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Quality, Service and Ambiance Create a Neighborhood Shopping Experience at The Fresh Market

By Lorrie Baumann

TheFreshMarket2-SRThe Fresh Market is a chain of 145 stores in the Southeastern, Northeastern, Midwestern and Great Plains regions of the United States. The chain has recently expanded into Houston, Texas and into the California market with four stores—one in Palo Alto and three in the Sacramento area. One more California store was under construction at press time. The Santa Barbara store is expected to be opening in December. The Fresh Market stores rely on quality, service and ambiance as the ingredients that create a relaxed, comfortable and friendly environment, bringing customers in to buy the fresh foods they will serve their families.

“Our focus is on providing customers with high-quality food and excellent service in a unique atmosphere, and our stores are designed to encourage interaction between customers and employees,” said Craig Carlock, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Fresh Market for the past five years. Carlock has been with the company for 14 years, originally coming over to the company from Procter & Gamble.

“I was attracted to the food concept, the growth, and the chance to be part of a special company,” Carlock says, explaining the unusual move from the manufacturing conglomerate to grocery retailing. “The chance to contribute to a growing enterprise draws a lot of people to The Fresh Market. I have found that we can attract very talented people because they want to be part of growing something from a regional brand into a national one.”

Customers will meet a lot of those talented people in The Fresh Market stores. In the produce department, there is a store employee on the floor at all times. The bakery, seafood and meat departments are always staffed with people behind the counter. “There’s service all around the store,” Carlock says.

The Fresh Market stores average 20,000 square feet and have about 10,000 items in stock, with a total of 20,000 items moving in and out over the course of the year. Each store has a full-service bakery, full-service prepared foods and deli department, a convenient selection of frozen foods, beer and wine, bulk snacks and nuts, candies and fresh-ground and whole bean coffee. The chain is also testing single-cup coffee service in a couple of locations.

Quality is ensured through demanding specifications in every category. Carlock says, “The quality is such that it’s hard to find that kind of food at other places.”

The stores strive to create a gentle, relaxed ambiance through soft lighting, tile floors, soothing music and the aroma of baked goods wafting from the bakery. These and other things are designed to help customers enjoy their time in the store. “We sample coffee throughout the day. We carry your groceries to the car,” Carlock says. “Quality, service and ambiance are really the three ways we think about bringing the customer to the market. We think all of that together creates a great experience…One of the things that happens in our stores naturally is that customers tend to slow down and enjoy the experience. There is an element of ease. Over time, many of our customers develop relationships with our employees. If you’re in there two or three times a week, you’ll learn the names and faces of the people who are helping you. Although we’re a chain, we strive to develop the name and style of a neighborhood market that’s part of the community. People and food that you can trust.”

TheFreshMarket1-SRThe passion behind those watchwords helps to explain why the chain is growing at a robust 15 percent per year, by store count. The chain slowed from that pace, intentionally, during the recession but resumed its growth at that rate in 2010. The stores in Houston and California opened within the past 12 months. Other stores opened this year in Charlottesville, Va., Aiken, S.C., Lincolnshire, Ill., Mt. Lebanon, Penn., Orlando, Fla., Overland Park, Kan., Lynchburg, Va., Naples, Fla. and Birmingham, Ala. Seven more stores are set to open by year end.

“We want to put our stores where the customers are. Our real estate strategy is to find trade areas where customers will be receptive to our fresh food and our ambiance,” Carlock says. That decision about the likelihood of a welcoming reception is based more on education levels and active lifestyle than on affluence, since The Fresh Market does well in middle-income neighborhoods as well as in wealthier ZIP codes. “We have found that people enjoy food, enjoy service and enjoy ambiance all around the country,” Carlock says. “People of all income levels come in.”

“Some of our customers use us as a primary grocery store and are there a couple of times per week, and others shop us for special occasions,” he continues. “People who come in regularly are usually using a European style of shopping, where they’ll buy fresh items for tonight and tomorrow night, and then they’ll come back a couple of days later and get another set of fresh items.” With a 20,000 square footprint, the stores are easy to get into and out of. This facilitates a European style shopping experience. According to Carlock, although customers become familiar with the core 10,000 items in stock, learning exactly where to find them in the store, the flow of those other 10,000 seasonal products helps to generate a sense of adventure as well.

The stores add to that sense of adventure with frequent sampling programs and monthly chef demonstrations. Local chefs demonstrate recipes and offer tastings. “During a three-hour period, our chefs prepare the month’s featured recipe two or three times, so customers can see step-by-step how to prepare it, and can sample it as well,” says Drewry Sackett, The Fresh Market’s Community and Public Relations Manager. Decisions about featured products and recipes are made at the corporate level and then promulgated throughout the chain. Recipes are posted on the company’s website along with a video of the demonstration, so that customers who are excited enough to try it at home can refer to the website when their memories fail.

“We try to focus on recipes and products that lend themselves to easy weeknight dinners. Chefs cook on a gas cooktop, so they only prepare recipes that can be done easily and quickly in a single pan, which our customers appreciate,” Sackett says. “The recipes are paired with wines (in the stores that carry wine), so they’ll sample the recipe along with a specific wine. In addition to the demonstrations, we invite customers to join us for the regular sampling events, where they can come in and try products that might be new to them. Our events are always centered around the food experience.”


Tartufo Caciocavallo

Forever Cheese is now offering the new Tartufo Caciocavallo – a 2.5-pound stretched curd caciocavallo with black truffles. The cheese has arrived just in time for the holidays and its beautiful and delicious.

Cheesemaker and owner Remo has been making cheese since 1989 but cheesemaking has been in the family bloodline since 1976. Remo loves seeing the results of what he makes with his own hands; he said it is the ultimate satisfaction for him. He loves also that he can make a difference in such an ailing economy, especially in Southern Italy, offering his employees not just a job but a family in which all of them are passionate about the cheese they make.

A specialty of Forever Cheese inc, LIC, NY

Fruit Center Marketplace Raises Funds for Schools

For the fourth consecutive year, Fruit Center Marketplace will support 19 public and private schools located in its primary business areas, Milton and Hingham, with a unique week of fund-raising that allows parents to raise funds for the school of their choice while they shop for groceries.  This is just one of countless ways, over the past 40 years, that this local gourmet grocer gives back to the communities it serves.

The program shines because it’s so simple: Consumers first download a voucher from the Fruit Center Marketplace website. The vouchers designate which school that the consumer intends to benefit from funds that are raised while shopping. Then the vouchers are presented at checkout during the week of November 11-15. Each voucher can be used an unlimited number of times. Finally, Fruit Center tallies the dollar amount of each individuals’ purchases during that week, and donates 20 percent of it to the designated school: $100 spent = $20 donated.

In 2012, says Fruit Center Marketplace marketing director Mike Dwyer, more than $10,000 was donated to participating schools.  The key, he adds, is for the schools themselves to alert parents of this opportunity, and to encourage a major shopping spree on behalf of education.  Printed vouchers can be used during regular store hours between Monday, November 11 and Friday, November 15, inclusive. Further details are at

Produce Industry Focuses on Driving Demand at PMA’s Fresh Summit

8179980558_a7e586a43e_oIncreasing the appeal of and demand for fresh produce was the focus when the world’s fresh produce industry gathered in New Orleans October 18-20 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit Convention and Expo.

A major highlight of the event came when executives from the White House, the restaurant industry and a leading produce company joined PMA’s senior executive to call on the produce industry to focus its marketing efforts on creating more demand for fresh produce, particularly among children. Speaking to about 1,000 produce industry leaders, Let’s Move! Executive Director Sam Kass joined National Restaurant Association President Dawn Sweeney, Bolthouse Farms CEO Jeff Dunn and PMA President and CEO Bryan Silbermann to discuss how the produce industry can transform its efforts from fulfilling demand to creating demand.

During the discussion, Kass – speaking by a remote feed from Washington, D.C., to attendees in New Orleans – reiterated how the produce industry can support the call to action to use the power of marketing to promote healthier choices, particularly among kids.

“The produce industry is sharpening its marketing efforts to help encourage better eating habits for children and adults alike,” said Silbermann. “It’s a collaborative effort that has a variety of benefits like better health and better business.”

Meanwhile, the Fresh Summit trade show was a buffet of mouth-watering fresh produce colors, aromas and flavors. More than 1,000 companies displayed their wares across 250,000 square feet, showcasing products from traditional fruit and vegetable favorites to the latest exotic and specialty items.

A multitude of new products were unveiled at Fresh Summit, appealing to a consumer’s eye, palate and wallet. Some of those new products for kids included:

This year PMA’s Fresh Summit drew more than 18,000 produce and floral industry attendees from more than 60 countries. In addition to being the largest U.S. gathering of the global fresh produce and floral industries, Fresh Summit is also one of the 100 largest trade shows held in the United States.

Cipriani’s Simply Italian Cookbook Launches

Assouline and Cipriani, in the persons of Prosper & Martine Assouline and Ignazio Cipriani, celebrated the launch of Simply Italian, the new cookbook featuring recipes and tips from Arrigo Cipriani to make simple yet delicious Italian dishes from the menu of the mythically famous Harry’s Bar in Venice. Harry’s Bar is a favorite of Gourmet News publisher Lee Oser, among many others.

Originally opened as a bar, it was transformed into a restaurant and went on to welcome some of the most legendary names in cinema, literature, the arts, and more, from Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, and Truman Capote to Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, and Woody Allen. The fabled establishment is also known for having served as the birthplace of the Bellini cocktail and carpaccio.

From tiramisu and minestrone soup to pappardelle ai funghi and risotto alla parmigiana, this title is the best accessory for lovers of Italian cuisine. And we have pictures from the launch party! Simply Italian by Cipriani is available for purchase at ASSOULINE boutiques worldwide and through


Fireside Coffee Launches 1554 Whole Bean Coffee

We all sing along to that popular Prince song about celebrating 1999, but a Michigan company has a different year to celebrate. Inspired by the legend of one of the world’s first coffee shops, which opened in the year 1554, Fireside Coffee Company has launched its new 1554 Whole Bean Coffee.

“When we decided to introduce a line of whole bean coffee, we set out to come up with the best, smoothest cup of coffee out there. Searching for inspiration, we stumbled upon the story of the world’s first coffee house in Constantinople and we knew that was it. Our coffees are artisan roasted to honor the history of this wonderful beverage,” said Angie Root of Fireside Coffee Co.

Fireside has long been known for their line of gourmet instant coffee blends, like Caramel Mochaccino and Pumpkin Pie Mocha. “Our customers are the best,” stated Carol Davis, President of Fireside Coffee Co. “And when they talk, we listen. We found that our customers were looking for a truly exceptional cup of brewed coffee, in addition to our instant blends. That’s what really kick-started our new line.”

Fireside’s 1554 Coffees are roasted in small batches, so that their customers always receive incredibly fresh roasted beans. According to the National Coffee Association, fresh roasted coffee is essential to a superb cup of coffee. The NCA recommends purchasing your coffee fresh every one to two weeks. Because of the artisan roasting process, the flavor of each 1554 roast is smooth and full-bodied.

Fireside has introduced a light Brazilian roast, medium Guatemalan roast, dark Sumatra roast, and a seasonal limited-time-only flavored roast, Bourbon Bluster. “Even though it’s new, the Bourbon Bluster is proving itself as a favorite of our customers. We’ll be roasting this flavor through the winter months only. Its blend of bourbon, almond and cream flavors is the perfect ‘comfort-flavor’ during cold weather. It’s really wonderful,” said Angie Root.

Fireside’s 1554 Whole Bean Coffee can be purchased at the company store at 3239 Elms Road in Swartz Creek, Mich., at the new Fireside Café inside the Country Sampler Store in Saginaw, Mich., online at, or from many independent retailers across the United States, which can be found on Fireside’s online store locator.

Coach Farm Adds Blackberry Flavor to Drinkable Yogurt Line

Coach Farm adds Blackberry to its rapidly growing product line of drinkable yogurt, Yo‐Goat®. With the explosion of the yogurt industry in recent years, Coach Farm remains one of the few producers to nationally produce goat milk yogurt and drinkable yogurt, both great alternatives to cow’s milk products.

Yo‐Goat is made on the farm using only Coach Farm’s fresh Grade A pasteurized goats milk and active yogurt cultures. Without additives or preservatives of any kind, Yo‐Goat is an easily digestible, healthy breakfast or snack option for both children and adults.

The new Blackberry flavor joins the current line‐up of Plain, Blueberry, Strawberry, and Mango‐Peach for an SRP of $1.99. Blackberry is set to hit shelves November of 2013.


Kosherfest, World’s Largest Certifed Kosher Products Show, Opens Tuesday, Oct. 29, in Secaucus, N.J.

In 1989, kosher was a virtually non-existent food category.  It consisted of a group of mom/pop manufacturers and giants with kosher certification and little initiative to promote the category.  When Kosherfest was launched that year, most of the exhibitors were pushing products like gefilte fish, chopped liver, stuffed cabbage and kugel.

Fast forward to today.  Kosher is now very much an industry and a category that has gone far beyond its traditional base of kosher-observing Jews.  There are more than 200,000 kosher-certified products. At Kosherfest, the world’s largest kosher-certified products tradeshow (October 29 & 30 at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ) buyers will find everything from sushi to enchiladas to sausage.  Kosherfest celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

“Who would have believed that sushi would become a basic staple in restaurant, pizza parlors, and at catered events, or for that matter that nearly 20% of the show would tout gluten-free products?” said Menachem Lubinsky, the founder of Kosherfest, who co-produces the show with Diversified Business Communications.  “There was somewhat of a vision back then that perhaps kosher could be more than a certification; that it would emerge as a cuisine. Incredibly, kosher has reached that level and it is still rising.”

Kosherfest today hosts exhibitors from countries around the world, from Argentina to New Zealand, from South Africa to Israel.  Products at Kosherfest encompass kosher-certified foods and beverages for retail sale, and ingredients and prepared foods for foodservice, including wine and spirits.  The show gives manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of kosher-certified products and services the opportunity to reach thousands of mainstream and independent kosher trade buyers from across the globe.

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit

Kroger Announces Next COO

The Kroger Co. today announced that Michael L. Ellis will be named President and Chief Operating Officer, effective January 1, 2014, completing the succession plan announced in September. The company expects its board of directors to elect Ellis President and COO at the next board meeting in December.

In September, Kroger announced its board of directors’ long-term CEO succession plan. David B. Dillon, 62, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO, will retire as CEO on January 1, 2014, and will continue to serve as Chairman through December 31, 2014. W. Rodney McMullen, 53, Kroger’s President and Chief Operating Officer, will become CEO on January 1, 2014.

Ellis, 55, has been serving in his current role as Senior Vice President of Retail Divisions since 2012, where he leads five retail supermarket divisions, plus Kroger’s jewelry and convenience store businesses. He previously served as President of Portland-based Fred Meyer – the company’s largest operating division by revenue – for six years.

“Mike’s broad-based experience on both the food and general merchandise sides of our business make him a great fit for this role,” said Dillon. “Mike is a team builder who will be a great partner with our entire leadership team. We look forward to his dynamic leadership of Kroger’s diverse operations.”

“Mike has been a key player in our strategic efforts for many years, including the expansion of Fred Meyer’s general merchandising expertise throughout the company and, more recently, our accelerated growth plan,” said McMullen. “His extensive knowledge spans our multiple formats and unique approaches to merchandising. Mike’s insistence on operational excellence and his willingness to push boundaries to improve the customer experience will ensure Kroger continues to grow and deliver shareholder value. Above all else, Mike brings a contagious enthusiasm for our associates and putting the customer first.”

Ellis is a 38-year Kroger veteran. He joined Fred Meyer in 1975 as a parcel clerk at age 16, and went on to serve in a series of operations and merchandising leadership positions in stores, division management and as a corporate officer. He was Vice President of Fred Meyer’s food group before joining The Kroger Co. as a senior officer in 2004. He returned to lead Fred Meyer as President in 2006, where he significantly improved and sustained associate engagement. Ellis played an influential role in the growth of the company’s successful Marketplace store format, which offers a wide assortment of general merchandise including home goods, toys and apparel in addition to full-service grocery and pharmacy departments.

“I am excited and honored for the opportunity to work with the tremendous leadership team at Kroger,” said Ellis. “I am committed to helping them deliver on Kroger’s high-velocity growth plan for our customers, associates and shareholders.”

Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, employs 343,000 associates who serve customers in 2,418 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. The company also operates 783 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,195 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S. Recognized by Forbes as the most generous company in America, Kroger supports hunger relief, breast cancer awareness, the military and their families, and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 80 Feeding America food bank partners. A leader in supplier diversity, Kroger is a proud member of the Billion Dollar Roundtable and the U.S. Hispanic Chamber’s Million Dollar Club.

Natural Grocers Teams with Oregon Food Bank to Help the Hungry During the Holidays

This holiday season, Oregon Food Bank and Natural Grocers are teaming up to provide hunger relief and emergency food for Portland-area families in need during the holidays. For every turkey purchased by customers of the Beaverton Natural Grocers store, the company will donate a 12-pound bird to Oregon Food Bank to add cheer in holiday food boxes.

“Natural Grocers will be donating high quality naturally-raised turkeys to Oregon families in need,” says Kemper Isely, Co-President of Natural Grocers. “The holidays are a special time of year for families, but can be especially difficult for families with limited resources. This buy one/give one free offer is a simple and effective way for our customers to help out another family in a healthy way.”

Oregon Food Bank will distribute the donated birds during the 2013 holiday season. In cases where a whole bird is not needed, or a vegetarian option is required, Natural Grocers has offered to donate $30 cash instead. The buy one/give one free turkey offer is part of Natural Grocers’ ongoing commitment to providing emergency food relief across the nation. The company donates five cents to Oregon Food Bank each time local customers check out using their own reusable bags, and runs a donation campaign for two months each year with a healthy $50,000 dollar-for-dollar match. In addition, all excess and distressed food items are donated to local food banks.

The need for emergency food remains at record high levels across the U.S. – and particularly in Oregon. In an average month, an estimated 270,000 people in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., eat meals from an emergency food box.

“We are happy to have a new local grocery partner to help to support our efforts,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank’s CEO. “Natural Grocers has a long history of providing both food and cash donations to food banks across our country. It’s a good example of how a grocer can involve communities across the country to help neighbors in need. And it’s a good reminder that ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference by becoming involved with their communities to raise awareness and take action.”

Krysti Weddle, manager of the Natural Grocers store in Beaverton, reminds customers that turkeys need to be pre-ordered now, well in advance of Thanksgiving. “These are not hard-frozen birds from factory farms. They are naturally raised without antibiotics or growth promoters, and they are delivered just-in-time. Customers who want to take advantage of the buy one/give free one turkey offer need to reserve a turkey now at the store or on our web site. We’ll take care of the rest.” The turkey pre-ordering page can be found at

Natural Grocers offers only natural and organic products on its shelves. Shoppers will find only USDA-certified organic produce and meats from animals raised naturally without the use of antibiotics or hormones. The affordable grocery chain also offers an extensive natural dietary supplement and body care department, and a large selection of gluten-free and other products for special diets.

Natural Grocers has some of the highest standards for a grocer in the country, and is equally as well known for what it does not sell: it will not carry foods that contain artificial ingredients such as colors, sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, antibiotics, hormones, or produce grown with synthetic pesticides. (See: “What We Won’t Sell and Why.”)

Beaverton Natural Grocers is open Monday through Saturday from 8:56 a.m. to 8:04 p.m. On Sunday the store will be open from 9:56 a.m. to 7:06 p.m.

About Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage (NGVC), founded in Colorado by Margaret &Philip Isely in 1955, was built on the premise that consumers should have access to affordable, high-quality foods and dietary supplements, along with nutrition knowledge to help them support their own health. The family-run store has since grown into a successful national chain with locations across Colorado, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Missouri, New Mexico,Montana, Kansas, Idaho, Nebraska, Arizona and Oregon—employing more than 2,000 people.  The company went public in July 2012; however, Isely family members continue to manage the company, building on the foundation of their parents’ business. Natural Grocers’ popularity and success can be traced back to its founding principles: providing customers with high quality products at every day affordable prices. See store for details on buy one/give one free turkey offer.


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