Get Adobe Flash player

Ethel M Chocolates Sweetens Factory and Flagship Store

Ethel M Chocolates is sweeter than ever with reimagined designs and new features after an extensive upgrade to its factory and flagship store. The Henderson-based chocolate factory has reopened its door with a fully enhanced guest experience, an updated look, new interactive elements, expanded retail space and additions to its café menu.

To commemorate the special anniversary and factory reopening, Ethel M will be holding a special family-friendly grand reopening celebration on National Chocolate Day, Friday, October 28. The event will be held at the factory from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will feature door prizes, live entertainment, free chocolate samplings, and more.

“Ethel M has been a staple in the Henderson community for 35 years, and while our cherished family recipes haven’t changed in more than 100 years, we wanted to give our customers a modern experience,” said Oren Young, General Manager of Ethel M Chocolates. “We believe in the connective power of sharing an unexpected experience, and that is what we are committed to do with the newly reimagined factory and store.”

New Factory Store Experience
The redesigned store showcases a new ambiance and atmosphere, highlighting colors and materials that represent the factory’s original copper kettles and signature botanical cactus garden. The upgraded Chocolate Tasting Room overlooks the cactus garden, where guests learn how chocolate is made and sample freshly made confections. The demonstration area features professional chocolatiers who prepare delectable combinations such as chocolate-covered strawberries and caramel dipped apples.

The self-guided viewing aisle, where guests can view how Ethel M Chocolates are made, has also been upgraded with digital displays that illustrate Ethel M Chocolate’s history and the sustainability efforts of Mars Inc..

The café space has been remodeled and now offers an extended menu. Light bites include dark chocolate ganache cupcakes, coconut macarons, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. Specialty drinks include double hot chocolate, Aztec hot chocolate, and chocolate cappuccino. Adjacent to the café, in the enhanced 7,500-square-foot retail space, guests can find the entire line of their favorite Ethel M treats.

In addition to enjoying the new factory, guests can stroll through Nevada’s and one of the world’s largest botanical cactus gardens. The 3-acre breathtaking garden features more than 300 different species of drought-tolerant ornamentals, cacti, and other desert plants. The garden is open to the public 365 days a year.

Mamma Chia Appoints New Senior Leadership Team Members

Mamma Chia has just added four executive team members: Ken Vargha, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing; Lance Dermeik, Vice President of Operations; Steve Polzin, Director of Sales; and Brenda Quesada, Director of Research & Development and Technical Services.

“Mamma Chia has experienced tremendous growth over the last few years including the addition of two new product lines — Chia & Greens Beverages and Chia Vitality Bars. As a result of this growth, we’ve been looking for the right people to help continue to elevate our brand,” said Janie Hoffman, Mamma Chia Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Ken, Lance, Steve and Brenda are all as talented and experienced … and we’re incredibly excited to have them on board.”

Prior to joining Mamma Chia, Vargha served as the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Renew Life, which makes digestive wellness supplements. His extensive background spans across various industries from nutraceuticals and cosmetics to healthcare and non-profit.

“Janie and her team have built a very successful company around these power-packed seeds, and I am energized by the opportunities ahead to help further strengthen the brand,” said Vargha. “I look forward to working alongside Janie and the rest of the team to reinforce the reach of Mamma Chia’s organic chia-based foods and beverages….”

Dermeik will oversee the strategic operations and supply chain processes for Mamma Chia. During the past eight years he was the senior director of contract manufacturing at The Hain Celestial Group, where he worked with contract manufacturers to support Hain’s portfolio of natural and organic brands.

Polzin worked alongside Vargha at Renew Life and Alacer, where he increased sales and expanded distribution, most recently as the national director of sales. Quesada joins Mamma Chia with more than 20 years of diverse food product development and manufacturing experience.

The Original Cakerie Names Paul Lapadat as CEO of Newly Formed Holding Company

The Original Cakerie, which makes high-quality frozen desserts for retail and foodservice customers across North America, has named Paul J. Lapadat as Chief Executive Officer of a new holding company established to accelerate growth. Lapadat, a longtime executive with deep experience leading both consumer product conglomerates and specialty food companies, succeeds Dave Hood, who was CEO of The Original Cakerie for more than 20 years. Hood will become an advisor to the board of directors of The Original Cakerie.

Concurrently, The Original Cakerie announced it has restructured its business under a holding company known as Desserts Holdings, based in St. Paul, Minnesota. Desserts Holdings will allow a shared services model and integrated selling organization between The Original Cakerie and Lawler Foods to better serve current and prospective customers. Both The Original Cakerie and Lawler Foods are portfolio companies of Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco-based middle market private equity firm.

The Original Cakerie, founded in 1979, is based in Delta, British Columbia, Canada, with a second production facility in London, Ontario. Lawler Foods, a manufacturer of gourmet cheesecakes, layer cakes, pies and other desserts, is based in Humble, Texas. Together, the companies serve more than 200 customers in Canada, the United States, Mexico and Europe.

As part of the transition, Chris W. Rogers has also been named CFO for the holding company and will report to Lapadat in the St. Paul office. Doris Bitz, currently Senior Vice President, Retail Sales & Marketing, will become President of The Original Cakerie. The Original Cakerie and Lawler Foods will remain stand-alone, independent operating companies with their own brands. The companies’ manufacturing operations will remain in Delta, London, and the Houston area.

Dennis O’Brien, a Partner at Gryphon Investors and Chairman of the Board of The Original Cakerie, said, “We are pleased to welcome Paul to Desserts Holdings. Having worked closely with him on our previous successful investment in Flagstone Foods, we are very familiar with Paul’s leadership skills and believe he will be instrumental to building this unique platform company. Likewise, we welcome Chris, and we are excited to see Doris move into her new role as President. We are fortunate to have attracted leaders of Paul’s, Chris’ and Doris’s caliber. We are equally grateful for Dave Hood’s continuing presence, and we expect to take full advantage of his immeasurable product and industry knowledge.”

Lapadat added, “I am excited to be working alongside Gryphon again to continue to grow this highly respected business in the premium dessert space. The Original Cakerie and Lawler Foods are best-in-class companies, and I look forward to working with their teams to increase capabilities and expand our dessert offerings so that our retail and foodservice customers will continue to view us as their company of choice.”

Hood commented, “I am pleased to have worked with the Gryphon team on the ownership transition of The Original Cakerie, and I know it will continue to be viewed as the premier premium frozen desserts company in North America. I look forward to continuing my work as a strategic advisor.”

Renee Hicks Joins The Fremont Company

Renee Hicks, a 23-year food industry veteran, has joined The Fremont Company, a 111-year-old manufacturer of private brands products, as Director of Private Brands. The Fremont Company is one of the country’s leading producers of private brands regular and organic ketchup, as well as steak sauces and barbecue sauces. Hicks was most recently with Roehl Corporation, a brokerage company for the private brands food business.

“Renee will be managing The Fremont Company’s fast growing domestic account portfolio, dealing with our large pool of retail customers. Her background in account management on both the regional and national levels brings important expertise to help our company achieve new goals in new client acquisition as well as expanding existing relationships,” says Chris Smith, President of The Fremont Company. “The private brands industry is reaching record sales numbers, and professionals like Renee are in high demand to help companies understand and meet market needs.”

Store brand sales in the U.S. reached $118.4 billion in 2015, an all-time record. That was an increase of $2.2 billion over the previous year, according to the Private Label Association “2016 Private Label Yearbook.” Annual sales of store brands have grown by 5 percent, or $5.4 billion, in combined channels. Dollar share for store brands is now 17.7 percent, a new high for the industry.

Convenience Store Industry Sees Future in Food

“More than ever, I truly believe that food is our future,” said NACS 2015-16 Chairman Jack Kofdarali during his speech at this year’s NACS Show general session. NACS is the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.

But, he cautioned that while all signs are pointing toward food as the industry’s future, it won’t happen without work.

“We’re going to have to fight for customers in an already crowded marketplace,” said Kofdarali, who also serves as President of Corona, California-based J&T Management Inc., which operates convenience stores in Southern California. “We’re also going to have to tell our story and correct misperceptions about our offer. And we’re going to have to address an increasingly long list of regulations that stand in our way—whether related to food or our other products.”

He said that it is eye-opening to travel from California to the East Coast—and Europe—and see so many retailers executing at a very high level with food. “Their focus is not just on food made fast, but on food that is really good—both in taste and in quality,” said Kofdarali. “And here’s the most important thing: It’s making them money.”

Kofdarali shared regional breakout data from the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2015 Data that showed how high prepared food sales also push the sales of other items higher. “Prepared foods is bringing in more customers, and retailers are selling more food and other items,” he said.

“Over the past few years, especially during my time as NACS chairman, I have seen the future of retail,” said Kofdarali, citing excellence in merchandising and branding, new concepts and fresh ideas. “But that future also isn’t guaranteed—even if we have the smartest business plans and the best execution—because there is one other element that affects our business—and that is regulation.”

Kofdarali shared a few examples of regulations in his home state of California, from potential tobacco bans to warning labels on bottled water or fuel dispensers, to a litany of fuel-related regulations.

But, he warned, what’s happening in California is not happening in isolation. He said that just as weather patterns move west to east, so do regulations—especially those emitting from California.


The NACS Show is the premier event of the year for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. More than 20,000 attendees from 60-plus countries are at the 2016 NACS Show in Atlanta, which features four days of general sessions, more than 60 education sessions and more than 1,200 exhibiting companies in a nearly 410,000 net-square-foot expo. For the most up-to-date news and information on the event, go to

International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) Stages Largest Event in its History

The 2016 International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE)—the most comprehensive event in the western hemisphere for the grain-based food industry—recently wrapped up its largest show to date at the Las Vegas Convention Center with more than 1,000 exhibitors—340 new to IBIE and a 28 percent increase over 2013—in more than 700,000 square feet of exhibit space. Attendance also continued its upward trend with more than 23,000 registered attendees—a nine percent increase over 2013 and an astounding 65 percent increase over the last decade.

Much of the growth has come from international markets with attendees hailing from more than 100 countries and making up 30 percent of the total attendance.

“The quality and depth of IBIE’s attendees, exhibitors and education sessions was incredible,” said Michael J. Cornelis, Chair of IBIE. “IBIE is continually evolving and growing to meet the needs of baking industry professionals, as well as the trends in the industry, and this year we saw a record-breaking show with the largest show floor, number of exhibitors, innovation showcase and education program in IBIE’s history.”

A host of thought-provoking new and returning features created an even more engaging experience for attendees and exhibitors; highlights included:

  • The Innovation Showcase—15 percent larger than its inaugural run in 2013—was prominently featured in the Central Lobby for attendees to shop and see what’s new before entering the Expo Hall. In addition, the Innovation Spotlight Theater, located in IBIE’s new Idea LAB on the show floor, provided a forum for exhibitors to conduct live presentations of their top innovations.
  • New to the show were Fresh Take Talks, presented by Grain Foods Foundation, a series of brief, informative presentations featuring influential thought leaders sharing perspectives on consumer, nutrition and industry trends.
  • The American Cake Decorating Demo Theater and The ONE Demonstration Theater by Revent featured free daily demos by celebrity chefs and big-name cooking pros showing off their skills and latest techniques.
  • An expanded educational program—with 90+ sessions designed for professionals of all levels and backgrounds—highlighted the latest techniques and proven strategies for streamlining wholesale operations, improving product quality and increasing profits. More than 20 new seminars focused on the most relevant issues facing the industry today, featuring expanded content for upper management. The enhanced educational program was popular with attendees, as many sessions sold out.
  • This year’s speakers were well-known subject matter experts, including retail insights thought leader and former Nielsen Vice President Todd Hale, American Bakers Association’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations Lee Sanders, as well as business moguls who run the largest bakeries in the world, including Bimbo Bakeries’ Senior Vice President of Operations Ramon Rivera.
  • The education program began with RPIA’s Business of Baking for Beginners seminar and the Tortilla Industry Association’s two-day Technical Conference, which addressed operation skills, safety regulations, quality control, plant efficiency and best practices for the baking industry’s fastest growing market segment.
  • Seminars at IBIE 2016 were organized into targeted tracks: AIB Technical, Retail, Bread Bakers Guild of America, International, Management, Sales & Marketing, Ingredients & Processes, Food Safety & Sanitation, and Retail Hands-on (Cake & Pastry Decorating). Sessions were held daily from 8:00 a.m. to noon and in the evening to give attendees plenty of time to explore the latest innovations exhibited on the expo floor.
  • Popular returning features included: B.E.S.T. (Becoming Environmentally Sustainable Together) in Baking Program, The Great American Pie Festival, RBA’s 15th Annual Pillsbury Bakers’ Plus Creative Decorating Competition and PMQ Pizza Village.

Also new to the show was the Satin Ice Live Challenge competition, which brought together six teams of three professional decorators, including one Satin Ice Artist of Excellence, to construct and decorate a fairytale-themed cake on the show floor in only six hours. The winning team included Satin Ice Artist of Excellence Jörg Amsler, Jaime VanderWoude of Eagan Hy-Vee in Minnesota and Erika Youngdahl of Jerry’s Foods in Edina, Minnesota, with VanderWoude and Youngdahl representing the upper Midwest Bakery Association. Winners were awarded a trip to the America’s Cake Fair hosted by Satin Ice in Orlando.

Brambles and The Global FoodBanking Network Team to Help Alleviate World Hunger

Brambles, a logistics solutions company operating in more than 60 countries primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, has signed a three-year agreement with the international non-profit organization The Global FoodBanking Network (GFN). Through this partnership Brambles will provide supply chain knowledge, in-kind contributions, volunteers and donations to help finance GFN operations, in an effort to reduce hunger, poverty, malnutrition and food waste globally.

The agreement comes as the United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) reports that the value of food lost or wasted annually around the globe – some one-third of the food produced or 1.3 billion tonnes – amounts to roughly $680 billion USD in industrialized countries and $310 billion USD in developing countries. At the same time, nearly 800 million people suffer from hunger every day.

Lisa Moon, President and CEO of GFN, said: “We are honored to partner with Brambles to leverage its expertise, products, and leadership to help drive efficiency and scale in food banks around the world. We would like to thank Brambles for their commitment to the fight against world hunger while also advancing sustainability.”

Last year, food banks within GFN’s network distributed 421,840 metric tons of food to 6.8 million needy people in partnership with 27,000 charitable organizations and social centers. The GFN network consists of a total of 792 food banks located in 32 countries.

Brambles CEO, Tom Gorman, said: “Brambles is highly committed to deliver sustainable value in the communities where we operate. Food banks are a great example of that. Our new relationship with GFN builds on our multi-year engagement working with our customers to support food banks around the world. In addition, Brambles efforts to expand both the capacity and capabilities of GFN Network to address hunger is an important part of our comprehensive approach to addressing food security.

“We are focused on reducing post-harvest food loss, improving the ability of small holder farmers to access modern packaging that protects the integrity of the product and enhances food safety. Whether we are working with individual food banks, the GFN, The Consumer Goods Forum or Enactus, our employees are dedicated to improving access to food and economic opportunity and to improving the sustainability of our environment.”

Dave Kingsbury Joins Christie & Co. as VP of Growth & Innovation

Christie & Co. has named Dave Kingsbury as its new Vice President of Growth & Innovation. He will be leading the company’s Rocky Mountains office.

“We are so thrilled to have Dave join our team to be part of this next phase of our growth, building upon decades of experience to continue our heritage of pioneering innovative, ethical leaders, companies, products, and causes,” stated Gillian Christie, Founder and CEO of Christie & Co. “His extensive experience will enhance our outreach and maximize our impact to strengthen the growth potential and innovation for companies in the natural industry, outdoor, agriculture, and clean tech sectors, as well as to create new branding and innovation solutions for leading global corporations to be understood and relevant to the changing economy and demographics driving growth in our industries.”

Kingsbury was formerly Vice President of Partnership and Product Development for New Hope Natural Media.

Rogue Creamery Donates to ACEF in Celebration of American Cheese Month

For the second year in a row, Rogue Creamery will donate 1 percent of October sales to ACEF (American Cheese Education Fund) to celebrate American Cheese Month. The American Cheese Society’s sister organization, ACEF, was created to educate people about the art and science of artisanal and specialty cheese and it supports existing and new educational efforts to further learning opportunities for all those interested in producing, marketing, selling, and appreciating North America’s artisan, farmstead, and specialty cheeses.

One of those educational components is the Certified Cheese Professional program; the letters ACS CCP designate that an individual has acquired thorough knowledge and the level of expertise that is demanded within the cheese industry. Two Rogue Creamery team members, Tom Van Voorhees and Chelsea Faris, were among the first in the U.S. to earn the CCP credentials.  For additional information about ACEF go to and for additional information about American Cheese Month, October, go to .

Entube Debuts New Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste 

Entube, maker of modern chili pastes in a tube, has just unveiled a new addition to its line of gourmet chili pastes: Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste. Expanding the brand’s global palate, the new variety features ume plum, a traditional Japanese staple. Other ingredients include vinegar, cayenne, and beet, resulting in a colorful, nutritious condiment that aids in digestive support, nausea, and fatigue, including hangovers.

“In response to the success of our inaugural products, Harissa and Indian Curry, which pay homage to North African and Indian flavors, we set out to provide a new global flavor experience for our customers inspired by the Japanese ume plum,” said Entube Creator and Founder Richard Lassalle. “Using the highest quality ingredients, Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is an easy-to-use, versatile product that will add bright color and flavor to dishes, empowering anyone to become a chef.”

Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is a fermented fruit-based paste, best used in raw form as a finishing condiment on sushi, oysters, vegetables and in cocktails. Like all Entube products, Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is gluten free, vegan and does not contain any added sugar, artificial coloring or preservatives.

The Entube Spicy Umeboshi Plum Paste is offered in a 100g tube that retails for about $8.

1 2 3 168

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter