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Jewel-Osco to Purchase 19 Strack & Van Til Stores from Central Grocers, Inc.

Jewel Foods Stores has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Central Grocers, Inc. to acquire 19 Strack & Van Til stores and other certain assets. Jewel-Osco will serve as the “stalking horse bidder” in a court-supervised sale process, which means Jewel-Osco was the initial bidder with which Central Grocers chose to negotiate prior to the auction of assets. The auction is expected to commence on June 2, 2017, assuming court approval of the bidding procedures.

Jewel-Osco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Albertsons Companies, operates 186 stores across Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, and has been a fixture among Midwest grocers since 1899 when Frank Ross and Frank Skiff launched the Jewel Tea Company, selling tea and coffee door-to-door from horse-drawn wagons. The transaction, if completed, would expand the Jewel-Osco footprint further into Indiana where the chain currently operates four stores, and build upon Strack & Van Til’s rich history of delivering quality, local products and an innovative shopping experience for their customers in the neighborhoods they serve. Jewel-Osco intends to extend offers of employment to substantially all of the current store employees as part of the transaction.

Jewel-Osco does not expect to close any store locations as a result of the transaction, pending the outcome of the court-supervised sale process and customary regulatory approvals.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from the Federal Trade Commission.

Lotus Trolley Bag Now Available

Lotus Trolley Bag, a new patent-pending, eco-friendly shopping bag system that boasts four large bags, has launched on Amazon.com. Designed to help shoppers easily organize and efficiently pack their groceries in a fraction of the time, the Lotus Trolley Bag system is reusable with durable bags that easily spread out, accordion-style, in a grocery shopping cart.

Lotus Trolley BagsEquipped with rods that are designed to fit all shopping carts including those at Costco, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, Wal-Mart, among others, the Lotus Trolley Bag features extended handles, double stitching and wider openings that make it easy to carry and unload groceries. Unlike any other bag on the market, the Lotus Trolley Bag can be made into one bag, with a simple Velcro strip, for easy transit to be placed onto the back of a shopping cart, with no hook needed, while a person shops. At check out when items are on the conveyor belt, the bag is simply placed inside the cart and spread out in one easy motion to make four separate bags. The upright bags allow the bagger to pack the goods with ease with both hands in a fraction of the time. Once at the car, the shopper can effortlessly separate each bag to individually fit in the trunk. Once unpacked, the bags are simply reattached along the Velcro strips and rolled up.

The Lotus Trolley Bag’s unique four bag design includes a large cooler bag that can hold big pizza boxes and it also offers a special patent-pending bag that securely fits two egg cartons and two wine bottles.

The inspiration to experiment and develop a new shopping bag system stemmed from two significant trends, according to Lotus Trolley Bag creators, husband and wife Farzan and Jennifer Dehmoubed. “With the recent ban on plastic shopping bags and the nation’s fever to reduce the impact of bags on the environment, we saw a need for creating quality recycled bags that would not be forgotten at home and also quickly end up in landfills. We wanted to eliminate the need for earth-damaging, animal-hurting plastic bags and tree-killing paper bags. We were also determined to create a bag that was practical, based on comfort, using soothing colors, and lets shoppers get in and out of the store faster.”

The Lotus Trolley Bag system is washable, eco-friendly, and made of recycled plastic that resembles canvas with durable double stitching. The strong mesh on the bottom of each bag ensures spills don’t pool in the bags. While most reusable bags are made of 60-75 grams per square meter non-woven material, the Dehmoubeds wanted to ensure that a much higher standard was adhered to and used premium 120 grams per square meter non-woven material that will accommodate over 70 pounds per bag. The bags are also detachable and can be used at the beach, on road trips, picnics and for gardening and more. The Lotus Trolley Bag comes in an assortment of colors including blue, purple, mint, and khaki.

Lidl to Open First U.S. Stores on Thursday, June 15

Lidl will open its first stores in the United States on Thursday, June 15. Lidl also unveiled the location of 20 stores that will open during the summer of 2017. By next summer, the retailer plans to open up to 100 stores across the East Coast, creating a total of 5,000 U.S. jobs.

“We are excited to open our first stores in the United States in a few short weeks,” said Brendan Proctor, President and CEO of Lidl US. “Lidl is grocery shopping refreshed, retooled and rethought to make life better for all our customers. From our selection of sustainable products like our certified fresh and frozen seafood to top-quality wines from around the world available at market-beating prices, our team puts extra effort and attention into each product we put on our shelves. When customers shop at Lidl, they will experience less complexity, lower prices, better choices, and greater confidence.”

Lidl will offer a simple and efficient approach to grocery shopping, resulting in lower prices.  When entering a store this summer, shoppers can expect to get top quality goods and groceries at up to 50 percent less than other supermarkets in the United States. They can also expect to see the following:

  • Newly-Built, Beautiful Stores and Easy-to-Shop Layouts: All of the stores opening this summer will be newly constructed facilities, featuring a manageable, easy-to-shop layout of 20,000 square feet with only six aisles.
  • Fresh Baked Goods: Customers will be greeted each day with the smell of top-quality breads and pastries, which are baked fresh throughout the day. A bakery will be located at the entrance of each store.
  • Healthy, Sustainable Choices: Lidl is committed to offering a wide range of healthy and sustainable options. All fresh and frozen seafood in the stores’ everyday assortment will be certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). High quality private label products will not have certified synthetic colors, trans fats or added MSG.
  • Organic and Gluten Free Options: The stores will carry a variety of organic and gluten-free items including organic fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and packaged food items, which will all be available at the lowest possible prices.
  • Lidl’s Top Quality Products: About 90 percent of the groceries available at the stores will be exclusive brand products. Each product on the shelves will be rigorously tested to ensure that it meets the company’s quality standards. Several items have already won acclaim in the United States, including award-winning cheeses recognized in the 2017 Los Angeles International Dairy Competition.
  • Lidl Surprises: Lidl offers an ever-changing selection of non-food products each week that will be in stores for a limited time. The selection will include fitness gear, small kitchen appliances, toys, and outdoor furniture, among other non-food items.
  • Store Hours: Stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

Healthy Growth: C.A. Fortune Goes National

C.A. Fortune, based in Chicago, is capitalizing on the growing consciousness of today’s better-for-you consumer food products market. After four years of strategic and planned growth, C.A. Fortune, a privately-held natural, specialty and bakery/deli sales and marketing agency, announces the company has joined forces with Portland, Oregon, based Bridge Sales & Marketing, completing the agency’s goal of providing coast to coast coverage for its client brands and retail customers.

The transaction with Bridge Sales & Marketing expands C.A. Fortune’s coverage to include Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska. “We feel this is the right time and the right fit for us,” said Doug Brynelson, who founded Bridge Sales & Marketing along with his wife Marcia. “Working as part of the C.A. Fortune team will not only bring a myriad of additional resources, but allow us the opportunity to focus on what we do best, being in the stores, and developing relationships with buyers at both headquarter and store level.”

“The Bridge team has been able to construct an incredible, reputable business across the Pacific Northwest. From the strong culture in which they operate, to the level of service they provide their client and customer partners, it was truly a perfect match for both firms,” said Tyler Lowell, Managing Partner of C.A. Fortune. “We could not be happier with bringing the Bridge group into our organization.”

Marking its eighth transaction in just under four years, C.A. Fortune has vastly expanded beyond its initial upper-Midwest roots in 2013, to today employing more than 300 associates, and with seven offices across the U.S. – solely focused on the natural/organic, specialty/conventional and bakery/deli space.

Nurture Ranch Launches with Grass-fed Beef Offerings

Nurture Ranch, purveyors of traceable, grass-fed beef, launched at the National Restaurant Association’s NRA Show at McCormick Place in Chicago with product now available for restaurants, retailers and meal kit providers who serve better quality products.

Nurture Ranch nurtures higher quality grass-fed beef in the tall lush dells of East Texas with superior taste and nutritional benefits, that is Better In 12 Ways™  than traditional feedlot grain-fed cattle:

1. Traceable Origin, From Birth to Harvest: Nurture Ranch can quickly trace where its beef came from and how it was raised. Feedlot cattle often change hands many times before harvest, limiting traceability.

2. No Antibiotics: Nurture Ranch grass-fed beef is never given antibiotics. Feedlot cattle are typically given significant doses of antibiotics because of the conditions they are raised in.

3. No Hormones: Nurture Ranch never uses hormones of any kind. Research shows hormones often used to increase cattle productivity can be passed on to humans and change how the human body functions.

4. Lower Fat and Calories: Grass-fed beef is naturally lower in fat and calories than traditional beef, fulfilling USA trends to consume fewer calories per meal.

5. Richer in Vitamin A: Grass-fed beef contains higher levels of Vitamin A, supporting good vision, bone health, immunity, skin, hair, nails and more.

6. More Vitamin B1 and B2: Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is a co-enzyme that digests and metabolizes food for energy. Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) maintains healthy blood cells and boosts energy.

7. Higher in Vitamin E: Vitamin E balances cholesterol; slows free radical cells and inflammation; improves skin, hair, hormonal balance, vision, physical endurance, strength and more.

8. Richer in Minerals: Calcium, magnesium and potassium support better cardiovascular health.

9. Greater CLA: CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) reduces inflammation, is used to treat cancer and in animal tests reduces tumors by 50 percent.

10. More Omega-3: Omega-3 reduces hypertension and heart attack risk.

11. Healthier Environment: Nurture Ranch raises free-range cattle naturally, in pastures without feedlots, grain or animal proteins of any kind, which has been proven to be better for animals, humans and the environment.

12. Independent Ranchers: Nurture Ranch works with local ranchers using their land and expertise to nurture its cattle in the traditions of yesteryear, which keeps better ranching practices alive for future generations.

Forager Secures Funding from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. in Maine

Forager™, a company focused on making locally sourced food widely available to all, announced that it has secured a new round of funding from Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) in Maine.

“Our goal is to grow good jobs, environmentally-sustainable enterprises, and shared prosperity in Maine and across the country,” said Gray Harris, Senior Program Director, Natural Resource Sectors, CEI. “We are thrilled to invest in Forager whose mission and focus on accelerating our local food system aligns so well with our goals.”

Forager’s new online and mobile procurement-to-payment platform radically simplifies the sourcing process for local food, saving time and significant costs, and enabling grocers, food co-ops, farmers and producers to offer more local products to consumers. Forager launched its platform after completing a successful regional pilot involving 100 farmers and 10 grocers, food co-ops and wholesalers from Maine. The company is rolling it out throughout New England and New York state, and additional grocers and farmers are now participating.

Kroger Announces Retirement of Paul Bowen, President of Jay C and Ruler

The Kroger Company has announced that Jay C and Ruler division President Paul Bowen is retiring after 46 years of dedicated service, effective June 21. His successor will be named at a later date.

Bowen began his career with Jay C in 1971 as a produce department manager before taking a military leave of absence to serve in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1976. He returned to Jay C in 1976 and advanced to hold a number of leadership positions. In 1988, he was promoted to director of training and development for the division. He was instrumental in leading Jay C’s merger with Kroger in 1999, spending two years as the transition project leader. In 2001, Bowen was named vice president of operations before being promoted to senior vice president in 2002. Bowen has held his current role since 2003, where he oversees 71 Jay C and Ruler stores operating in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee.

“For more than four decades, Paul’s leadership, vision and passion has helped Jay C and Ruler create customer-first shopping environments that have shaped the way we do business across our business,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “I salute Paul for his years of service to our associates and customers as both a leader and veteran. The entire Kroger family wishes Paul and his family all the best in retirement.”

Bowen and his wife, Margaret, look forward to traveling to new places and spending time with their two grandchildren.

 

USDA Delays Organic Livestock Rule

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is delaying the effective date of the rule published on January 19, 2017, for an additional six months to November 14, 2017, to allow time for further consideration by USDA. The effective date for this rule was initially March 20, 2017, and was subsequently delayed to May 19, 2017, by a document published in the Federal Register on February 9, 2017.

The final rule amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.

The delay is opposed by the Organic Trade Association along with more than 350 organic livestock producers representing $1.95 billion in annual sales, the federal Advisory Committee on organic and accredited organic certifiers. The National Pork Producers Council has called for the rule’s repeal.

June Dairy Month Kicks Off with World Milk Day

More than 75 years since the annual celebration began, June Dairy Month continues to recognize dairy products and the farmers who produce them. The festivities will kick off with World Milk Day on June 1. Initiated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Milk Day marks the importance of milk as part of a healthy and balanced diet and the dairy industry’s global contributions to economic development and agriculture, including the one billion people who derive their livelihood from it, as well its commitment to sustainability and protecting the environment. Throughout the month, people, companies and communities will continue to recognize dairy’s positive impact on nutrition and the planet.

“June is a time when we can show our appreciation for the 7,400 dairy farm families in the Midwest,” says Midwest Dairy Association CEO, Lucas Lentsch. “Dairy farmers demonstrate the highest commitment to producing nutritious milk while protecting the land on which they live and work, as well as fund research that leads to dairy product innovation.”

Macfrut Discusses Agriculture as a Solution to Human Trafficking

At the Rimini Expo Centre, Macfrut opened exceptionally well. Discussions started with the presentation of the Green House project, implemented in Ghana by VIS (International Volunteer Service for Development), an NGO that collaborates with the Salesian Congregation in Italy involved in the “Stop Tratta” (Stop Trafficking) campaign. “The focus session was dedicated to the great ideas launched by the agricultural sector to create prospects for future development,” said Renzo Piraccini, President of Macfrut.

Nico Lotta, President of VIS, explained the whole operation involving training in eco-sustainable agriculture as a feasible alternative in order to discourage migrants from leaving on boats and human trafficking. The didactic greenhouse was built in Ghana to allow teachers and young people to be trained with an alternative technique to the agricultural practice applied in many African states, which has tremendous consequences for rainforests, so that sustainable development can be ensured.
“We appeal to young people, potential migrants or returning migrants because we want them to understand that there are opportunities in their countries, in particular involving land and agriculture. Working even just with a few people is crucial, and we want to make sure these youngsters have the opportunity to choose,” Lotta said. The President of Idromeccanica Lucchini also gave a speech during the conference, illustrating the technological potential of a sustainable greenhouse, such as the one used by the Green House project in Ghana.

The Italian Undersecretary of State for European Affairs, MP Sandro Gozi, congratulated VIS and highlighted the importance of a project such as “Green House.” In fact, it is not only a symbol of Italian excellence but also the right approach to address the migration issue in the countries of origin. “These are simple and ingenious ideas that can make a difference in cooperation and development.”

Forum on Asian and Middle Eastern Markets
India, China and the UAE: these are all growing markets that are strongly inclined to import quality fruit. This was the key theme of the Asia & Middle East Conference, organised by Eurofresh Distribution.

During the meeting, the trends, marketing opportunities, limitations and recommendations in trading with the Asian and Middle Eastern markets were outlined. These markets all show an ever-increasing demand for imported fruit and vegetables, where consumers see their purchasing power grow and product quality becomes increasingly important.

Ahmed Alì, head of procurement of the Danube Supermarkets chain, and James Varghese, Purchase Manager of Elite Agro LCC, pointed out the positive trend in the UAE fresh produce market, which demands high quality and an efficient service.
Hitin Suri, Managing Director of Suri Agrofresh, illustrated the opportunities of the Indian market, which has a rapidly growing GDP, a boom in health trends and an interest in new varieties. Simona Rubbi of the CSO (Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli) cooperative of Ferrara also intervened to highlight the need for European coordination on the export of fruit and vegetable produce to Asian countries. To conclude, Mike Li of CR Vanguard, George Liu of Fruta Cloud and Paul Sheh of Hema Supermarket gave an overview of China’s situation, where e-commerce is becoming increasingly popular also in the fresh produce sector.

Innovative Companies Awarded with Macfrut Innovation Award
A total of 36 innovations were awarded with the Macfrut Innovation Award (MIA) 2017 during a ceremony organized by Cesena Fiera in partnership for the third year in a row with L’Informatore Agrario, the weekly publication for professional farmers. Innovation, environmental and economic sustainability and improvement in product quality: these are the criteria used by a panel of experts to review the over 80 applications submitted by Italian and foreign companies for the eight award sections. Altogether nine gold, 15 silver and 12 bronze medals were awarded.

About Macfrut
Macfrut is organized by Cesena Fiera and held at the Rimini Expo Centre on May 10-12, 2017.

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