By Lorrie Baumann
Murray’s Cheese has introduced a brand new cheese into the American market. Annelies starts with an Appenzeller-type cheese made in Switzerland by Walter Räss of Kaserie Tufertschwil. Räss makes the cheese, ages it in Switzerland for a couple of months and then ships the wheels to Murray’s Cheese in New York, where it’s aged on wood, its rind washed weekly with purified water, for a minimum of nine more months. “The cheese is very pliable early, without a whole lot of depth of flavor. As it ages, around the 13-month mark, we’re getting a lot of the tropical fruit [flavor notes], the salt is more concentrated, and you get more depth from the savory flavors,” said Steve Millard, Murray’s Cheese Vice President of Merchandising and Foodservice.
Murray’s will be the only shop selling the cheese outside the Räss’ village of St. Gallen in Switzerland. The Annelies name comes from Räss’ wife, who shares the name. It’ll be available at Murray’s New York stores and online throughout the year, as supplies allow. “It’s a good amount of cheese, but I fully anticipate us selling through it pretty quickly,” Millard said.
The collaboration responsible for the cheese started with a visit. “The cheesemaker came and visited the [Murray’s] caves a couple of years ago and had a conversation with our cave master,” Millard said. “The two of them really hit it off and got into a discussion about taking some of Walter’s cheeses at a young stage. He went back to Switzerland, and two months later, we got a couple of wheels of cheese wrapped in paper.”
“We had room in our cave, and we knew from aging Tarentaise that we get from Springbrook that our Alpine cave was developing some really good flavors,” he added. “We wanted to do it, in general, because we didn’t really have any Alpine cheeses that we were aging from a green stage…. We’ve always operated an Alpine cave, but we had previously been taking existing cheeses and aging them further.”
Murray’s cave master set the two wheels from Räss on a wood shelf and wash the rind every week for a year. “Walter came back in July, 2015 and tasted the cheese that had been in the cave for a year. He was totally blown away,” Millard said. “He instantly agreed to send us 30 wheels a month.”
The cheese is now part of Murray’s Cheese’s exclusive Cave Master line, which also includes Greensward. Greensward, a collaboration between Murray’s Cheese and Jasper Hill, shared third place honors with Jeffs’ Select Gouda in the best of show category at this year’s American Cheese Society Annual Judging & Competition. Greensward starts with Jasper Hill’s Harbison and is then washed with cider as it ages in Murray’s Affinage Caves.
By Lorrie Baumann
As both a retailer and a wholesale meat processor, Rastelli Foods Group is in prime position to observe how the American grocery landscape is evolving. Rastelli Foods Group supplies meat in the wholesale market to grocers and meal kit delivery services up and down the East Coast of the U.S., provides meat for U.S. military installations overseas, ships directly to consumers across the U.S. and operates two New Jersey specialty grocery stores, a 6,000-square foot store originally opened in Deptford as Rastelli’s Meat Stop and then remodeled and reopened five years ago as Rastelli Market Fresh and a new 40,000 square-foot specialty grocer in Marlton.
Ray Rastelli, III is the company’s Vice President and son of the Founder who started Rastelli Meat Stop about 40 years ago and grew it into one of the premier meat suppliers on the East Coast. His father, also Ray Rastelli, is still very active in the business and likely to be recognized by the QVC shoppers who see him pitching fresh and frozen meats four to six times a week on their televisions. The QVC sales are part of a direct-to-consumer mail-order operation that delivers 50,000 to 60,000 packages, mainly fresh and frozen meat and seafood products, both to those QVC shoppers and to customers who come directly to the company’s website. “We started our e-commerce platform in 2009,” Rastelli says. “For the first few years, we sold a few thousand packages a month. Over the past 18 months, we’ve seen a significant, significant increase.”
From this vantage point, Ray Rastelli, 33, is seeing a trend that’s corroborated by marketing researchers. U.S. government figures document that about half of Americans’ food dollars are now spend on food prepared in restaurants, and even when Americans eat at home, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re doing the same kind of cooking that their grandmothers did. “The biggest thing I see that’s really changing in the past two years is the evolution of the at-home delivery companies,” Rastelli said.
“Some of the retailers we work with are trying to come out with their own version of that – meal kits right at the front of the store. Those companies are definitely taking market share.” According to market research firm Packaged Facts, there are now more than 150 meal delivery kit services operating in the U.S. and over the past few years, these businesses have raised more than $650 million in venture capital. Most of these meal kit delivery services are targeting young professionals and families with children who live in urban areas.
Americans between the ages of 25 and 55 are increasingly comfortable ordering their food online, and and cooking it at home, often in the form of meals that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Women now spend less than an hour a day on food preparation and cleanup, while men still spend an average of less than half an hour a day working in the kitchen, according to 2015 statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Rastelli says his company’s online customers tend to be foodies who care about the quality of the food they’re getting. “They’re definitely people who are really engaged in food, not people who are just looking to put something on the plate,” he said.
He says they’re increasingly likely to see organic and all-natural foods as healthier options. “Five years ago, organic and all-natural would be one one hundredth of the business,” he said. “These days, it’s between 30 to 45 percent of the product we manufacture.”
Rastelli, who started work sweeping floors in his father’s business when he was 10 years old, then became a regular employee on the night shift while he was a sophomore in high school, now sees these trends playing out in the company’s two retail stores. The original Rastelli Market Fresh was converted from a 6,000-foot Rastelli’s Meat Stop store five years ago. Designed as a kind of hybrid between Whole Foods and the previous store, but with a lot of prepared options, the business at the new store inspired the company to expand with a second, bigger location in Marlton, New Jersey, about a half-hour drive from Philadelphia.
The new Rastelli Market Fresh is more of a prepared food store with a pantry of specialty items than a full-service grocer, with almost half of its business professional customers stopping in to eat in the store rather than purchase a basket of food to take home and cook. The store includes several made-to-order restaurant-type concepts – there’s no hot-line buffet – including a pizza stand, sushi restaurant, a taqueria and a Craftwich sandwich shop. Customers order from any of the concepts and the store’s deli counter from a self-service kiosk that prints out a ticket for the customer, who waits only about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes for a meal that’s made from scratch. “It’s set the world on fire in that area,” Rastelli said. “It’s been beyond our expectations.”
Of the 20,000 customers a week who come through the store and check out with an average $38 purchase, fully 9,000 to 10,000 of them came to eat at the 150-seat cafe/lounge or to pick up a single meal to take home with them. According to research reported by the Washington Post in 2015, less than 60 percent of suppers served at home in 2014 were actually cooked at home, and although that trend stalled a bit during the recession, Americans began picking up takeout again as the economy improved.
The single most popular concept in the Marlton Rastelli Market Fresh store is a create-a-plate offering in which customers select a protein from several choices that might include a chicken breast, a filet mignon, a grilled salmon portion and a lamb chop and then add two sides from a menu of 10 selections to put together a total customized meal priced at $8.99. The concept has lines of customers waiting every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Rastelli said. “We package it up for them and off they go.”
The retail stores also act as a product development lab for products offered by the company’s online and wholesale operations.
For instance, recipes for pre-marinated steaks and chicken breasts, which are extremely popular items, are pilot-tested in the retail stores, where Rastelli and other family members will spend time on the weekends talking to customers about whether they like what they’re eating. If not, the recipe goes back for more work until there’s general agreement that the company has a really good product before it’s mass-marketed to Rastelli’s online customers and to other grocery retailers. “We’re finding that grocery stores are just shifting to what people are looking for. “People still have to eat,” Rastelli said. “We try to cater to business professionals who are in a jam and trying to get dinner for their families because they worked late.”
By Lorrie Baumann
A new study highlights the cost for American cheesemakers and the entire dairy industry if European rules restricting the use of the “feta” and “parmesan” names were to be enforced in the United States as well. The only real good news in the report is that although small and medium-sized firms would be significantly pressured by lower cheese prices, they might be able to survive by marketing their niche and specialty cheeses. The report was funded by the Consortium for Common Food Names, a dairy industry group.
According to Informa Economics IEG, a market research firm specializing in the agriculture industry, the adoption of rules prohibiting American companies from using the “feta” and “parmesan” names would diminish demand for American-made cheeses now sold under those names, and the negative impacts could also affect American-made cheeses labeled Asiago, Gorgonzola, Romano, Havarti, Neufchatel, Fontina and Muenster. Eventually, those restrictions could also affect Brie, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Camembert, Gouda, Raclette, Edam, Provolone, Burrata, Emmentaler and even Cheddar cheeses.
Under European Union regulations, only cheesemakers in the specific geographic area in which certain cheeses originated are allowed to use names that have been ruled as geographic indicators. At present, there are 250 cheeses that have been granted such protection in the EU or are in the process of acquiring it. If U.S. cheese manufacturers were forced to adhere to these regulations, they’d likely be required to suspend use of names that have commonly been used in the U.S. for decades. The report suggests that the only U.S. cheeses that we can assume will never be affected by such restrictions are those sold as blue cheese, Monterey Jack, Baby Jack, Brick, Swiss, Colby, Baby Swiss and processed cheeses like Velveeta or Kraft Singles.
If these restrictions were to be imposed in the U.S. the immediate impact might be to reduce consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses by 578 million pounds, or 5 percent of total U.S. cheese consumption in 2015. At current market prices, that would be worth about $2.3 billion. Delayed impacts would be even greater, with consumption of U.S.-produced cheeses possibly falling by a projected 1.71 billion pounds.
Those drops in demand for American cheeses would have a significant effect on the U.S. dairy industry as a whole, with the possible effect that milk prices to the dairy farmers could fall by significantly over a 10-year period. That would put some dairy farmers out of business and reduce the size of the nation’s dairy cow herd. “The lower dairy prices do boost domestic consumption of other dairy products, and it does increase exports, but not nearly enough to offset the drop in cheese consumption,” according to the report.
Overall, the consumer reaction if the only mozzarella cheese they could find in their supermarket was imported from Italy and their cheddar could only come from Britain would trigger a sharp contraction in the U.S. dairy industry. The report predicts that dairy farm revenue could fall by 5.5 percent to 12.7 percent over three years, leading to revenue losses of $5.8 billion to $13.2 billion.
Hollandia Produce, L.P., a portfolio company of Mosaic Capital Partners, LLC, has named John Cochran as its new Chief Executive Officer effective November 14, 2016.
Cochran’s experience as a CEO of high-growth consumer packaged goods businesses will serve as a springboard for Hollandia as it plans to accelerate growth in 2017. He previously served as CEO of Ole Smoky Distillery and Pabst Brewing Company. In addition to his time as vice president of strategy at Roll International (now The Wonderful Companies), Cochran also held the positions of President and COO at FIJI Water.
“I am very excited for the opportunity to work with the Hollandia Produce family,” said Cochran. “They have done an amazing job growing the hydroponic lettuce market to what it is today. Our plans for the future are very exciting, and we look forward to partnering with our customers as the category captain for living greens.”
Cochran will assume his new leadership role in place of Hollandia’s founder and long-time CEO Pete Overgaag, who will continue with the company as Executive Vice President of Innovation and Corporate Strategy. Mosaic Principal and Hollandia Board Member Ian Mohler spoke of the hire saying, “Pete built Hollandia into the leading hydroponic lettuce company, and we are excited about adding an individual with John’s track record to an amazing team as we focus on growing the company.”
This change in leadership comes as the company celebrates one year of being 100 percent employee-owned through an employee stock ownership plan.
The Olive Fruit, creators of Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil, are holding the company’s first annual holiday gift basket charity auction, with the creation of a gift basket to be auctioned to the highest bidder through its Facebook page. All of the proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels, America’s oldest and largest national organization supporting more than 5000 community-based programs dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger.
The basket will include a range of epicurean delights supplied by generous partners, such as Sir Kensington Condiments, Terry’s Toffee, Royal Rose Syrups, Tate’s Bake Shop Cookies, Fundamentally Nuts, Sandamiri Crostini and, of course, Kiklos Olive Oil. The estimated value of the basket is $200, but Kiklos and partners are hoping that the auction will produce double that amount. Moreover, the Olive Fruit will then match the final bid with its own corporation donation.
Facebook fans participate in the auction by commenting their bids on the Holiday Gift Basket Charity Auction image on The Olive Fruit Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/The-Olive-Fruit-215702495257739/. In order to drive more bids, Kiklos and partners are also offering participants the chance to win a duplicate holiday basket, even if they aren’t the highest bidder. The Kiklos Holiday Gift Basket Charity Auction runs for 12 days, ending at noon EST on December 21.
In honor of National Brownie Day on Thursday, December 8, 2016, the Boston Mayor’s office has named Dancing Deer Baking Co.’s Chocolate Chunk Brownie the Official Brownie of Boston. All scratch-baked in Dancing Deer’s Boston bakery, the Chocolate Chunk Brownies have been delighting Bostonians’ taste buds since 1994.
As part of the proclamation, Dancing Deer was recognized for the company’s outstanding work in the community as seen through its support of One Family Inc., an organization dedicated to ending homelessness in families in Massachusetts.
Since 1994, Dancing Deer Baking Company has been known for its delicious, scratch-baked brownies, cookies, cakes, baking mixes and gourmet gift arrangements. Dancing Deer is renowned for its superb quality, innovative products, socially responsible business practices and world class customer service. Its brownies have twice been recognized as “Best Brownies in America,” and Dancing Deer has won many other national awards and accolades for its distinctive products.
In 2009, the company was one of the first 25 Massachusetts companies to become certified as a sustainable business leader. Dancing Deer places an emphasis on giving back to the community, most notably by helping homeless and at-risk families through its Sweet Home Project initiative. Dancing Deer baked goods can be found in specialty, natural food and grocery stores nationwide.
The Kroger Co. announced that as a result of its one-day Honoring our Heroes hiring event held on November 9, the company hired more than 4,000 military veterans and their family members.
“I’m so proud of our store teams for their outstanding efforts during our national hiring event in November,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s Group Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations. “We can all be proud of hiring 4,000 veterans and family members in one day. We are delighted to welcome them to our Kroger family.”
Last month’s veteran-focused hiring event performed better than Kroger’s first one-day Honoring our Heroes hiring event, which was held on September 15, 2015 and resulted in the company hiring 2,000 military veterans and their family members.
Kroger has hired more than 35,000 veterans since 2009 as part of its commitment to active duty troops and the nation’s 23 million veterans.
Through the Honoring Our Heroes program, Kroger’s family of stores have donated more than $18 million since 2010 to help support USO programs, which represents the largest cumulative gift to the USO in its nearly 75-year history.
The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. has just announced recent executive team appointments for Hain Celestial United States, Hain Pure Protein Corporation and Hain Celestial United Kingdom.
“We are very pleased to announce the appointment of these seasoned consumer packaged foods industry executives. They further strengthen our worldwide leadership team and their future contributions will be invaluable as Hain Celestial grows to the next level internationally with the strength of our diversified portfolio of organic, natural and better-for-you brands,” commented Irwin D. Simon, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hain Celestial.
Hain Celestial United States
Gary W. Tickle joins Hain Celestial as Chief Operating Officer. He is a proven leader, both in the United States and internationally, having served in various executive roles driving innovation, global strategy development and execution at Nestlé Group. Gary most recently served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Nestle Infant Nutrition North America with responsibility for the Gerber and Nestle brands. Prior to this role, Gary served as the Global Head, Maternal and Infant Nutrition Strategic Business Unit in Vevey, Switzerland, as the Regional Business Head, South Asia based in New Delhi, India in Infant Nutrition and Chief Executive Officer, Auckland, New Zealand with responsibility for baking, beverages, cereals, confections and frozen food. Tickle will oversee the sales and marketing functions for Hain Celestial’s better-for-you snacking and better-for-you pantry platforms and brands in the United States.
Jerome “Jay” W. Erskin joins Hain Celestial as Chief Supply Chain Officer. He is a results oriented operations executive with strong experience in the food and beverage industries in the United States, having started his business career at Kraft Foods Inc. as a Manufacturing and Procurement Manager. Erskin also served in various capacities at The Dannon Company, Inc.; MARS Petcare, NA; Chobani, LLC and more recently as chief operating officer at SK Food Group, Inc. He will oversee the supply chain as well as productivity for Hain Celestial United States.
James “Jamie” F. G. Fay joins Hain Celestial as Chief Customer Officer with a substantial background as a senior sales and marketing executive in the natural, conventional and mass channels. Most recently Jamie served as senior vice president, global sales for Nature’s Path Foods. Previously, Fay worked in positions of increasing responsibility at Mars, Inc. ascending to a Senior Vice President, Sales role on the North America Chocolate business. Jamie also worked in various sales and marketing positions for Group Danone in the United States and Canada. Jamie will oversee the sales functions for Hain Celestial United States including Consumer and Customer Analytics and Trade Marketing along with the marketing function for Better-for-You Baby.
Additionally, Hain Celestial appointed Leah Dunmore as Vice President, Marketing, Better-for-You Pantry for Hain Celestial United States, having previously held positions at Campbell Soup Company as Vice President, U.S. Soup; and Mars Chocolate, North America as Marketing Director, M&M’s Business. Earlier in her career, Dunmore spent over a decade with SC John in various marketing leadership roles across a wide range of brands. At Celestial Seasonings, Tim Collins joined the company as Vice President, Marketing, with responsibility for the Celestial Seasonings® tea and Dream® plant-based beverage brands.
Hain Pure Protein Corporation
James R. Meiers has been appointed Chief Executive Officer, Hain Pure Protein Corporation overseeing the Empire® Kosher, Plainville Farms® and FreeBird® poultry brands and the protein business of Hain Celestial in addition to his responsibilities as Chief Operations Officer at Hain Celestial, including the company’s recently announced Project Terra worldwide cost savings initiative.
Hain Celestial United Kingdom
James Skidmore has been appointed Chief Executive Officer Hain Daniels, having joined the company with the Orchard House Foods Limited acquisition in December 2015. James is responsible for the Hain Daniels business with its grocery, fruit and chilled and frozen business units featuring the Hartley’s®, New Covent Garden Soup Co. ®, Linda McCartney’s®, Sun-Pat® and Robertson’s® brands, among others.
The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) has announced its new executive committee and slate of board members for 2017 as appointed by Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack.
The board will work to support the mission of HAB’s five-year strategic plan: being the catalyst of collective efforts toward market expansion in the U.S. The plan’s six strategic priorities include: building demand, nutrition research and affairs, supply and demand data collection, and quality as well as two new initiatives – sustainability and industry engagement. Sustainability efforts will concentrate on bringing together a healthy public, planet and profitable avocado stakeholder; while industry engagement will encourage growers, exporters, handlers, importers and industry associations that supply the U.S. to support the new vision and successfully execute the board’s strategic plan.
Executive committee positions have been assigned to: Chairman re-elect Chris Henry, importer; Vice Chairman re-elect Bob Schaar, producer; Treasurer Laurie Luschei, producer; and Secretary Javier Medina, importer.
“We are committed to advancing our priorities to meet HAB’s vision of becoming the number one consumed fruit in America,” said Chairman Chris Henry. “We are confident that we have the right people and plan in place to ensure growth goals are met.
Three members and three additional alternates were chosen to serve in the positions. Appointed board members include Keith Barnard, importer; Salvador Dominquez, producer; and Linda Mullins, producer. New alternate positions include Ohannes Karaoghlanian, producer; Patrick Lucy, importer; and Jim Swoboda, producer.
“We look forward to continuing to build on the tremendous success of our outgoing officers and board members,” said Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director of the Hass Avocado Board. “With our five-year strategic plan established, we are highly motivated and excited about the future of our industry.”
HAB thanks the outgoing board members for their service and commitment to advancing the industry’s priorities. Special thanks go to Rick Greenwood, chair of corporate governance committee, which developed and implemented guidelines with the purpose of making board membership more attractive, enhancing board effectiveness and adhering to best practices; Sebastian Bulnes, nutrition liaison, who served as the link between the board and HAB on nutrition research and related affairs; and Ohannes Karaoghlanian for his unwavering contributions to the finance committee.
HAB is also grateful for the efforts of this year’s outgoing alternates that include Custodio Aguilar, producer; Faye Hall, producer; and Jimmy Lotufo, importer.
The KIND Foundation – a 501(c)3 charity started by KIND Healthy Snacks – has named the winners of its philanthropic program, KIND People. Through the program, the Foundation is awarding $1.1MM to seven people who are championing inclusivity and serving as beacons of empathy in communities nationwide.
The KIND People winners are addressing a range of societal issues – from infusing humanity and healing into Ohio’s prison system to providing clean water to Michigan families. Every day, these exemplars are working to ensure that all people – even the least understood and the most vulnerable – experience touches of humanity and have the opportunity to improve their lives.
“These remarkable human beings capture the spirit we need to elevate and the values that make America great, including kindness, respect and the conviction that we can make a positive difference in each other’s lives,” says Daniel Lubetzky, Founder and CEO of KIND and President of The KIND Foundation. “Most notably, these KIND People show us how to take steps toward understanding those who seem different, but deep down share our humanity.”
Since the program’s kickoff last January, nearly 5,000 stories of unsung heroes were submitted. Dana Rosenberg, Director of The KIND Foundation, says, “The response to the program reaffirmed our belief that good work is being done every day, and the extraordinary people leading this work deserve recognition and support. By showcasing their stories, we hope to encourage people everywhere to discover the kindness inside of themselves and take action in their own lives.”
Six KIND People winners will receive a $100,000 prize, and one grand prize winner, Doniece Sandoval, will receive a $500,000 prize. Sandoval’s organization, Lava Mae, stemmed from an idea that many thought was impossible — turning retired transportation buses into showers and toilets on wheels. Her pioneering approach has prompted advocates across the globe to devise innovative solutions to homelessness.
Unlike other programs, each KIND People awardee is given full discretion on how to deploy the funds, meaning they could use some or all for personal needs or interests. Sandoval, however, is allocating 100 percent of her prize to scaling Lava Mae’s services, launching an open source toolkit so that other communities can follow suit, and innovating new pilot programs. She says, “Since Lava Mae began, we’ve received more than 1,200 requests to replicate our services from across the U.S. and around the world. Now, with The KIND Foundation’s support, we’ll be able to help cities everywhere deliver hygiene and dignity for their homeless neighbors.”
In addition to Sandoval, the Foundation will award the following people:
Jo Dee Davis
When Davis started volunteering at an Ohio prison 16 years ago, she never imagined it would become her community. Her organization, Healing Broken Circles, helps bring the voice of those affected into the conversation about incarceration, and its programs create a place for learning and self-discovery so that inmates can start life anew – inside and outside of prison.
An advocate for the underserved, Ho has dedicated his life to ensuring that people understand their rights and gain access to the legal services they deserve. He works 100 hours per week at Community Activism Law Alliance (CALA), bringing energy, purpose, and personal experience to his clients’ cases so that he can fight alongside them and make their voices heard.
Lewis-Patrick’s sense of justice and belief in her ability to enact change has united a community in the fight for water rights. It started after she learned that Detroit had cut off the water of a building occupied by mothers and senior citizens. She co-founded We the People of Detroit, a grassroots organization that gives low-income families access to water; provides education on water issues; and mobilizes people to take action.
After beating breast cancer, Goldberg started A Silver Lining Foundation to help others access the resources once at her disposal. Today, she provides funding for the entire spectrum of breast health testing (screenings through biopsy) as well as educational workshops to uninsured and underinsured women. Her ability to merge humanity with healthcare puts thousands of patients at ease.
75-year-old Shaughnessy, nicknamed “the lunch lady,” is an unstoppable force, feeding and uniting a community. Her tireless energy and generous spirit will help deliver an estimated 20,000 food packages this year to families in Copalis Beach, Washington, and surrounding areas. She not only delivers nutrition, but also gives hundreds of families something – and someone – to rely on every week.
Jodi Rae Ingstad
Known as a “joyologist,” Ingstad’s commitment to kindness extends past her day job at an elderly home. Whether materially or emotionally, she selflessly serves North Dakota’s most vulnerable – including the homeless, elderly, and families in need. Those whose lives she has touched describe her heart as one of action.