Roundy’s names new board member, lead director

Roundy’s Inc., a leading grocer in the Midwest, has appointed Kimberly L. Feil to its board of directors and Gregory P. Josefowicz as its lead director. Robert A. Mariano, Roundy’s president and chief executive officer, will continue to serve as chairman of the board of directors of the company.

Feil currently serves as CEO of bizHive. She brings to the board proven retail marketing experience and a keen understanding of consumer insights, marketing strategy and change management. Feil’s prior experience includes the chief marketing officer role at OfficeMax, Walgreen Co. and Sara Lee North America.

Prior to her tenure at Sara Lee Corp., Feil was the senior marketing officer at Kimberly-Clark Corp. Earlier in her career Feil was the CEO of Mosaic InfoForce, a joint venture between Mosaic and Information Resources Inc., and she also held a senior vice president of strategic planning role with Dr Pepper/7UP Inc.

“We are pleased to welcome Kim to the board of directors," Mariano said in a press release. "The addition of Ms. Feil further strengthens our board. We will benefit from her management expertise and retail experience and I look forward to working with Kim."

In addition to Josefowicz's role as lead director, he will also chair the nominating and corporate governance committee. Josefowicz has been a director of Roundy’s since March 2012.

The new role of lead director is intended to include responsibilities such as presiding at all meetings at which the chairman is not present, serving as a liaison between the chairman and the independent directors, approving information sent to the board and approving meeting agendas and time schedules for the board. Roundy’s lead director also has the authority to call meetings of the independent directors.

“Greg is well-suited for the role of lead director and I look forward to working closely with him and all members of the Board going forward,” Mariano said in the release.

Josefowicz has been a private investor for the past five years. From 1999 to 2006, he served as chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Borders Group. Thereafter, until January 2008, Josefowicz was an advisor to Borders’ board of directors. Before joining the Borders Group, he served as CEO of the Jewel/Osco division of American Stores Co. until its merger with Albertson’s Inc. After the merger, he became president of Albertson’s Midwest region.

Josefowicz is a director and member of the Audit Committee of the board of directors of United States Cellular Corp., and a member of the board of directors of True Value Co. He is also a member of the board of advisors of Kehe Foods. He previously served as the lead director and member of the Audit Committee of the board of directors of Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., as a director of Ryerson Inc. and Spartan Stores and the non-executive chairman of the board of directors of PetSmart Inc.

With the season almost here, decision still pending in Vidalia court case

Though Vidalia onion season is just around the corner and some growers may start harvesting in a couple of weeks, there is still no word from a Georgia court about a pending challenge to a case that could prevent packing or shipping before April 20.

In August 2013, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black issued a mandate that no Vidalia onion can be packed or shipped sooner than 12:01 a.m. on the Monday of the last full week of April each year — April 20 this year.

Black’s ruling came in response to complaints from retailers and customers that some early-season Vidalia onions were not ready for market. Since the state of Georgia owns the Vidalia trademark, Black said he was acting to protect the crop.

Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, challenged the ruling in court, claiming a calendar can’t determine when an onion is ready for harvest. A Georgia judge ruled in Bland’s favor last March, saying Black had overstepped the authority of his office. Black immediately filed an appeal, the results of which are still up in the air.

For years, Vidalia onion growers have sparred about when their season should officially begin. Some say coming to market too early puts lesser-quality onions in front of consumers and tarnishes the brand. Others say only Mother Nature can determine when a Vidalia onion is ready to market.

While a majority of growers favor the Black mandate, it’s a complex issue to be sure, so much so that on Jan. 26 Fulton County (Georgia) Superior Court Judge Wendy Shoob issued a pre-ruling clarification of the March 2014 court decision and Black’s appeal in advance of the still-pending final ruling.

Shoob agreed that Black overstepped his authority as commissioner by setting a mandatory pack/ship date and is prohibited from enforcing that order.

According to court documents, Shoob wrote, “The court’s final order (on March 19, 2014) clearly granted the injunction, and thus (Black) is prohibited from enforcing the unconstitutional packing rule date.”

The clarification was needed because Shoob ruled there was ambiguity about Black’s appeal. The recent action paves the way for the final ruling on the appeal, which could come any day, according to Bland’s attorney Michael Bowers.

Trucco's 'organic plus' biodynamic kiwifruit now available

A.J. Trucco Inc., a year-round distributor of kiwifruit and other fresh fruits, has added biodynamic kiwifruit from Italy to its KiwiStar line. Biodynamic kiwifruit is an innovative addition to the market and Trucco is one of the first importers to introduce this product in the United States.TRU-Kiwistar-BIODYNAMIC-Label-PREVIEW

“We are always looking for the most sustainable products on the market to offer our customers, and we have been working with our Italian partners to grow biodynamic kiwifruit,” Nick Pacia, president of Trucco, said in a press release.

The company said its Demeter-certified biodynamic kiwifruit is grown in a way that takes organic to completely new level. “At Trucco, we view this fruit as 'Organic Plus,'" Pacia said in the release.

In biodynamic agriculture, the crops are grown organically and the farm is viewed as a self-sustained ecosystem. The feed, water and everything involved in the growing process comes from the farm itself and is recycled. Trucco said the result is the purest form of kiwifruit on the market.

The company's first shipment has arrived and the product is available now in bulk and other package styles, including a one-pound flow pack.

“We are excited to offer biodynamic kiwifruit, and this is a demonstration of our ongoing commitment to deliver the highest quality produce to our customers,” he said.

To-Jo capitalizing on trend to blend

To-Jo Mushrooms Inc. has expanded its pre-cooked mushroom line to take advantage of the increased demand for mushrooms in the foodservice arena related to mushroom blendability. To-Jo has collaborated with Devault Foods to create the new Harvest Value Savory Burger for US Foods.Scoop-Savory-Burger-Image The product utilizes 33 percent mushrooms to offer foodservice operators a flavorful, lower cost option that brings produce to the center of the plate.

With the rising cost of beef, the product offers foodservice operators nationwide a healthier burger option with a savory flavor, 40 percent lower fat and the same texture they would expect from a pure beef burger. The product is available in a 5.33-ounce frozen patty and will be packed in 10-pound case packs.

The recent success of the Mushroom Council's blendability initiative across the quick-service restaurants, casual and college dining segments has opened up the door to many new opportunities for the industry, and To-Jo said its quick blanched mushroom program is the perfect fit.

“By expanding our value-added mushroom program To-Jo offers industrial processors a proven ingredient that utilizes the savory Umami properties found in mushrooms to help increase flavor in a variety of blended menu builds," Tony D’Amico, company president, said in a press release. "It also helps foodservice operators bridge the gap from canned mushrooms to a domestic blanched program that is a great topping on pizza and burgers.”

By using a pre-cooked mushroom program, end users and industrial processors have access to a more consistent product with less packaging waste and better color in the finished product as opposed to some of the canned imports currently on the market.  To-Jo will be showcasing some of its new products at the upcoming International Pizza Expo March 2426 in Las Vegas.

Record-breaking volume of Opal apples

Opal apple is experiencing a record-breaking fifth season, reaching record highs in volume as well as the number of retailers and consumer reach. Opal made its first appearance this season in November and is expected to run through April.opal

Opal achieved a high record in weekly volume after delivering over 1 million pounds of fresh Opals to retailers across the United States and Canada in the seven-day shipping period ending March 8. Season-to-date, the average weekly volume is running 28 percent higher compared to last season. Also, the number of retailers in the Opal program has reached record highs with 85 percent of the top retailers in the U.S. and Canada carrying Opals for their consumers. In addition, Opal has seen a jump in consumer reach after executing a robust marketing campaign reaching over 1.1 million people.

“We’re having a great Opal season with tremendous momentum," Keith Mathews, chief executive officer of FirstFruits Marketing of Washington, said in a press release. "Consumers are telling us how much they love the apple, retailers are having great pull-throughs and consequently, we’re experiencing record shipments. We’re so honored to have solid retail relationships to help us sell through nearly 1 million pounds of Opals in one week. Without their support, we could not get Opals to consumers.”

Grown in Washington by Broetje Orchards, Opal apples are sold exclusively in North America by FirstFruits Marketing. The company said this cross between Topaz and Golden Delicious stands out on the shelf with its yellow color and great taste. While Opal is non-GMO it does naturally resists browning after slicing.