Due to travel and other obligations, I’ve been derelict in updating this blog. I’m back in the saddle today. Here are the week’s headlines:

Meijer acquired the plant operations at Bareman's Dairy. Meijer said it will invest more than $8 million to expand the Holland, Mich., plant. Meijer will assume ownership on April 1, 2012. In addition, Carlinville, Ill.-based Prairie Farms Dairy has acquired the rights to the Bareman's Dairy brand and all Bareman's distribution facilities, along with exclusive rights to distribute Bareman's brand products throughout the Great Lakes region.

The National Milk Producers Federation assumed the management, licensing and use of the REAL Seal. Effective March 15, 2012, the management of the REAL Seal program was transferred from the United Dairy Industry Association to NMPF. This change was the result of an agreement between the two organizations that the transfer was the best opportunity to place a renewed emphasis on highlighting the importance and value of American-made dairy foods.
The REAL Seal was created more than 30 years ago to help consumers distinguish between real and artificial cheeses, as the pizza category was really taking off, said Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of NMPF.

Harris interactive poll logoA new 2012 Harris Poll EquiTrend survey of consumers found that Chobani Greek Yogurt is the "Brand of the Year" in the Yogurt category. (Ice cream, milk, cheese and other dairy foods were not included in the survey.)

In the beverage category, the top brands are:


  • Bottled Iced Tea: Lipton Iced Tea
  • Diet Soft Drink: Diet Coke
  • Soft Drink: Coca-Cola
  • Coffee: Green Mountain Coffee
  • Energy Drink: SoBe Adrenaline Rush Energy Drink
  • Fruit Flavored Drink: Juicy Juice
  • Fruit Juice: Tropicana Juices
  • Hot Tea: Lipton Teas
  • Bottled Water: Poland Spring Bottled Water
  • Coconut Water: Goya Coco Water
  • Enhanced Water: Glaceau vitaminwater
  • Sports Drink: Gatorade

Source: www.harrisinteractive.com.

Rich Products of Canada acquired Dorgel Ltd. & Elistan Foods, a manufacturer and marketer of frozen desserts and ice cream cakes sold across Canada. The acquisition includes all aspects of Dorgel's and Elistan's business, including its entire product portfolio, manufacturing operations, research and development capabilities. Owner Nick Lucchese joins Rich's as Vice President, Business Development; and Eric Cannataro, co-owner, joins Rich's as Plant Manager.

Dean Foods Co. announced this week that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee in the previously disclosed Tennessee Retailer Action has entered a judgment ordering that the Action be dismissed in its entirety, that plaintiffs recover nothing from the Company or other defendants, and that the Company and other defendants recover costs from the plaintiffs. The judgment, which remains subject to appeal, follows an order of the Court granting the Company's motion for summary judgment on the two claims still remaining in the case.

Perkins Restaurants & Bakeries launched a new brand campaign "Putting it all on the table". Among the new dairy foods on the menu is The Bacon, Avocado & Jack Cheese sandwich. Television, radio, print and OOH is being rolled out throughout Perkins markets and will be supported in restaurant with a 3-Egg 5-Star Omelette running end of March through June, followed by a Summer Salad promotion slated for the May through August timeframe.

The Just Label It Campaign this week said one million Americans “of all political persuasions” have called on the FDA to label genetically engineered foods. The campaign also announced a new national survey revealing that Americans across the political spectrum stand united in support of labeling food that has been genetically engineered. This is a striking contrast to the partisan divisions plaguing our political system.

A number of food producers and organizations from multiple countries launched the Consortium for Common Food Names, an international initiative that seeks to stop efforts to restrict the use of generic food names, including such efforts by the European Commission.
The consortium opposes any attempt to monopolize generic names that have become part of the public domain, such as parmesan, feta, provolone, bologna, salami and many others, as well as terms used by winemakers such as "classic", "vintage", "fine" and "superior". The consortium will seek to foster the adoption of an appropriate model that protects legitimate GIs like "Parmigiano Reggiano" while preserving the right of all producers to use common names like "parmesan".
The consortium is not opposed to proper geographical indications (GIs), like "Camembert de Normandie" cheese from France, and "Clare Island Salmon" from Ireland. In fact, products from other parts of the world – such as Washington State Apples, Valle de Colchagua wine from Chile, or Thai Jasmine Rice – may also benefit from similar protection.
"No one country or entity should own common food names," said Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the new initiative, and senior vice president of trade policy at the U.S. Dairy Export Council. "If such efforts are successful, consumers will no longer recognize many of their favorite foods. Producers around the world will be forced to consider relabeling potentially billions of dollars' worth of food products.
"Arguing that any one group should have an exclusive right to use such names is like claiming that only Italians should be permitted to use the term 'pizza,'" he said.
See this link for a list of cheese and other food names “at risk.”

Last Friday, 25 dairy manufacturers – including some of the largest food companies in the United States – sent letters to House and Senate Agriculture Committee members, calling on them to oppose supply management proposals and adopt a compromise producer safety net in the new Farm Bill. Seven Illinois dairy foods companies today became the latest to express their views on dairy policy legislation by submitting letters of record to the Farm Bill field hearing in Galesburg, Ill.
The International Dairy Foods Association reported that the dairy manufacturers would be directly regulated under the pending Dairy Security Act, H.R. 3062, which was proposed by the National Milk Producers Federation, the trade association representing the dairy coops, and introduced by Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN).
The companies are members of the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), which submitted a statement to the field hearing record with detailed information on the problems associated with a government-mandated supply management program. The Illinois companies are Arthur Schuman, Inc.; Bel Brands USA, Nestle USA, Brewster Dairy, Dean Foods Co., Kraft Foods and Oberweis Dairy.

AMPI Associated Milk Producers Inc. logoAssociated Milk Producers Inc. (AMPI) reported 2011 sales of $2 billion. “Our cheese-packaging plant in Portage, Wis., and the New Ulm, Minn., butter plant contributed stellar returns to the bottom line,” said AMPI President and CEO Ed Welch at the co-op’s annual meeting. The 2011 performance marks the fifth consecutive year of growth in both consumer-packaged butter and cheese. The cooperative’s butter business increased 22% and packaged cheese sales climbed 43% in five years. Following a performance review, AMPI Chairman of the Board Steve Schlangen focused on the future, talking about the cooperative’s advocacy related to the 2012 Farm Bill. “We want legislation that includes growth management to reduce market volatility and supports America.