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Gourmet Newswire

Kronos Foods Names Howard Eirinberg as CEO

Kronos Foods, Inc., a privately held manufacturer of premium gyros and other Mediterranean and specialty foods, has named Howard Eirinberg, 54, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Eirinberg, who succeeds long-time Kronos CEO Michael Austin, now Chairman of Kronos Food Corp., joined Kronos in 2011 to lead all sales and marketing initiatives for the company’s wide-ranging operations in meat, bakery, dairy, dessert, restaurant and distribution. Eirinberg has grown Kronos’s sales by launching new products like chicken shawarma into the club and foodservice channels.

“The continued popularity of Mediterranean cuisine combined with emerging healthy and convenient eating trends has provided us with a unique opportunity to expand our foodservice presence while also introducing our products into a variety of other markets, including retail, club and convenience stores,” Eirinberg said. “Kronos’s dedicated team of skilled professionals is fully committed to bringing innovative and delicious new product options to foodservice and beyond.”

Before joining Kronos, Eirinberg, who has more than 30 years of food industry experience, previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Vienna Beef, Ltd., the iconic Chicago-based manufacturer of hot dogs, sausages and other specialty foods, where he oversaw the company’s national food service and retail businesses. During his six-year tenure at Vienna Beef, Eirinberg was instrumental in successfully launching new products into new channels, developing new customer segments, and enhancing the company’s brand awareness. Previously, he ran the foodservice division of Fresh Express, Inc., a fresh-cut vegetable processor, and held senior sales and marketing positions at salad dressings manufacturer Richelieu Foods, Inc. and food conglomerate The Quaker Oats Co.

Eirinberg holds a bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Safeway-Albertsons to Merge

Safeway Inc. and Albertsons have announced a definitive agreement under which AB Acquisition LLC  will acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway. The merger agreement was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of Safeway.

AB Acquisition is the owner of Albertson’s LLC and New Albertson’s, Inc. and is controlled by a Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.-led investor group, which also includes Kimco Realty Corporation, Klaff Realty LP, Lubert-Adler Partners LP, and Schottenstein Stores Corporation.

Safeway shareholders are expected to receive total value estimated at $40 per share.

Albertsons’ Chief Executive Officer Bob Miller stated, “This transaction offers us the opportunity to better serve customers by adapting more quickly to evolving shopping preferences in diverse regions across the country. It also brings together two great organizations with talented management teams. Robert Edwards and his team have done an outstanding job in positioning Safeway’s core business for success, by investing in its stores and creating innovative strategic marketing programs that contribute to shareholder value. Working together will enable us to create cost savings that translate into price reductions for our customers. Together, we will be able to respond to local needs more quickly and deliver outstanding products at the lowest possible price, more efficiently than ever before.”

“This merger is one of several actions we have taken in recent months as a result of our strategic business review. The combined value of the transactions described above is expected to deliver a premium to Safeway’s shareholders of 72 percent from one year ago, and 56 percent over the share price six months ago,” said Robert Edwards, President & Chief Executive Officer of Safeway Inc. “Safeway has been focused on better meeting shoppers’ diverse needs through local, relevant assortment, an improved price/value proposition and a great shopping experience that has driven improved sales trends. We are excited about continuing this momentum as a combined organization. We look forward to working with Bob Miller and the rest of the Albertsons team as we proceed together on a path towards becoming an even stronger organization.”

Best Premium Hot Teas Named

The North American Tea Championship (NATC)  has named the 22 best, premium hot teas from the fall 2013 harvest. The evaluation was held Feb. 20-21 in Las Vegas, Nev., and all of the high-quality winning teas are commercially available in the marketplace.

Companies that took home an esteemed first-place award include: Black Tusk Trading; Florapharm Tea; Garden to Cup Organics Ltd.; International Tea Importers, Mountain Tea; Naivetea; Octavia Tea; QTrade Teas & Herbs; Sipping Streams Tea Company; TeaSource, LLC; Tea Xotics, LLC; and Walters Bay.

Garden to Cup Organics led the championship with the most wins, including four first-place honors, four second place wins and a third place recognition. This new player in the market, driven by seasoned tea experts, is a wholesale supplier of ethically sourced, loose-leaf organic teas based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. The company’s teas are carefully selected, directly from organic tea gardens across the world, and hand-blended in micro-batches to produce the highest quality products. Garden to Cup Organics offers wholesale, custom blending, private and white label opportunities.

“The North American Tea Championship is an excellent platform to showcase quality teas, and we’re thrilled to have received the most wins in this recent evaluation,” said Raj Teja, one of the principals of Garden to Cup Organics. “And the best part of this competition is that it’s independent and judged by professional members of the tea community with stringent standards. For us, the timing of these wins perfectly coincides with the expansion of our distribution across North America.”

NATC Cupping Coordinator Mo Sardella, of The G.S. Haly Company in Redwood City, Calif., noted, “For this competition, there was a noticeable increase in quality and uniqueness within the blended and flavored tea and herbal categories. The flavored and blended products, which are experiencing steady growth within the specialty tea industry, have quickly become the most popular categories at the NATC. Within these categories, the judges noticed a significant increase in custom blends that include good quality specialty teas and herbs, as well as premium ingredients regarding flavoring, decorations and other botanicals. This is a noticeable increase from previous NATC events, in which most blended and flavored products were of varied quality, with less refinement and overall harmony in the finished product.”

All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.

“Congratulations to all of the teas that stood out and took first place prizes,” said David De Candia, one of the NATC evaluators and tea buyer at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. “The North American Tea Championship continues to gain exposure in the marketplace, attracting some of the finest teas for review. Certainly, winners of this competition are experiencing the benefits of being an NATC-winner, such as heightened recognition for quality and taste, additional buyer interest and increased sales.”

A complete list of first, second and third-place winners of the North American Tea Championship is available at teachampionship.com.

North American Tea Championship first-place winners include:

Black Tusk Trading,  Blended Oolong Tea, Osmanthus Blossoms

Black Tusk Trading, Traditional Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kuan Yin Private Reserve

Florapharm Tea, Darjeeling, Organic Darjeeling Jungpana

Florapharm Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Manhattan Natural

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Blended Black Tea, Black Rose Garden

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Flavored Black Tea, Lychee Black Tea

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Jade Ti Kuan Yin, Nanyan Tiequanyin

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Yunnan, Yunnan Golden Tip

International Tea Importers, Assam, Mangalam Assam

International Tea Importers, Keemun, Keemun Hao Y

Mountain Tea, Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty, Oriental Beauty

Mountain Tea, Green Oolong Tea, LiShan

Naivetea, Flavored Oolong Tea, Passion Fruit Oolong

Naivetea, Green Jasmine Open Leaf, Jasmin Bao Zhong

Octavia Tea, Dark Oolong Tea, Phoenix Mountain Dancon

QTrade Teas & Herbs, Chai, Sweet Chai

QTrade Teas & Herbs, Green Jasmine Pearl, Jasmine Pearls

Sipping Streams Tea Company, Aged/Baked Oolong Tea, 1999 Muzha Formosa

TeaSource, LLC, Breakfast Blend, Ceylon Lumbini Est. Burning Sun FBOPF

TeaSource, LLC, Black Tea, Jin Jun Mei

Tea Xotics, LLC, Flavored Rooibos Blends, Santa’s Cup

Walters Bay, Black Tea CTC, Walters Bay English Breakfast

Honorees will be featured at the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo (WorldTeaExpo.com), May 29 – 31, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, Calif.

The next North American Tea Championship will be held in April 2014 for an evaluation of iced teas. Entries will be accepted in early April. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail kaye.polivka@fwmedia.com.

2014 Seafood Excellence Awards Finalists Announced

The Seafood Excellence Awards, a new products competition held in conjunction with Seafood Expo North America, formerly the International Boston Seafood Show, has announced this year’s finalists.

The Seafood Excellence Awards are an extension of the Seafood Prix d’Elite new product competition at the Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium.

Finalists compete for two awards: Best New Foodservice Product and Best New Retail Product. Products are evaluated on criteria including uniqueness, taste profile, packaging, marketing potential, and nutritional value.

This year’s ten finalists were hand-selected from more than 70 entries in the highly-competitive New Product Showcase, which will be featured at the Seafood Expo North America, held March 16-18, 2014.

The finalists for the 2014 Seafood Excellence Awards are:

Phillips / SeaWings, Booth #1019
Cornetfish

The Santa Barbara Smokehouse, Booth #2310
Cambridge House Private Reserve Smoked Salmon with Truffle

Aqua Star, Booth# 2005
Harvest Grain Wild Alaskan Cod

Uoriki Fresh, Inc., Booth #1057
Sushi At Home®

High Liner Foods, Booth# 1005
Flame-Seared Guinness® Barbecue Glazed Atlantic Salmon

Freskot USA/Kontoveros SA, Booth #2716
Freskot Seafood Burgers

King & Prince Seafood, Booth #505
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp

The MacKnight Food Group, Booth #2459
MacKnight Capt. Jim’s Breakfast Sausage

Handy International Incorporated, Booth #823
Fiesta Chipotle Fish Cakes

Gradient Aquaculture Ltd., Booth #2546
Pasta del MAR

The winners will be announced at the Seafood Excellence Awards ceremony in the Demonstration Theater in the Exhibit Hall, Booth 2567 on Sunday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m.

View all of the entries or register for Seafood Expo North America by visiting www.seafoodexpo.com/north-america.

Record-Breaking Natural Products Expo West Concludes

Natural Products Expo West concluded a record-breaking event March 6-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in CA. The event grew five percent bringing together over 67,000 industry members, more than 2,600 exhibiting companies and the most first-time exhibitors in the event’s history. From food and beverage to supplements and beauty to household and pet products, the event provided a window into the many categories driving the growth of the global natural products industry.

Co-located with Natural Products Expo West were Engredea and the NEXT Innovation Summit, the premier events for ingredient sourcing and product development, were co-located with Natural Products Expo to deliver a full spectrum of opportunities to enter, grow and succeed in the global health and nutrition marketplace.

“The macro trend and shift to healthier lifestyles created explosive growth this year,” said Adam Andersen, Show Director for Natural Products Expo West. “Our conference sessions offered attendees with the vital industry intelligence and the exhibit floor buzzed with activity as attendees met the passionate individuals behind the brands on the shelves today and the products of the future.”

Key trends identified for the coming year include:

  • The health and wellness consumers: The healthy eating movement is spreading across all demographic groups.
  • Convenience and Accessibility: The importance of making nutritious, clean food more accessible and convenient across multi-dimensional demographics and how will it affect the health and wellness of all Americans.
  • Labeling Transparency: Consumers are asking for transparency with regard to food/product labels, claims and certifications.
  • Food tribes: The growing gluten-free, vegan, paleo and other special diet communities are fueling the healthy eating movement and changing the way people view food and community.

Michael Kanter, Chief Visionary Officer, Cambridge Naturals said, “Expo West is truly an extraordinary experience. What really is the most inspiring part is realizing how many wonderful people are part of this industry. This movement is for a better and healthier planet. And more than that nowhere else can one meet and ‘network’ with such a group of people who are part of a powerfully positive force. We become aware of our community when we take the time to come together here each year.”

“The growth of Amy’s Kitchen has paralleled the growth of Expo in many ways. Our first year here in 1988 we took turns holding baby Amy in our arms, while serving our first pot pie. Now 26 years later she’s here working beside us at the show, serving dozens of delicious foods. This year we heard from more customers than ever about how our homemade, organic foods have impacted their lives. Rachel, Amy and I are excited to be part of this growing organic community,” said Andy Berliner, Co-founder, Amy’s Kitchen.
Many innovative companies were recognized with awards at Natural Products Expo West.

The official Natural Products Expo West “Best of West: Press Award” went to Luvo: Chicken Chili Verde, Barbara’s Bakery: Multigrain Squares and Dave’s Killer Bread: 21 Whole Grains and Seeds

Natural Products Expo East 2014 will return to the Baltimore Convention Center, September 17-20, 2014 in Baltimore, Md. Natural Products Expo West 2015 is scheduled to take place March 5-8, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

California Artisan Cheese Festival Announces Finale Events

The United States’ premier public artisan cheese event, the 8th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, today announces the participants in the Festival’s finale events: the Bubbles & Brunch and Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace on Sunday, March 23. Executive Chef Percy Whatley of The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite will demonstrate how to cook cheese-centric dishes at this three-course brunch event featuring bubbles by Gloria Ferrer. The brunch and cooking demonstration by Chef Whatley will take place on Sunday morning before the main event of the day, the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.

Recently a semi-finalist for the Bocuse d’Or USA who was chosen to prepare dinner at the Beard House as part of a James Beard Foundation Event, Chef Whatley will be preparing California’s Artisan Cheese Festival’s Sunday Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma. Not only will guests be treated to a glass of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine upon entry, but this sit-down, three-course brunch will also feature cheese-centric cooking demos by Chef Whatley and all attendees will gain VIP access into the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace at 11 a.m., an hour before it opens to the public.

Bringing together more than 70 of California’s best artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries, this walk-around tasting and marketplace is one of the weekend’s most popular events. With two tents set up outside of the Sheraton Sonoma County, there will be more than 20,000 square feet of space for guests to comfortably navigate their way around this popular marketplace. During the event, guests will be able to not only taste and purchase the offerings of each participant, but also interact with the vendors, artisans, cheesemakers, brewers and winemakers. Throughout the day there will be chefs’ demos representing some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, including Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfellers at 1:45 p.m. and Liza Hinman of Spinster Sisters at 3 p.m. Several of the weekends’ cheesemakers and chefs are also authors and many will be selling and signing their cheese-inspired tomes at the Marketplace. The chefs’ demos will be taking place inside of the Sheraton Sonoma County and the book signings will be taking place inside of the tent throughout the day. Book signings and demos are included with admission to the Marketplace.

Tickets to several of the Festival’s other weekend-long events are also still available, including Friday night’s Meet the Cheesemakers Reception, several of the Saturday seminars and the Saturday night Best in Cheese Competition. Tickets for all events may be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.

Norseland Re-launches Website to Promote Joy of Jarlsberg

Norseland, Incorporated, the U.S. subsidiary of TINE SA, Norway’s largest dairy cooperative, is relaunching its USA website to reflect TINE’s global messaging for 2014.  The website’s theme, Yours to Share, centers on the Jarlsberg experience, encouraging interaction with consumers by connecting the joy of eating Jarlsberg to lifestyle occasions.  The Jarlsberg USA website and all social media platforms will work in tandem, creating a premium digital relationship with fans and followers.

“For over five decades, Jarlsberg has played a key role in developing the specialty cheese category and experience, becoming a favorite brand in the United States,” says Valerie Liu, Norseland’s Marketing and Advertising Specialist.  “In the digital space, we communicate premium by shifting the focus on lifestyle: celebrating the act of giving, the joy of sharing and the benefit of knowing your favorite cheese brand – Jarlsberg.”

The new website features contemporary, easy to assemble and prepare recipes plus the current national Jarlsberg Lite promotion in stores now – submit your “nutty-est” Jarlsberg Lite promotion on Facebook for a chance to win a Spinning Bike Package.  The site also includes an entertaining film clip, The Magician.  Part of a “Sandwich Shorts” video series of people making sandwiches in fun, creative ways, the first video features Sweden’s champion illusionist, David Persson, conjuring up a Heavenly Jarlsberg Ciabatta.  To view the video, visit www.jarlsbergusa.com.

Safeway in Talks to Sell the Company

Safeway Inc. is in discussions concerning a possible transaction involving the sale of the company. Although the discussions are ongoing, the company has not reached an agreement on a transaction, and there can be no assurance that these discussions will lead to an agreement or a completed transaction, according to a Safeway press release.

Separately, the company has decided to distribute the remaining 37.8 million shares it owns of Blackhawk Network Holdings (approximately 72.2 percent of the outstanding Blackhawk shares) to Safeway stockholders. Currently, the plan is to make the distribution on a pro rata basis to all Safeway stockholders in a transaction intended to be tax-free to Safeway and its stockholders. However, if the company consummates a sale transaction, the distribution may be taxable. The timing and details of the proposed distribution will be determined in the near future, and further announcements will be made when those decisions have been finalized.

In addition, Safeway owns 49 percent of Casa Ley S.A. de C.V. (“Casa Ley”), the fifth largest food and general merchandise retailer in Mexico based on sales. Based on Casa Ley’s improving performance, the company believes it is an appropriate time to explore alternatives to monetize its investment in Casa Ley. While the company has discussed its desire to monetize its investment with the majority owners of Casa Ley, there can be no assurance as to whether the company will be able to sell its interest in Casa Ley at a price and on terms that the company finds acceptable.

“We are pleased with the progress we made in 2013,” said Robert Edwards, Safeway’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Strategies to grow sales and improve operating profit dollars have begun to produce results. In 2013, we generated our best volume growth since 2006, and we had our best identical-store sales growth in the last five years. At the same time, we continue to pursue strategies to enhance momentum and increase shareholder value. We look forward to continuing progress in 2014.”

Supermarket Chefs Compete in Annual Showdown

More than 130 supermarket chefs, representing a record 30 different retailers, submitted recipes for the annual Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI) Supermarket Chef Showdown before the November deadline and now await their selection among the semi-finalists on April 15.

The chef’s recipes varied across five established categories that include: Healthy Meals; Family Meals; Ethnic Meals; Dessert; and Side-Dishes/Mini Meals/Snacks. The recipes must use at least three eligible ingredients and take 20 minutes or less to prepare (not including prep). Collectively, the recipe submissions employed more than 740 sponsor ingredients.

A panel will review the entries and the recipes from 50 finalists will be sent to McCormick and Campbell’s test kitchens this March to further narrow the submissions. The top-25 finalists will compete live in front of celebrity judges in a special kitchen stadium created on the convention floor at FMI Connect on June 11, 2014 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“Each day, retailers prepare exciting signature mealtime solutions that not only delight their customers’ taste buds but also provide shoppers with practical demonstrations of kitchen artistry guaranteed to encourage emulation,” said FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin. “The FMI Supermarket Chef Showdown helps acknowledge those who inspire the culinary spirit in all of us.”

“The creativity and quality of the recipes surpassed last year and we expect this Showdown to be fun, yet competitive,” says Phil Lempert, a food trends and consumer expert and the Showdown Executive Producer and Master of Ceremony. “Supermarket Chefs are the unsung heroes in grocery stores and it’s their moment to shine.”

Prizes this year include an all-expense paid trip for two to Mardi Gras 2015; an all-expense paid trip to California to participate in the olive harvest; a “Chicago experience;” an all- expense-paid trip to the Country Music Awards in Nashville; cash prizes; food-centric prizes; bragging rights and more. The top-25 finalists will also receive culinary gifts from Showdown sponsors shipped directly to their homes.

Sponsors for this years’ Showdown include the world’s leading companies: McCormick, Campbell’s, Can Manufacturers Institute, ConAgra Foods, Hass Avocado Board, Hershey’s, Hillshire Brands, Mondelez International, Musco Family Olive Co., Pictsweet and Smucker’s.

Festival Features Beer, Bacon, Music

Beer, bacon and music have long been essential ingredients for an ideal day, according to the organizers of the Beer Bacon Music festival coming up in Frederick, Md.

Taking place at the Fairgrounds on May 17 and 18, Beer Bacon Music will provide attendees with 150+ craft beer varieties from which to choose, a two-ton all-you-can-eat bacon bar including 50+ creative bacon dishes and a rockin’ band every hour, on the hour.

“This truly is the first event of its kind, anywhere in the world,” says Kenneth MacFawn, Beer Bacon Music festival owner. “It’s the perfect place for people to celebrate three of life’s greatest pleasures, try new beer in an unintimidating environment, get inspiration for new culinary endeavors, and sample some of the best bands on the East Coast.”

With three appealing themes and a multitude of attractions, Beer Bacon Music offers enjoyment for even the most discerning palate, the most astute music connoisseur, even the most competitive home brewer, MacFawn says.

Beer – Enter Beer Bacon Music’s Brewer’s $6K Homebrew Competition to win the world’s largest prize in the world’s largest home brewing competition by competing in one or more of 10 competition style categories judged by BCJP officials. Included with admission for 21+ attendees is a sampling glass in which 100+ different beer varieties can be sampled from 30+ breweries. Beginners and craft beer aficionados alike can talk beer shop with brewery staff, and watch live demonstrations of the latest and greatest home brew equipment.

Bacon – With the price of admission, enjoy a two-ton all-you-can-eat Bacon Bar containing sliced bacon prepared in a wide variety of flavors including peppered, glazed, maple, and more. Also available for purchase will be intriguing gourmet bacon dishes served a la carte, and an abundance of cuisine from around the world including vegetarian and other options made available by 15+ on-site food truck vendors.

Music – Over the two-day festival, there will be 10 live bands on stage — a new band every hour on the hour, following the Homebrew Competition winner announcements. To help ensure there will be something for everyone’s ears to enjoy, the festival will feature many styles of music.

Tickets for the event are on sale now, with the first 1,000 offered at the reduced rate of just $39 for a 1-day pass, or $65 for a weekend pass, limited to 500. Ticket options are also available for those wanting to enter the homebrew competition or attend as a non-drinker.

For more information or to enter the Brewer’s $6K today, visit: http://beerbaconmusic.com.

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