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Thomas Harding of Lehigh Valley Organic Growers to be honored by OTA

A long-time organic champion who has played a key role in creating today’s organic sector has been chosen by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) to receive its 2015 Growing the Organic Industry Award.

Thomas Harding, President of Lehigh Valley Organic Growers, is being recognized by OTA for his outstanding work in advancing organic agriculture and the organic industry. The 2015 Organic Leadership Awards will be presented at OTA’s annual awards dinner on September 16 at the Port Discovery Children’s Museum in Baltimore as a kick-off event to Natural Products Expo East.

Harding has been involved with the organic industry for over 35 years, working directly with or as a consultant in business development, farm management, farming, and food distribution. He helped found the Organic Foods Production Association of North America (OTA’s precursor) and went on to become the founding president of the OTA Board.

Harding’s advocacy of organic has had a profound influence on the organic sector and on many organic farmers, including U.S. Senator Jon Tester, who farms an 1,800-acre certified organic farm in Montana and had this to say about Harding: “Switching to organic in the early 1980s allowed me to keep my farm when so many of my neighbors were selling off, and Tom’s advocacy for the industry has helped producers like me stay in agriculture.”

A tireless worker for the organic industry, Harding continues to be active in furthering organic’s role in the nation’s capital, with advocacy efforts on the Hill and development of OTA’s Organic Political Action Committee (PAC). He has been a constant monitoring force concerning standards and related regulations for organic, including the work of the National Organic Standards Board, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Organic Program, and Congress. He also has also been a leader at OCIA International, and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Harding’s vision of success over the years has played a critical part in the maturation of organic as an industry. “For over 40 years, Tom Harding has been a constant force growing the organic movement globally,” said George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley. “His contributions in developing organic standards, forming our organic associations, building businesses, and working with various governments to birth organic production worldwide are unmatched in the organic community. His contributions are many and deep in every aspect of organic. I’ve admired and valued his mentorship.”

OTA is honoring three individuals this year for their contributions to organic. In addition to Harding, the other organic award winners are Michael Berger, Managing Partner of Elevation Burger, winner of the Rising Star Award and Benny McLean, Production Manager of Uncle Matt’s Organic, winner of the Farmer of the Year Award.

Natural Products Expo East Preview

The editors of Gourmet News have already found dozens of exhibitors who will be launching new products at Natural Products Expo East to help retailers gain a growing share of this expanding market. Take a look now for a preview of these all-natural food and health, beauty and wellness products. Just click the image below.


Tea Board of India to Showcase Best of Indian Teas at World Tea & Coffee Expo

The Tea Board of India will showcase the best of Indian teas at an exclusive pavilion at India’s only international trade show dedicated to the tea and coffee sectors, the World Tea & Coffee Expo, which will be held from October 1-3 at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Goregaon, Mumbai, India.

Exhibitors in the  Tea Board of India Pavilion will include Golden Tips Tea Co Ltd, VarieTea, Makaibari Tea, Simla Tea Co Ltd, to name a few.

The World Tea & Coffee Expo ( is a global expo. In addition to the exhibits, WTCE will include a two-day conference and workshops on tea and coffee topics.

The organizer of the show is Sentinel Exhibitions Asia P Ltd [SEA], a part of the Sentinel media group. For further information, log onto or call +91 22 28625131 or email to

Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puff, Now Available in Your Kitchen

Sanders’ cream puff shells are now available in the freezer section at select Michigan Kroger stores, in Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shoppes and online at in a newly designed resealable pouch. 

Sanders Cream Puff Package DealThe packaging update comes after Sanders’ recent launch of its new super premium ice cream cartons, giving shoppers the opportunity to enjoy a real hot fudge cream puff at home using the same ice cream, toppings and cream puffs as Sanders Shoppes. 

“We wanted to design a more purposeful package for our cream puff shells that would really showcase the product inside,” said Walter Pilon, Director of Sales – Bakery & Frozen Goods at Sanders and Morley Candy Makers, Inc. “The crisp graphics and delicious recipe ideas on this pouch definitely make it stand out in any freezer section.” 

Six cream puff shells were previously packed in simple clear bag with a label and twist tie in the past. While the contents are the same, the vessel has been completely updated to better fit in with the modern, yet nostalgic feel of other Sanders products. The resealable pouch is also self-standing, allowing shoppers to immediately notice the iconic Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puff on the front, while the backside of the package provides various cream puff recipes. 

Andronico’s Community Markets Appoints Cheryl Hughes CFO


Andronico’s Community Markets in Berkeley, California has announced that Cheryl Hughes has joined its executive team as Chief Financial Officer. Recently appointed CEO Suzy Monford leads the all female team.

Hughes formerly held the role of Controller for Chemoil, a global oil trading organization and one of the world’s leading retail maritime fuel suppliers, based in San Francisco. She was the highest ranking U.S. finance executive reporting directly to the global CFO for the company. Prior to this role she was CFO at Pacific Convenience & Fuels based in Pleasanton. Her career in food and retail dates back to her role as Director of U.S. Finance with Circle K Stores Inc., where during her 15 year tenure there, she was responsible for accounting, finance, tax and risk management with over $12 billion in annual revenue. Born and raised Wisconsin, Hughes moved to Arizona for Circle K and then to California with her husband and their two daughters.

We’re extremely excited to have Cheryl on our team,” Monford said. “She has an incredible wealth of knowledge in finance and can help change and improve processes that will keep our team focused on how they can best deliver value for our customers.”

I’m very happy to be back in retail and I love the Andronico’s team. I see so many opportunities for growth and improvement with the talented team here and ways to streamline finances and cash flow,” Hughes said. “We don’t need to spend a lot of money to maximize what we are doing. I’m focused on the backend processing so those on the front lines can be focused on creating exciting new programs for the coming months.”



Haggen Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Haggen, the West Coast regional grocer, has announced that in order to reorganize around its core profitable stores, it has filed voluntary petitions for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in Wilmington. The company has received commitments for up to $215 million in debtor-in-possession financing from its existing lenders to maintain operations and the flow of merchandise to its stores during the sale process.

The company has made customary first-day motions with the bankruptcy court intended to support the continuation of its day-to-day operations for customers, employees, vendors and suppliers, and other business partners during the restructuring. As part of that, it is seeking court approval to continue employee wages and certain benefits and honor certain customer programs. The motions are expected to be addressed by the court in the coming days.

“After careful consideration of all alternatives, the company concluded that a reorganization through the Chapter 11 process is the best way for Haggen to preserve value for all stakeholders,” said John Clougher, Chief Executive Officer of Haggen. “The action we are taking today will allow us to continue to serve our customers and communities while providing Haggen with a process to re-align our operations to be positioned for the future.”

Haggen has engaged Sagent Advisors to market for sale some locations in the five states it operates and to explore market interest for various store locations. Discussions are underway with interested parties to sell many of the company’s remaining assets.

Haggen grew from an 18-store regional grocer to 164 stores through the purchase of Albertsons locations in December 2014. The associated conversion process for the stores made Albertsons’ cooperation and good faith implementation of the terms of the deal in the asset purchase agreement essential. Haggen is alleging in a separate lawsuit against Albertsons that the cooperation and good faith implementation didn’t happen, and that’s what led to Haggen’s failure to convert the new stores, ultimately resulting in the Chapter 11 filing.

Ralphs Cheese Expert Receives the American Cheese Society’s Certified Cheese Professional Credential

Ralphs Grocery Company is proud to announce that its associate Nicki Smock has been named a Certified Cheese Professionals™ by the American Cheese Society.

Smock, a Ralphs Cheese Specialist and resident of Long Beach, is part of an elite group of 187 individuals from 51 different companies who passed the 4th annual ACS Certified Cheese Professional® Exam. The exam was held on July 29 in Providence, Rhode Island.

Smock is the first Ralphs associate to earn the ASC’s Certified Cheese Professional designation.

The ACS Certified Cheese Professional Exam is the first and only exam of its kind. It was established by the American Cheese Society to promote the large and comprehensive world of cheeses and encourage food industry professionals to master the knowledge.

“We are proud of Nicki for dedicating herself to her craft and sharing her passion for cheese with our customers,” said Donna Giordano, President of Ralphs. “Her designation as a Certified Cheese Professional™ is an inspiration to Ralphs’ cheese masters who take pride in delighting their customers.”

Passing the American Cheese Society’s CCP exam is no small feat. Before being allowed to sit for the exam, cheese people must have 4,000 hours of work and/or formal education in the cheese-field under their belt.

“It’s a great honor to be the first Ralphs associate to complete the exam and become a Certified Cheese Professional,” said Smock. “I look forward to using my certification, knowledge and experience to train our Ralphs cheese masters to better serve our customers.”

As a Ralphs Cheese Specialist, Smock is responsible for the overseeing the operation of the 22 Murray’s Cheese Shops that are located inside Ralphs stores. Smock managed Ralphs’ first Murray’s Cheese Shop, which opened inside its Marina Pacifica store in Long Beach in 2013. She joined Ralphs in 2006 as a Deli Department Clerk.

In recognition of becoming a Certified Cheese Professional, Smock will receive an official lapel pin, embroidered patch, certificate and the right to use the title ACS Certified Cheese Professional™. As an ACS Certified Cheese Professional, Smock will be required to demonstrate continued active participation within the cheese industry and continued professional development to maintain this credential, and will be required to recertify every three years.

Through an exclusive partnership with New York City’s Murray’s Cheese, Ralphs stores feature 22 Murray’s Cheese Shops in its stores from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Featuring more than 175 cheeses and specialty goods from all over the world, the Murray’s Cheese Shops are staffed by Ralphs associates who have been trained by Murray’s experts in New York.

The Albertsons Companies Begins Fall Season Fundraiser to Combat Childhood Hunger

The Albertsons Companies and its store brands, in partnership with the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF), will join together for an in-store campaign featuring Academy and Emmy Award®-nominated actress Viola Davis to benefit Hunger Is, a charitable program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. Hunger Is raises awareness and funds to fight childhood hunger in America. The Albertsons Companies store brands include Albertsons, Safeway, Amigos, Star Market, Pavilions, Tom Thumb, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, ACME Markets, Randalls, Carrs, Market Street, United Supermarkets, Vons and Super Saver.

Taking place in September, this effort will be the first fall season in-store campaign to support Hunger Is, enabling shoppers to contribute to solving a problem that affects one in five children in America. The Hunger Is print public service ad featuring Davis, which appears year-round in an array of media outlets, will be adapted for point-of-sale displays and other materials to be featured in select stores during the in-store campaign.

Shoppers across the country will be able to support this important cause at 2,200 locations in 33 states. In addition to individual shoppers’ contributions, sales of select products from participating vendors will generate donations to Hunger Is, up to $1 million. Vendors include Marie Callendar’s, Healthy Choice, Bertolli, P.F. Chang’s, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Unilever and Albertsons’ private label brands, Organics and Open Nature.

To date, Hunger Is has raised over $10 million for programs connecting hungry children to healthy food. Today, Hunger Is continues to encourage individuals and communities to come together in an effort to improve access to school breakfasts, out-of-school and summer food programs, increase access to healthy foods and develop a lasting solution to childhood hunger.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the incredible success we have had with Hunger Is. The support of our communities and our neighbors has made a tangible impact in our fight to eradicate childhood hunger in this country,” stated Davis. “I am continually grateful to represent Hunger Is in its work to change lives and put an end to a problem that has gone on for far too long.”

Funds raised through the initiative will go toward programs focused on fighting childhood hunger and improving health-related outcomes for hungry children and their families. In addition to supporting programs that connect hungry children to healthy food, Hunger Is will continue its focus on determining the best methods to link clients to resources that can help prevent food insecurity on a long-term basis.

“We are so grateful to have Viola Davis continue her active role in our shared mission to end childhood hunger in America,” said Christy Duncan Anderson, Director of Community Relations for the Albertson Companies. “We cannot begin to express the level of gratitude we have for our customers in communities across the country. With the generous support of our vendors offering a wide array of participating products, we are able to expand this in-store fundraising campaign even further to make a larger impact. Their generous support throughout this campaign shows just how much this issue affects each and every one of us. We, along with our partners at the Entertainment Industry Foundation, stand with Viola as we share our goal of providing a brighter future for our youth.”

Since 2014, Hunger Is has awarded grants on a national scale, which includes impact grants to organizations to evaluate “best practices” that might be implemented widely to help expand meal programs, increase access to nutritious food for families in need and improve state/local policies related to public nutrition programs for children. These supported programs will be evaluated to determine ongoing grant programs to make a sustainable impact on childhood hunger.

Hunger Is grant recipients were selected with the help of the Hunger Is Advisory Committee (HIAC), comprised of leaders from the most respected hunger advocacy organizations in the U.S., including the Center for Hunger-Free Communities, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Drexel University, Feeding America, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), Growing Power, New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and WhyHunger. The HIAC provides guidance in defining and addressing needs and makes funding recommendations for approval by the Albertsons Companies stores and EIF Boards of Directors.

“We are honored to continue to pursue our goal of ending childhood hunger alongside the Albertsons Companies stores and our passionate Ambassador Viola Davis, whose personal experience struggling with hunger not only moves us all but provide a powerful voice for the children who struggle with hunger on a daily basis,” said Lisa Paulsen, EIF President and CEO. “Together we will continue helping families across the nation as we move toward a solution.”

For more information about childhood hunger, along with simple ways for individuals to get involved and donate, visit For information about the fall campaign and participating brands, go to

Launch of

Maureen Downey, named the “Sherlock Holmes of Wine” by Bloomberg and the “Wine Detective” by SF Weeklyannounces the official launch of, the first of its kind resource for vendors, buyers and producers of fine wine. Founder Maureen Downey was instrumental in solving the now notorious case of the Kurniawan wine counterfeits, which were estimated to have brought $130 million dollars of fake wine to auction and international markets. When Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry had $300,000 of wine stolen from their collection last December, Downey was immediately consulted by the FBI to help them crack the case. Bloomberg Business says, “For the past 10 years she has been on a one-woman crusade to rid the wine industry of counterfeit and stolen wine.”

The aim of is to raise awareness of wine fraud and counterfeiting issues in the wine trade and among consumers, and to educate its members on the core principles of wine authentication. The mission of the site is to make it difficult for wine fraudsters to thrive by raising awareness and knowledge, as well as increasing due diligence. The ultimate goal is to end wine counterfeiting and fraud, creating a more transparent and authentic global wine marketplace. offers a subscription service that provides education and advocacy for wine collectors, producers and vendors through the largest anti-counterfeiting resource in the world. The site reports information about the latest breaking counterfeit scandals, and current wine fraud events and trends seen by Downey and her global team of experts.

The site lists vendor members who are known to do their due diligence when it comes to selling wine in the global marketplace and reports news related to wine production, packaging, branding, distributing, storing, selling, and collecting. In The Business and Vendor sections, members can display the Member Badge on their own websites and wherever they market or sell their wines to demonstrate to colleagues and clients that they are dedicated to becoming educated about and stamping out wine fraud and wine counterfeiting. It is a one-stop-shop for all things related to wine fraud and counterfeiting, and it is helping the wine industry become more accountable to its buyers.

Fork in the Road Foods Launches Gourmet Sausage Line at Whole Foods Market

Most Whole Foods regions will begin offering Fork in the Road Food’s Non-GMO Project verified gourmet sausages and hot dogs in early September. The line includes six chicken and heirloom pork varieties.

“We are continually striving to improve our standards and take a better path,” said Phil Gatto, CEO of Fork in the Road. “In speaking with our customers and farmers over the past few years, we knew that going non-GMO would be a step in the right direction. We are happy to offer consumers a product that is free of genetically modified organisms and meets our guidelines for animal welfare and quality.”

Fork in the Road received Non-GMO Project verification after a rigorous testing process to ensure all animal feed and product ingredients, as well as their manufacturing plant, met the Non-GMO Project Standard. As with all Fork in the Road products, the sausages are produced from meat raised without the use of antibiotics and added hormones, and is animal welfare certified under the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-Step Program. Products contain no synthetic nitrates or nitrites, or artificial ingredients and preservatives.

“Whole Foods Market is excited to introduce Fork in the Road’s new line of sausages and hot dogs from non-GMO-fed chicken and pigs,” said Becky FaudreeWhole Foods Market Global Senior Meat Coordinator. “We are proud of this exclusive partnership where we have both worked hard to bring our customers a new and unique product in the meat space.”

Fork in the Road’s new non-GMO sausage line includes:

  • Vermont Maple Syrup Breakfast Sausage
  • Bratwurst Made With Heirloom Pork
  • Asian Style Pork Sausage with Ginger and Scallions
  • Fire Roasted Fuji Apple Chicken Sausage
  • Spicy Heirloom Pepper Chicken Sausage
  • Honest Dogs™ Uncured Chicken Hot Dogs

For more information, visit

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