United Fresh 2013 Attendees Recognize Best New Products
Attendees of the United Fresh Produce Association’s annual convention and expo in San Diego cast their votes Wednesday and recognized this year’s New Product Awards in five categories. More than 30 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations competed in the categories of Best New Food Safety Solution, Best New Fruit Product, Best New Packaging, Best New Packing/Processing Equipment and Best New Vegetable Product.
The 2013 New Product Award winners are:
• Best New Food Safety Solution: FoodLink Item, Food Link.
• Best New Fruit Product: Lil Snappers, Sunkist Growers Inc.
• Best New Packaging Product: Sunset Display Ready Box, Mastronardi Produce.
• Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: RayFly Optical Sorter, Raytec Vision, SPA.
• Best New Vegetable Product: Pumpkin Pie Baking Kit, AMF Farms/Bay Baby Produce.
“These winning products have been selected by United attendees as outstanding representations of the new approaches, ideas and processes that are driving the fresh fruit and vegetable industry forward, and we applaud them for their product development,” said John Toner, United Fresh’s VP of convention and industry relations. “From its very beginnings, the United show has been the undisputed home of innovation for the produce industry, and these awards continue to showcase the best and brightest minds in the produce business.”
The finalists in each category were on display in the United Fresh membership booth on the trade show floor, and the winners were selected from votes cast by show attendees.
United Fresh launches Recall Ready Program
United Fresh this week launched the Recall Ready Program to help produce industry companies prepare for recalls as well as provide professional assistance for managing recall events. Ron Midyett, CEO of Apio and incoming chairman of United Fresh, announced the new program at United Fresh 2013 in San Diego.
“The Recall Ready Program is all about meeting the needs of our members in regards to one of our industry’s most critical priorities—food safety. If any of you don’t have an up-to-date recall plan, or haven’t been through recall training, I strongly urge you to consider this program,” said Midyett.
Recall Ready is designed to give companies peace of mind, and the confidence that they are prepared in advance and have the resources to respond to any recall situation. The program is a partnership between United Fresh and the legal and communications experts at OFW Law and Watson Green, who are counted among the food industry’s leading crisis counseling firms, according to a United Fresh news release.
Companies can choose program service options that include a recall plan review, creation of a custom recall plan and mock recall training. These program plans, with fees ranging from $5,000 to $15,000, help produce companies prepare for recalls and to learn how to deal with the surprises that can arise during recalls.
Additionally, once companies have completed one of these services to be prepared for a recall, they can engage United’s Rapid Recall Response Team to provide assistance from United and outside experts from the first moments of a recall crisis. The plan offers a 24/7 recall hotline and eight hours total consultation from United and Watson Green. The plan includes discounts on legal and communications services, if needed, beyond the initial consultation period.
“For minimizing the impact of a recall on your business, there’s nothing more important than having a plan and making sure your team is prepared to execute that recall plan,” said Dr. David Gombas, SVP of food safety and technology at United Fresh.
United will begin providing service under the Recall Ready Program in June. Members attending United Fresh 2013 in San Diego were able to register onsite for the program and receive a 10 percent discount.
Kroger Unveils Clean Energy Production System Powered By Food Waste
The Kroger Co. on Wednesday unveiled a clean energy production system that will convert food that cannot be sold or donated into clean energy to help power its Ralphs/Food 4 Less Compton distribution center.
The anaerobic conversion system will process more than 55,000 tons of organic food waste into renewable energy annually and provide power for the more than 650,000-s.f. distribution center. By diverting that food waste—the equivalent of 150 tons per day—the system also will reduce area truck trips by more than 500,000 miles each year. The Kroger Recovery System uses a sophisticated process to convert the carbon in organic material into a renewable source of methane.
“We are committed to finding solutions for food waste and clean energy, and we believe this is a meaningful step forward,” said Rodney McMullen, president and COO of The Kroger Co. “Investing in this project is a good business decision for Kroger and, most importantly, an extraordinary opportunity to benefit the environment. We want to thank Gov. (Jerry) Brown and his team at CalRecycle and CalEPA, the city of Compton, the SCAQMD and, most importantly, the team at FEED for making this renewable energy project a reality.”
How it works
The Kroger Recovery System utilizes anaerobic digestion, a naturally occurring process, to transform unsold organics and onsite food-processing effluent into renewable biogas. This biogas is then turned into power for onsite operations. The process is carried out in an enclosed, oxygen-free environment, which means the process takes up less space and generates no odors. The system will provide enough renewable biogas to offset more than 20 percent of the energy demand of the Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center. Combining the use of renewable energy power with more than 150 zero emission fuel cell forklifts, the Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center is now one of the greenest and most efficient, advancing the city of Compton as a leading sustainable community.
Crunch Pak Heads To Broadway With Electronic Billboard
Crunch Pak, a leader in fresh sliced apples, is headed for a yearlong run on Broadway as the company participates in a marketing campaign that puts its fresh apple product portfolio on display on an electronic billboard in the heart of New York City’s Times Square.
The billboard, located at 1541 Broadway, is the only bi-directional screen in Times Square with screens that measure 10 feet by 90 feet. The first Crunch Pak ad will start running later this month and will appear more than 17,000 times over the agreement period.
“The screens reach out over the sidewalk to engage millions of people every day,” said Tony Freytag,
SVP of sales and marketing. “This particular billboard is located in the heart of Times Square and is the only screen that you can see from all corners of the square due to its unique bowtie-shaped design.”
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. More than 1.5 million people pass through Times Square daily; with an average of more than 547 million visitors annually.
The campaign’s ability to reach millions of people from across the U.S. is what appealed to Crunch Pak, according to Freytag.
“We are in 18,000 stores across the country and the billboard gives us an opportunity to reach a cross-section of our consumers as well as our local shoppers in New York City who can find us at places like Shoprite, King Kullen, Target, Walmart, Costco and through FreshDirect,” Freytag said.“We have the flexibility to tell all the many stories we have in 15-second increments.”
In addition, the billboard is visible by television viewers of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade—generating millions of additional media impressions, Freytag reveals.
“This campaign is our opportunity to show our retail partners that we support them by doing what we can to build awareness for Crunch Pak as a national brand,” Freytag said.
La Brea Bakery Introduces Three New Ciabatta Breads
Artisan bread brand La Brea Bakery has introduced a new line of par baked Ciabatta breads that feature authentic recipes made from all-natural ingredients. The breads are available in three varieties: Ciabatta Loaf, Ciabatta Piccolo Loaf and Garlic Ciabatta Loaf.
La Brea Bakery’s Ciabatta breads include a tender interior and thin crusts. They are ideal for sandwiches, garlic bread or simply torn apart and dipped in fresh olive oil or olive tapenade.
“As a significant segment in the artisan bread category, Ciabatta has seen continued growth over the past year, which makes these three breads timely additions to our customers in-store bakery bread programs,” said Jennifer Johnson, brand manager for La Brea Bakery.
La Brea Bakery was founded by pastry chef Nancy Silverton in 1989. The bakery operates a flagship storefront in Los Angeles, in addition to a casual dining restaurant in Anaheim, Calif. La Brea Bakery is owned by Aryzta, a leading manufacturer and distributor of bread, buns, cookies, pizza and other premium baked goods.
Kroger, Banners Opening Clean Energy Production Facility In Compton
The Kroger Co., along with its Ralphs and Food 4 Less banners, will celebrate on Wednesday the opening of its clean energy production facility that will convert food that cannot be sold or donated into clean energy to help power its Compton, Calif., distribution center while reducing waste. A ceremony to mark the event will begin at 10 a.m. (PT) at the distribution center located at 1100 W. Artesia Blvd.
The ceremony will include a visual tour of the multi-stage energy recovery system and remarks from Los Angeles Business Council President Mary Leslie and local elected officials.
The Kroger Recovery System uses anaerobic digestion, a naturally occurring process, to transform unsold organics and onsite food-processing effluent into renewable biogas. This biogas is then turned into power for onsite operations. The process is carried out in an enclosed, oxygen-free environment—meaning the process takes up less space and generates no odors. The system will provide enough renewable biogas to offset more than 20 percent of the energy demand of the Ralphs/Food 4 Less distribution center. Other environmental benefits include reduced diesel truck trips by 500,000 miles per year; recycling of seven million pounds of cardboard, plastic and metal; reduction of 134 tons of waste per day; and generating enough renewable energy to power more than 8,000 homes per year.
Post To Acquire Organic Cereal, Granola And Snacks Biz Of Hearthside
Post Holdings Inc., a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of branded ready-to-eat cereals, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the branded and private label cereal, granola and snacks business of Hearthside Food Solutions, a portfolio company of Wind Point Partners.
Post will acquire assets from Hearthside comprising the Golden Temple, Peace Cereal, Sweet Home Farm and Willamette Valley Granola Co. brands, as well as its private label granola business. Both the private label and the acquired brands are sold predominantly through the natural and health channels. Post plans to combine the acquired business with its Attune Foods business, a branded ready-to-eat cereal business Post acquired in December 2012. The expanded Attune Foods will continue to be managed independently and will report to Terence E. Block, president and COO of Post Holdings Inc.
The acquisition includes a 135,000-s.f. manufacturing facility, capable of producing a variety of product and package formats, and a 30,000-s.f. finished goods warehouse. Both facilities will be leased by Post and are located in Eugene, Ore., where the business will continue to be based. In addition to its Eugene presence, the newly combined Attune business will have offices in Phoenix, Ariz., and San Francisco, Calif.
“This transaction expands Post’s participation in the high-growth segments of the cereal category, and we are excited about the expanded footprint it provides us,” said Bill Stiritz, Post chairman and CEO. “This acquisition will provide us with expanded presence with new retail partners and will be accretive to both top-line growth and earnings.”
Terms of the deal call for $158 million in cash to be paid at the time of closing. The company anticipates completing the all-cash transaction by June 2013, subject to certain limited closing conditions including the expiration of waiting periods required under antitrust laws and the receipt of necessary third party consents.
On a full-year basis, the transaction is expected to contribute approximately $70 million to net sales and approximately $17-$19 million to EBITDA, inclusive of expected annualized synergies. The transaction is structured as an asset purchase with Post benefiting from the “step-up” in the tax basis of the acquired assets and the resulting tax deduction, a news release says. Management estimates the cash tax benefit of the step-up to have a net present value of approximately $25-$30 million.
San Fran Sues Monster For Marketing To Kids Despite Alleged Health Risks
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a lawsuit against Monster Beverage Corp. for allegedly violating California law with its marketing of highly caffeinated energy drinks to children as young as 6 years old, despite scientific findings that such products may cause “significant morbidity in adolescents” from elevated blood pressure, brain seizures and severe cardiac events, a news release says.
The lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court earlier this week comes one week after Monster preemptively sued Herrera in a legal attempt to halt his office’s months-long investigation into the marketing and sales practices of the nation’s largest energy drink manufacturer. Herrera’s office had been working with Monster to negotiate voluntary changes to its youth-targeted marketing practices when the Corona, Calif.-based energy drink manufacturer sued the city attorney in federal court on April 29, the release says. Herrera, who has characterized Monster’s litigation strategy as “forum shopping” and a bid to win the race to the courthouse, has vowed to not back down.
“Monster Energy is unique among energy drink makers for the extent to which it targets children and youth in its marketing, despite the known risks its products pose to young people’s health and safety,” said Herrera. “Consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks by children has been widely condemned by pediatricians and scientists, and the NCAA has banned its member institutions from providing these products even to college athletes because of the grave safety risks. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week announced its investigation into the addition of caffeine to products like Monster, it expressed particular concern about aggressive marketing to young people. Yet Monster Energy remains defiant. As the industry’s worst-offender, Monster Energy should reform its irresponsible and illegal marketing practices before they’re forced to by regulators or courts.”
The FDA has received numerous adverse event reports allegedly related to consumption of Monster Energy drinks, including five deaths and multiple reported instances of illness, injury and hospitalizations. The alleged wrongful death of a 14-year-old Maryland girl from cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity after apparently drinking two 24-oz. servings of Monster Energy is the subject of high-profile private litigation currently pending against the company, the release says. Emergency room visits related to energy drink consumption have spiked dramatically in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Drug Abuse Warning Network, which reported a nearly 14-fold increase in medical events for which emergency invention was sought—from 1,494 instances in 2005, to 20,783 in 2011.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which represents more than 400,000 student-athletes at more than 1,000 North American colleges and universities, currently prohibits its member institutions from distributing caffeinated energy drinks to student-athletes. The NCAA has concluded that energy drinks “pose a health and safety risk for student-athletes” and “can have adverse health consequences if consumed before or during strenuous exercise.” Pediatric studies have similarly found that the cardiovascular effects “of heavy caffeine use can be a significant source of morbidity in athletes,” citing new-onset seizures, hypertension, heart palpitations and diuretic effects that can “lead to dehydration in athletes who do not drink enough fluids to compensate,” according to the release.
“Yet despite scientific consensus about the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks for youth and young athletes, Monster targets the at-risk demographic with marketing that encourages consumers to ‘pound down’ and ‘chug down’ its products, and assurances that Monster Energy consumers ‘can never get too much of a good thing,’” the release says. “The company’s marketing includes its ‘Monster Army’ website, which uses children as young as 6 years old to promote the Monster brand.
“Other actionable marketing tactics detailed in Herrera’s complaint include the company’s ‘Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game’ series, which photographs high school athletes holding twin four-packs—eight 16-oz. cans, containing 128 ounces of highly caffeinated Monster products,” the release adds. “At 10mg of caffeine per ounce, the photos feature high school athletes, including minors, displaying more than 12 times the generally recommended daily maximum of caffeine for adolescents.”
Herrera’s complaint alleges that Monster Beverage Corp.’s business and marketing practices violate California’s Unfair Competition Law and Sherman Food, Drug and Cosmetic Law. If San Francisco’s lawsuit is successful, Monster Energy could be enjoined from continuing illegal conduct deemed harmful to consumers and competitors, and forced to pay significant civil penalties and restitution as a result of its unfair business practices, the release says.
Green Giant Fresh Adds Avocados To Product Line
Green Giant Fresh has added avocados to its line of fresh fruits, vegetables and value-added meal solutions. In association with C.H. Robinson Co. Inc., Green Giant Fresh will start shipping fresh avocados to retailers nationwide in late May. Branded with the Green Giant icon, the new avocado product line will be available year-round through C.H. Robinson.
The avocados will be offered in 25-lb. and single-layer tray packs, and in three, four and five-count bags.
“Avocados continue to grow in popularity,” says Jennifer Fancher, director of marketing at Green Giant Fresh. “They are making their way into shopping carts across America as a simple, yet delicious handheld snack item as well as a regular ingredient in so many family meals. We are excited to be offering busy families yet another healthy meal solution.”
All bagged avocado options will feature the Box Tops for Education symbol as Green Giant Fresh features the program. Consumers can earn money for their children’s schools by clipping Box Tops coupons from hundreds of participating products. Since 1996, Box Tops for Education has helped America’s schools earn more than $525 million.
“C.H. Robinson is proud to bring a new product line to Green Giant Fresh’s expansive fresh produce offering. Our brands have a reputation for great taste, freshness, quality and are ones that consumers trust year-round,” said Michael Castagnetto, strategic category manager at C.H. Robinson.