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KeHE Partners with INFRA to Serve Independent Natural Food Stores

KeHE Distributors has entered into a second partnership with the Minneapolis-based Independent Natural Food Retailers Association (INFRA) to service participating members in the Midwest region of the United States.

This strategic alliance will enable participating INFRA members in the Midwest region to improve their purchasing position in the market and have a platform that is flexible enough to support innovation.

“We are extremely proud of the results from our (initial) relationship in the Northeast region. The addition of the Midwest region to our strategic partnership will further our ability to provide exceptional distribution options and to support the success of natural food stores,” says KeHE Chief Commercial Officer, Mike Leone.

The mutually beneficial program launched last week, and is designed to drive further growth and development of both independent natural food stores and the INFRA organization itself.

KeHE plans to continue rolling out innovative distribution options to support the success and sustainability of independent natural food retailers and to leverage its unique leadership position in the industry to provide new programs and services that will grow the sales in these retailers.

Flowers Foods Announces Transition in Manufacturing Leadership

Flowers Foods, Inc., the second-largest producer and marketer of packaged bakery foods in the United States, today announced two executive transitions in the company’s manufacturing leadership, effective immediately:

  • Michael A. Beaty, formerly executive vice president of supply chain, will retire in spring of 2015. Until then, he will serve as Executive Vice President and oversee special projects for the company.
  • Robert L. Benton, Jr., formerly senior vice president of manufacturing and operations support, has been named Senior Vice President and Chief Manufacturing Officer.

“During his 47-year career with Flowers Foods, Mike has been instrumental in creating a network of bakeries that—while maintaining high standards of baking and quality—are some of the most efficient in the country,” commented Allen L. Shiver, Flowers Foods’ President and Chief Executive Officer. “Now, he passes the baton to Robert, who has more than 30 years of experience in bakery manufacturing and construction.”

Beaty began his career at Flowers in 1968 and worked in manufacturing at a number of bakeries before joining the manufacturing team at corporate headquarters in Thomasville. He was named Senior Vice President of Bakery Operations in 1994, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain in 2002, and Executive Vice President of Supply Chain in 2008.

As Senior Vice President and Chief Manufacturing Officer, Benton oversees all production facilities and associated capital expenditures, leading the company’s manufacturing and engineering teams. Benton is responsible for major capital projects, including new bakery start-ups and expansions, which are an area of focus for Flowers Foods. He also oversees regulatory/quality assurance and safety/environmental affairs.

Benton joined Flowers in 1980 and has held a number of local, regional, and corporate manufacturing roles for the company. In 2011, Benton was promoted to Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Operations Support. He has also served in leadership roles with a number of industry groups, including the American Institute of Baking, Baking Equipment Manufacturers and Allied, and the American Society of Baking, where he served as chairman from 2008-2009.

Blendtec’s Markham Honored by Utah Business Magazine

Blendtec, a leading manufacturer of commercial-grade blending equipment, recognizes one of its own, Bill Markham, who today received the Utah Business Magazine’s Sales and Marketing Executives of the Year award. This prestigious award recognizes members and leaders of sales teams who not only succeed individually, but who also help propel their companies to excellence.

With more than 20 years of experience in retail sales, Bill Markham, Vice President of Worldwide Retail Sales, brought to Blendtec more than just an understanding of sales techniques. He brought a vision and leadership that have been instrumental in the amount of growth Blendtec has experienced. In his first 15 months at Blendtec, “he has played a key role in doubling Blendtec’s sales revenue and has projected those same figures for 2015,” says Craig Taylor, Blendtec CEO.

Markham has a seasoned career in worldwide sales and is currently working to expand Blendtec’s innovative products into global markets. He is known by his peers to be a visionary leader who constantly pushes his team to reach new heights. “He is a team player and a great coach to those of us who don’t have a great deal of retail experience,” says Harvey Scott, Vice President, International Development. “He’s an educator by nature, and I think this plays very well into his ability to sell on value.”

Blendtec’s aggressive road map, quarterbacked by Markham’s sales and marketing leadership, is fueled by raising awareness of the benefits of high-speed blenders, including making healthier foods like whole food smoothies and replacing appliances like coffee grinders, juicers and food processors for one-machine simplicity. Blendtec engineers and culinary specialists constantly focus on the next big innovation. New products are in development and will continue Blendtec’s tradition of revolutionizing the commercial-grade kitchen appliance industry.

New England Coffee Company Launches Blizzard Bold

New England Coffee Company, which has been roasting coffee locally for 99 years, today announces the availability of its Blizzard Bold blend. A new seasonal blend made from a unique arrangement of Central American coffee beans, Blizzard Bold boasts an intensely rich, dark, aromatic flavor that is perfect for cold winter days.

As with all of New England Coffee’s blends, Blizzard Bold is made with 100 percent high-quality Arabica coffee beans and small-batch roasted to ensure the perfect flavor. Blizzard Bold is one of the brand’s darker roasts, but also features a finer grind of the beans to provide a smooth finish. Blizzard Bold is the first in a series of limited-time-only products New England Coffee will offer throughout 2015. The special blends will include longstanding customer favorites along with several completely new flavors.

To celebrate the Blizzard Bold launch, New England Coffee will give consumers the opportunity to win a year’s supply of free coffee via a Facebook contest asking fans to guess how many inches of snow Boston will see this February. The contest will kick off on February 6, the anniversary of the infamous Blizzard of 1978, which dumped a then-record 27.1 inches of snow in Boston.

In addition, New England Coffee social media followers on Facebook and Twitter will be able to show just how bold they are by sharing their own bold move via photo or video using the hashtag #neboldmove. The New England Coffee sampling truck will also visit select locations in Boston throughout January and February so followers can experience Blizzard Bold for themselves.

Blizzard Bold is available in 10-ounce freshly ground packages through February 2015 online at and at select retailers, including ACME Markets, Big Y, Market Basket, Roche Bros., Shaw’s, ShopRite, and Stop & Shop.

Perky Jerky Goes Jamaican


Jamaican Style Perky Jerky - FrontPerformance Enhancing Meat Snacks, Inc., creator of Perky Jerky the world’s best tasting jerky, is adding another fun and innovative flavor to its lineup. Perky Jerky is bringing its loyal customer base the exciting taste of island paradise by taking inspiration from traditional Jamaican jerk cuisine. The upscale meat snack is packed with flavor and protein with no added preservatives, nitrites or MSG.

“Jamaican jerk has long been an admired Caribbean comfort, and we’ve worked hard to capture such a well-recognized taste in a way Jerkaholics have come to love: with awesome flavor, tender texture, and healthy perks,” says Brian Levin, Founder and CEO of Perky Jerky.

Since 2009, Perky Jerky has been delivering ultra premium products that also contain the protein needed to empower an active lifestyle. It is an all-natural, low calorie, low/no fat, low carb snack ideal for athletes, fitness enthusiasts, adventurers and busy moms (and their kids) on-the-go.

Adding the iconic Jamaican Style flavor allows Perky Jerky to continue to reach key consumer targets in the savory snacks industry. Existing flavors include Original, Sweet & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Hot & Bothered, which are all currently available at retailers across the U.S. Additionally, every bag of Perky Jerky purchased contributes to causes that can make life better for kids, including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Down Syndrome research.


Albertsons Adds Frontier Soups Gluten Free Mixes to Soup Aisle

Albertsons has expanded its specialty offerings in the soup aisle with the addition of nine non-GMO soup mixes from Frontier Soups™ quick-cooking Homemade In Minutes™ line of gourmet mixes.

Albertsons stores in the Southwestern U.S. have added Frontier Soups’ newest mix, West Coast Kale & Quinoa Vegetable Soup Mix, along with its top-selling South of the Border Tortilla Soup Mix, Connecticut Cottage Chicken Noodle Soup Mix, and Idaho Outpost Potato Leek Soup Mix, all of which are gluten free. The sale is through UNFI of Providence, Rhode Island, said Trisha Anderson, Frontier Soups’ founder.

Other soup mixes now being carried by Albertson’s include Arizona Sunset Enchilada Soup, Florida Sunshine Corn Chowder, Mississippi Delta Tomato Basil Soup, Oregon Lakes Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup, and Pennsylvania Woodlands Mushroom Barley Soup. Soups in the Homemade-In-Minutes line serve four to six and typically cook in about 30 minutes.

Frontier Soups has 34 soup mixes in its lineup to accommodate a variety of consumer tastes and dietary needs, Anderson said.  The soups are produced with ingredients certified non-GMO by all suppliers. No salt is added, and the mixes contain no preservatives, artificial ingredients or MSG. The company now offers 12 vegetarian options and 28 of its soups are certified gluten free. In addition to its Homemade-In-Minutes line, Frontier Soups also has a line of Hearty Meal™ soup mixes, which generally serve from eight to 10.

Suggested retail prices for Homemade-In-Minutes and Hearty Meal soup mixes are $5.95-$6.49 and $6.95-$7.49 respectively.  More information is available at or by calling 1.800.300.7687.

Read more about Frontier Soups here.

DREAM Brand Of Non-Dairy Yogurt Introduces COCONUT DREAM

DREAM™ brand is proud to announce the launch of its new line of COCONUT DREAM™ Non-Dairy Yogurt, available in five sweet and fresh flavors of coconut-based yogurt: Plain, Vanilla, Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry. This non-dairy yogurt is made from real coconuts, is high in calcium, low in sodium and contains live and active cultures. COCONUT DREAM Non-Dairy Yogurt is also vegan, made with non-GMO ingredients, and free of gluten, lactose and soy.THE HAIN CELESTIAL GROUP, INC.

“COCONUT DREAM Non-Dairy Yogurt is expected to be very popular among non-dairy consumers as well as dairy consumers that love the fresh and exotic taste of coconut. “The COCONUT DREAM Non-Dairy Yogurt line will create more flavorful taste options and variety for non-dairy consumers,” said Basel Nassar, Chief Operating Officer of the Hain Refrigerated Foods Division. “It has a delicious, creamy consistency with a tropical twist from the luscious flavor of coconut. It’s the perfect snack for fans with or without dietary restrictions.”

COCONUT DREAM is a brand of The Hain Celestial Group Inc., a leading natural and organic products company in North America and Europe providing consumers with A Healthy Way of Life™.

COCONUT DREAM Non-Dairy Yogurt will be available in grocers’ refrigerated sections nationwide.

For more information, visit




Winegrowers Unveil 100 Year Business Plan to Preserve Agriculture in Sonoma County, California

From the rocky coastline to the mountain vistas and the lush river valleys, the land has always been the hero in the story of Sonoma County, California. Through it all, the dedicated efforts of farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront of taking care of the land, protecting it and managing it in a way that has provided a bounty of apples, prunes, pears, poultry, lamb, beef and, more recently, winegrapes for nearly 150 years.

With this in mind, Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, also known as Sonoma County Winegrowers (SCW), has created a 100-year business plan to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County well into the 22nd Century.  The 100-year plan is believed to be the first of its kind in agriculture and the global wine industry. It is also the next step in the evolution of Sonoma County’s efforts to become the first wine region in the United States to have all of its wines grown and made in a sustainable manner.

“Last year when we announced our intent to be 100-percent sustainable by 2019, it was always viewed as the starting point, not the end goal,” said Karissa Kruse, President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers.  She added, “It is our job as farmers to be caretakers of the land in Sonoma County and preserve our agricultural legacy and way of life for future generations.  Just as we inherited the land from previous generations, we have a fundamental responsibility to make the land better for those who inherit it from us.”

The existence of the 100-year plan was announced nearly one year to the day when Sonoma County Winegrowers generated worldwide attention for its bold commitment to become the nation’s first 100 percent sustainable wine growing region by 2019.  Sonoma County winegrape growers are currently following a rigorous sustainability self-assessment and third party certification program focused on 138 farming and business practices, such as land use, canopy management, energy efficiency, water quality assessments, carbon emissions, healthcare and training for employees and being a good neighbor and community member.

In the twelve months since announcing its sustainable intentions, the local wine industry reached one-third of its targeted goal of becoming 100-percent sustainable.  More than 43 percent (25,987 vineyard acres) of the county’s 59,772 vineyard acres have completed a sustainability assessment.  In addition, 33 percent of the county’s vineyard acres (21,491 vineyard acres) have taken the next step and are now certified under a third-party auditor program.  The 59,772 vineyard acres in Sonoma County only accounts for 6 percent of the county’s one million acres with the rest being utilized as pasture land (36 percent), forests (49 percent) and urban land (9 percent).  More than 950 winegrape growers have attended sustainability workshops, meetings or other sustainability-related events.  There were 26 sustainability workshops and meetings hosted by the Sonoma County Winegrowers in 2014.  Eight of the county’s 16 AVAs held sustainability workshops in the past year.

As the past year evolved, industry leaders met and the 100 year plan was written.  It is designed as a living document and will be executed through both annual and five-year benchmarks that will identify transformational opportunities for collaboration and seek partnerships with a variety of groups including agricultural, business, community and education as well as government leaders to find tangible solutions and provide flexibility for the unexpected.  The time period of 100 years was chosen as a natural period that touches everyone in a tangible way – it represents two generations before and the next two future generations in essence spanning from grandparents to grandchildren.  The plan addresses such issues as innovation and research, natural resources, the regulatory environment, community engagement and marketing while building coalitions throughout the community in support of sustaining agriculture in Sonoma County forever.

“This effort is charting a path to preserve agriculture in Sonoma County for the next 100 years,” said Brad Petersen, a third-generation grape grower who manages vineyards at Silver Oak Cellars and chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers board of directors.   He added, “It provides us and those who follow with a set of guiding principles to ensure agriculture is successfully preserved and that Sonoma County will remain the best wine region in the world for the next 100 years and beyond.”

The Best Canadian Whisky of 2014

The verdict is in. A whisky distilled more than two decades ago, then tucked away and forgotten, is the best Canadian whisky of 2014. A jury of nine independent whisky experts named Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye the Canadian Whisky of the Year at the fifth annual Canadian Whisky Awards. They announced the results of this annual blind tasting competition Thursday evening, January 15, at the Victoria Whisky Festival in Victoria, B.C.

Chairman of the judges, Davin de Kergommeaux, described Collingwood Rye as: “A Canadian whisky connoisseur’s dream come true.” Only 50 barrels of Collingwood 21 Year Old Rye were distilled at the Canadian Mist Distillery in Collingwood, Ontario. Canadian stocks are almost gone, though limited quantities are still available from select U.S. liquor stores.

Other top winners include Lot No. 40, Canadian Club Chairman’s Select 100% Rye, Forty Creek Double Barrel Reserve, Masterson’s 10-Year-Old Rye, and Crown Royal Monarch. Forty Creek distillery’s John Hall received a lifetime achievement award.

“Interest in Canadian whisky continues to grow and Canada’s whisky makers have responded with a wealth of new high-end whiskies,” said de Kergommeaux as he revealed the winners. “For the first time a major legacy brand, Canadian Club, has released 100 percent rye grain whisky as a core offering. Canada’s best-selling whisky, Crown Royal, became the first major brand to release high-proof single barrel whisky, and Collingwood bottled long-aged rye whisky. Overall, distillers have released more small batch and top-end deluxe whiskies than ever before.”

Sales of flavored whisky also remain strong with Forty Creek, Centennial, and Sortilège making strong gains.

The list of all the winners is now available at

Setton Pistachio to Sponsor Griffith Park Run

Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., the nation’s second largest pistachio processor and maker of Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites, has become an official sponsor of the first annual Griffith Park Run, taking place in Los Angeles on January 25.

Proceeds from the inaugural event will benefit Los Angeles city parks and over 435 recreational spaces in the L.A. area. Funds raised will help with water conservation efforts, recycling initiatives, park beautification projects, pool renovations, court resurfacing projects and the addition of numerous walking paths.

Event attendees will have the opportunity to run a 5K or half marathon race and a portion or the route will travel through Griffith Park. In addition to being an official sponsor of the race, Setton Farms will have samples of its Pistachio Chewy Bites products available to the 2,000 race participants. Chefs and brand ambassadors, Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg of Spork Foods, will be passing out samples at the brand’s booth while cheering on participants.

“It was an easy decision for us to sponsor the Griffith Park Run,” said Setton Farms COO Mia Cohen. “We are so happy to be able to help provide support for the parks and spaces that offer people a place to exercise and enjoy the outdoors.”

Additional event sponsors of the Griffith Park Run include Subaru of Glendale, Anthem Blue Cross, Clif Bar, The Coca Cola Company, Curb, Los Angeles Magazine, Road Runner Sports, and 100.3fm The Sound of LA.

For more information and registration information, visit

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