Monthly Archives: April 2013

Safeway Names Next CEO

Safeway Inc. announced that Robert L. Edwards, currently the company’s President, will succeed Steven A. Burd as Chief Executive Officer when Burd retires as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on May 14, 2013. Edwards, 57, will also join the company’s board of directors.

Safeway also announced that T. Gary Rogers, currently the company’s Lead Independent Director, will become Non-Executive Chairman upon Burd’s retirement.

Read more at Food & Food Equipment News.

Pennsylvania Grocers Fight for a Share of Alcohol Sales

By Lorrie Baumann

Pennsylvania grocers and convenience stores are fighting for privatization of the state’s alcohol sales under a proposal that has passed the state House. The proposal to privatize alcohol sales has the support of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett but faces opposition from Democrats in the state Senate.

Pennsylvania has some of the nation’s strictest controls on liquor sales. Under current law, sales of packaged spirits are restricted to liquor stores controlled by the Pennsylvania liquor control board and to delis and restaurants that serve food as well. Wines are also sold in winery shops, and beer may only be purchased from a restaurant, bar, licensed beer store, or distributor. Beverage distributors may be licensed to sell beer and malt liquor, but not wine or hard liquor. Utah is the only other state in the country with such a state monopoly on liquor sales.

Supermarkets are fighting for a share of that business, and the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, which represents them, is supporting a bill just passed by the Pennsylvania House that would expand liquor sales in the state from the state-controlled stores into the hands of privately-owned merchants. Under the bill being considered now by the Pennsylvania Senate, the state stores would be gradually phased out as new licensees began selling more of the liquor sold in each county.

The state’s existing beer distributors would have first crack at the new liquor licenses. After a year, new entrepreneurs would have a chance to purchase liquor licenses. The bill would also give grocery stores that have a restaurant license the ability to sell beer and wine.

The PFMA argues that the few supermarkets that already have licenses to sell alcohol in restaurants or delis attached to their stores are doing an exemplary job of making sure that alcohol isn’t getting into the hands of minors, and that they provide safe, clean and convenient places for adults to purchase alcoholic beverages. “These companies offer visually appealing displays, competitive prices and well-trained associates to assist shoppers,” said David McCorkle, PFMA president and CEO.

The association recently polled members who currently have a license to sell alcohol in Pennsylvania and found those companies have policies in place to ensure the lawful sale of adult beverages. Procedures followed by these stores include the following:

  • Cashiers and other store personnel receive training through the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), a training program created by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to help licensees and their employees sell alcohol responsibly. This training gives store associates knowledge on spotting fake ID’s and acceptable forms of identification; spotting and dealing with intoxicated customers, and all aspects of the Pennsylvania liquor code.
  • Many stores have a 100 percent age verification policy, so that they card every person who wants to make an adult beverage purchase.
  • Identification is visually inspected and scanned through the register to verify the buyer’s age.
  • Store cafés and restaurants are under video surveillance.

Opponents of expanded liquor sales argue that the expansion of liquor sales into new venues will create more opportunities for underage consumption resulting from thefts of alcohol products from poorly monitored retail stores. They cite a National Institutes of Health study showing that four underage participants from a sample group of 47 had stolen alcohol and that about a dozen of the 47 study participants knew that their friends had stolen alcohol on some occasion. The study suggests that, “Theft of alcohol from commercial sources may be reduced by examining the weaknesses of existing theft prevention practices, and revising store policies.”

“Theft for these products is not any more prevalent than any other product in the stores,” McCorkle said. “Supermarket and convenience stores are very familiar with selling age-restricted products. They regularly sell them in other states where they comply with the law and shoppers enjoy the convenience of purchasing adult beverages along with their groceries.”

Privatization of liquor sales could raise $800 million in new tax revenues for the state, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The governor wants to direct that money to public schools for early-childhood education, school safety, individual learning, and science, technology, engineering, and math programs. The bill is opposed by the union that represents the state liquor store clerks.

Fresh Spanish Calçots Available for Pre-Order at LaTienda.com

Spanish gourmet food retailer LaTienda.com announces a new addition to its line of fresh produce: the calçot. “We have seen such a dramatic response to our seasonal offerings of fresh padrón peppers, judias verdes (beans) and gernika peppers, and we are thrilled to branch out even further with new lines of fresh produce,” noted President Jonathan Harris. “The farmer’s markets in Spain bustle with fresh vegetables like these and it is wonderful to bring them to our customers here in the U.S.”

La Tienda’s calçots are U.S. grown and are harvested fresh from the farm. They may be ordered online and are then shipped on a first-come, first-served basis. Hundreds of people have already signed up to be notified when the first crop of calçots arrives.

Similar to a green onion, though milder in taste, the calçots (pronounced “kal-sotes”) are specifically tended so that the lower portion of the stalk is protected by from exposure to sunlight. When harvested in the early spring, calçots are grilled over smoking vine clippings, tinder or charcoal. Eaten one at a time, the steaming, charred exterior of the onion is peeled away to reveal a sweet, tender heart – perfect to dip into romesco sauce: a traditional blend of tomatoes, red peppers, almonds, garlic, olive oil and vinegar.

Calçot season is celebrated in the region of Cataluña, Spain with festivals known as calçotada, the most famous of which takes place in Valls. People gather to eat the tasty calçots, and then continue the feast with grilled meats, sausages, red wine from a porrón, and then finish the meal with the classic dessert: crema catalana.

Frontier Soups Introduces Gluten-Free Enchilada Soup Mix

Frontier Soups™ is aiming to satisfy consumers’ yen for more assertive tastes and appetite for culinary adventure with its new all natural and gluten-free Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup Mix. The soup may be tasted at the Summer Fancy Food Show June 30-July 2 at booth 4120.

The soup draws its name in part from the mix’s colorful ingredients with golden yellow corn and red peppers displayed in the clear packaging like the bold colors of an Arizona sunset for point-of-purchase appeal, said Trisha Anderson, Founder of Frontier Soups.  “Our customers have shown they are hungry for more assertive flavors by making our South of the Border Tortilla Soup the best seller in the Homemade-In-Minutes line, and the enchilada soup builds on that success,” Anderson said.  “Our mission is to ensure our soups remain current with taste trends, yet still faithful to the regional American recipes on which our brand is based.  So we are drawing on America’s rich immigrant heritage for inspiration, which also gave rise to our goulash and Italian wedding soup.”

The new enchilada soup expands the Homemade-In-Minutes™ line of soup mixes and features a southwestern flavor profile with the warmth of chili seasonings and epazote, a spice used in many traditional Mexican dishes, she said.  The soup mix is rich with navy beans, sweet potato, onion, red and green bell peppers and corn.  Home cooks add cooked chicken, salsa verde or green chile enchilada sauce, and shredded cheese.  With a nod to the creamy sauce of a classic enchilada Suiza, sour cream may be added as an optional variation, Anderson said.  The new soup has a suggested retail price of $5.95.

Laboratory testing by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Food Allergy Research & Resource Program at the University of Nebraska verifies that the gluten content in the enchilada soup and 27 other gluten-free mixes is below the level of quantification.  They also have met all the requirements of the Celiac Sprue Association® Recognition Seal Program, Anderson said.

Homemade-In-Minutes soup mixes serve four to six, typically cooking in about 30 minutes.  Frontier Soups Hearty Meal™ soups can feed a crowd with eight to 10 servings.  The soup mixes are all natural with no added salt, preservatives or MSG, and 28 are gluten-free, while 11 are vegetarian or can be prepared vegetarian with simple ingredient adaptations or omissions.

Suggested retail prices for Homemade-In-Minutes and Hearty Meal soup mixes are $5.95 and $6.95 respectively.  More information is available by calling 800-300-SOUP (7687) or online at www.FrontierSoups.com.

Chobani’s New Plant Named “Plant Of The Year” By Food Engineering

Chobani was honored with Food Engineering‘s ‘Plant of the Year’ award for its state-of-the-art facility in Twin Falls, IdahoOpened on December 17, 2012, the Twin Falls facility was built in just 326 days following a $450 million investment. At nearly one million square feet, the Twin Falls plant is the largest yogurt manufacturing facility in the world, and its construction solidifies Chobani’s commitment to manufacturing and revolutionizing the food industry in America.

The Food Engineering award celebrates the most innovative new food or beverage plant built in North America each year. Chobani broke ground on the 200-acre site in December 2011.

Growing demand for Chobani Greek Yogurt and desire to bring new product innovations to market led Chobani to build the plant on an accelerated timeline. No other yogurt plant compares to the Twin Falls facility in size, scale, technology, flexibility and efficiency.

“It’s like we always say—if you want to make it in America, make it in America,” said Hamdi Ulukaya, President, Founder and CEO of Chobani. “Our $450 million Twin Falls plant underscores our commitment to investing in American manufacturing and will help us bring consumers even more ways to enjoy delicious authentic yogurt.”

As Chobani continues to grow, so does the Twin Falls plant. The facility is sized to accommodate 14 production lines, 11 million pounds of milk daily, and with infrastructure for future expansion.

Angry Orchard Cider House Collection Launches Nationwide

The cider makers at the Angry Orchard Cider Company have been hard at work on a new project – The Cider House Collection – and have just put the finishing touches on a new batch of specialty ciders that they’re releasing nationally this week.  Angry Orchard Iceman,™ inspired by traditional Quebec ice ciders, and Angry Orchard Strawman®, a farmhouse cider, are the result of experimentation with apple varieties, wood-aging techniques and fermentation methods.  Both styles will be hitting shelves across the country this week.

“With Angry Orchard Iceman and Strawman, we put our own spin on ancient cider styles, using cider making techniques that we’ve developed over the past 15 years. To come up with these recipes, we’ve been tinkering with apple blends and fermentation methods,” said David Sipes, cider maker for Angry Orchard.  “Over the past year, there’s been a renewed interest in hard cider in the U.S. and drinkers are exploring ciders like never before. With the Cider House Collection, our drinkers can experience our interpretation of these largely unknown cider styles.”

About Angry Orchard Iceman & Angry Orchard Strawman:
Both complex, wood-aged ciders, Strawman and Iceman, are made with heirloom apples from Italy, where the terroir significantly influences the flavor of apple varietals, and France, where apples unique to cider making have been cultivated for centuries.  The ciders each have unique effervescent qualities and are served in individual, 750ml corked bottles. With higher alcohol content, warm flavors and more body, both ciders complement a variety of foods and are perfect for special drinking occasions or for sharing with a friend over dinner.

Angry Orchard Strawman was influenced by centuries-old European farmhouse cider making techniques. Our team sought the perfect blend of apples and a unique fermentation and aging process to create our own version of a farmhouse cider with an earthy, yet subtly sweet flavor profile,” said Sipes.  “For Angry Orchard Iceman, we took cues from the traditional ice ciders of Quebec, creating a cider that is both delicate and sweet.”

  • Angry Orchard Strawman’s (10.0 percent ABV) ripe apple, vanilla and honeysuckle flavors impart an earthy character complemented by a distinct aroma of ripe apples, wood, dark fruits and sweet citrus. Strawman’s earthy characteristics help cut through the fats and proteins of farmhouse cheeses like cheddar, and also pair well with seafood dishes, like salmon or tuna, with its dark fruit, wood and citrus notes.  Strawman is aged on wood with toasted qualities to add to the traditional earthy farmhouse flavors of the cider and with notes of vanilla to help balance this cider’s funky characteristics.  Its complex, earthy, slightly herbal taste is akin to that of a dry, southern hemisphere Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Riesling.
  • Angry Orchard Iceman (10.0 percent ABV) features flavors of crisp apples with notes of caramel and toffee for a cider that’s sweet, but not cloying, and slightly effervescent to enhance aroma.  The wood aging process imparts notes of vanilla for a smooth finish. Iceman is made by freezing apple juice prior to fermentation, resulting in concentrated sugars and deeper, richer flavors. This well-balanced cider pairs perfectly with delicate flavors like those found in foie gras and cured meats, while its smooth vanilla character compliments creamy, sweet French cheeses like Mimolette or a double cream Camembert.  Iceman’s warm taste, with vanilla and honey characteristics, is similar to a Sauternes or Muscat wine.

Dominex LC Acquired by Westin Foods to form Dominex Natural Foods

Westin Foods announced that effective April 1, it has expanded its Health and Wellness division by acquiring a majority interest in Dominex, LC, of St. Augustine, Fla. This acquisition will bring about the creation of Dominex Natural Foods.

Scott Carlson, CEO of Westin Foods stated, “Our mission is to continue to provide our consumers and retail clients with consistent, high-quality, good-for-you food products and services. This is the philosophy Westin Foods was founded upon and is known throughout the food industry. We are excited about the opportunity to grow the health and wellness segment of our business and are confident about the many great opportunities ahead.”

“While Westin Health and Wellness has a long and ever present commitment to health and wellness via its Superberries food brand, Dominex brings to the table another loyal customer base, both consumer and retail. Dominex currently offers quality vegan and vegetarian eggplant appetizers and entrées which allow us to expand our presence in the retail and foodservice arena.” Brad Poppen, COO of Westin Foods.

For more than 25 years, Dominex has been the leader in eggplant-based food offerings for the retail, foodservice, club and ingredient channels nationwide. Dominex offers a diverse array of all-natural, vegetarian frozen items, spanning from its signature line of eggplant cutlets to its unique meatless options, “Veggie Fries” and Parm Bites.  Dominex is available to consumers in over 4,000 retail and natural food stores nationwide, and to foodservice customers via its national network of distributors.

The formation of Dominex Natural Foods brings about opportunities for Dominex to create additional brand momentum while keeping its 25-year legacy intact. “Dominex has a very loyal customer base who appreciates the gourmet, all-natural, convenience of our product line,” noted John G. McGarvey, President of Dominex and new President of Dominex Natural Foods. “In the months ahead, we will be launching an innovative line extension that will join our brand’s legacy with the expertise of Westin Foods to deliver delicious products that will incorporate vegetables beyond eggplant. Our customers are going to love what we have in store.”

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.  The company will be headquartered in Omaha, Neb. but Dominex Natural Foods will maintain offices in St. Augustine, Fla.

Lifeway Foods Announces Sales Growth

Lifeway Foods, Inc., a supplier of cultured dairy products known as kefir and organic kefir, today announced preliminary sales results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2013.

LIFEWAY FOODS LOGOFirst quarter of 2013 gross sales increased approximately 27 percent to $27.4 million compared to $21.6 million in the same period last year. Total consolidated net sales increased approximately 27 percent to $24.7 million during the three-month period ended March 31, 2013 from $19.4 million during the same three-month period in 2012. The record sales increase was due to new retail distribution expansion, product additions and increased sales to existing retail customers.

“We are extremely pleased with our ability to start 2013 off strong with a record sales performance in the first quarter,” said Julie Smolyansky , CEO of Lifeway Foods, Inc. “Our team has done an excellent job increasing distribution of Lifeway’s kefir products and building our brand awareness with consumers seeking high-protein and low-fat foods with the benefit of probiotic cultures.”

Lifeway will report full first quarter of 2013 financial results on Wednesday, May 15, 2013.

Chicago to Celebrate Annual Polish Fest

Get your “Polish” on at the Annual Polish Fest on May 4 and 5 at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. in Jefferson Park.

Chicago’s first outdoor festival of the season has something for all ages… Polish food favorites like pierogi, potato pancakes and kielbasa; an array of imported beer; special activities just for kids, and non-stop, live music on both indoor and outdoor stages. Rain or shine this festival is always rocking!

With over a dozen bands, this year’s exciting, ‘world music’ line-up includes pop, rock, folk, reggae, jazz, local tribute bands and, of course, polka!

Plus families can visit the “Krakus Kids Stage” with live children’s theater, music, magic, balloon-twisting, face-painting and other fun entertainment for the youngest guests!

Polish Fest also offers traditional folk dance and music performances, free Polish cooking classes, and a Festival Marketplace where you can shop for old-world treasures.

This annual festival held over Polish MayFest weekend commemorates Polish Constitution Day – the signing of the first democratic constitution in Europe. And with over one million Polish-Americans residing in the Chicagoland area, this festival is always a huge celebration!

Hours: 12 Noon – 9:30 p.m. on Saturday; and 12 Noon – 9 p.m. on Sunday
Admission: $5 (children 12 and under free!)
More info: www.polishfestchicago.com

Kevin Copeland of Chef & Kitchen Passes Away at Age 53

Kevin Copeland, co-owner with wife Beth of Chef & Kitchen, passed away on Saturday, March 16. Born November 4, 1959, Kevin became a natural in sales. After working for a number of Fortune 500 companies, Kevin started, along with Beth, the online site Chef & Kitchen, based in Independence, Mo.

According to Janis Johnson, President and Founder of Gourmet Catalog, Chef & Kitchen joined the GC Group in 2010, with plans to open a brick and mortar store.  “A frequent attendee at industry events sponsored by Gourmet Catalog, Kevin exhibited a keen eye for product and had an inherent knack for making good marketing decisions for the web-based shop. He will be greatly missed by stores and vendors,” said Johnson. Chef & Kitchen will continue to operate under the guidance of Beth Copeland.