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Kroger Boosts Share Repurchase Program

The Kroger Co.’s board of directors has declared its quarterly dividend of 12¢ per share to be paid on December 1, 2016, to shareholders of record as of the close of business on November 15, 2016.

Kroger today also announced an incremental $500 million share repurchase program, supplementing the current authorization, which has $392 million remaining as of September 14, 2016.

“Kroger’s share repurchase authorization reflects our Board of Directors’ confidence in our Customer 1st Strategy and our ability to create value for shareholders,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “We are committed to delivering long-term growth investors can count on.”

In June, Kroger’s Board raised the quarterly dividend by 14 percent. Kroger has delivered double-digit compound growth in its dividend since it was reinstated in 2006. The company continues to expect an increasing dividend over time.

Over the last four quarters, the company has returned more than $1.5 billion to shareholders through share buybacks and dividends combined.

C.A. Fortune Expands Coverage to West Coast

C.A. Fortune has agreed to acquire CSW Food Brokerage, based in Livermore, California. C.A. Fortune is a natural, specialty and bakery/deli sales and marketing agency currently covering the eastern and central market areas. CSW is a regional Natural, Specialty and Bakery/Deli sales and marketing agency covering the northern California market, which also includes Nevada, Hawaii and parts of Oregon. The acquisition of CSW will mark the first step in the expansion of C.A. Fortune’s coverage to the western United States.

Bob and Christine Wingfield, longtime owners of CSW, will lead the northern California operations for C.A. Fortune. “We are genuinely excited and look forward to working with C.A. Fortune,” Bob Wingfield said. Throughout their years in the business, the Wingfields have excelled at attracting key people with deep industry knowledge to their team. This depth of talent will enable C.A. Fortune to hit the ground running.

“When we launched our initial business plan in June 2013, the vision and goal was to build the premier, privately-held national sales and marketing agency focused on the Natural, Specialty and Bakery/Deli trade channels,” said Tyler Lowell, Managing Partner of C.A. Fortune. “With the addition of the CSW Brokerage business and the professional team that Bob and Christine have developed, we are proud to extend the C.A. Fortune brand into the western U.S.”

The Greek Gods Brand Introduces Chocolate Greek-Style Yogurt

The Greek Gods® brand has introduced three new flavors of Greek-Style Yogurt; all with a creamy, rich chocolate base. The new flavors include hints of mocha, strawberry and cherry for a unique and decadent experience. The new yogurts are available in 24 ounce tubs.

“Our customers have enjoyed our decadent, whole milk Greek-Style Yogurts for many years, and chocolate was a natural fit for our newest addition,” said Basel Nassar, Chief Operating Officer of the Hain Refrigerated Foods Division. “Customer feedback has been extremely positive. The creamy, thick texture and rich taste of chocolate make these new flavors truly unique.”

The Greek Gods Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir
The Greek Gods Greek-Style Yogurt is a brand of The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. The Greek Gods brand Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir are gluten-free and contain live and active cultures. Plus, The Greek Gods brand Greek-Style Yogurt and Kefir are made with milk from cows that are not treated with growth hormones.

SF Cheese Fest Next Weekend

Mark your calendars now for the SF Cheese Fest on September 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. Presented by the California Artisan Cheese Guild, the Cheese Fest will be held at Social Hall SF at 1270 Sutter Street.

You’ll get the chance to taste your way through cheeses from more than two dozen of California’s finest cheesemakers – pioneers and new creameries alike – as well as local cured meat, pickles, jams, and more! You’ll sip beverages from the Bay Area’s time-honored craft brew and wine traditions while swinging to live 30s era jazz and dance band, The Hot Baked Goods, in one of San Francisco’s stunning historic venues. Ticket proceeds benefit the California Artisan Cheese Guild, a statewide non-profit dedicated to the education and support of artisan cheese making.

Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Flour

Carrington Farms has just launched Organic Coconut Flour. The naturally gluten-free flour is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber, and your Paleo customers will be interested in this alternative to wheat flour for breading their chicken tenders, ground turkey cutlets or their cauliflower steaks. Coconut flour can also be substituted for up to 20 percent of the wheat flour in many baked goods.

Carrignton Farms Organic Coconut Flour is packaged in a 64-ounce resealable pouch that retails for about $13.99. The wholesale case is six pouches. It’s available to ship now.

Over the next few weeks, Carrington Farms will also be launching Ghee, Coconut Oil & Ghee Blend and Coconut Avocado Oil. The Organic Ghee Clarified Butter is gluten-free and dairy-free containing no casein, whey or lactose. Ghee is an ancient heart-healthy food that contains significant levels of Vitamin A, D and E as well as linoleic acid to help balance cholesterol levels. The clarified butter is also known to reduce inflammation and increase energy. The suggested retail price will be $14.99.

The Organic Coconut Oil & Glee blend contains the same health benefits as the Organic Ghee Clarified Butter, with the addition of high levels of medium chain triglycerides (MCT) as a result of the coconut oil balance. The suggested retail price will be $12.99.

The Coconut Avocado Oil, a blend of two superfood oils, is a natural energy source, high in MCTs, and high in monosaturated fats, which are the beneficial and necessary fats needed in healthy diets. With a higher smoke point than most oils, the Coconut Avocado Oil remains liquid for convenience and is the tastier alternative to butter, canola, soybean, vegetable and olive oil. Its suggested retail price will be $10.99. See them all at Expo East.

New Study Reveals More Americans Embracing Plant-Based, Organic and Non-GMO Foods

More grocery shoppers are trying dairy- and meat-free alternatives, according to a new national health food study by Earth Balance, which makes a line of vegan buttery spreads, nut butters, dressings and snacks. Two thousand consumers were polled for the study, which looked at which new foods they’re trying, their top motivators and trends in healthy eating.

When asked which factors are most important to them when shopping for food, respondents said buying local (37 percent), organic (33 percent) and non-GMO (30 percent) are key. Additionally, Americans are more willing to try better-for-you-foods, with the study showing the most-tried are healthy snacks, dairy alternatives and oil alternatives.

Dairy alternatives have been tried by 29 percent of respondents. Superfoods (e.g., chia, acai and quinoa), alternative snacks (e.g., gluten-free crackers, nut butters and Greek yogurt) and alternative oils (e.g., avocado, coconut and sunflower) have been tried by 28 percent of respondents, and 18 percent have tried plant-based proteins, such as hemp hearts, lentils and spirulina.

Almost half, 42 percent, of consumers said they know more about plant-based diets now compared to five years ago, and 43 percent are more likely to try plant-based alternatives today. Thirteen percent also report trying a vegetarian lifestyle.

What’s more, over half said they’ve tried dairy-free alternatives such as dairy-free milk, cheese and yogurt. Sixty-three percent have tried plant-based protein alternatives, with tofu, meatless burgers and meatless hot dogs topping the list.

Organic Valley Introduces Single-Serve Grassmilk Yogurt Cups

Organic Valley has introduced convenient 6-ounce Grassmilk® Yogurt™ Cups in four varieties: Strawberry, Wild Blueberry, Plain and Vanilla. The 100 percent grass-fed yogurt cups appeal to people looking for premium yogurt with extraordinary flavor, nutritional excellence and grab-and-go convenience.

Organic Valley’s Grassmilk Yogurt cups are exceptional in flavor and quality. They feature cream-on-top, whole milk yogurt crafted from 100 percent grass-fed, non-homogenized organic Grassmilk milk, along with organic strawberries, organic wild blueberries, organic fair trade vanilla and live probiotic cultures.

Good food enthusiasts understand that terroir can be a key factor for high-quality dairy, just as it is for vineyards and coffee estates. Grassmilk Yogurt’s taste profile is a result of where the cows live, seasonality, and what they eat.

Nutritionally, the co-op’s Grassmilk Yogurt flows with naturally-occurring calcium, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3s. Organic milk from 100 percent grass-fed cows has a more favorable fatty acid profile than milk from conventionally-fed cows. It is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in omega-6 fatty acids. Minimally processed with nothing extra added and always organic there are no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. Organic Valley never uses antibiotics, synthetic hormones, toxic pesticides or GMOs.

“Feeding our cows organic grass 100 percent of the time produces the highest quality milk and ensures our dairy cows lead longer, healthier lives—all while improving the health of the land,” said Wisconsin Organic Valley Farmer-Owner Kevin Jahnke.

Starting in September, Organic Valley Grassmilk Yogurt cups will be available in natural food stores, food cooperatives and major grocery chains nationwide with a suggested retail price of $1.69.

Rogue Creamery Readies to Release 2016 Rogue River Blue

Rogue Creamery is releasing its 2016 Rogue River Blue cheese just in time for the autumnal equinox celebration on September 22. It is a fine year for Rogue River Blue, featuring excellent blue development in the creamy paste and a robust, meaty taste with exceptional elements of the blackberry fruit, toasted nut and hazelnut flavors for which this cheese is known, the company says. This year the Autumnal Equinox falls on September 22nd at exactly 7:21 am PDT. On this day and again in the spring the Earth’s axis makes the night time equal to the daytime which means approximately 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.  For centuries cultures worldwide have celebrated this time of year by honoring abundance, balance, conservation and reflection.

This year’s cheese uses milk only from Rogue Creamery’s own dairy. Grape leaves wrapping the cheese were picked by the Rogue Creamery team and community at a local biodynamic organic vineyard called Cowhorn.

Rogue River Blue is produced at the turning of the season, made with late-season milk produced after the autumnal equinox.  At this time, the cows graze on grasses renewed by cooler temperatures and make milk that is richer and higher in butterfat. It is this special milk, reflective of the unique seasonal influences of the Rogue River Valley, which is the very essence of terroir. Each 5-pound wheel is aged from eight to 12 months.  Rogue River is planning to transition the cheese to organic production next year.

 

Record Numbers Expected at Macfrut Italian Produce Fair

MF_entryRecord numbers are expected at the 33rd edition of Macfrut, the international trade fair for the fruit and vegetable sector to be held from 14 to 16 September at the Rimini Expo Centre. It will feature an even larger exhibition area, with seven pavilions (one more than last year) covering an area of 40,000 square meters (20 percent more than in 2015). With more than 1,000 exhibitors, 139 new entries (including 26 from abroad) and exhibition spaces already sold out three months in advance, it is an increasingly international event, with one out of four exhibitors from abroad and the presence of 1,000 buyers. Leading innovations will be introduced, focusing especially on retail stores in the future and 35 absolute novelties for the entire supply chain. About 50 events including conferences, meetings and conventions will be arranged by exhibitors. Organized as always by Cesena Fiera, Macfrut will focus on two key aspects: internationalization and innovation.

Macfrut, Increasingly International
Macfrut continues to further consolidate its international appeal. It is a global event with delegations and traders from five continents, thanks to a wide range of activities aimed at promoting and introducing the trade fair worldwide. With 22 percent of exhibitors from abroad, Cesena Fiera has also invited 1,000 buyers (400 in 2015) interested in products, technologies, materials, services and the pre-harvest segment.

The companies who have confirmed their participation come from Egypt, Sudan, the Dominican Republic, China, Tunisia, Poland, Mexico, Ecuador, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France and New Zealand, as well as many new companies from Albania, Argentina, Colombia, Kenya, Peru, France, Costa Rica and Paraguay.

A large number of delegations is expected from the Middle East, in particular from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and, especially, the presence of Carrefour Saudi Arabia, Al Jazeera and NRTC (Nassar Al Refaee Trading Company) of Dubai, one of the leading importers of fruit and vegetables in the Middle East. In addition, there will be delegations of professional traders from Iran (20 traders), India and Pakistan and, for the first time, a group of importers from Malaysia. Many participants are also expected from Africa, with two exhibiting countries (Sudan and Kenya), which will be present with 15 companies, as well as delegations from several countries.

This year’s special guest will be Peru, which will be Macfrut’s partner country: with 16 companies attending the event, Peru is one of the most dynamic states in South America and a major producer of fruit and vegetables. Macfrut will also be an opportunity to focus on the market, with show cooking and events to promote fruit and vegetable produce from Peru. This country is greatly interested in importing packaging solutions and innovative technologies from Italy, since the latter is a world leader in these fields.”

Innovation the Norm at Macfrut
The fruit and vegetable sector has always been one of the most innovative sectors in the agri-food business, and Macfrut is the ideal platform to showcase new projects: 35 novelties will be introduced during this three-day event.

To promote innovation in production and in technologies for the fruit and vegetable supply chain, the Macfrut Innovation Award will be assigned, once again, to the most important technical innovations in terms of environmental and economic sustainability and improvement in product quality.

Retail stores in the future will be the focus of the New Retail Solution, a space offering innovative solutions for bulk and packaged products complete with analog and digital tools.

“Less than 18 months ago, when presenting the relaunch of Macfrut, we announced five pavilions and the presence of 400 global buyers,” states Renzo Piraccini, President of Cesena Fiera, during a press conference in Rome. “Today, the pavilions have increased to seven and the buyers have become 1,000. What is more, almost one out of four exhibitors are from abroad. We can clearly see how this internationalization process has made considerable progress, and the same can also be said of the innovation process, another mainstay of the 33rd edition of Macfrut. A trade fair is successful if it is addressed to companies: Macfrut is becoming an international showcase for the Italian fruit and vegetable supply chain. This is just the beginning of a planned path to be shared with the main players in the sector.”

Angelic Bakehouse Debuts Bread Crisps

Milwaukee, Michigan’s, local sprouted grain bakery, Angelic Bakehouse, is bringing out its latest innovation and first specialty deli line, called Bread Crisps, which will be available in all Sendik’s Food Market locations. The crisps are also Angelic’s first product in the snack category.

Angelic BakehouseThis new snack line, which is made from Angelic’s sprouted baguettes, includes three SKUs of sprouted mash crisps: 7-grain with sea salt, rye with sea salt, and honey wheat with raisins and sea salt.

“The crisps were born out of a selfish desire,” says Jenny Marino, CEO and President of Angelic Bakehouse. “I couldn’t find any sprouted snacks to serve for seasonal parties and gatherings, so we created something better. The crisps aren’t your average sprouted cracker or crostini.”

Angelic previewed the 7-grain crisps at this year’s Natural Products Expo West– one of the largest natural products trade shows in the U.S. – in March. The other two SKUs will be making a debut in Sendik’s this week, and Angelic has plans to expand distribution for all SKUs to other local and national retailers in coming months.

Like all of Angelic Bakehouse’s sprouted products, the crisps are crafted from sprouted mash whole grains of red wheat berries, quinoa, oat groats, rye berries, barley, amaranth and millet. Angelic attributes the superior taste, texture and nutritionals of its bread to this proprietary process. The crisps are also:

  •  Non-GMO Project Verified
  • Certified kosher and Pas Yisroel by OK Kosher Certification
  • Free from dairy, egg, soy, peanuts, HFCS and other artificial sweeteners or preservatives

“It’s a happy coincidence that we’re launching the crisps in time for the holiday season,” says Marino. “They’re toasted to perfection and topped with sea salt, making them delicious straight from the bag or paired with your favorite wine and cheese.”

 

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