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Top Stories for 8/21/14

Russia to Allow Imports of Some Western Foods

The Russian government eased some bans on Western food, allowing imports of material that could be used to boost its agricultural industry. Russia imports as much as 50 percent of its fish from Norway, which has caused salmon prices to jump in the wake of the ban. To offset the increase, the government plans to encourage salmon imports from Chile and improve the country's own aquaculture.

The government stated it will allow imports of salmon and trout hatchlings, potato and onion seeds, sugar maize hybrid and peas for planting, lactose-free milk and products, biologically active supplements, vitamin-mineral complexes, flavor additives, protein concentrates of animal and plant origin and their mixtures, food fibers, and food additives, reports ReutersFull Story

Specialty Food, Agriculture Startups on the Rise in Greece

Some positive movements are emerging in Greece in the wake of its economic crisis. The number of startups in the country has increased nine-fold since 2010, according to Endeavor Greece, a company that supports startups in the country. Managing director Haris Makryniotis says the growth could create at least 300,000 jobs in the country's specialty agriculture sector, which he called "ripe for job creation." But many of those new jobs will be in smaller towns and rural areas instead of big cities, which would reverse a longtime trend of rural-to-urban migration that defined Greece's shift to a postwar service economy.

While Greek food products previously struggled due to an uncompetitive sector that relied on EU subsidies, farmers are now growing high-quality produce that is being sold to Greek restaurants and beyond. Among the startups are Radiki, which sells wild sea greens internationally, including to a gourmet food company that sells to the U.S., reports NPR. Full Story

Chicago Newspaper Kiosks Repurposed for Prepared Foods

A collective of Chicago nonprofits and food producers is turning abandoned newspaper kiosks into prepared food stands. Called e.a.t. spots, the kiosks feature a menu created by Shaw Lash, the former chef at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill, and includes healthful items such as breakfast tofu scramble wraps and Asian kale salads. The venture is a collaboration between e.a.t., a nonprofit corporation working to improve the city's food system; Irv and Shelly's Fresh Picks, a locally sourced–food delivery company; StreetWise, which helps homeless people find stable employment; and Lifeway Foods, Inc., a maker of kefir products. The city issued a special permit created for startups that don't qualify for an existing type of Chicago business license. Four locations are running in the downtown area, with more expected to open in the fall, reports Crain's Chicago BusinessFull Story

Tea Maker Celebrates 10 Years with New Logo, Products, Packaging

Tea Maker Celebrates 10 Years with New Logo, Products, Packaging

What began as a longing for hard-to-find teas from memorable travels has grown into a nonstop success story.

By Emily Crowe

While spending most of his adult life traveling to Asia for business, Richard Rosenfeld would come home to the United States and lament the fact that he couldn’t find a good cup of tea. That was the impetus for starting his own tea company in his home state of Colorado ten years ago.

Today, Rosenfeld’s Two Leaves and a Bud Tea Company is celebrating a decade in business with new products, a new logo, and a return to its roots.

Rosenfeld’s international travels also inspired the name of his company, though it was briefly shortened to Two Leaves Tea Company in 2012. According to Rosenfeld, the name seemed to be too long, especially in everyday business, but shortening it soon proved to be problematic.

“We realized very quickly, especially in our retail business, that it wasn’t the right thing to do,” Rosenfeld explains. Earlier this year, the company “brought back the bud” and is again working under the Two Leaves and a Bud Tea Company moniker.

Along with a return to its original name, the ... Continue Reading

WA Wine Grape Crop to Break 2013 Record

Washington is expecting another record grape crop in 2014. Last year's record 212,000 tons will most likely be followed by 230,000 tons this year. The state's 2014 crop may surpass 2013's by 10 to 12 percent. The anticipated increase is a result of warmer weather and new plantings from two to five years ago, which are either coming into full production or seeing their first crops. Cabernet sauvignon was the state's largest crop last year, the first time that title went to a red wine grape. The harvest is expected to begin next week, earlier than usual, reported Great Northwest Wine. Full Story

Confectioner Sues Competitors over "Chicago Mix" Trademark Infringement

St. Paul, Minn., confectioner Candyland has sued three of its competitors due to the use of the phrase "Chicago Mix." In the lawsuits, Candyland asked a U.S. District Court judge to bar Garrett Popcorn Shops, Snyder's-Lance, and Cornfields from using the name, and award Candyland unspecified damages. Candyland trademarked the phrase in 1992 to describe a variety of its flavored popcorn that combines salt, caramel, and cheese flavors. The company is in settlement talks with one of the defendants, reports St. Paul Pioneer PressFull Story

Bottled Water Company Files Lawsuit Against Nestle

Nirvana, Inc., has filed a lawsuit against Nestle Waters North America in the New York State Supreme Court, alleging breach of a non-disclosure agreement and unlawful anti-competitive practices. Nirvana stated that after Nestle expressed interest in acquiring the bottled spring water company in 2012, the companies signed a non-disclosure agreement. The bottled water company alleges Nestle then received information on Nirvana's finances and natural resources and conducted aerial reconnaissance of Nirvana's property; it also says Nestle engaged in anti-competitive practices to weaken Nirvana's sales, such as lowering prices for commercial buyers who agreed to stop carrying Nirvana water and showing supermarkets letters that indicated Nirvana approached Nestle for the sale.

The company states in the past two years its sales have dropped dramatically. Nirvana launched in 1998 as a bottled water co-packer. In 2005, the company initially entered discussions with Nestle about co-packing of Nestle’s Pure Life brand, according to the company. Nirvana transitioned to a self-branded water company in 2011.

Crumbs to Return as Wider-Ranging Bake Shop

After nearly two months in limbo, Crumbs Bake Shop is reopening. Its return is thanks to Lemonis Fischer Acquisition Co., owned by Marcus Lemonis, a CNBC television personality and businessman. Lemonis Fischer placed a $6.5 million bid to buy the bakery chain, which went unchallenged. The business initially offered $1 million to to prevent Crumbs from filing for bankruptcy, but ultimately the specialty cupcake maker had to do so. Following the final bid, after Aug. 19 he became the sole owner of the chain. Crumbs will officially move out of bankruptcy at the end of August, according to the company. Lemonis says his plans for the store are to turn it into a bake shop with a wider-ranging selection of prodcuts, reports New York PostFull Story

Westside Market's New Location to Compete with Big Names

A long and storied history precedes Westside Market as it is known today, a family business en route to opening a sixth location in the New York metropolitan area. Run by Greek immigrants, the business has gone from solely offering fresh produce to serving up homemade prepared foods and pantry staples. The new downtown Manhattan location, at 12th Street and Third Avenue, presents a few challenges and risks, though none big enough to deter plans. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods stand a few blocks away, the store is farther than others from the nearest subway stop, and the differences between the shopping habits of downtown residents is a world apart from what trends uptown, reports The New York Times. Full Story

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