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Top Stories for 4/18/14

School Chocolate Milk Bans Having Unintended Effects

A chocolate-milk ban in Oregon elementary schools may have led to a drop in fat-free white milk consumption, according to a study by Cornell University's Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. Researchers looked at 11 schools with a ban in place, finding total milk sales at the schools fell by 10 percent and waste increased by 29 percent. In addition, while less sugar and fewer calories were consumed, students' intake of calcium and protein decreased.

The ban also resulted in a 7 percent decrease in the number of students taking part in the lunch program of the Eugene School District. Study co-author Brian Wansink suggested there are better ways of encouraging white milk consumption, such as placing it prominently in the cooler and ensuring at least one-third to half of available milk is white, reports HealthDayFull Story

Flux in Coffee Bean Prices Expected to Continue

The price of coffee beans rose 85 percent this year on concerns that dry weather in Brazil will damage the harvest there. Brazil accounts for about one-third of global coffee production, making it the largest coffee producer. Most recently, the coffee price rose because a crop inspection report predicted 35 percent of the coffee crop in the South Minas region of Brazil would be lost due to unfavorable weather. Big price swings for coffee may become the norm in coming months, reports USA TodayFull Story

Chipotle Raises Prices as Ingredient Costs Jump

Chipotle Mexican Grill will increase menu prices in the mid-single-digit percentage range in June, due to rising beef, avocado, and cheese costs. The chain plans to open 180 to 195 new units by the end of the year. Chipotle's comparable restaurant sales increased 13.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period last year. The price hike, expected to be int he mid-range of single digits, will be the first in three years for the company, reports Chicago TribuneFull Story

Lucini Italia Wins Gold at International Olive Oil Competition

Two extra-virgin olive oils from Lucini Italia won gold awards this year at the annual New York International Olive Oil Competition. Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Founders Reserve Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil were honored in the medium intensity and robust intensity categories, respectfully. Harvested near Bolgheri, Tuscany, in early November to preserve the oil’s full flavor and health properties, Lucini's Premium Select is made from olives that are handpicked and crushed within 24 hours. The Founders Reserve Premium Select originates in Montenero d’Orcia, Tuscany, at the estate of the award-winning Frantoio Franci. Two estate-grown olive varieties, frantoio and olivastra seggianese, are picked by hand and pressed within 12 hours to retain peak flavor. A limited offering, fewer than 5,000 bottles were produced of this oil.

Philanthropic Ice Cream Company Expands Distribution

Seattle-based Lovin’ Scoopful, founded by Maria Shriver and partners to benefit the Special Olympics and other nonprofits, has increased its product distribution by more than 400 stores along the East Coast. As part of this expansion, Lovin’ Scoopful has changed its packaging from a cylindrical “convocan" to a “sqround” tub; the new packaging, rolling out nationwide in 2015, will allow the ice cream to fit into additional store-shelving models.

In addition to the increased distribution, Lovin’ Scoopful's Gourmet Light Ice Cream will now be available at all 750 Ahold USA stores including Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Martin’s Food Market, Giant Food Stores, and Peapod Stores throughout the eastern United States. New to the East Coast distribution will be the recently introduced flavor What the Fudge, combining Lovin’s Out of This World Chocolate with thick fudge, and Moose Tracks, combining peanut butter cups, fudge, and vanilla ice cream. Suggested retail for Lovin’ Scoopful Gourmet Light Ice Cream is $3.75 to $4.99.

Pata Negra Debuts Spanish Imperial White Chorizo

Pata Negra, a specialty sausage maker from Spain, has added a new white chorizo, Vela Blanco, to its line of specialty pork sausages, called Imperial. The sausage features a gourmet assortment of pork meat, garlic, and other spices. The product goes through a lengthy dry-curing process to ensure ingredients season slowly to give each sausage an authentic Spanish flavor. The Imperial line is made under the supervision of chorizo-maker Dr. Antonio Libran, a veterinarian with experience in the Spanish cured-meats industries.

Imperial’s Vela Blanco will be available in New York City specialty food stores, as well as online the first week of May. Fairway Market will be hosting demos and sampling this month to welcome the new product.

Boston Specialty Grocers Brace for Supermarket Competition

Andrian Shapiro, owner of Baza Gourmet Foods and Spirits, has been preparing to compete with the Wegmans location that will open soon a few miles away from his store. Shapiro secured a liquor license a few months ago and is now dropping prices on produce and increasing his marketing budget in preparation for Wegmans’ arrival. Many independent grocery store owners in the Greater Boston area are worried about their livelihoods as big supermarket chains such as Wegmans and BJ’s Wholesale Club open more locations. The arrival of new competition is particularly troubling for small grocers already struggling to gain market share in an industry dominated by large companies, reports The Boston GlobeFull Story

Texas Craft Brewery Grows Production, Adds Distribution

Lakewood Brewing Co. is more than doubling the size of its brewery and partnering with its first third-party distributor. The company plans to build a new 14,000-square-foot facility that will be connected to its current 11,000-square-foot space. Lakewood entered into a partnership with Andrews Distributing, with a portfolio of more than 10,000 customers. Lakewood's products will reach retailers and grocers in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area. “We’ve been growing 10 percent month-over-month since we started,” says Wim Bens, founder and president of Lakewood Brewing. “What you can expect is more Lakewood in different places.” Ten percent of Lakewood's sales are from craft beer, representing 2.8 million cases a year, reports Dallas Business JournalFull Story

Ohio Ice Cream Maker Lands in National Grocer

Johnson's Real Ice Cream will be available in Kroger Co. stores in the Columbus, Ohio, area and in the Hills Market Downtown. The 64-year-old ice cream maker is in a growth spurt. The company opened a scoop shop inside Discover District grocery and will also begin a test with Roosters restaurants. “We’d thought about Kroger before, but always thought we were too small,” says Matt Wilcoxon, vice president of sales. Bruce Macaulay, president of Kroger's Columbus division and a Johnson's fan, wanted more local products in the stores. Kroger will stock nine flavors, reports Columbus Business FirstFull Story

Tampa, FL, Coffee Roaster Gets Big Upgrades

The Buddy Brew will expand one of its Tampa, Fla., coffee shops, with additional seating (from 14 seats to 45) to start. The remodeled 2,000-square-foot space is a mix of sleek, shiny coffee equipment, terrazzo flooring, stainless counters, and repurposed wood. The expansion is allowing the company to grow: Buddy Brew plans to increase production for its wholesale roasting operations and introduce a new food menu in May. Buddy Brew coffee beans are available in Whole Foods Market stores in Tampa and Orlando, Fla., reports The Tampa TribuneFull Story

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