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Local Farmers Market program helps retailer boost produce sales

Summer is peak produce season, and Associated Retail Operations banners — Macey’s, Lin’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market and Fresh Market — are adding Utah love to the produce department with its Local Farmers Markets program, which launched July 1 and has been successful in increasing produce sales and guest count in each store

The in-store program includes signage highlighting Utah-grown produce and the farmers who supply them, as well as parking lot tent sales on Saturdays.

“Buying from Utah farmers and growers allows us to offer our guests the freshest produce at great prices, since it doesn’t have to travel as far,” Danni Barnhart, produce manager for Associated Retail Operations, said in a press release. “As locally owned retailers, it is important for us to support other local businesses, especially our farmers and growers. Our guests love that we offer a wide variety of Utah grown products.”

The Local Farmers Market program is made possible through a partnership between Associated Retail Operations and 33 Utah farmers and growers, including Bangerter Farms, Houwelings Tomatoes and Hartley’s Best Onions.

Each of the farmers is GAP certified or in the final stages of achieving the certification, which was set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the new food-safety regulations. The program aligns with industry trends that show local is the new organic according to consumer preferences.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

USDA’s new school snack standards look to boost healthy offerings

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its new Smart Snacks in School standards that seek to improve the nutritional quality of foods and beverages offered for sale to students in schools.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “Parents and schools work hard to give our youngsters the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, and providing healthy options throughout school cafeterias, vending machines and snack bars will support their great efforts.”

The new nutrition standards, which must be implemented by July 1, 2014, apply to all foods and beverages sold a la carte, in school vending machines, stores and snack bars.

The new standards will increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products for sale to students, and reduce the amount of calories, fat, sodium and sugar.

“Increasing the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks in schools will go a long way towards creating a healthy school food environment and improving nutrition for 32 million school children,” Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for the United Fresh Produce Association, said in a press release. “In addition, this will drive opportunities for increased produce sales to schools, especially for fresh and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables in convenient single servings.”

Designed to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, foods available for sale will now complement healthier school meals and help create healthier school food environments for U.S. school children, according to the United Fresh press release.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Hydrogen sulfide greatly enhances plant growth: Key ingredient in mass extinctions could boost food, biofuel production

TGF-FruitImageApr. 17, 2013 — Hydrogen sulfide, the pungent stuff often referred to as sewer gas, is a deadly substance implicated in several mass extinctions, including one at the end of the Permian period 251 million years ago that wiped out more than three-quarters of all species on Earth.

But in low doses, hydrogen sulfide could greatly enhance plant growth, leading to a sharp increase in global food supplies and plentiful stock for biofuel production, new University of Washington research shows.

“We found some very interesting things, including that at the very lowest levels plant health improves. But that’s not what we were looking for,” said Frederick Dooley, a UW doctoral student in biology who led the research.

Dooley started off to examine the toxic effects of hydrogen sulfide on plants but mistakenly used only one-tenth the amount of the toxin he had intended. The results were so unbelievable that he repeated the experiment. Still unconvinced, he repeated it again — and again, and again. In fact, the results have been replicated so often that they are now “a near certainty,” he said.

“Everything else that’s ever been done on plants was looking at hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations,” he said.

The research is published online April 17 in PLOS ONE, a Public Library of Science journal.

At high concentrations — levels of 30 to 100 parts per million in water — hydrogen sulfide can be lethal to humans. At one part per million it emits a telltale rotten-egg smell. Dooley used a concentration of 1 part per billion or less to water seeds of peas, beans and wheat on a weekly basis. Treating the seeds less often reduced the effect, and watering more often typically killed them.

With wheat, all the seeds germinated in one to two days instead of four or five, and with peas and beans the typical 40 percent rate of germination rose to 60 to 70 percent.

“They germinate faster and they produce roots and leaves faster. Basically what we’ve done is accelerate the entire plant process,” he said.

Crop yields nearly doubled, said Peter Ward, Dooley’s doctoral adviser, a UW professor of biology and of Earth and space sciences and an authority on Earth’s mass extinctions.

Hydrogen sulfide, probably produced when sulfates in the oceans were decomposed by sulfur bacteria, is believed to have played a significant role in several extinction events, in particular the “Great Dying” at the end of the Permian period. Ward suggests that the rapid plant growth could be the result of genetic signaling passed down in the wake of mass extinctions.

At high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide killed small plants very easily while larger plants had a better chance at survival, he said, so it is likely that plants carry a defense mechanism that spurs their growth when they sense hydrogen sulfide.

“Mass extinctions kill a lot of stuff, but here’s a legacy that promotes life,” Ward said.

Dooley recently has applied hydrogen sulfide treatment to corn, carrots and soybeans with results that appear to be similar to earlier tests. But it is likely to be some time before he, and the general public, are comfortable with the level of testing to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences of treating food crops with hydrogen sulfide.

The most significant near-term promise, he believes, is in growing algae and other stock for biofuels. Plant lipids are the key to biofuel production, and preliminary tests show that the composition of lipids in hydrogen sulfide-treated plants is the same as in untreated plants, he said.

When plants grow to larger-than-normal size, they typically do not produce more cells but rather elongate their existing cells, Dooley said. However, in the treatment with hydrogen sulfide, he found that the cells actually got smaller and there were vastly more of them. That means the plants contain significantly more biomass for fuel production, he said.

“If you look at a slide of the cells under a microscope, anyone can understand it. It is that big of a difference,” he said.

Ward and Suven Nair, a UW biology undergraduate, are coauthors of the PLOS ONE paper. The work was funded by the UW Astrobiology Program.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Vince Stricherz.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederick D. Dooley, Suven P. Nair, Peter D. Ward. Increased Growth and Germination Success in Plants following Hydrogen Sulfide Administration. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e62048 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062048

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Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Inflation, acquisitions boost Sobeys Q2

The addition of Safeway Canada stores, along with food price inflation, helped Sobeys post a sales gain of 35.8% in the fiscal second quarter, parent company Empire Cos. said Friday.

Same store sales for the period, ended Nov. 1 were 1.7%. Earnings, totaling $ 101.3 million (U.S.) were up 93.2% as compared to the same period a year ago to and up by 53.7% when adjusted for one-time events. Sales totaled $ 5.2 billion (U.S.).


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Marc Poulin, president and CEO of Empire, in a statement said the company was pleased with the quarterly results and company performance year-to-date, adding that synergy savings and integration of the Safeway Canada acquisition were on track.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


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For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


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For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


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For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


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For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


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Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON FACEBOOK

Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarket News

Supermarket News

Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON FACEBOOK

Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarket News

Supermarket News

Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON FACEBOOK

Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarket News

Supermarket News

Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON FACEBOOK

Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

Suggested Categories More from Supermarket News

Supermarket News

Strong sales boost UNFI in Q1

United Natural Foods Inc. on Thursday said sales improved by 24.4% in the fiscal first quarter, helped along by the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods and a continuing health and wellness trend that’s getting more of the distributor’s items into more stores.

Steven Spinner“Natural and organic products were once viewed as unique and differentiated products for a narrow band of consumers and retailers,” UNFI CEO Steven Spinner said in a conference call discussing results for the quarter. “Today, our products are demanded by consumers across North America which has led to the adoption of these items across every channel.

“This rapid adoption rate has led to new opportunities for UNFI as we operate the broadest network of companies specializing in natural, organic and specialty products,” he continued. “Consumers continue to demonstrate a desire to seek a healthier, know-your-ingredients lifestyle. This results an increased shelf space across a growing number of retailers which ultimately drives demand to UNFI.”

Spinner said the company expects to build out its share in the gourmet ethnic and e-commerce channels in the coming years. The former, including Italian, Asian, Kosher and Hispanic products, is a $ 5 billion sales opportunity, Spinner said.

In e-commerce, “our goal is to offer retailers over 15,000 SKUs across gluten-free, organic, personal care, supplements, lifestyle, and other important lines,” Spinner added. “Given our proximity to the retailer and the consumer, our hope is to be the e-commerce solution for retailers and business-to-business e-commerce providers.”


CONNECT WITH SN ON FACEBOOK

Like the Supermarket News page for updates throughout the day.


For the quarter, which ended Nov. 1, sales of $ 2 billion increased by 24.4%, or 10% when adjusted for the acquisitions of specialty suppliers Tony’s Fine Foods and Trudeau Foods. Net income increased by 19% to $ 5.3 million.

Earnings were slightly ahead of analyst consensus and driven by sales. Gross margin as a percent of sales was down 92 basis points to 16% for the quarter, negatively impacted by sales dilution resulting from the Tony’s acquisition and by increased freight costs and exchange rates impacting UNFI’s profits in Canada.

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Supermarket News

Age matters: Young larvae boost pollen foraging in honey bees

Toddlers and tweens have very different needs, which influence how parents provide for them. The same is true in honey bees, but instead of communicating their needs via language, honey bee larvae emit chemical signals called pheromones that influence the behavior of their caregivers.

As larvae age, the diet they’re fed changes. So too do the pheromone signals they emit. In a paper published in the advanced online edition of the journal Animal Behaviour, ASU alumna Kirsten Traynor, a research associate with the University of Maryland, Robert E. Page Jr., ASU university provost and professor in the School of Life Sciences, and Yves Le Conte, a researcher with Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, show that adult bees foraging for food use the changing pheromone signals of the young to adjust what nutritional resources they collect.

Honey bees were found to return to the hive with one and one half times more protein-rich pollen, when exposed to young larvae as compared to old larvae. The researchers also discovered that significantly fewer foragers return home empty — a finding that Traynor believes could have an impact in agricultural enterprises.

Division of a colony’s labor characterizes many social insect groups, such as honey bees. The queen is the reproductive powerhouse, laying up to 1,500 eggs a day. However the young are reared by nurse bees once they hatch into larvae. From special glands in their heads, nurses produce a milky-white food — the honey bee equivalent of mother’s milk — that they feed these larvae.

To produce this special food, nurse bees must gorge on pollen. They use the protein to activate glands in their heads that make food for the developing larvae. The quality and quantity of the food nurse bees feed changes depending on the age and caste of the larvae. Nurses feed queen larvae copious amounts of a protein and sugar rich diet throughout development. However, for worker larvae, nurse bees split this diet into two parts. Young larvae receive surplus protein-rich food, while old larvae are restrictively fed a diet with a higher sugar component. Young larvae use the protein to rapidly gain weight, while older larvae need an increase in sugar to complete development. When nurse bees don’t have access to pollen, they quickly lose the ability to feed larvae sufficiently.

Young larvae emit a volatile pheromone called e-beta ocimene. When a colony is exposed to this pheromone alone, more foragers leave the hive in search for food. In hives exposed to young larvae or their pheromone, twice as many foragers return to the colony loaded down with pollen pellets on their hind legs, significantly increasing the amount of pollen collected compared to controls.

These findings could offer bee keepers a new means to boost pollination services. Colonies supplemented with young larvae or pheromone might more actively collect pollen and visit more crop flowers as they collect food.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Chiquita sees quarterly boost in banana sales but posts loss

Chiquita sees quarterly boost in banana sales but posts loss

Chiquita Brands International Inc. sales inched up 2.2 percent for the third quarter, but the Charlotte banana company still reported a loss of $ 18 million, or 38 cents per share.

The loss equalled that of the third quarter in 2013 for Chiquita (NYSE:CQB). Sales increased to $ 739 million for the latest quarter, rising from $ 723 million a year earlier. That increase was propelled by a 4 percent rise in banana sales to $ 477 million, up from $ 458 million for the third quarter of 2013.

Ed Lonergan, Chiquita CEO, calls the results the “strongest in the last five years for this period.”

“The momentum generated by Chiquita’s ‘return to the core’ strategy resulted in higher sales in our banana segment, and improved pricing in both bananas and salads and healthy snacks,” he says.

The fact that analysts had expected a loss of only 9 cents per share didn’t seem to affect the price of Chiquita shares. Shares traded up a penny from Wednesday’s closing price to $ 14.44 as the stock market opened, then settled at $ 14.43 at midmorning.

Today’s earnings report will likely be the next-to-last quarterly disclosure for Chiquita before Cutrale Group and Safra Group take the company private.

Lonergan adds that he was proud of Chiquita employees as they stayed on task as the company agreed late last month to be sold to Cutrale-Safra. The $ 1.3 billion deal was sealed after Chiquita shareholders nixed a plan for the company to buy Irish fruit supplier Fyffes plc.

Lonergan says Chiquita and Cutrale-Safra plan to complete their deal as soon as the end of the year.

Source: bizjournals.com

Publication date: 11/7/2014


FreshPlaza.com

USDA unveils $31.5 million grant to boost fruit, vegetable sales to SNAP recipients

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $ 31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.

News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association.

“Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families’ health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Sept. 29 in Richmond, VA, where he announced the launch of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, a new farm bill program.

Under FINI, applicants may propose small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects that test strategies to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase. Based on the type of project, USDA plans to award grants of $ 100,000 to $ 500,000, and applications are due on Dec. 15.

“We encourage our retail grocery members who operate stores in underserved communities to partner with their state SNAP agency and apply for a FINI grant,” said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh, who added that the projects are likely to inform USDA programs in the future.

With 85 percent of all SNAP benefits redeemed at grocery stores, “we believe that scaling up produce incentives at grocery stores in underserved communities around the country will have the greatest public health reach by increasing access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year round,” she said, adding that incentives can help SNAP families purchase more fresh produce and increase produce sales.

Stabenow praised the farm bill program she said was modeled after Michigan’s successful “Double up Food Bucks” program, which provides SNAP participants with tokens to purchase to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

“These new programs will not only empower low-income Americans to provide their families with more healthy fruits and vegetables, they will also help strengthen local economies by investing in local food systems and organic agriculture,” Stabenow said.

USDA listed the following project aspects it sees as priorities for funding:

  • Maximize the share of funds used for direct incentives to participants.
  • Test strategies that improve understanding how best to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants, which would inform future efforts.
  • Develop innovative or improved benefit redemption systems that could be replicated or scaled.
  • Use direct-to-consumer sales marketing.
  • Demonstrate a track record of designing and implementing successful nutrition incentive programs that connect low-income consumers and agricultural producers.
  • Provide locally or regionally produced fruits and vegetables, especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables for the target audience.
  • Are located in underserved communities.

The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will host a webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

UNFI says initiatives boost fiscal results

United Natural Foods, Inc., Providence, R.I., said Wednesday ongoing initiatives to enhance its product offering helped boost financial results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended Aug. 2.

Steven Spinner, president and CEO of the natural and organic foods distributor, said he believes UNFI is “well-positioned to capitalize on new business opportunities and to continue to pursue additional merger and acquisition opportunities aligned with our strategy and our investment in new capacity.”

Net income for the quarter increased 4.1% to $ 33.4 million, while sales rose 7.4% to $ 1.8 billion; excluding an extra week in the quarter, sales jumped 15.8%.

For the fiscal year net income was up 16.3% to $ 125.5 million, with sales climbing 12% to a record level of $ 6.8 billion; excluding the extra week, sales rose 14.3%.

The company said the acquisition of Tony’s Fine Foods, West Sacramento, Calif., in the fourth quarter and the addition of Trudeau Foods, Burnsville, Minn., in the first quarter boosted sales by approximately $ 64 million.

Net income for the year included a gain of $ 4.8 million associated with a non-cash transfer of land at the company’s Racine, Wis., facility. UNFI said it incurred costs of approximately $ 1.4 million related to the startup of the Racine facility; $ 800,000 related to the startup of a facility in New York’s Hudson Valley; and $ 1.5 million in costs related to the acquisition of Tony’s. 


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It also said it incurred a cost of approximately $ 6.3 million in expenses related to a labor action at its Auburn, Wash., facility and $ 1.6 million related to the termination of a licensing agreement and the write-down of the associated intangible asset.

The company experienced improved execution during the year on procurement and inbound logistics within its supply chain group, it noted.

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Unclear whether Israeli peppers will see boost in Russia

Unclear whether Israeli peppers will see boost in Russia

The Russian ban on European goods has opened up a potential opportunity for Israeli pepper growers, who are not subject to Russia’s ban. But with the emerging dominance of Spanish peppers in the European market, many Israeli exporters have been focusing on the Russian market for years. With significant quantities of Israeli peppers already finding their way to Russia, it’s not clear if the recent ban on European goods will lead to an increased amount of peppers arriving in Russia from Israel.

“There are peppers right now in Israel, but they’re for the domestic market,” said Niva Ben Zion of Avniv. “In terms of whether there is enough to export to Russia, I’d say there are some peppers, but nothing like the quantities we’re familiar with during winter.” If Israeli exporters had known that the Russian market would not be open to European exporters right now, they might have planned for more volume available for export. But as no one could have foreseen the current situation, Israeli exporters can’t pounce on the present market.

As for the medium term, Niva Ben Zion is not sure the Russian market will become significantly more attractive for Israeli shippers, as that market has already become an important one for exporters.

“In general, we will keep going to the Russian market, as we have done for many years,” said Niva Ben Zion. “Everyone in Europe has preferred Spanish peppers for some time because they don’t have to pay duty on them, there are fewer transportation costs and there are fewer quality issues. We’ve found ourselves relying more on the Russian market, so I don’t see such a big change. There will be fewer peppers going to Russia from Spain, but I don’t know how much was going to Russia from Spain before.”

Lastly, in order for Israeli suppliers to take advantage of the situation, the prices in Russia would have to be sufficiently steep to justify foregoing the domestic market. Because the export season has yet to get into full swing, it’s not clear prices will be high enough to justify an increase over what already is typically sent to Russia.

“Europeans can still send mixed trucks with produce from countries not in the European Union to Russia, so those mixed trucks, which carry different kinds of produce from different countries, might now need more Israeli peppers instead of Spanish peppers,” said Niva Ben Zion. “But, in my estimation, I don’t think much will change.”

Publication date: 9/4/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Farmers market vouchers may boost produce consumption in low-income families

Vouchers to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets increase the amount of produce in the diets of some families on food assistance, according to research led by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

The study, which appears online in Food Policy, suggests that farmers market vouchers can be useful tools in improving access to healthy food. This finding validates a new program created by the Agricultural Act of 2014, or farm bill, that incentivizes low-income families to buy produce at farmers markets.

“In terms of healthy food options, farmers market incentives may be able to bring a low-income person onto the same playing field as those with greater means,” said Carolyn Dimitri, an associate professor of food studies at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author.

Economically disadvantaged families tend to consume diets low in fruits and vegetables, partially due to poor access to healthy food and their inability to pay for it. Farmers markets may help fill in gaps in communities commonly referred to as “food deserts,” which lack access to fresh, healthy food.

One in four farmers markets in the U.S. accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as food stamps. In recent years, several local governments and nonprofit organizations have augmented federal food assistance by offering vouchers to use at farmers markets. The vouchers increase the value of food assistance when used to buy fruits and vegetables at markets.

While most food assistance programs fail to address nutritional quality — for instance, SNAP benefits can be used to buy ice cream and soda — farmers market incentives can only be used on fresh produce, increasing their potential to improve consumers’ diets.

To assess the effect of farmers market incentives on those receiving food assistance, Dimitri and her colleagues enrolled 281 economically disadvantaged women in their study, recruiting participants at five farmers markets in New York, San Diego and Boston. The women were all caring for young children and received federal food assistance through SNAP or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

The researchers collected demographic information and surveyed the participants throughout the 12-16 week study to learn about their food shopping habits and fresh vegetable consumption. Each time participants shopped at the farmers market, they received up to $ 10 in vouchers to be used toward purchasing fruits and vegetables. The women matched the amount of the farmers market vouchers with cash or federal food benefits.

Despite incentives, retaining participants was a challenge, suggesting that factors other than incentives influence farmers market shopping habits. A total of 138 participants completed the study, which is consistent with retention rates for similar studies. Women who were older, visited food banks and lived in “food deserts” were the most likely to drop out of the study.

For those who completed the study, more than half reported consuming vegetables more frequently at the end of the study. Participants with low levels of education and those who consumed little fresh produce at the beginning of the study were the most likely to increase the amount of produce in their diets.

“Our food choices are very complex, and issues with food security won’t be solved with a single program,” Dimitri said. “Even though not all participants increased their consumption of produce, our study suggests that nutrition incentives are a promising option that can help economically disadvantaged families eat healthier diets.”

Additional research is needed to understand why produce consumption did not increase among nearly half of the participants, despite their increased purchasing power, and determine what measures can be taken to engage the vulnerable group that dropped out of the study.

While farmers markets are good sources of healthy food, the researchers noted that relying on them exclusively for food security is problematic, as markets are usually open on limited days and closed in the winter.

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The above story is based on materials provided by New York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily