Get Adobe Flash player

Haggen to Exit Pacific Southwest Market

Haggen now plans to exit from the Pacific Southwest market and realign its operations around 37 core stores and one stand-alone pharmacy in the Pacific Northwest as part of the Chapter 11 process.

As part of its previously announced plan to right-size the company, Sagent Advisors, LLC has been actively working to explore market interest for its store locations in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Nevada.

Haggen is asking the bankruptcy court for approval to conduct store closing sales. All employees of the non-core stores and the Pacific Southwest support office will receive 60 day notice of the pending store and office closures. During this process, all stores will remain open. Employees will continue to receive their pay and benefits through the normal course of business as previously approved by the court.

Haggen is supportive of employees securing work elsewhere and is continuing to work with Albertson’s in its request for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to waive the restriction in the FTC order which restricts the hiring of Haggen employees. Because this is a modification of an order entered by the FTC, the waiver will require commission approval, which the FTC staff is seeking to obtain on an expedited basis. This has been a priority for Haggen management to ensure its employees can take advantage of every opportunity available to them.

Mars Opens Global Food Safety Center in China


Mars, Incorporated has opened a Global Food Safety Center near Beijing, China. The company calls the center a first-of-its-kind facility for pre-competitive research and training that aims to raise global food safety standards through collaboration. Convening governments, academics, regulators and industry peers, the Mars Global Food Safety Center is intended to drive global focus on addressing the challenge of food safety, leading to better access, availability and nutrition, as well as reduced food waste and an increase in overall quality of life.

Building on decades of research, the Mars Global Food Safety Center is a $15 million investment in Mars’ ongoing commitment to working with world-leading experts to ensure the safety and security of food for generations of families. In 2014, Mars and the University of California-Davis jointly established the Innovation Institute for Food & Health, fostering a new type of public-private partnership that catalyzes much needed innovation at the intersection of food, agricultural and health.

Grant Reid, President and CEO of Mars, Incorporated, stated: “Food safety is a global issue that concerns us all—business, governments, academics and the world’s population. Working together across all disciplines is the only way we can truly advance efforts at scale, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to safe nutrition for billions of people around the world.”

With an emphasis on pre-competitive research and collaborative solutions, the Mars Global Food Safety Center will leverage insights and expertise from over 60 Mars partnerships dedicated to innovative, sustainable and responsible food safety practices. The World Food Programme (WFP), the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA), and the IBM/Mars Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain are among the many organizations Mars is partnering with to try to solve the challenge of feeding a global population expected to grow to nine billion by 2050.

David Crean, Vice President, Corporate Research and Development, at Mars Incorporated, commented: “Unlike an R&D or innovation center focused on product development and improvement, the Mars Global Food Safety Center is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to advancing food safety research through collaboration and the pre-competitive sharing of information. We firmly believe that in order to ensure generations of families have access to safe and nutritious food, we must work together to evolve food safety management programs and create robust, sustainable supply chains.”

Located just north of Beijing in Huairou, China, the Mars Global Food Safety Center will employ approximately 30 employees working on food safety research and training, plus a variety of sabbatical positions open to academic and regulatory researchers. Mars selected the location not only because of China’s significant role in the global marketplace, but also to leverage the intensive scientific focus the region is bringing to food supply and safety issues today. The facility will house analytical chemistry and microbiology laboratories, interactive training laboratories and a conference auditorium to enhance knowledge sharing. Through scientific forums and media platforms and events, the Mars Global Food Safety Center will promote the findings of its work in order to help advance others’ research efforts.



New Study Shows Flavoring Food with Spices and Herbs Can Cut Sodium Intake

Recent research from the University of California, San Diego and Johns Hopkins University suggests cooking with spices and herbs could close the 1,000 mg gap between the amount of sodium Americans consume on a daily basis, and the amount recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The study was funded by the McCormick Science Institute, the independent research arm of McCormick & Company Incorporated (NYSE: MKC), a global leader in flavor.

In the study, entitled “Effects of a behavioral intervention that emphasizes spices and herbs on adherence to recommended sodium intake,” researchers taught adults to flavor their food with spices and herbs instead of salt.  At the end of the trial, the intervention group, who had tools including spices and herbs as well as cooking demonstrations, were able to reduce sodium intake by an average of 956.8 mg/day – which is about 1/3 of the average sodium adults consume each day.

Dr. Cheryl Anderson, lead researcher and author of this study, as well as Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego, was also a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  The committee’s report emphasized a continued concern over high intake of sodium in the American diet.  On average, American adults consume 3,300 mg of sodium a day, which is 1,000 mg more than the 2,300 mg/d recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other health authorities.

“This study demonstrates that a multi-faceted behavioral program including spices and herbs for meal preparation is effective in reducing daily sodium intake,” Anderson said.  “Teaching consumers to prepare food using spices and herbs with reduced salt is a positive solution that supports a higher quality diet while still enjoying great tasting food.”

“Cutting back on sodium is a message Americans have been hearing for many years,” said Dr. Hamed Faridi, McCormick’s Chief Science Officer.  “One of the main concerns with reducing salt content is that often times it impacts flavor, which makes eating less satisfying.  Thankfully, adding spices and herbs can easily solve that problem.”

Rhythm Superfoods Names Terry Meyer VP of Sales

Rhythm® Superfoods, which makes plant-based superfood snacks, has named Terry Meyer  as its new Vice President of Sales.

“We are thrilled to have Terry join our team and are confident that his extensive knowledge of the food industry across all channels of trade will help to further develop Rhythm Superfoods and guide our brand to new heights,” said Scott Jensen, CEO of Rhythm Superfoods. “We are growing rapidly and look forward to Terry leading our sales strategies.”

Meyer brings more than 20 years of sales, operations and management experience to Rhythm Superfoods. Meyer has previously worked at brands such as Unilever-Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream; Naked Juice, where he led the rapid expansion of the brand into double-digit growth; Good Health Natural Foods, Inc., where he positioned the brand as a leader in innovation with healthier oils and vegetable-based nutrition in salty snacks; and Podponics.

“I am honored and excited by the opportunity to work with the team at Rhythm Superfoods,” said Meyer. “The brand’s current position in the market sets the stage for continued success, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Meyer will manage the company’s sales team and strategy for continued growth, both with existing product lines and with future plant-based snack innovations.

Litehouse Foods Names Brent Carr SVP of Sales and Marketing

Carr headshotLitehouse Foods  has named Brent Carr to the executive role of Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. In his new role, Carr will report directly to President and CEO Jim Frank and lead the company’s fast-paced growth in the dressings, dips, cheese and herbs categories.

A graduate of Boise State University with a degree in marketing, Carr is a 30-year industry veteran who spent the first 15 years of his career at consumer packaged goods giant, Colgate-Palmolive. He then expanded his skill set with deep experience in the produce industry, working at Fresh Express for 10 years leading its national account teams. Carr joined Litehouse in 2009 to help build the value-added channel and was promoted to Vice President of sales in 2012.

“Brent has been instrumental in helping our brand achieve year-over-year double digit growth in our category, creating deep relationships with our customers and working cross-functionally at Litehouse to achieve outstanding results,” Frank said. “He is widely respected in the produce business, and we are proud to have him lead our sales and marketing teams.”

Carr lives in Idaho with his wife Lorri. He has four children and a granddaughter. “My focus in this new role will be to align our sales and marketing teams and strive to strengthen our cross-functional relationships with our customers in each channel,” he said. “Litehouse is a fast-growing brand, and I am excited to work with our team to continue to build category-leadership and innovation.”



AmericasMart Names September 2015 Best of Atlanta and Best of Show Winners

AmericasMart® Atlanta has announced the winners of its annual Best of Atlanta awards celebrating the top gourmet food products in its permanent and temporary collections. The awards were adjudicated during The Atlanta Gourmet Market, September 16-18, 2015.

Winners were designated based on taste, overall appeal and packaging/presentation as selected by industry experts Malika Bowling, President of the Association of Food Bloggers and author of the “Food Lovers’ Guide to Atlanta,” “Food Blogging 101” and  The Atlanta Restaurant Blog;  Chef Andrew Isabella, Executive Chef of BeetleCat (opening November 2015); and Chef Martin Smetana, Head Chef of Classic Fare Catering.


The winners include:


In addition to top gourmet products, excellence in visual design was celebrated by the Atlanta Fall Gift & Home Furnishings Market® and The Atlanta Gourmet Market® Best of Show award, presented to Never Lose Hope Designs.


Meijer Rebrands and Expands Natural and Organic Products Line

As consumers continue to lean toward healthier meal and snacking options, Meijer has announced an expansion of its assortment of real food products through the launch of the True Goodness™ by Meijer brand.

The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based retailer combined its Meijer Naturals and Meijer Organics products lines to one True Goodness by Meijer brand in an effort to minimize confusion over which products are better for customers based on their ingredients.

“We know it’s important to our customers to provide wholesome foods to their families, and the True Goodness brand is a simple and affordable solution to eating healthier,” said Peter Whitsett, Executive Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing for Meijer. “This brand makes real food more approachable, and is part of our ongoing focus to provide health and wellness options for our customers.”

According to industry research, millennial customers are leading the conversation around organic and real food, influencing trends among older generations. With 9 million millennial moms in the U.S. alone, this generation also comprises the majority of today’s new parents. And while many millennial moms still purchase the processed national brand peanut butter, chips, cereals and yogurt for their spouses, they are also grabbing healthier versions for their children.

With nothing artificial, no hydrogenated oils, and a wide range of USDA certified organic items, True Goodness offers healthier food options at a great value and with a wide product selection available throughout the store. The packaging differentiates which items are USDA certified organic, meaning these products do not contain GMOs, growth hormones, antibiotics, convention pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or ionizing radiation.

Meijer is in the process of transitioning 225 of its Meijer Organics and Meijer Naturals food items to the True Goodness brand, and plans to add 100 new products this year, including granola chips, coconut oil, organic coffee pods, macaroni and cheese, juice boxes, organic popcorn, spices and frozen potatoes.

The True Goodness brand is slated to offer 325 total products by early 2016. “We are committed to providing our customers healthier options at an affordable price, and are pleased to offer a growing assortment through the True Goodness brand,” Meijer Healthy Living Manager Shari Steinbach said.

Nasdaq Names Hain Celestial to Q-50 Index

The Hain Celestial Group, Inc. has announced that Nasdaq has selected its security to be added to the Nasdaq Q-50 Index effective prior to the market open on Monday, September 21, 2015 as part of its quarterly re-ranking.

The Nasdaq Q-50 Index is designed to track the performance of securities that are next eligible for inclusion into the Nasdaq-100 Index.  The index is comprised of 50 securities ranked by market capitalization and reflects companies across major industry groups including computer hardware and software, telecommunications, retail/wholesale trade and biotechnology.  It does not contain securities of financial companies including banking and investment companies, as these are ineligible for Nasdaq-100 Index inclusion.

“As the founder of Hain Celestial, I am pleased with the addition of Hain Celestial’s security to Nasdaq’s Q-50 Index, which is another great milestone achievement for the company,” said Irwin D. Simon, the company’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Introducing Blue Apron Wine

Blue Apron has announced Blue Apron Wine, a monthly service available to Blue Apron customers that delivers wines selected to pair with Blue Apron meals and enhance the home cooking experience.

“Like the grocery category, wine is a large industry with low online market penetration.  Of the $38 billion in wine sales in 2014, less than $2 billion were direct-to-consumer,” said Matt Salzberg, company CEO.  “Wine pairings have been a top request from our home chefs since we launched, and we’re excited about the opportunity to complement our Blue Apron meals with incredible wines.”

The wine deliveries include six custom 500ml bottles, sized to pair perfectly with Blue Apron meals for two. Each wine will also come with a customized tasting card that features the story of the vineyard, helpful tasting notes about the wine, and information on how to pair that wine with upcoming Blue Apron menus.

“With Blue Apron Wine, we’re able to give our home chefs access to wines from esteemed independent vineyards,” said Matthew Wadiak, company COO and Co-Founder. “Pairing and tasting wine can be intimidating.  Our goal is to educate our home chefs, and make enjoying a great glass of wine with dinner fun and easy.”

Each wine delivery is $65.99 + tax, and shipping is included. Customers can sign up for Blue Apron Wine via their online account, and will receive deliveries monthly, but can skip a month or cancel at any time. At launch, Blue Apron Wine will be available to existing customers, with plans to expand the product offering over time.

This new offering marks the latest milestone for Blue Apron. In July, Blue Apron launched its first ever iOS app.  Earlier this year, the company announced the family plan, featuring seasonal, family-friendly recipes for four, and in November of last year launched the Blue Apron Market, a curated e-commerce store for its home chefs.

Golden Gate Wholesale Produce Market To Launch $8 Million Renovation

he Golden Gate Wholesale Produce Market, the largest and busiest produce terminal in Northern California, is planning to renovate the facility by making a series of infrastructure, environmental, food safety, traffic and sustainability improvements.

The state-of-the-art enhancements to be made over the next year include new solar/energy efficiency upgrades, cold chain food storage management and worker safety systems, as well as smoother traffic flow within the facility, which is a mile from San Francisco International Airport on Highway 101.

“The Golden Gate Produce Market plays a vital role in northern California’s economy, and the improvements announced today will lay the foundation for the Market’s future growth and success,” said Peter Carcione, President of the Golden Gate Produce Market. “This investment in the Market expands our capability to bring the highest-quality fruits, vegetables, and organics to serve the diverse tastes of the region, and it builds on our long history of supporting California’s agriculture industry in a sustainable manner.”

The 742,000-square foot facility in South San Francisco currently employs 475 workers and is open to the public. Twenty-three independent and family-owned businesses operate at the Market, including wholesalers, jobbers, commission merchants, brokers, foodservice distributors, processors and one restaurant. More than 15 million packages move through the Market each year.

The enhancements were made after extensive market research and feedback from customers and businesses at the market. To advance the Market’s long-term goals and its commitment to sustainability, the seven-member board approved the following:

  • The installation of solar panels to be completed before the end of 2016 that will dramatically reduce the Market’s need to draw energy from the power grid
  • A new recycling/composting partnership with South San Francisco Scavenger to further reduce waste
  • Upgraded electrical, water and sewage systems
  • Improved traffic flow within the facility
  • A number of worker safety upgrades, including better lighting and loading dock safeguards
  • Improved cold chain storage management to ensure quality, freshness and food safety
  • A makeover of the building’s exterior, including new signage and expanded parking

The solar implementation is expected to have a significant positive environmental impact and reduce the market’s overall carbon footprint. The market’s new 1,322 kW solar installation is expected to generate more than 2,015,648 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.

The use of a similar amount of conventional energy generated using fossil fuels would create greenhouse gases equal to that of 127 homes, 293 cars or the burning of 1.4 million pounds of coal annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“This renovation is the most extensive in the Market’s 53-year history and is designed to meet the changing needs of businesses located at the market and their customers who shop there,” said board member Steve Hurwitz. “By strengthening the Market’s infrastructure and advancing its commitment to sustainability, we will create a better experience for everyone who works at or visits the Market.”

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter