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4th One World Award and 4th Lifetime Achievement Award Presented

“For decades and way beyond the Demeter movement, the Frey family farm has been an excellent example for economic sustainability, a concerted farming approach and a loving, caring relationship with nature.” With these words the OWA jury congratulated the Frey family on winning the OWA Silver Medal that is endowed with 2,500 Euro. Thirty-four years ago, Beba and Paul Frey started their Demeter winery which was the first organic winery in the USA. Today 30 family members coordinate the biodynamic cultivation and manage the self-sufficient farm. With success: their wines are internationally acclaimed and it was the Frey family that marketed the first sulfite-free organic wine of the world. Today, three thirds of the farm area is a designated nature preserve providing habitats for numerous plant species and wild animals.

The OWA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to organic pioneer Fred Kirschenmann from the USA by IFOAM Executive Director Markus Arbenz and Percy and Louise Schmeiser. They stressed Kirschenmann’s tireless effort for farmers’ interests and his commitment for organic agriculture at the political and academic level. Being an internationally recognized leader, he is an impressive example for the sustainable effects that lifelong commitment can achieve.  He was actively involved in the foundation of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society and the international certification agency Farm Verified Organic Inc. In 1995, Fred Kirschenmann’s farm was featured in the award-winning documentary “My Father`s Garden.” Currently he shares an appointment as Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He is President of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture at Pocantico Hills, where he explores how rural and urban communities can work together to develop a more resilient, sustainable agriculture and food system.

This year’s OWA Gold Award was presented to two winners: the South Korean Hansalim Federation and the Timbaktu Collective fromIndia. Next to the Frey family additional OWA Silver Medals went to organic pioneer and activist Ibrahima Seck from Senegal, Biovega from Croatia as well as scientist and activist Professor Rita Schwentesius from Germany/Mexico.

For more information about the OWA: http://www.one-world-award.de

About the One World Award (OWA)

In 2008 organic pioneer Joseph Wilhelm, founder and liable shareholder of Rapunzel Naturkost, initiated the international OWA award. The OWA honors individuals, projects and innovative ideas that make the world a better and more just place thanks to their positive ecological, economic and social impact. The winner of the OWA Gold receives a cash prize of 25,000 Euro and the winners of the OWA Silver award receive 2,500 Euro each. The prize money is donated by Rapunzel Naturkost. Partner and patron of the OWA is the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM). The OWA is presented every two years.

Robert A. Sigel named President of Associated Food Stores

Associated Food Stores, LLC has appointed Robert A. Sigel to the position of President. Sigel, who started his career at a family-owned business, has over 35 years of experience in the food industry including a long and successful tenure as the CEO of Millbrook Distribution Services. He is also a Director of Associated Food Store Holdings, LLC and an Operating Executive at AUA Private Equity.

Associated Food Stores is a portfolio company of AUA Private Equity Partners, supplying hundreds of independently-owned supermarkets throughout ConnecticutNew Jersey, and the New York metropolitan area. As President, Sigel will report to the Board of Directors and be responsible for the overall management of the business.

Andy Unanue, Managing Partner of AUA and Chairman of Associated Food Stores, LLC, said, “We are very pleased to have someone of Bob’s caliber and experience at Associated. The breadth of his experience in leading family owned, publicly held, and private equity backed businesses in the supermarket industry will be instrumental as the company  continues to grow its store banners and its market share in the New York tri-state area.”

“Associated Food Stores has a long history of providing value added services enabling independent supermarket owners to successfully grow their businesses. I look forward to working with our store owners, suppliers, and associates as we embark on our mission of expanding our services and our store concentration in the New York Metro area and beyond,” said Sigel, incoming President of Associate Food Stores, LLC.

Robert Sigel – President, Associated Food Stores, LLC
Most recently Sigel has been an Operating Executive at AUA Private Equity Partners. He started his career at Millbrook Distribution Services, a value added distributor of health, beauty care, general merchandise, and specialty food products founded by his father in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was instrumental in helping to rapidly grow the business, which became one of the largest distributors of its kind in the Northeast. He also played a key role in the sale of Millbrook to McKesson Corporation and ultimately became president and chief executive officer of McKesson’s Service Merchandising Division.

When McKesson decided to focus strictly on health care-related businesses in the late 1990s, Sigel worked with an investment partner to purchase Millbrook from McKesson. His vision was to grow the specialty food portion of the business, as well as to vertically integrate the company by acquiring food brands. Mr. Sigel and his partners formed a branded food group and eventually bought Manischewitz®, Guiltless Gourmet®, and Rokeach®.

In 2007, Sigel led the successful sale of Millbrook to United Natural Food (UNFI), where he held the titles of president and CEO of Millbrook, and was named an executive officer of UNFI and president of specialty distribution. Sigel assisted in the transition and worked on the integration of Millbrook into UNFI Specialty before retiring from the company in 2008. He then established R.A. Sigel and Company to acquire, invest in and consult to branded food businesses.

Sigel graduated from Bowdoin College with a BA in Economics, and the Whitman School at Syracuse University with an MBA in Accounting and Finance.

Which Mac & Cheese Brand Just Got Sold? It Wasn’t Amy’s!

Social media and phone lines were buzzing last week when news broke that Annie’s had sold to food giant General Mills. Customers were confused about whether it was Annie’s or Amy’s that had been purchased.

“It was definitely not Amy’s,” said Andy Berliner, co-founder of Amy’s Kitchen. A sigh of relief came from Amy’s fan base as the confusion was cleared and they were reassured that Amy’s will continue to produce their organic and non-GMO favorites as always.

While dozens of natural food brands have been acquired by global corporations eager to corner the growing organic market, Amy’s is one of a handful of privately held, family-owned major organic food brands left—along with Nature’s Path, Lundberg RiceClif Bar, and Organic Valley.

“We love to feed people. That is our passion. We also find it very satisfying to make foods for people with special dietary needs,” says Rachel Berliner, company co-founder. The 26-year-old company remains committed to making its delicious mac & cheese (of which there are seven different varieties), as well as over 250 other foods from scratch in its own kitchens.

In the midst of a shifting industry, Amy’s is staying true to its founding vision. Old fashioned? Maybe. Still cooking? Definitely.

Albertsons and Safeway Name Senior Leadership Team for Appointment Upon Completion of Proposed Merger

“We’re drawing on the strong talent within both companies to build an innovative, customer-focused and growth-driven company,” said Safeway President and Chief Executive Officer,Robert Edwards, who will serve as the combined company’s president and CEO.  “We are confident in this team’s ability to build a great company that’s positioned to win over the long term by earning the loyalty of grocery shoppers in every market we serve and delivering superior operational and financial results.”

After regulatory approval and closing of the transaction, the new company will have the following leadership team:

  • Bob Gordon, Executive Vice President & General Counsel
  • Shane Sampson, Executive Vice President, Marketing & Merchandising
  • Andy Scoggin, Executive Vice President, Human Resources, Labor Relations, Public Affairs & Government Affairs
  • Jerry Tidwell, Executive Vice President, Supply Chain & Manufacturing
  • Lee Wilson, Executive Vice President & Chief Administrative Officer
  • Bob Dimond, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, reporting to Wilson
  • Justin Ewing, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development & Real Estate, reporting to Wilson
  • Barry Libenson, Interim Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer, reporting to Wilson.  Libenson is expected to be with the new company through March 2015, at which time a successor will be named.
  • Wayne Denningham, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, South Region
  • Justin Dye, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, East Region
  • Kelly Griffith, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, North Region

The new company will be comprised of three regions and 14 retail divisions. The company will keep the focus and financial responsibility at the division level, but take full advantage of the expertise, vision and core capabilities of the corporate team.  The 14 divisions will be supported by corporate offices in Boise, Idaho, Pleasanton, California, and Phoenix, Arizona.

The division presidents for the new company, who will report to the chief operating officer for their respective regions, will be:

  • Dennis Bassler, Portland Division, North Region
  • Paul McTavish, Denver Division, North Region
  • Susan Morris, Intermountain Division, North Region
  • Tom Schwilke, Northern California Division, North Region
  • Dan Valenzuela, Seattle Division, North Region
  • Shane Dorcheus, Southwest Division, South Region
  • Scott Hayes, Southern Division, South Region
  • Sidney Hopper, Houston Division, South Region
  • Lori Raya, Southern California Division, South Region
  • Robert Taylor, United Division, South Region
  • Steve Burnham, Eastern Division, East Region
  • Jim Perkins, Acme Division, East Region
  • Jim Rice, Shaw’s Division, East Region
  • Mike Withers, Jewel-Osco Division, East Region

No banner changes are planned.

“We know the best way to grow our business is to have the highest quality fresh departments, lower prices, clean, well-stocked stores and the best customer service in the market,” said Bob Miller, Albertsons’ current CEO, who will become Executive Chairman of the combined company upon completion of the transaction.  “Our teams will focus on delivering what customers want locally, and we will give our store teams more flexibility to make decisions that are right for their neighborhoods.  The division teams will have the responsibility to have the right assortment for their markets.”

Safeway shareholders approved the proposed merger agreement on July 25, under which AB Acquisition LLC, an affiliate of Albertsons, will acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway.  The transaction is under review by the Federal Trade Commission and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year, pending FTC approval.

 

Options for Dietary Restrictions Abound at #ExpoEast

Natural Products Expo East opened this morning in Baltimore, Maryland with vendors offering everything from gourmet dog snacks to organic ethically produced and sourced anything at all that you might want to eat yourself. Among the offerings are, of course, any number of products designed to meet the needs of consumers observing a gluten-free diet, and the vendors’ interest in the category this year indicates that the trend is showing no sign of fading away just yet. New this year are a plethora of options in foods for consumers who have multiple dietary restrictions. As an example, ohso Good for you chocolate provides the consumer with 100% of their daily probiotics in a 70-calorie chocolate bar that’s also gluten free, dairy free and nut free. The bar’s probiotics are microencapsulated, so they’re protected from stomach acids, and are three to four times as likely to survive to replenish intestinal flora as a serving of milk or yogurt, the company says. See it in booth #4811 at Expo East or visit www.ohso.com.

Also checking off multiple boxes for those with dietary restrictions is a line of boxed mac and cheese-style dinners that are gluten free and dairy free. The company’s pastaríso Dairy Free Mac & Cheddar Style Sauce product, for example, is not just dairy free, it’s also vegan and free from wheat, gluten, soy, eggs and nuts. As you’d expect, it doesn’t taste like a full-on cheesy, creamy pasta dinner, but it’s certainly reminiscent of those flavors, and it doesn’t taste at all like cardboard. Taste it at booth #726 or visit www.maplegrovefoods.com for more information.

Traderspoint Creamery brought the yogurt recognized as the country’s best at the 2014 American Cheese Society competition. Based in Indiana, the company sources its milk from 100-percent grass-fed cows on its own farm and from a nearby coop of Amish farmers and packages the yogurt in single-serving glass cups. See them in booth #912 at the show.

thinkThin Lean Protein.& Fiber™ Bars is offering two limited edition flavors for fall: Dark Chocolate Peppermint and Pumpkin Spice. Each bar has only 150 calories, and both flavors are gluten free, non-GMO and kosher dairy. Taste them in booth #1230 or visit www.thinkproducts.com.

Barnraiser Invites Fundraisers for Food Projects

Barnraiser, the crowdfunding community dedicated to powering the good food movement, is inviting sustainable food artisans, farmers, educators, community leaders and others to launch projects that reshape our food systems.

“We are thrilled to offer Barnraiser to anyone serious about making a positive impact on the way we farm and eat,” said Eileen Gordon Chiarello, Barnraiser founder and CEO, who with her husband, celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, has created award-winning restaurants, sustainably farmed wines and food-focused media properties. “Now is the time for us to exert our influence as passionate consumers. Funding these innovators is a powerful way to build the food future we want.”

Over 41 million Americans and their global counterparts make decisions based on health and sustainability. Barnraiser empowers these people to connect with innovators, share their inspirational stories, and collectively fund their success.

From heirloom fruit orchards, savory snack bars, and school gardens to mobile foraging apps, sustainable bees and responsible chicken farms, Barnraiser welcomes the wide range of sustainable and organic food innovators. “If there was a Richter scale for love, the Barnraiser crew would be at a 9.0,” exclaimed sustainable beekeeper Rob Keller, whose Barnraiser project promotes healthy bees. “I am deeply moved by our funders’ generosity, and the Barnraiser support getting us out there was epic.”

Salmonella Lawsuit Filed Against Costco for Tainted Norwegian Smoked Salmon

Food safety lawyer Ron Simon has filed the first salmonella lawsuit against Costco and Norwegian-based Foppen stemming from a salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated Foppen smoked salmon sold at Costco stores nationwide.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Plaintiff Lorena Vasquez, a 39-year old resident of Mission, Texas.

In September 2012, Vasquez purchased a package of Foppen Norwegian Smoked Salmon Slices from the Costco located in Pharr, Texas.

Shortly after consuming the salmon, she experienced symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, and related dehydration and was diagnosed with salmonellosis.

As a result of her illness, Vasquez was hospitalized and underwent multiple surgeries.

The Costco / Foppen Salmonella Thompson Outbreak

In the late summer and fall of 2012, the Netherlands experienced its largest food-borne bacterial outbreak in history.  The pathogen was Salmonella Thompson, which traditionally appears annually in single or low double-digit numbers in the Netherlands.

By August of 2012, approximately 60 culture-confirmed cases of Salmonella Thompson had been identified; in September, over 120 more were identified; in October, nearly 900 victims had tested positive; and in November and December, approximately 100 more were identified.  By December, the count of new cases had slowed to about 20, and by January 2013, the outbreak was deemed over.

As soon as health officials in the Netherlands recognized that they were in the midst of a national outbreak, investigators and epidemiologists from the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) began to engage in a massive trace-back and epidemiological investigation.

It took investigators six weeks to determine and announce that smoked salmon was the source of the Salmonella Thompson illnesses.  The salmon was the product of Foppen Paling & Zalm (“Foppen”) of Harderwijk, the Netherlands.  Almost immediately thereafter, Foppen announced that the massive contamination of its salmon by Salmonella Thompson had occurred at its processing plant in Preveza, Greece.

By December of 2012, the RIVM had identified 1200 culture-confirmed victims, including four fatalities.

Costco Sold Foppen’s Contaminated Smoked Salmon in the United States

Significantly, Foppen’s contaminated smoked salmon was also distributed in the United States.  According to Foppen company spokesman Bart de Vries, Foppen had only one U.S. customer, Costco, that had purchased large amounts of the fish.

On Monday, October 1, 2012, Costco initiated a recall and removal of the smoked salmon.  Craig Wilson, Vice President of Costco, confirmed that the company was also in the process of contacting the 247,000 members who had purchased the contaminated salmon. Vasquez did not receive notice of the recall until after she had become ill.

Harald Wychgel, a spokesman for the Dutch public health institute, reported that as of October 2, 2012, his agency had received information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that at least 100 U.S. residents had been sickened with the identical strain of Salmonella Thompson found in Foppen’s contaminated smoked salmon.

Wychgel’s announcement was consistent with information provided by several states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), all of which were conducting investigations of a spike in Salmonella Thompson cases in the United States. At least 10 people were hospitalized in the outbreak.

 

Lindt Teams Up With Ashley Tisdale And Maker Studios To Launch Digital Series “It Started with HELLO”

Lindt USA, actress and producer Ashley Tisdale, and online video content provider Maker Studios join together to create an exciting, new romantic comedy series: “It Started with HELLO.” This original digital series celebrates the national launch of Lindt HELLO, a sinfully delicious premium chocolate collection inspired by classic American treats. Created by Lindt in partnership with Maker, “It Started with HELLO” is an interactive series that captures couples as they make their first connections and encourages viewers to find out what happens after “hello” by choosing their own ending to each story. Chocolate lovers can get in on the action with a chance to win a variety of fun prizes through the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes.

The digital series, featuring a teaser and four short episodes inspired by the cheeky personalities of Lindt HELLO products, will live on Maker Studios’ fashion + beauty network, The Platform (youtube.com/theplatform). Tisdale brings her behind-the-camera expertise to “It Started with HELLO,” serving as producer for the first episode, reviewing scripts, wardrobe and set design, as well as lending her creativity on set in collaboration with Lindt Chocolate and Maker.

“‘It Started with HELLO’ is different from anything that I’ve ever worked on,” says Tisdale. “As a producer, I’m excited about creating unique content and sharing it with my fans through different platforms. I can’t wait to see the series come to life!”

Say “HELLO” to the Digital Series
Starting today, fans can preview “It Started with HELLO” by visiting youtube.com/theplatform for a first look at the series and to meet the cast. The first episode, produced by Tisdale, will premiere on September 18, 2014. Three additional new episodes will debut weekly through October 9, 2014.

Top digital talent, including Maker partners Chester See, Tessa Violet, Amy Pham and Lindsey Stirling, along with Mike Tompkins andRusty Clanton, star in the interactive program. “It Started with HELLO” episodes will showcase the first connections among different couples:

  • Episode One: “Office Mates” (September 18): Centered around the heart-thumping personality of Lindt HELLO Crunchy Nougat, two people in adjacent offices have been eyeing each other for months. What happens when they finally meet?
  • Episode Two: “Play Ball” (September 25): An afternoon (almost) goes awry when a rogue kick ball interrupts a guy reading in the park. Who will save the day in this episode inspired by the sweet and flirty Lindt HELLO Strawberry Cheesecake?
  • Episode Three: “15 Items or Less” (October 2): A long checkout line leads to a chance encounter between two young shoppers, both purchasing Lindt HELLO Cookies and Cream bars. Will they get to say “hello?”
  • Episode Four: “Blind Date” (October 9): A cryptic text leads a girl to search for her date at a Halloween party. Will his disguise be a trick or a treat in this episode inspired by the Lindt HELLO Caramel Brownie bar?

Consumers are encouraged to say “hello” to their favorite couples and join the conversation using the dedicated #ItStartedWithHELLO hashtag. Fans can also visit LindtHELLO.com to learn more about Lindt HELLO products and enter the Lindt HELLO Sweet Connections Sweepstakes daily for a chance to win weekly prizes, including spa getaways, shopping excursions, date nights for two and plenty of mouthwatering Lindt HELLO chocolate.

“We’re thrilled to celebrate the national launch of the Lindt HELLO collection in a fun, engaging way by sparking new connections among people,” says Danielle O’Neil, Vice President of Marketing, Lindt USA. “With Ashley Tisdale’s and Maker Studios’ involvement, ‘It Started with HELLO’ brings this playful collection to life in a unique way and involves fans within the conversation.”

E. & J. Gallo Winery Contributes $100,000 to Napa’s Earthquake Relief Fund

The E. & J. Gallo Winery has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to assist those impacted by the earthquake that struck Napa Valley last month.

“On behalf of our employees and their families, we are making this donation to help the rebuilding effort and to provide aid and comfort to the victims of this disaster,” said Joseph Gallo, Chief Executive Officer and President of the E. & J. Gallo Winery.

The donation will assist the Red Cross recovery response efforts and meet ongoing demands throughout the Napa Valley.

Food Festival Gets Down and Cheesy on 100th Aniversary

Limburger Queen

Limburger Queen

Green County CheeseDays, the granddaddy of Midwestern food fests, celebrates its 100-year anniversary from September 19-21 in Monroe, Wisconsin. The festival celebrates the cheesemaking, dairy farming and Swiss traditions that continue to this day.

Herd to curd.

Cheesemaking first began in Green County in 1846 when Swiss immigrants purchased a few dozen dairy cows and herded them from Ohio to New Glarus, Wisconsin. By 1873, the locals were churning out wedges, blocks and wheels of American, Limburger and Swiss cheese. Today you’ll find more than 50 different varieties, with many available for sampling in the Cheese Tent at the festival.

 Thank goodness for sauerkraut!

The idea for the festival dates back to 1914, when some aspiring entrepreneurs in downtown Monroe were looking for a way to attract visitors and boost business. After a visit to Sauerkraut Day in Forreston, Illinois – they came home inspired, with visions of cheese curds dancing in their heads. “If Forreston can have a festival based on sauerkraut, we can certainly do something better with cheese,” one of them likely said, and the first Cheese Day was planned in less than a month. Despite the lack of Twitter, Facebook and text messaging, nearly 4,000 people arrived by train, horse-drawn rig, and roadster. More than 13,000 cheese sandwiches were served, and the program included vaudeville entertainment and political speeches. According to the local newspaper, “merrymakers danced in the street to band music all afternoon.”

A celebration too good to end.

After some stops and starts (War! Great Depression! Ten-Year Hiatus!) the festival settled into the pattern of a three-day, every-other-year event in 1970. Today, more than 100,000 revelers descend on Monroe to polka and yodel, play alphorns, eat cheese by the truckload, and party – literally – ‘til the cows go home.

Cheesy is what the festival organizers strive for.

Right away you’ll sense the cheesy vibe:  old time copper kettle cheesemaking demonstrations, cheese pairings, and cheese sampling galore.  On the menu:  gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, the best deep-fried cheese curds in the nation, cheesecake on a stick, and Limburger “sliders.” And in honor of the 100th anniversary – a “Procession of Cheesemakers” with a cheesemaker from each of the dozen factories proudly bearing their signature cheese to lend pomp and circumstance to the festival’s opening ceremony.

Send in the cows.

The best of the area’s bovines (Brown Swiss, Jersey, Guernsey, Holstein, Red and White Holstein, Ayrshire, and Milking Shorthorn) make the trip to the “big city” to play starring roles in the wildly popular Cow Milking Contest. For many, the highlight of the weekend is The Swiss Colony Cheese Days Paradewhich is led by a herd of Brown Swiss cows sporting clanging bells and floral wreaths. The parade carries on the tradition of herdsmen bringing the cattle down from the Alps at the end of the grazing season – following a summer nibbling pastures of tall grass and tasty herbs – ideal for crafting delicious Alpine cheeses.

Hundreds of ways to share the fun.

To mark this special anniversary, more than 100 accordion players will play the official Cheese Days Song (of course there is a song!) with the Monroe City Band. In keeping with the theme of 100, dairy farm tours will showcase two family farms where multiple generations have tilled the land and milked the cows for more than a century. Cheese Days also features three entertainment stages with everything from Swiss alphorns and yodeling to rock-n-roll party bands. Also on the schedule – arts and crafts, brewery and distillery tours, activities for kids and antique tractors. In fact, there are more fun things to do at Cheese Days than there are holes in a giant wheel of Swiss cheese!

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