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33 Smart & Final Store Locations Acquired From Haggen Now Open for Business

Smart & Final, one of the longest continuously-operating food retailers in the U.S., has announced that all 33 lease locations it acquired in December 2015 which were operated under the Haggen banner are now open as Smart & Final Extra! stores.

The transition and re-opening of the 33 stores was a considerable undertaking that has allowed Smart & Final to make significant strides in achieving its Project 100 Initiative goal of opening 100 new stores over the next four years. In opening the 33 stores, Smart & Final has increased its presence in the important Los Angeles and Orange County markets, and doubled store count in the California Central Coast and San Diego.

Each store opening created more than 50 new jobs, with Smart & Final hiring more than 1,900 associates to support the 33-store increase. Additionally, in line with its promise to give back to the communities in which it operates, for each new store opened, Smart & Final’s Charitable Foundation™ made donations to local nonprofits, resulting in over $140,000 in philanthropic donations. Furthermore, through its “First Street First Percent” campaign, Smart & Final will donate the first one percent of net profits from the sale of its private label brand First Street® in US-based Smart & Final banner stores to the Smart & Final Charitable Foundation, which supports local nonprofits such as Boys & Girls Clubs, food pantries and Little League organizations.

Smart & Final offers a one-stop shopping experience where businesses, clubs and organizations, as well as household shoppers, can fulfil their grocery needs while also stocking up on thousands of club-size products, all without a membership fee. All new stores feature Smart & Final’s Extra! format, which includes expanded frozen, deli and meat sections, a full produce section, organic and natural food products, high quality perishables and meats, a wide selection of private label offerings, and unique products such as self-serve bulk goods by the pound and oven-roasted chicken. The company is also testing new merchandising initiatives including hot bakery, sushi and cut fruit offerings in select stores.

“The positive growth and momentum Smart & Final has experienced is a true reflection of our consistent focus on value, quality and convenience which has not gone unnoticed by today’s savvy shopper,” said Chief Executive Officer Dave Hirz. “I’m excited that these 33 new stores provide an opportunity for Smart & Final to reach more customers with our unique offering, broad range of products and dedicated staff, and am confident that our brand promise will continue to give us a competitive edge in this market. I truly appreciate the dedication and effort of our associates to achieving this incredible milestone and want to welcome all of the new associates that have joined our team,” Hirz added.

Between January 20 and May 11, 2016, Smart & Final opened 11 Smart & Final Extra! stores in the San Diego area, seven in Los Angeles County, four in Orange County, three in Ventura County, four in the Central Coast, and two in the Inland Empire, all of which were formerly operated under the Haggen banner, and one additional non-Haggen location in Sacramento County.

Currently, Smart & Final operates 306 stores in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho, including 251 Smart & Final banner stores, 160 of which are Smart & Final Extra! format stores. As part of Project 100, the company plans to open 100 new stores over a period of four years, in line with its 10 percent annual unit growth plan, and to hire at least 5,000 new employees to staff those stores over the next four years. Smart & Final is approximately one year into Project 100, and almost one-third of the way towards meeting its goal of 100 new stores. Several more stores are slated to open this year.

Beaverton Foods Wins Four Gold Medals at World-Wide Mustard Competition

Oregon’s 87-year-old specialty condiment manufacturer took home a grand total of eight awards; four of them gold medals – at the 21st annual World-Wide Mustard Competition. The event involved more than 100 judges at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. The global competition has included entries from as far away as Japan, Greece and Sweden.

Barry Levenson, curator of the National Mustard Museum, noted in an email: “The rest of the world is ‘yellow with envy’ of Beaverton’s long dominance at the World-Wide Mustard Competition.”

Beaverton imageBeaverton won gold medals for Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard in the Sweet Hot category, Inglehoffer Ghost Pepper Mustard in the Pepper Hot (Scorching Hot) category, Inglehoffer Hot Horseradish Mustard in the Horseradish/Wasabi category and Beaver Cranberry Mustard in the Fruit category. The company was awarded silver medals for Beaver Brand Dusseldorf Mustard in the Classic Hot category and Inglehoffer Horseradish Wasabi Mustard in the Horseradish/Wasabi category and bronze medals for Inglehoffer Sweet Hot Mustard in the Pepper Hot (Mild to Medium) category and Inglehoffer Creamy Dill in the Herb/Veggie category.

Domonic Biggi, CEO of Beaverton Foods, said the fourth generation family-owned and operated company is proud to be a long-time participant in the renowned international mustard competition. “It’s humbling to say we have won more than 150 medals at this annual competition,” he said. “We are especially pleased that our new Inglehoffer Ghost Pepper Mustard was selected for a gold medal. Additionally, we’re grateful that culinary experts around the world like our products.”

The annual competition is open to all commercial mustard producers and agents worldwide. There are 16 flavor categories of which there are gold, silver and bronze awards given to the contestants. Since 1995, judges consisting of chefs, food writers and mustard aficionados have blind tasted the mustards in the competition.

Cypress Grove Wins 13 Prizes at California State Fair

Cypress Grove won 13 prizes at the 2016 California State Fair Commercial Cheese Competition. Cypress Grove’s Truffle Tremor and Fromage Blanc were each awarded a prestigious Best of California prize, in addition to eight gold medals and three silver medals for several other cheeses.

Not ones to be left out of the fun, the other winners include: soft-ripened Humboldt Fog Grande and Mini, Truffle Tremor Mini, and Bermuda Triangle; and fresh cheeses Purple Haze, Sgt. Pepper, Ms. Natural, PsycheDillic, and Herbs de Humboldt.

“National and international awards carry a lot of prestige, but come on(!), Cali is our home and when you win two categories and 13 total awards – it feels really, really good. We are thrilled,” says Bob McCall, Cypress Grove Sales Director. “I am particularly proud that Fromage Blanc took ‘Best of California’ in the soft goat cheese category. This product is the basic building block of all we make, so being the best reflects positively on our entire line.”

A panel of 12 qualified judges tasted and evaluated 169 California cheeses in advance of the July State Fair. The 2016 California State Fair runs July 8-24.

Artisanal Cheese Partnership Springboards Creativity for Cabot Creamery

By Lorrie Baumann

Cabot Creamery’s partnership with Cellars at Jasper Hill won an American Cheese Society first-place award for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Select and another first place for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar last July and now is inspiring new Cabot Creamery cheeses created for distribution in mainstream grocers, says Craig Gile, New Product Manager for Cabot Creamery.

The recipe for the clothbound cheddars was developed jointly by Cabot Creamery food scientists and Cellars at Jasper Hill Cheesemaker Mateo Kehler and was designed to make a cheese with a sweet, nutty finish. Cabot Creamery’s large production capacity made it possible to produce large quantities of the cheese – as much as 5,000 pounds a month, depending on market demand, which peaks during the winter holiday season. The cheese is aged for a few months at Cabot Creamery and then sent over to The Cellars at Jasper Hill for affinage, packaging and eventual sale to specialty cheese shops, where it fetches around $25 a pound for wheels aged 12 to 14 months. The difference in scale between the two companies means that while Cabot Creamery can make massive amounts of cheddar cheese for the mass market and take advantages of the economies of scale that come with that kind of production, which depends a great deal on consistency, The Cellars at Jasper Hill can take a small percentage of that product and lavish a great deal of attention on it to produce a product that commands a premium price for its uniqueness. Cabot Creamery also gains access to the artisanal cheese market as well as the cachet of having its name on award-winning cheeses sought after by cheesemongers. “Not only do we get a link to that artisanal cheese world, it gives Cabot the reputation that we’re able to make the artisanal cave-aged product as well,” Gile said.

As the partnership has prospered, though, it’s had some additional effects as Gile, who moved over from managing Cabot’s warehousing and grading to new product development, has had the chance to share knowledge with Jasper Hill Cheesemakers Mateo and Andy Kehler. “We’re each pursuing different areas of what we’re trying to do, and we’ve learned a lot from them,” Gile said. “We’re getting a lot of insight into what the artisanal base is looking for and finding paths to the customers that shop at these cheese shops.”

“I really like what that whole cheese shop environment brings to us,” he continued. “It’s a place to launch new cheeses, to get honest feedback about what you’re working on, to get their feedback from customers…. What I like about the cheesemonger role is that we have people selling it who have passion about the product and can tell the story about it. It’s another challenge for us to come up with products that are exciting…. You have to convince cheesemongers that you have an exciting, interesting, and high-end product.”

Founders_x_Legacy-7That insight into the artisanal cheese market has inspired the cheesemakers at Cabot Creamery to apply that information as well as knowledge about new cheese cultures as they’re figuring out how they can use their existing cheddaring equipment to make new cheeses with different taste profiles. Instead of just adding new flavoring ingredients to existing cheeses, they’ve begun developing the recipes to create entirely new cheeses that the company is able to produce in quantities large enough to target the lines at mainstream delis. These cheeses, which Cabot has dubbed its Founder’s Collection, aren’t intimidatingly different from the mainstream, but they’re definitely designed to appeal to the novice turophile who’s ready to take a step up from the cheeses he’s used to picking up at the supermarket. “These are aimed at the deli counter,” Gile said. “We didn’t want to launch four new cheddars, so we’ve got three cheddars and another unique cheese…. We were looking for a way to add genuine value to the product, not just to make it look pretty.”

The Cabot Creamery Founder’s Collection includes Cabot Private Stock, which has the familiar tang of the New England-style cheddar that consumers expect from Cabot Creamery but with a stronger Northeastern bite to it.

AdirondackAdirondack is made in the New York facility acquired with the 2003 acquisition of McCadam Cheese Company by Agri-Mark, the dairy farmer cooperative behind Cabot Creamery. Aged 1.5 to two years, it’s similar to Cabot Private Stock but made with the McCadam original stock cheese with its tangier citrus bite that lends a unique flavor profile compared to Cabot’s Vermont cheddars.

LambertonLamberton is similar to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, except that it’s packaged in plastic rather than with cloth bindings. The name is a nod to one of Cabot’s original founding farmers, and the cheese has a buttery sweetness overlaying the traditional flavors of a strong yankee cheddar.

The last is Orne Meadows, which is completely different from most milk cheddars. It has powerful nutty notes redolent of a Grana-style Alpine cheese with a subtle New England sharpness to it. “That one, we don’t actually call it a cheddar on the package,” Gile said. “ We just say it’s a unique Vermont cheese.”

Wild Planet Foods Embarks on Land-Based Products

Wild Planet Foods is venturing off-sea into the development of land-based food with the launch of its new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast.

chickenMoving from fin to feather, the new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast is the first non-seafood item in Wild Planet’s line. While this is a new category for the company, the addition fits harmoniously with Wild Planet’s mission to provide consumers with food options that are healthful for the body and wildly good for our planet. Wild Planet’s Organic Roasted Chicken Breast features USDA Certified Organic Free-Range Chicken raised on an organic diet — featuring non-GMO corn grown on land that is free of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

“Our new chicken, along with all future land-based items that will follow from Wild Planet Foods, is sourced from organically operated farms— which is essentially the land-based equivalent of pole and line fishing,” said Founder of Wild Planet Foods Bill Carvalho. “At Wild Planet, we believe there is really no difference between being a steward of the land as well as the sea. It’s a known fact that chemical runoff from conventional farming practices has had a negative effect on our waterways which ultimately lead to our oceans — creating dead zones that make it impossible for sea life to survive. Offering products like our new Roasted Chicken Breast not only allows Wild Planet the privilege of supporting and advocating for organic farms and farmers, but it’s also a step towards keeping our waterways and oceans healthy and supportive of a viable, healthy marine environment.”

Wild Planet’s new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast contains only two ingredients — chicken seasoned with sea salt. There is also a no salt added version available. Wild Planet Organic Roasted Chicken Breast provides 40 percent more chicken than other 5-ounce can offerings, due to the fact that only Wild Planet roasts their chicken without the addition of added water, liquids or fillers that are commonly found in other brands. The flavorful, natural juices remain to provide a delicious rotisserie taste. This new Organic Roasted Chicken Breast can be used to make sandwiches, soups, burritos, and is an especially great salad topper.

Wild Planet’s Organic Roasted Chicken is available nationwide in supermarkets and natural food stores for a suggested retail price of $5.49. For more information about Wild Planet Foods, visit their website at www.wildplanetfoods.com.

New Meat Topped Pizzas from American Flatbread

American Flatbread has expanded its premium line and entered a new product category with three new meat topped pizzas – Pulled Pork & Pineapple, Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño and Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon. These new pizzas are a great alternative to takeout pizza and make delicious, restaurant quality last minute dinners for families on the go.

American Flatbread’s pizzas are premium handmade flatbreads that are wood-fired in earthen ovens and are made with organic and all natural ingredients. They are made with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. The flatbreads have a light, crisp and flavorful bite.

Uncured Pepperoni & Uncured Bacon – Crispy bacon and pepperoni with a tangy organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Jalapeño – Sweet pineapple, fiery jalapeno with smoky pulled pork, barbeque sauce and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

Pulled Pork & Pineapple – Sweet pineapple, smoky pulled pork, barbeque and organic tomato sauce on a handmade flatbread.

The pizzas are available in 10-inch and 12-inch. The 10-inch pizzas retail between $6.99 – $7.99 and the 12-inch pizzas retail between $8.99 – $11.99. The new American Flatbread pizzas are available in select retailers across the country.

Burnett Dairy Cooperative Acquires Cady Creek Farms, LLC

Burnett Dairy Cooperative has acquired a 100 percent interest in Cady Creek Farms LLC., a retail deli cheese company located in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which was a 50/50 partnership between Burnett Dairy Cooperative and Dairy Deli Solutions.

The purchase will serve to provide a more integrated product portfolio of cheese products and go-to-market sales approach for the overall organization. Burnett Dairy will continue to provide employment to all of the employees of Cady Creek Farms and will maintain existing operations in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“This strategic acquisition will allow our farmer-owned cooperative the ability to better serve our customers and marketplace with innovative products while continuing to provide the same wholesome, quality products our customers and consumers have come to know and trust,” said Dan Dowling, President and CEO of Burnett Dairy Cooperative.

Cady Creek Farms was formed and created in 1998 as a partnership between Dale and Wendy Marcott of Cady Cheese Factory and Pete DeMars and John Landmeyer of Dairy Deli Solutions. In 2013, Burnett Dairy Cooperative acquired Cady Cheese Factory and as a result of the acquisition, assumed a 50 percent ownership interest in Cady Creek Farms LLC. “We will proudly continue to offer the Cady Creek Farms™ brand of products that are in retail deli today; furthermore, this will serve as a strategic expansion to the Burnett Dairy Cooperative family of brands including Burnett Dairy™ and Wood River Creamery™ found in the retail dairy and specialty cheese cases,”” Dowling said.

Burnett Dairy Cooperative, farmer-owned since 1896, is a place where farm families work side-by-side with crop and dairy experts to produce the highest quality milk from the ground up — a place where a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker then creates cheese in inventive flavors and crafts new varieties in limited batches. Brands include Burnett Dairy and Wood River Creamery in retail, and Fancy Brand in foodservice. Cady Cheese, LLC is a division of Burnett Dairy Cooperative and is a longhorn and deli horn manufacturer located in Wilson, Wisconsin.

Kroger Family of Stores Hiring 14,000 Employees

The Kroger Co.  will hold open interviews in its stores nationwide on Saturday, May 14, to fill an estimated 14,000 permanent positions in its supermarket divisions.

“We have openings across the country for friendly, hard-working associates to join our team,” said Tim Massa, Kroger’s group Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations. “We are looking for people who are passionate about making a difference for customers and communities – and want to do it in a fun, team environment with great benefits and advancement opportunities.”

Over the last eight years, Kroger has created more than 74,000 new jobs. This figure does not include jobs created as a result of capital investment, such as temporary construction jobs, nor does it include increases due to the company’s mergers.

Kroger’s total active workforce grew by more than 9,000 during 2015. More than 90 percent of the new jobs are in the company’s supermarket divisions, ranging from full-time department heads and assistant store managers to part-time courtesy clerks and cashiers. The company hired more than 7,000 veterans in 2015, and has hired more than 35,000 veterans since 2009.

Sprout Organic and CROSSMARK Announce Partnership

Sprout Nutrition and CROSSMARK, Inc. announced a new nationwide partnership to bring organic whole foods to babies, toddlers and all family members. The partnership gives Sprout expanded category presence and broad access to retailers with consumer insight capabilities while broadening CROSSMARK’s presence within the baby and organic family snack categories.

With this agreement, Sprout is investing in proven capabilities that will drive growth of the Sprout brand nationally. Sprout gains a knowledgeable sales force with a solid track record in the organic space and access to more than 5,500 retail merchandisers across the country. Retailers will benefit from collaborative planning to bring dynamic innovation and category/shopper insights to the rapid growing organic segment of the baby category.

The partnership with CROSSMARK is an important part of a major new brand investment by Sprout, under new ownership of private equity firm North Castle Partners, and a new CEO, Rick Klauser, a 10-year veteran of Gerber. The brand revitalization was ignited earlier this year with a packaging graphic redesign, the launch of 15 new products and a major marketing investment to drive retailer and baby category growth. Sprout also plans to build on its momentum, by adding new items in the fall, including Sprout Smash, an organic fruit puree snack expanding the brand into the squeezable snack category. The improved speed-to-shelf capability will allow parents to find healthy, whole organic foods at their favorite retailers.

“Securing national distribution and strong retailer partnerships are both strategic priorities for us. Our new relationship with CROSSMARK represents a significant building block to achieve this important milestone,” said Rick Klauser, CEO of Sprout. “Organic baby food is a Millennial mom’s expectation for what’s best for her baby. Parents are setting a higher bar for product quality and clean, honest, labeling. It’s no surprise that this would influence the expectations parents have for premium organic purees that we deliver through our honesty pledge: non-GMO, only whole fruits and vegetables (never concentrates, preservatives fillers or thickeners), and transparent labeling.”

“CROSSMARK is honored to work alongside Sprout as they continue to grow and set the standard in organics. Our analytics capabilities and retail representation across the country will help Sprout drive an increasing presence nationwide as they bring ‘real, honest and pure’ products to market and give parents increasing confidence in their choices,” said Steve Schuckenbrock, CEO of CROSSMARK. “This partnership is a win- win.”

Artisanal Cheese Partnership Springboards Creativity for Cabot Creamery

By Lorrie Baumann

Cabot Creamery’s partnership with Cellars at Jasper Hill won an American Cheese Society first-place award for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar Select and another first place for Cabot Clothbound Cheddar last July and now is inspiring new Cabot Creamery cheeses created for distribution in mainstream grocers, says Craig Gile, New Product Manager for Cabot Creamery.

The recipe for the clothbound cheddars was developed jointly by Cabot Creamery food scientists and Cellars at Jasper Hill Cheesemaker Mateo Kehler and was designed to make a cheese with a sweet, nutty finish. Cabot Creamery’s large production capacity made it possible to produce large quantities of the cheese – as much as 5,000 pounds a month, depending on market demand, which peaks during the winter holiday season. The cheese is aged for a few months at Cabot Creamery and then sent over to The Cellars at Jasper Hill for affinage, packaging and eventual sale to specialty cheese shops, where it fetches around $25 a pound for wheels aged 12 to 14 months. The difference in scale between the two companies means that while Cabot Creamery can make massive amounts of cheddar cheese for the mass market and take advantages of the economies of scale that come with that kind of production, which depends a great deal on consistency, The Cellars at Jasper Hill can take a small percentage of that product and lavish a great deal of attention on it to produce a product that commands a premium price for its uniqueness. Cabot Creamery also gains access to the artisanal cheese market as well as the cachet of having its name on award-winning cheeses sought after by cheesemongers. “Not only do we get a link to that artisanal cheese world, it gives Cabot the reputation that we’re able to make the artisanal cave-aged product as well,” Gile said.

As the partnership has prospered, though, it’s had some additional effects as Gile, who moved over from managing Cabot’s warehousing and grading to new product development, has had the chance to share knowledge with Jasper Hill Cheesemakers Mateo and Andy Kehler. “We’re each pursuing different areas of what we’re trying to do, and we’ve learned a lot from them,” Gile said. “We’re getting a lot of insight into what the artisanal base is looking for and finding paths to the customers that shop at these cheese shops.”

“I really like what that whole cheese shop environment brings to us,” he continued. “It’s a place to launch new cheeses, to get honest feedback about what you’re working on, to get their feedback from customers…. What I like about the cheesemonger role is that we have people selling it who have passion about the product and can tell the story about it. It’s another challenge for us to come up with products that are exciting…. You have to convince cheesemongers that you have an exciting, interesting, and high-end product.”

That insight into the artisanal cheese market has inspired the cheesemakers at Cabot Creamery to apply that information as well as knowledge about new cheese cultures as they’re figuring out how they can use their existing cheddaring equipment to make new cheeses with different taste profiles. Instead of just adding new flavoring ingredients to existing cheeses, they’ve begun developing the recipes to create entirely new cheeses that the company is able to produce in quantities large enough to target the lines at mainstream delis. These cheeses, which Cabot has dubbed its Founder’s Collection, aren’t intimidatingly different from the mainstream, but they’re definitely designed to appeal to the novice turophile who’s ready to take a step up from the cheeses he’s used to picking up at the supermarket. “These are aimed at the deli counter,” Gile said. “We didn’t want to launch four new cheddars, so we’ve got three cheddars and another unique cheese…. We were looking for a way to add genuine value to the product, not just to make it look pretty.”

The Cabot Creamery Founder’s Collection includes Cabot Private Stock, which has the familiar tang of the New England-style cheddar that consumers expect from Cabot Creamery but with a stronger Northeastern bite to it.

Adirondack is made in the New York facility acquired with the 2003 acquisition of McCadam Cheese Company by Agri-Mark, the dairy farmer cooperative behind Cabot Creamery. Aged 1.5 to two years, it’s similar to Cabot Private Stock but made with the McCadam original stock cheese with its tangier citrus bite that lends a unique flavor profile compared to Cabot’s Vermont cheddars.

Lamberton is similar to Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, except that it’s packaged in plastic rather than with cloth bindings. The name is a nod to one of Cabot’s original founding farmers, and the cheese has a buttery sweetness overlaying the traditional flavors of a strong yankee cheddar.

The last is Orne Meadows, which is completely different from most milk cheddars. It has powerful nutty notes redolent of a Grana-style Alpine cheese with a subtle New England sharpness to it. “That one, we don’t actually call it a cheddar on the package,” Gile said. “ We just say it’s a unique Vermont cheese.”

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