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Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Program Announces 2015 Graduates

The Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker® program, the nation’s only advanced training program of its kind for veteran cheesemakers, has graduated two new and four returning Master Cheesemakers. Wisconsin now has 55 active Masters working in 33 companies across the state.

The newest Master Cheesemakers, who were formally certified at a ceremony during the Wisconsin Cheese Industry Conference in Madison this week, are Adam Buholzer, of Klondike Cheese Company in Monroe, and Chris Roelli, of Roelli Cheese Haus in Shullsburg.

Buholzer is a fourth-generation cheesemaker and one of four Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers in the Buholzer family, including his father, Steve, and uncles, Ron and Dave Buholzer. Adam is now certified as a Master for feta and havarti.

Roelli is certified as a Master in cheddar, the variety on which his family’s original plant was founded. Since re-opening the business in 2006, he has emerged as an award-winning producer of artisanal Wisconsin originals, including Dunbarton Blue, Little Mountain and Red Rock. Like Buholzer, Roelli is a fourth-generation Wisconsin cheesemaker.

Joining the new Masters in the 2015 graduating class are veteran Masters who completed the program again to earn certification for additional cheese varieties. They are:

  • Ken Heiman, Nasonville Dairy, Marshfield, Wisconsin, now certified for cheddar and asiago, as well as feta and Monterey Jack.
  • Mike Matucheski, Sartori Company, Antigo, Wisconsin, now certified for fontina and romano, as well as parmesan and asiago.
  • Duane Petersen, Arla Foods USA Inc., Kaukauna, Wisconsin, now certified for havarti, as well as gouda and edam.
  • Steve Stettler, Decatur Dairy Inc., Brodhead, Wisconsin, now certified for cheddar, as well as brick, farmer’s cheese, havarti, muenster and specialty Swiss.

“It’s exciting to see the ranks of Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers continue to grow and for this unique program to have such a sustained, positive impact on cheesemaking in Wisconsin,” says James Robson, CEO of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “Each year’s class takes the advanced training, expertise and insights they gain back to their plants and to the teams that they work with and mentor every day. The bar on product quality and innovation within those companies, large and small, just keeps rising.”

Established in 1994 through a joint partnership of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, University of Wisconsin-Extension and Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB), the Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker program is the most formalized, advanced training program in the nation. Patterned after European programs, it is administered by the Center for Dairy Research and funded by Wisconsin dairy producers, through WMMB. Applicants must be active, licensed Wisconsin cheesemakers with at least 10 years of experience in a Quality Assured Plant. Cheesemakers can earn certification in up to two cheese varieties each time they enroll in the three-year program and must have been making those varieties as a licensed cheesemaker for a minimum of five years prior to entering the program. Once certified, they’re entitled to use the distinctive Master’s Mark® on their product labels and in other marketing materials.

New Hope Natural Media Event to Address Food Supply Chain

Esca Bona, an event dedicated to accelerating innovation within the good food movement, will take place in Austin, Texas from October 26, 2015 to October 28, 2015 at the Sheraton Austin Hotel. Esca Bona will connect trend-setting entrepreneurs, game-changing technologists and visionary business leaders from across the supply chain with the end goal of magnifying the positive innovation happening in food. The event is produced by New Hope Natural Media.

This highly-curated gathering will spotlight many of the most transformative ideas shaping our food future. Credible, influential voices from all aspects of the food supply chain will partner through actionable formats such as a Rapid Prototype Workshop, a Global Town Hall and an “Entrepreneur’s Kitchen and Garage” to create new solutions to the challenges of accessibility, scalability and transparency facing our current food system.

“Change is happening at a faster rate than ever before” said Carlotta Mast, Executive Content Director and Event Ambassador for Esca Bona. “We believe the next-generation innovators, mission-based disruptors and revolutionary change-agents need a place to come together to accelerate their ability to create a better food world.”

The five macro concepts currently shaping the content of the event include:

  • Trust Through Transparency: From soil to stomach, the modern consumer’s quest for good food assurance is driving radical changes across the food ecosystem. The conference will address how suppliers, technologists, retailers and brands are collaborating for supreme transparency.
  • Massive Access and Affordability: Can great food really reach the masses? How do we get from where we are to the world we want? Esca Bona will explore how by bringing big food, smart food and good food closer together, the industry can overcome the many barriers preventing great food from getting to those who need it most.
  • Authenticity Rock Stardom: Doing well has not always meant doing good. While those tables may have turned, the rise of the authentic brand is still not an easy one. The conference will explore whether authentic, mission-based brands can continue to climb the ranks of the food dynasties or become destined to lose their way.
  • Saving Food’s Renegades: We need to fortify our future good food leaders, but supporting the break-through technologies of tomorrow will require more than capital. Esca Bona will dig into the “what” of how to best ensure the success of tomorrow’s food leaders.
  • Nourishtech: The future is already closer than we think—and it’s disrupting everything. Chicken-less eggs and cow-less hamburgers aren’t just in labs, they’re hitting consumers’ plates. What can food technology do for us, how can we make it sustainable, nourishing and more importantly—in arm’s reach of the average consumer?

Participants will convene inspired by the people they will meet, learn from, work with and mentor during their time in Austin—and they will leave supported by the new relationships, friendships and partners they will need to fast track their ideas, missions and businesses.

Free From Products to be Shown at Free From Food/Ingredients 2015

The countdown is now on to Free From Food/Ingredients 2015 – which will showcase the very latest in “free from” products from across Europe and beyond on June 4 and 5 in Barcelona. The doors will open on the third edition of the two-day exhibition with hundreds of exciting food and drink products – from gluten free to nut free, going on display. Exhibitors include Warburtons, Mrs Crimble’s, and Nature’s Path from the UK, Fishmasters from Netherlands, Wellaby’s from Greece, Mulino Marello from Italy and Oskri from the USA.

Mrs Crimble’s will use Free From Food/Ingredients 2015 to herald a new sub brand: Gluten Free….and Good For Me. Launching in May, the first products to hit the shelves will be three varieties of Italian pasta with sauce and three new cereal bars. Pasta with sauce is the first combination product available from Mrs. Crimble’s within “free from,” with corn pasta and dried sauce.

Nature’s Path will be exhibiting its range of gluten free breakfast cereals. Wellaby’s from Greece will be showcasing an innovative “free from” baked snacks including its award-winning Lentil Chips. Italy-based Mulino Marello will be exhibiting stone ground gluten free flours while Slendier, from Australia, will be highlighting its Calorie Clever range – “free from” pasta, noodle and rice alternatives. Meanwhile Britain’s biggest baker, Warburtons, will be showcasing products from its award-winning Newburn Bakehouse range – gluten-, wheat- and dairy-free wraps and gluten free cracker thins.

“There will be a stunning, innovative and diverse range of products on show at Free From Food/Ingredients 2015 – which really does make it an exhibition not to be missed. It just goes to show that the Free From market is growing at an incredible pace – with more exciting products now available than ever before – right across the ‘free from’ spectrum. The presence of exhibitors such as Warburtons at Free From Food/Ingredients 2015, highlights how hugely important the Free From category is,” said Ronald Holman, Exhibition Director.

 

 

Gelato-Filled Fruit from Divino USA

Divino USA, Inc. has entered the U.S. frozen dessert market with its distinctive line of Italian handcrafted gelato-filled fruit. The company is poised
to continue on the current trajectory of rapid growth in this country, having already secured national distribution available through KeHE, Haddon House, Nature’s Best and UNFI. Unlike any other gelato on the market, Divino is made from fresh Southern Italian fruit that is hand-picked near the Divino factory on the Amalfi Coast. The fresh fruit pulp is blended with volcanic waters from neighboring Mount Vesuvius, sweetened with natural sugar and lemon juice, and then filled into the halved fruit shell and frozen to a delicious single serving.
Divino varieties include Amalfi Lemon, Roman Kiwi, Ciaculli Tangerine, Apulian Peach and Black Diamond Plum. Each single serve item contains about 100 calories, and all are gluten-free certified, fat free and Non-GMO Project Verified. Each unit is individually packaged in a colorful box and includes a serving tray and spoon, allowing for easy display and grab-and-go. The fruit shell containing the gelato is also completely edible. The product has a shelf life of approximately 12 months. Divino calls its frozen treats ‘gelato’ because in Italy, both ice cream and sorbet fall under the gelato category.

Divino is available in natural foods stores, as well as select grocery and specialty stores across the country, with rapidly growing national distribution, and retails for approximately $3.99-$4.49 per single serving. For more information, visit www.lovedivino.com.

Spaghetti Without the Gluten from Explore-Asian

By Richard Thompson

For those who have to avoid their favorite pasta meals comes Edamame Spaghetti from Explore-Asian, a new spin on pasta that’s not only good, but healthier too. Gluten free, organic, vegan, kosher, non-GMO and approved by the American Heart Association, it’s not just ridiculously delicious but it’s sure to appeal to a wide range of health-conscious shoppers.

Retailing from 3.99 to 4.79, Edamame Spaghetti is made simply from organic beans and water. One serving has 24 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, packaged and ready to eat in just a few minutes. Add a little pesto for a delectable treat, but any sauce is the perfect complement. This is pasta reinvented.

For further information visit them at www.explore-asian.com.

Stonewall Kitchen’s New Bloody Mary Mixers Will Satisfy All Taste Buds

By Richard Thompson

Summer is right around the corner and Stonewall Kitchen™ is geared up to cool off and refresh summer goers with two new choices added to their selection of Bloody Mary Mixers. The Peppadew® Sriracha Bloody Mary Mixer combines a zesty combination of spicy Sriracha, lime juice and other spices to make a brisk addition to anyone relaxing poolside or looking for a beverage that can bring a chill of delight during the warm weather. With a suggested retail price of $8.95 for a 24 ounce bottle, those looking for a Bloody Mary mix with a kick will keep coming back for more. Simply served over ice adding a vodka favorite and garnish can make a delicious, savory and unique mix that will keep people out of the pool and waiting to refill their glass.

Where the Peppadew Mixer is for those looking for a little spice in their drink, the Cucumber Dill Bloody Mary Mixer is for beverage connoisseurs who desire a little garden fresh escape from the heat. The just-picked cucumber sensation on taste buds followed by a dash of horseradish, tomato and spices brings a bouquet of balance for any day of the week. This robust beverage will bring a crisp freshness to any patio and if a fresh cut cucumber is added, the refill requests will never end.

These delicious additions bring a new vest to the well-established original Bloody Mary Mixer that has maintained the right level of seasonings with its perfect amount of lemon flavor that makes no brunch complete without one. Stonewall Kitchen’s original Bloody Mary Mixer can be purchased at the retail price of $6.95, making the Bloody Mary Mixer, the Peppadew Sriracha Bloody Mary Mixer and the Cucumber Dill Bloody Mary Mixer the only beverage choices for summer.

For more information, visit www.stonewallkitchen.com or call 888.326.5678.

Study: FDA Testing Finds Small Incidence of Antibiotic Residues in Dairy Milk

By Richard Thompson

 

An encouraging report by the FDA showed little evidence of antibiotic residuals in milk, with a system of dairy regulation that continues to provide safe and healthy milk to the market. Following up on concerns of elevated levels of antibiotics in dairy products, the study was done in part with farms that had a previous violation with antibiotic residue.

The report concluded that while the small number of positive drug residuals was encouraging, the FDA will continue to collaborate closely with state regulatory partners and the dairy industry to strengthen the residue testing program for Grade “A” milk. The FDA will also continue to educate dairy producers on best practices to avoid drug residue in both tissues and milk, keeping consumers safe and distributors compliant.

These results are a continuation of an ongoing trend for the past 20 years in reducing antibiotic residue in dairy products, noted Dr. Robert Collier, Professor of the School of Animal and Comparative Sciences at the University of Arizona, “The dairy industry is continually improving. Milk is tested at least five times before it gets to the store.” Collier, who was not part of the study, continued, “The dairy industry has a tried and true method to keep quality product that is safe and good for you.”

Targeting specific dairy farms with previous drug residue violations, the FDA wanted to study whether those farms with previous violations continued to have antibiotic residuals in their product. The FDA looked for evidence of drug residuals from 31 different antibiotics, and what they found was that over 99 percent from almost 2000 samples taken were free of any antibiotic residuals – it’s that tiny percentage remaining that raises concerns.

Using antibiotics in cattle is not unusual for the animal’s health and preventative care, but those medications are supposed to be metabolized before the animal can be considered a “lactating cow” that produces milk for sale. Recent studies have linked growing bacterial resistance to antibiotics with the infiltration of antibiotics into the human food chain.

Some consumers have responded to their concerns about what’s in their food by choosing organic alternatives. Don Grace, Dairy Buyer for Bashas’ family of stores, has seen the health and safety trend gaining momentum for some time, “Organic milk in dairy seems to have an increased interest with the customer. Sales are on an increase. Unfortunately suppliers can’t meet demand, and many times the product is on allocation,” he said. While fluid milk is the biggest seller in the category, especially due to its price, changing tastes are finding solutions in the growing selection of natural products. “Today’s customers know the benefits of milk, but are constantly being shown healthy alternates of organics like nut milk and soy milk,” Grace continued, “Milk is not the standard product anymore. People are finding they are lactose intolerant and allergic to certain items contained in fresh milk.”

But as Collier explained, just switching to organic might not be enough. “Even organic foods are not immune to pathogen questions. It’s a question of how it is handled and the safety preparations that are taken,” he said.

Milk is one of the most easily tested and regulated products, with safety tests conducted at every step of the distribution process from the bulk tanks at the dairy farms all the way to where it’s bottled, with random samples being tested before shipment. If any antibiotic residuals are found, the process allows for identification for possible residues along with the farms that they came from. Said Collier, “The bottom line is there are no antibiotic residuals in milk marketed.”

Despite the small number of dairy farms that may attempt to subvert the system in place, the vast majority of dairy cooperatives and distribution centers still adhere to the Grade “A” system of regulated production, following the federal, state and individual cooperative standards that are implemented from farms where the milk begins to the store or company where it will be bought or used.

The United Dairymen of Arizona, for instance, represent 85 percent of the dairy farms in Arizona, distributing 13 million pounds of milk a day, adhering to dairy standards that may exceed regulatory standards depending on the cooperative’s safety preferences. “Arizona has very progressive dairymen with animal wellness interests, following the new standard of FARM: ‘Farmers Assuring Responsible Management,’” said Mike Billotte, Vice President of Government Relations, United Dairymen of Arizona, “We follow the basic tenet of inspections of dairy, routine testing, residue testing and sediment testing. These routine testing agencies are enforced in every state.”

 

Unified Grocers Announces Agreement to Sell Insurance Operations to AmTrust

 

Unified Grocers, Inc. has reached a definitive agreement with New York-based AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. to sell Springfield Insurance Company, Unified Grocers Insurance Services (UGIS) and their related insurance operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, AmTrust will purchase Unified’s Covina, California building where Springfield Insurance Company and UGIS are housed and hire all the employees who work in the facility.

“We’re excited about the transaction. It marks a new chapter for Unified and our members,” said Bob Ling, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unified Grocers. “We believe this transaction to be in the best interests of clients of both Springfield Insurance Company and UGIS as the businesses have been sold to a forward-looking, successful company that can apply a dedicated focus to their clients. The sale to AmTrust also represents an excellent way for the staff at Springfield Insurance Company and UGIS to continue to grow in the years ahead. The transaction will be seamless to policyholders. They will benefit from the strength of a $4 billion, A.M. Best ‘A’ rated insurance provider and its wide portfolio of insurance products and can expect even greater offerings from AmTrust in the future.”

“We’re proud of our accomplishments in our insurance operations and the fact we were able to provide our retailers with insurance programs tailored to the unique demands of the grocery business,” he added. “At the same time, the transaction allows Unified to streamline its business structure and direct greater focus to its core grocery wholesale operations.”

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

 

 

Salmon Brands Takes Top Honors at 2015 Seafood Prix d’Elite

Salmon Brands of Oslo, Norway was awarded the top prize in the 15th annual Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition at Seafood Expo Global. The winner was selected from a field of 37 finalists and was announced this evening at a special Seafood Prix d’Elite reception.

The top award for best new retail product was given to Salmon Brands for its entry, Salmaraw. This ready-to-eat sashimi kit provides 90 grams of fresh salmon sashimi with sachets of ponzu sauce and sesame seeds, and a specially designed eating utensil. The product is presented in a unique airtight and leak-proof pack that beautifully displays and preserves the high quality of the salmon. The judges particularly noted that this product was very well conceived and executed from start to finish.

In addition to the grand prize, the judges also gave five special awards:

Salmaraw from Salmon Brands was also presented the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Originality. The presentation of the salmon sashimi kit in a long tray is unique and elegant, yet still allows the consumer to eat the product directly from the package. This combination makes it well positioned for consumers who are looking for healthy take-away meals.

The Seafood Prix d’Elite special prize for Health & Nutrition was awarded to Marine Harvest of Brugge, Belgium for its product, Duo Norvégien au Four. The naturally healthy combination of cod wrapped in a thin slice of salmon is packed in an oven-ready aluminum tray and gives the consumer an easy way to serve an elegant seafood preparation at home.

The Big Prawn Company of Melton Constable, England in the United Kingdom was awarded the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Convenience for its product Seafood Rarebit. A seafood take on a classic Welsh dish, this frozen retail product offers two pastry cases filled with king prawns and topped with a sauce flavored with English cheddar cheese, mustard and spices. The topping melts down over the prawns and into the pastry during cooking. Perfect for a light lunch or part of a main meal, the product offers consumers a new, easy way to enjoy seafood.

The Big Prawn Company was also presented the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Retail Packaging for its product, 2 Crayfish Thermidor Bakes. Designed for special holiday occasions, this product features twin ramekins filled with crayfish tails in a creamy thermidor sauce flavored with white wine, shallots and mustard, then topped with a ciabatta Grand Padano cheese breadcrumb. The package is elegantly designed with full-color photos of the prepared dish and a clear window to see the ramekins, which are covered with clear plastic domes. The package provides complete information for the consumer on nutrition, ingredients, product origin, preparation, and package disposal.

Rockabill Shellfish Limited of Balbriggan, Ireland was presented with the Seafood Prix d’Elite special award for Seafood Product Line for its “Something Fishy” line of seafood infused butters. Offered in Sweet Onion, Dulse and Asian Infusion flavors, the products combine Irish butter with freeze-dried and milled seafood protein, dried seaweed and seasonings. The result is a culinary butter that provides the savory deliciousness of umami to both enhance and complete the flavors of prepared dishes. The products can be used to flavor sauces, finish risottos, pastas and rice dishes, or to spread over seafood before or after cooking.

At the discretion of the judges an award was not given this year for best new foodservice product. Although the judges noted some positive aspects of the products entered in the category, they felt that in many cases the information provided by entrants was incomplete, and therefore it was not possible to choose an overall winner in the category.

The winners of the 2015 Seafood Prix d’Elite were chosen from a field of 37 finalists representing 11 countries. The winners and finalists are on display at Hall 11, Stand 2501 at Seafood Expo Global and Seafood Processing Global, which runs now through April 23.

The judges for the 2015 Seafood Prix d’Elite new products competition were Debby Verheyen, Seafood Product Expert for Delhaize Supermarkets in Belgium; Thibault Faucon, Supply Chain Manager for Sodexo in Luxemburg; Filip Keersmaekers, Seafood Category Manager for Makro & Metro Cash & carry in Belgium; Ian Nottage, Chef Director with Reynold’s Catering Supply in the UK; and Dominique Fenech, National Director of Seafood Purchasing for Monoprix in France. Ms. Verheyen served as chairperson of the jury.

The Seafood Prix d’Elite finalists were judged on taste and overall eating experience, packaging, marketability, convenience, nutritional value and originality. The judges’ scores were verified by the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.

 

Feeding America Urges Passage of Legislation to Expand Food Donation Tax Deduction

Feeding America leads the nation in recovering food from farmers, the food industry and retailers. Last year the hunger-relief organization rescued 2.2 billion pounds of food that would have otherwise gone into landfills or been plowed under, despite being perfectly edible.

“As we recognize Earth Day this year on April 22, we are pleased to acknowledge the important role Feeding America plays in food rescue and celebrate the fact this food goes where it is needed most—to low-income Americans who are living at risk of hunger. We distribute nearly 4 billion pounds of food and groceries free-of-charge to 46 million people each year through 60,000 food and meal programs served by Feeding America’s network of 200 food banks,” said Bob Aiken, CEO of Feeding America.

To make significant progress in reducing food waste, Feeding America urges Congress to pass HR 644, the “America Gives More Act,” which will expand the food-donation tax deduction and help increase the amount of nutritious food donated to food banks.

Working with industry partners, we do everything within our means to rescue as much food as possible. We would have even more food to offer if the ‘America Gives More Act’ was in place. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the current food-donation tax deduction, some potential donors destroy or dump food, or use it as animal feed, instead of giving it to their local food bank,” said Aiken. “This is a waste of the nutrient value of the food, as well as the environmental resources invested in its production.”

Keeping food out of landfills is a sustainable way to reduce waste, while providing additional meals to people in need. Enactment of this legislation could give Feeding America the opportunity to distribute an additional 100 million meals annually.

“Feeding America is grateful for the significant amount of food we now receive from our donors and the federal government, but improving the food donation deduction is a common-sense policy that helps feed people and protects the environment.

“As our network works on additional ways to locate nutritious food, we are working on pilot programs to identify new donation opportunities. Unfortunately many cannot be implemented until current tax law is changed. Earth Day is the perfect day to ask the Senate to keep food out of landfills and to get it to people in need by voting for the ‘America Gives More Act,’” Aiken said.

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