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Guggisberg’s Swiss Wheel Named Champion Cheese

GuggisbergTeam Guggisberg Sugarcreek, of Guggisberg Cheese, Millersburg, Ohio, took top honors out of 1,892 entries from 28 states at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest for their Swiss wheel. Out of a possible 100 points, the Swiss wheel scored 98.496 in the final round of judging, during which judges re-evaluated the top 16 cheeses at an evening charity gala to determine the overall champion.

First runner-up in the contest, with a score of 98.389, is a brick cheese made by John (Randy) Pitman of Mill Creek Cheese in Arena, Wisconsin. Second runner-up is a medium cheddar, made by the Kiel Production Team, in Land O Lakes, Kiel, Wisconsin which scored 98.337.

“Every medalist should be extremely proud of being recognized as the best of the best in the largest national dairy competition ever held,” said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, which hosts the biennial competition.

Wisconsin took home the most gold medals, with 56 of the total 90 categories judged. New York came in second among the states, with seven golds. California had six gold medals, Vermont had five, Idaho had four, and Oregon had three. Wisconsin, New York and California captured the most medals in the debut yogurt classes, each winning two medals.

The United States Championship Cheese Contest is the largest technical evaluation of cheese, butter and yogurt in the country and is rooted in more than 120 years of history, beginning when the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association held its first cheese contest in 1891. In recent years, the event has flourished, more than doubling in size since 2001. This year, more than 33,000 pounds of dairy products were entered into the contest.

For more information on the contest, as well as complete results for all 90 entry classes and contest photos, visit

Wisconsin Cheesemakers Win Big at U.S. Championship Cheese Contest

—Wisconsin dominated the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in Milwaukee, sweeping more than a third of the categories judged.

Wisconsin cheesemakers claimed two of the three overall awards. John (Randy) Pitman, a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker at Mill Creek Cheese Factory in Arena, Wisconsin, took First Runner-Up for his brick cheese. Founded in 1891, Mill Creek Cheese Factory is the oldest operating cheese plant in southwest Wisconsin’’s Iowa County. Second Runner-Up went to Land O ’Lakes, Inc. in Kiel, Wisconsin, for its medium cheddar.

This year’’s contest drew a record-breaking 1,892 entries from 28 states. Wisconsin captured 59 percent of awards: 160 of the total 270 given, far more than any other state. New York ranked second in total awards with 20, followed by Vermont with 18 and California with 16.

Fifty-six Wisconsin companies took one or more awards with 11 garnering five or more. They are: Agropur inc.; BelGioioso Cheese, Inc.; Carr Valley Cheese Co., Inc.; Edelweiss Creamery; Hidden Springs Creamery; Holland’s Family Cheese, LLC; Klondike Cheese Co.; Lactalis Deli, Inc.; Mill Creek Cheese Factory; Montchevré-Betin Inc.; and Sartori Company.

For a complete rundown on Wisconsin’’s awards, visit For more information about Wisconsin cheese, visit

Jean Hansen Named Logistics Manager for Wixon

Wixon, a manufacturer of seasonings, flavors and technologies for the food and beverage industry, has named Jean Hansen as Logistics Manager.

Hansen will be responsible for oversight of the logistics staff who handles inbound receipts and outbound shipping from the company’s headquarters and off-site distribution center. She will manage all transportation functions, devise strategic plans, and develop process improvements that maximize efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Hansen has nearly 20 years of progressive experience within the distribution industry and most recently was employed as the Warehouse/Logistics Manager for Baptista’s Bakery, now a part of Snyder’s-Lance, in Franklin. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in business and management and a master of business administration, both from Alverno College in Milwaukee. Hansen also earned a transportation management and policy (TMP) certificate from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

She currently resides in West Allis. In her spare time, Hansen reupholsters furniture and serves as the chairwoman of her church’s finance council.

Haggen Announces Senior Executives to Lead Massive Rollout; Opens Five Additional San Diego Stores

With three Southern California locations officially open for business and another three scheduled to open by week’s end, West Coast regional grocery chain Haggen has announced the first five senior members of its Pacific Southwest leadership team. They are:

  • WendyOliver, SVP, Operations. A former Vice President of the Southern California Division of Albertsons
  • ChrisLinskey, SVP, Marketing. A veteran of Vons, Linskey was most recently EVP, Sales, with Intelligent Clearing Network after working for Valassis and Catalina Interactive.
  • RichWinters, VP, Fresh foods. He was formerly VP of Sales and Business Development for Sun Pacific, Pasadena, Calif., and, before that, VP, Retail Merchandising and Marketing, for the Northern California Division of Safeway.
  • JaimePrager, VP, Center Store, who was formerly Director of Hispanic Category Management for Smart & Final, Los Angeles
  • MelinaRanii, VP, Human Resources, formerly Director of Recruitment and Development for Trader Joe’s in Monrovia, Calif.

“Each of our leaders has extensive experience in the grocery business as well as professional and personal connections to the Southern California marketplace,” said Bill Shaner, Haggen CEO Pacific Southwest. “You couldn’t ask for a stronger group to lead our historic rollout of 100 stores in 100 days.”

As Haggen continues to grow, opportunities are available at the division office located in Irvine. Food enthusiasts interested in joining the team can explore growth and employment opportunities at

Opening More Doors to Shoppers in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Kern and San Bernardino Counties

Haggen opened its first doors to Southern California shoppers on March 11 at 7660 El Camino Real in Carlsbad, followed by two additional stores in El Cajon (at 13439 Camino Canada and 1608 Broadway Street) on March 18. Two more San Diego stores are scheduled to open today (at 730 Turquoise Street and 2235 University Avenue), followed by another location at 360 East H Street in Chula Vista on Sunday, March 22.

On March 24, Haggen will open its first store in Los Angeles County at 5038 W Avenue North in Palmdale, and its debut Orange County location at 30922 South Pacific Coast Hwy. in Laguna Beach. On March 31, Haggen will open its first two stores in Kern County at 7900 White Lane and 3500 Panama Lane in Bakersfield, and its first San Bernardino location at 4200 Chino Hills Pkwy Ste. 400 in Chino Hills.

These stores are the first of 83 California stores Haggen plans to acquire and convert to the Haggen brand in the first half of 2015. Once the acquisition is completed, the grocery chain will expand from 18 stores with 16 pharmacies to 164 stores with 106 pharmacies; from 2,000 employees to more than 10,000 employees; and from a Pacific Northwest company with locations in Oregon and Washington to a major regional grocery chain with locations in Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona. The 26 Washington store conversions began in mid-February, and 20 Oregon store conversions are beginning this week. The seven Nevada and 10 Arizona stores will be the last to convert in the late spring. Each week, between one and 12 stores will be converted.

Setton Farms Announces New Distribution in Airports Across the Globe

Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc.- the nation’s second largest pistachio processor and maker of Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites based in California’s Central Valley- has arranged for distribution of its Premium Dark Chocolate Pistachios in airports around the world.

Setton Farms’ Dark Chocolate Pistachios are now available in over 100 airport retail locations in US airports such as JFK, Newark, Islip, Burbank, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, and Phoenix. Stores carrying the product include CNBC News, Market Place and NY Times in addition to International Duty Free shops across the globe.

 “We are so excited that travelers will be able to easily find our Dark Chocolate Pistachios in retail locations around the world,” said Setton Farms COO Mia Cohen. “Having this product in the airports will give globe trotters access to a sweet, yet nutritious snack offering them the amazing health benefits of pistachios and dark chocolate.”

Both pistachios and cocoa are packed with nutrients and rich in antioxidants, which can help prevent a variety of chronic diseases and slow signs of aging. Setton Farms continues to introduce new ways for consumers to enjoy pistachios on the go. In addition to Dark Chocolate Pistachios, the brand also makes flavored pistachios and has an all natural, gluten and dairy free pistachio and cranberry snack bar called Pistachio Chewy Bites. Now consumers have even more ways to enjoy pistachios helping them reap the benefits of this nutrient-dense nut.

Brothers Marketplace Brand Wins 2014 International Visual Identity Award

The store brand identity design for Brothers Marketplace in Medfield, Massachusetts, a new concept from Roche Bros., has won the 2014 International Visual Identity Award (IVIA) in the Retail category. This smaller neighborhood market experience inspired by European-style food markets, an original vision of Pat and Bud Roche, was brought to life by Boston-based Marquis and opened in summer 2014.

Brothers Marketplace, with locations in Medfield and Weston, Massachusetts, brings an innovative approach to food, with a nod to the legacy of small neighborhood markets from long ago. Shoppers who visit will see an emphasis on unique offerings in prepared foods, baked goods, seasonal and exotic produce, meats, cheeses and packaged foods from local producers. Brothers Marketplace provides busy customers the ability to purchase grab-and-go items quickly while also offering an experiential culinary setting for lingering and savoring an array of seasonal foods.

“We worked hard to create a special retail atmosphere for Brothers Marketplace, and are thrilled to see that the store has been recognized for its innovative brand,” said Roche Bros. Operations Director, Aimee Morgida. “In working with Marquis, we harnessed today’s passion and enthusiasm for local farmer’s market-like flair to create a new, aesthetic store design and identity. It is our goal for Brothers Marketplace to offer customers inspiration, surprise and delight each time they walk into the store.”

Marquis was engaged by Roche Bros. to develop a comprehensive brand for the new store from the ground up and complement the architectural design by BHDP. The IVIA recognizes the full visual brand identity program Marquis created. This includes brand strategy and messaging, brand identity and logo design, interior decor elements such as signage, displays, packaging, labels, shopping bags, uniforms, menus and more, as well a suite of marketing collateral. Marquis also created a comprehensive brand book that allowed for the tight execution of the brand across all marketing channels and in-store materials for opening the new store.

“Developing the brand and visual identity for Brothers Marketplace was a very in-depth experience,” said Marquis Principal, Julie Vail. “We created an identity that satisfied the vision of what this store concept should reflect: a gathering place with an inviting atmosphere filled with little experiences for customers and conveniences for the modern shopper. We are honored to have partnered with Roche Bros. on this project and are proud of the work we’ve done and the success of these new stores.”

The IVIA is the first independent international design competition dedicated to visual identity. Its mission is to give good, visual identity design the exposure it deserves and formally recognize and celebrate the world’s most outstanding brand work. IVIA provides a global forum for large multinational corporations, design agencies, freelancers or students still at design school to present their visual identity work.

Roche Bros. Supermarkets was founded by brothers Pat and Bud Roche in 1952. Brothers Marketplace in Medfield is located at 446 Main Street and Brothers Marketplace in Weston is located at 41 Center Street.

Ancient Harvest Taps the Power of Protein with New Bean & Lentil Supergrain Pastas

Ancient Harvest, the first brand to bring quinoa to the U.S. in the 1980s, is debuting its new lines of protein-packed Bean & Lentil Supergrain Pastas and Lentil & Quinoa Supergrain Mac & Cheese™.

AHQ-Lentil-Lineup“Research shows that a majority of consumers want to add more protein into their diets, and many are looking to plant-based sources of protein,” said Constance Roark, MS, RDN and Director of Marketing at Ancient Harvest. “The brand’s focus remains on protein-rich ancient grains, like quinoa, but we’re continuously cooking up ideas to meet new consumer demands. Now, we’ve incorporated other high-protein and gluten-free superfoods, like lentils and beans, into our product lines. A pasta dish that tastes great and adds nutritional value to your plate is pretty hard to beat.”

These naturally gluten-free pasta varieties are made with a hearty blend of quinoa and nutritious legumes. The pastas look and act like traditional pasta in every way, from taste to texture, but have two times the protein and a healthy helping of fiber in every serving. The five new pasta varieties include Black Bean & Quinoa Elbows and Spaghetti, Red Lentil & Quinoa Rotelle and Linguine and Green Lentil & Quinoa Penne, each with a suggested retail price of $3.39.

With 16 grams of protein per serving, the new Lentil & Quinoa Mac & Cheese varieties will join Ancient Harvest’s existing line of mac & cheeses. A combination of the high-protein, fiber and nutrition of red lentils and quinoa, the Lentil & Quinoa Mac & Cheese will be available in three creamy varieties, Mild Cheddar with Elbows, Sharp Cheddar with Shells and White Cheddar with Shells, each with a suggested retail price of $2.99.

Ancient Harvest bean and lentil pastas and new lentil macaroni and cheese varieties will arrive at retailers nationwide this spring. All other Ancient Harvest products are available in natural food stores and conventional supermarkets nationwide.

For more information, visit or connect on Facebook at

Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl Salad from Ready Pac

Ready Pac has just brought out its new Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro® Bowl —a completely vegan, superfood-filled salad with ingredients that reap ‘super’ nutritional benefits.

Broad access to nutritional information has helped superfoods sky rocket in popularity. These nutrient-dense foods have been popular with consumers seeking alternative options that meet their nutrition needs. Research also shows that that ‘superfoods’ like quinoa and wheat berries are capable of boosting protein intake, improving energy, preventing disease, and aiding in weight loss.

“More consumers are looking for foods that provide an array of nutritional benefits” says Tristan Simpson, Chief Communications Officer at Ready Pac. “The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl has soluble fiber, nutrients, and health-boosting phytochemicals. It’s also low in calories, sugar and sodium, which makes it ideal to incorporate into an active lifestyle and also tastes great!”

The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl salad is part of a growing line of products for the health conscious, on-the-go consumer. The salad contains several nutrient-dense ingredients, including:

  • 100 percent vegan ingredients and certified organic
  • 6g plant-based protein
  • Alternative grains (quinoa and wheat berry)
  • Spring mix greens, carrots, red cabbage, raisins, sliced almonds

The Organic Powerhouse Grains Bistro Bowl salad is only 260 calories and has a suggested retail price of $4.99. The new salad bowl is currently available nationally at Safeway locations and its affiliated banners.

For more information about Ready Pac’s Bistro Bowl Salads and fresh food offerings, visit

Emergency Ban on Powdered Alcohol Requested in California

Alcohol Justice, an alcohol industry watchdog organization, is asking for an emergency ban in California on the sale of powdered and crystalline alcohol products, such as Palcohol, to prevent additional alcohol-related harm to young people.

“California is the largest alcohol market in the U.S. and suffers the most alcohol-related harm,” stated Michael Scippa, Director of Public Affairs at Alcohol Justice. “Every year we lose nearly 10,000 lives and over $22 billion dollars to alcohol-related harm. Palcohol and other powdered or crystalline alcohol products will bring huge dangers to young people in California.”

A letter from the organization delivered to California legislators provides a litany of the organization’s health and safety concerns associated with powdered or crystalline alcohol: low cost; easy youth access to the packets; similar size and shape of packets to nonalcoholic children’s drink packets; potential mixing with a small amount of water to make a single very potent drink; mixing powdered alcohol with beer or alcopops; mixing powdered alcohol with energy drinks or other youth-oriented products; concealment by underage drinkers attending events/locations where alcohol is prohibited; ingestion of the product by snorting or eating, and easy theft.

The Alcohol Justice request for emergency legislative action is a response to news late last week that the U.S. Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) approved labels for the powdered alcohol product, Palcohol. The TTB approval gives a green light to begin marketing it wherever it’s legal. The letter states that five states have already passed legislation to ban powdered and crystalline alcohol products, another has a regulatory prohibition in place, and at least 14 other states are considering bills to ban these dangerous products. But California is currently not yet one of those states considering a bill.

The letter asks for new emergency legislation in 2015, to amend Title 18 of the California Code of Regulations, Article 6, Classification of Particular Beverages, Regulation 2557, concerning Powdered Distilled Spirits. The amendment sought would ban powdered or crystalline distilled spirits in California.

“We agree with New York Senator Chuck Schumer who said Palcohol “will become the ‘Kool-Aid’ of teenage binge drinking’ and it will lead to acute alcohol poisoning and death,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO of Alcohol Justice. “The sense of urgency is real, we need our elected state leaders to take action this year to keep this public health and safety threat out of California.”

Organic Food Shoppers Look Like America, Shows New Survey

Today’s organic tent looks a lot different than yesterday’s. It’s bigger, younger, and significantly more diverse than just a few years ago. In fact, inside that tent, it looks pretty much like most places in America, a new study by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) shows.

As the availability of organic has become more mainstream and the offerings of organic more varied, there’s more diversity in those choosing organic. There no longer is a typical organic consumer. Organic is meeting the needs of a wide and multi-faceted culture, and the faces of organic-buying families now mirror the demographics of the U.S. population in terms of ethnic background, according to OTA’s “U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2015 Tracking Study,” a survey of more than 1,200 households throughout the country.

Today, seven in ten families who purchase organic describe themselves as “white,” after hovering consistently around eight in ten from the survey’s first year in 2009 through 2013. In contrast, African American and Hispanic families have been steadily increasing among the ranks of organic-buying households. The percentage of African American families buying organic on a regular basis has doubled from just 7 percent six years ago, to now 14 percent. Hispanic households choosing organic is even higher at 16 percent, a huge jump from 7 percent just four years ago, when the survey started tracking Hispanic buying patterns.

“Our survey shows that organic has turned a corner,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s executive director and CEO. “Organic hasn’t been a niche for some time, and today it is the face of America. The demographics of the organic consumer are not any different than the demographics of America.”

A side-by-side comparison of the figures: Percentage of organic buyers who are white: 73 percent; percentage of the U.S. population that is white, according to the latest U.S. Census: 72.4 percent; percentage of Hispanic organic buyers: 16 percent; percentage of U.S. population that’s Hispanic: 16.4 percent; and percentage of African American organic buyers: 14 percent; percentage of U.S. population: 12.6 percent.

The OTA survey also looks at the incomes, education and ages of organic buyers, and compares the buying habits of the new organic purchaser to the more experienced organic consumer.

Like most of us who buy the bulk of our food from our local supermarket, organic shoppers generally also are turning to the convenient supermarket for their organic purchases. A whopping 78 percent of organic buyers say they typically buy their organic foods at conventional food stores/supermarkets. Over half also shop organic at the “big box” stores, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from just a year ago, and some 30 percent also report that it’s not unusual to buy organic at one of the warehouse clubs in the country, again up almost 10 points from the previous year.

The similarities don’t end there. Forty-three percent of the parents surveyed said they’re making more of an effort to use coupons, discounts and other money-saving tactics when making general food purchases, very close to the 36 percent watching their budget when buying organic. Choosing store brands, either conventional or organic, to save money has become popular among penny-pinching families. Nine in ten families says they are choosing store brand products rather than brand names for conventional products, and eight in ten say they choose store brand organic items over organic brand names.

This was the sixth year OTA has partnered with KIWI Magazine to conduct the study. The primary objectives of the tracking study are to identify any changes in the degree to which families are incorporating organic into their lifestyle, parents’ knowledge about organic products and benefits, the importance and use of labels when shopping for and choosing organic products, and the household shopping budget and retail channel preferences.

This year the study looked more closely at the importance of the private label, digging down into the various factors that go into play when making the decision to buy the store brand private label over the more well-known brand label.

The target audience for the study consisted of more than 1,200 households, including a national online panel of U.S. households supplemented with KIWI Magazine’s Parents’ Advisory Board. All respondents had at least one child under the age of 18 in the household, and had sole or shared responsibility for household grocery purchases. The survey was conducted online January 16 – 23, 2015.

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