The Kroger Co. has published its 9th annual sustainability report. The report includes an expanded focus on sustainable supply chain, and also reports progress on key priorities such as moving facilities toward zero waste, increased sourcing of sustainable seafood and building energy efficient stores.
“This report celebrates the completion of our first set of sustainability goals, established in 2009, and begins to chart our course for the future,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “We believe reducing our environmental footprint and being a good corporate citizen is a continuous learning process. We have a strong foundation because of the commitment of our associates to serve each and every customer every day and to be good stewards of our communities and planet.”
Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, employs nearly 400,000 associates who serve customers in 2,626 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s. The company also operates 780 convenience stores, 327 fine jewelry stores, 1,342 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 community organizations. Kroger contributes food and funds equal to 200 million meals a year through more than 100 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.
Founded in 1865, Marin French Cheese is celebrating 150 years of fine cheesemaking in its historic Hicks Valley location. To mark this milestone the company has held events throughout the year for trade partners, loyal customers and friends in the community. The coming event on Saturday August 15 is set aside as a celebration and remembrance of Jim Boyce. Boyce purchased Marin French Cheese Company in 1998 and operated it until his untimely death in 2010. Boyce catapulted Marin French to international fame with a first-time gold medal award for an American Brie in a prestigious 2005 European competition.
The August 15 tribute event will be open to the public at no charge. The full-day event takes place outdoors on the grounds surrounding the creamery from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The event features a few of Boyce’s passions – art, music and great cheese. Central to the event is the exhibit and sale of contemporary local art curated by Art Contemporary Marin, a nonprofit contemporary arts organization that Boyce helped found. Original works from 12 featured artists will be on display and for sale through Sunday the 16th. On Saturday, guests can enjoy market-style samplings of artisan cheese and beverages while music from the Copeland Creek Jazz Quintet and John Burdick Band plays outdoors on the lawn.
Founded by Jefferson Thompson in 1865, Marin French was owned and operated by Thompson family descendants until the family sold the business in 1998 to Jim Boyce, an organic cattle rancher, architect and land developer from Bishop, California. He appreciated the unique Hicks Valley “terroir” of the cheese and the burgeoning growth in artisan cheesemaking across the U.S. in the early 2000s. He increased the number and types of cheeses being made, improved and expanded the factory and retail store, energizing the brand, Rouge et Noir, with national marketing and distribution. Under his leadership, Marin French became the first U.S. cheese company to win a gold medal and best of class award in a European competition – the 2005 World Cheese Awards in London.
Beyond his contribution to the resurgence in cheesemaking, Boyce and his wife, Kris Otis, created a nonprofit organization with local arts leaders, Art at the Cheese Factory, now known as Art Contemporary Marin. The exhibits featured art they loved – contemporary painting and sculpture by artists from the North Bay. Thousands attended the exhibits, expanding the experience of visiting the Cheese Factory to an elegant, educational celebration. Following Boyce’s death in 2010, Marin French Cheese was sold to Rians, a respected French family cheesemaking business. Rians completed Boyce’s expansion activities, updated the production areas with state-of-the art equipment and is committed to the future of this venerable 150-year-old local institution.
Sapore Oil and Vinegar, LLC. Co-Founders Renee and John Farr launch Bipartisan Barbecue Sauce into the Washington, DC Political arena.
After years of enduring bickering and disagreements, the Washington, DC market needed something that both parties — Republicans and Democrats — could agree upon: a great-tasting barbecue sauce made with fresh ingredients, with a little spice and a lot of humor. So says Renee Farr, Co-founder of Sapore Oil and Vinegar on Capitol Hill and creator of their new product, Bipartisan Barbecue Sauce. The former catering sales manager first used her ingenuity to spice up Capitol Hill with a line of spices and gourmet foods sold exclusively at her retail store.
“We wanted a sauce that was a little different, but that still met our high standards of flavor. So we went big – big on flavor and big on political satire,” Farr said. The bottle label suggests you use the sauce “liberally or conservatively,” but diplomatically adds, “Independents will like it too!”
“Not only does it take a light hearted poke at Capitol Hill, but it’s addictively delicious. Bipartisan Barbecue Sauce is a tomato/molasses-based sauce with a kick of ancho chiles and chipotle. It’s especially good on pork and beef, and takes grilled chicken and shrimp to whole new level.”
“My husband, [Co-founder] John Farr and I sourced an amazing product and designed the branding. We’re initiating a homegrown campaign to market this product in the Washington D.C. area. Thanks to that effort, you will find Bipartisan Barbecue Sauce in other local stores beside Sapore this summer,” Farr said.
The sauce is available in one variety: Original Bipartisan Barbecue Sauce, 16 ounces, retailing for $9.95
Natural Grocers will open its fifth store in Arizona on Tuesday, August 11—making it the company’s 100th store nationwide. The store, which opens at 8 a.m., is located at 13802 North Scottsdale Road Unit 110, in Scottsdale.
As part the of the August 11 grand opening, Natural Grocers will have a ribbon cutting ceremony at 7:45 a.m. and will then distribute mystery gift cards to the first 100 customers in line. The store will also offer a tasting of healthy and delicious food from the Paleo Wraps class. In addition, the all-female, Scottsdale-based mariachi band, Mariachi Pasión, will perform live on opening day from 7:30 a.m. – 10:30 am.
By Micah Cheek
Wind & Willow, founded in 1991, was born out of a small rural community in southwest Missouri. Its close-knit crew, comprising three generations of workers, sounds more like a family than a company. Everyone from office workers to truck drivers is given snacks for taste testing. In the summer, the staff’s monthly lunch is moved outside for grilling. Potluck turkey dinners are standard practice for Thanksgiving. This sense of camaraderie is reflected in Wind & Willow’s products, which are made for sharing with friends and family. The company produces mixes for dips, soups, and cheese balls.
Convenience and flexible recipes are a primary focus for Wind & Willow. Soup mixes require only water and heat to make a meal and include options for adding ingredients or changing the cooking style. Dip mixes are suggested for use in seasonings, vinaigrettes, and biscuits. These alternate recipes are a hallmark of Wind & Willow’s production team. New recipes are featured weekly on the company’s Facebook page, the test kitchen is always creating new ways to use the products, and annual staff contests are held to discover new possibilities for mixes. Renee Tettenhorst, Co-owner of Wind & Willows, says, “We like to think about each product being almost like a recipe box of ideas included with the mix.”
A line of gluten-free products was created in response to Co-owner Sheila Renard’s diagnosis of celiac disease. “We’ve always had several products that do not contain gluten in the ingredient list, but of course we became much more conscious of the concept at the time,” says Tettenhorst. The gluten free line is now produced in a separate facility from any wheat products, and independently lab tested for traces of gluten. The resulting products are crafted to be as tasty for gluten eaters as they are for those who are gluten free.
In January, Wind & Willow added a pickle mix to its portfolio. It was an instant hit, especially with the company’s workers. Now there are always a few jars hidden in the staff refrigerator.
The pickle mixes are sold in mason jars to use for the pickling. The only necessary additions are fresh vegetables, vinegar, and boiling water. The vegetables pickle in under 10 minutes. Tettenhorst says, “What we’re finding is that people start out with one jar. Then they try another flavor. And then they buy several jars for gifts and refill bags for themselves!” Their newest introductions are tailored for the fall and winter months. Salted Caramel Hot Dip, Wind & Willow’s first sweet hot dip, is ideal for topping apple slices or pumpkin pie. The White Cheddar and Mushroom Soup Mix has been a hit in taste testing, and comes with a wide variety of recipe ideas. Tettenhorst is excited about the possibilities for this mix, saying “You can simply add water or add meat, veggies, herbs, cheese, [or] whatever you want to make it truly your own unique creation.”
By Lorrie Baumann
World Centric is just going into production with a line of compostable packaging for prepared foods made out of fiber that’s grown in the USA and turned into clamshells and covered plates in an American factory under American environmental regulations and sustainability ethics. They comply with the regulations of an increasing number of cities across the country that now require take-out food to be served in packaging that can go into municipal composting facilities instead of into the landfill.
The new containers are made by World Centric, which was started in 2004 as a nonprofit organization. “For us, the business initially was a result of trying to support a nonprofit mission of raising awareness of social and environmental issues,” says World Centric Founder Aseem Das. “We have kept a lot of those values for making change and trying to do our part, in whatever small way, to create a better world and make a difference…. Packaging was opportunistic. We were looking around for a way to support the nonprofit, for products and services that would be sustainable and beneficial to the environment or services that help mitigate social disparities that exist in the world.”
World Centric is headquartered in Petaluma, California, and in those days “polystyrene,” known commonly by the brand name, Styrofoam, had already become a bit of a dirty word in California. Cities around the state were becoming concerned about the material’s durability in the environment and the expense of picking it up off beaches, and they started passing bans on the material. “In 2005, we were at the Green Festival in San Francisco. We were so busy because everybody was so interested in compostable packaging as an alternative to Styrofoam,” Das remembers. “People just got the concept of compostable packaging. There was a fair amount of interest in it.”
Interest was so great that, gradually, Das started spending more time running the business and less time tending to the nonprofit organization. Finally, after some soul-searching, Das decided in 2009 to end the nonprofit organization and become a for-profit enterprise while keeping many of the same values that propelled him into business in the first place. World Centric was registered as a certified B corporation in 2010 and a California Benefit Corporation in 2013. The company donates 25 percent of its profits to organizations that address social and environmental issues.
Back when Das was deciding that he needed to focus all his attention on the business of making a profit, Scott Coye-Huhn and a group of business partners were exercising their own combination of idealism and profit motive with a plan to create biomass reserves for renewable fuels. They were looking at marginal farmlands around the U.S. that might be able to grow a perennial crop even if they couldn’t support annual crops like corn or wheat. The thought was that they’d plant once, harvest a crop year after year, and use the plant fibers as biomass to make fuel. “A perennial gives sustainable characteristics; you use much less fuel, much less chemicals, create less erosion,” Coye-Huhn says. “That’s the game-changer here.”
They found that an Asian plant called Miscanthus would grow in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania, where farmers had land that wouldn’t grow an annual crop. Coye-Huhn and his partners worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get the plant certified for planting in the U.S., after demonstrating that Miscanthus doesn’t make viable seed and can’t become an invasive pest, and started signing up farmers who needed an income from fallow farm lands. “It’s a big deal. The average age of U.S. farmers is almost 60 years,” Coye-Huhn says. “When you plant a crop that grows for 20 years, it solves a lot of problems that come with transitioning family farms from one generation to the next.”
Along the way, the focus changed from using the plant fiber as biomass for fuel to finding other ways to use it. “Why packaging? The capital to build a full-scale pulp mill is significant, but we can do something like this on a much smaller scale,” Coye-Huhn says. “Consumers are asking for this kind of packaging. We learned from our research and development that we can make a pretty darn good package.”
Coye-Huhn and his company, Aloterra, then went looking for somebody who could sell the packaging if they made it and found World Centric, which by that time had a decade of experience importing compostable packaging from Asia and distributing it to customers in the U.S. and which shared the sense of conscientious capitalism that motivated Aloterra. “Getting into distribution is monster work, filled with holes you can fall into. World Centric is good at selling and distributing the product,” Coye-Huhn said.
The new packaging made by Aloterra and marketed by World Centric will start coming off the line this August. World Centric is offering it first to the company’s existing customers but will start taking orders from new customers shortly. “We sell a lot of products and we are nationwide. The products are currently made in Asia. For us, we’ll be replacing those products with the ones that Scott will be making,” Das says.
“These jobs can never be exported. The economics implode if you try to truck biomass more than 50 or 75 miles,” Coye-Huhn adds. “Technically we’re reshoring here. We’re moving jobs from Asia for this manufacturing plant.”
“Going to work every day is an honor,” says Vice President of Taste and Chief Chocolatier at Bissinger’s, Dave Owens. “The opportunity to build upon 350 years of tradition provides a wonderful incentive as I approach each day and every piece of chocolate crafted at Bissinger’s.”
Bissinger’s has been crafting confections since the time of Louis XIV, when he declared the company “Confiseur Imperial” or Confectioner to the Royal Empire, in 17th Century France. No other chocolate company, let alone company known to Bissinger’s, has such a long-standing legacy. Commitment to crafting premium, indulgent and beautiful confections is always the task at hand. This tradition has been the same for three and one half centuries.
Owens brings an extraordinary range of talent and depth to the company, including executive chef and partner at award-winning restaurants. He has a deep respect for the integrity and proper sourcing of ingredients, an exceptional culinary sense and a praiseworthy passion for natural foods and sustainability. Confectionery innovations have won Bissinger’s sofi Awards from the Specialty Food Association. The categories were best chocolate and best confection.
In his free time, Owens has two children and a wife who is also in the food industry, employed as a food stylist. Owens also enjoys helping philanthropic organizations like the March of Dimes, Habitat for Humanity, St. Louis Area FoodBank and has contributed to Taste of the NFL and Taste of the Nation.
At work, Owens is passionate with the company’s involvement with the Rainforest Alliance. Because not all cocoa is responsibly farmed, Bissinger’s works with them to ensure its superior cocoa beans are grown on farms in the Cote d’Ivoire esteemed for exceptional taste. The Rainforest Alliance promotes environmental responsibility, social equity and economic viability for farming communities. For more than 25 years, it has been working to conserve biodiversity and ensure livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.
Owens say it is deeply rewarding on both a professional and personal level to be a part of a company that shares his values to in sourcing premium ingredients that not only make for an indulgent and delicious taste, but also are good for our people and the planet. “Our mission is not to be the biggest, but the finest chocolatier,” said Owens. “The word ‘finest’ doesn’t just refer to the quality of the chocolate. It also encapsulates working for a company that has a social and environmental consciousness.”
Ambriola Company Inc. is introducing Auricchio brand Gorgonzola and Mascarpone.
Auricchio’s cheese producing expertise expanded its operations to include Gorgonzola. It produces Gorgonzola Dolce, Sweet Gorgonzola and Gorgonzola Piccante – a natural Gorgonzola. Each wedge is beautifully packaged and individually sealed to ensure freshness.
Auricchio’s world-class mascarpone uses only the freshest cream to produce its soft, creamy and spreadable mascarpone. Customers will appreciate its delicate, mild flavor and how easily it blends with many other ingredients.
The Auricchio brand is a respected name in the cheese industry which is known for quality, premium imported cheeses from Italy.
Umpqua Oats Inc. launched a farm-to-cup classic, Maple Pecan, at the Fancy Food Show in New York City. Umpqua Oats’ Maple Pecan warm oatmeal cup includes a delicious mixture of custom-milled rolled oats, crunchy pecans, pure maple syrup and other all-natural ingredients to create a delicious and satisfying meal.
“Maple and pecan are two of the most highly sought-after oatmeal flavors – they’re classics, but not all oatmeal is the same,” said Sheri Price, co-founder of Umpqua Oats. “Umpqua Oats’ Maple Pecan blends the perfect combination of warm maple syrup with the nuttiness of pecans for a healthy and delicious, non-GMO and gluten-free oatmeal that’s ready at a moment’s notice. It’s a whole meal solution that tastes like home, no matter where you go.”
In developing Maple Pecan, Umpqua Oats stayed true to its farm-to-cup mentality when sourcing ingredients. The pure maple syrup was specifically selected from Coombs Family Farms in New England. The new flavor also has 7 grams of protein and is less than 300 calories.
The newest flavor combination for Umpqua Oats also meets consumers’ desire for oatmeal they can have as a snack, or meal, any time of day and with minimal preparation. Just three minutes after hot water is added, the oatmeal is ready to be stirred and enjoyed.
Umpqua Oats’ portfolio of seven flavorful on-the-go super premium oatmeal cups are available in more than 2,000 retail outlets across the United States, with a heavy concentration in Western states and expanding distribution in the East. The company anticipates Maple Pecan to be available nationwide and online this fall. For more information or to order online, visit www.umpquaoats.com.
Aiya America has taken first place in the annual Iced Tea Competition held by the North American Tea Championship (NATC) for its Matcha to Go single serving sticks. Aiya’s Matcha to Go placed first under the instant unflavored green tea category.
The NATC Iced Tea Competition evaluates premium tea entries from all over North America, under numerous categories. Each tea is blindly evaluated by world renowned tea connoisseurs and rated using a point scale for flavor, aroma, mouth feel, brewed harmony and other characteristics.
Matcha to Go single serving sticks blend ultra-fine matcha powder with dietary fiber for a smooth, creamy, delicious and healthful beverage in just seconds. It requires no sifting or whisking, and eliminates the clumping that may be associated with other matcha tea products. Simply pour Matcha to Go into a cold water bottle and shake for a refreshing iced matcha drink, or stir into hot water for an invigorating matcha tea.
Matcha to Go contains 10 sticks in each box and retails for $18.80. To purchase Matcha to Go or to learn about all of Aiya’s offerings, visit www.aiyamatcha.com.