Unified Grocers, Inc. has reached an agreement with Sacramento-based grocery chain Raley’s to take over its General Merchandise/Health, Beauty and Wellness (GM and HBW) operations. The agreement includes leasing the Raley’s warehouse in Stockton. Unified will become Raley’s third-party provider for GM and HBW products.
Under the terms of the agreement, Unified has hired all the employees who work in the facility. The warehouse is only eight miles from Unified’s own Stockton facility, and the partnership with Raley’s provides a unique opportunity to consolidate and add additional GM and HBW volume and store supply sales volume.
“We are looking forward to better serving our members from this facility, starting immediately with our newest member, Haggen,” said Bob Ling, President and Chief Executive Officer, Unified Grocers. “In addition, the potential is there to serve other companies from this location as well.”
The acquisition of the Stockton warehouse also signals a step-up in the growing wellness category for Unified’s specialty subsidiary Market Centre. “Market Centre has been successful in growing its HBW sales but this agreement provides the opportunity to scale the business to become big enough to buy and distribute in a more effective way,” said President of Market Centre Joe Falvey. “The addition of the Raley’s Stockton warehouse will allow Unified to make the most effective use of our other fixed assets, freeing up space in our other warehouses as we look to grow the business. It will potentially benefit all our retailers as we expand our GM and HBW business and add additional products.”
Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter (D- 3rd District) and Representative Robyn Gabel (D- 18th District) have introduced the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act in the Illinois legislature to tax sugary drinks to raise funds to increase access to fruits and vegetables, create access to opportunities for physical activity and to expand Medicaid services. The bill is expected to generate more than $600 million dollars a year through the tax on sugary drink distributors.
“This is an important piece of legislation for the health of Illinois communities, especially those most devastated by sky-high rates of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease,” Sen. Hunter said. “African Americans have the highest heart disease mortality rates in the state and Latinos are twice as likely to develop diabetes as Caucasian Americans. Across Illinois, low-income communities of all types face great barriers to being healthy. The HEAL Act provides communities with tools that help children and families live healthier lives by increasing access to more affordable fruits and vegetables, creating safe and accessible opportunities for physical activity and implementing other evidence-based measures to promote health.”
The HEAL Act places a penny-per-ounce excise tax on high-sugar beverages (those with more than 5 grams of sugar per 12 ounces) and uses the revenues to invest in expanded opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity. This includes more nutrition and physical education in schools, more affordable and accessible foods at farmers markets, and more bike lanes and sidewalks for residents to be active. “Obesity and chronic disease prevention requires a multi-pronged approach, so we are excited to support the HEAL Act as an opportunity to invest in the interventions we know work in communities,” said Elissa Bassler, CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute and Executive Director of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity.
“This bill also helps expand prevention services in Medicaid,” said Rep. Gabel said. “Obesity-related health care costs Illinois taxpayers more than $6 billion a year. This legislation will help prevent those costly chronic conditions and reduce the economic drag they cause, while also improving the quality of life for Illinois families.”
The next step is for the bill to be considered by committees in the Illinois House of Representatives and Senate. The bill is supported by more than 25 organizations, including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, and the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention.
The James M. Cox Foundation has made a $250,000 grant to Georgia Organics in support of the organization’s Farm to School (F2S) program. F2S is a nationwide movement that connects schools and local farms to serve healthy meals in school cafeterias, improve student nutrition and promote farm or gardening educational opportunities.
Georgia Organics founded the state’s first F2S program in 2007 and has since implemented the program in 30 school districts. The organization currently has a three-year fundraising campaign that will deepen the existing F2S programs with an anticipated impact on 900,000 students statewide.
“It is an exciting time to be a part of the Farm to School movement,” said Alex Taylor, Cox Enterprises Executive Vice President and great-grandson of company Founder James M. Cox. “These programs not only bring healthy food to our children, they also teach them about how to grow healthy food and that is a powerful investment in the future.”
The F2S program increases children’s exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as provides positive economic benefits. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, agribusiness is the state’s leading industry and contributes $71.1 billion to Georgia’s economy. However, much of what Georgia grows is sent out of state. The F2S program allows farmers to sell closer to home and introduce children to Georgia’s rich agricultural heritage.
“A successful Farm to School program depends on many partners, and the James M. Cox Foundation is playing an important role in our expansion,” said Georgia Organics’ Executive Director Alice Rolls. “Farm to School has a great story to tell through offering fresh, healthy foods, lifetime learning experiences, school gardens, recycling techniques, composting, farm visits and more. By participating in these programs, Georgia’s students have the opportunity to experience history and achieve a healthier future.”
Cox Enterprises is a long-time partner of Georgia Organics through its national sustainability program, Cox Conserves.
Zola® Fruits of the World™ has expanded distribution of its coconut waters and acai juices into Kroger, Winn-Dixie, BI-LO, subsidiaries of Bi-Lo Holdings, Boston and NY Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant Food Stores and Sprouts locations. This expansion secures placement for Zola in 2,600 additional grocery and natural food stores and deepens its distribution footprint into key Northeast, Southeast, Pacific Northwest and West Coast markets across the country. The company attributes this significant momentum to Zola’s commitment to high-quality, great tasting products, positive consumer reactions to the brand’s successful line extensions and a focused produce department strategy.
Zola is the fastest growing coconut water brand in both conventional grocery and natural foods channels. Recently, sales of Zola Coconut Water surpassed Naked Coconut Water, securing the #4 position in the conventional grocery channel. “We are ready to build on our momentum with new distribution in major grocery chains and the second largest natural food retailer in the country,” said Founder and CEO Chris Cuvelier. The company will launch products in Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Southern California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts with dedicated merchandising teams to support the accounts and build the Zola brand in these new markets. In addition to this expansion, Whole Foods Market has recently expanded its offering of Zola products in its Southern Pacific division. “At Zola, we listen to our consumers to create the very best products and partner with our retailers to deliver strong in-store programs that drive sales. We look forward to executing our growth plan for a successful 2015 and commit to delivering exciting new products to meet our consumer’s needs,” says Cuvelier.
Stonyfield is the official yogurt of the 119th Boston Marathon, fueling the runners and crowd in its native New England. A celebrator of healthy foods and healthy families, Stonyfield selected several inspirational bloggers who are moms and runners to form the 2015 Team Stonyfield. As part of their participation, the bloggers and Stonyfield will run in support of Girls on the Run, a national program that inspires third- through eighth-grade girls to be healthy and confident using a running curriculum.
“Girls on the Run envisions a world where all girls know and can activate their limitless potential, said Suzanna McCloskey,” Girls on the Run representative. “During the program, girls learn critical skills to navigate their lives with joy and confidence. And by completing the 5k that concludes the program, they experience, firsthand, that big things are possible when you keep moving forward!”
Run Like a Mother founder Megan Searfoss is serving as coach of Team Stonyfield, providing training guides, diet tips, and more, all available on the Stonyfield blog. Author of “See Mom Run,” a 5k training guide for busy moms, Megan has raced in over 20 marathons, including three Boston Marathons, and operates the Run Like a Mother 5k race series comprised of 10 events nationwide. Megan’s unique training plan emphasizes running for specific amounts of time instead of distance, making it easy for moms to schedule training sessions around work and family.
The bloggers comprising Team Stonyfield include mom runners from across the country, including women from as far as Utah, as well as local New Englanders. Team Stonyfield members include Angela Bekkala of Happy Fit Mama, Jill Whitaker of Jill Will Run, Tina Haupert of Carrots N Cake, Rachel Steffen of Running Rachel, Laura Peifer of Mommy Run Fast, and Bethany Meyer of Another Mother Runner.
Premium New Zealand Ora King salmon has been recognized as one of the world’s most sustainable.
Following a year-long assessment process, a report released on Monday by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s globally respected consumer guide, Seafood Watch®, has rated New Zealand’s marine-farmed salmon, including Ora King salmon, as “Green,” meaning it is a “Best Choice” for consumers.
Seafood Watch is produced by the independent conservation organization Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation and is the authoritative consumer guide on sustainable seafood in North America.
New Zealand King Salmon is the first and only ocean-farmed salmon to have achieved the Green/Best Choice rating from Seafood Watch.
The ratings are a strong endorsement of New Zealand King Salmon’s sustainability credentials.
Ora King is raised by The New Zealand King Salmon Company in the South Island’s Marlborough Sounds in a country that is “characterized by strong (aquaculture) management systems and pristine marine and freshwater ecosystems,” the guide says.
New Zealand King Salmon CEO Grant Rosewarne says aquaculture makes a major contribution to relieving pressure on the world’s fisheries. “We have been highlighting for some time that our industry equals sustainable jobs and healthy, mindful eating,” he explained, “and the report supports what Kiwi salmon farmers have long maintained.”
Ora King salmon was launched in the U.S. market in 2012. Two decades in the making, Ora King is a specific breed of salmon raised especially for the premium restaurant trade.
Chef Matt Lambert of the Michelin-starred Musket Room restaurant in New York City has visited the Ora King farms on many occasions. He said, “The Seafood Watch ‘Best Choice’ rating confirms something I’ve believed since my first visit to the farm. When a product comes from such a pristine environment, and is treated with the utmost respect, the end result will always be fantastic. Ora King salmon is that kind of product. It makes my job easier and more enjoyable.”
Mr Rosewarne says Ora King represents the pinnacle of his company’s achievement. “The brand is founded on more than two decades of traditional breeding, reinforced by our world-leading expertise in growing King salmon,” he explained. “The species is itself a rare luxury. The Ora King brand builds on all the fine traits of the King salmon species – it is to salmon what Wagyu is to beef.”
Snapshots from the Seafood Watch report reveal:
For more information, visit orakingsalmon.com.
Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. has hired Daniel Bruni as Chief Information Officer. Bruni will be responsible for spearheading all information technology efforts to support company objectives.
Bruni brings to Sprouts 25 years of extensive information technology and executive hands-on expertise in the retail, distribution and financial services industries, most recently serving as the Vice President of IT for Dollar General. Previously, Bruni was the Senior Vice President and CIO for Harris Teeter, Inc. and the Vice President and CIO for Brother Gourmet Coffees, Inc. Bruni holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a MBA in IT Executive Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“We’re excited to welcome Dan to the Sprouts team and our innovative, entrepreneurial culture,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Doug Sanders. “Dan’s leadership in a variety of information technology functions from retail systems to technology infrastructure will be extremely valuable as we continue to grow and innovate to better serve our guests.”
Mondelēz International today announced the acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods, a private U.S. snacking company and the market-leading brand in the fast-growing “free from” segment. Enjoy Life offers more than 40 great-tasting products, including cookies, chocolate, snack bars, and savory snacks that are allergy-friendly and glutenfree.
Enjoy Life’s products are free from the eight most common allergens – wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish – which together account for about 90 percent of all food allergies. “As we focus on continuing to drive growth in snacking, the acquisition of Enjoy Life Foods is a great strategic fit for us,” said Mark Clouse, Chief Growth Officer at Mondelēz International. “The Enjoy Life brand expands our portfolio into faster growing, on-trend, ‘better for-you’ areas and provides an excellent platform to make these delicious offerings available to consumers with ‘free-from’ needs or simply looking for healthy-lifestyle options, both in the United States and beyond.”
The $12 billion “free-from” market in the United States is large and growing at strong double-digit rates, driven by an increasing incidence of food allergies and food intolerances as well as consumers adopting “free from” as a healthy-lifestyle option. “Enjoy Life offers an excellent brand promise that’s trusted by their loyal and engaged consumers,” Clouse said. “We’re excited about the extraordinary potential of this business and the entrepreneurial team leading it. We have a great opportunity to share our expertise, learn from their experience and work to accelerate Enjoy Life’s growth in this exciting consumer space.”
“We’re thrilled! As we combine our great brand, market leadership and passion for our consumers with the global resources, scale and marketing expertise of Mondelēz International, I’m confident this relationship will enable us to reach even greater heights,” said Scott Mandell, CEO and Founder of Enjoy Life Foods. Mandell and other members of the Enjoy Life leadership team will continue to lead the company. Mondelēz International will operate Enjoy Life Foods as a separate, wholly owned subsidiary to continue to nurture its entrepreneurial spirit, but will provide back-office support and access to its global resources.
The transaction was a simultaneous sign-and-close deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Food Lion has named Rhonda Mauldin its 2014 Store Manager of the Year. Mauldin, who is the Store Manager of the Food Lion located at 1004 W. Georgia Road in Simpsonville, S.C., was selected from a group of more than 1,100 store managers across the company.
“I really don’t think of myself as an exceptional store manager; however, what I do think of as exceptional is my team,” Mauldin said after receiving the award Wednesday. “They really are the reason I’m here today, and I’m honored to accept this award on their behalf.”
Mauldin was honored at an annual event at Food Lion’s headquarters in Salisbury, North Carolina, which was attended by her family and colleagues. This is not the first time Food Lion or the grocery store industry has lauded Mauldin for her outstanding leadership skills. She received store manager excellence awards for her work both with Bloom and Food Lion stores in 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014. In addition, Mauldin received Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery award for the Store Manager category in 2014.
“Our store managers are the face of Food Lion to our customers,” said Meg Ham, President of Food Lion. “Rhonda personifies this every day by running a great store, teaching and training associates, mentoring future leaders and caring for our customers and her community through outstanding service. Her store is always one of the top stores in donating meals and time for her local food bank. She is an exceptional leader, has developed an outstanding team, and is so deserving of this honor. We’re proud to have her as part of the Food Lion team.”
Mauldin has worked in the grocery store industry for nearly 30 years. She joined Food Lion in February 2006 as a Dry Assistant Manager in Anderson, South Carolina. Six months later, she was promoted to Store Manager and moved to Seneca, South Carolina, to serve as the store manager at this location. Because of her sharp skills of transforming businesses into high-performing stores, she was later transferred to the Simpsonville, South Carolina, store location in 2007.
To honor Mauldin and her exemplary community service, the company will donate $2,000 in Mauldin’s name to her store’s local feeding agency, Harvest Hope Food Bank, in Greenville, South Carolina. Mauldin and her team support this food bank with food donations and volunteerism throughout the year.
In addition to Mauldin being selected as Food Lion’s Store Manager of the Year, three Store Managers were recognized for exceptional leadership. The 2014 Division Store Manager Excellence Award recipients include: Paul Goodnight, Store Manager at 2458 SW Cary Parkway in Cary, North Carolina; James Felix, Store Manager at 12100 Central Ave., in Mitchellville, Maryland; and Kevin Foy, Store Manager at 1304 W. Vernon Ave., in Kinston North Carolina.
Food Lion will donate $1,000 to each of the feeding agencies served by these stores in honor of the division winners. Food Lion’s Store Manager Excellence Awards recognize and honor exceptional store managers who enrich the lives of Food Lion’s customers, associates and the communities the company serves, successfully lead its business, and support and inspire others.
Unified Grocers’ new Springfield logo and packaging has been named a winner in the 2015 American Package Design Awards sponsored by Graphic Design USA magazine.
Unified teamed up with San Francisco-based Murray Brand Communications to redesign and refresh the Springfield packaging, make it relevant to today’s consumers and to attract new shoppers to the brand. After conducting extensive consumer research, the Murray Brand team designed a new brandmark and packaging system for the Springfield portfolio of more than 800 SKUs.
The new packaging was designed to support the brand’s core essence of neighborly, trusted quality and to provide shoppers a consistent, eye-catching look throughout the store. It also includes “Facts Up Front” icons developed by the Food Marketing Institute and Grocery Manufacturers Association to help consumers easily recognize food attributes and benefits such as fat free, low sodium and low cholesterol. The Springfield brand has been in existence since 1947.
“We have a terrific partnership with Murray Brand,” said JoAnn Murdock, Executive Director, Marketing, Unified Grocers. “We’ve been impressed by their extensive, research-based approach and outstanding creativity and design execution throughout the entire Springfield brand refresh process. They truly understand marketing and successfully used shopper insights to achieve these award-winning results.”
“Winning this prestigious design competition, which is judged by branding, design and packaging experts, validates that the new Springfield brand and packaging is beautiful work,” said R.J. Murray, Principal, Murray Brand Communications, Inc. “It reflects our strong collaborative effort with Unified Grocers and their packaging production partner, Western Family, and allowed us to develop fresh and exciting designs which resonate with shoppers and ultimately drive sales.”
For more than five decades, Graphic Design USA has hosted design competitions that spotlight areas of excellence and opportunity for creative professionals. The competition celebrates “well-designed graphics and the power of design to advance the brand promise and forge an emotional connection with the buyer.” About 2,000 entries were submitted to this year’s competition.