meat prices.
Transportation and Storage Costs
Transportation and storage expenses, including fuel and energy for freezer units, impact meat prices. During periods of reduced demand, suppliers may need to quickly sell off meat to prevent rising energy bills and product spoilage. Conversely, when demand surges, the costs of transportation and storage can contribute to higher meat prices.
Pork Industry Challenges
The largest European pig farmers have been grappling with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of many pork processors. These disruptions caused lost production and missed breeding programs, creating challenges for the pork industry as it works towards recovery. The lingering effects of these challenges are still impacting prices globally, however, at Westco Foods we’re doing all we can to bring you the best value pork.
Meat prices fluctuate due to a multitude of factors that influence the global meat market. Supply and demand dynamics, production cycles, feed costs, energy prices, government policies, currency exchange rates, and seasonal demand variations such as Christmas all play a role in shaping meat prices. Understanding these factors and their interplay is essential for consumers and those in the hospitality trade. By staying informed about the drivers behind price fluctuations, buyers can make more informed decisions regarding meat consumption and adapt to changing market conditions.
Westco Foods put a lot of effort into sourcing quality meats at affordable prices. Wherever we can, we pass on the savings we make to our valued customers.
You can get the best up-to-date price on meat products by adding your product to the quote list and submitting online. You’re welcome to contact our sales reps for advice on getting the best meat deals currently available.
We can’t wait to serve you quality products at great prices! Our goal is not only to support Trinidad with healthy food choices but you as well, our island neighbours. Let Westco Foods be your new one-stop food distributor – from meat to fries and condiments to food containers, we have all you need.
We can now export to Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, and St Vincent.
Improving Frozen Food Standards Through Targeted Investment
Frozen food hygiene is essential, right?
At Westco we match our talk with our walk having invested heavily recently in fully climate-controlled loading bays to ensure your meats and foods remain frozen until delivered to you!
Quality Assurance From Order Picking To Your Door
At Westco Foods our freezers and food chillers are monitored for temperature 24/7 as part of our strong focus on food safety and hygiene which has made us a trusted supplier to well-recognised restaurants throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
From our walk-in freezers to the temperature-controlled delivery vehicles, the importance of the supply chain is paramount for us. The refurbished loading bays bring efficiency by allowing food orders to be organised ahead of collection or delivery without thawing out.
We have included some images here of the step-by-step journey as we refurbished the building.
Westco Gives You Quality Foods – Guaranteed
Our range of frozen foods is sourced with a focus on quality and consistency so that customers can count on receiving high-quality products on time. When your customers are happy then everyone is happy!
We regularly gather feedback and react to the emerging trends and needs in food service for hotels, restaurants, fast-food eating houses, and supermarkets.
Why Do Prices and Stock Availability of Frozen Foods Vary So Much?
What is the Real Reason Food Prices and Stocks Vary?
A question like this is on the lips of many Westco clients as hospitality comes back to life and the country begins to shake off the paralysing effects of a pandemic that has gripped the globe for the past 2 years. Here we outline some key factors in the equation.
The food and drink trade plays an important part in all our lives from the weekly shop to the restaurant and as Trinidad & Tobago relies heavily on imported foods, Westco, and other suppliers like us, have been faced with not only the challenges that were present before but also new and more significant ones.
In this blog, we seek to sum up a few of these challenges to help our customers, and the population at large, understand the reason behind increasing prices.
Currency Swings and How This Influences Prices
As most frozen food is imported from the USA, Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other nations that have to be paid in either their currency or USD, foreign exchange rates have a significant impact on the cost of the food to the end-user.
It is important to understand the relationship of the Trinidad and Tobago Dollar (TTD) to other currencies in the FOREX market. The TTD is a floating exchange rate against the USD.
Here we have shown a graph showing the February 2021 – February 2022 fluctuations between the TTD and USD and a live chart showing an up to date average rate for the TTD against 4 major currencies.
This graphically shows just how much variation there has been, and this directly impacts frozen food product prices as they are primarily imported, and overseas suppliers need to be paid in foreign currency.
This goes some way to explaining why imported food products like beef, salted fish, pigtails, and other products, can be quite noticeably up or down in price from one week to the next, month to month or year to year.
Some links here help with explaining the T&T Central Bank’s role in regulating the currency and what a floating exchange rate is:
There will always be peaks and troughs in demand related to seasonal events – like turkey being in demand for Christmas time, fish and seafood in the Lent season and other such factors.
These events are not only local but put an increased demand, on a somewhat fixed supply, on global food suppliers.
It also can’t be denied that Trinidad and Tobago are not the largest markets in the world for popular lines – a good example being popcorn chicken – if a market the size of Japan, for example, wants this US-made product, it is, unfortunately, going to get preference over our Islands.
At Westco Foods we have had a few conversations with you, our customers, about this hugely popular product – we simply can’t satisfy high demand because of lack of supply.
Unfortunately, COVID has exacerbated this challenge as workers have had to self-isolate in factories with some facilities being forced to close as the workforce was decimated. This then has led to a reduction in supply when the demand remains which drives the price up due to the economic law of scarcity.
Stockpiling food products ahead of anticipated demand, by buying at lower ‘off peak’ prices, rarely offers a viable answer to volatile prices because of the issue of expiry dates on food products and other health and food regulations.
The Role of Logistics
Along with the sheer destructive effect of the pandemic on actual food production facilities and companies, there is a considerable shortage of shipping containers in recent times. This has led to both a spike in prices and delays in shipping, the problem is at its worst with Asia, but is affecting food products being shipped from Europe as well.
Nils Haupt, of Hapag-Lloyd shipping, commented on the Ship Technology website:
“We are desperately looking for more capacity,” he says. “We are asking our customers to return empty containers earlier. We looked at containers that are currently in repair or ones which are meant to be sold because they have reached a certain age.
With the exit of Britain from the EU trading area there are now extra customs checks and paperwork because of Brexit affecting goods from the UK; particularly if goods are, for example, shipped on the route: Hull – Rotterdam – Port Of Spain.
Our Commitment – Quality Foods And Fair Pricing
These factors amount to a challenging time for the food and drink trade but at Westco Foods we are rising to this challenge in innovative ways.
Our customers are allocated a dedicated sales representative to discuss your requirements and ensure that they get the best quality frozen food products, on time, and at a reasonable price. This gives a reassuring and reactive point of contact focused on anticipating and meeting your needs, so you have less supply chain headaches.
We promise to always charge competitive fair prices for quality products to the foodservice and hospitality trades.
Amazing French Fries – 3 Ways to Make the Best French Fries Ever!
3 Ways to Make the Best French Fries Ever!
Are you craving those restaurant-style French Fries at home or just want to make some incredible fries for the family? We have some helpful tips and 3 different ways to cook french fries that are irresistible and will make you want more!
We all know that the common way to fry french fries (and disputed by some as the best and only way to cook them!) is to fry them in oil, otherwise known as ‘deep fat frying’. This is where the name comes from! But how about 2 other healthier ways? Yes! You can enjoy that amazing crunch and texture without all the oil by using either the oven or the newest method, air frying which requires no oil!
Let’s take a look at all three methods below and the Pros and Cons.
Deep Fat Frying Method
As the name suggests, this is the method of frying your fries, or in the UK and Europe ‘Chips’, in oil or lard. This can be done with a dedicated deep fat fryer or with a pot over a stove or open fire.
Taste of Home recommends that french fries should be blanched first at 325 ℉ for 3 to 4 minutes and then fried at 400℉ for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
The advantages of using the traditional method of deep frying your fries are:
You get that traditional crispy texture.
This is the fastest method.
The flavour tends to be just that little bit more tasty than other methods.
The disadvantages of deep frying are:
Not as healthy as there is saturated fats and oils.
Oil must be disposed of once used.
Can be messy and the oil vapours and smells can penetrate the house.
The Oven Method
For the more health-conscious eater, the oven is a perfect method to get those delightful crispy french fries without all the oil and saturated fats.
This method requires a bit more time and a few steps to make sure you get the best results, but your body will thank you for it later!
Preheat your oven to 350℉ before you start to ensure that your fries have the best chance. Do not thaw your fries. Once the oven is preheated, place the frozen fries directly on an open baking rack. Placing them on a rack allows for air to flow around the fries for an even and crispy cook on all sides. Do not stack the fries, but make sure they are evenly spread in a single layer. Put into your preheated oven and cook till golden brown! It is as simple as that.
The advantages of the oven method for fries:
No Oil, so much heathier
An oven is a basic household appliance, so readily available to use.
No mess to clean up. No oil splatters etc.
Disadvantages of the oven method:
If not done right, you can have soggy fries.
Will take longer than traditional deep frying.
Takes up the whole oven for larger quantities of fries so you cannot cook two things at once.
The Air Fryer Method
As we have said already, this is the new kid on the block! What if we told you that it was possible to have the deep-fried crisp and texture without any of the extra oil and unhealthy bits? Yes! That IS what we are saying!
Air Fryers use extreme heat and air circulation to replicate the deep-fried result without any oil. Simply switch on the fryer, follow the instruction in the fryer manual for the french fries, put the fries in and wait for the magic to happen! Yes, we have tried this, and we definitely recommend it!
Advantages of using the air fryer method for french fries:
Like the oven, no oils and extra saturated fats.
No mess and splatter.
Quicker than the oven, 15-20 mins and you have beautiful crispy fries.
Deep fried texture with the health benefits of the oven method.
Disadvantages of the air fryer method:
Takes a bit longer than traditional deep frying.
Does not have the flavour of deep-fried fries.
Which is the Best Method for Cooking French Fries?
All three of these methods can give extremely good results. It comes down to your personal preference and how worried you are about your health!
We recommend the air fryer method as you get the best of both worlds: Healthy and Nice Fried Texture.
How Do I Make my Fries Tastier?
So, as you will note, one of the downsides of using the oven or air fryer method is the lack of that deep-fried flavour, which comes from the oil and fats which are bad for your health!
But does this mean you have to sacrifice flavour for the healthy option? We say No! Below we share a few tips to help you add a little pizzaz to your healthy fries!
Always salt your fries while they are still hot from the oven. The salt will stick to your fries better when they are fresh out of the oven.
Put your cooked fries in a bowl, salt to your preference, then cover the bowl with a plate and shake or toss to coat all the fries evenly.
Still too bland? Why not add some chili powder, geera (cumin), Black pepper or seasoning of your choice to spice things up and give you your own unique fry flavour.
If doing a meal, cook your fries last so that they go straight to your guests. This way, they will have the crispiest fries possible!
Recommended French Fries
Ready to cook some fries? We have a list of products below that Westco stocks to make sure you have the best fries possible!