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Rigoni di Asiago’s Skiro the Squirrel Spreads Nocciolata Love in NYC

This month, Skiro the Squirrel, Rigoni di Asiago’s beloved mascot, is spreading the love of his favorite hazelnut-chocolate treat, Nocciolata, in New York City with a spin wheel of prizes including delicious product samples and coupons. At over six feet tall, it’ll be hard to miss this larger-than-life squirrel who enjoys taking selfies almost as much as he loves to eat Nocciolata. He’s making appearances during June in Bryant Park, Chelsea, Tribeca, Brooklyn and Union Square.

 

SquirrelThe origin of Skiro is the fairy tale of how Nocciolata came to be. As the story goes, a gnome named Birgale invented and discovered Nocciolata. Skiro is Birgale’s best friend who lives in the woods in the Altopiano di Asiago, loves hazelnuts, and is a helper to the magical gnomes of the forest. His name comes from the word “Skirat,” which means “squirrel” in the old German dialect that was spoken in the Asiago region of Italy until the 1900s.

Nocciolata is a chocolate-hazelnut spread with an undeniably superior flavor and smooth texture. Each batch takes 36 hours of artisanal preparation, which combines top-quality hazelnuts, fair trade cocoa and cocoa butter, environmentally-responsible cold-pressed sunflower oil, natural vanilla extract, raw cane sugar, and skimmed milk. Unlike other chocolate-hazelnut spreads, Nocciolata contains no palm oil, hydrogenated fats, artificial colors, aromas or additives. Nocciolata Dairy Free is a certified vegan version of the original perfect for those who follow a vegan lifestyle or are lactose intolerant.

Those not in the Big Apple can still participate in the fun by heading over to Rigoni di Asiago’s Facebook Page on Fridays in June to spin a virtual wheel for the chance to win prizes! Rigoni di Asiago will also select five Instagram winners to win amazing Nocciolata goodies. To enter, simply post a photo of your Nocciolata jar or recipe on Instagram and use the hashtag #NutsforNocciolata.

Rigoni di Asiago products are available in stores nationwide and online.

Abdallah Candies’ New Caramel Creations Satisfies the Rise in Category Popularity

Abdallah Candies, a Minnesota-based candy company, has introduced new varieties to its highly popular “Old Fashioned Caramels” category. Known particularly for the premium caramel, Abdallah Candies’ individually twist-wrapped butter caramel morsels now have companions that are every bit as mouthwatering. New flavors such as chocolate-vanilla-sea-salt-twist, roasted-almond-coconut and toffee-almond caramel now accompany the best-selling plain butter caramels.

Available packaged in 7 ounce bags or in bulk, the new varieties extend the line with unique flavor combinations that perfectly complement the ultra-soft creamy caramel the company is famous for. For those who manufacture and desire the famous caramel flavor and want a caramel that is soft, creamy and won’t flow off their product, 12 pound blocks are available.

Abdallah Candies is a fourth generation, Minnesota family-owned gourmet confectioner which manufactures more than 200 varieties of specialty chocolates, including 24 flavors and two sizes of fresh cream truffles, tender toffees, caramels, stemmed cherries, fruits, clusters, creams, nougats and sugar free chocolates. Products are available packaged for everyday and seasonal sales and are also available in bulk.

Dairy Iowa Event is June 8

Dairy Iowa, a partnership between individuals and organizations invested in Iowa’s dairy industry, will hold its annual June Dairy Month event June 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Heartland Agribition Center in Independence. The meeting’s keynote speaker is Kevin Murphy of Food Chain Communications, addressing the challenges faced by the dairy community from misinformation and extremist attitudes, and how to respond.

The day’s events are concurrent with a youth communications workshop presented by Midwest Dairy. All Iowa dairy youth enthusiasts are encouraged to attend.

The program includes a panel of dairy farmers sharing their labor-saving and value-added efforts, as well as roundtable discussions among many of the groups who work on behalf of dairy throughout Iowa. In addition to Midwest Dairy and the Iowa State Dairy Association, participants will include the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Northeast Iowa Community College, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers, the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and Iowa State University.

In addition, the meeting will host the presentation of the annual Ralph Keeling Awards given to individuals dedicated to Iowa’s dairy legacy, and scholarships presented by Midwest Dairy Association and the Iowa State Dairy Association.

Those wishing to attend may visit IowaDairy.org for more information, or may contact Mitch Schulte at mschulte@midwestdairy.com or 319.775.3451.

Wisconsin Cheese Named Official State Dairy Product

Wisconsin has long been synonymous with cheese, but the state legislature has made it official – Wisconsin cheese is now the state dairy product. Wisconsin cheese joins a list of prominent state symbols including the dairy cow, designated the state’s domestic animal in 1971, and milk, Wisconsin’s official state beverage since 1987.

For more than a century, Wisconsin has led the nation in cheese production, producing over three billion pounds of cheese annually. Wisconsin cheesemakers combine generations of tradition with cutting edge innovation to craft the finest cheese, and Wisconsin is the only place outside of Europe to offer a prestigious Master Cheesemaker certification for veteran cheesemakers who have been making cheese for 10 years or more. The state regularly takes home top honors for its world class cheeses including a recent historic sweep of the cheese industry’s three major competitions – the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest, the American Cheese Society Competition and the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The designation was proposed by a group of fourth grade students at Mineral Point Elementary in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. It was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker at a special signing event at Mineral Point Elementary on June 1. WMMB also participated in the historic signing event and provided fresh squeaky Wisconsin cheese curds for the students to enjoy.

“We are so pleased to give Wisconsin cheese the recognition it deserves by declaring it the official state dairy product,” said Governor Scott Walker. “Today we celebrate the efforts of Wisconsin’s hard-working dairy farmers and cheesemakers who make us all proud to live in America’s Dairyland.”

“This is a victory for everyone in the Wisconsin dairy community to celebrate–from the dairy farmers who produce the highest quality milk to the third and fourth generation cheesemakers who have dedicated their lives to making the best cheese in the world,” said Suzanne Fanning, Vice President, National Product Communications, of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB). “We’d like to thank Mrs. Livia Doyle and the efforts of her fourth grade class at Mineral Point Elementary for proposing the idea and seeing it all the way to the governor’s desk! This is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the state government and see that they can make a difference.”

“The students are absolutely thrilled that their voices have been heard,” said Livia Doyle, fourth grade Teacher at Mineral Point Elementary School. “Being a part of this legislative process has been more meaningful and educational than ever imagined! The students have experienced firsthand what it means to have an idea and to share it with our representatives.”

To learn more about Wisconsin cheese visit EatWisconsinCheese.com.

Peapod Expands Nutrition Filters

Imagine walking into a grocery store where all of the products displayed are based on a shopper’s personal tastes, dietary preferences and budget. Peapod, the country’s leading online grocer, aims to do just that by enabling shoppers to curate their own personalized digital aisle. An early innovator of smart shopping technology, Peapod has expanded its filtering capabilities to include four new nutrition filters: “Non-GMO,” “Sugar Free,” “Vegan” and “Vegetarian.” Adding to Peapod’s already robust sort feature, shoppers can now customize their searches with 16 features specific to nutrition preferences, in addition to a variety of filters including brand preference, price and sale specials.

“Our customers have told us that one of the pain points of traditional in-store grocery shopping is the overwhelming selection and the time it takes to read labels in order to find what they need,” said Carrie Bienkowski, Peapod’s Chief Marketing Officer. “While we all want options, we also want to find what we’re looking for and to do so quickly. As a digital player, we can create personalized, curated shopping experiences to help consumers find what they’re looking for with just a few clicks. These tools also help our shoppers discover new products that meet their specific needs.

The new filters are based on growing consumer food and nutritional trends, as well as Peapod’s own consumer insights. Forty-two percent of consumers read nutrition labels before purchasing and non-GMO labeling is becoming increasingly important to consumers as sales of non-GMO products are predicted to hit $330 billion by 2019. Moreover, vegan and vegetarian filters were added as plant-based diets continue to gain popularity. Almost a third of Millennials indicate they eat a meat alternative product every day, and 70 percent consume them at least a few times a week.

“Our customers are often early adopters of emerging trends, “says Bienkowski. “As such, we’re able to utilize our keyword search data to stay ahead of the market. Since adding the “Organic” filter in 2014, it has become our most frequently used filter, and all Peapod carts now have at least one organic item.”

Enhanced smart shopping tools represent Peapod’s commitment to revolutionizing how consumers shop for groceries. With more than 12,000 products, including fresh produce; meat and seafood; deli items; natural and organic foods; and a wide range of prepared foods and easy-to-prep meal kits, Peapod is a one-stop shop for convenient meal solutions and weekly stock-ups of pantry staples.

Funky Chunky Debuts Newest Sweet Innovation

Funky Chunky®, LLC, the gourmet snack featuring buttery caramel popcorn drizzled with different types of chocolate with added combinations of pretzels and nuts, has introduced an unexpected yet delicious flavor with its Funky Chunky Café Trio. The trio of new products, debuted at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Show, offer a flavor best known for being an early morning must-have.

Inspired by a local coffee shop and Funky Chunky’s coffee loving staff, Caramel Latte begins with the company’s traditional decadent caramel popcorn. For this treat, layers of caramel latte white chocolate drizzle, milk chocolate drizzle and chewy caramel are added to the caramel popcorn, then highlighted with dark chocolate covered espresso beans for an explosion of flavors.

“Funky Chunky is known for our delicious mash-ups of caramel popcorn and decadent drizzles. We combine fan favorites with our popcorn, and coffee is a flavor that is unexpected yet delicious,” said Laura Kruse, National Sales Manager.  “We expect Funky Chunky Café to become a fast favorite.”

Vanilla Sweet Crème is similar but with vanilla sweet crème white chocolate, chewy caramel and white chocolate covered espresso beans. Lastly, Dark Chocolate Mocha loads up with dark chocolate mocha drizzle, milk chocolate drizzle, chewy caramel and dark chocolate covered espresso beans.

All flavors come in both 5-ounce bags and 19-ounce canisters that work as gifts.  Two-ounce will be launched this fall.

 

 

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board Names Rich Mende Director of Channel Programs

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB) has named Rich Mende its new Director of Channel Programs.

Mende joins WMMB with nearly 20 years of experience in retail sales management. Most recently, his experience included sales management roles at Dietz & Watson in Philadelphia, InnovAsian Cuisine in Tukwila, Washington, and Willow Brook Foods in Springfield, Missouri.

“WMMB is thrilled to add Rich Mende to our organization,” said Chad Vincent, CEO of WMMB. “Not only does he bring a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to the position, he is also a skilled leader and manager. I’m confident our retail team will continue to grow and succeed under his guidance.”

As the Director of Channel Programs, Mende will manage the development of WMMB’s consumer and retail cheese and dairy promotional programs and coordinate their implementation. Mende will also provide leadership and supervision to WMMB’s team of regional marketing managers.

Mende has a Bachelor of Science in Food Distribution from Western Michigan University. He and his family currently reside in Springfield, Missouri, with plans to relocate to Madison in the coming year.

For more information about WMMB, visit www.wmmb.com or connect with the company on Facebook.

Albertsons Companies Hires to Ramp up eCommerce Platform

Albertsons Companies has hired two key digital leaders who will collectively add 30 years of digital leadership experience in product and digital technology. They are Karl Varsanyi, who helped develop macys.com into one of the largest eCommerce sites in the United States, and Ramiya Iyer, who was instrumental in building and scaling Levi Strauss & Co.’s platforms and analytic capabilities worldwide.

“After being relatively unaffected by digital for many years, the grocery industry is starting to see several parts of the customer journey being transformed by digital. In this context, we need to continue to enhance our digital capabilities, and Karl and Ramiya will play a key role in this journey,” said Narayan Iyengar, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing and eCommerce.

Iyengar himself joined the company in January with more than 20 years of eCommerce experience, most recently with the Walt Disney Company where he built, enhanced and optimized eCommerce capabilities across an ecosystem spanning 20 websites and apps.

“The addition of these leaders with diverse and rich retail experiences will position us to accelerate our efforts to having a differentiated digital experience for our customers,” said Anuj Dhanda, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Together, these additions underscore Albertsons Companies’ commitment to eCommerce leadership in the grocery industry with proven experience building winning digital strategies around well-known brands. The company already operates its highly popular just for U® digital loyalty program, a rapidly growing eCommerce home delivery program, and wide range of digital and data capabilities.

Karl Varsanyi joined Albertsons Companies as the General Vice President of Digital Product Management with responsibility for the digital experience (web, app, and in-store) for all brands and locations. Varsanyi is a customer experience leader with 16 years of practice in the digital retail and technology industries. He has a strong track record of building new innovative products, platforms, teams and cultures across digital and physical retail, having most recently turned Macy’s into an omnichannel retailing leader as its GVP of Product Management, Strategy and Experience.

Ramiya Iyer joined Albertsons Companies as the GVP of Information Technology Digital and Marketing/Merchandising. She has a deep understanding of how digital technology is changing consumers’ shopping behavior, and she brings a unique combination of retail, technology and global leadership experience. Prior to her tenure as the Vice President of eCommerce at Levi’s, she held various IT leadership roles at Walmart.com and SamsClub.com.

Jewel-Osco to Purchase 19 Strack & Van Til Stores from Central Grocers, Inc.

Jewel Foods Stores has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Central Grocers, Inc. to acquire 19 Strack & Van Til stores and other certain assets. Jewel-Osco will serve as the “stalking horse bidder” in a court-supervised sale process, which means Jewel-Osco was the initial bidder with which Central Grocers chose to negotiate prior to the auction of assets. The auction is expected to commence on June 2, 2017, assuming court approval of the bidding procedures.

Jewel-Osco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Albertsons Companies, operates 186 stores across Illinois, Indiana and Iowa, and has been a fixture among Midwest grocers since 1899 when Frank Ross and Frank Skiff launched the Jewel Tea Company, selling tea and coffee door-to-door from horse-drawn wagons. The transaction, if completed, would expand the Jewel-Osco footprint further into Indiana where the chain currently operates four stores, and build upon Strack & Van Til’s rich history of delivering quality, local products and an innovative shopping experience for their customers in the neighborhoods they serve. Jewel-Osco intends to extend offers of employment to substantially all of the current store employees as part of the transaction.

Jewel-Osco does not expect to close any store locations as a result of the transaction, pending the outcome of the court-supervised sale process and customary regulatory approvals.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval from the Federal Trade Commission.

Lotus Trolley Bag Now Available

Lotus Trolley Bag, a new patent-pending, eco-friendly shopping bag system that boasts four large bags, has launched on Amazon.com. Designed to help shoppers easily organize and efficiently pack their groceries in a fraction of the time, the Lotus Trolley Bag system is reusable with durable bags that easily spread out, accordion-style, in a grocery shopping cart.

Lotus Trolley BagsEquipped with rods that are designed to fit all shopping carts including those at Costco, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, Wal-Mart, among others, the Lotus Trolley Bag features extended handles, double stitching and wider openings that make it easy to carry and unload groceries. Unlike any other bag on the market, the Lotus Trolley Bag can be made into one bag, with a simple Velcro strip, for easy transit to be placed onto the back of a shopping cart, with no hook needed, while a person shops. At check out when items are on the conveyor belt, the bag is simply placed inside the cart and spread out in one easy motion to make four separate bags. The upright bags allow the bagger to pack the goods with ease with both hands in a fraction of the time. Once at the car, the shopper can effortlessly separate each bag to individually fit in the trunk. Once unpacked, the bags are simply reattached along the Velcro strips and rolled up.

The Lotus Trolley Bag’s unique four bag design includes a large cooler bag that can hold big pizza boxes and it also offers a special patent-pending bag that securely fits two egg cartons and two wine bottles.

The inspiration to experiment and develop a new shopping bag system stemmed from two significant trends, according to Lotus Trolley Bag creators, husband and wife Farzan and Jennifer Dehmoubed. “With the recent ban on plastic shopping bags and the nation’s fever to reduce the impact of bags on the environment, we saw a need for creating quality recycled bags that would not be forgotten at home and also quickly end up in landfills. We wanted to eliminate the need for earth-damaging, animal-hurting plastic bags and tree-killing paper bags. We were also determined to create a bag that was practical, based on comfort, using soothing colors, and lets shoppers get in and out of the store faster.”

The Lotus Trolley Bag system is washable, eco-friendly, and made of recycled plastic that resembles canvas with durable double stitching. The strong mesh on the bottom of each bag ensures spills don’t pool in the bags. While most reusable bags are made of 60-75 grams per square meter non-woven material, the Dehmoubeds wanted to ensure that a much higher standard was adhered to and used premium 120 grams per square meter non-woven material that will accommodate over 70 pounds per bag. The bags are also detachable and can be used at the beach, on road trips, picnics and for gardening and more. The Lotus Trolley Bag comes in an assortment of colors including blue, purple, mint, and khaki.

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