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Marin French Cheese Wraps up 150th Year of Momentous Accomplishments

New Cheeses in 2016!

Marin French Cheese Company, the longest continuously operating cheese company in the U.S., plans to retain that title for years to come. Wrapping up a year of celebrations marking its 150th year of artisan cheese production in the same Marin County location, the company is launching its innovative Baking Brie Kit and Supreme Extra Crème Brie nationally.  Not to be outdone, Laura Chenel’s, Marin French’s sister company in Sonoma, founded 35 years ago, will unveil refreshed branding including packaging, a brand-new website, educational videos and new goat cheese products for national distribution in early 2016. Both companies claimed a host of top awards at national cheese competitions in 2015.

Innovations at Laura Chenel’s continue, underscoring the company’s well-known pioneering spirit and significant place in the ‘Story of American Chèvre.’ “2016 will bring exciting changes for our pioneering companies,” says Philippe Chevrollier, General Manger for Laura Chenel’s and Marin French Cheese. “We see a changing landscape for artisan cheese as the market expands, bringing new consumers and exciting opportunities for growth.” Industry experts estimate the annual growth of 4 percent in specialty cheese will continue through 2018, led by demand for nutritious snacks and protein-rich foods.

New Cheeses

Marin French’s new Baking Brie Kit includes a uniquely designed wood cup, oven-safe and microwavable, and an 8-ounce wheel of award-winning Traditional Brie or Jalapeno Brie.  Baking Brie Kits will be in national retail chains and specialty shops by early November.  Baking Brie Kits and all-new Holiday Gift Baskets are ready to ship for the holidays from the online store.

Laura Chenel’s new product lineup of flavored fresh cheeses includes a coated Pineapple Log, Fig Log, and Garlic Chabis and an aged, bloomy-rind Goat Brie. The new Spicy Cabecou is marinated with Jalapeno and packed in an improved, anti-leak jar.


Together the companies picked up nineteen prestigious awards in 2015, recognizing their classic fresh, aged and soft-ripened cheeses along with top prizes for new cheeses competing for the first time in 2015.  Most notably:  Best of Class prize for Laura Chenel’s aged Taupinière from the US Cheese Championship in Wisconsin, 1st Place award for Marin French Traditional Brie from the American Cheese Society (ACS) in Providence RI and a coveted Winner Award for Marin French Petite Breakfast from the Good Food Awards, San Francisco. New cheeses Spicy Cabecou and Pineapple Log earned top awards for Laura Chenel’s while two new Marin French cheeses, Supreme and Petite Supreme, bested their competitors.

“These awards recognize milestone achievements confirming the high-quality cheese we strive to produce every day,” says GM Chevrollier. “We take pride in our collective years making great cheese, we respect traditions and the craft of cheesemaking while striving for innovation.” New products from Laura Chenel’s and Marin French will be launched at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco next January, where the sister companies’ products will be displayed side-by-side in booth #5117-5121.

Both Laura Chenel’s and Marin French Cheese are owned by French family cheesemaking company, Rians Group. The company is committed to local farming, long-term relationships for ethical and sustainable practices, and the craftsmanship of fine artisan cheeses reflecting distinctive regional terroir.  For a full list of awards go to:

Emmi Roth USA Launches Roth Natural Melt Creamy Fontina

With restaurants continuing to seek out ways to offer their customers wholesome, natural ingredients, Emmi Roth USA has recently released a new melting cheese to meet the needs of foodservice professionals with flavor and functionality. Natural Melt™ Creamy Fontina helps operators clean up their menus with a multi-purpose melting cheese that is crafted to melt, naturally. Three simple ingredients – pasteurized cultured milk, enzymes and salt – create an approachable flavor and buttery, velvety texture that is suited for a grand scope of culinary applications.

Developed in collaboration with the company’s team of corporate chefs and master cheesemakers, the cheese is crafted specifically to melt in hot foodservice applications. Special cheesemaking techniques are employed, including reduction of the protein bondage, to create an ideal natural melting cheese. Emmi Roth’s newest creation was launched to help foodservice operators not only elevate a host of menu favorites with a deliciously distinctive note, but also meet consumer demands for natural products.

Natural ingredients and artisan cheese are among the top 20 food trends for 2015 according to the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) Culinary Forecast. NRA’s forecast also shows that 75 percent consider natural ingredients and minimally processed food as a hot trend, 65 percent consider artisan cheeses as a hot trend and 25 percent consider it a perennial favorite.

“Our team developed Natural Melt Creamy Fontina in response to the trends we are seeing in foodservice,” said Linda Duwve, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Emmi Roth USA. “We take pride in delivering innovative products and meaningful cheese solutions to our customers and are committed to transparency in our cheesemaking practices and wholesome, natural food production.”

Available in 7.5-pound loaves, Natural Melt Creamy Fontina can be easily incorporated into any hot foodservice application that calls for melted cheese, including sauces, soups, dips, mac n’ cheeses, burgers, flatbreads, grilled sandwiches and pasta dishes. Evan Topel, Corporate Chef at Emmi Roth USA, has developed a collection of delicious recipes featuring the new cheese:­­­­

For more information about Roth Natural Melt Creamy Fontina, visit

Disney Donates $1.5 Million to Feeding America

Feeding America, the nation’s leading hunger-relief organization, salutes The Walt Disney Company for its $1.5 million donation, the vast majority of which will provide grants to 60 food banks across the nation to expand their local fresh produce sourcing and distribution programs.

Disney’s support will help strengthen local produce sourcing programs in Feeding America member food banks across the country, ensure that food banks can handle larger amounts of fresh produce, and galvanize support from the produce industry and the public.

Increasing access to nutritious foods and engaging audiences to take action is a part of Disney Magic of Healthy Living’s long-standing commitment to creating healthier generations and promoting healthy lifestyles. Disney’s support of Feeding America helps the organization serve more than 12 million children each year.

In addition, Disney | ABC developed special TV spots to inspire communities to envision a future where kids and families have access to nutritious food. The spots—set to air throughout November and December on Disney Channel, Disney XD, ABC and ABC Familyencourage supporters to share the joy through single acts of kindness that can change the world.

“We are delighted that Disney is deepening its commitment to support Feeding America by helping to bring much-needed fresh fruits and vegetables to people facing hunger throughout our nation,” said Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America. “Together, along with the public’s support, our food bank network will be able to supply additional healthy fresh produce to help nourish kids and families in need.”

Upfront Foods Debuts Smaller Display Carton

Upfront Foods® is introducing a new display carton in a smaller size that helps keep the single-serving pouches of its non-GMO, vegan, and kosher granolas neatly displayed, conserves space on the shelf, and includes point-of-sale elements that appeal to today’s consumers.

Upfront Foods New Smaller Display CartonEMThe new shelf and countertop display cartons are available December 1 and hold six of the 1.4-ounce single serving pouches with a compact footprint of about 8 by 3.5 inches on the shelf, said Gigi Twist Upfront Foods’ founder. A master case contains six cartons for a total of 36 pouches, Twist said. The previous display held 12 pouches.

The colorful display carton carries over the packaging motif of leaves, ferns, shafts of grain, and other natural elements to reflect the close-to-the-Earth nature of the ingredients. It also highlights the convenience of the single serving packaging with a “Take Me Anywhere” call to action. The new cartons are available for all three flavors, and Upfront Granola® Original Crunch and Upfront Granola Cranberry Zest™ have a call-out to let consumers know they meet USDA Smart Snacks in School Standards. For Upfront Granola Pecan Almond Crisp, the carton highlights its four grams of protein per serving.

“The new smaller size was designed with retailers’ needs in mind, and the design for our packaging and display carton appeals to consumers who are looking for smarter snacks that fit their on-the-go lifestyles,” Twist said. “The cartons also let them know that our non-GMO granola is a portion controlled snack with simple ingredients from trusted food sources and contain no preservatives or artificial ingredients.”

Upfront Foods three granola flavors have Non-GMO Project Verification, are certified vegan by the Vegan Awareness Foundation, are OU Kosher certified, and Made in USA Certified®.  All three are designated 100 percent whole grain by the Whole Grains Council. They are available in 1.4-ounce single-serving pouches with a suggested retail price of $1.79.  Additional information is available at or by calling 1.561.886.0209.

Kroger and Roundy’s to Merge

The Kroger Co. and Roundy’s, Inc. have announced a definitive merger agreement under which Kroger will purchase all outstanding shares of Roundy’s for $3.60 per share in cash.

The transaction price represents a premium of approximately 65 percent to the Roundy’s closing share price on November 10, 2015. The terms of the agreement were unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Kroger will commence a tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of Roundy’s common stock. Any shares of Roundy’s common stock not acquired in the tender offer will be acquired by Kroger in a subsequent merger. The transaction is subject to Roundy’s stockholders tendering at least a majority of the outstanding shares of Roundy’s common stock in the tender offer, certain regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to any financing conditions.  Willis Stein & Partners and its affiliates, holders of approximately 7 percent of the outstanding shares of Roundy’s common stock, have agreed to tender their shares. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the 2015 calendar year. The merger agreement contains a 30-day go-shop period, which commences on the date of the merger agreement.

“We are delighted to welcome Roundy’s to the Kroger family,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “With a team of 22,000 talented associates, outstanding store locations, and a shared commitment to putting customers first, we are excited about Roundy’s future growth.”

“Mergers for Kroger always involve both parties bringing something to the table,” McMullen said. “We admire what Bob Mariano has done with the Mariano’s banner in Chicago, where he has created an urban format that is resonating with customers, and we expect to apply Roundy’s experience to our stores in urban areas around the country. Kroger’s scale and strong financial position will enable Roundy’s to reinvest in its home state of Wisconsin while continuing to grow in Chicago. Together, we are committed to investing in Roundy’s people, communities, stores and merchandising to deliver a fantastic customer experience that will create opportunities for associates, grow customer loyalty and revenue, and create value for shareholders.”

Robert A. Mariano, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Roundy’s, Inc. said, “We are excited about becoming part of The Kroger Co. Kroger’s scale, knowledge and experience allows us to accelerate the strategic initiatives we have invested in and makes us a more formidable competitor in the marketplace. This is a great win for our customers, communities,  employees and our shareholders, and I personally look forward to continue to exceed customer and employee expectations. “

Roundy’s brings to Kroger an expanded footprint with a complementary base of 151 stores and 101 pharmacies in new geographies including MilwaukeeMadison and northern Wisconsin, which are served under the Pick ‘n Save, Copps and Metro Market banners. The merger also expands Kroger’s presence with an innovative store format in the Chicagoland area, where Roundy’s operates 34 stores under the Mariano’s banner. Roundy’s also operates two distribution centers in Oconomowoc and Mazomanie, Wisconsin, and a commissary in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Roundy’s had revenues of nearly $4.0 billion for fiscal year 2014.

Financial Highlights
Kroger plans to finance the transaction with debt, and refinance Roundy’s existing debt of $646 million based on market conditions. Consistent with the company’s long-term commitment to returning cash to shareholders, Kroger intends to continue its quarterly dividend and share repurchase program while managing free cash flow to reduce the leverage taken on from this merger. Although the company’s net debt to EBITDA ratio will increase at the time the merger closes, Kroger expects the ratio to remain in the 2.00 – 2.20 range upon closing of the merger. Kroger is committed to maintaining its current investment grade credit rating.

Kroger expects the merger to be slightly accretive to earnings in the first full year after closing, excluding merger-related expenses. The transaction will have no effect on Kroger’s current long-term net earnings per diluted share growth rate of 8 – 11 percent, plus a growing dividend.

While Kroger expects to realize cost savings of approximately $40 million over time, the company plans to reinvest those cost savings to grow the business. Kroger has a strong history of achieving synergy goals. Being patient in achieving those goals reduces the risk of the transaction and sets the stage for sustainable growth.

Operational Profile
Together Kroger and Roundy’s will operate 2,774 supermarkets and employ over 422,000 associates across 35 states and the District of Columbia. Following closing, Roundy’s will continue to operate its stores as a subsidiary of The Kroger Co. and will continue to be led by key members of Roundy’s senior management team. There are no plans to close stores, and associates will have employment opportunities with both companies. Roundy’s headquarters will remain in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Kroger and Roundy’s both strive to play a vital role in all of the communities they serve. In 2014, Kroger invested more than $280 million in local communities to provide hunger relief and support for the military and their families, breast cancer awareness programs and more than 30,000 schools and grassroots organizations.  Roundy’s is similarly committed to helping communities through the Roundy’s Foundation. Chartered in 2003, the Roundy’s Foundation mission is to support organizations working to relieve hunger and helping families in crisis due to domestic abuse, neglect and other at-risk situations.

Additional Information
The transaction is expected to close by the end of the 2015 calendar year following the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including successful completion of the tender offer and regulatory approval. The transaction includes customary breakup fees.

Kroger’s Honoring Our Heroes Campaign Raises $2.9 Million for USO in 2015

The Kroger Co. has raised a total contribution to the USO of nearly $2.9 million for 2015. This total includes a company contribution of $1 million in funds and in-kind donations totaling $250,000.

The remaining support was raised through the generosity of customers and associates who contributed at check stands, purchased special gift cards to be delivered to USO centers, or donated online throughout Kroger’s year-long Honoring Our Heroes campaign.

Kroger today also announced that as a result of its one-day Honoring our Heroes hiring event held on September 15, the company hired more than 2,000 military veterans and their family members. Kroger has hired more than 32,000 veterans since 2009 as part of its commitment to active duty troops and the nation’s 23 million veterans.

“Whether through our customer, associate and company support of the USO or creating career opportunities for transitioning service men and women, Kroger is dedicated to our nation’s active duty troops and 23 million military veterans and their families,” said Lynn Marmer, Kroger’s Group Vice President for Corporate Affairs.

As a token of appreciation for the many family dinners missed while deployed, Kroger invited troops and families to enjoy the summer barbecue experience in 11 bases across the country.  Kroger also provided a taste of home by sending barbecue “fixin’s” to three international bases for our deployed troops to enjoy overseas in Camp Buehring, Kuwait; Camp Arifjan, Kuwait; and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany.

Since 2010, the Kroger family of stores, in partnership with customers, associates and vendors, has donated a total of $14.8 million to help support the military and their families – the largest cumulative gift to the USO in that organization’s history.

“The money raised by Kroger’s ‘Honoring Our Heroes’ campaign speaks volumes to their generosity and that of their customers,” saidmJ.D. Crouch IIUSO CEO and President. “For nearly 75 years, the USO has kept our servicemen and women connected to their family, home and country by providing the support, programs and entertainment that keep their morale high. Partners like Kroger allow us to deliver on our important mission.”

Maple Leaf Farms Introduces Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast

Maple Leaf Farms, a producer of quality duck products, has added Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast to its retail product selections.

Maple Leaf FarmsThe gourmet-flavored duck breast is marinated with a robust, Southwestern spice blend featuring garlic and cayenne pepper. The marinade enhances the duck’s delicious natural taste which makes this product great as a main menu item or an addition to salads, pasta, stir-fry, quesadillas or fajitas.

Featuring all natural ingredients, the gourmet-flavored duck breast comes with unscored skin and offers easy-to-follow cooking instructions on the inside package label.

“This is the third flavor for our marinated duck breast line,” says Duck Marketing Director Cindy Turk. “Providing the duck breasts already marinated with gourmet flavor helps consumers create restaurant-quality meals with minimal time and effort in the kitchen.”

For convenience, Maple Leaf Farms Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast is available frozen in clear, vacuum skin packaging that gives full view of the product. Nine duck breasts (7.5 ounces each) come per case for retail stores. Branded freezer trays are also available for display of the product. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Southwest Style All Natural Boneless Duck Breast is $8.95.

Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. Announces New Brand Logo, Products, and Consumer Campaign

Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. has just introduced a new brand logo reflecting its natural and organic product values. The brand logo is concurrent with the launch of new Empire® Kosher deli and grocery products, including the first-ever line of kosher uncured deli meat products that are minimally processed, contain no artificial ingredients, have no added nitrates or nitrites, and are made from turkey and chicken that are never administered antibiotics. Empire operates its own hatchery, humanely-raising its flocks on family farms in accordance with Empire’s standards. In addition, Empire Kosher will introduce a line of kosher, certified organic soups and broths, and a special reduced sodium chicken broth formulation certified kosher for Passover.

“Empire Kosher brand poultry and deli meat products are on-trend to meet the demands of our loyal consumers who have enjoyed Empire Kosher products for decades, as well as our growing number of millennial consumers,” stated Jeffrey N. Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Empire Kosher Poultry, Inc. “Consumers can now enjoy new products meeting the high standards for kosher and quality that Empire Kosher delivers in its natural or certified organic products, and we are extending that vision to deli meat products, value-added poultry, and soups and broths to be introduced this year at Kosherfest, the world’s largest B2B trade show for the kosher industry,” he continued. “We will continue to build upon our very strong brand recognition in the kosher market to expand into new categories, with innovative products combining our expertise in kosher with our knowledge of the natural and organic market, to meet the demands of the growing number of consumers who want both,” he concluded.

Empire Kosher’s new deli line-up debuting at Kosherfest includes natural, slow-roasted turkey breast; natural smoked turkey breast; and natural turkey pastrami in both bulk and pre-sliced 7-ounce sizes. The pre-sliced products come in resealable packaging that has a reduced environmental footprint compared to the brand’s deli line previously sold in tubs.

MOM’s Organic Market Arlington Grand Opening

Family owned and operated Maryland-based, MOM’s Organic Market is opening a new store in Arlington, Virginia.  “We’re excited to open our first Arlington County store!” says Founder/CEO, Scott Nash.

Mom'sThe new store features:

  • Only the highest quality, 100 percent certified organic produce
  • Naked Lunch, an all organic vegetarian eatery
  • Free car charging stations
  • Local beer and organic wine
  • Only sustainable seafood (right down to the canned tuna!)
  • Bulk oil, vinegar and honey; plus bulk laundry detergent
  • A recycling drop-off for wine corks, CFL bulbs, eye glasses, plastic bags, household batteries, and shoes

MOM’s does not sell products that use licensed cartoon characters to market to children.

FDA Requests Comments on Use of the Term “Natural” on Food Labeling

After years of avoiding the question of what “natural” means on a food label, the federal Food and Drug Administration has been prodded into action by citizen petitions. The agency has received three petitions asking that it define the term “natural” as it is used on food labels and another petition asking the agency to prohibit the use of the turn. Federal courts have also been asking the FDA to make a determination whether food products containing ingredients produced using genetic engineering or foods containing high fructose corn syrup may be labeled as “natural,” according to the agency.

Those requests have prompted the FDA to ask members of the public to provide information and to offer comments on what they think “natural” means — or ought to mean — when it’s used on food labels as it explores the use of the term. Historically, the FDA has considered the term “natural” to mean that nothing artificial or synthetic  (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.  However, this policy was not intended to address food production methods, such as the use of pesticides, nor did it explicitly address food processing or manufacturing methods, such as thermal technologies, pasteurization, or irradiation. The FDA also did not consider whether the term “natural” should describe any nutritional or other health benefit.

Specifically, the FDA asks for information and public comment on questions such as:

  • Whether it is appropriate to define the term “natural,”
  • If so, how the agency should define “natural,” and
  • How the agency should determine appropriate use of the term on food labels.

The FDA is accepting public comments beginning on November 12, 2015. To electronically submit comments to the docket, visit and type FDA-2014-N-1207 in the search box.

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