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IDFA Applauds Bipartisan Senate Passage of Trade Promotion Authority

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) today commended the Senate for passing “The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” the TPA-2015 bill.

“We commend the Senate for its bipartisan collaboration in passing the TPA-2015 bill,” said Connie Tipton, President and CEO of IDFA. “We thank all the senators and representatives who supported TPA and look forward to the president signing this important legislation into law as soon as possible.

“The U.S. dairy industry will continue to grow and prosper with increased trade opportunities, and TPA is critical to ensuring that U.S. dairy companies receive the best deal in future trade agreements,” Tipton said.

IDFA is seeking comprehensive and significant market access for U.S. dairy exports from the two trade agreements currently under negotiation – the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Ahold and Delhaize to Merge

Ahold and Delhaize have ended months of speculation with an announcement that the two companies will merge. The merger, valued at $29 billion by the Wall Street Journal, will create one of the largest grocery operators in the U.S., with more than 6,500 stores worldwide. In the U.S., Ahold owns Peapod as well as the Stop & Shop and Giant chains, while Delhaize owns the Food Lion and Hannaford banners.

Mats Jansson, Chairman of Delhaize Group, will become Chairman of Ahold Delhaize. Jan Hommen, Chairman of Royal Ahold, and Jacques de Vaucleroy, Delhaize Group Director, will become Vice Chairmen of Ahold Delhaize. Dick Boer, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Ahold, will become Chief Executive Officer. Frans Muller, Chief Executive Officer of Delhaize Group, will become Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Integration Officer.

The transaction is expected to be completed mid-2016, following regulatory clearances, associated consultation procedures and shareholder approval.

 

John Kelly Chocolates to Unveil New Chocolate Bar Line at SFFS

John Kelly Chocolates, known for its award-winning truffle fudge, walnut caramel clusters and other handcrafted chocolate delights, has substantially expanded its product offering by introducing a line of solid chocolate bars, in six different flavors, at the Summer Fancy Food Show. The line serves as a complement to John Kelly’s existing products, and will appeal to customers who enjoy solid chocolate in addition to its signature creamy, unique gourmet chocolate fudge.

John Kelly Solid Choc Bars 3inThe line of solid chocolate bars features four flavors in dark chocolate (73 percent cacao) and two flavors in milk chocolate (41 percent cacao), some with nuts, many with exotic salts.

Each flavor is a proprietary recipe developed by the company in-house. The bars will be offered for sale at John Kelly stores and online, as well as offered as a wholesale item for its extensive list of customers nationwide.

The bars are packaged individually in a highly designed premium box, sealed in gold foil. Each bar is also custom molded with an intricately branded design in the chocolate, marking the bar as undeniably a John Kelly creation. For wholesale customers, the bars will ship 12 to a case, in a self-contained point of purchase box ready to be placed on-shelf.

Apart from packaging and presentation, the bars themselves are in keeping with John Kelly’s driving mission to create the most delicious-tasting chocolate that adheres to the highest quality standards. Each flavor has been carefully balanced with notes that complement each other and the underlying chocolate. And each bar is gluten free, soy free, non-GMO and all natural. The bars also contain fair trade ingredients.

The product line is the result of years of tinkering, and should satisfy pent-up demand. As co-owner John Kelson states, “Many of our customers have been asking us to create a solid chocolate bar line, but we wanted to do it our way and ensure it would be simply the best on the market. That’s what our customers expect, and that’s what we feel we have achieved.”

 

Wholly Guacamole Brand Introduces New 45-Calorie Mini Cups

The makers of Wholly Guacamole® brand have added Avocado Verde 45 cal Minis to their line of products. The new minis pack all the flavor of tomatillos, hand-scooped avocados, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro of the brand’s popular Avocado Verde dip in 2-ounce containers. The Avocado Verde 45 Cal Minis are the seventh flavor in Wholly Guacamole brand’s lineup of fan-favorite mini cups.

“Consumers are continuing to explore the variety of Mexican flavors and recognize the health benefits of avocados, so we asked ‘What’s the next thing they need?’” said Terrill Bacon, Senior Brand Manager of Wholly Guacamole brand. “Our fans love our Avocado Verde dip, so creating a mini cup was the perfect solution to help them continue exploring the culinary landscape at home and on the go.”

The new minis will appear on grocery shelves in the coming months and can be purchased in 4- or 6-pack product sizes. The 4-count suggested retail price is $3.99-$4.99 and the 6-count is $5.29-$5.99, depending on the retailer. Like all Wholly Guacamole products, the Minis are all natural, gluten free, dairy free and kosher certified.

McCormick Enters Agreement to Acquire Stubb’s

McCormick & Company, Incorporated has signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of the shares of One World Foods, Inc., seller of Stubb’s barbecue sauces, a privately held company located in Austin, Texas.

  • Stubb’s is the leading premium barbecue sauce brand in the U.S.  In addition to sauces, Stubb’s products include marinades, rubs and skillet sauces.  Annual sales of the business are projected to be $30 million in 2015 and are expected to grow at a double-digit rate annually for the next several years.
  • Stubb’s products complement McCormick’s range of grilling items with the addition of authentic, craft barbecue sauces.  McCormick plans to drive sales of the Stubb’s brand through expanded distribution, increased household penetration and innovative flavors.
  • McCormick has agreed to acquire the business for approximately $100 million in cash.
  • Acquisitions are an important avenue of growth for McCormick.  Stubb’s is McCormick’s third acquisition agreement announced in 2015.

Alan Wilson, Chairman & CEO of McCormick stated, “We are pleased to announce this agreement to acquire Stubb’s.  Based in Texas, Stubb’s is an authentic, craft brand with an enthusiastic and loyal consumer base.  Through marketing and innovation, we intend to build this base, increase household penetration and expand retail distribution in the U.S. and internationally.  The Stubb’s products round out the range of grilling products currently marketed by McCormick under the Grill Mates, Lawry’s and McCormick brands.  We look forward to working with the Stubb’s employees to drive increased sales and profit for this business.”

After opening his first Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q restaurant in 1968, C.B. Stubblefield began selling his popular sauces to retail grocers in 1992.  These products feature bold flavors made of high quality ingredients.  McCormick intends to maintain the headquarters of this business in Texas.  With newly expanded distribution and product offerings, annual sales growth exceeded 20 percent in both 2013 and 2014.  Annual sales of the business are projected to reach $30 million in 2015.

The acquisition should be completed by the end of July 2015, subject to regulatory approval.  The purchase price for Stubb’s is approximately $100 million subject to certain closing adjustments.  Due to the estimated impact of transaction, integration and financing costs, McCormick expects no earnings per share impact in 2015 from this acquisition.  However, with plans to achieve strong growth and significant cost synergies McCormick expects incremental EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of at least $10 million by 2017.

Mediterra Celebrates First Anniversary of Initial Product Launch

One year ago, the Mediterra® team launched its first nutrition bars based on the Mediterranean Diet. “From the nutritionals and flavors, to variety and packaging, we have received enthusiastic feedback from retail buyers, retail dietitians, the media and consumers,” says Telemaque Lavidas, Founder of Mediterra. “This has been an exciting year filled with much growth and many milestones, and we look forward to what this next year will bring.”

“Having worked for nearly two decades in the food business, Mediterra is one of those rare brands that continue to accelerate at a record pace,” says CEO Paul Pruett. “This year Mediterra carved its space in the category and now our goal is to be a leader.”

Mediterra bar ingredients are native to the Mediterranean region and all six bars adhere to the Mediterranean Diet, considered by scientists as one of the healthiest lifestyles in the world. Mediterra’s savory bars with low sugar and plant-based pea protein have helped to catapult the company into retailers nationwide.

First year anniversary highlights include:

  • Authorized distribution in more than 3,000 stores throughout North America including two of the largest retailers in the world: Kroger and Loblaws. Other retailers include Sprouts, Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Pharmaca, Whole Foods Market locations in the West and more;
  • The winners of three consumer and trade industry awards including being named one of Grocery Headquarters’ “2015 Selling Trailblazers.” Mediterra also won The Lempert Report Innovator award and a 2014 BSC Bestie Kids Awards; and
  • Media Attention – Mediterra received more than 200 unique media mentions in trade and consumer publications, television, radio and blogs.

Mediterra’s six bar flavors come in three specific varieties:

Savory Bars with flavors that include Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives;  Sesame Honey Energy Bars featuring Sesame Seed/Pistachio/Greek Honey and Sesame Seed/Orange/Greek Honey; and Yogurt and Oat Bars in Yogurt/Oat/Cherry Pistachio and Yogurt/Oat/Apricot Pistachio flavors. All bars are all-natural, non-GMO and Gluten-Free. The suggested retail price $1.99.

Annie’s, Inc. President Honored for Entrepreneurship

 

Annie’s, Inc. President John Foraker was named the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2015 in the Retail and Consumer Products category in northern California. The award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who demonstrate excellence and extraordinary success in such areas as innovation, financial performance, and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. Foraker was selected by an independent panel of judges, and the award was presented at a special gala event at the Fairmont, San Francisco on June 11.

“This award is a tremendous honor to me, my family and the entire Annie’s team,” said Foraker. “Annie’s’ success lies in the decision to do business differently. From our sustainable business practices to offering consumer products made with the best ingredients nature has to offer, we are committed to doing well by doing good.”

Foraker came to Annie’s in 1998, when the company’s only offering was macaroni and cheese. His vision was to extend the loved brand into additional categories beyond pasta and to build real depth and leadership into the company’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts. Today, Annie’s offers a robust product portfolio with a variety of offerings in categories like snacks, meals, frozen, condiments, dressings and more. Annie’s corporate culture remains strong as a leading purpose-driven brand in the industry.

After taking Annie’s public on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, Foraker built the company to $200 million in revenues. In October 2014, General Mills acquired Annie’s in an all cash transaction for $820 million. Foraker remains Annie’s President and continues to leverage this partnership to strengthen product distribution and make organic and natural products more accessible to consumers.

As a northern California  award winner, Foraker is now eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015 national program. Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Overall Award winner, will be announced at the annual awards gala in Palm Springs, California, on November 14, 2015. The awards are the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum®, a gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies.

 

 

Specialty Food Association Launches First Consumer Ad Campaign

 

The Specialty Food Association is launching its first-ever ad campaign and retail test designed to build consumer awareness and engagement with specialty food.  The theme is “Celebrate Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy.”

The tests come as sales of specialty food have topped $100 billion for the first time and continue to climb, and as industry growth far outpaces that of conventional food.

“Consumers want the very best from the food they buy. They want distinctive products they trust made by people who care,” says Ann Daw, president of the224188LOGO Specialty Food Association. “Now is the moment for specialty food.”

The brand “Specialty Food. Craft. Care. Joy.,” first launched by the Association two years ago with an industry-only marketing campaign, serves to define specialty food as a category and the myriad products within it, from chocolate, cheese and olive oil to savory snacks.

The consumer effort has two key elements: a retail and online test in New York and New Jersey, and a multi-faceted ad campaign in New York featuring four specialty food makers who share the stories behind their products.

The test coincides with the Association’s 2015 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York. The show is the largest marketplace devoted exclusively to specialty food in North America. It runs June 28 – 30 at Javits Center.

The retail test, starting this week and next, is with three retailers whose business is built on specialty food: Kings Food Markets, Morton Williams and the online fresh food grocer FreshDirect. Each test is unique to the retailer, and each features different foods and beverages from members of the Specialty Food Association.

Some of the 100 products featured include pickles from Brooklyn Brine Co., goat cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre, chocolate chip cookies from Tate’s Bake Shop, toasted coconut chips from Dang Foods, crackers from Partners Crackers, vanilla from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas and frozen entrées from Saffron Road Foods.

The stores will have focused displays of specialty foods, extensive signage, in-store sampling, promotional discounts, and inclusion in weekly circulars and online messaging. Each test will run for several weeks. Based on sales results and shopper interviews, the Specialty Food Association hopes to expand the test to different U.S. markets in 2016.

“Our vision is for retailers across the country and with different formats to embrace the category of specialty food and the passion our member companies bring to their work creating distinctive products,” Daw says. “It is our industry that is helping to change the way people eat.”

The advertising campaign was created by Madwell, a Brooklyn-based creative agency that has worked with several members of the Specialty Food Association. Edgewood Consulting Group, Parsippany, N.J., is working with the Association to manage the in-store tests at Kings and Morton Williams.

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