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ALDI Strengthens Senior Management Team As Fast-Paced US Expansion Continues

ALDI Inc. has promoted Brent Laubaugh, Vice President, Saxonburg division, to Co-president of ALDI in the US, joining David Behm and Chuck Youngstrom, who continue in their roles as Co-presidents. All three Co-presidents report to Jason Hart, CEO, ALDI.

Laubaugh, whose promotion is effective March 28, 2016, has been with ALDI for more than 20 years, holding a variety of roles of increasing responsibility throughout his career.

“ALDI has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,” said Hart. “To support our significant expansion, it was important that we strengthen our leadership team to ensure our success. With the addition of Brent to our team, we have the right leaders in place to continue growing the ALDI business.”

ALDI is in the midst of its accelerated expansion plan that, by the end of 2018, will bring fresh, high quality groceries at everyday low prices to more than 45 million customers each month. To reach its aggressive goals, ALDI will create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses and division offices from coast to coast and invest more than $3 billion to pay for land, facilities and equipment. When completed, ALDI will have nearly 2,000 stores, marking a close to 50 percent increase in only five years.

Weis Markets Announces Fourth Quarter Results

Weis Markets, Inc. has announced its fourth quarter sales increased 2.8 percent to $734.1 million while its comparable store sales increased 2.8 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

For the thirteen week period ended December 26, 2015, the company’s net income increased 21.0 percent to $16.6 million compared to the same period in 2014. Fourth quarter earnings per share increased 19.6 percent to $0.61 per share compared to fourth quarter 2014. During the same period, the company’s operating income increased 24.5 percent to $25.8 million.

Year-to-Date Results

For the 52-week period ended December 26, 2015, the company’s sales increased 3.6 percent to $2.9 billion while comparable store sales increased 3.7 percent compared to the 52-week period ended December 27, 2014. Year-to-date net income increased 9.1 percent to $59.3 million while earnings per share increased 9.4 percent compared to 2014. The company’s year-to-date operating income increased 11.6 percent to $90.8 million compared to 2014.

“In 2015, our overall results benefited from strategic pricing investments and the ongoing improvement of our store assortments by market,” said Weis Markets Chairman and CEO Jonathan Weis. “In addition, improved store level, supply chain and store support efficiencies helped us deliver a better customer experience, which helped us increase customer traffic and our overall market share.”

popchips Introduces All-New Ridges Line with Big Crunch and Bold Flavor

popchips inc. has announced one of the company’s boldest product innovations to date with the introduction of an entirely new product line called Ridges. popchips spent several years experimenting with its innovative process of combining heat and pressure to create an extraordinarily crunchy and bold tasting ridged chip. The new Ridges line rolls out to retailers nationwide in June in four taste bud-tempting flavors: salted, tangy barbeque, cheddar & sour cream and chili cheese.

“The new Ridges product was created to appeal to consumers who love crunch in their chips,” said popchips CEO Dave Ritterbush. “The texture of Ridges allows the boldness of our flavors to shine and delivers a big crunch you wouldn’t expect from a chip that is never deep fried. For the first time ever, there’s a big crunch, bold flavor ridged chip that tastes every bit as good as deep fried but with significantly less fat and calories.”

popchips found that seven out of 10 better-for-you shoppers were seeking more crunch in their snacking, which Ridges were specifically created to deliver. What’s more is that chip for chip, popchips Ridges contain 72 percent less fat and 55 percent less calories than the leading ridged chip brand. They are also gluten-free, kosher, contain no artificial preservatives, no synthetic colors, no cholesterol and zero grams of trans fat.

In addition to the launch of Ridges, popchips is simultaneously introducing entirely new packaging for the brand, prominently pronouncing flavor front and center. Ridges packaging will be black, a stark contrast to original popchips, which will now feature off-white packaging. Both will have bright pops of color and graphic imagery. The brand created the new packaging to give original popchips and Ridges their own unique look, while making it easy for consumers to differentiate between the two on shelf.

Ridges will be available in both a single-serve bag and a share bag at leading retailers nationwide. In addition to the four new Ridges flavors, original popchips come in nine delicious varieties: sea salt, barbeque, crazy hot, sour cream & onion, sea salt & vinegar, sweet potato, cinnamon twist sweet potato and organic kettle corn.

KeHE Announces B Corp Certification with Signing Ceremony

KeHE Distributors, LLC (KeHE) announced its status as a Certified B Corporation (B Corp) at Natural Products Expo West 2016, the world’s largest natural and organic products tradeshow with nearly 100 B Corps exhibiting and 70,000 people in attendance.

The announcement is a culmination of a year-long rigorous assessment of KeHE’s community, environmental, governance and employee practices conducted by the nonprofit B Lab.

“KeHE is in business for more than just profits. As a Certified B Corporation, KeHE proudly joins a community of companies committed to using business and economic success to be a force for good,” said Brandon Barnholt, President and CEO, KeHE Distributors. “Our business culture emphasizes personal integrity—fostering an environment where employees feel valued and encouraged to achieve their best selves. The B Corp certification further validates KeHE’s core purpose: We SERVE to make lives better™.”

To announce KeHE’s B Corp certification, Barnholt led a toast with Chief B Keeper Ben Anderson and representatives from the B Corp community, including Cabot, Dr. Bronner’s, Ethical Bean Coffee, King Arthur Flour and Mamma Chia. After the toast, KeHE executives and guests were “first signers” of a giant B Corp Declaration of Interdependence (more than 21 feet wide) at KeHE’s booth. A “B Happy” Hour followed the toast and signing ceremony as the show opened to all conference attendees.

“B Lab is honored to have KeHE join the more than 1,600 corporations that we have certified as B Corps,” Anderson said. “KeHE is exemplifying the collective spirit of the Certified B Corps, and we’re thrilled to see this collaboration heighten KeHE’s announcement and show the power of the community.”

In fact, KeHE scored high marks for its community initiatives and employee stewardship in the B Impact Assessment. Through its KeHE Cares program, the company donates 10 percent of its profits to charity and encourages participation in charitable activities in the U.S. and international communities. KeHE’s benefits package also includes paid time off for employees to volunteer. An employee stock option plan (ESOP) provides KeHE employees with company stock ownership.

Natural Products Expo West took place at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif. from March 11-13, 2016. Visit KeHE’s B Corp profile to learn more: https://www.bcorporation.net/community/kehe.

Wisconsin Cheese Named 2016 World Champion

Wisconsin cheesemakers dominated the competition at the recent World Championship Cheese Contest, including taking home the top prize, 2016 World Champion, for Team Emmi Roth USA’s Roth® Grand Cru® Surchoix, a Wisconsin Original hard smear-ripened cheese. This marks the first time a cheese made in the U.S. has won the competition since 1988.

This year’s contest drew a record-breaking 2,955 entries from 23 countries, 31 U.S. states and Puerto Rico. Wisconsin captured 38 percent of all awards, winning 127 awards total, over 100 more than its closest competitor, California, with 25 awards and New York with 24 awards.

Wisconsin cheesemakers won 42 Best of Class awards, 37 second place, and 47 third place awards. This year’s contest marked the sixth consecutive World Championship in which Wisconsin has won more than 30 percent of all awards, claiming 37 percent in 2006, 30.8 percent in 2008, 31.3 percent in 2010, 37.8 percent in 2012 and 39 percent in 2014.

“This award reinforces what people around the world already know-our reputation for making some of the world’s greatest cheeses is well deserved,” said James Robson, CEO of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “Exceptional milk from Wisconsin dairy farms becomes exceptional cheese in the hands of Wisconsin cheesemakers, and that is a hard combination to beat. We congratulate Team Emmi Roth USA on their win, and consider it a win for the entire state of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin cheesemakers also swept 20 of 110 competition classes: Open Class: Shredded Cheese, Flavored & Unflavored; Prepared Cheese Foods; Mozzarella, Part Skim; Parmesan; Aged Asiago (over six months); Feta; Feta, Flavored; Havarti; Havarti, Flavored; String Cheese; String Cheese, Flavored; Brick, Meunster; Gouda, Flavored; Smear Ripened Hard Cheeses; Bandaged Cheddar, Mild to Medium; Bandaged Cheddar, Sharp to Aged; Cold Pack Cheese, Cheese Food; Cold Pack Cheese Spread; Pasteurized Process Cheeses; and Colby.

Jasper Hill Farm’s Moses Sleeper and Winnimere Take Gold at World Cheese Championships

Two of Jasper Hill Farm‘s cheeses, Moses Sleeper and Winnimere, were awarded Best in Class awards, with Winnimere ultimately placing in the top 16, at the World Cheese Championships in Madison, Wisconsin. This year’s contest included 2,959 entries from 23 countries and 31 states.

In addition, two of Jasper Hill’s other cheeses, Harbison and Bayley Hazen Blue, placed in the top five in their categories, with scores of 98 or higher. Oma, made by von Trapp Farmstead and aged at the Cellars at Jasper Hill, also placed fifth in its category.

More about the winning cheeses:

Moses Sleeper is an approachable and nuanced brie-style cheese. Beneath its thin, bloomy rind lies a gooey, milky core showing a complex array of flavors at peak ripeness: cauliflower, crème fraîche, and toasted nuts. The cheese’s historic namesake, Moses Sleeper, and his compatriot Constant Bliss, were Revolutionary War scouts killed while defending a blockhouse along the Northeast Kingdom’s legendary Bayley Hazen Military Road.

Winnimere is a take on Jura Mountain classics like Vacherin Mont d’Or or Fösterkäse. In keeping with this tradition, this decadent cheese is made only during winter months when Jasper Hill’s herd of Ayrshire cows are enjoying a rich ration of dry hay. Young cheeses are wrapped in strips of spruce cambium, the tree’s flexible inner bark layer, harvested from Jasper Hill Farm’s woodlands. During aging, the cheese is washed in a cultured salt brine to help even rind development. At peak ripeness, this cheese is spoonably soft and tastes of bacon, sweet cream, and spruce.

All of Jasper Hill’s award winning cheeses can be purchased where fine cheeses are sold, at Jasper Hill’s retail counter within the newly constructed Boston Public Market, or from Jasper Hill Farm’s online store.

Celebrate Cheese at Oregon Cheese Festival

Oregon Cheese FestivalOregon-inspired culinary events, including a farmer’s market-style artisan food, beer and wine festival, will kick off with the Meet the Cheesemakers and Winemakers Dinner @ the Oregon Cheese Festival during the third weekend in March. For tickets go to http://oregoncheesemakersdinner.bpt.me/

OCGuild Benefit  Dinner Menu 030716Friday, March 18 – Dinner

To commence the festival, a sumptuous meal introducing guests to participating guild cheesemakers will be held Friday night at the Inn at the Commons in Medford, Oregon on March 18 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. The dinner is held for the benefit of the non-profit 501 (c) (6) Oregon Cheesemakers Guild. Each course will spotlight a cheese made by one of the festival’s artisans, paired with a local wine or beer. Special guest include Gordon Edgar, the author of both “Cheesemonger: a Life on the Wedge” and his most recent book, “Cheddar: A Journey into the Heart of America’s Most Iconic Cheese.” Edgar is the Head Cheesemonger for the San Francisco Rainbow Grocery Cooperative, and has been a leader within the specialty cheese industry for more than 20 years. He is widely celebrated for his friendly, down-to-earth approach to the art and science of cheese. Lassa Skinner is also a special guest. She is co-founder and owner of the highly regarded cheese magazine Culture, now in its eighth year.  In 1999 she started a cheese program at Tra Vigne restaurant, opened the Oxbow Cheese Merchant in downtown Napa, co-authored Cheese For Dummies (2012) – and started Culture magazine. Skinner is passionate about spreading the love of cheese across the US and beyond, teaching at venues across the country and overseas as well as partnering with chefs, wineries, breweries and all things food-centric.

Saturday, March 19 – Festival

At the festival on Saturday March 19 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., thousands of visitors will sample cow, goat and sheep cheese from Oregon creameries, including Pholia Farm, Ancient Heritage Dairy, Oregon State University, Ochoa Creamery, Tillamook County Creamery, Willamette Valley Cheese Co., Fern’s Edge Goat Dairy, Oak Leaf Creamery, Rivers Edge Chevre, Briar Rose Creamery, Face Rock Creamery, Portland Creamery, Rogue Creamery, and many others.The Oregon Cheese Festival will be open to the public Saturday, March 19 from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Rogue Creamery, 311 North Front St. (Hwy. 99), Central Point, Oregon. Held under two large tents, 15,000 square feet of space, at Rogue Creamery’s Central Point facility, the 12th annual festival will invite guests to shake hands with cheesemakers and other artisans. There will also be baby cows on site to showcase the beginnings of great milk producers.  Activities will also be provided for children including games, activity sheets, coloring, face painting and more.”The farmer’s market format will present an interactive experience between makers and visitors, giving everyone an opportunity to talk about the product, the process and learn each individual cheesemaker’s story,” says David Gremmels, President of Rogue Creamery. “It’s a way to truly be connected with the source of the cheese being presented.”

Southern Oregon and other local culinary artisans and beverage providers who are expected to participate include Lillie Belle Farms, Gary West Meats, Applegate Valley Artisan Breads, Ledger David Cellars, South Stage Cellars, Serra Vineyards, Caprice Vineyards, Willamette Valley Vineyards, David Hill Winery, La Brasseur Vineyard, 30 Brix Winery, Wandering Aengus Ciders, Hot Lips Soda, Clear Creek Distillery, Bend Distillery, Wild River Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing and Rogue Ales. Samples and /or sales will be offered at each booth.

A $15 entry fee includes tastings and demonstrations; tickets purchased at the door will be $20. Entry tickets can be purchased in advance at http://oregoncheeseguild.org/event/12th-annual-oregon-cheese-festival/ .  In addition, a $10 wine, beer and spirit tasting fee is available and includes a commemorative glass with the Oregon Cheese Guild logo. For more information contact the Oregon Cheese Guild website @ www.oregoncheeseguild.org, Rogue Creamery at 866.396.4704, or www.roguecreamery.com. The festival would not be possible without the generous support of the City of Central Point, the Oregon Dairy and Nutrition Council, and, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Rogue Ales, Culture Magazine, Travel Medford, Cheese Connoisseur Magazine, Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, Umpqua Bank, Haggen Northwest, Face Rock Creamery, Rogue Credit Union, and the members of the Oregon Cheese Guild.

 

GrandyOats Launches Gluten-free Line

GrandyOats, a Maine maker of organic cereals and snacks, is launching a line of certified gluten-free products from its dedicated gluten-free production area in its new 100 percent solar powered headquarters in Hiram, Maine. This spring, GrandyOats will launch its certified gluten-free line starting with 12 skus of bulk trail mixes and nuts followed by two packaged products. GrandyOats expects to launch more certified gluten-free products later in the year.

Specifically, GrandyOats trail mixes and roasted nuts including High Antioxidant Trail Mix, Garlic Herb Cashews, Maple Roasted Cashews, and Nori Sesame Cashews, will all be certified gluten-free. GrandyOats granola will be next to go gluten-free, with its popular Coconut + Fruit Granola earning the designation shortly thereafter, followed by organic oatmeal and other products.

“Gluten-free will be a strong focus for us throughout 2016 and into 2017,” said Aaron Anker, Chief Granola Officer, GrandyOats. “Our customers have been asking us for organic, certified gluten-free granola and snacks, and in our new designated gluten-free space we are happy we can deliver.”

Consumers are choosing gluten-free products for many reasons, including disease, sensitivity, allergy, and other health concerns. In addition, gluten-free consumers are seeking additional benefits, such as organic and GMO-free, that go beyond gluten-free. Value-added propositions including current low-sugar and savory culinary trends, factor in highly as well. Improving the quality and selection of gluten-free foods available in mainstream channels will help sales in the category grow nearly 1.5 times through 2019, according to market analysis by Packaged Facts.

Like all GrandyOats cereals and snacks, the new gluten-free products are certified organic, non-GMO, and made by hand in small batches by the GrandyOats family in their 100 percent solar powered bakery in rural Maine.

Organic Granola has long been the keystone product of the GrandyOats bakery. GrandyOats Coconut + Fruit Granola is a savory-sweet, organic granola with a hearty blend of organic oats, rich coconut flakes, fruit juice-sweetened dried cranberries, plump raisins, wild flower honey, coriander and sea salt. GrandyOats Coconut + Fruit Granola will be gluten-free in both bulk and packaged offerings.

GrandyOats never uses refined sugar or artificial ingredients in its recipes. Both new flavors are sweetened with real, wild flower honey and have organic apple juice sweetened fruit.  Certified organic by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and certified Kosher, GrandyOats never uses products that contain antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs. All GrandyOats organic granola is made with organic sunflower oil and does not use canola oil.

In November 2015, GrandyOats became the first net zero food production facility on the East Coast by constructing a state-of-the-art, 100 percent solar powered facility in rural Maine. The GrandyOats solar electric system will produce on average 95,622 kWh of clean, renewable electricity annually. It will offset over 145,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year, or the amount of miles equivalent to driving from Maine to San Francisco and back 25 times.

GrandyOats achieved 28 percent growth in 2015 producing 1.2 million pounds of organic granola, trail mix and roasted nuts and generating 5.3 million in sales. Also in 2015, GrandyOats expanded its food service presence in higher education cafeterias as the first independent, organic brand to be served at more than 75 colleges and universities from University of Maine at Orono to The State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo. With the gluten-free product line, they hope to reach even more “real granolas.”

“We’ve been fortunate enough to grow slowly but steadily, while still making our products by hand in small batches in rural Maine,” continued Anker.

Consistent with its commitment to being net zero, GrandyOats will have a 100 percent solar-powered booth at Natural Products ExpoWest Conference in Anaheim, CA at booth #3313.

Certified organic by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and certified kosher, GrandyOats never uses products that contain antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs. A wide range of GrandyOats organic cereals and snacks in a variety of sizes are available nationwide in natural food stores, food cooperatives, major grocery chains and online at www.grandyoats.com.

Genetic ID and CERT ID Offer Gluten Free Verification Program

 

Genetic ID NA, Inc., in conjunction with CERT ID, announce the addition of gluten-free verification services to their portfolio of food safety and food quality testing and certification services. Gluten-free is one of the fastest-growing categories in the food and beverage market.

The gluten-free verification services are based on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final ruling on the use of a gluten-free claim and are intended for products sold in North America. Services are risk-based and supported by a validated sampling and testing regimen. “We continue to identify value-added opportunities for our customers, and this program was specifically designed to provide the flexibility that the market demands,” said Dr. Heather Secrist, CEO of Genetic ID. “Companies can choose an individual service, such as testing, or adopt a comprehensive gluten-free certification and testing program where the CERT ID Gluten-free Trustmark can be applied to a product.”

“Our Gluten-free Product Certification Program is designed as an addendum to recognized system certifications such as organic, Non-GMO Project, and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI), said Rhonda Wellik, CEO of CERT ID. “This effectively allows companies to realize efficiencies and cost-savings when seeking product certification.”

The gluten-free verification services provide a third-party approach regarding label claims, and communicate a company’s commitment to producing safe, gluten-free products for consumers. The new services included in the Gluten-free Certification Program incorporate the rigor and reliability that Genetic ID and CERT ID’s customers have come to rely on.

For more information about Genetic ID and CERT ID, visit www.genetic-id.com and www.cert-id.com.

 

Meijer Announces New and Remodeled Stores in 2016

Meijer is investing more than $400 million in new and remodeled stores this year across its six-state footprint, Chief Executive Officer Hank Meijer said.

The investment includes the construction of nine new Meijer supercenters and 32 different remodel projects. While Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin will each welcome new Meijer supercenters later this year, dozens of other Meijer stores have begun or will soon begin remodel projects to further enhance the customer shopping experience.

“We are pleased to continue to grow and invest in the Midwest communities that have supported us for so long,” Hank Meijer said. “By keeping prices low and ensuring a great shopping environment, we are keeping our promise to our customers that we will provide the best one-stop shopping solution.”

The opening of each new Meijer store represents as many as 300 full- and part-time jobs. Since 2010, Meijer has opened 36 new stores, and remodeled dozens of others. This has resulted in the creation of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of tax revenue pumped into local communities. Meijer frequently works with local contractors when building and remodeling stores.

The new Meijer supercenters opening in 2016 include:

Owensboro, Kentucky
Evansville, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Round Lake Beach, Illinois
Flossmoor, Illinois
Sturgis, Michigan
Flat Rock, Michigan
Sussex, Wisconsin
Waukesha, Wisconsin
In addition to the new supercenters, Meijer is aggressively remodeling stores in key markets such as Detroit, Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. Southeastern Michigan alone will see 12 Meijer supercenters remodeled this year, while Indianapolis will have three remodel projects. Two Meijer supercenters in Fort Wayne will be included as well. The Meijer store in Burton, Michigan, one of the company’s oldest operating stores, will also be included in the project.

While the depth of the remodel varies based on several factors, these projects include a variety of specific store enhancements, including improved store layouts, expanded grocery, and health and beauty sections, as well as lighting, heating, refrigeration and parking lot improvements. Additionally, the introduction of newer technology in key areas during the remodel process will result in more energy-efficient stores.

“We will continue our process of slow, steady growth,” Hank Meijer said. “This plan has allowed us to remain focused on our customers and team members, while growing our business and ensuring we continue to innovate in the marketplace.”

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