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Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands Complete Merger

Tyson Foods, Inc. has completed its merger with The Hillshire Brands Company, a transaction that positions Tyson Foods as a clear leader in the prepared foods business. In connection with the merger, shares of Hillshire Brands common stock will be delisted and cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Stock Exchange before the opening of the respective markets on August 29, 2014.

The combination of Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands creates a single company with more than $40 billion in annual sales and a portfolio that includes recognized brands such as Tyson(R), Wright(R), Jimmy Dean(R), Ball Park(R), State Fair(R) and Hillshire Farm(R).

“As of today, Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands are officially together in one great company,” said Tyson Foods CEO Donnie Smith. “Part of our strategic growth plan has been to shift toward higher-margin prepared and branded foods. This transaction gives us a portfolio of complementary, proven brands as a new springboard and accomplishes in a short time what would have taken us years to build on our own.”

The integration of the two companies is currently expected to generate synergy savings of $225 million in fiscal 2015 and more than $500 million by fiscal 2017.

Teams of people from Tyson and Hillshire have been working on integration plans since July to help make sure the combined company gets off to a good start.

“During this process, I’ve had a chance get to know many people on the Hillshire Brands team and the great work they’re doing, and I’m more convinced than ever that the future of our combined companies is bright,” Smith said. “As excited as I am about our new brands, I’m equally excited about the combined talent of the two companies.”

A new leadership team has been selected and includes a mix of existing senior leaders from Tyson Foods and Hillshire Brands.

Andy Callahan, former president of Hillshire’s retail business, will manage all retail consumer brands, including the legacy Hillshire consumer brands (such as Jimmy Dean(R), Ball Park(R), Hillshire Farm(R) and Sara Lee(R)), Tyson’s consumer brands (such as Tyson(R) frozen, value-added poultry and Wright(R) Brand bacon) and Hillshire’s Gourmet Food Group.

Sally Grimes, former chief innovation officer and president of Hillshire’s Gourmet Food Group, will lead Tyson’s innovation (including research and development), sales and global brand strategy teams to support all products sold through retail channels and to maximize global growth of our consumer brands.

Donnie King, former president-Prepared Foods, Customer and Consumer Solutions for Tyson Foods, will oversee Tyson’s legacy poultry, fresh meats and non-branded prepared foods businesses as well as the combined Tyson Foods and Hillshire foodservice businesses. Those reporting to him will include Steve Stouffer who will lead fresh meats; Noel White who will lead poultry; Wes Morris who will lead prepared foods operations; and Tom Hayes, currently chief supply chain officer for Hillshire Brands, who will lead the combined Tyson and Hillshire foodservice businesses.

Those continuing to report to Donnie Smith will include David Van Bebber, who leads the Tyson legal team; Sara Lilygren, who leads corporate affairs; Dennis Leatherby, who continues as the company’s chief financial officer; Hal Carper, who heads strategy and new ventures; Mike Roetzel, who oversees operations services; and Russell Tooley, who heads the company’s business process and continuous improvement practice.

Ken Kimbro, who has led Tyson Foods’ human resources functions since 2001, will be transitioning into retirement. He will be replaced by Mary Oleksiuk, former chief human resources officer for Hillshire Brands.

Malik Sadiq, senior vice president-Asia Pacific, will oversee Tyson International on an interim basis. He takes the place of James Young who will be transitioning to Tyson’s Cobb-Vantress breeding stock subsidiary in the coming months.

“This is an awesome team and they’re prepared to make this integration process smooth and efficient while we continue to exceed the expectations of our customers and consumers,” Smith said.

Sean Connolly, former president and chief executive officer of Hillshire Brands, has chosen to pursue other interests, but will consult during the integration process.



Heat and Eat Frozen Chicken Products from Hip Chick Farms Sport New Plumage

Hip Chick Farms, a fast-growing provider of convenient, natural and organic, artisan Chicken Fingers, Chicken Meatballs and Chicken Wings produced from humanely raised and sustainably farmed ingredients, debuts all-new, freezer-friendly packaging for its popular line of frozen chicken products.

hcf-wings pkg cutout:new copyThe new packaging replaces the original tubs with stackable rectangular cubes that offer more product information, including images of the product and bright, new graphics. Hip Chick Farms products are available in five varieties:

• Baked and Seasoned Chicken Wings & Drummettes, 10-ounce package
• Breaded Chicken Fingers, 8-ounce package
• Baked Chicken Meatballs, 10-ounce package
• Gluten-free Chicken Nuggets, 8-ounce package
• Organic Baked Chicken Fingers, 8-ounce package

All Hip Chick Farms products are made from humanely-raised, hormone- and antibiotic-free Mary’s Free Range Chicken. All five varieties are fully cooked, ready to heat and eat for maximum convenience. Product is contained in an interior plastic bag to ensure freshness.

HCF Chicken Meatballs

HCF Chicken Meatballs

“Our new packaging makes Hip Chick Farms products easier for retailers to display, and easier for consumers to find,” said Serafina Palandech, President and Co-founder of Hip Chick Farms. “The colorful graphics and product images let consumers know exactly what they are getting, while the conventional shape helps retailers stack and display the products more efficiently in their freezer cases.”

The new package was designed by McDill Associates of Soquel, California, which provides packaging, marketing and design solutions for a wide variety of food brands, among other clients. “The design challenge was to create a package that conveyed the fun, convenience and quality of Hip Chick Farms products, while meeting retailers’ demands for package efficiency,” said President and Creative Director Melissa McDill. “In this case, it was better to think inside the box, and really make it pop with fresh graphics and vibrant colors.”

Founded in 2011, Hip Chick Farms sources local, sustainably-produced ingredients to make nutritious, natural and organic and ultra-convenient entrees targeted to time-challenged families. Sourced from humanely-raised, free-range chicken without added hormones or antibiotics, artificial preservatives or fillers, its five products are made fresh in small, artisan batches, then flash frozen to preserve taste and offer superior texture. Hip Chick Farms products are available at more than 250 natural and specialty grocery stores on the West Coast. For more information, visit


Wixon Now Offers Gourmet Gluten-Free Seasonings and Dry Mixes

Your customers count on you to deliver specialty foods that meet their nutritional requirements while satisfying their taste buds. Wixon offers a variety of gluten-free gourmet seasonings and dry mixes that extend your product line to suit the needs of this growing market segment.

Wixon’s three core levels of service ensure your products exceed expectations, from innovative concepts through efficient production to professional packaging. From sourcing to handling and testing, Wixon takes the necessary measures to ensure the highest quality gluten-free products without compromising on taste. Gluten-free raw materials are sourced from qualified vendor partners, who provide a gluten-free Statement of Assurance. Wixon’s segregated blending suites and operations handling avoid cross-contamination. Blends are tested to confirm gluten-free status and validate Wixon’s gluten-free procedures. Gluten-free raw materials and ingredients are also stored in segregated areas. In addition to rigorous finished product testing, Wixon is GFSI Certified to FSSC 22000, the premier, globally-recognized model of food safety.

Trust Wixon to make gluten-free worry-free.

For more information, visit the company online at or call 800.841.5304.




Dave’s Gourmet Introduces Oatmeal Cookie Butter

 Dave’s Gourmet has created a cookie butter that is so delicious, it makes almost anything taste just like grandma’s homemade oatmeal cookies – fresh from the oven. This all-natural spread is crafted from wholesome ingredients, giving it a mouthwatering flavor. Real oats mixed with the sweetness of brown sugar and the spice of cinnamon take everyone back to their childhoods.

Dave’s Gourmet’s Oatmeal Cookie Butter tastes just like oatmeal cookies, so you can give your toast, apple slices, cupcakes and virtually any other foods a comforting taste of home. You can even add this wonderful spread to your milkshakes and cheesecakes for added decadence. The thick creamy consistency makes it easy to spread on just about anything.

It is no surprise that you can also bake with Dave’s Gourmet’s Cookie Butter, using it to make crunchy Oatmeal Cookie Crisps. Dave’s Gourmet Oatmeal Cookie Butter is truly spreadable goodness.

Dave’s Gourmet Oatmeal Cookie Butter was a 2014 sofi™ finalist. For more information, contact Dave’s Gourmet at

Read about more sofi award winners here.





Celebrity Chefs Add Cachet to Frozen Food Cases

By Lucas Witman

Few of us have the opportunity to stop for lunch at Spago to get a taste of Wolfgang Puck’s celebrated seasonal new American cuisine. And unless you are lucky enough to score an invite to one of her barn parties, you are almost certain never to have Ina Garten serve you a meal. However, with more and more celebrity chefs today crafting their own signature heat-and-serve product lines, the good news is that we can taste what these chefs have to offer simply by opening the freezer case at our local grocery store.


Today, it is in fact difficult to think of a well-known chef that does not offer his or her cuisine in a prepared heat-and-serve package. Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa line of Sauté Dinners features fancy dishes like beef bourguignon and pasta carbonara, but in a form that can be ready in minutes. Wolfgang Puck is undoubtedly one of the most famous chefs in the world, and now you can enjoy his signature tortilla soup or Tuscan thin crust pizza in the comfort of your own home. From the Iron Chef line of frozen meals to Guy Fieri’s frozen burgers and appetizers to Giada De Laurentiis’ pasta mixes and jarred sauces, celebrity chefs are showing up in grocery stores in a big way.

ChefFrozenFoods2-HSSOne celebrated chef that recently made his debut in grocery store frozen foods sections is restaurateur and television personality Emeril Lagasse. Lagasse’s new line of frozen snacks debuted this spring at Walmart stores in the southwestern United States with plans to expand soon to additional regions and retailers. The line includes four chef-inspired snacks: Chicken & BBQ sauce BAM™ Bites, Jalapeño Wontons with Bacon, Chili Cheese Mini Dogs and Pulled Pork BAM Bites.

The Emeril frozen snacks line is produced by Montreal-based Plats du Chef Foods. Dana McCauley, Vice President of Marketing for Plats du Chef recounts the difficult process of developing a grocery store heat-and-serve product line alongside one of the most beloved American culinary institutions.

“We work very closely with [Lagasse]. What usually happens is we propose some ideas to him, or he has an idea, and we say our machines could do it this way. We send him samples. He tastes them and gets back to us with his tweaks. He makes sure he has tasted them and everything meets his standards,” said McCauley. “Often we would send him something and he would respond and say this is good, but we need to kick this up a notch. It has to be something that will make people say, ‘Hey, this is kicked up!’”

According to McCauley, Lagasse and other chefs are being drawn to the frozen heat-and-serve marketplace, because of the increasing quality that it is possible to achieve in these products. “I think that there are a lot of reasons why chefs get involved in the grocery business. And frozen really appeals to chefs because a lot of the shelf-stable items don’t appeal to chefs’ need for fresh flavors,” said McCauley. “I think frozen is particularly appealing to chefs, because when you reheat it, it tastes like you just made it – if it was made well.”

For chefs that are actively involved in building their brand presence through media and restaurants, a high-quality prepared foods line can be another element to creating that successful brand. According to McCauley, showing up in the grocery store can be a particularly effective way for a chef like Lagasse to build his brand, because it literally brings the chef into the consumer’s home. “I think it does help them because if you’re on TV, and you have a book in someone’s library that’s awesome, but if you can be on their dinner table or their breakfast table, then all of the sudden you’re not an occasional part of someone’s life. You’re part of their life on a daily basis,” she said.

Of course building one’s brand through a heat-and-serve food line is a double-edged sword. If the consumer is unimpressed with what comes out of the package, the result could be general disenchantment with the person whose picture is on the box. “By putting a chef’s name and picture on a product, it is saying that this is something that nobody else is doing, and it’s unique, or it is just so much better than everything else out there,” said McCauley. “It better be awesome.”

According to McCauley, celebrity chef-branded heat-and-serve foods not only benefit the chef himself; these products can also have a genuinely positive impact on the retailers that carry them. This is because, when it comes to marketing many packaged (and especially, frozen) foods, there can be a disconnect with the consumer who does not have the ability to touch, smell and, often, see the product inside. If the product has the name of a chef like Emeril Lagasse on it, the customer already has an affinity for it and is more likely to be drawn to purchasing it.

“In the freezer section, [the chef’s name is] even more important,” said McCauley. “Most consumers haven’t had a 100 percent good experience with frozen food. It’s time to kick frozen food up a notch.”





GODIVA Chocolatier Launches New Globally-Inspired, Limited Edition Chocolate Collection

GODIVA Chocolatier  has just launched its new Chef Inspirations – Flavors of the World limited edition chocolate collection nationwide. Curated by GODIVA’s international chefs, Flavors of the World is inspired by their culinary journeys across the globe, and the unique local ingredients they have encountered. The chocolates incorporate deliciously surprising flavor profiles to allow chocolate lovers to travel the world in six bites.

Developed by GODIVA’s Chef Chocolatiers stationed across the globe, Flavors of the World debuts six pieces incorporating GODIVA’s rich, Belgian chocolate with ingredients the chefs have come to love through their training and travels, such as Kuromitsu molasses from Japan (Japanese Dark Sugar Ganache) and Speculoos, a traditional Belgian cookie (Sirop de Liege with Speculoos). Other regions represented in the box include China (Black Tea Mousse and Sichuan Pepper), Brazil (Brazilian Coffee Nut Praline), United States (Honey Roasted Caramel) and South Africa (Banana and Caramelized Coconut).

“We are thrilled to showcase the expertise of our chefs with this new collection,” said Michelle Chin, Vice President, North America Marketing, GODIVA Chocolatier. “Our Chef Chocolatiers have made it possible for chocolate lovers everywhere to embark on an international flavor journey, and this limited edition collection is another example of our continued commitment to letting customers enjoy chocolate in entirely new and unexpected ways.”

This new chocolate collection demonstrates GODIVA’s ongoing mission to create and deliver new and exciting products that consumers can enjoy every day.

The Flavors of the World collection is available in eight ($18), 16 ($34) and 25 pieces ($50), and is available nationwide and online at

Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods Expands its Grains of Discovery Line with Freekeh

Organic Cracked Freekeh is now available from Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods. It’s the latest ancient grain to join Bob’s Red Mill’s growing Grains of Discovery line. Freekeh is a whole grain food made in an old-world way, following a traditional process popular in the Middle East and Northeastern Africa.

“Since we introduced our Grains of Discovery line last summer, the response has been tremendous, and customers have been clamoring for more,”said Bob Moore, Founder, President and CEO of employee-owned Bob’s Red Mill. “In deciding how to expand the line, we searched far and wide to find just the perfect grain, and we found that with Freekeh—something totally unique and virtually unknown in the West.”

According to legend, freekeh was created when a farmer’s crop of young green wheat was set on fire by a rival neighbor. Instead of letting the burned wheat go to waste, the farmer’s family harvested the roasted wheat and removed the chaff, and to their surprise it had a pleasantly nutty, lightly roasted flavor.

Cracked freekeh is made by lightly roasting whole wheat kernels, then cracking them to create a whole grain food with a texture similar to bulgur, with a mild, nutty flavor. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Cracked Freekeh, which retails for $6.99 for a 16-ounce package, cooks in just 25 minutes and adds wonderful texture and flavor to a variety of salads, pilafs and soups. It also can be enjoyed as a hot breakfast porridge. Freekeh is an excellent source of fiber, high in iron and other essential minerals, and provides 7 grams of protein per serving.

“We are really excited to add this ancient grain to our popular Grains of Discovery line and to share its history with our customers,” said Matthew Cox, Vice President of Marketing at Bob’s Red Mill. “Legends aside, the flavor of this grain is so unique and delicious, our hope is that it will become a staple grain on every dinner table. That’s at the heart of what our Grains of Discovery are all about.”

Bob’s Red Mill Organic Cracked Freekeh is available now to retailers in cases of four, and also online at To inquire about carrying the products, please contact the Bob’s Red Mill sales team at 800-553-2258 or For more information about the entire Bob’s Red Mill product line, please visit

New Brand of Gluten-Free Baking Mixes from Dover Foods

Dover Foods, Inc., a manufacturer of quality specialty desserts mixes for 20 years, is is now launching a new brand of premium gluten-free baking mixes. The new Ardenne Farm prepackaged line of bakery mixes will be showcased this fall at the Natural Products Expo East (NPEE) in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ardenne Farm carries on the tradition of delicious, high-quality baking products on which Dover Foods, Inc. has built its reputation. Each of the nine gluten free baking mixes features gourmet quality, non-GMO ingredients and a secret blend of finely milled gluten free flours for an innovative taste. They are manufactured with the strictest of quality assurance practices for those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease and with standards twice as stringent as those set by the Food and Drug Administration.

Ardenne Farm Gluten Free Mixes copyEveryday classic flavors include Yellow Cake, Chocolate Cake, Fudge Brownie, Chocolate Chip, Chocolate, Oatmeal and Sugar Cookie mixes. Also offered are Blueberry and Cinnamon Crunch Muffin mixes. Suggested retail prices range from $6.39 to $6.79.

Read more at Naturally Healthy. Click here to read about more gluten-free products.

Bridor Brings Greek Yogurt Pastry to the U.S.


Bridor Inc., which makes authentic European breads and Viennese pastry for the retail and foodservice industry, is introducing its Greek Yogurt & Cherry Danish and Chocolate Avalanche. The Greek Yogurt & Cherry Danish combines the tart and creamy taste of Greek yogurt with Bridor’s house-made cherry filling in the company’s signature flaky, croissant pastry. This is the only Greek Yogurt Danish available to the U.S. retail bakery and foodservice market. Additionally, Bridor has introduced a Chocolate Avalanche pastry created to please the North American palate with its generous amount of milk chocolate filling.

“The Greek yogurt trend is here to stay, and we are proud to be the first industrial baker to give our customers that competitive advantage, and our Chocolate Avalanche is in a class by itself,” said Jean-François Duquesne, CEO, Bridor Inc. and Bridor USA Inc. “Our success is dependent on our client’s success, which is why providing high quality and innovative pastries that bring novelty to the category is key in order to ensure consumer satisfaction.”

Both new products are made with croissant dough that contains pure butter, fresh milk and fresh eggs, delivering the ultimate in quality and indulgence, and reflecting the company’s French baking heritage and expertise. Geared toward customer efficiency and satisfaction, the products are pre egg-washed and pre-proofed for time-saving, hassle-free baking upon arrival.

The brand new Chocolate Avalanche gives customers a different oblong shape and style of Danish and contains 35 grams of fine milk chocolate filling.


Enjoy Life Foods Offers a Range of Allergy-Friendly, Gluten-Free Products


By Lorrie Baumann

Debra Bloom’s Safe Snack Guide is an important resource that schools and parents around the country use to screen the snack foods brought into their classrooms and offered to their children. Specialty foods company Enjoy Life is one of the manufacturers with products on Bloom’s list of safe snacks.

“One of the things we look for at Enjoy Life is how we can bring the celebration back into everyone’s life,” says Joel Warady, Enjoy Life’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “The way we do that is that all our products, everything we produce, in addition to being gluten-free, is free of the top eight allergens: eggs, dairy, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. That covers about 90 percent of all food allergies in children today.”

Enjoy Life was started 12 years ago by Scott Mandrell, who is still its CEO today, as a manufacturer of gluten-free products. “He started thinking about how to make the gluten-free products even more unique, and that’s when the idea of making allergy-friendly foods came about,” Warady says.

Today, Enjoy Life has eight different product lines, all allergy-friendly. Warady can spin them out for you without a second thought: “Cookies (soft and crunchy), on-the go bars (classic line and decadent line), cereals that are high in fiber and high in protein, which are adult-focused, Plentils, a salty snack line which is a crunchy lentil chip in four savory flavors. We have the only nut-free trail mix in the market, composed of just seeds and fruit.”

Enjoy Life’s products are not just free of gluten and the eight most common allergens, they are also tasty. Over the years, the company has improved the taste across the entire product line. They are a little more expensive than a mass-marketed product, but some of that extra cost goes into rigorous testing procedures and quality assurance controls that ensure that the products are best in class.

“We built the company on three tenets: taste, trust and love,” Warady says. “Number one, our consumers have to trust us. They have to trust that our brand won’t hurt their children. We build that trust every single day with every cookie we produce.”

“We talk about celebration. In reality, it’s more than just classrooms. It’s the birthday parties and the family gatherings. For years, so many children with food allergies were prohibited from going to birthday parties because there was nothing there that was safe for them to eat,” Warady adds. “Because there are these foods now, people can go to parties and enjoy themselves at whatever party they might want to attend.”

For more information, visit


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