By Lorrie Baumann
Wholesome Goodness is a brand based on three key tenets: that food should taste great, that food should be nutritious, and that nutritious food should be affordable. Because it fulfills all three of these goals, Wholesome Goodness’ product line aligns with the way that Millennial generation consumers want to eat today, according to company founders Jeff Posner and Rick Letizia.
Posner and Letizia had 70 years of experience in the food industry between them when they decided to leave behind their executive positions in major food companies like Kraft and General Foods to strike out on their own with a brand reflecting their beliefs about how more nutritious foods can help address health problems related to diet. Posner himself suffers from high blood pressure, while Letizia has type-2 diabetes, so they are personally aware of the burdens that nutrition-related diseases place on health care costs, quality of life and longevity.
From experience, they knew that major food companies use ingredients that make products cheaper to manufacture but may offer less nutrition to the consumers who used them. They wanted to go another way; to start a food business that would serve consumers’ ever-increasing expectations for healthier foods. “Wholesome Goodness products emphasize positive ingredients like protein, antioxidants and whole grains, while de-emphasizing negative ingredients like saturated fats, added sugars and added sodium,” Posner said.
“Part one of the Wholesome Goodness promise is that for every calorie consumed you get relatively more nutrition than the mainstream national brands,” he continued. “Part two is affordability. This requirement recognizes that 75 percent of the country is overweight or obese, and the barriers to eating healthier foods are both taste and price. Conceptually, if you take nutritional density and divide by price, our products provide consumers with the optimal blend of high nutrition and affordable cost. That’s our unique value proposition. At Wholesome Goodness, we want the 75 percent of the population that’s overweight or obese to be able to afford and enjoy each and every one of our products.”
The two started out six years ago by talking with consumers and retailers to learn more about changing trends in eating patterns before they decided that their first products would be a line of snacks, Letizia said. “Data shows that the bulk of our population, in particular the nearly 80 million Millennials, are snacking four to six times a day; thus, portability is extremely important – things you can throw in your purse or backpack,” he said.
As the two developed other products, they stayed with the directive that they wanted their foods to be nutrition-dense, a concept offered up by Yale University childhood obesity and nutrition expert Dr. David Katz. This concept, simply stated, requires that for every calorie contained in their products, the consumer will get a healthier blend of more positive nutrition and less negative nutrition. They wanted clean ingredients without excessive sodium or added sugars. “We currently ban 127 ingredients that other food companies use today, including all 85 identified by Whole Foods,” Letizia said. “We have the cleanest ingredient deck in the industry at the present time.”
And while they were creating clean ingredient labels for their products, they also wanted to produce foods that were more affordable than mainstream competitors’, Posner said. “These are the kinds of products that my mother would have served the family: great-tasting and affordable for the family. Not that she did anything different from all my friends’ mothers; the only thing my friends and I knew growing up was just good, old-fashioned food,” he said. “Frankly, there is no reason why anyone today should have to pay a premium to have better-for-you products.”
“We don’t have anywhere near the cost structure of the large companies. We don’t own any plants; instead, we use highly-qualified third parties to manufacture our proprietary product formulations, so we don’t have the overhead and capital requirements of a big company. We certainly don’t make the multi-million dollar salaries of the executives of the large food companies. We don’t have the requirement to deliver a 15 percent bottom line just to maintain shareholder value – we can make do on a much smaller percentage,” he explained. “We want our products to be accessible to the masses…. For example, our award winning Sweet Chili and Omega Tortilla Chips come in a 9-ounce bag that retails for $3.99 – and even less on feature. A 5.5-ounce bag of competing better-for-you brands will cost about as much as Wholesome Goodness. Consequently, we’re less expensive, averaging about 20 to 30 percent cheaper, ounce for ounce, than these other brands. When you divide our products’ nutritional density by food budget dollars spent, we’re really the best deal in town.”
The Wholesome Goodness product line includes snack chips and crisps; granola bars, snack mixes, and hot and cold cereals. Learn more at www.wholesome-goodness.com.
Seviroli Foods, Inc., creator of artisan filled pasta and sauces and the world’s largest frozen tortellini manufacturer, has announced an asset purchase of D’Orazio Foods, Inc, also a purveyor of frozen Italian fare, such as shells, crepe manicotti, stuffed rigatoni and more.
This acquisition represents a key portion of Seviroli Foods’ strategic plan in expanding its market share. The D’Orazio organization will be folded into the Seviroli Foods organization, preserving the long-honored family traditions and cultures important to both companies. Both launched in the 1960s, the combination of these two venerable businesses will further increase the overall capacity to meet customers’ needs.
The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and Farm Credit joined together to celebrate 100 years of service to agriculture during a congressional reception in the United States Capitol on February 2. The reception was widely attended by Farm Credit leaders, commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture, Members of Congress, leadership from federal agencies, and agriculture industry stakeholders.
“NASDA and Farm Credit each have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to agriculture and rural America for 100 years,” said Greg Ibach, NASDA President and Nebraska Director of Agriculture. “State departments of agriculture collectively play a key role in advocating national policy and promotional activities that make sense for farmers, ranchers, agribusiness, and rural communities,” Ibach said. “Farm Credit provides access to vital financial resources for the agriculture sector and important educational opportunities for the next generation of producers. Together, our organizations have led, and will continue to lead, the way in supporting the evolving needs of all of agriculture, today and tomorrow.”
The Congressional Reception was the culmination of a full week of centennial activities for the members of both NASDA and Farm Credit, which were both founded in 1916. This week NASDA hosted 250 state and federal agriculture officials for its Winter Policy Conference, while the Farm Credit Council hosted its Annual Meeting, welcoming 800 directors and staff to the nation’s capital. Prior to the joint centennial celebration on Capitol Hill Tuesday evening, NASDA leaders and members focused on important public policy issues ranging from how to create more opportunities for beginning farmers to international trade, and domestic natural resource challenges.
“NASDA and Farm Credit have been working side by side to support rural communities and agriculture for 100 years,” said Todd Van Hoose, President and CEO of the Farm Credit Council. “Farm Credit is proud to partner with NASDA and its members to support programs that ensure rural America is healthy and thriving today, and for the next 100 years.”
One such program is the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Homegrown By Heroes program, a consumer product labeling initiative for farmer veterans that Farm Credit has supported since its national rollout in 2014.
In addition to this week’s centennial activities, both Farm Credit and NASDA have centennial programs planned throughout the year, both in D.C. and in communities across the country. Farm Credit will celebrate Farm Credit Week in June, while the Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach, the 2015 – 2016 President of NASDA, will host NASDA’s Annual Meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska, in September.
NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all 50 states and four U.S. territories.
The Organic Consumers Association is joining forces with the Organic & Natural Health Association, a new trade group committed to bringing together “a broad coalition to work towards preserving and advancing the health and well-being of people, animals and plants, and the planet as a whole.”
“The Organic & Natural Health Association fills a void in today’s market for a trade group that is dedicated to serving the needs of suppliers, retailers and consumers who seek truthful, unbiased and credible information, based on the latest health- and nutrition-based science and research, about organic and natural products,” said Ronnie Cummins, OCA’s International Director. “America’s 100 million organic consumers and 100 million natural health consumers, working together, can be a mighty force for positive change, moving society toward a future which is organic and regenerative, while fighting off the increasing attacks against organic foods and natural health from Big Ag, Big Pharma, and their indentured scientists, propagandists, and political officials.”
The Organic & Natural Health recently held its first annual conference, where Karen Howard, CEO and Executive Director, announced that group’s board has decided against advocating for development of a certification or seal for the word “natural” on product labels, in favor of instead strengthening the current definition of “organic.” The U.S. Food & Drug Administration recently extended the public comment period on whether or not the agency should define “natural.”
Howard said, “Our research clearly shows that the majority of consumers do not differentiate between ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ and expect products labeled natural to also be organic. So, after careful consideration, we determined that introducing a new ‘natural’ certification seal would not be in the best interest of consumers and could contribute to further confusion. At this juncture, encouraging people to go organic is more important, so we will focus on the existing organic certification seal and do whatever we can to strengthen that program.”
According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, a majority of consumers falsely assume that products labeled “natural” are produced without the use of pesticides, and are free of genetically engineered and artificial ingredients.
“Confusion around product labeling and false marketing claims makes it difficult for consumers to know which companies and brands are trustworthy. OCA supports the Organic & Natural Health’s mission to eliminate confusion and to hold brands to the highest of standards relating to product integrity,” Cummins said.
In addition to educating consumers about the false assumptions around the “natural” label, the Organic & Natural Health will collaborate with IFOAM International, OCA and other organizations to promote Organic 3.0, a more inclusive definition of organic, which takes into account the role agriculture plays in the global issues of hunger, inequity, energy consumption, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural resources.
“We can no longer talk about food out of context,” Cummins said. “Food and agriculture are inextricably linked to a host of environmental and social issues, all of which are intertwined. The OCA fully supports Organic & Natural Health’s commitment to raising the bar for organics, and to holding all of those involved in the food supply chain accountable for the role they play in society as a whole. Our interaction with consumers leads us to believe that they understand these issues, support higher standards, and will support those brands that adhere to Organic 3.0 standards and Organic & Natural Health’s values.”
Arthur Schuman, Inc. has hits with its 2015 award-winning Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan and Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan. These award-winning cheeses are rated #1 and #2 Parmesan cheese in the United States by the American Cheese Society, and the company offered both of them in its booth during the Specialty Food Association’s Winter Fancy Food Show.
“We had an overwhelmingly positive response from both retailers and foodservice operators seeking to find exceptional cheese options for their customers,” said lIana Fischer, Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Arthur Schuman, Inc. “Show attendees marveled at the exceptional taste and crunchy textures of our award-winning Parmesan cheeses.”
Arthur Schuman, Inc., a fourth-generation family company located in Fairfield, New Jersey is recognized as a leader within the specialty cheese industry as both an importer and a producer of hard domestic cheeses for foodservice operators, retailers and distributors.
Fischer was thrilled to see how many show attendees stopped by their booth to experience for themselves the delicious taste of their award-winning cheeses that included:
Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan – This Parmesan cheese has a unique rich and nutty flavor that earned a first-place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition. Made with strict traditional methods, this award-winning cheese is produced in Arthur Schuman’s Lake Country Dairy facility using the highest quality milk. The cheese’s robust flavor and distinct color comes from our commitment to using a copper kettle in the cheese making process and natural sea salt in the brining process. Each wheel is hand selected by a team of expert cheese graders as soon as its flavor has reached the peak of perfection.
Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan – Produced by expert cheesemakers, Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan is made with the freshest milk from local Wisconsin farms and carefully crafted using traditional techniques. Each wheel is naturally aged for over 12 months, developing a deep, nutty, sweet flavor. The complex composition of Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan earned the second-place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition.
Show attendees were also able to taste America’s tastiest new healthy snack, Cello Whisps. Cello Whisps have gained a strong national following among health conscious consumers who look for healthier snack options. Even the cheese experts love Cello Whisps; their delicious flavor earned the second-place award at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.
Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps – Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps are an innovative snack made entirely of one delicious ingredient — 100 percent pure Parmesan cheese. Made with the award-winning Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese aged 14 months, Cello Whisps provide health conscious consumers of all ages with a healthy snack alternative that also taste great. Cello Whisps are all-natural wholesome crisps baked into flavorful, airy, crispy bites. They are an excellent source of protein and calcium, are gluten-free, and one serving is just 100 calories.
“We’re very excited about the success we achieved at the show and can’t wait to participate in the Summer Fancy Food Show in June. We will be showcasing our new Yellow Door Creamery Hand-Rubbed Fontina and Yellow Door Creamery Brilliant Blue cheeses at the summer show,” added Fischer. “We pride ourselves in offering new and innovative cheese products into the specialty market.”
Investment bank Harris Williams & Co. has announced the sale of PANOS brands, LLC (PANOS) to Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company, Inc. (HKW). PANOS is a leading provider of branded consumer foods in a wide variety of growing categories. Known for its unique portfolio of brands, the company has consistently expanded its footprint over the last few years with a focus on providing consumers with high quality, great tasting and better for you products in the specialty, natural, organic and mass grocery channels. Harris Williams & Co. served as the exclusive advisor to PANOS, a portfolio company of High Road Capital Partners (High Road).
“PANOS’ management has executed numerous brand development initiatives to establish PANOS as a leading, differentiated portfolio of trusted consumer brands,” said Glenn Gurtcheff, a Managing Director at Harris Williams & Co. “The company’s on-trend product offerings, new product development capabilities, and diversified customer base garnered significant interest in the market. We believe management has a terrific partner in HKW, and we are looking forward to the company’s continued success.”
PANOS’ unique portfolio of natural and specialty food brands include Andrew & Everett, KA-ME, MI-DEL, Sesmark, Amore and Chatfield’s. PANOS was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Rochelle Park, New Jersey.
High Road is a private equity firm focused on lower-middle market transactions. High Road was formed in 2007. The company focuses on niche-leading companies with revenues of $10 million to $100 million and EBITDA of $3 million to $10 million. Once acquired, High Road works in partnership with management to take the companies to the next level through a combination of organic growth initiatives and add-on acquisitions.
HKW is a private equity firm founded in 1903 with offices in Indianapolis and New York. Since 1982, HKW has sponsored 51 platform transactions of lower-middle market companies throughout North America, as well as 56 add-on acquisitions.
Investment banking services are provided by Harris Williams LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC, and Harris Williams & Co. Ltd, which is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Harris Williams & Co. is a trade name under which Harris Williams LLC and Harris Williams & Co. Ltd conduct business.
This January FreshOne welcomed the new year by celebrating its tenth anniversary. FreshOne was founded in 2006 with the commitment to provide consistently fresh, delicious, high-quality foods to retailers nationwide. The company work with its partner suppliers to provide custom, fresh food solutions as both a product producer and direct store distributor.
FreshOne’s unique logistics capabilities include a new fleet of temperature-controlled trucks and the latest logistics technology to ensure the most streamlined and fresh processes possible for every client on every delivery. Customers are able to manage each step of the process through FreshOne’s proprietary web based order management system, which makes the process of providing fresh food to customers and maximizing profits easy for retailers. FreshOne continues to implement the most rigorous safety and freshness standards to generate strong sales results based on turnkey solutions for all of its customers.
“We truly value our customers and thank them for their continued confidence and trust in our solutions. These past 10 years have been rewarding as we fulfill our purpose while adhering to our core values. Our recent entry into the grocery and higher education channels leads us to believe the next 10 years will be even more exciting,” said FreshOne President Don Janacek.
During 2015 FreshOne experienced a record year for sales and profits. Matt Yost, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, attributes this growth to FreshOne’s ability to maintain an innovative line of fresh, prepackaged grab-and-go and home meal replacement products, data-driven solutions that increase the customer’s bottom line and a custom distribution network that gets products to retailers quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. The research and development team is constantly working on new and innovative products to introduce to the market, including health-oriented items as well as seasonal items that are on trend with consumer demands and regional preferences. “Whether the goal is to attract premium customers, discount shoppers or someone in between, FreshOne builds programs that are the right fit for the retailer who wants to do fresh grab-and-go in a world-class manner,” Yost said.
FreshOne products are now available in major convenience chains, supermarkets and college campuses across the country. This year FreshOne will be commissioning a new fleet of trucks with a brand-new look in addition to hiring new sales personnel.
By Lorrie Baumann
The Alimentaria Hub, part of the next edition of Alimentaria, which takes place on April 25-28, 2016 at Fira de Barcelona, will be one of the most strategic spaces for fostering innovation, business collaboration, competitiveness and the dissemination of knowledge in the food sector. The activities at the show will be based around six core themes: distribution and retail, CSR, internationalization, R&D&I and branding, nutrition, and marketing and communication. There will be new product launches as well as conferences, presentations and consumer trend analyses. The show will also include a center for business meetings and export opportunities and networking sessions to foster entrepreneurship.
Alimentaria expects to attract more than 5,000 North American trade professionals to Barcelona this April. For 2016, Alimentaria will be structured into five shows, encompassing the main food and drinks markets: Intervin (wines and spirits), Intercarn (meat and meat products), Restaurama (foodservice products), Interlact (milk and dairy products) and Multiple Foods (all kinds of confectionery, preserves, oils and premium products).
While most of the show’s exhibitors are Spanish companies, the United States is a strategic market for them. In response, the show – one of the largest European food shows – is going all out to attract more representation from North America, including hosting 800 international buyers, which includes those from the U.S. Part or all of the travel expenses will be paid for those hosted buyers, who must agree in return to have 10 to 12 business meetings with exhibitors, and the show’s management will organize those appointments, said Meritxell Puig, Director of International Expansion for Alimentaria Exhibitions.
The show attracts about 140,000 attendees to see the wares of about 4,800 exhibitors, of which 70 percent are from Spain. The thousand or so exhibitors from outside Spain represent 63 countries. Puig noted that the show’s managers are particularly looking for American importers, distributors and brokers to attend as well as representatives from large chain specialty retailers. Puig expects that the products to be seen at this year’s show will include a great variety of functional foods, products that correspond to gastronomic trends, healthier options and authentic traditional foods.
The show will also feature the Alimentaria Hub, a 4,500 square meter space at the center of the show that’s devoted to innovative products as well as a business meeting space and the conference sessions. Many of the sessions will be conducted in English, according to Puig. “If you want to export, you have to speak English,” she said.
The educational activities will include an entire seminar on reaching the halal market, which is growing rapidly in Europe, with more countries sourcing food from abroad to bring in for Muslim customers. Meanwhile, Spanish producers are racing to get halal certification for their compliant products so they can sell into that market in countries that include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, all of which have significant Muslim populations, Puig said.
The Alimentaria Hub will play a key role in encouraging companies to internationalize their business thanks to the opening of the Export Service Counter, a service for exhibitors who want to venture into foreign markets for the first time. This new program involves experts in all the formalities necessary to take these first steps in reaching foreign markets, from insurance companies and consultancy firms to chambers of commerce and financial institutions.
Click the image above to read the February 2016 issue of Gourmet News