Mary Waldner, co-founder of Mary’s Gone Crackers®, a leading North American gluten-free cracker and snack company, announced the appointment of food industry veteran John C. Sheptor to the position of CEO.
Sheptor has led global strategic business initiatives in more than 80 countries and is recognized as a visionary leader. “John arrives at a pivotal moment in our history,” said Waldner. We’re poised to grow significantly and are confident that the customer focus, supply chain intelligence and manufacturing excellence John brings will add greatly to our future successes.” President and COO, Joe Glorfield added, “John’s varied-category background enables him to bring new perspective and insight to our brand.”
Sheptor’s business career spans diverse industries including agriculture, food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare among others. He is a leader of change- building enterprise capacity through strategy, business process effectiveness and execution.
Most notably, Sheptor’s career has been dedicated to social and economic development. “The opportunity to create and implement sustainable improvement systems at Mary’s Gone Crackers excites me,” said Sheptor. He considers his ability to optimize a product’s supply chain in order to elevate the brand and positively benefit farmers’ core to both his business and personal missions. He continued, “In my opinion, profit with purpose initiatives is the future of this business.”
Sheptor played an essential role as Chief Executive Officer and President of Imperial Sugar Company, responsible for all operations, commodities management, logistics, sales, marketing, customer service, product development, financial reporting and public/investor relations that support Imperial Sugar’s evolving go-to-market and consumer outreach strategies. He received an undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an M.B.A. from Tulane University and an Advanced Director Certificate from the American College of Corporate Directors.
Wixon has introduced its newest, innovative mixes for dips, delivering a simple way to add a gourmet touch to snacks and starters. The latest on-trend seasonings can inspire new offerings or reinvigorate old classics.
The new products include:
Habanero and Herb
This blend is a combination of fiery habanero and other peppers, onion, garlic, and parsley, plus sugar to add sweetness.
Olive Oil, Truffle, and Parmesan
Make dips taste indulgent with this mix of cheese, peppers, garlic, parsley, and rich truffle.
Vanilla Hazelnut Coffee
Vanilla, sugar, coffee, and natural hazelnut flavor create a seasoning with pep.
More information on Wixon or any of its products may be obtained at www.wixon.com or by calling 414.769.3000.
Finca Pascualete La Retorta was awarded Super Gold and named Best Cheese from Spain at the 2015 World Cheese Awards. This creamy raw sheep’s milk cheese is made in the traditional method of curdling milk with dried wild thistle flowers.
Finca Pascualete uses milk from its own flock and stays true to the time-honored recipe which requires daily turning by hand. The resulting aromatic cheese is praised for a smooth yet persistent flavor. The wild flowers lend a hint of bitterness to balance its remarkable richness.
Weighing in at 140 grams, La Retorta has understated packaging, wrapped in corrugated cardboard and tied with raffia string. The cheese should be brought to room temperature for service, when the top rind can be cut off as if it were a lid.
This popular La Retorta has gained notice not just for its flavor and quality, but also for its fascinating origins. Established in the 1940s by Luis Figueroa and Aline Griffith, Finca Pascualete is located on a famed Extremadura estate that has been in Figueroa family for nearly 800 years; the palacio itself was built in Roman times. The rich history of the estate took on a new life through Figueroa and Griffith. Having met when Griffith was working as a CIA agent, the couple settled into life in northern Spain, where they became known as the Count and Countess of Romanones.
“The cheese showcases the singularity of the land, the estate where the flock grazes and the city of Trujillo. It is a farming and agricultural project with a history dating back to 1232 which gained new dimension in 2010 with the inauguration of the cheese factory, achieving important international recognition,” said Cheesemaker Juan Figueroa, a grandson of the founders.
Finca Pascualete’s La Retorta was one of 2,727 entries from around the world to be judged at the World Cheese Awards, where 250 expert judges worked in teams of four to identify medal-winning cheeses. The super gold medal was reserved for each team’s favorite cheese. The 62 super gold cheeses were then ranked by a second panel of judges to award “best of” categories and to decide the world champion.
Finca Pascualete La Retorta is distributed in the United States by the Rogers Collection, which imports and distributes responsibly sourced ingredients of distinctive quality created by generational food producers from small farms rich in traditions and flavors.
For more information, call 207.828.2000, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit therogerscollection.com.
BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. has named Christopher J. Baldwin as President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Laura J. Sen, who is assuming the role of Non-Executive Chairman. The appointment is effective February 1, 2016.
Baldwin will assume responsibility for the ongoing operations of BJ’s, while Sen will join BJ’s other board members in setting the long term strategic direction of the company. Baldwin will report to the company’s board of directors, and both he and Sen will remain members of the BJ’s board.
“I am grateful to have spent over 25 years with this great company, and feel privileged to have led it for the last seven,” said Sen. “I am proud of what our team has accomplished together during these many years. I believe BJ’s is operationally strong and well positioned for continued success. In a very short period Chris has demonstrated the necessary vision and leadership to take BJ’s to the next level. Together, we have laid out a strategy for the company that will serve us for many years to come, and I believe now is the right time for Chris to assume his place as leader of BJ’s.”
Baldwin joined BJ’s in September as President and Chief Operating Officer. He brought more than 30 years of experience as an executive in the retail and consumer products industries. Before joining BJ’s, he was CEO of Hess Retail Corporation, prior to its successful sale to Marathon Petroleum Corporation. Before joining Hess, Baldwin served in a variety of executive level roles at Kraft Foods (Nabisco), The Hershey Company, and Procter and Gamble.
“I am humbled and excited by this opportunity to lead BJ’s,” said Baldwin. “This is both a challenging time for retail and one full of opportunity. Our guide over the next several years will be a vision that is steadfastly focused on offering a distinctive shopping experience and deep value proposition to BJ’s millions of loyal members. With the support of BJ’s team members, I look forward to leading our company to even higher levels of achievement.”
About BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc.
Headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s operates membership warehouse clubs in the eastern United States. The company currently operates 211 clubs and 126 gas stations in 15 states.
BJ’s provides a one-stop shopping destination filled with more top-quality, leading brands including its exclusive Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen brands, which are all backed by BJ’s 100 percent money-back guarantee; more fresh foods from USDA Choice meats to premium produce to delicious organics in many supermarket sizes; and more great value and amazing savings every day. BJ’s is also the only membership club to accept all manufacturers’ coupons and for greater convenience offers the most payment options.
Blue Crab Bay Co. is abuzz with big news: Beach House Buzz® is flying off the shelves! This gourmet snack mix from the Virginia company known worldwide for its peanut products features two flavors of super-extra-large Virginia peanuts – sea-salted and spicy honey-roasted; cashews; dried cranberries; pretzel balls; oat bran sesame sticks; and the piece de resistance, dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans.
Blue Crab, which garners praise regularly for its delightful, coastal-inspired packaging, has chosen to adorn this tasty mix with a label showcasing colorful beach cottages inspired by those of the mid-Atlantic, the region the company calls home.
Beach House Buzz joins an extensive lineup of snacks that includes Sea Salt Nuts; Crab House Nuts®; Crab House Crunch® peanut squares; Sandbaggers®; Skipjacks®; Barnacles® spicy snack mix; and Surf Doggies®.
Call Blue Crab Bay Co. at 800.221.2722 ex. 3 or email email@example.com.
Stonyfield is bringing out the latest offering in its Oh My Yog! lineup, limited edition New England Maple, just in time for National Maple Syrup Day on December 17. Made from organic whole milk and featuring maple syrup sourced from New Englanders who have a passion for making organic syrup, Oh My Yog! New England Maple is an everyday indulgence consumers can feel good about choosing.
Stonyfield’s Oh My Yog! line is known for its unique three-layer format – and with maple on the bottom, honey-infused yogurt in the middle and a decadent layer of cream on top – New England Maple is no exception.
“Oh My Yog! has been a big hit with consumers since we introduced the product earlier this year,” shared Lizzie Conover, Brand Manager for Stonyfield. “It’s the perfect blend of rich, satisfying flavors and wholesome organic whole milk. With the limited edition New England Maple flavor, we are thrilled to celebrate seasonal ingredients found right here in our own backyard in New England.”
Stonyfield’s Oh My Yog! New England Maple is organic, certified gluten-free, non-GMO and made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones and antibiotics. Each 6 oz. container of Oh My Yog! New England Maple contains seven grams of protein per cup.
Easy to recognize in the yogurt aisle thanks to its colorfully striped packaging that was inspired by the three layers inside, Oh My Yog! New England Maple is available at select retailers nationwide from December 2015-March 2016 and retails for the suggested price of $1.59. For those looking for another creamy treat, Oh My Yog! also comes in five other decadent varieties: Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Wild Quebec Blueberry, Pacific Coast Strawberry, Gingered Pear, and Apple Cinnamon.
Anne Gates has been elected to The Kroger Company’s Board of Directors. Gates is President of MGA Entertainment, Inc., a privately-held developer, manufacturer and marketer of toy and entertainment products for children. Prior to her current role, she held roles of increasing responsibility with the Walt Disney Company from 1992 – 2012. Her roles included executive vice president, managing director, and chief financial officer for Disney Consumer Products and senior vice president of operations, planning and analysis. Prior to joining Disney, Gates worked for PepsiCo and Bear Stearns.
“We are delighted to welcome Anne to Kroger,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Anne’s broad expertise in consumer products and strategy will be a tremendous asset to Kroger’s Board and our shareholders.”
Gates is chairwoman of Big Sunday and a member of the boards of Columbia University School of Engineering, Cadre and PBS SoCal (KOCE-TV Foundation). She received a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Engineering and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California-Berkeley. She is elected to serve until Kroger’s annual meeting of shareholders in June 2016. At that time, she will stand for election by the shareholders.
By Lorrie Baumann
New research about the role of fats in the human diet, a look back at the weaknesses of older research and concerns about trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils have united to kindle a resurgence of interest in animal fats. Eric Gustafson, Chief Executive Officer of Coast Packing Company, a manufacturer of animal fat and shortenings, is cheering the change.
“I think that the tide is turning, and I think it’s great,” he said. “I think that people are starting to see the fact that animal fats are not really all that bad for you. The links between fats and cholesterol are starting to become more clear, at least that the links are not what we thought they were.”
He cites the 2014 release of Nina Teicholz’s book, “The Big Fat Surprise” as a catalyst for changing common American misconceptions about the role of animal fats in human nutrition, along with the Food and Drug Administration’s 2015 announcement that it would no longer recognize partially hydrogenated oils as “Generally Recognized as Safe.” Teicholz’s book points out weaknesses in the nutrition research that demonized saturated fats as the most important single cause of coronary artery disease deaths in the U.S. and led to a spate of dietary advice calling for rigorous limits on consumption of animal products, especially red meat and eggs, based on the unproven theory that consumption of saturated fats inevitably led to higher cholesterol levels in the bloodstream and ultimately to the buildup of plaques in coronary arteries and therefore to coronary artery disease.
More recent research and the discovery of so-called “good cholesterol” has called that conclusion into question and pointed an incriminating finger at the artificial trans fats formed through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats that are liquids at room temperature into forms that are stable and solid at room temperature and therefore easier to handle. “The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans,” said FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D. as the agency announced its decision in January 2015. “This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
“That has caused animal fat to regain its place at the table,” Gustafson said. “Artificial trans fats have been found to be more dangerous with respect to coronary artery disease than animal fats.”
Nutritionists still caution against overdoing the use of animal fats as well as other animal products, and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, when they are released later this year by the federal Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, are expected to recommend that Americans cut back on consumption of saturated fats in favor of polyunsaturated fats like canola or sunflower oil or monosaturated fats like olive oil, but they’re not expected to insist that Americans need to cut animal fats and proteins out of their diets altogether. That change in the signal from a red light to a yellow caution light plus the results they see from including lard in their pastries and frying with beef tallow is inspiring many chefs, particularly those in Los Angeles, to put lard and tallow back onto their shopping lists, Gustafson said. “Not everyone’s going to accept animal fats, but we believe when you look at the potential consumers of animal fats and why it’s regaining popularity, you come back to why we eat, and that’s that we want to eat food that tastes good. Animal fats truly make food taste better.”
The shortenings and fats that Coast Packing is selling to those chefs are produced by taking the fat from the animal, grinding that fat into smaller pieces, then using steam to heat it in a tank which melts and liquefies the fat. The liquefied fat or “oil” then enters through a centrifuge that whirls it around to separate out any remaining proteins and moisture. The process is a large-scale version of the fat-washing technique that some modern mixologists are using to infuse cocktails with bacon flavor, leaving the pork fat behind to be discarded. Pork fat is otherwise known as lard, whereas tallow refers to beef fat. In Coast Packing’s case, it’s both the original flavor and the fat component that are the means to an end. “The unique thing about our system is that we can manufacture beef tallow in a way that retains more flavor characteristics, if that’s what people want, or it can have no flavor or odor at all,” Gustafson said. “When you bite into a cake, you don’t want it to taste like a steak. Conversely, if someone wants to fry traditional foods, we can leave a little bit of that beef flavor because it helps to accentuate the flavor of what you’re frying. Minor flavor calibration aside, we’re committed to the concept of ‘minimally processed.’ It’s a way to remain true to the Coast Packing tradition, and it’s a genuine differentiator when stacked up against manufactured (and trans fat-laden) alternatives.”
By Lorrie Baumann
This is a good time, and Nashville is a good place for a tiny cheese shop that operates as a cut-to-order counter inside a specialty butcher shop, says Kathleen Cotter, Owner of The Bloomy Rind.
The Bloomy Rind is tucked inside Porter Road Butcher, a whole-animal butcher shop that specializes in locally sourced pasture-raised meats. The pairing of a cheese shop and specialty butchers came about after a local farmer introduced Cotter, who was selling cheeses at local farmers markets, to business partners James Peisker and Chris Carter, who had been working together as caterers when they realized that what Nashville lacked was a good source of high-quality local meat. They were getting ready to open a butcher shop in East Nashville to meet that need, and when they met Cotter, it just seemed right that they might also team up with Cotter and her specialty cheeses. “I pitched the idea to sell cheese in their shop. At that point we didn’t know what the setup would look like,” Cotter says. “As their plans for the space crystalized, they worked a small cheese counter for The Bloomy Rind into their layout. So I was able to open up inside Porter Road instead of having to find the funds to build out my own shop.”
Cotter can’t focus on local cheeses the way Peisker and Carter focus on local meats because there just aren’t enough cheeses made locally to Nashville to meet her customers’ needs, but all three partners share a similar passion for sustainably produced foods. “Our philosophy and our passion were very much in alignment,” she says.
Part of their job is educating Nashville residents who are more accustomed to shopping for all their food needs at conventional grocery stores rather than stopping in at a variety of specialty shops, Cotter says. “It’s a change of habit to have to make an extra stop for specialty meats and cheese. But people are more and more willing to make that extra stop as the desire grows to know where their food comes from and how it was produced.”
“There’s also a population who comes in and says they grew up going to the butcher shop,” she adds. “They come back to that experience, which is cool…. We’re having a lot of people moving here from big cities, where they’re a little more used to specialty shops and come in looking for a personalized cheese experience.”
Her corner of the 1,500 square foot store houses a cheese case and a cutting table, and she shares a market area where she has some logs of chevre and a few other cheese accompaniments in a grab-and-go case. She carries 40 to 50 different cheeses in the case, all cut to order. At the moment, she has one particular favorite cheese in her case: a wheel of extra-aged St. Malachi from the Farm at Doe Run that she acquired when the farm sold extra wheels of a cheese they were entering in the American Cheese Society awards competition. “It’s sort of an aged cheddar meets aged Gouda, firm and crystally and brown-buttery,” Cotter says. “I find cheese is very much a mood thing. I don’t know if other people feel the same way. Sometimes you want a cheese that’s mild, fresh and creamy. Other times you want something with a more challenging profile and stronger flavors.”
In addition to her retail business, she operates a thriving wholesale business in which she works with about 20 restaurants in the city on a regular basis. “That helps me to move product through the case so inventory never sits fr too long and I can rotate the selection more frequently,” she says. “The combination of retail and wholesale also makes it possible to earn a living, which can be tough as an independent cheese retailer.” The wholesale business has become more integral to the shop than Cotter expected, which has been a pleasant surprise, she said. “It’s another avenue to market the cheese counter. If people order a Bloomy Rind cheese plate at a restaurant and enjoy it, then they come into the shop and want to try other things as well.”
As she’s grown her business at the shop, Cotter has also founded the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival, which started five years ago and which she has organized each year since then. “It’s been fun to watch that grow and to be a part of growing the awareness of Southern cheese,” she says. “I think Southern cheeses were under appreciated, but along with greater appreciation of Southern food in general, people are becoming more aware of it. We have people from different cities asking for Southern cheeses to be sent to them. It’s on the upswing. People are really excited about it.”
Nashville’s growing food culture makes this an exciting time to be selling specialty cheese there, Cotter says. “I happened to get into this at a good time when American cheeses are getting better and better and better. There are many great cheeses to introduce people to and chefs are more into interesting domestic cheeses,” she says. “Nashville has become the ‘It Girl’ of food and is attracting more chefs, although we already had good ones, as well as visitors who are interested in good food. It’s a fun time to be in Nashville and to be in cheese.”
By Richard Thompson
On Highway 202, just across the valley from Chateau Ste. Michelle, in the northern woodland region of Washington, stands the Sky River Mead and Honey Wine Meadery. Nestled comfortably off the scenic green-way of the Sammamish River Trail since 2012, this award-winning Washington meadery has tantalized customers with its line of quality meads and honey wines – including its flagship product, SOLAS – through its tasting rooms, community engagement and guiding principle that “in life, you get to make your own cubicle.”
“We only make mead.” says Denice Ingalls, President and Wine Maker at Sky River, “We keep it simple and try not to make it too complicated. We like to keep things relaxed.”
First opening in 1997 in the foothills of Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountain Range, Sky River Meadery debuted its first bottle, SOLAS, in 1999, but eventually moved to the Woodinville Winery district in Washington in 2012 to what Ingalls considers to be “a little Washington Napa Valley,” as interest in mead grew. It was in this region that Ingalls and her sister, Glenda Downs, who joined the company in 2005, grew up, valuing the craft of working with honey as an ingredient in gourmet breads and home breweries. “If there was any place to reintroduce [mead], it would be Seattle.” says Ingalls, “We found a building, started with a blank slate and got the ball rolling by making a nice tasting room.” The space is so big, according to Ingalls, that the sister team sublets space in the two-building facility to a couple local grape wineries, Icon Sellers and Pleasant Hills, that serve out of their facility.
Both Ingalls and her sister took an unorthodox path into the mead business, but now that they’ve found it, they wouldn’t give it up for the world. Ingalls graduated from Pepperdine University in California, earning a Bachelors of Arts in Economics and after years of working alongside her father-in-law who ran the operations of a honey packing plant, remembered learning of mead in an Old English literature course she took years before, starting her journey into mead making, she says. Now she is involved in every step of the process, from selecting the honeys that will be used and dealing with the hefty paperwork that comes with running any business to collaborating on packaging and teaching customers about mead itself.
Downs graduated from Western Washington University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Non-Profit Administration and Fine Arts, and worked in the restaurant and marketing industry. Currently handling outside sales, Downs is responsible for sales and marketing, social media, the tasting room and the company website, sharing her knowledge of mead making with customers as she learns.
Sky River offers 10 different varieties of mead – with nine currently available – that range from traditional honeyed meads to fruit-inspired honey wines for those who are looking for a beverage that isn’t as naturally sweet.
The Sky River Sweet Mead is reminiscent of a fine German Riesling and is enjoyed as a delicate aperitif whose flavor notes are heightened with a touch of cinnamon, nutmeg or cardamon. The Sky River Semi-Sweet Mead hints of pear and is best served with the herbal flavors of pan-Asian and Mediterranean dishes, while the Sky River Dry Mead’s subtle honey flavor pairs perfectly with Thai and Indian cuisine. A 750 ml bottle costs $14.50, but a half case or a full case is also ready for purchase for $87 (six bottles) and $174 (12 bottles).
The traditional Brochet Mead that Sky River offers has a darker, richer quality due to the honey being caramelized before fermentation and exhibits a shadowy, sweet and alluring experience that is great on a summer evening, according to Ingalls. The Ginger mead has a sassy ginger note that harmonizes with the honey base into a fresh taste that zings with a spicy finish. “Our Rose mead is the ‘boudoir’ wine, luscious and indulgent, and pairs beautifully with meals where there are a lot of pistachios, like Persian and Middle Eastern foods,” says Ingalls. Both the Sky River Ginger Mead and the Brochet Mead are available in a 750 ml bottle for $16.95, $101.70 for a half case and $203.40 for a full case of 12 bottles. The Rose Mead starts at $17.95 for a 375 ml bottle and $107.70 and $215.40 for a half and full case respectively.
SOLAS, the meadery’s flagship mead, is a tribute to Old World meads. Using saturated, smoky whiskey barrels from Dry Fly[TM] Distillery, SOLAS is a very sweet mead that combines honey and wheat whiskey flavors and is definitely an indulgence that should be sipped. Available for $25.95 per 750 ml bottle, $155.70 per half case and $311.40 for a full case.
The Sky River Raspberry Honey Wine has warm honey notes that are offset by the lush raspberry flavor, making for a versatile beverage that pairs well with a pork roast and berry chutney or a very rich cheese cake. The Sky River Blackberry Honey Wine goes well with salmon, cheesecake or even just on its own. “This [honey wine] goes well with food or without food,” says Ingalls. Both honey wines retail for $15.50 for a 750 ml bottle, $93.00 per half case and $186 for a case of 12 bottles.
Ingalls speaks with a folksy wisdom when talking about why people purchase her mead, “We’re the grandaddy of the mead world….We’re still out plugging because we know what we’re doing.”