Matt Anderson has been named CEO of Frontier Soups™, bringing a second generation into management of the company, which has produced gourmet soup mixes since 1986, according to company founder Trisha Anderson, who will remain in the role of President.
Matt, who is Trisha Anderson’s son, has immersed himself in company operations for the past year and now has assumed responsibility for business operations, including financial oversight, strategic planning, sales, and production. Trisha will retain responsibility for product development and marketing, she said. Both of them will be at the 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show, Booth 4121, to continue Matt’s introduction to customers and others within the specialty food industry.
“Matt has been on a fast track for the past year learning all aspects of our business, and it’s now time for our continued growth and development to be a function of the strength and initiative the younger generation represents,” Trisha said. “Matt and Frontier Soups literally grew up together. I’m thrilled with the business and financial expertise he brings to the company and that this business, which I started at home while my children were young, is now transitioning to a second generation of our family.”
Matt has 15 years of experience in the financial services industry. He began his career in 1999 at Lehman Brothers and then joined Goldman Sachs in 2010, where he worked until joining Frontier Soups last July. “Working for these firms taught me the importance of developing my relationships with both my clients and my team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting more of our customers and to continue developing the outstanding workplace that my mom has built at Frontier Soups. I’m also excited about taking on management of a growing business and moving it into its next phase of development.”
Frontier Soups produces 36 non-GMO soup mixes accommodating a variety of consumer tastes and dietary needs. No salt is added, and the mixes contain no preservatives, artificial ingredients or MSG. The company, which has two lines of soup mixes, now offers 13 vegetarian options and 30 of its soups are gluten free. The Homemade-In-Minutes line of quicker-cooking soup mixes serves four to five, and the Hearty Meals™ line serves from eight to 10. More information is available at www.FrontierSoups.com or by calling 1.800.300.7687.
Salazon Chocolate Co., a premium chocolate maker known as the first company to craft salted chocolate, is launching a line of premium salted chocolate bars to demonstrate its dedication to outdoor adventure. The TRAIL SERIES features three dark salted chocolate bars, including:
Salazon has garnered a reputation for crafting delicious, premium salted chocolate in unique flavor combinations. Founded by Pete Truby, an avid outdoorsman and trail enthusiast, the company’s commitment to the U.S. national scenic trails can be traced back to the origin of the company. According to Truby, inspiration for an energy-rich salted chocolate bar came to him in 2009 during a backpacking trip in Utah.
“The Appalachian Trail, our country’s oldest and original protected trail, is right in our back yard and we frequently find ourselves on the trail in our spare time,” said Pete Truby. “The ability to get out and hike for a day, a week, or even go for a life changing six-month hike is the magic of the national scenic trails. We wanted to make a line of chocolate specifically honoring our amazing national trails.”
Salazon is partnering with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for its Caramel bar, the Pacific Crest Trail Association for its Coffee bar, and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition for its Almond bar. The packaging for each bar depicts actual scenery captured on the trails.
A portion of the gross proceeds from the Trail Series funds the efforts of these nonprofits to protect, preserve, and promote the country’s national scenic trails, one being the Pacific Crest Trail Association.
“The Pacific Crest Trail Association is very appreciative of Salazon Chocolate Company’s support in our work to promote the Pacific Crest Trail,” says Angie Williamson, Development Director for the association. “Their support helps us coordinate hundreds of volunteers to keep the trail clear, and ensure that the trail will remain pristine and undeveloped for future generations.”
The Trail Series will be available at natural food stores and outdoor retailers nationwide, available at a suggested retail price of $3.99.
New England Natural Bakers is adding two new granola clusters to its Organic Select line. These niche designed offerings are targeted to the discerning consumer and capture the hottest trends: organic, Non-GMO Project verified, high protein, and gluten-free.
“We are happy to present these exciting new products, extending our line of the successful Organic Select Granola with offerings that capture emerging industry trends and address functionality,” said Director of Brand Sales and Marketing Larry Cornick.
The new item launch by New England Natural Bakers, a 100 percent employee-owned company, marks an aggressive strategy to increase brand presence. The company will be displaying the line, now seven SKUs in all, in the Massachusetts pavilion at the Summer Fancy Foods Show.
Fred Morganthall, currently President of Harris Teeter Supermarkets, has been named Senior Vice President of Retail Divisions for The Kroger Co. Rod Antolock, currently Harris Teeter’s Executive Vice President, has been named President of Harris Teeter.
Fred Morganthall Named Kroger Senior Vice President, Retail Divisions
Morganthall, 63, has been president of Harris Teeter Supermarkets since 1997. He brings more than 37 years of grocery industry experience to his new role. He began his career in grocery retail in 1978 at Spartan Stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and joined Harris Teeter in 1986 as director of grocery merchandising, then went on to serve in several key leadership roles including vice president of merchandising, vice president of distribution, and vice president of operations, before taking his current role as president. Morganthall has also been an active leader in industry organizations, including the Food Marketing Institute.
“Fred is an exceptional leader who is respected throughout the industry,” said Mike Ellis, Kroger’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “We continue to learn a lot from Fred about building even stronger connections with our customers. We are delighted that he is taking on this broader role at Kroger.”
Rod Antolock Promoted to President, Harris Teeter Supermarkets
Rod Antolock, 56, began his retail career in 1978 with Albertsons, where he held a number of leadership roles before joining Harris Teeter in 2000. He has served in several executive positions, including senior vice president of operations, and senior vice president of operations and merchandising. He has been serving in his current role since 2012, where he is responsible for merchandising, operations, marketing, human resources, loss prevention, store development, quality assurance and distribution, as well as manufacturing.
“Rod’s leadership has contributed to Harris Teeter’s success for more than 15 years,” Ellis said. “He has been instrumental in developing Harris Teeter’s exceptional customer service and product quality. We look forward to his continued leadership in his new role.”
Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, employs nearly 400,000 associates who serve customers in 2,625 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 782 convenience stores, 326 fine jewelry stores, 1,330 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.
Harris Teeter Supermarkets, Inc., with headquarters in Matthews, North Carolina, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Kroger Co. The regional grocery chain employs approximately 28,000 associates and operates stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, Delaware, Florida and the District of Columbia.
Recipe and ingredient delivery service Blue Apron has just locked in a $135 million investment from a group led by Fidelity Management and Research Company, with participation from existing investors. The company will use the new capital to scale its rapidly growing network of farms, suppliers, and fulfillment capabilities throughout the country.
“Our mission is to make incredible home cooking accessible to everyone. This financing will allow us to further improve the efficiency of our model, from sourcing to fulfillment, in order to bring our customers a level of quality that has never been available at scale before,” said Blue Apron Co-Founder and CEO Matt Salzberg.
Blue Apron has tripled its volume in the last six months, and is now delivering over 3 million meals a month to homes across the United States. To further its mission, the company has forged exclusive relationships with hundreds of farmers and artisans. These direct relationships, along with advanced menu-planning, allow Blue Apron to collaborate with farmers to plan their crop rotation throughout the growing season. This summer alone, Blue Apron will purchase millions of pounds of produce directly from small, family-run farms who emphasize sustainable growing practices, with over 1 million pounds of specialty crops being planted and harvested for specifically for the company.
To further support the company’s rapid growth, Blue Apron is developing custom fulfillment software tools and investing in automation. These new capabilities will be deployed across Blue Apron’s network of fulfillment centers, including the company’s newest facility, which opened in Arlington, Texas this month and enables Blue Apron to reach home chefs in over 99 percent of the continental United States.
The news marks the latest in a series of milestones for Blue Apron. Earlier this year, Blue Apron expanded its product offering to include a family plan, featuring seasonal, family-friendly recipes for four, which has proven extremely popular among busy parents. In November of last year, Blue Apron opened its largest, state of the art fulfillment center in Jersey City, New Jersey, and launched the Blue Apron Market, a curated e-commerce store for Blue Apron home chefs.
For many years, sweet cherries have been commercially classified in two ways at grocery stores – dark sweet and Rainier – but now, a rare new cherry has created cause for a new classification due to its unique attributes and sweet flavor that set it apart from the rest. Debuting in select grocery stores mid-June, the new Skylar Rae® brand Tip Top cultivar cherry was discovered by chance in a family-run Washington State orchard, and is distinguished by its beautiful red and yellow bi-colored skin, firm texture and a flavor profile that makes it “The Sweetest Cherry You’ll Ever Eat™.”
Grown and marketed exclusively by Stemilt Growers, the Tip Top cherry cultivar, which goes to market under the Skylar Rae brand, was granted its own varietal classification by the International Federation for Produce Standards and is the first cherry in years to be given its own price look-up (PLU) number. While Skylar Rae was released in a miniscule volume the last two years to a handful of grocery stores, 2015 marks the first season this unique cherry will be nationally available through select grocery stores. During the cherry’s short four week season, from mid-June to mid-July, Stemilt estimates it will ship 20,000 units of Skylar Rae cherries, with plans to increase production in future years.
“A rarity in nature, Skylar Rae’s unique genetics and extremely high natural sugar content set it apart from other cherries – it truly is a treat from nature,” said West Mathison, Stemilt President and fifth generation grower. “We are excited to introduce this special cherry to the world, and encourage shoppers to pick up Skylar Rae cherries when they see them this summer because they won’t be around for long!”
The parentage of the new cherry is unknown, and was the result of a natural mutation of one tree that was planted from nursery stock. The “mother tree” was propagated upon its discovery and plantings of Tip Top cherries (the cultivar name which comes from the name of the orchard where it was discovered) have moved from a test environment to commercial orchards over the past decade. Today, only the highest quality Tip Top cultivar cherries go to market as Skylar Rae brand cherries.
Boasting a golden yellow skin with a partial to full orange-red blush, and a firm and nearly colorless flesh, Skylar Rae cherries contain the highest sugar content of any sweet cherry on the market, measuring in at 23-25 Brix. In comparison, Rainier cherries contain a Brix of 19-23 and Dark Sweet cherries, 17-20. Because of its sweet flavor profile, Skylar Rae cherries are ideally enjoyed as a pop-in-your-mouth snack, and can also be added to any number of culinary adventures and recipes for an extra sweet kick.
The new cherry is grown exclusively on Stemilt orchards in Washington state – where all cherries naturally flourish in eastern Washington’s dry, warm days and cool nights. In 2005, the Toftness family, who have been farming cherries at Tip Top Orchards for more than a decade, suffered the unimaginable loss of their infant daughter. As the family was healing, they discovered a cherry never before seen on a single tree growing in their orchard. The family felt it was a gift from nature meant to honor their beautiful daughter, Skylar Rae Toftness; and when it came time to trademark a brand name for the fruit, it was a unanimous decision that the cherry should be called, “Skylar Rae.”
“While new cherry discoveries in nature are not unheard of, what makes this particular cherry so special is that it was able to be cultivated into a commercially viable varietal, which is a very rare occurrence,” continued Mathison. “The fact that the Skylar Rae cherry also holds a special honor among one of the hard working family farmers we partner with, is, as they say, the cherry on top.”
Skylar Rae cherries are available in two packaging options: a convenient 1.25-pound bag and a smaller 1-pound clamshell carton for $5.99 – $6.99, depending on the harvest window. The cherries are available from mid-June to mid-July, in select markets. Stemilt has plans for increased distribution in the future as the crop and demand for the cherry continues to multiply. For more information on the Skylar Rae cherry, visit www.SkylarRaeCherries.com.
Matcha LOVE CULINARY MATCHA from ITO EN was named as “Best New Product-Tea as an Ingredient” at the recent World Tea Expo 2015 held in Long Beach, California. “We are greatly honored with this award as we invite more aspiring cooks to explore the purity and vitality of the entire green tea leaf,” says Rona Tison, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations for ITO-EN. “The fresh balance of sweetness and herbaceous grassiness is a taste profile and sensation like no other.”
Fast becoming a popular ingredient for its rich umami taste and antioxidant rich benefits, Matcha LOVE’s CULINARY MATCHA is a finely milled green tea powder, traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, made from premium quality whole tea leaves. Today a versatile ingredient used for baking or cooking both sweet and savory dishes is also a favorite in smoothies and super drinks.
Celebrated for its powerful EGCG tea antioxidants and Vitamin C, matcha is considered and natural energy boost. Matcha generates new layers of amplified flavors with a sweet lingering taste sensation. Bold and rich in flavor with an herbaceous finish, a little matcha goes along way. The new CULINARY MATCHA joins the Matcha LOVE’s® line of ceremonial matcha powder, teabags and convenient on-the-go Matcha drinks, available in unsweetened and sweetened. Taking a modern take on an ancient ritual, the innovative Matcha LOVE line is making its way into the urban lifestyle.
By Richard Thompson
Retailers looking for any supply increases or price stabilization for Italian olive oil are most likely not going to find it this year. The dismal 2014 harvest of Italian olive oil lowered levels of production and increased costs to retailers and consumers from a combination of conditions that have no immediate solutions and probably won’t be resolved in the near future.
David Neuman, CEO of Gaea, North America, LLC and who has worked previously with Lucini Italia has seen problems with Italian oil harvests for years and sees the industry working on borrowed time. “Every single year there’s a problem,” Neuman said, “Every year there are good harvests and bad harvests, but southern Italy is getting pummeled [by Olive Quick Decline Syndrome], and the last harvest was like a perfect storm. Too many combinations that came together.”
So what is plaguing Italian farmers and oil producers on such a dismal scale? Basically, everything that could harm production is happening all at once.
Italy had a terrible rainy season last year and olive flies had infested compromised crops, but the Olive Quick Decline Syndrome (OQDS), a bacterial infection that withers and desiccates the tree shoots, is now spreading across the province of Lecce, leaving Italian officials unsure on how to resolve the problem.
First reported at the end of September 2013 by the Italian government’s Plant Health Directorate in Malta, OQDS was already considered an epidemic in the Italian province of Lecce, with more than 8000 hectares of olive orchards affected, but a declaration that OQDS was responsible for olive tree deaths was deferred pending further study.
The Italian Trade Commissioner agrees with this non-committal stance, even while acknowledging the growing blight caused by OQDS. “We feel the authorities have to further investigate the bacteria and its effects that are a cause for concern” said Pier Paolo Celeste, Italian Trade Commissioner and Executive Director for the NY offices in the US, “It is not entirely proven yet.”
The ITC believes that the Xylella fastidiosa bacterium – the cause for OQDS – may not be what is making the olive trees sick. Instead, they believe that it is only a component that must be activated by right conditions to harm the trees, leaving the olive fruit still safe for consumption. “We know for sure that the quality of the fruit is intact,” Celeste said, “It attacks the tree itself, but does not affect the quality of the olive oil produced. It is absolutely safe.”
Some Italian non-government organizations, such as Peacelink, are pushing to save the trees infected by OQDS. The organization has requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), an independent organization that advises the European Union, to confirm that the bacterium is not the cause of olive tree death. Peacelink points to trees that have survived and rebounded after the orchards have been treated, but hasn’t been able to provide enough proof to be sure.
The EFSA is saying that X. fastidiosa is a new problem for Italian olive trees and doesn’t seem to need specific conditions in order to spread, so there’s no concrete plan that is sure to succeed that will stop the spread. Since X. fastidiosa has such as wide range of hosts, it can persist even with insecticide treatments on specific host crops – such as olive trees.
On top of that, there is no record of successful eradication of X. fastidiosa once it finds a home outdoors. The destruction of olive trees that have been infected is one of the only ways to contain the spread of the blight, an action the Italian government is reluctant to approve and Peacelink outright opposes.
Despite their qualms, the Italian government has already culled an estimated 700,000 olive trees, with some reports indicating the number closer to 1 million or more. Some of these trees were between 150 and 200 years old.
The acreage that was culled was immediately replanted with new precautions in place to prevent further spread. This new crop of olive trees is hoped to be back in production in about three to four years.
“We are actively seeking out viable solutions,” Celeste said, “It is something that is being vigorously studied by our authorities; as it represents a unique challenge.”
The production will certainly not be back to normal in 2015. Neither will prices.
The Italian Trade Commission Office confirms that 2014′s limited production did affect prices. A recent report by the International Olive Council (IOC), an independent organization that reports on the olive industry annually, stated that Italian production actually declined 55 percent and prices climbed by as much as 37 percent from 2013. The IOC is currently projecting that Italy’s 2015 olive oil production will be larger than 2014′s, but still significantly below normal.
By Lorrie Baumann
Specialty oils represent an area of great opportunity for retailers, and many are under-representing specialty oils, says La Tourangelle Founder and CEO Matthieu Kohlmeyer. “A lot of supermarkets are still under-representing the specialty oils – usually they have a lot of cooking oils, including sunflower oil and olive oil. But when it comes to other kinds of oils, they don’t have a good representation. I think that specialty oils is an area of great opportunity for retailers.”
La Tourangelle produces about 20 different specialty oils in a range of sizes. Extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and canola oil are offered as organics, there are nut oils including Roasted Walnut Oil – historically, one of La Tourangelle’s biggest sellers; Roasted Pecan, Roasted Pistachio, Roasted Almond Oil and Roasted Hazelnut Oil that are useful for finishing dishes after they’re cooked or for salad dressings; and a range of spray oils that appeal to low-fat cooks.
Sales of the oils are being driven partly by food enthusiasts who’ve discovered that they present an easy way to infuse new flavors into vegetable dishes, including salads, but also by health-conscious shoppers who are looking for alternatives to highly refined polyunsaturated oils that have been associated with higher cancer rates in nutrition studies as well as consumers with sensitive skin who’ve adopted La Tourangelle’s organic coconut oil, grapeseed oil and avocado oil as part of their skin care regimes. “A major trend is that we are seeing a shift in which many women and men are using organic oils for skin care and body care. A lot of consumers are buying our grapeseed, avocado, coconut oil, not just for cooking but for skin care, makeup removal, hair care. This has directly impacted our sales,” Kohlmeyer said. “It’s a huge driver for us. So many people now are getting allergic reactions to chemicals. If they go to 100 percent organic coconut oil, they know that they’re not getting adulterants…. It’s really not only food – it’s a lot of different things. A lot of people are telling me that, ‘Your jar is in my bathroom, not in my kitchen.’… People are trying to improve their health; they want to be more selective. They’re paying more attention to the quality of the products they consume and that they use on their body as well.”
In the kitchen, La Tourangelle oils contribute more flavor than refined oils. “The refining process removes flavor. Even though you may get the same fatty acids, they remove the flavors,” Kohlmeyer said. He suggested that consumers can gain some insight about whether an oil is highly refined by checking the label for the addition of Vitamin E, which is often added to refined oils to replace the Vitamin E that’s lost during refining. “It’s difficult for a store manager to be an oil specialist, but if the label says it’s refined, you should understand that it’s not going to have the flavor,” Kohlmeyer said.
Many of the leaders of food movements who are urging their followers to avoid highly refined oils are advocating for coconut oil despite its saturated fatty acids. “Organic virgin coconut oil is now our best-seller. For a very long time, consumers have been told they should avoid saturated fat. When people became more knowledgeable, they realized that some saturated fats were actually very good for them.” Kohlmeyer said. About half the fatty acid content in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that’s also found in human breast milk and that is known to increase total serum cholesterol. But more recent nutrition studies have found that most of the cholesterol increase is in the form of high-density lipoprotein, the so-called “good cholesterol.”
But while Kohlmeyer acknowledges these health and beauty reasons for consumer interest in his La Tourangelle oils, his own reason for appreciating them is the flavor they add to food. “I strongly believe that good food should taste good. Good oils, specialty oils, all oils, should have a good flavor,” he said. “Refined olive oil on the shelf doesn’t cover the needs of your customers…. Cooking is about using flavor. These oils are a way to enhance flavor.”
While most specialty oils are packaged in glass bottles, most La Tourangelle oils are packaged in tin cans to protect their flavors. “Specialty oils can be quite fragile and can deteriorate fairly quickly if they’re exposed to oxygen or natural light. The first step in preserving the oil is to seal it from oxygen and to keep it safe from light,” he said. With some oils that are packaged in clear bottles, it’s possible to notice that they begin changing color within a few weeks of bottling, which is a sign that they’re oxidizing. Colored glass bottles slow this process by limiting exposure to the effects of light, but tin cans do a better job of protecting the oils, Kohlmeyer said, adding that the tin cans also constitute a better choice for the environment. “It weighs nothing, and it’s easy to recycle. The typical glass bottle, half of the weight is the bottle, and the other half is the oil.” Less weight means a lighter carbon footprint for the product because a heavier container requires more fuel to transport it.
La Tourangelle’s newest packaging option is a spray can that appeals to home cooks who are already very familiar with PAM. La Tourangelle offers sprays for extra virgin olive, roasted walnut, roasted pistachio, expeller-pressed grapeseed, avocado and canola oils as well as Thai Wok and toasted sesame Spray Oils. The La Tourangelle products don’t contain the propellants found in competing spray oils, Kohlmeyer said. “I don’t think people realize when people use a traditional spray, that they’re spraying a petroleum product on their food…. [With the La Tourangelle sprays,] when you press the spray button, 100 percent oil comes out, no propellants.”
By Lorrie Baumann
Does asking your customers to bring reusable shopping bags with them to your store change their shopping behaviors in other ways? It turns out that it does, especially if customers have the choice about whether they do that or not.
The question was the subject of a recent study by Harvard Business School consumer behavior researcher Uma Karmakar and Bryan Bollinger, a researcher from Duke Fuqua School of Business. They used loyalty card data from a single California location of a major grocery chain and a set of their own experiments to demonstrate that shoppers who bring their own shopping bags to the grocery store are more likely to buy organic products as well as those considered indulgences, which includes products like candy, ice cream and snack chips. “Asking customers to bring their own bags introduces a new element. You’re asking customers to change their routine for a good reason. We were curious about whether asking people to add something new to something that they’re very familiar with could create a ripple effects, or changes in their decisions,” Karmarkar said.
The researchers began their study by speculating that the act of bringing reusable bags along to the grocery store might prime shoppers to behave virtuously, and they might express that by taking other positive environmental actions, such as choosing organic produce over nonorganics. They also speculated that, if customers took an action they considered virtuous – bringing their own bags to the store – they might then feel that they had earned themselves a little treat, and that might make them more likely to toss a candy bar or a carton of ice cream into their baskets. “The psychological effect is called licensing. If you do something virtuous in one area of your life, you might feel licensed to do something indulgent in another area of your life,” Karmarkar said. That led them to another question: Does it make a difference if the customers bring their own bags of their own volition or because store policy requires them to do so?
The researches found that customers who bring along their own bags are more likely to buy organic products if they’re available and if the price difference between organic and nonorganic products is not large. “The higher the prices, the less likely it is that bringing your bags will result in a different purchase,” Karmarkar said. “People aren’t suddenly going to run out and purchase a huge box of expensive truffles merely because they brought their bags. They’re still sensitive to prices.”
Customers who bring their own bags are also more likely to buy indulgent products like candy and snack chips, but only if they brought bags because they chose to do so rather than as a result of a store policy requiring them to do so. Karmarkar and Bollinger suggest that that’s because there may be a different psychology involved in the decision to buy the candy bar than in the decision to buy the organic apples. “In the case of organic items, our proposed psychology is that bringing the bag primes the customers with the reminder to take green actions. That might not change if the supermarket makes the rules,” Karmarkar said. “For indulgences, if consumers know that they’re bringing a bag because of the requirements of the store, we don’t see the same effect.”
The takeaway from the study for grocery retailers is that changes in store policies can have unexpected ripple effects, and that’s something to think about while planning the change, according to Karmarkar. “It’s useful to know that applying this kind of policies can have broader effects across the store. When a store enacts a policy, depending on the way they enact it, there can be downstream effects,” she said. “There are some interesting questions about environmental promotions – the store might consider enforcing that in a positive way. If your consumers are bringing their own bags, you might highlight the organic and environmental offerings in messaging and promotions. Because these effects for indulgences are conditional on the way the policies are implemented, the takeaway is that there may be different patterns in the way that consumers address impulse items or desserts in the store.”