Twenty-seven chocolatiers participated in Retail Confectioners International’s Chocolate Boot Camp® held February 22 through 25 at Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury, Connecticut. Students in the course varied in age and experience, yet each of them graduated with a better understanding of working with chocolate.
“As part of a 102 year-old business, the last thing we want to do is become complacent,” said Michael Crudden, Vice President of Operations for Rosalind Candy Castle in New Brighton, Pennsylvania. “Through my experience at Chocolate Boot Camp, I am able to take back new knowledge and ideas that will help us grow as a company.”
The four-day course incorporated both lecture and hands-on lab sessions, so that students could apply what they were learning. For example, they learned about the science of tempering chocolate in the lecture portion and then were able to see and be involved in the process through the lab sessions. Many students came in with a basic understanding of tempering and walked away with a comprehensive knowledge of not only what tempering is, but also the different methods to temper chocolate and how that affects the end product.
Chocolate Boot Camp was taught by five confectionery and chocolate experts who have more than 150 years of combined industry experience. Lead instructor Randy Hofberger, with R&D Candy Consultants, has been an instructor at RCI’s Chocolate Boot Camp since the first course was offered in 2003. “Everyone feels like they’ve learned something they can take back to their business and that is the best part for us.”
Retail Confectioners International provides educational opportunities across the country for confectionery retailers. For information about upcoming courses and events, visit retailconfectioners.org.
Twenty years after carrying its first craft brew at a single Kalamazoo store, Meijer is selling more than 34 locally-brewed craft beers each minute in Michigan while continuing to add up-and-coming local breweries to an extensive selection that rivals specialty stores across the Midwest.
Meijer says it expects to continue five years of double-digit volume growth in craft beer sales and plans to sell more than $90 million in craft beer in 2016, including $30 million in local and hyper-local craft beers produced by breweries in Michigan. Building on the popularity of local breweries that account for 44 percent of all craft beer sold in Michigan, Meijer will carry IPAs, amber ales, stouts, and porters from 50 Michigan breweries and also expand the reach of six of the most popular local brands in the state at stores across its Midwestern footprint this year.
“What’s happening here in Michigan is a microcosm of what’s happening throughout the Midwest and across the country – the state of craft beer is thriving,” said Peter Whitsett, Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing for Meijer, who notes that since 2010 the number of craft breweries Meijer carries and the space it provides for its selection has more than doubled. “Since carrying our first six packs of Bell’s Oberon in 1995, the culture of exploration in the craft beer community has continued to seek new tastes and flavors from locally-made brands. The craft partnerships we’ve forged over the last two decades are indicative of what is considered some of the best beers available in the country.”
The six breweries that will be featured in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin in 2016 include Bell’s Brewery, Founders Brewing Company, Short’s Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing Company, Atwater Brewery and Arcadia Brewing Company.
“It used to be that craft beer was only sold at small, independent stores,” said Dave Engbers, Co-founder of Founder’s Brewery, which started its partnership with Meijer in 2006 and sold more than 200,000 cases of its beer at Meijer stores this year. “Meijer took the opportunity to welcome craft beer enthusiasts and has done a great job engaging customers and listening to what they are demanding.”
“I remember coming to Meijer to start talking about distribution beyond our Bellaire brewery in 2006, and not yet having a production and packaging facility,” said Joe Short, Founder of Short’s Brewing Company. “The only way we could bring a sample was in a growler. They took a chance on us based on our experimental brews and that relationship not only helped build anticipation for our brand, but was pivotal in laying the foundation for our continued growth.”
Whitsett said Meijer customers can expect to see craft ciders, hard soda-flavored beers and distilled craft spirits to increase in popularity this year and that brewers will be aggressive with new innovations in barrel-aged brewing and techniques to improve consistency in each bottle or can of their brews. Whitsett also believes the popularity of hyper-localized breweries will continue to gain traction, and Michigan breweries like Perrin Brewing Company, Brewery Vivant, Dark Horse Brewery and Griffin Claw Brewing Company will continue attracting craft beer enthusiasts.
“One of the most exciting things about the craft beer world is its constant evolution, and we’re seeing more enthusiasts and casual beer drinkers shopping our aisles in their quest to find new brews and tastes from Michigan and beyond,” Whitsett said. “Being a retailer that calls Beer City U.S.A. home, it’s always been about community for us, and we’re thrilled we can help breweries expand beyond their local boundaries while providing customers across the Midwest with the craft beers they are most excited about.”
New Hope Natural Media announces the finalists of its NEXTY Awards. The twice-annual award, which is connected to New Hope’s Natural Products Expo shows, is bestowed upon products that display true innovation, inspiration and integrity with the purpose of bringing more health to more people. From delicious sauces, snacks and desserts to revolutionary supplements and green products for the home, pets, kids and body, the vast field of finalists displayed high standards in transparency, sustainability, packaging, use of ingredients and give-back missions.
“The NEXTYs were created to recognize the most game-changing and inspiring products in the CPG market today, and our 2016 Expo West NEXTY finalists all fit that bill,” says Carlotta Mast, Executive Director of Content and Insights at New Hope. “Picking the winners in each category was a tough task for our judging panel of industry experts.”
To determine the winners, New Hope’s content and standards team narrowed the field of more than 500 submissions down to three finalists each in 19 categories. Next, seven esteemed industry judges were brought in to select the winning product in each category, which will be revealed on March 12 at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California.
The 2016 NEXTY Award finalists are:
Perdue is moving NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER™ protein into mainstream grocery categories and foodservice menu items with the rapid transition of its entire frozen, refrigerated and fresh value-added chicken products and all of its foodservice turkey items to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER (NAE). Perdue made the announcement during the 2016 Annual Meat Conference in Nashville.
The transition, taking place now, will make PERDUE® the first major brand to convert all of its value-added chicken products to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, providing consumers with choices in every category – fresh, refrigerated and frozen. The conversion to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER at retail includes all PERDUE brand heat-and-eat and pre-seasoned chicken items, such as retail nuggets, strips and grilled strips. It ensures that consumers do not have to forego the confidence that comes with NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER for the convenience they want, nor will they have to wait years. Products will hit shelves this month, with the conversion continuing through May. Perdue is distributing those products coast-to-coast.
The conversion to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER for all foodservice turkey items means that more than 150 NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER menu items are now available to independent operators through foodservice distributors across the country. The foodservice turkey items join a complete line of NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER menu-ready chicken distributed under the PERDUE HARVESTLAND® and other foodservice brands.
Eric Christianson, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Innovation, explains the scale of Perdue’s latest advancement in NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER consumer products: “In the retail sector, we’re converting all branded refrigerated and frozen convenience products to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, bringing the total number of products with the claim to more than 200. In just a few months, we will take NAE mainstream, moving it beyond select fresh items and niche brands and making PERDUE NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER chicken products available everywhere consumers shop for chicken in the grocery store. The combination of converting our everyday, go-to PERDUE products to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, along with our NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER foodservice offerings, represents a significant transformation in the market. We’re raising the bar on the choices consumers can expect right now.”
The announcement follows the company’s continued leadership in minimizing antibiotic use: two-thirds of the company’s chickens are now raised without any antibiotics of any kind, up from 50 percent six months ago. And although raising turkey without antibiotics is more difficult than chicken, Perdue has nonetheless converted more than half of its turkey raising to NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER, a major shift in turkey production practices.
“The NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER distinction is very important to us,” said Chairman Jim Perdue. “That claim is transparent and absolutely clear to consumers: no antibiotics of any kind, at any time. Consumers have a number of concerns around antibiotic use, and they deserve products that address all those concerns with a promise they can trust. That’s why we back up the NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER claim on PERDUE consumer chicken products with a USDA Process Verified Program.”
Cheese lovers everywhere are preparing to celebrate Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day on April 16, 2016. Created by the Oldways Cheese Coalition, this worldwide holiday offers cheese enthusiasts from Melbourne to Manhattan a chance to participate in events highlighting the distinctive cultural heritage of raw milk cheese.
Last year, Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day (RMCAD) included more than 500 retail locations around the globe providing samples and information about traditional cheeses. The Second Annual RMCAD is set to be another boon for raw milk cheese, especially in light of the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to suspend testing requirements that posed a threat to raw milk cheese in the US.
“Raw milk, unpasteurized cheeses are truly the old ways, and this delicious, traditional food deserves attention,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways President. “Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day introduces more people to the pleasures and great tastes of these extraordinary traditional cheeses, and celebrates the individuals who bring raw milk cheeses to life from the pasture to the plate.”
Cheese has been made with pure raw milk from its earliest days millennia ago. Traditional cheesemaking helped preserve fluid milk before the advent of refrigeration, and it was only in the last century that cheese began to be made with pasteurized milk. The natural microflora in raw milk produces cheeses — such as Gruyère AOP, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort, and many American originals like Grafton Village Cheddar — that are characteristic of local environments, expressive of terroir, evocative of complex flavors, and beneficial to health. Raw milk cheeses are both delicious and nutritious. Scientific studies reveal that, when consumed in moderation, cheese is an excellent way to add healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and probiotics to your diet.
Longtime aficionados and newcomers to the world of raw milk cheese will be able to experience a wide variety of events around the world, from tastings in Denver to special classes in São Paulo. Producers will offer cheese samples at retail stores in San Francisco, and cheesemongers will share their love of fromage au lait cru in Paris and Boston. All participating organizations, activities, and promotions for Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day will be listed on the Oldways Cheese Coalition website.
Retailers, restaurants, producers, and cheese enthusiasts are invited to participate by registering their own RMCAD events. To get involved with Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, or learn more about joining the Cheese Coalition, contact Carlos Yescas, Oldways Cheese Coalition Program Director, at email@example.com, 617.896.4822.
Join in the cheese conversation and celebration on social media by using the hashtag #RawMilkCheese.
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Thursday, February 25, called on leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to push back against the attackers of biotechnology in agricultural production. Daniels was a keynote speaker at the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington.
“The attack on GMO technology is the most blatant anti-science of the age, but it is far worse than that,” Daniels said. “Lives are at stake, and while scientists, regulators and business people are naturally reluctant to fight back, it’s morally irresponsible not to.”
Daniels cited projections by the United Nations that the global population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people in 2050, generating a 70 percent increase in the demand for food. He described GMOs as the best hope to ensure the world’s poor have access to an affordable and nutritious diet.
“Thousand of studies and trillions of meals consumed prove the safety of biotechnologies,” he said. “We would never withhold medications with a safety record like that, and it’s just as wrong and just as anti-scientific to do so for food.”
Daniels also praised Purdue and other land-grant universities for making the world’s food supply not only safer and more abundant, but far friendlier to the environment.
Daniels cited work done by the university’s World Food Prize winners as well as the Purdue Improved Crop Storage program as examples of land-grant initiatives that are making a difference in the developing world. He also described a forthcoming study by Purdue agricultural economist Wally Tyner and colleagues that concluded if the United States banned GMO crops, consumers would pay at least $14 billion more in annual food costs and global agricultural greenhouse gases would increase by up to 17 percent.
ALDI opens its first eight southern California locations on Thursday, March 24. The ALDI grand openings will mark a significant milestone for the grocery retailer as it prepares to open approximately 45 stores and employ more than 1,100 people in southern California by the end of 2016.
“Ever since we announced our plan to bring ALDI to Southern California, the positive response from people across the Southland has been overwhelming, and we’re excited to start opening stores next month and throughout the year,” said Gordon Nesbit, Moreno Valley division Vice President for ALDI. “There is a strong appetite among southern Californians for an alternative place to shop and we are eager to show them the significant benefits that can come from shopping at ALDI, both for their wallets and lifestyles.”
When shopping at ALDI for the first time, customers will immediately see a difference from other grocery stores. Those little differences add up to big savings for customers and are the key reasons ALDI is one of America’s favorite grocery stores:
As part of its responsible retailing efforts, Ahold USA has announced plans to make its companies’ private label shell eggs 100 percent cage-free by 2022.
Ahold USA’s retail divisions – Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Landover, Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Martin’s and online grocer Peapod – now offer cage-free, free-range, organic, and traditional egg varieties for its customers. Approximately 80 percent of all eggs sold among Ahold USA companies are sold as house brands or private label.
“Animal welfare is a fundamental part of our responsible retailing program,” said Marissa Nelson, Senior Vice President of responsible retailing and healthy living, Ahold USA. “We believe that cage-free environments are a more humane way to treat hens, and we have committed to have all of our private label shell eggs 100 percent cage-free, subject to available supply.”
“Ahold USA companies are deeply committed to providing customers with great products at great prices from suppliers who share our dedication to the highest standards of animal welfare,” continued Nelson. “Ahold USA and our retail divisions will continue to work with the most reputable suppliers to source our private label cage-free shell eggs produced with respect for the animal.”
Jay Cummins, President of The Kroger Company’s Smith’s division, plans to retire on April 29, after 44 years with the company.
“Jay has always led with enthusiasm and passion for our people and teams. It shows in the great pride he takes in the accomplishments of associates, especially when they go above and beyond for our customers,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “We are thankful for Jay’s service to Smith’s and Kroger, and to our local communities where he has always demonstrated a personal commitment to making a difference for others. We wish Jay, his wife, Terrie, and their family all the best in retirement.”
Cummins began his Kroger career as a clerk in 1972 in Huntington Beach, California. In the following years, he served in positions of increasing responsibility in store and district management and in grocery merchandising for the company’s Food 4 Less division. In 2002, Cummins was named vice president and general manager of the Food 4 Less Midwest division, where he led the expansion of the Food 4 Less price impact warehouse store format in the Chicago area. In 2004, he was named president of the Food 4 Less division, which operates stores in California, Illinois and Indiana. Cummins was named president of the Mid-Atlantic division in 2007 before assuming his current role in 2014.
Cummins serves on the Board of Western Association of Food Chains. Under his leadership, Smith’s has received several awards recognizing the company’s philanthropic efforts, including Outstanding Corporation/Foundation by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Las Vegas chapter in 2015.
His replacement will be announced at a later date.