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Albertsons-Safeway Divestiture Plans Announced

AB Acquisition LLC (Albertsons) and Safeway Inc. have entered into agreements, subject to approval by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to sell 168 stores across eight states to four buyers:

  • Associated Food Stores (AFS) will purchase eight stores in Montana and Wyoming;
  • Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) / Minyards  will purchase 12 stores in Texas;
  • SUPERVALU will purchase two stores in Washington; and
  • Haggen will purchase 146 stores across Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Divestiture of these stores is being undertaken in order to secure FTC clearance of the companies’ proposed merger, which was announced in March and is expected to close inJanuary 2015. The purchase agreements with the four buyers are all subject to approval by the FTC.

Under the terms of the purchase agreements, the buyers will acquire the stores, equipment and inventory, and they intend to hire most, if not all, of the store employees upon the closing of the purchase of the stores. For a complete list of stores to be divested, visit: http://www.albertsons.com/tellmemore.

“We’re pleased to have found strong buyers for these stores and to have completed this important step toward combining Albertsons and Safeway,” said Safeway President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Edwards, who will serve as the combined company’s President and CEO. “We look forward now to the transaction’s close, so we can begin working together to enhance the loyalty of grocery shoppers by delivering high quality products, great service and lower prices to become the favorite local supermarket in every neighborhood we serve.”

About Safeway Inc.
Safeway Inc., which operates Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Randalls, Tom Thumb and Carrs stores, is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States with sales of $35.1 billion in 2013. The company operates 1,326 stores in 20 states and the District of Columbia, 13 distribution centers and 19 manufacturing plants, and employs approximately 138,000 employees. The company’s common stock is currently traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol SWY. The company will be delisted from the NYSE upon closing of the merger. For more information, visit www.Safeway.com.

 

 

Nicole’s Naturals Introduces a Gluten-Free Waffle and Pancake Mix

Nicole's NaturalsThe days of two different breakfasts for gluten-free households are over with the launch of Nicole’s Naturals Gluten-Free Waffle & Pancake Mix. Nicole’s Naturals is made with the highest quality, all-natural ingredients and spices usually only found in homemade mixes, making the waffles and pancakes taste like a family recipe.

Called “delicious” and a “waffle you want to eat” by the Los Angeles Times, Nicole’s Naturals Mix is made without artificial ingredients, preservatives or refined grains. Nicole’s Naturals’ products have been independently tested at less than five parts per million, far below the FDA regulation of 20 parts per million for products labeled gluten-free.

Raised in North Carolina, Nicole’s Naturals’ Founder Nicole Washington grew up in the kitchen and was responsible for cooking dinner for her family by the age of 10. Homemade breakfasts were a favorite dish of her Southern family, and while she ultimately became an industrial engineer, cooking and entertaining continued to be a source of love and enjoyment in Nicole’s life. But it was her engineering mindset that drove her to find a culinary solution once she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2003. After much trial and error, she developed a gluten-free recipe to replace her family’s beloved waffles and they didn’t even notice when she swapped the new gluten-free recipe for her tried-and-true dish. After revealing her secret, Nicole’s husband encouraged her to package her product, and Nicole’s Naturals was born.

Nicole’s Naturals Waffles & Pancakes take just minutes to prepare, and caregivers can rest easy knowing their children are starting the day with a healthy meal. Nicole’s Naturals have significantly less added sugar and more fiber than many other waffles while tasting even more delicious. The prepared waffles can even be frozen allowing kids to help out by popping one in the toaster themselves for breakfast or an easy snack.

“In gluten-free families those with allergies are often singled-out with a separate meal and not able to eat what the rest of the family is enjoying,” said Nicole’s Naturals Founder Nicole Washington. “Our mix is a real solution for waffle- and pancake-loving families as the cook only has to make one breakfast.”

Roughly 40 million consumers purchase gluten-free products, four million of whom suffer from celiac disease, which requires that they avoid eating gluten. Gluten-free sales are expected to reach more than $15 billion by 2016, according to Mintel.

INGREDIENTS: Brown Rice Flour, Corn Meal, Turbinado Sugar, Gluten-Free Oatmeal, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, Aluminum-Free Baking Powder, Cinnamon, Gluten-Free Vanilla Flavoring, Gluten Free Xanthan Gum and Salt.

Nicole’s Naturals Gluten-Free Waffle & Pancake Mix is available at www.nicolesnaturals.com, Amazon.com and The Hood Market in Costa Mesa, California.

MSRP: $8.99  for a 22-ounce container

Torie & Howard Introducing New Stand-Alone Shipper for Organic Halloween Candy

ToriesAndHowardHalloweenShipperTorie & Howard is introducing a new stand-alone shipper for its 10-ounce Halloween packages of USDA Organic, kosher and Non-GMO hard candy. The new shipper will debut at the Winter Fancy Food Show on January 11, Booth 1651.

The shipper holds 20 packages and provides a seasonally spooky off-shelf display for the candy, which offers a Halloween option for parents who increasingly are purchasing organic foods for their children and for themselves, said Torie Burke, company co-founder. It contains four flavors of the candy and stands 4 feet high with a footprint of just 15 ½ by 15 ¼ inches, Burke said. Orders are being taken now for shipment in 2015, she said.

The package includes an assortment of individually wrapped flavors and features a colorful header with a headstone and a scary spider keeping company with Torie & Howard’s familiar nature-themed packaging motifs of bees, hummingbirds and dragonflies. The candy assortment is packaged in a 10-ounce lie-flat bag with a suggested retail price of $6.99.

Flavors of the organic hard candy include: California Pomegranate and Sweet Freestone Nectarine, Italian Tarocco Blood Orange & Wildflower Honey, D’Anjou Pear & Ceylon Cinnamon, and Pink Grapefruit & Tupelo Honey, which was named a sofi™ Award Finalist.

The candy is USDA organic and kosher certified and contains no GMOs, preservatives, artificial dyes, casein, soy or gluten, Burke said. It also is available in 2-ounce recyclable steel tins with a suggested retail price of $3.99-$4.99. A 6-ounce handbag gift package is available with a suggested retail price of $7.99-$8.99, and the candy is sold in 5-pound bulk bags. More information is available by calling 888.826.9554 or online at www.TorieAndHoward.com.

Barbara’s Makes Granola Better with New Granola Line

Barbara'sBarbara’s, known for making cereals and snacks from simple, wholesome ingredients, has expanded its portfolio of Non-GMO Project Verified foods with the addition of Barbara’s Better Granola. The new line of protein-packed granola comes in two yummy flavors – Oats & Honey and Dark Chocolate Cranberry – both featuring a unique proprietary recipe containing less fat and sugar and more protein than other leading granolas.

“Everyone loves granola, but too often what they think is a healthier option is actually full of excess sugar and high in fat. We had been snacking on granola in the office and looking at the product labels. We were astounded to see how much sugar there was in the tiny quarter-cup serving sizes. We knew that we could make a better product, so we set out to make a healthier granola,” said Katrina Yolen, U.S. Director of Marketing at Barbara’s. “Barbara’s Better Granola is packed with protein, lower in sugar and fat, and still delivers the delicious granola flavor we all love. Not only is our new line of Barbara’s Better Granola a good source of protein that comes from oats, almonds, and wheat, but it also delivers other added benefits consumers are looking for, such as ancient grains and seeds, whole grains, ALA omega 3’s and fiber.”

With a larger serving size than most other granolas, Barbara’s Better Granola is a satisfying blend of toasted oat clusters and cereal puffs, almonds, and ancient grains and seeds such as quinoa and flax seeds, and boasts 9-10 grams of soy-free protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving. Barbara’s Better Granola is Non-GMO Project Verified and is packed with 28-30 grams of whole grains and more than 200 milligrams of ALA omega 3’s in every full 2/3-cup serving. It is great eaten alone as a snack, with milk or as a topping on yogurt.

Barbara’s offers a full line of delicious cereals and snacks, including popular crowd favorites like Puffins cereals, Snackimals cereals and cookies, Morning Oat Crunch, Cheese Puffs and more. Barbara’s Better Granola is currently available at Sprouts and Shop Rite stores as well as Amazon.com, and will be available in stores nationwide starting early 2015. Barbara’s products are available nationally at major retail grocery stores and natural food stores. For more information on Barbara’s Better Granola and other Barbara’s products, please visit the Barbara’s website at www.Barbaras.com.

Read About More Non-GMO Foods Here

Reliant Beverage Adds Industry Expert to Team

Germano (2)Reliant Beverage Company, maker of Reliant Recovery Water, has hired Bill Germano as president.

“We are thrilled to have Bill join the Reliant team,” said Eric Russell, CEO of Reliant Beverage Company. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge in the beverage industry and knows how to grow small companies into flourishing national brands. We are confident he will help take Reliant to the next level.”

During his more than 20 years of experience as an executive in the food and beverage industry, Germano has significantly influenced the growth of widely recognized brands in the United States and abroad. Prior to joining Reliant, Germano was the vice president of global development for Kettle Foods where he led the snack brand through a period of increased earnings and innovation in the United Stated and Europe. He has also served as the president and CEO of Thomas Kemper Soda and most recently was the president and CEO of Dr. Lucy’s LLC, where he led a successful launch of a specialized healthy baked snack line to an industry leading brand.

“Reliant Recover Water is an opportunity to truly make a difference,” said Germano. “This is such a uniquely innovative product and I look forward to growing the brand to a national product leader.”

As the new president of Reliant Beverage Company, Germano will lead the efforts to launch the company’s flagship beverage Reliant Recovery Water into the commercial market. Germano joins CEO Eric Russell and an advisory board that includes leaders from some of the Pacific Northwest’s top consumer brands as well as top researchers, physicians and physiologists from across the globe.

Reliant Recovery Water is the first and only electrokinetically modified water that delivers consumers faster recovery to joints and muscles and better performance. For more information about Reliant Recover Water visit www.drinkreliant.com.

Reliant Beverage Co. is based in Tacoma, Wash., with every bottle of Reliant Recovery Water processed on-site. The company is led by the Russell Family and backed by an advisory board from the Pacific Northwest’s top consumer brands as well as top researchers, physicians, and physiologists from across the globe. Reliant Beverage Co. was founded in 2009 with extensive research and investments to better understand electrokinetically modify water (EMW) and how they interact with the human body. Reliant Recovery Water underwent eight years of extensive research, development and testing prior to launch. Researchers from the University of Florida and Seattle Sports Medicine validated Reliant’s benefits, concluding that the drink improves functional recovery after activity and exercise with less resulting pain and fatigue.

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps Celebrates 10th Anniversary with Website Relaunch

Pretzel CrispsSnack Factory Pretzel Crisps® has unveiled a redesigned PretzelCrisps.com website to celebrate the brand’s 10 year history. The highly visual, design-forward site provides consumers and loyal fans with an easy-to-navigate interactive destination full of recipes, snack ideas and product information.

“This is an exciting time for Pretzel Crisps,” said Valerie Traynor, vice president of marketing at Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps. “After 10 years of steady expansion across our product portfolio, we felt it was time to update our website to mirror the dynamic and enthusiastic nature of our loyal fan base. The redesigned site will serve as the ideal resource for several exciting new announcements we have in store for the upcoming year and beyond.”

The new PretzelCrisps.com integrates cutting edge design with useful functionality, allowing visitors to explore recipes and entertaining like never before. The website hosts more than 100 recipes conveniently categorized by occasion, from birthday parties to game night or even a wine and dine night. Users may also filter recipes by the length of preparation time, making it simple to find a recipe to suit every need.

Another new addition to the Pretzel Crisps website is a convenient nationwide store locator that enables users to search for stores geographically by zip code or by specific retailer name.

Developed by Boston-based digital agency Convertiv, the new Pretzel Crisps website features parallax scrolling effects and a responsive design that seamlessly adjusts to mobile, tablet and desktop formats.

The redesigned website follows the recent launch of four new Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps products in 2014—deli flavors Honey Mustard & Onion and Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper; and new format Pretzel Crisps Minis in Original and Cheddar. With only 110 calories per serving, Pretzel Crisps are made with high-quality, all-natural ingredients, without saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, preservatives, artificial flavorings or colors. Pretzel Crisps may be found in the deli section or snack aisle of retailers nationwide.

A Gluten Free Bar That Tastes Awesome and is Good for You Too

Two celiac brothers, Elliott and Marshall Rader, believed in a better gluten-free bar. Sick of cardboard taste and hard-to-understand ingredients, they set out on a mission to create a bar that tasted awesome and was good for them too. A labor of love between the brothers and a pastry chef, these bars meet their three main criteria:

1.) Delicious,
2.) High in protein and fiber to keep them feeling full, and
3.) Made with pure and simple gluten-free ingredients.

Gluten Free BarMade in-house at the company’s own dedicated gluten-free facility, the Gluten Free Bars contain no fillers or additives and are made with all-natural and GMO-free ingredients, 70 percent of which are certified organic.  The Gluten Free Bar provides a good source of fiber and a complete source of protein derived from brown rice and pea protein (10-12 grams!). The bars are also low in sodium; sweetened with agave nectar, brown rice syrup, and dates instead of added sugar; and completely free of wheat, soy, cholesterol, trans fat, casein and dairy.

From toasted cashews and Virginia peanuts to certified gluten-free oats, crisped brown rice, and dried cranberries, the bar’s wholesome ingredients are treats for the taste buds. The flavors include: Cranberry Toasted Almond, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Coconut Cashew Crunch, Dark Chocolate Coconut and Oatmeal Raisin. An ideal breakfast or anytime snack, the bars are chewy and moist on the inside and feature a lightly toasted crunch on the outside. The Gluten Free Bars were introduced to the market in 2010.

Gluten Free BitesThe company just launched new Gluten Free Bites, which are snack sized versions of its delicious bars made in additional dessert flavors.

Kroger to Donate 30 Million Meals to Local Food Banks During Season of Giving

During this Season of Giving, The Kroger Co. is donating 30 million meals to local food banks and providing simple donation opportunities for customers and associates who shop and work at its family of stores.

“Kroger has a proud history of feeding hungry neighbors in our communities and a rich tradition of bringing help and hope for the holidays,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs. “We invite our customers, associates and communities to join in our Season of Giving by supporting their local food banks as well as The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign in our stores this holiday season.”

Feeding Hungry Neighbors

As a founding partner of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger agency, Kroger has been engaged in the hunger relief effort for more than 30 years. Today the Kroger family of stores works directly with more than 100 local food banks. Our customers and associates are partners in this commitment.  In 2013, nearly $7 million was generated at Kroger’s family of stores to help feed local families during the holidays.

This holiday season, customers can help, again, thanks to a variety of simple donation opportunities in stores. Customers are encouraged to visit www.BringingHopetotheTable.com where they can simply enter their zip code to learn how their stores will make it easy for them to support their neighbors in need.

Supporting The Salvation Army

Customers should look for The Salvation Army’s iconic red kettles at the Kroger family of stores from the day after Thanksgiving untilChristmas Eve. Each year, customers and associates generously support The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign that provides food, clothing, toys and social services in the communities where funds are raised.

In 2013, Kroger customers and associates contributed $13.5 million to the campaign, which represents 10 percent of the total raised nationwide. All funds collected are used locally in the community where the donations are raised. The Red Kettle Campaign enables The Salvation Army to assist 30 million Americans in more than 5,000 communities across the country. Since 2007, more than $85 million has been raised at Kroger family stores.

FDA Menu Labeling Rule to be Applied to Grocers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a step to help consumers make informed food selections with two new rules that require calorie information to be listed on menus in chain restaurants. The new rules will apply to prepared food offered in supermarkets, according to the New York Times, and to convenience stores that belong to chains with more than 20 locations, according to NACS, a trade association representing convenience stores, which objected to the rule on the grounds that Congress’ intention for the menu labeling requirement was that the rule should apply only to restaurants.

“The FDA has clearly gone beyond congressional intent by expanding the types of businesses that fall under this law to include convenience stores,” said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President for Government Relations for NACS, according to CSPnet.com. “The one-size-fits-all approach that FDA announced today would treat convenience stores as though they are restaurants, when in fact they operate very differently. It is now up to the bipartisan, bicameral opponents of this regulatory overreach to enact legislation introduced in both houses of Congress that reasonably defines a restaurant as a business that derives at least 50 percent of revenue from prepared food.”

The final rules come after FDA considered more than 1,100 comments submitted to the agency and on the heels of new research illustrating the benefits of calorie labeling for consumers. The menu labeling final rule applies to restaurants and similar retail food establishments if they are part of a chain of 20 or more locations, doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items.

Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item. Seasonal menu items offered for sale as temporary menu items, daily specials and condiments for general use typically available on a counter or table are exempt from the labeling requirements.

“Americans eat and drink about one-third of their calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD in a press release. “Making calorie information available on chain restaurant menus and vending machines is an important step for public health that will help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families.”

Some states, localities and various large restaurant chains are already doing their own forms of menu labeling. The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, the law establishing nutrition labeling on most foods, did not cover nutrition labeling for restaurants and other ready-to-eat foods. In the years that followed, states and cities created their own labeling requirements for such foods. These federal standards will help avoid situations in which a chain restaurant subject to the federal requirements has to meet different requirements in different states.

The FDA considered more than 1,100 comments from stakeholders and consumers in developing these rules. In response to comments, the FDA narrowed the scope of foods covered by the rule to more clearly focus on restaurant-type food, made other adjustments such as ensuring the flexibility for multi-serving dishes like pizza to be labeled by the slice rather than as a whole pie, and provided establishments additional time to comply with the rule.

In addition, the menu labeling final rule now includes certain alcoholic beverages served in covered food establishments and listed on the menu, but still provides flexibility in how establishments meet this provision. The majority of comments supported including alcohol because of the impact on public health. The menu labeling rule also includes food facilities in entertainment venue chains such as movie theaters and amusement parks.

Restaurants and similar retail food establishments will have one year to comply with the menu labeling requirements.

To help consumers understand the significance of the calorie information in the context of a total daily diet, under the rule, menus and menu boards will include the statement:

“2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary.”

The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon consumer request and as noted on menus and menu boards, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

The vending machine final rule requires operators who own or operate 20 or more vending machines to disclose calorie information for food sold from vending machines, subject to certain exceptions. Vending machine operators will have two years to comply with the requirements.

Alert Issued on Honey Shipped to U.S. From Turkey

The True Source Honey Certification™ Program, whose mission it is to protect consumers, retailers and manufacturers from illegally sourced honey, has issued an alert concerning honey labeled as coming from Turkey.

“We advise honey importers, retailers and manufacturers to proceed carefully and consider additional safeguards if they are buying low-priced honey labeled as produced in Turkey,” said True Source Honey Executive Director Gordon Marks.

The United States has had repeated problems with honey that is illegally shipped from China to avoid anti-dumping duties. The quality and purity of this honey is also suspect since it is not sold according to regular protocols. Such honey has often been shipped through – and labeled as produced within – a country other than China. This illegal practice threatens the U.S. honey industry by undercutting fair market prices and damaging honey’s reputation for quality and safety.

True Source is flagging Turkey due to increasing amounts of honey being shipped from that country at well below market prices. This trend is similar to that observed in past circumvention schemes.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. imported more than four million pounds of honey from Turkey in 2013, or about one percent of the volume Americans consume each year. This volume from Turkey has increased almost 10-fold in three years. More importantly, Turkish honey that is exported to the United States is valued at $1.27 per pound when traded into the U.S. (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census) and at $2.13 per pound when traded into the European Union (2014 YTD, Eurostat).  Such a significant discrepancy in price based upon destination rather than origin is uncommon in the international honey market. U.S.-produced white honey is trading at $2.08 per pound, according to the most recently available data from USDA (September 2014).

“The leading indicator for circumvented Chinese honey is honey traded on the international market at rates substantially below the prevalent market value,” said Marks.

Marks also noted that U.S. companies should be aware of the risk of prosecution for customs fraud if circumstances indicate that they purchased honey knowing it had been illegally imported. Recent federal court cases (USAA Northern District of Illinois Press Release,February 20, 2013) suggest the federal government now expects that all U.S. users and distributors of honey imports have already implemented and are maintaining rigorous supply chain audit and inspection procedures as a matter of course.

A number of nations have been implicated in past circumvention schemes. In a 2013 press release associated with charges against two large U.S. packers, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Illinois, noted, “The honey was variously described falsely as sugars and syrups instead of Chinese-origin honey, and or as pure honey having originated in Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam, instead of China.”

The True Source Honey Certification Program is an industry-supported, voluntary program established to combat the problem of illegally shipped honey. To date, there are no Turkish exporters that are True Source Certified. The program, which uses an independent third-party audit system, has been applauded by U.S. beekeepers and honey industry leadership because it provides traceability from hive to table, helping ensure the food safety and security of the honey used in North America. Companies that are True Source Certified now represent about one-third of honey sold in North America.

“Honey packers and importers that become True Source Certified are held to the highest sourcing standards – verified by outside auditors to ensure that all honey purchases are openly declared and that no illegally circumvented Chinese honey enters their supply chain,” said Marks.

The True Source Certified™ logo on honey packages ensures that honey has been independently certified. Further information, including a search function to check honey products, can be found at www.TrueSourceHoney.com.

This story was also published in Food & Food Equipment News, another publication of Oser Communications Group.

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