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Central Grocers Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Central Grocers, Inc. has announced that the company and all of its subsidiaries have voluntarily elected to file for relief under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company intends to use this court-supervised process to conduct an orderly sale of its Strack & Van Til stores as going concerns and anticipates entering into a sale agreement with a stalking horse bidder in the near future. Central Grocers is also seeking to sell its distribution center in Joliet as it winds down its wholesale distribution operations. The company has been cooperating with its lenders and expects to have access to sufficient liquidity to continue operating its stores and winding down the distribution center in an orderly fashion.

Strack & Van Til Stores Are Open for Business

All 22 Strack & Van Til, Town & Country Market and Ultra Foods stores in Indiana and Illinois are open and serving customers. Employees are receiving their pay in the ordinary course. Strack & Van Til intends to pay vendors in full for goods and services provided on or after the filing date, May 4, 2017.

Jeff Strack, President and Chief Executive Officer of Strack & Van Til, said, “Our stores are open, and we are as focused as ever on supporting our customers and providing the legendary service that we are known for. As we move through this process, our priorities, values and commitments to our customers and our communities will not change. We thank our loyal customers for their continued support, and we thank our employees for their hard work and dedication.”

Central Grocers Working Toward Sale of Stores and Distribution Facility

Central Grocers is continuing to work toward implementing a sale of the Strack & Van Til stores and a sale of its distribution center in Joliet and certain other assets. It is anticipated that any such sale transactions will be conducted pursuant to a court-supervised auction process under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Ken Nemeth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Central Grocers, said, “In light of the increasingly difficult environment for independent supermarkets and retailers, we have been working tirelessly to achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of our stakeholders. We are using this court-supervised sale process to provide us the time and flexibility to conduct an orderly sale of the Strack & Van Til stores, while we work to sell the warehouse in Joliet and wind down our wholesale distribution operations.”

The company has filed a number of customary motions seeking court authorization to continue to support its operations during the court-supervised process, including payment of employee wages and benefits. In addition, the company intends to file a motion shortly in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois seeking to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy case commenced against Central Grocers in view of its voluntary Chapter 11 filing.

FDA Extends Menu Labeling Compliance Date to 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is extending the compliance date for menu labeling requirements from May 5, 2017 to May 7, 2018. This extension allows for further consideration of what opportunities there may be to reduce costs and enhance the flexibility of these requirements beyond those reflected in the interim final rule.

The FDA is inviting comments for 60 days on the implementation of the menu labeling requirements, such as approaches to reduce regulatory burden or increase flexibility related to (a) calorie disclosure signage for self-service foods, including buffets and grab-and-go foods; (b) methods for providing calorie disclosure information other than on the menu itself; and (c) criteria for distinguishing between menus and other information presented to the consumer.

The extension will be effective on May 4, 2017 when the Federal Register publishes the extension in advance of the May 5 compliance date. The 60-day comment period will begin on May 4, 2017.

Submit electronic comments to http://www.regulations.gov. Submit written comments to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. All comments should be identified with Docket No. FDA-2011-F-0172 for “Food Labeling; Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments; Extension of Compliance Date and Request for Comments.”

Chris Gregg Joins Impossible Foods

Impossible Foods has hired food industry veteran Chris Gregg as Senior Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing. Gregg, 46, will be part of Impossible Foods’ management team and oversee operations for manufacturing and supply chain as the company rapidly expands.

The company’s flagship product, the Impossible Burger, is the world’s only burger that looks, handles, smells, cooks and tastes like ground beef from cows — but is made entirely from plants, with a much smaller environmental footprint than meat from animals. The Impossible Burger uses about 75 percent less water, generates about 87 percent fewer greenhouse gases and requires around 95 percent less land than conventional ground beef from cows. It’s produced without hormones, antibiotics, cholesterol or artificial flavors.

Impossible Foods is building its first large-scale production facility, which could enable the company to make at least 1 million pounds of Impossible Burger per month when fully ramped up. The Oakland, California, site has the capacity to make 250 times more Impossible Burgers than the company is currently making in its headquarters in Redwood City, California, and at a small facility in New Jersey.

Just before joining Impossible Foods, Gregg worked for a prominent private equity firm where he served as the chief operating officer of three high-growth brands — Babyganics, Solid Gold Pet, and Bare Snacks — leading their operations and supply chains. He previously worked for a division of the food retail giant Safeway Inc.

“I was attracted to Impossible Foods not only by the intellectual challenge but by the enormous positive impact the company can have by rapidly scaling up production of its plant-based foods,” Gregg said. “The more we can optimize the manufacturing process, the faster we make the Impossible Burger available worldwide to offset the environmental cost of animal farming, while creating a more resilient and sustainable food system.”

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