Whataburger Adds Whatafries To Retail Line At H-E-B Stores
Whatafries were developed by the H-E-B product team in conjunction with Texas icon Whataburger to be sold exclusively at H-E-B. The product will make its way to H-E-B snack aisles in all H-E-B, Central Market, Mi Tienda and Joe V’s Smart Shop stores by June 24.
“H-E-B is pleased to continue our collaboration with Whataburger and to introduce new items for our customers to enjoy at home,” said Reade Ahrens, H-E-B group VP of grocery procurement and merchandising.
Safeway Rancher’s Reserve Beef Donates Mobile Grilling Trailer To Battalion
Honoring more U.S. military personnel with steak dinners is now possible with a donation from Safeway’s Rancher’s Reserve beef brand to the All American Beef Battalion, a Dodge City, Kan.-based nonprofit volunteer group that works to provide 18- to 20-oz. ribeye steak dinners to American service members and their families. Cargill is a major supplier to Safeway for its Rancher’s Reserve beef.
Safeway is donating a large mobile grilling unit valued at approximately $50,000, which contains nearly 1,800 cubic feet of grilling space on wheels. The trailer is self-sufficient and can simultaneously grill approximately 60 steaks. From the kitchen prep space to the serving area, this mobile grilling unit includes everything required to serve the steaks to thousands of military personnel and their families.
For his achievements in support of U.S. military personnel, Bill Broadie, founder of the battalion, was recognized at the recent National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) convention. There, Safeway staff members took note of Broadie and began the relationship. Additionally, BEEF magazine named Broadie its 2012 Trailblazer Award recipient for creating the All American Beef Battalion.
Broadie’s passion for the beef industry, in addition to his experience as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, inspired him to form the group.
“I’ve been in the beef industry my entire life and I’m now 65,” said Broadie. “America has some of the greatest beef products in the world, and thanking our brave troops by providing steak dinners is a way to give them a little something back for their service to our nation.”
The grilling unit, which features a patriotic graphic wrap, will make its debut Friday at Walter Reed Medical Center and be featured at the 2013 Safeway Barbecue Battle in Washington, D.C.
“Safeway takes great pride in providing nutritious food to our customers and nurturing the lives of our neighbors,” said Jim Sheeran, VP of corporate meat merchandising for Safeway. “By donating a mobile grilling unit, nutritious steak dinners will now be provided to even more of those who protect and serve our country.”
Since 2008, the battalion has served steak dinners to approximately 170,000 military service members and their families. The battalion consists of a core group of volunteers, primarily military veterans, from Kansas, and also includes volunteers from Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado.
“One hundred percent of the money the All American Beef Battalion receives goes to our mission of providing steaks to our military personnel and their families,” said Broadie. “The donation of this mobile grilling unit is a tremendous boost to our cause, making it easier to prepare and serve food to more troops while attracting more volunteers and support.”
Tyson’s Disaster Relief Teams Serve 80K Meals After Okla. Tornado
Tyson Foods Inc.’s disaster relief teams served more than 80,000 meals to survivors and rescue workers in the aftermath of last month’s devastating tornado in Moore, Okla.
The company’s 53-foot Meals that Matter mobile feeding unit left the company’s Springdale, Ark., headquarters the day after the tornado hit. Aboard the semi-trailer were thousands of pounds of food, ice and other essential supplies.
More than 70 Tyson employees from 18 different company locations were involved in the relief effort in Moore, working an estimated 3,000 man hours. They served three meals a day, which included anything from breakfast burritos, omelets, chicken sandwiches, pork loin, hot dogs, hamburgers and even steak.
The company worked closely with the National Guard and other organizations to distribute food into the affected areas and was one of the primary ice suppliers. At the end of a two-week, on-the-ground effort, the company served approximately 73,000 pounds of food and 90,000 pounds of ice, a combined value of more than $247,000.
Tyson team member Jason Betts, nurse manager from Noel, Mo., was one of the first responders on site in Moore.
“As a nurse and first responder, I’ve always cared for other people, and it’s an awesome feeling to work for a company that does so much to feed those affected in times of disaster,” Betts said.
Tyson also is providing financial support to the Oklahoma relief effort. The company is matching employee donations up to $100,000 to the American Red Cross.
WinCo Foods To Add 400 Jobs With DFW Stores
The Idaho-based grocer currently is planning how it will recruit employees and expects to begin the hiring process about two months before the stores open. It will transfer a small management team from its other locations to lead the North Texas locations.
The two stores will be between 92,000 and 97,000 s.f. on 12 acres in McKinney, near the former University Drive Courts Facility, and on 12 acres near Sycamore School and Crowley roads in Fort Worth. The company plans its future sites to be smaller, ranging between 85,000 to 90,000 s.f.
WinCo is employee owned and has 89 stores in 17 states. It currently has nearly 15,000 employees and brings in about $5.5 billion in annual sales.
North Texas customers should expect the environment of a traditional supermarket on a much larger scale. WinCo will sell individual items as well as items in bulk, according to the Journal.
One thing that will be new for most Texans is the checkout process, the Journal reports. The store has a bag-your-own-groceries policy. A cashier will check out a customer and, as that customer bags items, will begin helping a second customer on a second conveyer belt. Once the first customer is ready to pay, the cashier will finish the payment process then return to finish the payment process with the second customer.
It’s one way the grocer keeps prices down, the Journal reports.
WinCo Foods spokesman Michael Read told the Journal that the expansion to Texas is good timing for the company.
“We have a number of sites we’ve identified and are working toward closure,” he said about North Texas. “It’s too early to tell what the ultimate number might be, but we’re looking at several.”
“Right now we’re just excited,” he added. “We’re growing at a steady rate.”
United Expands Manufacturing Ops, Introduces Two Tortilla Products
On a brisk day not too long ago, a small convoy of trucks pulled into the parking lot of Praters Foods in south Lubbock, Texas, and began unloading the newest piece of machinery in the food manufacturing operation of United Supermarkets LLC.
In practically no time, the 90-foot-long machine was cranking out 800 dozen—that’s 9,600—flour tortillas every hour.
United is officially in the tortilla-making business—and in a big way.
“The real driving factor behind this is making a quality product,” said Mike Springer, national sales manager of Praters Foods, the company’s manufacturing arm. “We were challenged to deliver a product with better quality.”
The challenge came from Scott Nettles, senior director of perishables for United Supermarkets LLC, who saw an opportunity to reclaim lost sales following a tortilla brand manufacturer’s decision to change its formula.
“There was a brand of tortilla we carried where the feeling was the quality had dropped off,” said Jay Parker, who oversees research and development at Praters. “They changed their formula, and that resulted in lost sales because people left the brand. Scott had the vision that if we recaptured the quality, we would recapture those lost sales.”
Requiring five Praters’ staff members to operate, the tortilla machine now produces two distinctly different products.
“We’ve tried to improve the quality of both products by limiting the preservatives,” Nettles added. “The Mi Pueblo tortilla has a 21- to 30-day shelf life at retail, while the Tejano product will have very little preservative and a seven-day shelf life.
“Our guests won’t find a fresher product anywhere.”
The Mi Pueblo product hit the shelves in the company’s 50 supermarket stores in April, while Tejano Style tortillas rolled out in late May.
From the two recipes, United will be able to control not only the per-package tortilla count, but also the size of the tortillas, giving store guests a variety of products from which to choose. A 10-inch, burrito-size tortilla is currently available in 10- and 20-count packages under both labels. A 6-inch fajita-size product will be available soon as retail bags are developed.
Praters also will produce other tortilla styles, including a WIC-approved wheat product and “thins,” a much thinner tortilla that is lower in calories. The plan ultimately calls for producing tortillas used by store delis in foodservice.
“One of the other reasons we purchased this equipment is it gives us greater production capacity,” Springer said. “We will have plenty of room left for growth (of tortilla sales). The other thing is this could allow us to do specialized items such as naan bread and pizza crusts. Those are opportunities down the road.”
Springer also pointed out the tortilla machine is not intended to supplant tortilla making in the bakeries of more than a dozen stores.
“We do have some machines out there now in bakeries around the company,” he said. “Those will continue to run, and those bakeries will continue to make their own. The Tejano and MiPueblo tortillas are located near the meat market, and they are the product we will supply.”
AFM Donates, Delivers 38K Bottles Of Water For Tornado Relief
After devastating tornadoes destroyed many communities in the Texas and Oklahoma areas, Affiliated Foods Midwest Cooperative has donated to the tornado relief efforts.
In addition to Norfolk, Neb.-based Affiliated Foods Midwest, the co-op’s retailer Buy for Less, and Premium Waters all collaboratively donated 38,304 bottles of water to the Red Cross in Oklahoma City to aid victims and volunteers in the area.
Affiliated Foods Midwest is a member-owned cooperative providing independent grocers with a full range of foods, supermarket supplies and services throughout several states in the Midwest. It is a member of the Topco Cooperative, the second largest procurer of grocery goods in the U.S.
Blue Bell Exec Killed While Trying To Change Flat Tire
Bill Weiss, public relations manager for Brenham, Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries LP, died last week after a collision on Interstate 10 in Houston, and another company executive was injured.
The Houston Business Journal reported last week that Steve James, VP of institutional sales, is at Houston’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and had surgery overnight on June 3.
Weiss, 49, and James were changing a flat tire on I-10 near Baytown at about 2:30 p.m. and were hit by another vehicle. The men, who were headed to a meeting when the incident occurred, were flown to Memorial Hermann, but Weiss died en route, reports say.
Weiss graduated from Texas A&M University in 1986 with a degree in marketing and worked in department store management until he began working working as a media buyer for Blue Bell Advertising Associates in 1997. He was promoted to corporate public relations manager in 2003.
Funeral services for Weiss were held Friday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Brenham.
Blue Bell manufactures Blue Bell ice cream and sells it directly in 22 states. Blue Bell, the No. 3 selling branded ice cream in the U.S., recently expanded to Virginia and North Carolina.
Affiliated Foods Puts The Spotlight On Foodservice Division
by Terrie Ellerbee/associate editor
Affiliated Foods in Amarillo, Texas, would like to see its shareholders—grocery retailers—purchase products for their in-store bakeries/delis and sit-down restaurants from the cooperative. Grocers own the cooperative, so they would in effect be buying from themselves, just as they do when they buy for their retail stores.
The cooperative owns a separate foodservice company that serves hospitals, schools, restaurants, prisons and other accounts. Randy Arceneaux, president and CEO of Affiliated Foods, sees no reason why the subsidiary can’t also serve the grocery retailers who belong to and own the cooperative.
“If we can service a full-fledged steak restaurant that serves 400 to 500 patrons a day, we can service anything a bakery/deli has in a supermarket,” he says.
Arceneaux sat down with The Shelby Report’s Gordon Lowry to talk about the potential for retailers and the cooperative. Arceneaux was fresh off the Affiliated Spring Food Show, which this year spotlighted the company’s foodservice products and services. Affiliated is hoping to get retailers who already are members of the cooperative to use it for their foodservice needs.
“Everyone is starting to focus more on deli and foodservice-type businesses within their stores because the consumer is dictating it,” Arceneaux says.
Buying a meal at retail is appealing to younger consumers and empty nesters, he says.
“They are finding in most cases it’s more cost-effective to go pick up a meal already prepared than it is to prepare the meal,” he says. “So there are a lot of opportunities for the supermarkets to continue to develop and grow the bakery/deli, hot food line or bar, cold sandwiches and other offerings you’re putting out there for the consumer to purchase.”
Affiliated cooperative members can buy foodservice products at grocery markups vs. foodservice markups, Arceneaux says, calling the difference “very distinct.”
The cooperative has been working on getting more retailers to make the switch and use Affiliated Food Service for some time now. Executives would notice on visits to their members’ retail stores that trucks from other foodservice distributors were pulling up to unload.
“My belief is that we have anywhere from $15 million to $20 million of foodservice business on the retail side through Affiliated that we’re not tapping into because of competition,” he says.
Mike Snyder, director of Affiliated Food Service, believes the sticking point is department heads who continue to use other distributors. Retailers haven’t made foodservice a priority because they see departments doing well enough and leave decisions up to the department heads, so the key is to educate retailers, he says.
“They’ve got to do their homework and realize that they’re buying product from 10, 15 to 20 percent cheaper, because they’re buying it at member pricing,” Snyder says. “The people they’re taking orders from, from ‘Brand X,’ have their inside margin, plus their commission.”
Retailers are catching on as grab-and-go foods grow in popularity. Snyder sees increased interest on the part of retailers firsthand.
“At our show, many people walked up and said they want to expand their delis,” Snyder says. “This company hasn’t really put a huge push on seeking the foodservice business from its existing retailers. It’s overwhelming to me that our stockholders—retailers who own this company—don’t buy the entire package.”
Snyder says that along with better pricing, Affiliated can help cut and control food and labor costs thanks to the quality of pre-made offerings like pot roast, lasagna and meatloaf that are available.
It all comes back around to retailers saving money when they buy from Affiliated Food Service. Those purchases help strengthen the cooperative, which in turn helps the retailer, who is a shareholder in Affiliated Foods.
“Foodservice has the products that retail needs for the delis,” Arceneaux says. “Retail buys the product at the lowest price they can, plus it’s a rebate-able value to them at the end of the year, and their extra volume helps foodservice to be more competitive in the restaurant arena.”
Snyder is happy to see the attention being paid to foodservice.
“I’m excited about where Randy Arceneaux is taking our company and really working with our Affiliated Food Service division,” he says. “He loves foodservice, embraces it and understands it. It was his vision on this first show bringing the foodservice in, and I think this will do nothing but grow. This was our maiden voyage and the next one will be even better. We’re excited.”