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Food Lion Feeds launches campaign to help feed families in need

This holiday season, Food Lion is partnering with customers in its more than 1,100 stores, Nov. 19-Dec. 23, to help solve hunger through its Food Lion Feeds "Holidays Without Hunger" campaign.

Through the campaign, customers can purchase and donate a specially marked "Holidays Without Hunger" food box for $5, while supplies last, or make a cash donation at checkout. All of the cash donations benefit Feeding America, one of the largest domestic hunger relief charities, and its network of local food banks. Food boxes are donated directly to a local hunger relief food bank or agency.

Through Food Lion Feeds, Food Lion is working to create a better tomorrow by uniting with customers and partners to help eliminate the difficult choices many families are forced to make when they are struggling with hunger. Working toward its commitment to provide 500 million meals by the end of 2020, Food Lion Feeds has already donated approximately 40 million meals through in-store campaigns, like "Holidays Without Hunger," its food donation program and local donations and volunteerism.

Record sales and revenue for Blue Diamond

Blue Diamond Growers' global almond sales soared to $1.2 billion, up $189 million in fiscal year 2012-13. Value-added sales volume increased by 14 percent, even with a crop that was 7 percent smaller, according to Mark Jansen, president and chief executive officer, who addressed the cooperative's grower owners at the 103rd annual meeting. Value-added sales now represent more than 60 percent of the co-op's revenue, including manufactured ingredients and consumer retail products.bludia

"We accelerated our transformation into a global branded food manufacturing company, while making significant investments to ensure continued profitable growth," Jansen said in the release. "In April we opened our Almond Innovation Center on our Sacramento campus followed by the June grand opening of our Turlock plant, the largest single investment in the history of the California almond industry. We will lead the world tree nut industry in almond product innovation and double our capacity with cutting edge plant technology designed for producing the highest quality almond products in the world."

"There's no other way to express the 2012 crop results than to say, 'excellence delivered,'" said Chairman of the board Clinton Shick, a grower from McFarland. "This is the third year in a row for returning record revenue per acre to Blue Diamond growers. The 2012 crop exceeded the 2011 record by 21 percent, making the final total grower payment of $828 million the largest single payment ever made to almond growers."

Margin enhancement projects included improved manufacturing yields and faster processing lines, resulting in cost reductions of $11.3 million, for a three-year compounded savings of $38 million. "Margin enhancements fuel our investments in new facilities, breakthrough advertising, and global markets," Jansen explained. "It also allows us to pay our growers industry-leading returns."

Energized by enhanced advertising investments and new products, sales thrived in 2012-13. In North America, the branded consumer business increased 30 percent to $469 million. Over 15 new products emerged that included Iced Coffee Almond Breeze, Artisan Nut*Thins and coffee- and fruit-flavored snack almonds. Snack Almond sales jumped 22 percent versus prior year, while Chilled Almond Breeze sales skyrocketed 74 percent and Aseptic Almond Breeze climbed 40 percent. Artisan Nut*Thins were up 38 percent over the same period.

Sales are expected to stay firm as Blue Diamond partners with the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association to be the official snack nut of the U.S. ski, snowboarding and freeskiing teams as they prepare for the Winter Olympics Season in 2014. Blue Diamond Almonds will be integrated into the athletes' nutritional meals at the USSA Center of Excellence and on the road at training camps, competitions and the U.S. Team's mobile kitchen in Europe.

Internationally, Blue Diamond's branded sales were up 90 percent in volume versus the prior year, while net sales were up 95 percent. For the first time in the cooperative's history, branded advertising aired on three continents: North America, Australia and Europe.

Blue Diamond Global Ingredients sold fewer commodity almonds in a short crop but still managed to grow its manufactured ingredient business volume by 14 percent. This business has doubled in size over the last four years.

"I am most proud of the employees of Blue Diamond," said Jansen. "We often use the metaphor of a duck on the water. Above the water or outside the organization, the changes they execute may look easy. Under the water, or inside the organization, their feet are vigorously paddling. The fact is they work hard delivering the benefits of almonds to the world."

Alliance for Food & Farming launches updated website

The Alliance for Food & Farming, a non-profit group founded to deliver credible information to consumer about the safety of fruits and vegetables, recently launched its newly updated website —

“We’re working hard to raise the profile of our organization within the produce industry,” Matt McInerney, executive vice president of Western Growers and the current chairman of the Alliance for Food & Farming, said in a press release. “As part of that effort, we have revised and updated our website with some basic information about the Alliance and the work we do to assure consumers about the safety of fruits and vegetables.”

Executive Director Marilyn Dolan added that the goal of the Alliance for Food & Farming is to communicate honestly about important issues that can affect consumer confidence in fruits and vegetables.

“Experts around the world agree that eating more fruits and vegetables is the best thing we can do to reduce disease, prevent obesity and improve our health,” Dolan said. “But, consumers sometimes need to know more about organic and conventional fruits and vegetables so they can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families. The Alliance for Food & Farming exists to help provide this information.”

According to Dolan, the Alliance for Food & Farming uses information from experts in science, nutrition and farming, and then offers facts and information about the safety of fruits and vegetables sold in the United States. The organization is voluntarily funded by both conventional and organic farmers and farming organizations.

“What is very unique about this group is that it is truly an alliance of other organizations from throughout the produce industry,” McInerney said, noting that Alliance membership is made up of over 50 organizations, including national and regional trade associations, commodity groups and individual grower-shippers.  

A list of the Alliance for Food & Farming board members is posted on the new website and includes the Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association, the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, Northwest Horticultural Council and the U.S. Potato Board, along with Western Growers and nine other produce commodity groups. 

“When it comes to the issue of pesticide residues, we have made a some tremendous inroads in changing the way the media covers this important issue as part of an Alliance for Food & Farming initiative called Safe Fruits & Veggies launched in 2010,” said McInerney. “This has been one of the most successful educational outreach campaigns in the history of the produce industry and is a great example of how a united effort to fight back can make real change."

In addition to the issue of pesticide residues, the Alliance also provides information on foodborne illness as well as other fruit and vegetable food safety issues. The new Alliance website provides an overview of the food-safety topics the group addresses and includes information about the benefits of Alliance membership and explains how to join the Alliance.

C.H. Robinson collaboration results in Twin Cities Food Fight

C.H. Robinson has teamed up with Twin Cities NBC affiliate KARE 11 to create a one-day food and fund drive called the KARE 11 Food Fight. The unique collaboration aims to fight hunger in Minnesota with all donations benefitting Second Harvest Heartland. During the 2013 event, more than 860,000 pounds of food was collected.chrob

The Food Fight, which takes place on Tuesday, Nov. 25 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., pits four KARE 11 anchors — Belinda Jensen, Julie Nelson, Eric Perkins and Randy Shaver — against each other in a friendly competition to see who can collect the most food.

As a co-creator of the event, C.H. Robinson staffs each location throughout the day and provides the transportation needed to collect the donations and deliver them to Second Harvest Heartland. Since 1905, C.H. Robinson has served the food industry through the company’s logistics services and produce business brand, Robinson Fresh. In addition, preventing hunger and providing food assistance are charitable priorities of the C.H. Robinson Foundation. By staffing the Food Fight, and providing employee donations and a monetary gift from the Foundation, C.H. Robinson will donate over 200 volunteer hours and more than 25,000 pounds of food for the event.

“The Food Fight is a creative, fun and festive way for local residents and companies to give back to their own community,” Angie Freeman, vice president of human resources at C.H. Robinson, said in a press release. “Each donation, large or small, allows us to take another step forward in preventing hunger, especially during the holiday season.”

As one of the nation’s larger food banks, Second Harvest Heartland serves more than 530,000 people each year, 33 percent of which are individuals younger than 18 years old. The donations from the Food Fight also lessen the economic burden of purchasing food, since 84 percent of Second Harvest Heartland clients earn less than $30,000 per year. For every 1.2 pounds of food donated, Second Harvest Heartland can provide one meal to those Minnesotans experiencing the stress of hunger.

The community-wide competition encourages individuals, companies, and groups to bring food and cash donations to one of the designated locations: Whole Foods in Maple Grove, Byerly’s in Minnetonka, Cub Foods in Eagan and Kowalski’s in Woodbury. Special guests and fun activities will be at all four locations throughout the day.

Individuals can also follow the progress of the event through social media by tracking the following hashtags: #KARE11FoodFight, #TeamBel, #TeamJulie, #TeamPerk and #TeamRandy. For those unable to attend the event, online donations can be made at Second Harvest Heartland’s website.

College football reporter Heather Cox signs on with IPC for a second year

Heather Cox is back with a new lineup of weekly videos and contests that are scoring big points with college football and Idaho potato fans across the country. The popular college football sideline reporter and Boise resident was recruited by the Idaho Potato Commission last year to help promote Idaho potatoes during the fall season, one of the heaviest buying periods for the brand.

"Heather Cox is a great ambassador for the Idaho potato brand," Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of IPC, said in a press release.impcduHeather Cox and Spuddy Buddy had the chance to meet Jase Robertson of A&E's 'Duck Dynasty' on at the recent LSU vs. Ole Miss Football game. "Fall is an extremely important time for Idaho potatoes, and Heather's involvement is helping us remind customers to always look for the 'Grown in Idaho' seal when they are purchasing potatoes."

During the college football season, Cox will film 10 short videos (no longer than 45 seconds each) from college stadiums around the country. The videos include on-the-field interviews and shout-outs from tailgating fans. Additionally, Cox, who travels with a small plush Spuddy Buddy, takes pictures of him in unique locations. The pictures are posted to Facebook and fans who come up with the cleverest captions are eligible to win a Spuddy Buddy and cash prizes.

Cox is also promoting Idaho potatoes off the field. Recently, she invited popular food blogger Sara O'Donnell (aka Average Betty) to her home to make two tailgating dishes: Bacon Blitz Potato Skewers and Touchdown Dance Potato Soup. The two demonstrated how to prepare these delicious dishes and captured it all on camera.

All Cox's videos and photos are uploaded on Monday afternoons to the IPC's website and Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Youtube. Cox is also sharing IPC updates from her Twitter account, @heatherespn.

In the spring, Cox will help the IPC launch the 2015 Big Idaho Potato Truck Tour — a six-ton spud that travels across the country promoting the importance of heart health. She will also publish an article with tips on how busy moms can make easy, healthy lifestyle choices.