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Baldor Specialty Foods and Whole Foods Market announced a collaboration that will make the company’s selection of unique culinary items available to home cooks for the first time through an in-store, digital kiosk called The Baldor Forager, which will launch exclusively on July 26 in coordination with the grand opening of Whole Food Market Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY.whofele

When The Baldor Forager launches, it will satisfy the growing demand for wild mushrooms, heirloom produce and other items that were once the secret of the metro area’s top chefs. The Baldor Forager’s digital interface will encourage exploration, discovery and a retail experience focused on customization. Shoppers will be able to place their orders conveniently at The Baldor Forager kiosk and return for in-store pick-up in a day or two on average.

The Baldor Forager is tailor-made for an era when retailers must compete for the business of an increasingly sophisticated customer. Despite surging interest, specialty ingredients are rarely available through brick-and-mortar retailers. The inaccessibility of these items is reflected in search results, where two of the terms most commonly associated with a wide array of specialty ingredients are “where to buy” and “substitute.”

Baldor will curate items based on uniqueness, seasonality and popularity with celebrated restaurants like Estela and Daniel. At launch, offerings will include fresh, water-grown wasabi root, white strawberries and an unusual variety of lavender-hued mushroom from France called a Bluefoot.

“High-quality, specialty produce has always been the core of our business," TJ Murphy, Baldor chief executive officer, said in a press release. "We’re really passionate about the items available through The Baldor Forager and can’t wait to share them with a new audience.”

“At Whole Foods Markets, we’re all about constantly improving the customer experience,” Tony Rajaram, Whole Foods Northeast produce coordinator, said in the release. “We know our customers want to try new, special and exotic ingredients; however, it has been a challenge for us to stock fresh, unique produce items that are very fragile and have a short shelf-life. Now, our customers have the ability to order these items and have it delivered to the store, retaining the integrity of the product. The Forager is going to let us accomplish this simply and efficiently through our in-store kiosk.”

The new Whole Foods store will also feature Gotham Greens Ugly Greens, greens and herbs that are slightly imperfect on the outside and perfectly delicious on the inside. To help further reduce food waste, the store will be introducing an Imperfect Produce program, offering customers the opportunity to purchase select cosmetically challenged produce at a lower price.

A new crop of pears is coming on in the Northwest, and Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers will soon be shipping exceptional fruit in all varieties. OSRG Marketing Director Scott Marboe said Bartlett harvest will start the first week of August, with first loads going out the week of Aug. 8.SR-Bartlett

“The Bartletts are beautiful this year,” Marboe said in a press release. “They’re clean, with great size, and we have lots of 90 and larger fruit. Also, our Starkrimson will start close to the same harvest window, giving consumers a great selection of snack-perfect pears.”

 In addition to the earlier varieties, Marboe said the Anjous are exceptionally clean this year.  “We did have a drop during the spring heat, so volume will be down in the Hood River area,” he said. “However, the great size and clean crop will make up for that.”

The Bosc crop, which is expected to start shipping the first week of September, “looks great,” Marboe said. “Comice are down in volume, but the fruit look to have excellent size, and they will start Aug. 29.”

Red and Green Anjous will start Sept. 12, followed by Seckels and Forelles Sept. 19. For the Seckel variety, a new two-pound pouch bag is being offered this year.

“A number of people were asking for additional varieties in pouch bags to add to displays,” Marboe said. “Pouch is proving to be a great impulse buy in the pear category, and many of our top retail customers are seeing added sales and category increases when displayed,” he added.

“We’re looking forward to a great pear season, and we have some exciting promotions lined up for this fall,” Marboe said.








The Kroger Co. announced the retirement of Houston division President Bill Breetz and the promotion of Marlene Stewart to succeed him. Stewart currently serves as president of the company's Dillons division.

Colleen Juergensen, who currently serves as vice president of merchandising of the Smith's division, will succeed Stewart as president of Dillons.krolog

Kroger also announced the promotion of Pam Matthews to serve as president of the company's QFC division. Matthews currently serves as vice president of operations for Kroger's Delta division. She succeeds Dennis Gibson, who was recently named president of the King Soopers/City Market division.

"Kroger has an exceptionally strong team of leaders who are fueling our growth and improving our connection with customers," Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "Marlene, Colleen and Pam bring unmatched depth and experience to their new roles. They will help Kroger continue to make a difference for our customers, associates, and communities — and by doing so create value for our shareholders."

"Bill's extraordinary career demonstrates a passion for people and a passion for results. He leads by caring deeply about associates and developing future leaders," said McMullen. "Bill's leadership has contributed to Kroger's success and growth. The entire Kroger family thanks Bill for his many contributions over the years and wishes he and his family all the best in retirement."

Breetz began his Kroger career in 1972 as a bagger in Louisville, KY. After earning a degree at the University of Louisville in 1977, he joined the management training program and was named a co-manager in Cincinnati. He served in several leadership positions through the years, including store and district management and vice president of merchandising for the company's Cincinnati/Dayton division. In 2000, Breetz was promoted to executive vice president of Kroger's Southwest division with responsibility for operations in Dallas. In 2001, he assumed responsibility for operations in Houston as well. He was named president of the Southwest division in 2002, and president of the Houston division in 2015.

Breetz has been active in a variety of community organizations throughout his career, most recently supporting the Houston Food Bank, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Boy Scouts of America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other local charities. Breetz and his wife, Jo Ann, have three children and three grandchildren.

Stewart started her career with Kroger in 1977 as a bagger in the company's Cincinnati division, where she worked full-time while attending the University of Cincinnati. She went on to serve in many leadership roles in Cincinnati, including store and district management, training and merchandising. In 2005, Stewart was named director of operations for Kroger's Mid-Atlantic division before being named vice president of operations in 2007. She was named vice president of merchandising in the company's QFC division in 2011. She was named to her current role in 2015.

Juergensen began her Kroger career with the Dillons division in 1981. She served in various leadership roles of increasing responsibility including store manager, zone manager and director of advertising. In 2008, she was promoted to Dillons vice president of operations. She was named vice president of operations of Smith's in 2012, and to her current role in 2015.

Matthews began her career with the company's Fred Meyer division, based in Portland, OR, in 1980. Throughout her 25-year career with Fred Meyer, she held a variety of leadership roles in store management, corporate brand development and merchandising. Matthews also served as director of deli/bakery merchandising and director of floral merchandising and procurement at Kroger's general offices in Cincinnati before being promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Central division in 2006. She was named vice president of merchandising for the Delta Division in 2014 and to her current role in 2015.

Mann Packing will launch three new items at the PMA Foodservice Expo in Monterey, CA, on July 31: Mann’s Tenderbite Beans and two new Romaine lettuce hybrids.mann

Mann’s Tenderbite Beans are a long, plank-shaped green bean variety not seen on the mass market in the United States since the 1970s. Also known as runner or Romano beans and popular in Europe, Tenderbite Beans are highly versatile due to their long length and heartiness. Previously found only in home gardens and occasional farmers markets, Mann’s is producing the variety for year-round availability.

“Tenderbite Beans really caught our eye when we saw them in Europe a year ago,” Rick Russo, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mann’s, said in a press release. “They’re great on the grill, slow roasted, or wrapped on a skewer — you can do so much more with these than your average green bean. So far, our customers have been really excited to see these coming back into the market.”

Mann’s is also introducing two new Romaine lettuce hybrids: RomaCrunch and RomaLeaf.  RomaCrunch, a cross between Romaine and Iceberg, has a small head and crunchy-sweet flavor. Its whole leaves are boat-shaped, making them an ideal vessel for protein salads, grains, or even desserts. It also stands up well to heat.

RomaLeaf is a true hybrid that blends the most appealing features of Romaine and green leaf lettuces. With more green leaves than Romaine and a texture crunchier than green leaf, it has excellent yield and impressive lift when used in salad bars, catering trays and sandwich building.

“With vegetables taking center stage on menus across the country, we’re doing what we’ve always done: create innovative products that give our customers better alternatives to what’s already out there,” Russo said in the release.

Chef Tony Baker of Montrio Bistro in Monterey will be serving samples of recipes he has created using Tenderbite Beans and RomaCrunch, and all items will be on display in booth No. 110.



US Foods Holding Corp. announced that Timothy R. McLevish has resigned effective immediately from his position on the board of directors after it was announced that he will become the executive chairman of Lamb Weston Holdings Inc. upon the completion of its planned spinoff. Because Lamb Weston is a significant supplier to US Foods, McLevish would no longer qualify as an independent director.

The company also announced the election of two new members of the board of directors

David Tehle retired in 2015 as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Dollar General Corp., a role he had held since 2004. Prior to Dollar General, he was chief financial officer of Haggar Corp. He is currently on the board of directors for Genesco and serves on the board of directors of Jack in the Box as an audit committee member and finance committee chair. Tehle will serve as the new chairman of the audit committee for US Foods.

Court Carruthers spent 13 years in senior leadership roles at W. W. Grainger Inc., most recently as group president, Americas, where he was responsible for the company’s operations in the Americas, as well as eCommerce and technology innovation globally. He is currently a director and audit committee member of Ryerson Holding Corp. and serves on the board of multiple private companies, including Follett Corp. Carruthers is a CPA, CMA (Canada).

“We wish Tim all of the best in his new endeavor,” Pietro Satriano, president and chief executive officer of US Foods, said in a press release. “I’m pleased to welcome David and Court to the Board. Both bring public company and audit experience, as well as a wealth of business and finance expertise.”