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Hain Celestial Extends Garden of Eatin’ Brand

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. has introduced Garden of Eatin’®Butternut Squash Corn Tortilla Chips to the Garden of Eatin’® brand of tortilla chips made with organic yellow corn. These crunchy, gluten-free snacks feature a unique blend of butternut squash and organic yellow corn lightly seasoned with sage and a hint of roasted onion and are one of the first butternut squash flavored corn tortilla chips on the market.

“Our introduction of Garden of Eatin’ Butternut Squash Corn Tortilla Chips represents another step in our goal of providing great -tasting tortilla chips made with organic corn to the market,” said Jared Simon, Director of Marketing for Snacks at Hain Celestial. “We’re excited to introduce this distinctive new flavor that balances sweet with savory and gives our consumers a fun, interesting alternative in the corn tortilla chip aisle.”

Garden of Eatin’ Butternut Squash Corn Tortilla Chips join the growing line of Garden of Eatin’ brand corn tortilla chips, which also includes Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips, Garden of Eatin’ Sweet Potato Corn Tortilla Chips, Garden of Eatin’ Black Bean Corn Tortilla Chips and more than a dozen other varieties, all made with non-GMO ingredients and all Non-GMO Project verified.

Crumbs Bake Shop, Inc. Names New Officers

Crumbs Bake Shop, Inc., New York based cupcake specialty retailer, has announced that its board of directors has appointed Frederick G. Kraegel as Chairman of the board of directors. The company also announced that Edward M. Slezak has been appointed as permanent Chief Executive Officer and Ronda S. Kase has been named Secretary.  Slezak has been leading the company as interim Chief Executive Officer in addition to his duties as General Counsel and Kase has been serving as Assistant Secretary in addition to her duties as Corporate Compliance Officer. Slezak is also a member of the company’s board of directors.

Slezak joined the company in August 2013.  Prior to assuming the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2014, Slezak served as the company’s chief legal officer and Secretary.  Prior to joining Crumbs Bake Shop, Slezak served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Aeropostale, Inc., a mall-based specialty retailer.

No Kid Hungry Campaign Issues Challenge to Nation’s Leaders

The No Kid Hungry campaign today challenged America’s leaders to connect 1 million more low-income children in this nation to school breakfast over the next two years. Currently, just over half of our nation’s kids who need a free or reduced-price breakfast are getting one.

“Eating a healthy breakfast dramatically changes kids’ lives,” said Academy Award-winning actor, Jeff Bridges, national spokesperson for the No Kid Hungry campaign. “Too many kids are starting the day too hungry to learn. Today we’re challenging the nation to join us in connecting a million more children to breakfast in the classroom in the next two years.”

Schools are ground zero for seeing hunger and experiencing its effects. In a recent survey conducted by the No Kid Hungry campaign, three out of four public school teachers say they currently have kids in their classrooms who are struggling with hunger.

School breakfast is a critical but underutilized national program that bears a direct impact of children’s academic achievement and health. Research conducted by Deloitte Consulting shows that when kids consistently eat breakfast at school, attendance rates improve and math test scores rise up to 17.5 percent. Parents, kids, and school leaders cite reasons such as stigma of eating breakfast alone in the cafeteria, signaling you are poor (unlike lunch, where all kids eat together); transportation problems (buses not delivering kids to school in time for breakfast); and misperceptions about the value of serving breakfast in new ways (such as serving it in the classroom as part of first period) as reasons why more low-income kids aren’t getting this vital meal as intended.

“Making sure kids are eating a daily breakfast is a big step toward ending childhood hunger,” said Share Our Strength Founder and CEO Bill Shore. “It’s time we close the breakfast gap.  We can unlock better health and academic achievement for all our kids through simple acts like moving breakfast to be an integrated part of the school day.”

The No Kid Hungry campaign currently works with elected officials, corporate leaders, school officials, and others in the non-profit community on innovative strategies like moving breakfast out of the cafeteria and into the classroom. The new website, NoKidHungry.org/Breakfast, has tested strategies, advocacy tools and research that can help communities more rapidly connect more low-income children to this critical morning meal.

Since the launch of the No Kid Hungry campaign, 2 million more low-income kids are getting a healthy school breakfast and states including Maryland, Colorado, Arkansas and Texas have passed legislation to ensure more kids get breakfast in school daily. New legislation is pending in states like Nebraska and New Jersey.

Kronos Foods Names Howard Eirinberg as CEO

Kronos Foods, Inc., a privately held manufacturer of premium gyros and other Mediterranean and specialty foods, has named Howard Eirinberg, 54, as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Eirinberg, who succeeds long-time Kronos CEO Michael Austin, now Chairman of Kronos Food Corp., joined Kronos in 2011 to lead all sales and marketing initiatives for the company’s wide-ranging operations in meat, bakery, dairy, dessert, restaurant and distribution. Eirinberg has grown Kronos’s sales by launching new products like chicken shawarma into the club and foodservice channels.

“The continued popularity of Mediterranean cuisine combined with emerging healthy and convenient eating trends has provided us with a unique opportunity to expand our foodservice presence while also introducing our products into a variety of other markets, including retail, club and convenience stores,” Eirinberg said. “Kronos’s dedicated team of skilled professionals is fully committed to bringing innovative and delicious new product options to foodservice and beyond.”

Before joining Kronos, Eirinberg, who has more than 30 years of food industry experience, previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Vienna Beef, Ltd., the iconic Chicago-based manufacturer of hot dogs, sausages and other specialty foods, where he oversaw the company’s national food service and retail businesses. During his six-year tenure at Vienna Beef, Eirinberg was instrumental in successfully launching new products into new channels, developing new customer segments, and enhancing the company’s brand awareness. Previously, he ran the foodservice division of Fresh Express, Inc., a fresh-cut vegetable processor, and held senior sales and marketing positions at salad dressings manufacturer Richelieu Foods, Inc. and food conglomerate The Quaker Oats Co.

Eirinberg holds a bachelor of science degree in marketing from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in business administration from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

CrossCountry Marketing Signs New Lines

Sharon Britton, owner of CrossCountry Marketing, a specialty food broker located in Central Virginia, is now partnered with Straw Propeller, GalloLea Pizza Kits, World of Chia, and Red Truck Beef Jerky. Britton and her team are excited about adding these outstanding food lines to their list of other exceptional lines represented by the company. A complete list of food lines can be viewed at www.xcmarketing.com. For questions or inquiries, contact Sharon at sharon@xcmarketing.com.

Safeway-Albertsons to Merge

Safeway Inc. and Albertsons have announced a definitive agreement under which AB Acquisition LLC  will acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway. The merger agreement was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of Safeway.

AB Acquisition is the owner of Albertson’s LLC and New Albertson’s, Inc. and is controlled by a Cerberus Capital Management, L.P.-led investor group, which also includes Kimco Realty Corporation, Klaff Realty LP, Lubert-Adler Partners LP, and Schottenstein Stores Corporation.

Safeway shareholders are expected to receive total value estimated at $40 per share.

Albertsons’ Chief Executive Officer Bob Miller stated, “This transaction offers us the opportunity to better serve customers by adapting more quickly to evolving shopping preferences in diverse regions across the country. It also brings together two great organizations with talented management teams. Robert Edwards and his team have done an outstanding job in positioning Safeway’s core business for success, by investing in its stores and creating innovative strategic marketing programs that contribute to shareholder value. Working together will enable us to create cost savings that translate into price reductions for our customers. Together, we will be able to respond to local needs more quickly and deliver outstanding products at the lowest possible price, more efficiently than ever before.”

“This merger is one of several actions we have taken in recent months as a result of our strategic business review. The combined value of the transactions described above is expected to deliver a premium to Safeway’s shareholders of 72 percent from one year ago, and 56 percent over the share price six months ago,” said Robert Edwards, President & Chief Executive Officer of Safeway Inc. “Safeway has been focused on better meeting shoppers’ diverse needs through local, relevant assortment, an improved price/value proposition and a great shopping experience that has driven improved sales trends. We are excited about continuing this momentum as a combined organization. We look forward to working with Bob Miller and the rest of the Albertsons team as we proceed together on a path towards becoming an even stronger organization.”

Best Premium Hot Teas Named

The North American Tea Championship (NATC)  has named the 22 best, premium hot teas from the fall 2013 harvest. The evaluation was held Feb. 20-21 in Las Vegas, Nev., and all of the high-quality winning teas are commercially available in the marketplace.

Companies that took home an esteemed first-place award include: Black Tusk Trading; Florapharm Tea; Garden to Cup Organics Ltd.; International Tea Importers, Mountain Tea; Naivetea; Octavia Tea; QTrade Teas & Herbs; Sipping Streams Tea Company; TeaSource, LLC; Tea Xotics, LLC; and Walters Bay.

Garden to Cup Organics led the championship with the most wins, including four first-place honors, four second place wins and a third place recognition. This new player in the market, driven by seasoned tea experts, is a wholesale supplier of ethically sourced, loose-leaf organic teas based out of Vancouver, British Columbia. The company’s teas are carefully selected, directly from organic tea gardens across the world, and hand-blended in micro-batches to produce the highest quality products. Garden to Cup Organics offers wholesale, custom blending, private and white label opportunities.

“The North American Tea Championship is an excellent platform to showcase quality teas, and we’re thrilled to have received the most wins in this recent evaluation,” said Raj Teja, one of the principals of Garden to Cup Organics. “And the best part of this competition is that it’s independent and judged by professional members of the tea community with stringent standards. For us, the timing of these wins perfectly coincides with the expansion of our distribution across North America.”

NATC Cupping Coordinator Mo Sardella, of The G.S. Haly Company in Redwood City, Calif., noted, “For this competition, there was a noticeable increase in quality and uniqueness within the blended and flavored tea and herbal categories. The flavored and blended products, which are experiencing steady growth within the specialty tea industry, have quickly become the most popular categories at the NATC. Within these categories, the judges noticed a significant increase in custom blends that include good quality specialty teas and herbs, as well as premium ingredients regarding flavoring, decorations and other botanicals. This is a noticeable increase from previous NATC events, in which most blended and flavored products were of varied quality, with less refinement and overall harmony in the finished product.”

All NATC tea submissions were evaluated blind and through organoleptic analysis of the following characteristics: dry leaf, brewed color, brewed aroma, brewed flavor, brewed mouth-feel and brewed harmony. An overall numerical value on a 100-point scale was then calculated based on the ratings of each characteristic. Winners were determined by rank.

“Congratulations to all of the teas that stood out and took first place prizes,” said David De Candia, one of the NATC evaluators and tea buyer at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. “The North American Tea Championship continues to gain exposure in the marketplace, attracting some of the finest teas for review. Certainly, winners of this competition are experiencing the benefits of being an NATC-winner, such as heightened recognition for quality and taste, additional buyer interest and increased sales.”

A complete list of first, second and third-place winners of the North American Tea Championship is available at teachampionship.com.

North American Tea Championship first-place winners include:

Black Tusk Trading,  Blended Oolong Tea, Osmanthus Blossoms

Black Tusk Trading, Traditional Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kuan Yin Private Reserve

Florapharm Tea, Darjeeling, Organic Darjeeling Jungpana

Florapharm Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Manhattan Natural

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Blended Black Tea, Black Rose Garden

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Flavored Black Tea, Lychee Black Tea

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Jade Ti Kuan Yin, Nanyan Tiequanyin

Garden to Cup Organics Ltd., Yunnan, Yunnan Golden Tip

International Tea Importers, Assam, Mangalam Assam

International Tea Importers, Keemun, Keemun Hao Y

Mountain Tea, Bai Hao/Oriental Beauty, Oriental Beauty

Mountain Tea, Green Oolong Tea, LiShan

Naivetea, Flavored Oolong Tea, Passion Fruit Oolong

Naivetea, Green Jasmine Open Leaf, Jasmin Bao Zhong

Octavia Tea, Dark Oolong Tea, Phoenix Mountain Dancon

QTrade Teas & Herbs, Chai, Sweet Chai

QTrade Teas & Herbs, Green Jasmine Pearl, Jasmine Pearls

Sipping Streams Tea Company, Aged/Baked Oolong Tea, 1999 Muzha Formosa

TeaSource, LLC, Breakfast Blend, Ceylon Lumbini Est. Burning Sun FBOPF

TeaSource, LLC, Black Tea, Jin Jun Mei

Tea Xotics, LLC, Flavored Rooibos Blends, Santa’s Cup

Walters Bay, Black Tea CTC, Walters Bay English Breakfast

Honorees will be featured at the North American Tea Championship Winners Tasting Circle at World Tea Expo (WorldTeaExpo.com), May 29 – 31, 2014 at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, Long Beach, Calif.

The next North American Tea Championship will be held in April 2014 for an evaluation of iced teas. Entries will be accepted in early April. To inquire about entering the competition, e-mail kaye.polivka@fwmedia.com.

2014 Seafood Excellence Awards Finalists Announced

The Seafood Excellence Awards, a new products competition held in conjunction with Seafood Expo North America, formerly the International Boston Seafood Show, has announced this year’s finalists.

The Seafood Excellence Awards are an extension of the Seafood Prix d’Elite new product competition at the Seafood Expo Global in Brussels, Belgium.

Finalists compete for two awards: Best New Foodservice Product and Best New Retail Product. Products are evaluated on criteria including uniqueness, taste profile, packaging, marketing potential, and nutritional value.

This year’s ten finalists were hand-selected from more than 70 entries in the highly-competitive New Product Showcase, which will be featured at the Seafood Expo North America, held March 16-18, 2014.

The finalists for the 2014 Seafood Excellence Awards are:

Phillips / SeaWings, Booth #1019
Cornetfish

The Santa Barbara Smokehouse, Booth #2310
Cambridge House Private Reserve Smoked Salmon with Truffle

Aqua Star, Booth# 2005
Harvest Grain Wild Alaskan Cod

Uoriki Fresh, Inc., Booth #1057
Sushi At Home®

High Liner Foods, Booth# 1005
Flame-Seared Guinness® Barbecue Glazed Atlantic Salmon

Freskot USA/Kontoveros SA, Booth #2716
Freskot Seafood Burgers

King & Prince Seafood, Booth #505
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp

The MacKnight Food Group, Booth #2459
MacKnight Capt. Jim’s Breakfast Sausage

Handy International Incorporated, Booth #823
Fiesta Chipotle Fish Cakes

Gradient Aquaculture Ltd., Booth #2546
Pasta del MAR

The winners will be announced at the Seafood Excellence Awards ceremony in the Demonstration Theater in the Exhibit Hall, Booth 2567 on Sunday, March 16 at 3:30 p.m.

View all of the entries or register for Seafood Expo North America by visiting www.seafoodexpo.com/north-america.

Record-Breaking Natural Products Expo West Concludes

Natural Products Expo West concluded a record-breaking event March 6-9 at the Anaheim Convention Center in CA. The event grew five percent bringing together over 67,000 industry members, more than 2,600 exhibiting companies and the most first-time exhibitors in the event’s history. From food and beverage to supplements and beauty to household and pet products, the event provided a window into the many categories driving the growth of the global natural products industry.

Co-located with Natural Products Expo West were Engredea and the NEXT Innovation Summit, the premier events for ingredient sourcing and product development, were co-located with Natural Products Expo to deliver a full spectrum of opportunities to enter, grow and succeed in the global health and nutrition marketplace.

“The macro trend and shift to healthier lifestyles created explosive growth this year,” said Adam Andersen, Show Director for Natural Products Expo West. “Our conference sessions offered attendees with the vital industry intelligence and the exhibit floor buzzed with activity as attendees met the passionate individuals behind the brands on the shelves today and the products of the future.”

Key trends identified for the coming year include:

  • The health and wellness consumers: The healthy eating movement is spreading across all demographic groups.
  • Convenience and Accessibility: The importance of making nutritious, clean food more accessible and convenient across multi-dimensional demographics and how will it affect the health and wellness of all Americans.
  • Labeling Transparency: Consumers are asking for transparency with regard to food/product labels, claims and certifications.
  • Food tribes: The growing gluten-free, vegan, paleo and other special diet communities are fueling the healthy eating movement and changing the way people view food and community.

Michael Kanter, Chief Visionary Officer, Cambridge Naturals said, “Expo West is truly an extraordinary experience. What really is the most inspiring part is realizing how many wonderful people are part of this industry. This movement is for a better and healthier planet. And more than that nowhere else can one meet and ‘network’ with such a group of people who are part of a powerfully positive force. We become aware of our community when we take the time to come together here each year.”

“The growth of Amy’s Kitchen has paralleled the growth of Expo in many ways. Our first year here in 1988 we took turns holding baby Amy in our arms, while serving our first pot pie. Now 26 years later she’s here working beside us at the show, serving dozens of delicious foods. This year we heard from more customers than ever about how our homemade, organic foods have impacted their lives. Rachel, Amy and I are excited to be part of this growing organic community,” said Andy Berliner, Co-founder, Amy’s Kitchen.
Many innovative companies were recognized with awards at Natural Products Expo West.

The official Natural Products Expo West “Best of West: Press Award” went to Luvo: Chicken Chili Verde, Barbara’s Bakery: Multigrain Squares and Dave’s Killer Bread: 21 Whole Grains and Seeds

Natural Products Expo East 2014 will return to the Baltimore Convention Center, September 17-20, 2014 in Baltimore, Md. Natural Products Expo West 2015 is scheduled to take place March 5-8, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

California Artisan Cheese Festival Announces Finale Events

The United States’ premier public artisan cheese event, the 8th Annual California’s Artisan Cheese Festival, today announces the participants in the Festival’s finale events: the Bubbles & Brunch and Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace on Sunday, March 23. Executive Chef Percy Whatley of The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite will demonstrate how to cook cheese-centric dishes at this three-course brunch event featuring bubbles by Gloria Ferrer. The brunch and cooking demonstration by Chef Whatley will take place on Sunday morning before the main event of the day, the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace.

Recently a semi-finalist for the Bocuse d’Or USA who was chosen to prepare dinner at the Beard House as part of a James Beard Foundation Event, Chef Whatley will be preparing California’s Artisan Cheese Festival’s Sunday Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at the Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma. Not only will guests be treated to a glass of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine upon entry, but this sit-down, three-course brunch will also feature cheese-centric cooking demos by Chef Whatley and all attendees will gain VIP access into the Artisan Cheese Tasting & Marketplace at 11 a.m., an hour before it opens to the public.

Bringing together more than 70 of California’s best artisan cheesemakers, restaurants, breweries and wineries, this walk-around tasting and marketplace is one of the weekend’s most popular events. With two tents set up outside of the Sheraton Sonoma County, there will be more than 20,000 square feet of space for guests to comfortably navigate their way around this popular marketplace. During the event, guests will be able to not only taste and purchase the offerings of each participant, but also interact with the vendors, artisans, cheesemakers, brewers and winemakers. Throughout the day there will be chefs’ demos representing some of the Bay Area’s best chefs, including Brandon Guenther of Rocker Oysterfellers at 1:45 p.m. and Liza Hinman of Spinster Sisters at 3 p.m. Several of the weekends’ cheesemakers and chefs are also authors and many will be selling and signing their cheese-inspired tomes at the Marketplace. The chefs’ demos will be taking place inside of the Sheraton Sonoma County and the book signings will be taking place inside of the tent throughout the day. Book signings and demos are included with admission to the Marketplace.

Tickets to several of the Festival’s other weekend-long events are also still available, including Friday night’s Meet the Cheesemakers Reception, several of the Saturday seminars and the Saturday night Best in Cheese Competition. Tickets for all events may be purchased at www.artisancheesefestival.com.