Get Adobe Flash player

Jeff Burt Named President of Fred Meyer Stores

The Kroger Co. has announced the retirement of Fred Meyer President Lynn Gust, and the promotion of Jeff Burt to succeed him. Burt currently serves as President of Kroger’s Central division.

Fred Meyer Stores, based in Portland, Oregon, offers one-stop shopping at 132 multi-department stores in AlaskaIdahoOregon and Washington.

Lynn Gust to Retire After 45 Years of Service

Lynn Gust will retire from the company after 45 years of service, effective January 31.

“Throughout his distinguished career, Lynn as always led by empowering, encouraging and supporting others,” said Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s Chairman and CEO. “Lynn is widely respected throughout our company and industry for his passion for people, the food business, and the communities we serve. The entire Kroger family wishes Lynn and his family all the best in retirement.”

Gust started his career with Kroger in 1970 as a parcel clerk at Fred Meyer’s Fourth Plain store in Vancouver, Washington. In 1972, he entered Fred Meyer’s food management program and advanced to serve in a variety of leadership roles in the division, including food department manager, training coordinator, grocery buyer and director of grocery sales & merchandising. He also attended the Cornell Food Executive Program in 1994. After serving as group vice president for the food group, he was named senior vice president of the store operations group in 2003. Gust was named executive vice president of corporate merchandising and advertising in 2006, followed by vice president of operations in 2011. He was promoted to president of Fred Meyer in 2012.

Under his leadership, Fred Meyer reached $10 billion in annual sales for the first time. Also under his leadership, Fred Meyer was recognized twice as one of Oregon’s “Best Places to Work” by the Portland Business Journal, and twice as one of Oregon’s “Healthiest Places to Work” by The Oregonian.

Following his retirement, Gust and his wife, Julie, will continue to be active in many community organizations in Portland and beyond, including serving on the Board of Trustees for Randall Children’s Hospital.

Jeff Burt Promoted to President of Fred Meyer Stores

Kroger promoted Jeff Burt to serve as President of the company’s Fred Meyer division.

Burt is currently president of Kroger’s central division, which operates food stores primarily in Indiana and Illinois. His successor will be named at a later date.

“Jeff is a strong, dynamic leader who brings out the best in our associates,” said McMullen. “His enthusiasm for serving our customers combined with both broad and deep experience in our business – including in the Pacific Northwest – will serve our Fred Meyer team well. We are grateful he agreed to take on this important role.”

Burt began his career with Kroger in 1986 as a management trainee. He has held a variety of leadership positions with the company in CincinnatiFloridaIndianapolis and Seattle, including store manager, produce merchandiser and vice president of merchandising and operations. In 2004, he was named corporate vice president of deli/bakery merchandising and procurement, before being promoted to group vice president of perishables merchandising and procurement in 2010. He has served as president of Kroger’s Central division since 2013.

Cheesemonger Invitational Returns to San Francisco

New York City’s annual Cheesemonger Invitational (CMI), returns to San Francisco for its biggest year ever, on Sunday, January 17, 2016. Dubbed “the Wrestlemania of Cheese,” “the biggest party in the Milky Whey” and “a competition like ‘Iron Chef,’ ‘Jeopardy,’ and ‘Survivor’ all rolled into one,” CMI brings together the country’s best cheesemongers and cheesemakers with their cheese-adoring public.

On Sunday, January 17, private competition preliminaries pit cheesemongers (the folks who sling cheese for a living) from across the nation against each other in timed challenges including a blind cheese tasting, grueling written exam, sales-under-pressure and the perfect cheese cut and wrap.

Joining the country’s best mongers are the world’s best cheesemakers, including American artisan pioneers Cellars at Jasper Hill, Cowgirl Creamery, and Vermont Creamery and international luminaries Columbia Cheese, Essex Cheese, and Neal’s Yard Dairy. Six finalists will be chosen from the 35 entrants to compete for the title of Master Cheesemonger, one of a number of cheese-centric adventures, and various cash prizes.

$60 tickets are available for the public party and event finals. Doors open at 5 p.m. with “Perfect Bite” servings of cheese composed by every competing monger (a cheese-lover’s Nirvana). Custom grilled cheese sandwiches, fondue, and raclette will be on offer as well as this year’s signature Ploughman’s Supper. All that, and the chance to meet more than 20 makers and taste hundreds of pounds of cheese. A cash bar is also available.

Finalists will be announced at 6 p.m. and begin a heated two hours of competition including new challenges to test their monger prowess. The winner will be announced at 8:30 p.m. In addition to all-the-cheese-you-can-eat, attendees will receive libation giveaways all night.

For every ticket sold, $5 will be donated to the Daphne Zepos Teaching Award to further cheesemonger education.  Must be 21 years of age to enter, with ID.

Tickets are available at and the event will be held at Public Works, 161 Erie St, San Francisco 94103

WARNING:  this event is not for the lactose intolerant.

For more information, contact


Deli Department Innovation with The Better Chip


By Lorrie Baumann


The Better Chip is bringing new energy to the deli department with a gluten-free snack chip that comes in flavors that complement the premium cheeses, cured meats and the dips already in the deli cases. The product fits in well with the transforming role of the grocery’s perimeter, which has become a destination within the store for grab and go meal and snack shoppers who want quick sustenance but who don’t intend to sacrifice their nutritional goals by resorting to fast food as well as those who regard the deli department as their resource for food to serve when they entertain.

The Better ChipNow The Better Chip has extended its line of five flavors of better-for-you vegetable chips: Sweet Corn and Sea Salt, Jalapenos and Sea Salt, Spinach & Kale and Sea Salt, Beets and Sea Salt and Chipotles and Sea Salt with a smaller package size, a 1.5-ounce bag that’s easy to drop into a lunch kit or a sandwich clamshell for an offering that enhances the value of the grab and go offering. “Everyone wants to offer something a little different. We feel like that’s something different they can offer that you don’t get at sandwich places,” says Andrea Brule, Vice President/General Manager of The Better Chip. “We found that accounts were interested in a smaller bag they could use in their lunchtime program. Because our chips are doing so well in their big bags, they thought that, in a smaller bag, they might be able to use it in their lunch program.”

Of the five flavors, which continue to be offered in 6-ounce family-size bags, the Spinach & Kale is far and away the company’s best seller, Brule said. The Jalapenos and Beets Chips are tied for second place. The Better Chip will announce two new flavors early in 2016.

The chips appeal to consumers who are looking for a better-for-you snack that’s a gluten-free alternative to the crackers and bagel chips that are often chosen in the deli to accompany dips and hummus. In addition to being gluten free, The Better Chip snacks are non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, whole grain and made with fresh vegetables.

They appeal to deli manager because they’re an innovation that can add new energy to the category. “They get the ring on the sandwich, but when they [shoppers] come back to buy more, they get that ring in the deli. That’s as opposed to, with other chips, that ring goes to grocery.” Brule said.

The 1.5-ounce bags retail as a separate a la carte offering for $.99 to $1.19.



Guggisberg Sugarcreek Team Emmental Wheel Wins U.S. Cheese Championship


By Lorrie Baumann


IMG950609Cecylia Szewczyk is popping her buttons after the Emmental cheese made by her Sugarcreek team at Guggisberg Cheese was named the winner of the United States Championship Cheese Contest. The 200-pound wheel was chosen from among 1,894 entries in the contest, and it’s a cheese destined to lead Guggisberg Cheese’s product line in a direction that appeals to changing American tastes.

Of course, winning awards is nothing new for Guggisberg, which makes highly esteemed American Swiss-style cheeses that win championships almost routinely, but this award recognizes Guggisberg’s ability to turn its expertise toward traditional Swiss cheese styles with their robust flavors that were once considered too strong for American tastes. But as Americans have become more adventurous eaters, they’re demanding bolder flavors, and Emmental is back in favor. “In Switzerland, they are using different culture combinations that are able to break down the fat in cheese as it ages, and this produces the strongest notes that appreciated there. Here in the U.S. there is a tendency to use milder culture combinations that do not break down the fat , but more and more, Americans prefer pronounced flavors, and we would like to go in this direction,” Szewczyk explains.

Szewczyk led the team that developed the new cheese. Like the championship Emmental, she’s new to Guggisberg, although she’s been making cheese since 2006, when she was received her master’s degree in food biotechnology from the Polish university where she’d studied the food technology and food biotechnology. During the graduation ceremony in which she received her degree, she was approached by a Dutch company that was producing cultures for cheeses and offered a job immediately. She spent the next six years working in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and the Netherlands. Then the company sent her to Wisconsin to introduce its ingredients to the U.S. market. Two years later, the company’s management decided to change direction and scale back its efforts in the U.S. market.

By that time, though, Szewczyk had developed a friendly relationship with Guggisberg, which was one of her customers. “There was a mutual feeling,” she says. She approached Guggisberg with her thoughts about developing new cheeses, and the company took her on for a project that required testing a new pilot line that was an exact copy of the new production line Guggisberg Cheese was planning to install. “I came here, and we started playing with recipes,” she says. The 200-pound championship wheel was one of the first off that pilot line.

342-MMS-1426812044-attachment1-PART951426811913581The winning Emmental was aged for just three months with a special cheese coating that allowed the cheese to breathe and release gases and moisture that naturally form within the cheese as it ages instead of the plastic wrapping that’s commonly used in the U.S. “There is a tremendous difference if you let cheese age the natural way, if there are no plastic bags to create a barrier,” Szewczyk says.

“The flavor that we managed to develop there was really outstanding. We were so happy,” she says. “We thought we wouldn’t stand a chance against other Emmentals because of the short aging. In only three months, we were able to develop the flavor. Considering the fact that this was one of the first trials, I’ll say we were very lucky.”




Gourmet Guru Celebrates 20 Years

Gourmet Guru, the first all natural and organic food retail distribution company in New York City, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Launched as a sole-proprietor, one-truck operation in 1996, Gourmet Guru distributed mostly local items and imported cheese exclusively to independent accounts in the New York City market at that time. The organization has steadily grown to be an award-winning vertically integrated sales, marketing and logistics company now covering territory from Washington, D.C. to Maine.

Since its inception, Guru has focused on bringing only the most innovative and high-quality natural and organic products to market with a proud track record of having launched several emerging (and now major) categories such as: USDA organic, Greek yogurt, natural/organic deli and meats and functional beverages for companies that have become the leading CPG brands in those categories.

As Guru embarks on the upcoming year, the company will be launching a number of events that demonstrate its holistic approach to business and the world around us. The themes will highlight Guru’s passion for innovation and mutualism as well as an appreciation for customers and producer partners. These will include 20 new lines or line extensions in natural, organic categories, customer and producer appreciation awards for those maintaining 20 years of loyal partnership and 20 community give-back events as well as a 20th anniversary food show.

Arthur Schuman to Showcase Award-Winning “Best of Class” Cheeses at Winter Fancy Food Show

Arthur Schuman, Inc. will be showcasing its 2015 award-winning “Best of Class” cheeses at the Winter Fancy Food Show on January 17-19 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Arthur Schuman, Inc., a fourth-generation family company located in Fairfield, New Jersey, is recognized as a leader within the specialty cheese industry as both an importer and a producer of hard domestic cheeses for foodservice operators, retailers and distributors.

Arthur Schuman, Inc. invites you to stop by and taste these award-winning “Best of Class” cheeses that include:

Cello Riserva Copper Kettle Parmesan – This parmesan cheese has a unique rich and nutty flavor that earned a first place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition. Made with strict traditional methods, this award-winning cheese is produced in Arthur Schuman’s Lake Country Dairy facility using the highest quality milk. The cheese’s robust flavor and distinct color comes from our commitment to using a copper kettle in the cheese making process and natural sea salt in the brining process. Each wheel is hand selected by a team of expert cheese graders as soon as its flavor has reached the peak of perfection.

Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan – Produced by expert cheesemakers, Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan is made with the freshest milk from local Wisconsin farms and carefully crafted using traditional techniques. Each wheel is naturally aged for over 12 months, developing a deep, nutty, sweet flavor. The complex composition of Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan earned the second place award at the 2015 American Cheese Society Competition.

Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps – Cello Whisps Parmesan Cheese Crisps are an innovative snack made entirely of one delicious ingredient, 100 percent pure Parmesan cheese. Made with award-winning Cello Copper Kettle Parmesan Cheese aged 14 months, Cello Whisps provide health conscious consumers of all ages with a healthy snack alternative that also taste great. Cello Whisps are all-natural wholesome crisps baked into flavorful, airy, crispy bites. They are an excellent source of protein and calcium and are gluten free. One serving is just 100 calories.

Cello Whisps have gained a strong fan following: consumers try them once and fall in love. Even the cheese experts love Cello Whisps; their delicious flavor earned the second place award at the 2015 U.S. Championship Cheese Contest.

“2015 was a very rewarding year for Arthur Schuman, and we are already looking forward to launching our new Yellow Door Creamery Hand-Rubbed Fontina and Yellow Door Creamery Brilliant Blue cheeses in 2016,” said lIana Fischer, Vice President of Innovation & Strategy at Arthur Schuman, Inc. “We pride ourselves in offering new and innovative cheese products into the specialty market.”

Arthur Schuman, Inc. will also be showcasing hand selected imported cheeses including Entremont, Dodoni, Brugge, Busti, Mario Costa, Zanetti, Garofalo, and Pastures of Eden.

Bare Snacks Debuts New Packaging

Bare Snacks®, creator of delicious Snacks Gone Simple®, has just launched a fresh new look for its entire portfolio of crunchy baked snacks, which highlights the brand’s dedication to simple, clean ingredients. Featuring a modern interpretation of a slate board background coupled with a stylized new logo made from its baked fruit chips and striking real food visuals, the new packaging was developed to create an iconic brand block on-shelf and drive strong taste appeal while putting the simplicity of the snacks front and center. The new look for bare Banana Chips, Coconut Chips, and cornerstone Apple Chips will start shipping to retailers nationwide at the end of January.

“In an effort to better communicate the simplicity of our truly good-for-you snacks, we wanted to create a clean brand look that more accurately reflects our commitment to simple, real ingredients that still deliver the satisfying crunch of a chip,” said Dana Ginsburg, Director of Marketing at Bare Snacks. “Our modern packaging makeover perfectly expresses our brand promise to consumers in a fresh new way that puts our ingredients front and center.”

Bare Snacks’ new packaging features beautiful photography of real apples, coconuts and bananas on the front panel, as well as a refreshed logo made from the same fruit in chip form for each corresponding line. In addition, the new back-label design prominently displays ingredients front and center in large font and notes “The Bare Facts” for each product, such as containing no added oil or preservatives, as well as third party certifications like the Certified B Corp seal and Non-GMO Project Verified logo. To further communicate the simplicity of bare snacks, each bag also includes an illustration of a whole piece of fruit transitioning to slices and finally baked crunchy chips to accurately depict the minimally processed product inside.

Made with whole-food ingredients and real, fresh-picked fruit that is sliced and baked to crunchy perfection rather than fried, bare snacks are a tasty and healthier alternative to traditional chips. All bare snacks are Non-GMO Project Verified, gluten free, and contain no added oil or preservatives.

Bare snacks are available nationwide in natural and grocery stores including Whole Foods Market, Sprouts and Safeway as well as national retailers such as Target, Costco and Amazon with suggested retail prices ranging from of $0.99-$4.99.

New Shipper Display for La Piana Stuffed Pastas

Italian Foods Corporation is introducing a new display shipper for its best-selling La Piana shelf stable stuffed pastas at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

ItalianFoodsStuffedPastaShipperThe shipper holds 48 of the 8-ounce packages and may be used as an end cap or stand alone display, said Francesca Lapiana-Krause, general manager. It contains four flavors of the pasta and opens to about 5 feet high with a footprint of just 10 by 18 inches. Orders will be taken at the show for shipment in February, Lapiana-Krause said.

Flavors include Mezzaluna with Gorgonzola, Tortellini with Cheese, Mezzaluna with Basil Pesto, and Ravioli with Squash. All of the stuffed pastas are imported from the Lombardy region and are shelf stable for 15 months. The pastas have been repackaged into a recyclable plastic bag featuring a matte finish and elegant design of soft grey and yellow with a clear window allowing consumers to view the pasta. A squared bottom keeps the bags neatly displayed. The 8-ounce stuffed pastas have a suggested retail price of $4.99. They also are available in 1-pound boxes with a suggested retail price of $6.19 to $7.19.

More information is available online at and or by calling 1.888.516.7262.

Applegate Farms, LLC Announces Leadership Changes For 2016

Natural and organic meat provider Applegate® announced that Chief Executive Officer Kerry Collins will transition to the role of CEO Emeritus, and Chief Operating Officer Steven J. Lykken will assume the position of President.  Applegate Farms, LLC (Applegate) is a stand-alone subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation.

“Both Kerry and Steve played key roles in ensuring a smooth transition of Applegate into a stand-alone subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation,” said Thomas R. Day, Group Vice President of Refrigerated Foods at Hormel Foods. “Kerry’s leadership was essential in preserving the core of Applegate’s vision of ‘Changing the Meat We Eat,’ and we look forward to her continuing counsel as CEO emeritus. Steve brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience that will help Applegate continue to grow and expand in the natural and organic food space.”

Collins joined Applegate in 2011 as vice president of finance. She led key efforts in information technology and supply chain management and quickly rose through the ranks to chief financial and operating officer.  Collins was named chief executive officer of Applegate in 2014.  She shepherded the acquisition of Applegate by Hormel Foods in 2015. In addition to her CEO emeritus role, Collins also will be a member of the Applegate Advisory Board, a group charged with continuing Applegate’s vision of “Changing the Meat We Eat.”

Lykken became chief operating officer of Applegate in August 2015. He is a 24-year veteran of Hormel Foods Corporation, most recently as the senior vice president of supply chain at Jennie-O Turkey Store.  He began his career at Hormel Foods in 1992 as a grocery products sales representative in Salt Lake City, Utah. From 1996 to 2002, Lykken led teams in trade management and marketing at the Hormel Foods Corporate office in Austin, Minnesota.  He was moved to the Jennie-O Turkey Store as senior vice president of the retail division in 2003.

Gourmet News

Follow me on Twitter