Church Bros. #ImperfectVeg program reduces food waste and water usage

Church Bros. is activating a new program to help reduce food waste and water usage; the company is calling its part of this emerging food trend #ImperfectVeg.

The idea is to sell edible fresh produce items that were previously discarded or not harvested and rotated back into the soil because they did not meet industry standards for cosmetic attributes.Vince-Ballesteros-with-ImperfectVeVince Ballesteros, Church Bros. vice president of business development, with a box of #ImperfectVeg.

“The trend is going viral in the foodservice sector due to the Compass Group helping tell the [Imperfectly Delicious Produce ] story and build awareness with restaurant operators, chefs and consumers,” Vince Ballesteros, Church Bros. vice president of business development, said in a press release. “We are seeing more support and requests for these edible and nutritious fresh produce items and we’re working with our distribution partners to make the introduction and implementation of these products is successful."

Kori Tuggle, vice president of marketing, said this emerging trend is a gift to the produce industry and its growers.

“Ideally, if we are able to educate chefs on what they are receiving, the #ImperfectVeg could be more acceptable with the foodservice sector as consumers choose off a menu description; compared to at retail where shoppers buy with their eyes,” Tuggle said.

Church Bros. will display its #ImperfectVeg product line at PMA Foodservice Expo in Booth No. 23.  The items include direct field-packed Romaine leaves and cauliflower; value-added broccoli fines, a by-product of florets and second-crop baby kale, baby chard and clip spinach.

“We are starting with a small number of items to trial first with the direction of Compass Group," Ballesteros said in the release. "Once we receive feedback, we will evaluate where there is opportunity to improve and expand the product list.”

Tuggle said, “It’s a win-win for all involved. Growers, foodservice operators and chefs benefit from the halo effect of the product’s story, and consumers want to do their part in helping reduce food waste and eat vegetables that use less water to grow.”

Southeastern Grocers to donate all profits on Fourth of July to Wounded Warrior Project

Southeastern Grocers, parent company of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, announced that on Saturday, July 4, all profits generated at its grocery stores will be donated in support of Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program.segro The Independence Program is designed to help warriors who need to rely on their families and friends for support due to injuries they have suffered, such as brain injury, spinal-cord injury or other neurological conditions. Individualized plans are created with goals to provide a future with purpose at no cost to the warriors or their support teams.

BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores operate "in states with some of the highest Active Duty military populations in the United States,” Ian McLeod, chief executive officer and president of Southeastern Grocers, said in a press release. “While we recognize on Memorial Day those soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice and give thanks to those who have served on Veterans Day, the sacrifice and needs of those who are severely injured visibly or invisibly is not necessarily fully understood. I am honoured that we are running this program and am thankful to the military men and women and their families for their service and sacrifice.

“We believe we all have a responsibility to care and contribute to the lives of those who have served and sacrificed for the nation, which is why we are committing every cent of every dollar of profit generated this Independence Day across all of our [BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie] stores to help support the Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program,” McLeod said in the release. “We felt it is the right thing to do, and our associates do, too.”

“Continuing our work with [BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie] in the spirit of supporting our lifelong commitment to serving our nation’s veterans is exciting,” Steven Nardizzi, CEO of Wounded Warrior Project, said in the release. “Dedication to our injured service members is evident in the sincere efforts of companies like BI-LO, and the support we will be receiving from them is vital to our mission to honor and empower our Wounded Warriors, and Independence Day is the perfect time to celebrate.”

Simply by shopping at BI-LO, Harveys or Winn-Dixie on Independence Day, customers will help support those who serve and sacrifice for the United States. Other ways in which customers can support the cause include the following: donating during checkout until July 5; wearing the “I Donated” sticker that cashiers will hand out on July 4 to all customers to encourage friends and family to do the same; liking, following and sharing Facebook posts and Twitter feeds with #AllForHonor; and honoring a veteran or service member by posting a dedication on a special Facebook page,

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.”

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.

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