US Foods re-launches company following failed merger

Following the termination of the merger agreement between US Foods and Sysco Corp., US Foods has launched its “Just Taking Off” campaign, which it said officially marks the beginning of the company’s re-launch as an even stronger force in the foodservice industry. usfoods

“Throughout the unique environment of the past 18 months, we’ve continued to serve our customers by never forgetting what we’re about: delivering great food, cultivating talented food people and making it easy for our customers to work with us,” John Lederer, president and chief executive officer of US Foods, said in a press release. “It’s because of this unwavering dedication that I can confidently say that we are ready to take this company to the next level.”

Focused on accelerating the progress the company has already made, innovation — a longtime company tenet — will be at the center of the re-launch strategy. Operators can expect to see more of the innovative and exclusive Scoop items that empower operators across the country to explore on-trend dishes and freshen up menus. New technology enhancements and intuitive business solutions are planned to increase business success and make working with US Foods even easier, and the company will continue to revolutionize the way the industry experiences food and business consultation with its Food Fanatics program.

“It’s evident that we have the talent, passion and financial foundation to become an even stronger force in the foodservice industry,” Lederer said. “Our unprecedented momentum is going to propel us farther and faster forward. I can’t wait for our customers to see all that we have in store for them.”

The company said it is in a strong financial position and is well prepared for this path. Over the last 18 months, the it has invested millions of dollars into new technology and fleet and building improvements, including the construction of new LEED certified facilities that service the Boston and Jackson, MS, markets.

European retail giant's U.S. entry taking shape

Lidl, which operates nearly 10,000 stores throughout Europe, is pushing forward with its plans to expand into the United States. The company will open a new regional headquarters and distribution center in North Carolina's Alamance County. It plans to invest more than $125 million in the project over the next three years. Last month Lidl announced that its U.S. corporate headquarters would be located in Virginia. It also named Brendan Proctor president and chief executive officer for the company's U.S. division.

“North Carolina provides a talented workforce, a strategic location and market opportunities, which presents an incredible opportunity as Lidl prepares its expansion into the United States,” said Proctor. “We thank Governor McCrory and our local partners in Alamance County, who recognize Lidl’s potential and are working with us to bring Lidl to the area.”

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla III and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina said the new project will create 80 new full-time jobs and 120 hourly positions in Alamance County during the next three years.

“Lidl is one of the best known grocery store names in Europe,” said Gov. McCrory.  “North Carolina will play a key role as the company begins its plans to enter the U.S. market.”

“This is clearly a good strategic decision by Lidl to put a regional headquarters and distribution center in North Carolina,” said Skvarla.  “By locating here, it can take advantage of our great workforce and infrastructure as it builds its presence in the United States.”

Fresh From the Start set to kick off Maine broccoli deal

When Fresh From the Start kicks off its annual Maine broccoli deal in mid-July, it marks the culmination of a full year of dedication and hard work.

“Our Maine broccoli program is a full-year investment, not just the summer months,” said Eric Scannelli, senior vice president of sales and marketing at the Riverhead, NY-based company, which operates as a division of Hapco Farms.Broccoli FullYearCycle “We are involved from the initial seed process all the way to the packaging and shipping process. When our customers buy Maine broccoli from us, they are dealing directly with the grower. We are invested from the beginning providing the best quality product at the best possible price.”

This summer marks the 23rd year of Fresh From the Start’s Maine broccoli program. The company touts the freshness of East Coast product and the freight savings as the major advantages it offers.

“For our retail clients in the East, our Maine broccoli arrives days fresher than California broccoli and our customers save on freight costs as well,” said Scannelli.

Those advantages appear to be ringing true with Fresh From the Start’s clients, as demand has increased, necessitating an 15 percent increase in acreage.

Scannelli said 80 percent of Fresh From the Start’s broccoli volume is Asian-cut crowns, and altogether he anticipates shipping 1 million boxes of Asian-cut crowns and bunched broccoli this season.

In addition to broccoli, Fresh From the Start offers a seasonal cauliflower program that will run through mid-October, and it offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a year-round basis.

As always, food safety is a top priority for Fresh From the Start, and to keep a close eye on its protocols the company employs an in-house inspector and provides a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection on each load.

“We have a Superior rating from AIB, and we also have in place seed-to-delivery traceability with Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Agricultural Practices programs,” Scannelli said.

Fresh From the Start provides information to its customer on its Facebook page, offering photos and updates about its crops and the programs that are available. Additionally, information about the company and its offerings is available at www.hapcofarms.com.

United Fresh’s Stenzel, Gombas and Guenther appointed to USDA advisory committees

Tom Stenzel, United Fresh’s president and chief executive officer, along with Dave Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology, and Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy, have been appointed by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to serve on federal agriculture advisory committees.Stenzel-Informal1Tom Stenzel

Stenzel is one of 34 members of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, which will advise Vilsack and Froman on the administration of trade policy, including the enforcement of existing trade agreements and negotiating objectives for new trade pacts.

Guenther serves on the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for trade in fruits and vegetables — one of six technical committees that provide counsel on specific commodities and products.

Gombas is a member of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, which provides impartial, scientific advice to federal food-safety agencies.

Noting that international sales of U.S. farm and food exports over the last six years were the strongest in history — totaling $771.7 billion — Vilsack considers committee appointees “an invaluable asset representing one of the most important sectors to America’s export economy, whose expertise and knowledge will be relied upon to bring home the best possible trade deals.”

In addition, representatives from several United Fresh Produce Association member organizations have been named to USDA’s advisory committees on trade policy, fruits and vegetables and grains:

  • Julie Adams, Almond Board of California
  • Ken Melban, California Avocado Commission
  • Joel Nelsen, California Citrus Mutual
  • James Cranney Jr., California Citrus Quality Council
  • Marcy Martin, California Fresh Fruit Association
  • Karen Lowe, CoBank, ACB
  • John Foster, Earthbound Farm
  • Michael Stuart, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
  • Reginald Brown, Florida Tomato Exchange
  • Larry Wooten, North Carolina Farm Bureau
  • Christian Schlect, Northwest Horticultural Council
  • Rayne Thompson, Sunkist Growers
  • Dale Murden, Texas Citrus Mutual
  • Matt Harris, Washington State Potato Commission
  • Tom Nassif, Western Growers Association

Established by Congress in 1974, the committees ensure that the private sector has a voice in the development of agricultural trade policy objectives that reflect U.S. commercial and economic interests. Appointee terms last until June 15, 2019.

Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament helps grow produce and floral industries

At this year’s annual PMA Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA, the PMA Foundation For Industry Talent will host the Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament in honor of produce industry veteran Joe Nucci. The tournament, now featured on a new day (Thursday, July 23) will be held at the Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course.

The Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament benefits the PMA Foundation’s Career Pathways Program and brings awareness to the PMA Foundation’s mission to attract the best and brightest university students to the produce and floral industry. This year, honorable students and their faculty will travel from Hartnell College and California State University-Chico to attend the event.

The tournament is an excellent opportunity to socialize and network with other industry members and receive key advice from Jason Owen, head coach of the Cal State Monterey Bay men’s golf team, a CCAA Coach of the Year, All-West Region Coach of the Year, and Division II National Golf Coach of the Year.

 “It’s an incredibly special tribute that the industry comes together to make each July at the PMA Foodservice Conference," Gina Nucci said in a press release. "Not only to Joe, but to the community that Joe was a part of, and helped create — and that we all experience each and every time we connect.”

Attendees can participate in the tournament, along with other key events, at PMA’s Foodservice Conference & Expo 2015, July 24-26, where more than 1,800 industry professionals will join to connect with people from the industry and grow their business.

To learn more about the Joe Nucci Memorial Golf Tournament and the other events hosted at this year’s Foodservice Conference, visit www.pma.com/events/foodservice or www.pmafoundation.com.