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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.


SaltWorks Natural Sea Salt Supplier Now SQF Level 2 Certified, Rated Excellent


SaltWorks® has successfully achieved SQF Level 2 certification with the highest possible rating of Excellent. Certification followed an intensive multi-day audit, conducted by NSF International in the fall of 2015, which verified SaltWorks’ commitment to safety and quality meets the rigorous requirements of the Safe Quality Foods (SQF) Program and establishes that a strict food safety control process has been successfully implemented at SaltWorks’ state-of-the-art, custom-built salt processing facility located just outside of Seattle, Washington.

“We have always been committed to providing the highest quality and safest all-natural salts to our customers,” explained Mark Zoske, CEO of SaltWorks. “We recognized that the SQF certification program demonstrates integrity and responsibility, which reflects our core company values and the sea salts that we produce. It underscores how effective our proprietary processes are and how hard our team works to ensure we meet those safety and quality goals every day.”

SaltWorks has in-house quality control and engineering teams that work diligently together to implement and improve rigorous safety processes, provide training to all staff members regardless of employment duties, and regularly develop technologies to ensure top quality and safety of all their products while preserving the artisanal craftsmanship and unique characteristics of each and every grain of salt. The SQF certification demonstrates SaltWorks commitment to implementing and maintaining stringent safety controls.

SQF Level 2 is one of the most rigorous and important certifications in the food industry; it aligns food manufacturers with guidelines put in place by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).



Navitas Naturals Names Peter Hartman VP of Sales

Navitas Naturals has announced that Peter Hartman has been hired as the Vice President of Sales. Hartman has worked as a sales executive in the natural products industry for the last 10 years. Most recently, he was the US Sales Director for Vega, one of the premier plant-based nutrition companies.

“We’re excited to add such an accomplished natural products industry leader to our team,” says Zach Adelman, CEO and founder of Navitas Naturals. Hartman’s primary responsibilities will include managing the sales team, developing sales strategies, setting annual sales goals, and managing key customer relationships. He will also work closely with the Marketing team to establish successful promotions and activations.

Navitas Naturals was created in 2003 and is based in Novato, California. Adelman and his team seek out the most nutrient dense superfoods used in cultures around the globe for centuries and make their benefits available for use in our modern lifestyle.

Navitas Naturals has also raised the bar for snacking and nutrition convenience. Their new line of organic Superfood+ Seeds and Nuts combines best-selling organic superfoods with organic seeds and nuts. Navitas Naturals products are certified organic, kosher, non-GMO and gluten-free. The company is committed to food safety and uses methods such as freeze-drying and low temperature processing to ensure maximum nutrition and flavor.  Learn more at

Laura Chenel’s Chevre Achieves Food Safety Certification

Laura Chenel’s Chèvre has been recognized by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) for meeting one of the highest levels of food safety standards in the production of its line of fresh plain and flavored goat milk cheeses. The BRC’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an internationally recognized food safety credential becoming a fundamental requirement of major food retailers around the world. GFSI certification insures that Laura Chenel’s production meets food industry and legislative requirements across the UK, EU and US, including most of the recently enacted FSMA rules in the US.

Laura Chenel’s has a history of high level quality production standards in its state-of-the art Sonoma creamery. “Since the plant was completed in 2010, we’ve worked to establish systems that ensure our products are the highest quality and our facility exceeds food safety regulations,” says Eva Guilmo, Quality Director for Laura Chenel’s and sister company, Marin French Cheese. “GFSI certification is an external or ‘third party’ audit that evaluates quality, food safety and operational criteria ensuring that as manufacturers we meet our legal obligations while providing consumer protection to retailers and our end customers.” Retailers commonly require third-party audits from food producers and by achieving this high-level GFSI certification, Laura Chenel’s products will be streamlined for approval by independent and large retail chains. The certification is renewed annually.

BRC is the leading certification body in the UK, recognized across Europe and the US, with over 23,000 certified facilities in 123 countries.



FDA Names Funding Recipients to Establish Regional FSMA Training Centers

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will transform the nation’s food safety system into one that is based on the prevention of foodborne illness. It will be a system in which the food industry systematically puts in place measures proven effective in preventing contamination. Thus, food industry training will be an important component of successful implementation.

In 2015, recognizing the need for food safety training for small farm owners and food processors, the FDA and USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Grant Program, intended to provide funding so that these critical groups receive training, education and technical assistance consistent with standards being established under FSMA. Grants issued through this program will fund a National Coordination Center (NCC) and four Regional Centers (RCs), which will be involved in both key components of training—primarily facilitating training delivery but also, in certain situations, facilitating curricula development targeted to specific audiences.

In October, 2015, FDA announced that the International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI) of Battle Creek, Michigan, received the award to establish the National Coordination Center. Also in October, NIFA announced the awards for the first two regional centers. The University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, received the grant to establish the Southern Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Produce Safety. Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, received the grant to establish the Western Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Center to Enhance Food Safety.

The second two regional Centers were named on February 18. Iowa State University has received the grant to establish the North Central Regional Center for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance and the University of Vermont and State Agricultural College has received the grant to establish The Northeast Center for Food Safety, Training, Education, Extension, Outreach and Technical Assistance.

The goal of FSMA training programs will be the outcome – advancing knowledge among food producers to meet FSMA requirements. Specifically, the regional centers will be charged with understanding and communicating the landscape of training opportunities available to target businesses in their region. They will identify any need to develop or tailor curricula to meet specific unmet regional needs and/or to target a specific audience. These centers will work with representatives from non-governmental and community-based organizations, as well as representatives from cooperative extension services, food hubs, local farm cooperatives and other entities that can address specific needs of the communities they serve.

Boulder Canyon Introduces Guilt-Free Popcorn

Resolutions to eat healthier remain intact at this time of year, and fans of salty snacks have a new reason to celebrate with the introduction of Boulder Canyon Authentic Foods’ new Real Thin™ Pop line of ready-to-eat popcorn. Featuring premium oils, including olive, avocado and coconut, and seasonings that are applied with a revolutionary new method (compared to traditional tumble mixing) results in a full-flavor snack experience that has remarkably fewer calories and fat than the leading popcorn brands.

Boulder CanyonBoulder Canyon Real Thin Pop stands apart from the numerous guilt-free salty snacks on the market today not only because of its rare combination of full-flavored taste and low-calorie impact, but the fact that this has been achieved using only real food ingredients and a minimally-processed approach to manufacturing.

Available in three varieties, including Olive Oil/White Cheddar, Avocado Oil/Sea Salt and Coconut Oil/Sea Salt, Real Thin Pop arrives at leading grocery stores and supermarkets nationwide this month with a suggested retail price of $3.99 per 4.15-ounce bag. Each package contains four servings.

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