News Wire

The sponsors of BevExpo 2004 report the debut show surpassed expectations, attracting more than 2,500 attendees and 260 exhibiting companies. Among the attendees were 300 international visitors from Canada, Europe, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. A wide range of large and small companies in the bottled water, juice, milk, soft drink and other beverage categories were represented. Beverage professionals also learned the latest in growth strategies, trends and technical information in 45 well-attended educational sessions.
City of Industry, Calif.-based Santee Dairies Inc. has changed its operating name to Heartland Farms. A wholly owned subsidiary of Colton, Calif.-based Stater Bros. Holdings Inc., Heartland processes milk, juice and tea under license for brands including Knudsen and Foremost milks, Sunkist Refrigerated Juices and Arnold Palmer Tee. The name change is part of a new marketing focus, the company says.
Binghamton, N.Y.-based Crowley Foods will invest $2.7 million to expand its Bristol, Va., facility; another $100,000 will be added by state and local business expansion incentives, in addition to workforce services support. The expansion is expected to add 32 jobs to the processing plant, which currently has 64 employees. Crowley was acquired by Massachusetts-based HP Hood from Dallas-based National Dairy Holdings earlier this year.
Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. announced in September that unprecedented volatility in raw milk prices, a difficult retail grocery environment and record-high fuel, resin and other commodity costs, have caused the company to reduce its earnings expectations for 2004. Dean says these and other factors are contributing to weaker than expected performance across all of its businesses.
In September, a federal judge dismissed an antitrust lawsuit against Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), finding no evidence that DFA has a milk sales monopoly in Kentucky and Tennessee school districts. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in London, Ky., sought to force Kansas City, Mo.-based DFA to divest Somerset, Ky.-based

Southern Belle Dairy. The judge cited DFA’s lack of business control over Southern Belle as part of his decision.
Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. plans to sell off its Breyers yogurt brand. Kraft chief executive officer Roger Deromedi has frequently stated Kraft plans to divest itself of non-essential brands. Breyers remains far behind category leaders Yoplait and Dannon, which sources speculate is the reason the company is parting with the brand. At $118 million a year in sales, Breyers yogurt brings in just a fraction of Kraft’s $31 billion in annual revenue.
Farmland Dairies LLC subsidiary Milk Products of Alabama LLC (MPA) has been sold for $21.7 million to Dallas-based Dean Foods Co. Dean outbid National Dairy Holdings (NDH) to acquire the unit of beleaguered Parmalat USA. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the sale.
On October 1, more demanding pasteurization testing regulations went into effect for dairies in the United States. The new requirements are driven by growing consumer and government awareness that food safety and quality are critical public health issues. Processors must embrace new testing technologies that meet the stricter regulations and provide considerably higher levels of quality control.
Chelsea, Mass.-based HP Hood and Londonderry, N.H.-based Stonyfield Farm are launching
an organic milk that will soon be showing up in supermarkets and natural food stores nationwide. Donning the brand name of one
of the nation’s most famous yogurts, the milk will be packaged by HP Hood at its UHT plant in Oneida, N.Y., and have a 70-day shelf life.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the growing gap between what consumers pay for a gallon of milk and farmers receive for that milk,. In a report he released this month, Schumer cites data showing that for the June-August period, while consumers paid higher prices for milk, the price paid to dairy farmers dropped by 38 cents per gallon, or $4.40 per hundredweight. Retail and farm milk prices had risen consistently throughout the beginning of 2004, with farm prices peaking in May., Schumer said. Because milk processors and retailers function as middle men between the farmer and the consumer, Schumer suggests processors and retailers may have increased their share instead of passing profits on to farmers. He questions whether such a drastic increase in consumer prices could be accounted for by increases in the cost of getting milk onto the shelves.
North Aurora, Ill.-based Oberweis Dairy will offer up to 500 franchise retail shops in a seven-state area, and hopes to have as many as 175 company- and franchise-owned stores within two years. The first target areas will be Milwaukee and Indianapolis, where the company already offers home delivery of its milk products. Other expansion targets include Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland and Detroit; it is likely that home-delivery services would also be extended. The dairy recorded about $50 million in sales last year, with roughly 42.5 percent of sales through its existing 33 dairy stores.
Foremost Dairies-Hawaii will shut down completely in November, resulting in 120 employee layoffs. The closure will leave Meadow Gold Dairies as Hawaii’s only major milk and dairy processor. Founded in 1952, Foremost-Hawaii was sold late last year after its previous owner decided to divest its dairy interests.
This school year, the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district has partnered with Nestlé to install 150 Nesquik milk vending machines in 32 senior high schools. The machines carry 14-ounce resealable bottles of chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, double chocolate, 1% milk and fat-free chocolate. The school system ran a pilot Nesquik lowfat milk program in 17 schools last year.
As Atlanta-based Carvel Corp. celebrates 70 years of success, the nation’s first retail ice cream franchise has announced continued aggressive sales growth during the third quarter of 2004 by granting 33 new franchise licenses and opening 28 new locations. As the company enters new markets in California, Ohio and Arkansas, transformation from a regional brand to a national player moves forward as part of Carvel’s strategic development, the company says.  
North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Bravo Foods International, a brand development and marketing company that manufactures, promotes and distributes vitamin-fortified flavored milks, has signed a licensing agreement with MasterFoods USA, the confectionary and snack food division of Mars Inc., to produce, market and sell Milky Way®, Starburst® and 3 Mustketeers® single-serve, fortified milk products under Bravo’s Slammers® brand.
Velvet Ice Cream Co., Utica, Ohio, has created a new foodservice division and will build a distribution freezer warehouse in 2005 to accommodate growth in that sector of the company’s business.
Quality Chekd Dairies Inc., Naperville, Ill., has announced it will fully integrate its purchasing unit with that of SECO & Golden “100” Inc., DeLand, Fla. The combined entities will operate as QCS Purchasing LLC, formalizing a joint venture that began in 2001 to benefit the two organizations’ member companies. QCS Purchasing LLC will expand its member services, which currently include reduced-cost packaging, commodities, ingredients, chemicals and other valuable offerings crucial to dairy and agricultural businesses.
Cheese and snack lovers now can snack with character as Plymouth, Wis.-based Sargento Foods Inc. partners with spokes-elf Ernest J. Keebler to drive the retail sales of Sargento non-refrigerated snacks. Sargento recently partnered with the Kellogg Co.’s Keebler® brand on a licensing program and on-pack retail merchandising effort to create increased awareness of the dual-branded snack products.