your-news image

Amid protests and boycotts, ousted CEO offers to buy Market Basket

Since Arthur T. Demoulas, now former president and chief executive officer of Market Basket, was fired by the company's board of directors — which is headed by his cousin Arthur S. Demoulas — there have been resignations, protests, related firings, boycotts called for by political leaders and now another interesting turn of events: The former CEO, who owns 49.5 percent of the company, has made an offer to purchase the remaining shares of Market Basket.

"The Arthur T. Demoulas side of the family has made an offer to buy the 50.5 percent of shares in Demoulas Market Basket Supermarkets we do not own," he said in a statement released one month after his June 23 firing. "We believe that our offer is a very full and fair one and should meet or exceed a seller's expectations of the value of the company."

Customer and employee support for Arthur T. has led to resignations and protests, with another rally scheduled for Friday, July 25. More than 2,000 supporters held a rally July 18 outside the company's headquarters, and employee unrest has left many of the stores unable to be restocked.

"We care deeply about Market Basket and all of our associates and we want to work together to return the company to its successful model for serving our loyal customers," Arthur T. said in the statement. "Those who received the offer need to consider the matter, so we are not in a position to comment further at this time."

The chain, based in Lowell, MA, has 71 supermarkets in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

 

 

Produce industry weighs in at Senate school nutrition hearing

WASHINGTON — Schools that were proactive in improving the healthfulness of school meals before the new nutrition standards went into effect are not having problems complying with the stricter standards or experiencing plate waste, Phil Muir, president and chief executive officer of Muir Copper Canyon Farms in Salt Lake City told a Senate panel on the school nutrition standards.

The only industry representative, Muir, a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, joined a small panel of school nutrition officials who fielded questions during a two-hour hearing July 23 before the Senate Agriculture Committee.

PhilPhil Muir, president and CEO of Muir Copper Canyon Farms and a former United Fresh Produce Association board member, testifying at a July 23 Senate panel on school nutrition standards. (Photo courtesy of United Fresh)Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the powerful Senate panel, said healthier meal options are being well received by school children.  

“I have had the opportunity to visit many schools in Michigan and I have been impressed to see elementary school students enjoying broccoli and pineapple from salad bars, and students learning about where their food comes from through farm-to-school garden efforts,” Stabenow said.

The school nutrition standards, which went into effect July 1, have become polarizing on Capitol Hill ever since the School Nutrition Association began reporting some schools are struggling to meet the new standards and more children are dumping their trays of food rather than eating healthier meals.

SNA complained at the hearing of a decline in school lunch participation since schools began implementing the new requirements and that, for example, schools are having difficulty finding appealing tortillas, biscuits and crackers that meet the new whole grain-rich test.

“Food companies serving the school nutrition industry have worked hard to introduce new foods that  meet the standards and student tastes, but some of these products are simply not available or  affordable for all districts, especially small and rural districts,” said Julia Bauscher, SNA president and director of school and community nutrition services for Kentucky’s Jefferson County Public Schools.

But Muir painted a different picture from a distributor’s point of view after providing fresh produce to 52 rural and urban school districts in Utah, Idaho and western Wyoming, and three Indian reservations in Utah and Idaho.

“We consider ourselves more than just a supplier or bid winner — we are a partner with our school customers,” he said. “Our goal is to be a solution provider through information, training and consultation assisting schools to successfully implement all of the new fruit and vegetable requirements.”

He recounted some of his observations: Schools that made incremental changes are having an easier time complying with the new regulation, and schools with the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program are successfully implementing the new nutrition standards because they have already introduced their students to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The director of food services for Detroit Public Schools, Betti Wiggins, said change is not easy, but that she’s been able to work with food distributors, farmers and others to feed high-quality meals to some 50,000 school children each day. Nine out of 10 school districts already comply with the law, she noted.

 “Change is always a little difficult and, in this case, it’s well worth the effort,” Stabenow said in closing the July 23 hearing.

United continues to be a leading advocate for improving school children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of strategies, including more healthful standards for school meals, the Smart Snacks in School standard, the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program and the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative.

Additionally, Muir and other United Fresh members participated in United’s first-ever “Ask the Experts: Produce Solutions Center” at the School Nutrition Association annual conference, held July 13-16 in Boston.

The center brought produce industry veterans together with school nutrition directors from across the country for discussions about ways to provide a wide variety of high-quality produce items to students. United also presented two educational workshops at the conference to help school nutrition directors plan menus, understand seasonality and efficiently add more fresh produce to their schools’ meals.

F&S Produce launches Sam's Fresh Salsa to test markets

F&S Produce Co. Inc., a leading manufacturer and marketer of fresh-cut produce and other refrigerated value-added products in the Northeast, announced it will be introducing Sam’s Fresh Salsa to all its customers after a successful test market in Philadelphia and New York.

salsa

“We are very excited to introduce our all natural Sam’s Fresh Salsa to all the retail and foodservice customers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states,” Sam Pipitone, president and chief executive officer at F&S, said in a press release. “We developed this product to duplicate the all natural salsa we made at F&S Produce for company parties and special events. Sam’s Fresh Salsa was introduced to the test market areas in 2013 and has become an extremely successful brand in those markets with tremendous consumer loyalty. Sam’s Fresh Salsa is an all natural product which makes it a perfect extension of the freshness and safety commitment we have at F&S Produce Company.”

“The packaging is superior in that the tamper-evident film seal and cover are leakproof and can reseal tightly to help preserve leftover salsa,” Doug Nicoll, director of technical services at F&S, added in the press release. “The customer can clearly view the fresh, colorful salsa on store shelves. As a certified SQF 2000 company with comprehensive food-safety and quality systems, the customer can feel assured of fresh, wholesome, tasty salsa.”

F&S worked closely with its retail test market partners to make sure it had the proper taste profile, price point and promotional strategy for Sam’s Fresh Salsa.

“Sam’s Fresh Salsa will launch in our new full color preprinted film sealed containers and will be available in mild, medium, hot and mango/pineapple varieties,” Sam Burleson, vice president of sales and marketing at F&S, added in the press release. “We will tailor a promotional strategy with each retailer to ensure we develop programs that create excitement and deliver the fresh, all natural message to the consumer. With the introduction of Sam’s Fresh Salsa the consumer now has a clear choice to purchase a fresh, all-natural alternative to the existing processed salsa brands.”

Sunrain Varieties LLC announces increased capacity

Sunrain Varieties LLC, known for its innovation, expertise and dedication to fresh potato seed development, has just completed a series of capital improvements in its Idaho Falls-based facilities.

Two additional greenhouses were added to the Idaho Falls complex, in addition to a 25,000-hundredweight storage unit, which will enable Sunrain to increase mini tuber production by nearly 40 percent. Additional office space and on-site testing equipment were also added during the upgrade. The on-site test farm was upgraded by adding a state-of-the-art irrigation system to the 140-acre plot.

The Idaho Falls facility is the crown jewel in a nationwide trial program that now spans 12 different states. By growing their own tissue cultures, plantlets and mini tubers in highly controlled environments, the team of field agronomists can be certain that they are bringing the very best product to market.

Sunrain will be holding a new product showcase and open house Aug 13. Contact Rainey Carraballo for more information or to schedule a facility tour.

If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please contact Rainey Carraballo at 208/552-3096 ext. 1007 or e-mail rcarraballo@sunrainvarieties.com.

Naturipe builds berry-processing facility in Southeast

MBG Marketing held a grand opening ceremony for its new fresh and value-added blueberry facility July 16 in Alma, GA. There were more than 250 people in attendance between MBG and Naturipe staff, grower-members, business and community leaders, and local and state dignitaries, including Peggy Murphy, mayor of Alma, and Georgia State House Representative Chad Nimmer.

Alma is home to the second individually quick frozen value-added processing and packing facility owned and operated by MBG;Bob-Hawk---CEO-Pres-MBGBob Hawk, MBG president and chief executive officer. the first was opened in Bloomingdale, MI, in 2013, a facility that has provided benefits to all MBG members and customers by producing a high yield pack-out of superior quality blueberries for the "Naturipe" brand.

“The Alma facility will enhance our ability to quickly process berries for our growers in Georgia and Florida and will serve as a back-up facility to our growers in our other regions” Larry Ensfield, chief operating officer of MBG Marketing, said in a press release. “This new facility is over 73,000 square feet, with a capacity of 18,000 pounds per hour, making it the largest blueberry IQF facility in the Southeast U.S.A. We are using the latest technologies to sort, wash and then freeze the berries in a state-of-the-art IQF tunnel. Here, the berries are individually frozen to -10 degrees fahrenheit in less than six minutes to preserve the flavor, nutrients, color and integrity of the blueberries. Additional inspections and sorting takes place before they are packed into bulk containers for foodservice and ingredient buyers or poly bags for retail consumers packs.”

The facility also contains a large fresh blueberry distribution center to service the Naturipe Farms customer base across North America. Current capacity is for more than 10 million pounds of fresh berries during the Southeast growing season with room to expand to match the anticipated growth in production in the region.

In 2013 MBG celebrated its 30th anniversary in Georgia. Don Wade, a retired grower-member who was one of about a dozen growers in that initial co-op meeting in 1983, said during the grand opening celebration that “We started with just a couple of acres and now there are over 22,000 acres of blueberries planted in the state.”

Mayor Murphy thanked MBG for expanding its Georgia operations, supporting the community and continuing to invest in the city of Alma and Bacon County. In addition, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal sent his best wishes for success in a letter read by Rep. Nimmer. Paraphrasing the governor, he highlighted the positive economic effects on the region as a result of the blueberry industry and in particular when grower organizations, such as MBG, make a long-term investment and commitment such as this new facility.

The expansion of MBG’s fresh and value-added processing capabilities continues to enable Naturipe Farms to satisfy the needs of a growing market, demanding buyers and improve returns for its growers. “From the start of MBG on November 2, 1936, to today, we have come a long way,” Bob Hawk, MBG president and chief executive officer, said in his opening remarks.

Naturipe Farms LLC is a grower-owned producer and international marketer of healthy, premium berries. With production primarily from multi-generation family farms located in the prime berry growing regions throughout North America and South America. The diverse grower base ensures year-round availability of locally grown and in-season global conventional and organic berries.

Naturipe Farms, formed in 2000, is a partnership between MBG Marketing, Hortifrut SA, Naturipe Berry Growers and Munger Farms. For more information visit: www.naturipefarms.com or https://www.facebook.com/Naturipe.