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Central Grocers Gets Go-Ahead to Explore Sale

On Tuesday, April 25, Teamsters Local 703 and Central Grocers reached an understanding to resolve the union’s action for a temporary restraining order. Local 703 originally filed the action in federal court on April 18 based on information that Central Grocers would sell its facility in Joliet, Illinois.

The Teamsters represent approximately 300 members at Central Grocers, the supplier to hundreds of retail grocery stores in Illinois and majority owner of Strack & Van Til stores in Indiana.

Local 703 had sought an injunction of any sale, including a temporary restraining order, pending arbitration of the union’s claim that the sale would violate its labor contracts. Local 703 now has agreed to withdraw the action, without prejudice to re-filing, in exchange for certain assurances from Central Grocers regarding a potential transaction and receipt of certain confidential information that will allow the Teamsters to better assess the transaction and its potential impact on the labor contracts and members.

The arrangement will allow the seller and buyer to proceed with exploration of the potential transaction without the disruption of litigation, while giving Local 703 new and concrete information necessary to better protect its interests and the interests of its members.

“Withdrawing our original action at this time is in the best interest of the union and our membership,” said Thomas W. Stiede, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 703. “Preserving our strong labor agreements in the grocery industry is paramount. The Teamsters will continue to work to gather information in the effort to protect members and prepare for what the future may hold.”

Kroger Recommends Shareholders Reject “Mini-Tender” Offer by TRC Capital Corporation

The Kroger Co. received notice of an unsolicited “mini-tender” offer by TRC Capital Corporation (TRC Capital) to purchase up to 4 million Kroger common shares at a price of $28.70 per share in cash. The offering price is 4.24 percent below the closing price per share of Kroger’s common shares on April 13, 2017, the last trading day before the offer was commenced. The offer is for approximately 0.44 percent of the common shares outstanding.

Kroger does not endorse TRC Capital’s unsolicited mini-tender offer and recommends that shareholders do not tender their shares because the offer is at a price below the current market price for Kroger’s shares and subject to numerous conditions. Kroger is not associated with TRC Capital, its mini-tender offer or the mini-tender offer documentation.

Mini-tender offers seek to acquire less than 5 percent of a company’s shares outstanding. Consequently, they can avoid many disclosure and procedural requirements of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules that apply to offers for more than 5 percent of a company’s shares outstanding.

Albertsons Companies Promotes Denningham to President & COO

Albertsons Companies has appointed Wayne Denningham, EVP & Chief Operating Officer, to the new role of President and Chief Operating Officer for Albertsons Companies. Bob Miller remains Chairman and CEO, a role he has held since April 2015.

Denningham will continue to lead store operations with added oversight of Marketing & Merchandising, Supply Chain, Manufacturing, and Integration, all of which will continue under their current leadership.

Albertsons Companies Promotes Jewel-Osco President Mike Withers to EVP, Retail Operations

Albertsons Companies has named current Jewel-Osco Division President Mike Withers as Executive Vice President, Retail Operations for Albertsons Companies. Withers will lead the company’s East Region operations, while current EVP, Retail Operations Susan Morris will lead the West Region. Jim Perkins, EVP, Retail Operations Special Projects, is focused on targeted initiatives to accelerate growth. All three executives will continue to report to Wayne Denningham, President and COO.

“Mike is an exceptional leader who understands our business and market areas from coast to coast,” Denningham said. “Throughout his career, Mike has worked closely with many members of our current leadership team, and his management experience and operations expertise will help all of our divisions run really great stores.”

Dean Foods’ Mayfield Creamery Ice Cream Brand Expanding Across the Southern U.S.

Dean Foods Company’s Mayfield Creamery ice cream brand is expanding further across the southern U.S. to a collection of new markets in Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico. Mayfield Ice Cream debuted in 1923, and can currently be found in grocery stores across the southeast in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.

In conjunction with the brand’s expansion across the south, the company also announced a brand restage initiative that takes Mayfield back to its roots, including restoring the name of the 94-year-old brand to Mayfield Creamery, the original trademark. To bring this update to life, Mayfield Creamery has completely overhauled its packaging graphics to showcase the brand’s core values, reflected in classic iconography and its heritage as a family dairy. The new packaging prominently features a classic Mayfield delivery truck set against the foothills of the Smoky Mountains highlighting the brand’s authentic southern roots. The new Mayfield Creamery logo has been adapted from the iconic circular Mayfield Dairy Farms logo recognized by generations of loyal fans.

Albertsons Companies Appoints Geoff White President, Own Brands

Albertsons Companies has appointed Geoff White to the new position of President of the company’s Own Brands organization. In this new role, White will lead the Own Brands team, including the Culinary Kitchen and Technical Center. He will be responsible for furthering the growth, development, and innovation of the company’s Own Brands products, including O Organics®, Lucerne®, Open Nature™ and the extensive line of Signature™ products.

“Geoff is a visionary merchant who understands the evolution of our company’s Own Brands and the significant role they play in our overall strategy,” said Shane Sampson, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer. “Our Own Brand items are integral to how we earn customer loyalty. We’ve developed a nimble process that responds quickly to consumer trends with popular products over the last two years, and I’m excited to see how our team and brands further their development under Geoff’s leadership.”

Dry Creek Vineyard Awarded U.S. Patent for Wine Cork Closures with Sustainable Sourcing Information

Dry Creek Vineyard announced the issuance of U.S. Patent No. D779,938, related to the design of printed sustainable sourcing information on its wine cork closures. This is the first patent issued to Dry Creek Vineyard, which is celebrating 45 years of family winemaking in Sonoma County, California.

The innovative closure is laser printed with ornamental and detailed information about the source of cork material, including the age of the cork forest, the harvest date of the trees and the sustainable habitat these remarkable forests provide to the Iberian Lynx and Spanish Imperial Hawk.

This revolutionary concept was introduced with the release of Dry Creek Vineyard 2013 Old Vine Zinfandel. President Kim Stare Wallace developed the idea in an effort to provide transparency and authenticity of the winery’s extensive portfolio.

“I wanted to provide valuable knowledge to consumers about our sustainability efforts and the benefits of cork closures,” said Stare Wallace. “Dry Creek Vineyard is one of the last truly private, family-owned, iconic wineries, and it is important to communicate our ‘no compromises’ philosophy on every aspect of our packaging.”

“We make wines with integrity and soul,” continued Stare Wallace. “No detail is overlooked, including when and from where our corks are harvested.”

Founded in 1972, Dry Creek Vineyard is 100 percent certified sustainable and a leader in the sustainability movement in the Dry Creek Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA) and the wine industry as a whole.

Nielsen-Massey Awarded (SQL) Level 3 Certification

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has been awarded the SQF 7.2 – Level 3 Certification by the Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI). SQFI is a globally trusted and recognized food safety and quality program. Level 3 certification recognizes suppliers that have implemented a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) food quality plan in addition to a food safety plan and food safety fundamentals. It is the most stringent and highest-level certification awarded by SQFI.

The SQF program is administered by a division of Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and is one of several certification systems recognized by the Global Food Safe Initiative (GFSI), as well as retailers and foodservice providers around the world that require HACCP food safety and quality management systems by their suppliers. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GSFI) brings together food safety experts from throughout the industry to identify the best food safety management practices across the agri-food supply chain. Today, GFSI and its global partners audit and certify more than 100,000 food operations and facilities across 160 countries. Safe Quality Food (SQF) certification allows a company’s food safety and quality systems to be verified and validated, increasing brand protection, consumer confidence and loyalty.

Nielsen-Massey’s previous SQF Level 2 included food safety fundamentals and a hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) approach to managing risks and hazards; this level is recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). The company’s new SQF Level 3 certification adds onto the Level 2 food safety requirements with additional quality requirements. To receive a Level 3 certification, Nielsen-Massey developed and implemented a quality management system that includes documented procedures, monitoring and measuring, corrective actions, internal audits and related processes.

“The awarding of the SQF Level III certification to Nielsen-Massey Vanillas is a demonstration of management commitment and our employees resolve to provide safe, healthy and high quality products for our customers,” said Terry Schindeldecker, SQF Practitioner.

Top Producers Promise to Restore World-Class Status of California Brandy

A group of leaders in the American spirits industry gathered this week for the first-ever California Brandy Summit and pledged to restore the perception of California brandy as ranking alongside the world’s most acclaimed spirits.

Top tier brandy producers, mixologists, and national influencers met for two days of discussions, seminars and tastings aimed at assessing the current perception of California brandy and at steering the future of the spirit.

The result was the pledge, formalized in a “Declaration to Raise the Status of California Brandy,” that said, in part, “We are committed to heralding the exceptional brandy crafted by California producers. We are committed to restoring the perception of California brandy as ranking alongside the world’s most acclaimed spirits.”

“We do need to raise awareness of the world-class quality of California brandy,” said Dan Farber, Founder and Distiller of Osocalis Distillery. “And that takes all of us. We producers have to keep putting the quality product in the glass, and we need the community to get the word out about what our DNA really is, and about how outstanding California brandy can be.”

The Brandy Summit featured discussions facilitated by F. Paul Pacult, Editor and Publisher of Spirits Journal and one of America’s foremost spirits authorities, with premium California brandy producers on the art and science of brandy making.

The group examined the best practices in brandy making, including distillation techniques, maturation and blending, and discussed whether there is a need for more production guidelines in California brandy.

Elite mixologists and summit participants demonstrated California brandy’s versatility by creating brandy cocktails ranging from new takes on modern classics to bright, refreshing spring and summer-style drinks. The group also got a preview tasting of the new premium Argonaut Brandy, which has four expressions ranging from a cocktail-oriented blend to sipping brandies to a collector’s brandy blended from rare, aged brandy lots.

“Because it’s made from wine, California brandy has completely unique flavor notes and qualities,” said Rita Hansen, Head Distiller for Argonaut Brandy. “A few decades ago, the world learned about the outstanding wines in California. We all think it’s time people also learned about the high quality and craftsmanship in California brandy.”

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