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Conversion under way for several Twin Cities Rainbow Stores

SuperValu Inc., one of the nation’s leading grocery wholesalers, has begun supplying the first of 18 Rainbow stores that are being acquired as part of the transactions that were announced May 7 between Roundy’s and a consortium of SuperValu and independent retailers. Following the store conversions, SuperValu will supply all 18 of the acquired stores out of its Hopkins, MN, distribution center.

SuperValu along with four Twin Cities-based independent retailers — Jerry’s Enterprises, Haug Enterprises, Lund Food Holdings and Radermacher Enterprises — are expecting to complete the store conversions before the end of July. As previously announced, 10 of the 18 stores will become Cub Foods locations, two will operate as Byerly’s and the other six will remain Rainbow stores.

“I am very pleased that we are now adding these 18 stores to SuperValu's distribution network and that we are expanding our supplier relationship with a group of very strong independents and longtime customers of our independent business segment," Sam Duncan, SuperValu president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "We expect these fine retailers will serve the Twin Cities better than ever with an expanded store base. Each of these independent retailers, along with Cub, are longtime grocers who know this market and their customers and are actively involved in their stores and communities.”

MountainKing looking to capitalize on consumer preference for smaller bags

New sales figures indicate when it comes to bagged fresh potatoes, smaller package sizes are starting to sell big.

Sales of bagged fresh potatoes under four pounds are up 17.8 percent from a year ago and 112 percent in the past 10 years, according to data from AC Nielson Fresh Facts.

MK-Small-Bags"These new figures illustrate why retailers need to re-think their bagged fresh potato merchandising strategies with a greater emphasis on smaller package sizes," John Pope of Houston-based MountainKing Potatoes said in a press release. "They underscore what we've been seeing for quite some time - that consumers are buying in smaller quantities."

Two key factors are contributing to the growth of smaller bagged potatoes, according to Pope. First, family sizes continue to shrink, with two thirds of all U.S. households currently under the age of 30 or over the age of 50. Second, the availability of online recipes has led shoppers to plan a meal at a time rather than buying for several meals, thereby increasing the average number of shopping visits per week. Consumers now average 2.2 shopping trips per week, the highest in 10 years.

While sales of the smaller package sizes continue to grow, so too are profits for grocers who merchandise the smaller packages, according to Pope.

Fresh potatoes in bags five pounds and larger offer an average ring per pound of 52 cents while the average ring per pound of potatoes in smaller bags is $1.52.

"Retailers who shift their merchandise to smaller pack sizes will realize significant profit improvement from their fresh potatoes," Pope said in the press release.

MountainKing has made smaller package sizes a focus of its sales efforts to retailers. The company's seven smaller package sizes include its four-count Steakhouse Bakers, three-pound Steakhouse Golds, 1.5-pound Steakhouse Roasters, three-pound Seafood B Reds, three-pound MountainKing Russets, three-pound MountainKing Reds and a 16-ounce package of the company's Heat and Eat Gold Mashed. Each offers 8-10 servings to help households avoid waste.

MountainKing Potatoes is a leading grower of high-flavor potato varieties whose products reach 1 million U.S. households each week, according to the company.

Oppy goes back to school with Sesame Street

A wide assortment of Oppy products are getting in character right now, suiting up for a comprehensive 'eat brighter!' roll out. The marketer's first offering — a mesh bag filled with seedless, easy-peel citrus featuring Cookie Monster for back-to-school promotions — will hit the shelves by mid-August.Sesame Celementines3lb

"We view the 'eat brighter!' program as a great opportunity to drive retail sales while also uniting numerous Oppy items in a popular theme," John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Oppy, said in a press release. "We deeply appreciate the opportunity that PMA has created for us to apply the Sesame Street characters to our products in ways that appeal to the next generation of produce consumers."

Fresh produce in Oppy's 'eat brighter!' queue includes apples, avocados, berries, citrus, cucumbers, grapes, kiwifruit, mangos, pineapples, plums and peppers, which will debut at intervals in the year ahead. They will feature various Sesame Street characters on wraps, labels and bags.

"'eat brighter!' is being embraced by our international family of growers," David Smith, senior vice president of sales, marketing and categories for Oppy, added in the press release. "The characters are charming and familiar, and they exemplify positive associations that span generations. We've been looking for the right opportunity to align with a kid-friendly marketing campaign and this one resonates throughout our supply chain."

James Milne, director of marketing, believes 'eat brighter!' has the potential to make meaningful difference in the produce department.

"There's no doubt a well-orchestrated approach to this campaign will drive sales," Milne said in the press release. "We've been handed the opportunity to make fresh produce engaging in a whole new way. 'eat brighter!' has transformed the mundane 'eat your fruits and vegetables, they're good for you' message kids hear to something inviting and fun. Perhaps this will ultimately lead to the increase in consumption our industry has been working toward for many years."

Oppy plans to bring both imported and domestically grown items into the 'eat brighter!' program and support them with point of sale signage, retailer and consumer competitions, and blogger outreach.

Sunkist and top chefs release new S'alternative research

Sunkist Growers released the findings of its S'alternative research revealing that the use of Sunkist lemons may allow for significant salt reduction in recipes while boosting flavor. The research concluded that lemons can be used to reduce salt by as much as 75 percent.

salternThe taste tests examined the use of Sunkist lemon juice and lemon zest in various dishes, including meat, grains, soups and salads. After creating control dishes, recipes were re-created using salt in decreasing amounts along with lemon juice and zest to find the ideal combination. Test dishes were made adding lemon juice only, lemon zest only, and a combination of lemon juice and lemon zest to the reduced-salt dishes.

"While Sunkist has put a lot of energy behind informing consumers about our sodium-reduction strategies using lemons, this research gives us exciting results that show just how effective Sunkist lemons can be in reducing people's salt intake without compromising flavor," Joan Wickham, Sunkist advertising and public relations manager, said in a press release.

With the average American consuming twice the recommended amount of sodium, and high sodium intake linked to high blood pressure, cancer and osteoporosis, increased use of lemons could play a major role in reducing Americans' dependence on the salt shaker. For many years, Sunkist has been encouraging consumers to choose all-natural lemons over salt to flavor their food as part of the Sunkist S'alternative program, which provides low-sodium tips and S'alternative recipes using Sunkist lemons.

While each taste test participant quickly identified the no-salt added recipes, the use of Sunkist lemons with reduced sodium produced a more flavorful dish. Most participants actually preferred recipes made with reduced salt and added lemon juice and zest to the original full-salt recipes.

Additional research results included the following:

  • Using lemon juice and zest in vegetable recipes allows for a potential 75 percent reduction in sodium per recipe
  • Incorporating lemon juice and zest in recipes for pork tenderloin, tuna, halibut and salad dressing allows for a potential 50 percent reduction in sodium per recipe
  • Adding lemon zest to dry rubs for meats like chicken and beef allows for a potential 30 percent reduction in sodium per recipe

"The results of this research show that flavor and health considerations do not have to be mutually exclusive," said Global Master Chef Karl Guggenmos, WACS, AAC, who conducted the study's research along with Chef Michael Makuch from Johnson & Wales University. "Since the use of lemon juice and zest is such a simple tip for chefs of all skill levels, this information could go a long way in combating our excess sodium intake."

Michelle Dudash, registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef and best-selling author of "Clean Eating for Busy Families," has created new recipes incorporating the optimal blends of Sunkist lemon juice, zest and salt discovered from the taste tests. For those recipes, additional tips, and more information about Sunkist S'alternative, visit

Artisan chefs support California Avocado Month

The California Avocado Commission once again celebrated California Avocado Month in June as part of its early-season marketing initiative. The public relations program, slated for a period of strong California avocado supply, generated consumer media coverage and achieved CAC’s objectives to showcase the versatility of California avocados in various dishes while garnering menu placement at influential restaurants.

“The commission continues to tap into the creativity of artisan chefs to encourage new uses for California avocados,” Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for CAC, said in a press release.Chef-Lisa-Schroeder-and-JanChef Lisa Schroeder and Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission. “These chefs put together some awesome menus highlighting California avocado versatility throughout CAC’s California Avocado Month program in June.”

Well-known chefs across the nation participated in the promotion with featured California avocado specials in their respective restaurants. Seattle chef Eric Tanaka ran month-long specials at three Tom Douglas properties, including Brave Horse Tavern, TanakaSan and Palace Kitchen. At the latter his special dish was Grilled and Chilled Rhode Island Squid, California Avocado, Lemon, Radish, Pea Vine, and Squid Ink Aioli. CAC’s artisan chef partner in Chicago, Carol Wallack of Sola, featured a June special of Unagi Atop Sushi Rice, Drizzled with Sweet Soy-Sake BBQ Sauce, accompanied by California Avocado and Banana Puree. Chef Ivy Stark put her own spin on guacamole with California Avocado, Summer Fruit and Peekytoe Crab Guacamole in celebration of California Avocado Month at six Dos Caminos restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Florida.

The commission’s artisan chef partners participating in California Avocado Month activities also included Bruce Auden from San Antonio, TX; Trey Foshee from San Diego; Philadelphia’s Mitch Presnky; Kent Rathbun from Dallas/Houston/Austin/Plano; and Oregon-based Lisa Schroeder.

Chef Schroeder’s restaurant, Mother's Bistro & Bar in Portland, OR, was the site of a California Avocado Month artisan chef media dinner. Fifteen local food media attended the dinner, including representatives from The Portland Mercury and Oregon Public Broadcasting. Guests enjoyed a California avocado-centric meal that kicked off with appetizers and Lucy Brennan’s avocado daiquiri. After enjoying a Butter Leaf salad with California avocado, green onion and lemon vinaigrette, attendees were served the chef’s grilled chicken breast topped with sautéed onions, sliced California avocado and fresh tomato salsa along with one of her signature side dishes, California avocado and bacon macaroni and cheese.

During the meal Chef Schroeder demonstrated one of the appetizers — California Avocado, Pink Grapefruit and Dungeness Crab Cocktail — while providing facts about California avocados. Avocados also were the key ingredient in the dessert, a California avocado lime pie.

“The commission’s June California Avocado Month activities helped build awareness of California avocado season and set the stage for summerlong programs,” said DeLyser.