Have a craving for Le Cochon dOr smoked ham from Cap-de-la-Madelene in Quebec? How about some Yarmouth Island lobster hors d’oeuvres or Mama Africa’s Zulu lemon, garlic, jalepeno relish?
Those and thousands of other regional specialties are now being offered by online bookstore giant Amazon.com in its latest move to diversify from its core business of selling books and music.
Amazon launched its gourmet food store this week, offering more than 30,000 regional food items from about 300 merchants, including foods from most states and ethnic offerings from many countries. There are more than 700 different cheeses alone.
Amazon isn’t the first company to go online with gourmet foods; others include epicurious.com and gourmetfoodmall.com. But those names are much less well-known than Amazon’s.
“This is such an incredibly fragmented industry that it makes sense for a large player like Amazon.com to consolidate all of these brands under one store,” said Carrie Johnson of Forrester Research.
Amazon expanded into clothing last November, a venture Johnson said has had mixed success, and is in beta testing to offer sporting goods.
The food products are shipped directly to customers by the merchants selling on Amazon’s Web site.
“Frankly, when their retail partner is doing all the fulfillment of this type of product, which is really where the biggest cost is in gourmet foods, Amazon wins because they only have to sit on the front side of that transaction,” she said.
Amazon’s site includes offerings from large national merchants such as Omaha Steaks and Dean & DeLuca, along with smaller merchants such as Alaska Smokehouse and Sticky Fingers restaurants in the Southeastern United States.
From Minnesota, The Schwan Food Co. of Marshall is offering the more than 350 products available through its home delivery service — items such as chicken Wellington and burgundy peppercorn beef sirloin roast. Watkins Inc. of Winona offers its vanilla extract and 28 other items, and Indian Harvest of Bemidji offers a variety of herb seasonings, mixes for grain-based side dishes and focaccia mixes.
General Mills of Golden Valley sells Cascadian Farm brand products on the site; Austin-based Hormel Foods Corp. sells its Herdez, Patak’s, Peloponnese and House of Tsang brands, and Minneapolis-based Marshall Field’s sells Frango chocolates.