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Cheese Enthusiasts Prepare to Celebrate Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day

Cheese lovers everywhere are preparing to celebrate Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day on April 16, 2016. Created by the Oldways Cheese Coalition, this worldwide holiday offers cheese enthusiasts from Melbourne to Manhattan a chance to participate in events highlighting the distinctive cultural heritage of raw milk cheese.

Last year, Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day (RMCAD) included more than 500 retail locations around the globe providing samples and information about traditional cheeses. The Second Annual RMCAD is set to be another boon for raw milk cheese, especially in light of the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision to suspend testing requirements that posed a threat to raw milk cheese in the US.

“Raw milk, unpasteurized cheeses are truly the old ways, and this delicious, traditional food deserves attention,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, Oldways President. “Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day introduces more people to the pleasures and great tastes of these extraordinary traditional cheeses, and celebrates the individuals who bring raw milk cheeses to life from the pasture to the plate.”

Cheese has been made with pure raw milk from its earliest days millennia ago. Traditional cheesemaking helped preserve fluid milk before the advent of refrigeration, and it was only in the last century that cheese began to be made with pasteurized milk. The natural microflora in raw milk produces cheeses — such as Gruyère AOP, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort, and many American originals like Grafton Village Cheddar — that are characteristic of local environments, expressive of terroir, evocative of complex flavors, and beneficial to health. Raw milk cheeses are both delicious and nutritious. Scientific studies reveal that, when consumed in moderation, cheese is an excellent way to add healthy fats, minerals, vitamins and probiotics to your diet.

Longtime aficionados and newcomers to the world of raw milk cheese will be able to experience a wide variety of events around the world, from tastings in Denver to special classes in São Paulo. Producers will offer cheese samples at retail stores in San Francisco, and cheesemongers will share their love of fromage au lait cru in Paris and Boston. All participating organizations, activities, and promotions for Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day will be listed on the Oldways Cheese Coalition website.

Retailers, restaurants, producers, and cheese enthusiasts are invited to participate by registering their own RMCAD events. To get involved with Raw Milk Cheese Appreciation Day, or learn more about joining the Cheese Coalition, contact Carlos Yescas, Oldways Cheese Coalition Program Director, at, 617.896.4822.

Join in the cheese conversation and celebration on social media by using the hashtag #RawMilkCheese.

Purdue University President Defends GMO Technology

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels on Thursday, February 25, called on leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors to push back against the attackers of biotechnology in agricultural production. Daniels was a keynote speaker at the annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington.

“The attack on GMO technology is the most blatant anti-science of the age, but it is far worse than that,” Daniels said. “Lives are at stake, and while scientists, regulators and business people are naturally reluctant to fight back, it’s morally irresponsible not to.”

Daniels cited projections by the United Nations that the global population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people in 2050, generating a 70 percent increase in the demand for food. He described GMOs as the best hope to ensure the world’s poor have access to an affordable and nutritious diet.

“Thousand of studies and trillions of meals consumed prove the safety of biotechnologies,” he said. “We would never withhold medications with a safety record like that, and it’s just as wrong and just as anti-scientific to do so for food.”

Daniels also praised Purdue and other land-grant universities for making the world’s food supply not only safer and more abundant, but far friendlier to the environment.

Daniels cited work done by the university’s World Food Prize winners as well as the Purdue Improved Crop Storage program as examples of land-grant initiatives that are making a difference in the developing world. He also described a forthcoming study by Purdue agricultural economist Wally Tyner and colleagues that concluded if the United States banned GMO crops, consumers would pay at least $14 billion more in annual food costs and global agricultural greenhouse gases would increase by up to 17 percent.

ALDI to Open First Southern California Stores

ALDI opens its first eight southern California locations on Thursday, March 24.  The ALDI grand openings will mark a significant milestone for the grocery retailer as it prepares to open approximately 45 stores and employ more than 1,100 people in southern California by the end of 2016.

“Ever since we announced our plan to bring ALDI to Southern California, the positive response from people across the Southland has been overwhelming, and we’re excited to start opening stores next month and throughout the year,” said Gordon NesbitMoreno Valley division Vice President for ALDI.  “There is a strong appetite among southern Californians for an alternative place to shop and we are eager to show them the significant benefits that can come from shopping at ALDI, both for their wallets and lifestyles.”

When shopping at ALDI for the first time, customers will immediately see a difference from other grocery stores.  Those little differences add up to big savings for customers and are the key reasons ALDI is one of America’s favorite grocery stores:

  • Simply, Smarter, Shopping: A simple approach to grocery shopping translates into big savings for ALDI shoppers. In fact, shoppers have found that switching from national brands to ALDI exclusive brands can save them up to 50 percent on their grocery bill.
  • ALDI Exclusive Brand Products: More than 90 percent of the premium groceries available at ALDI are exclusive brand products rather than national brands. In its state-of-the-art Test Kitchen, ALDI ensures that its products meet or exceed the quality and taste of national name brands.
  • Organic and Gluten Free Options: ALDI carries a variety of organic and gluten free items including organic fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy, and organic and gluten-free packaged food items. What’s missing from these premium foods? Premium prices.
  • Feel Good Food: Customers won’t find certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils or added MSG in any ALDI exclusive brand foods. Since more than 90 percent of the products in ALDI stores are under ALDI exclusive brands, shoppers can feel good about the food they buy.
  • Double Guarantee: Shopping at ALDI is risk free because of its Double Guarantee: If for any reason a customer is not 100 percent satisfied with any ALDI exclusive brand food, ALDI will gladly replace the product and refund the purchase price.
  • Regional Favorites: ALDI stores in California will feature a large selection of local favorites including California-sourced wine and produce.
  • USDA Choice Meat: All beef available at ALDI is USDA Choice cut and sold in vacuum sealed, leak-proof packaging that ensures meat stays fresher, longer.
  • Healthier Checklanes: ALDI offers shoppers guilt-free checklanes where only better-for-you items are available, such as single serve nuts and trail mixes, dried fruits, and an assortment of granola bars.
  • ALDI Finds: Each week, ALDI offers a special selection of premium food and non-food products, ranging from small kitchen appliances and toys to gardening items and outdoor furniture. These items are only in stores for a limited time so customers must hurry, because here today could mean gone tomorrow.
  • Easy-to-Shop, Consistent Layout: ALDI has an easy-to-shop, manageable layout of 10,000 to 11,000 square feet and four to five aisles.
  • Quarter Cart System: Shoppers don’t have to worry about shopping carts taking the best parking spots. Lend ALDI a quarter, and ALDI will lend you a cart. When you bring back the cart, you’ll get back your quarter.
  • Bring Your Bag, Bag Your Groceries: ALDI encourages customers to bring their own reusable grocery bags; however, paper and plastic bags are available for purchase. After check out, customers pack their own groceries. That keeps the lines moving, so shoppers can get in, get what they need and get on with their day.
  • Store Hours: ALDI is open during prime shopping times. California stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday.

The March Issue of Gourmet News is Now Available


Click the cover image above to be among the first to read the March issue of Gourmet News. And keep an eye on your inbox next Tuesday to read the spring issue of Naturally Healthy, which covers products to be exhibited at Natural Products Expo West, March 9-12 in Anaheim, California.

Ahold USA Commits to Sell Only Cage-Free Private Label Shell Eggs

As part of its responsible retailing efforts, Ahold USA has announced plans to make its companies’ private label shell eggs 100 percent cage-free by 2022.

Ahold USA’s retail divisions – Stop & Shop, Giant Food of Landover, Giant Food Stores of Carlisle, Martin’s and online grocer Peapod – now offer cage-free, free-range, organic, and traditional egg varieties for its customers. Approximately 80 percent of all eggs sold among Ahold USA companies are sold as house brands or private label.

“Animal welfare is a fundamental part of our responsible retailing program,” said Marissa Nelson, Senior Vice President of responsible retailing and healthy living, Ahold USA. “We believe that cage-free environments are a more humane way to treat hens, and we have committed to have all of our private label shell eggs 100 percent cage-free, subject to available supply.”

“Ahold USA companies are deeply committed to providing customers with great products at great prices from suppliers who share our dedication to the highest standards of animal welfare,” continued Nelson. “Ahold USA and our retail divisions will continue to work with the most reputable suppliers to source our private label cage-free shell eggs produced with respect for the animal.”



Kroger Announces Retirement of Smith’s President Jay Cummins

Jay Cummins, President of The Kroger Company’s Smith’s division, plans to retire on April 29, after 44 years with the company.

“Jay has always led with enthusiasm and passion for our people and teams. It shows in the great pride he takes in the accomplishments of associates, especially when they go above and beyond for our customers,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “We are thankful for Jay’s service to Smith’s and Kroger, and to our local communities where he has always demonstrated a personal commitment to making a difference for others. We wish Jay, his wife, Terrie, and their family all the best in retirement.”

Cummins began his Kroger career as a clerk in 1972 in Huntington Beach, California. In the following years, he served in positions of increasing responsibility in store and district management and in grocery merchandising for the company’s Food 4 Less division.  In 2002, Cummins was named vice president and general manager of the Food 4 Less Midwest division, where he led the expansion of the Food 4 Less price impact warehouse store format in the Chicago area. In 2004, he was named president of the Food 4 Less division, which operates stores in CaliforniaIllinois and Indiana. Cummins was named president of the Mid-Atlantic division in 2007 before assuming his current role in 2014.

Cummins serves on the Board of Western Association of Food Chains. Under his leadership, Smith’s has received several awards recognizing the company’s philanthropic efforts, including Outstanding Corporation/Foundation by the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Las Vegas chapter in 2015.

His replacement will be announced at a later date.

Nielsen-Massey Adds Alcohol-Free Vanilla to Product Line

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc., the makers of fine vanillas and flavors, is now offering Alcohol Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla for retail, foodservice and industrial customers. The company will be unveiling the Alcohol Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla at Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., March 11-13, 2016.

Nielsen-Massey has long been a leader in providing vanilla and fine flavor products that fit the needs of a variety of customers. The alcohol-free vanilla joins a growing line of specialty products including organic and Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon vanilla and an alcohol- and sugar-free vanilla powder.

“We are excited to offer the highest-quality alcohol-free vanilla on the market,” said Craig Nielsen, CEO of Nielsen-Massey. “We value being able to serve our customers with specific dietary restrictions or unique culinary needs, and our Alcohol Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla is a halal-certified product that caters to both of these groups.”

 Nielsen-Massey Alcohol-Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla is manufactured using the same slow, cold processing method of extraction as the company’s other Pure Vanilla Extracts, with one notable difference: the use of glycerin instead of sugar cane alcohol to extract the flavor. The use of glycerin in the cold processing method creates an alcohol-free vanilla with Nielsen-Massey’s famous robust, creamy flavor that is ideal for anyone following strict dietary guidelines and for use in cold applications in addition to “all-purpose” cooking and baking.

Alcohol-Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla is available in 2-ounce and 4-ounce bottles for retail customers and 32-ounce bottles (6 to a case) and gallons (4 to a case) for industrial and foodservice customers. In addition to the Halal certification, Alcohol Free Madagascar Pure Vanilla is kosher and gluten-free certified, all natural, allergen free and GMO free.

Steve Mercogliana Joins Asher’s Chocolates Team

Steve Mercogliana is the new Purchasing Manager at Asher’s Chocolates. “When I was presented with the opportunity to become a member of the Asher family team, it was an honor, and I knew this would be the company that I would retire from,” says Mercogliana. “Being employed by Asher’s Chocolates is truly a proud statement to share with family and friends.”

Mercogliana brings more than 11 years of experience as a purchasing manager within major manufacturing industries. He received his HACCP certification from Penn State University and hte FDA certification in bacterial and blood borne pathogen prevention through Gloucester Community College. He is active in his community through his involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters in southeastern Pennsylvania. He also manages and plays on a softball team that competes every Sunday and participates in local tournaments to support autism awareness.

SVP Marnette Perry to Retire from Kroger after 44 Years


The Kroger Co. has announced that Senior Vice President for Retail Operations and Strategic Initiatives Marnette Perry plans to retire on April 29, after 44 years with the company.

“Marnette’s story is one we can all be proud of: She joined Kroger for a job as a part-time cashier while in college, and stayed for a remarkable career that spanned operations, merchandising and executive leadership,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “Marnette’s significant contributions will leave an indelible mark on Kroger. The entire Kroger family thanks Marnette for her years of service, and we wish her and her family all the best in retirement.”

Perry joined Kroger in 1972 as a part-time cashier in Portsmouth, Ohio, in the Columbus division. She went on to serve in leadership positions with increasing responsibility. At Kroger’s general office, she served as director of produce merchandising and procurement. She was later promoted to president of the Michigan division in 1997, and named president of the Columbus division in 2001. Perry was promoted to group vice president of perishables for The Kroger Co. in 2003. In 2004, she was named senior vice president of retail divisions, where she was responsible for eight supermarket operating divisions and more than $40 billion in annual revenue. She took on her current role, overseeing strategic initiatives and operations for Kroger, as well as the company’s value formats, in 2012. She also serves as a member of the board of directors of Kroger Personal Finance and The Kroger Co. Foundation, and is a past board member of the Network of Executive Women.

Perry helped establish Kroger’s now-ubiquitous natural foods centers and floral departments in the early 1980s. Today, Kroger is a top seller of natural and organic foods and is the world’s largest florist. More recently, as vice president of operations, Perry championed the teamwork that led to Kroger’s innovative QueVision technology, which has dramatically reduced customers’ time spent waiting in line at checkout.

Perry has been an active leader in the communities in which she has lived. She is a member of the board of directors of Grange Insurance, the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital, and Richard J. Solove Research Institute Foundation. She has also supported the Nationwide Children’s Hospital and United Way in Columbus, Ohio; Ohio University; Central Michigan University; the YWCA; and Detroit Head Start.

Her successor will be named at a later date.


KeHE Acquires Monterrey Provision Company


KeHE announced that it has acquired Monterrey Provision Company – a San Diego, California-based, distributor of products for the perimeter departments at retail grocery stores. Monterrey is a 40-year-old family-owned company and a trusted partner to leading retailers across the country.

“We view the perimeter as an essential element of our growth strategy. The acquisition of Monterrey expands our perimeter capabilities, and further enables our growth plans. This is similar to the advantages we gained in the organic business with the acquisition of Nature’s Best inAugust 2014,” said Brandon Barnholt, KeHE President and CEO.

Mike Leone, Chief Commercial Officer at KeHE, said, “With the addition of Monterrey, we are better positioned to capitalize on opportunities in the perimeter and partner with customers across their total store.”

The combination of KeHE and Monterrey joins two successful organizations with complementary assets and skills. The acquisition helps advance KeHE’s strategic plan and aligns with KeHE’s vision to be the trusted distributor for natural, organic and specialty products.

“Joining the KeHE family leapfrogs Monterrey by years in our ability to extend our excellence in fresh perimeter distribution to the entire country. Further, KeHE and Monterrey couldn’t be better cultural fits for each other,” said Luke Abbott, Monterrey President. The acquisition will add two distribution centers in San Diego, California, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to KeHE’s existing network of 16 distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada. Currently, KeHE does not have facilities in those cities.


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