Hickory Harvest Foods Breaks Ground On 17,000-s.f. Warehouse Expansion
Hickory Harvest Foods has broken ground on a 17,000-s.f. expansion to its corporate headquarters, located at 90 Logan Pkwy. in Akron, Ohio. The addition will include new warehouse and office space, which will allow more room for additional production and food manufacturing.
Construction is set to begin in May and expected to be completed by Sept. 1. Hickory Harvest also is adding new roasting and packaging lines to accommodate its recent growth in bulk and private labeled nuts/trail mixes. With the new lines, Hickory Harvest will increase capacity by 50 percent, allowing for new product expansion.
“The snack market is growing in a number of ways from different flavor profiles, alternative packaging and retailers adding larger product sets in their stores. Over the past eight years the category has grown annually 5-8 percent; and we see no signs of that slowing down as consumers understand the health benefits of nuts and retailers realize increased margins from carrying a private brand or the Hickory Harvest and IM Good Snacks brands,” said Joe Swiatkowski, president of Hickory Harvest. “Because we are one of the few nut roasters in the country that packages and processes as extensively as we do, we are positioning our business to capture more market share.”
Budweiser, Music Fans ‘Band’ Together For America’s Rivers And Lakes
This summer, Budweiser is inviting consumers across the country to participate in a series of cleanup events, in select cities, aimed at preserving and protecting lakes and rivers. These efforts are part of the Budweiser America Made Better platform, which supports designated driver campaigns, military support efforts and water conservation programs. Budweiser is rewarding volunteers age 21 and older, who register and participate in the cleanups in most cities, with tickets and expedited entrance to their city’s Budweiser Made in America party—plus a chance to get VIP access. America Made Better watershed cleanups are scheduled for the following cities: Cartersville, Ga.; Houston; Los Angeles; San Francisco; St. Louis; Denver; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; New York; and Philadelphia.
“Water is a key ingredient in beer—and an important part of our daily lives,” said Kathy Casso, VP of corporate social responsibility for Anheuser-Busch. “America Made Better combines two things inherent to the Budweiser brand—preserving our nation’s rivers and lakes then enjoying great music—and this is a natural and fun way for us to inspire volunteerism, connect with consumers and make a positive difference.”
This year, Budweiser is donating $150,000 to River Network to facilitate the majority of America Made Better cleanups across the country and to support the organization’s annual operations. The brand also is donating $30,000 to Great Lakes Forever to facilitate the America Made Better cleanup in Chicago and other efforts to protect area lakes.
“Budweiser is a great partner and we’re excited to see the positive impact America Made Better has on our nation’s rivers this summer,” said Todd Ambs, president of River Network. “Beyond financial and on-the-ground support, programs like this help us get new volunteers involved and inspired to make a difference in their communities.”
The America Made Better watershed cleanup campaign will conclude in Philadelphia just prior to Labor Day weekend and the national Budweiser Made in America festival.
For more information on volunteering for Budweiser America Made Better and the music festival, including ways to win trips and tickets, go here.
Hi Mountain Seasonings Breaks Ground On Its New Annex In Riverton, Wyo.
Hans and Kimberly Hummel, the owners of Hi Mountain Seasonings, recently broke ground on a new lot adjacent to their current headquarters to build a new 12,000-s.f. manufacturing and storage facility. This expansion will increase the Hi Mountain’s building space by 50 percent when completed in June 2013. This expansion comes as a result of the tremendous increase in popularity of the company’s products in recent years, a company news release says.
Hi Mountain Seasonings began operations in 1991 as a one-man operation selling one product, Hi Mountain Original Jerky Cure and Seasonings. Twenty-two years later, the company is still located in Riverton, and it has grown to its current 24,000-s.f. facility with 30 employees and a lineup of nearly 200 products.
“This expansion makes a strong statement about the high value our customers place on our products and services,” said Hans Hummel, the company’s president. “We are all very excited about the new facility and the opportunity that it brings to all of us at Hi Mountain Seasonings and the Riverton community.”
“The Riverton community is a very supportive partner of ours and we are pleased to further expand the Hi Mountain Seasonings footprint in the community,” said EVP Kimberly Hummel. “In fact, our building will border Day Drive, which was named after our former neighbor, the late Bill Day. He was a Korean War hero and had the kind of character that you would never forget. We all miss him.”
Kroger’s Manka To Retire
The Kroger Co.’s Rich Manka, VP and pension investment officer, plans to retire July 15.
Manka began his career with Dillon Cos. Inc., in 1982 as an investment manager for retirement plans. He was promoted to his current position in 2004. He has served on Kroger’s Retirement Management Committee and is chair of the company’s Pension Investment Committee. In addition to serving as an advisor and trustee on various Taft-Hartley Pension Funds, Manka was appointed by President Bush to serve on the advisory committee of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
“Throughout his career, Rich has been a trusted member of Kroger’s leadership team,” said Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s CFO. “Pension plan trustees and participants alike have benefited from his vast knowledge and influence on investment strategies and plan designs. We thank Rich for his contributions to our company and industry and wish him the very best.”
Manka’s replacement will be named at a later date.
Meijer Expands Made In Michigan Initiative Statewide
Meijer has expanded its program that supports Michigan small businesses to feature 55 new Michigan-made grocery products in all its stores statewide, Meijer Co-Chairman Doug Meijer says.
“Meijer is committed to supporting Michigan businesses, and the Made in Michigan initiative is a great opportunity to highlight some fantastic small businesses throughout the state,” Meijer says. “The response we received from our customers last year about this initiative was overwhelming, which is why we decided to further invest and expand this selection into all our Michigan stores.”
Grand Rapids-based Meijer launched the Made in Michigan initiative in January 2012 with the Michigan State University Product Center for Food-Ag-Bio. Its goal is to help strengthen the state’s economy by supporting Michigan small businesses. The initial offering of 49 grocery items—including marinara sauce, blueberry butter and gluten-free baking mixes—resulted in an estimated economic impact of $400,000 statewide.
This year’s lineup of 55 Michigan-made grocery products will be more visible in all of the 102 Meijer stores in Michigan. Items including barbecue sauces, cherry butter, salsas, guacamole and kettle chips are expected to have an estimated economic impact of $900,000 statewide, says Matt Birbeck, High Impact Venture Action Team project manager for the MSU Product Center.
“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for all Michigan businesses to have this local section at Meijer; many of them see amazing results,” Birbeck says. “Now that it’s in every Michigan Meijer store, everybody gets to see and taste the diversity of this great state.”
Meijer worked with the MSU Product Center and its HI-VAT initiative to expand the program and ensure that all the suppliers had the right food protocols and supply chain procedures. The items are expected to remain on the shelves for a year, and will have an opportunity to branch out chain-wide. Of the initial items that were featured in 33 Meijer stores last year, a few products are under consideration to be mainstreamed onto the shelves as part of the retailer’s regular grocery offerings.
After losing his job in 2010, Tarek Abouljoud decided to start Teta Foods, a Michigan-based company specializing in manufacturing healthy Mediterranean foods. He learned about the retailer’s Made in Michigan initiative through the MSU Product Center, and was thrilled when all five of his products were approved by Meijer.
“The biggest challenge that small food manufacturers face is reaching the inflection point where they become a well-recognized and successful company with a great brand,” says Abouljoud, president/owner of the Clinton Township-based company. “We believe this is going to be the turning point for our company in becoming a great Michigan business success story. We are grateful to have Meijer as part of our success story.”
Blackhawk Files For $200M IPO
Blackhawk Network Holdings, a provider of prepaid cards and services for consumer and business use, filed Monday for an initial public stock offering worth up to $200 million, the San Francisco Business Times reports.
The Pleasanton, Calif.-based company, founded in 2001 and 96 percent owned by Safeway Inc., saw annual revenue rise from 2008 to 2012 from $362 million to $959 million, with annual net income increasing from $22.7 million to $50.3 million.
Blackhawk offers gift cards from Amazon.com, Applebee’s, iTunes, Lowe’s, Macy’s and Starbucks and from payment networks that include American Express, MasterCard and Visa. It also offers reloadable stored value cards provided by Green Dot and NetSpend.
Publix Reports 4Q, Annual Results
Publix’s sales for the fourth quarter of 2012, a 13-week period, were $7.0 billion, a 3.6 percent decrease from last year’s $7.2 billion, a 14-week period. Excluding the additional week in the fourth quarter of 2011, sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 would have increased by 3.4 percent, according to the Lakeland, Fla.-based grocer. Comparable-store sales for the fourth quarter of 2012 increased 1.2 percent.
Net earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012 were $392.8 million, compared to $399.5 million in 2011, a decrease of 1.7 percent. Earnings per share for the fourth quarter decreased to $0.50 for 2012, down from $0.51 per share in 2011. Net earnings and earnings per share decreased due to the extra week in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Publix’s sales for the fiscal year ended Dec. 29, 2012, a 52-week year, were $27.5 billion, a 1.9 percent increase from last year’s $27.0 billion, a 53-week year. Excluding the additional week in 2011, sales for 2012 would have increased by 3.8 percent, the company says. Comparable-store sales for 2012 increased 2.2 percent.
Net earnings for 2012, a 52-week year, were $1.6 billion, a 4.0 percent increase from last year’s $1.5 billion, a 53-week year. Earnings per share increased to $1.98 for 2012, up from $1.90 per share in 2011.
These amounts are based on audited reports that were filed Feb. 28 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company’s annual report to the SEC, Form 10-K, is available on its website here.
Effective March 1, Publix’s stock price increased $0.70 from $22.50 per share to $23.20 per share. Publix stock is not publicly traded and is made available for sale only to current Publix associates and members of its board of directors.
“I’m pleased with the improvement in our operating results for 2012, a 52-week year, as compared with 2011, a 53-week year,” said Publix CEO Ed Crenshaw. “As a result of our associates’ efforts, our stock price reached a new all-time high after considering stock splits.”
Publix is privately owned and operated by its 157,000 employees. Currently Publix has 1,069 stores in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee, with plans to enter North Carolina.
Berkshire Hathaway And 3G Capital Buying H.J. Heinz Co.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by Heinz’s board of directors, Heinz shareholders will receive $72.50 in cash for each share of common stock they own, in a transaction valued at $28 billion, including the assumption of Heinz’s outstanding debt. The per share price represents a 20 percent premium to Heinz’s closing share price of $60.48 on Feb. 13, a 19 percent premium to Heinz’s all-time high share price, a 23 percent premium to the 90-day average Heinz share price and a 30 percent premium to the one-year average share price.
“The Heinz brand is one of the most respected brands in the global food industry and this historic transaction provides tremendous value to Heinz shareholders,” said Heinz Chairman, President and CEO William R. Johnson. “We look forward to partnering with Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, both greatly respected investors, in what will be an exciting new chapter in the history of Heinz. With Heinz stock recently at an all-time high and 30 consecutive quarters of organic topline growth, Heinz is being acquired from a position of strength. As a private enterprise, Heinz will have an opportunity to drive further growth and advance our commitment to providing consumers across the globe with great tasting, nutritious and wholesome products.”
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said, “Heinz has strong, sustainable growth potential based on high quality standards, continuous innovation, excellent management and great tasting products. Their global success is a testament to the power of investing behind strong brand equities and the strength of their management team and processes. We are very pleased to be a part of this partnership.”
Alex Behring, managing partner at 3G Capital, said, “We have great respect for the Heinz brands and the strong business that management and its employees operate around the world. We approached Heinz to explore how we might work together to expand the value of this storied brand. We fully recognize Heinz’s value and heritage and look forward to working together with Heinz’s employees, suppliers and customers as we invest in and support the company’s ongoing global growth efforts.”
Understanding the need to preserve Heinz’s values, heritage and community connections, Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital have pledged to maintain Pittsburgh as its global headquarters, and to fulfill and continue its philanthropic support of community initiatives and related investments.
The transaction will be financed through a combination of cash provided by Berkshire Hathaway and affiliates of 3G Capital, rollover of existing debt, as well as debt financing that has been committed by J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo. Berkshire Hathaway owns and invests in leading businesses across a variety of industries, including numerous iconic brands. 3G Capital is a global investment firm focused on long-term value creation, with a particular emphasis on building and expanding great brands and businesses.
The transaction is subject to approval by Heinz shareholders, receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third (calendar) quarter of 2013.
H.J. Heinz Co. is one of the world’s leading marketers and producers of healthy, convenient and affordable foods specializing in ketchup, sauces, meals, soups, snacks and infant nutrition. Heinz is a global family of leading branded products, including Heinz Ketchup, sauces, soups, beans, pasta and infant foods (representing over one third of Heinz’s total sales), Ore-Ida potato products, Weight Watchers Smart Ones entrées, T.G.I. Friday’s snacks, and Plasmon infant nutrition.