In response to intensifying demand for premium natural beef, Lincoln, Neb.-based B&R Stores Inc. — parent of Russ’s Market and Super Saver — launched a new branded Platte River Ranch Natural Angus Beef program from Greater Omaha Packing Co., Inc., a local supplier of steaks to a number of top area restaurants.

The local partnership between the employee-owned B&R Stores — which has stores in seven cities across Nebraska and Iowa — and Greater Omaha Packing Co. got underway in Russ’s Market in early September and debuted in the Super Saver stores roughly 30 days later.

“Regardless of the cut, Omaha Natural Angus beef is truly restaurant-quality beef,” relays B&R Stores president Pat Raybould, noting that the Angus genetics and optimal aging naturally combine to produce meat with outstanding flavor, tenderness and presentation on the plate. “It’s a difference [shoppers] will be able to taste.”

Delivered in sides and cut into steaks in Russ’s and Super Saver meat departments, the new Platte River brand beef is produced from 100 percent grain-fed, laboratory-verified, locally produced Angus beef. Raybould says the new beef program dovetails perfectly with his team of experienced, on-site meat cutters, who bring out the best in the grill-friendly, Nebraska-born-and-bred beef.

The beef’s high-quality pedigree “continues with a perfect cut by an experienced meat cutter, and finishes with perfect preparation on the grill at home,” adds Raybould, noting that the price of the all-natural Angus beef is “comparable to other products,” providing better quality at no extra cost. Evoking “an emotional connection to a time when cattle roamed the plains,” both formats back up their “excellence in beef” approach via a Web site featuring recipes and tips for preparing beef, or virtually any other meat, in a variety of tasty ways.

While nearly everyone is feeling the pinch and seeking solutions to stretch essential, everyday purchases like food, it seems clear that the value of purely natural proteins remains one of the most dynamic segments of grocers’ long-term fresh food strategies. Evidence of that assertion is a new all-natural case-ready partner program launched between Niman Ranch — which bills itself as the largest network of humanely and sustainably raised livestock farmers and ranchers —and Superior Farms, a leader in case-ready technology.

Employing Niman’s high-quality gourmet natural beef and pork, and Superior Farms’ case-ready packaging capabilities, the initial product line will include three beef items and two pork items, and will be completely retail-ready.

Although no retail customers had signed on to the program forged between two of California’s most innovative meat companies at presstime, officials from both Niman and Superior were stoked about the prospects on the horizon. “We are always excited when we can make humanely and sustainably raised gourmet-quality products easily accessible; we believe that everyone should have access to great-quality food,” notes Jeff Tripician, Niman’s CMO.

Gary Pfeiffer, Superior Farms’ EVP, concurs: “Together, we can offer consumers the opportunity to conveniently purchase Niman Ranch products, bringing a white-tablecloth dining experience home.”

Rich’s Recommends Cinnamon on Top for Holiday Goodies
Retailers can quickly and easily spice up their winter bakery lineups — and sweeten sales — with Rich’s Real Cinnamon On Top whipped topping. Back by popular demand, the nondairy whipped topping uses real cinnamon, making it the perfect addition or finish to a variety of seasonal and holiday menu applications.

“In today’s economy, operators are turning up the heat on low-cost menu innovations,” says Sonali Ranjane, marketing manager for Buffalo, N.Y.-based bakery supplier Rich Products Corp. “Using Real Cinnamon On Top is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to customize a variety of menu items throughout all day parts. Not only does a specialty topping demonstrate additional value and a point of difference to consumers, but a cinnamon topping [also] offers customers the cravable comfort consumers seek in the fall and winter months.”

The versatility of the product offers operators the flexibility to use it as an ingredient to add excitement to existing menu items, as a topper to help drive profits, or even as the core of an entirely new item. Further, according to Ranjane, adding Real Cinnamon On Top to simple turnkey recipes — think desserts, breakfast staples and beverages — and employing many staple items operators already have on hand help keep menus fresh and easy to execute.

Citing proprietary research that proves “over and over that adding a dollop enhances value — and higher margins — that customers are willing to pay for,” Ranjane praises the easy-to-use pastry bag format with decorator tip and 100 percent yield that allows anyone in the kitchen or behind the bar to handle the product without worrying about mistakes or waste. Simply thaw, pull the easy-open seal and start topping.

For more information, visit www.richs.com.

Stemilt Pear-ish on Winter Promos
Stemilt Growers is offering a pair of promising promotions to help retailers sell apples and pears during the winter selling season. The “What a Pear” promotion is new this year, while “Crunch before Lunch” was given a fresh design since its original January ’08 launch by the Wenatchee, Wash.-based tree fruit grower/packer/shipper.

“The pear category has untapped potential — there are plenty of opportunities to reach new customers,” says Stemilt marketing director Roger Pepperl. “This promotion entices shoppers to purchase pears by giving them a new way to incorporate the fruit into their diets.”

For the “What a Pear” promotion, which teams up a classic pear variety with a complementary cheese that piques the fruit’s distinct flavor, Stemilt created four 11-inch-by-7-inch POS cards, each featuring a different pear and cheese. The four pairings are Red Anjou with Brie, Bartlett with Gouda, Anjou with Goat, and Bosc with White Aged Cheddar. Pepperl recommends retailers feature a different pairing each month throughout the late fall and winter selling season to keep consumer interest and drive category sales.

To highlight the effort, Stemilt — an early adopter of a ripening program — is emphasizing its conditioned pear program, which is trademarked as RipeRite.

“Consumers shouldn’t have to wait for pears to ripen at home,” notes Pepperl. “In fact, ripened pears enhance the eating experience, which increases consumer satisfaction. Furthermore, data shows that carrying conditioned pears can increase sales by 16 percent.”

As for apples, Stemilt is reintroducing its popular “Crunch before Lunch” promotion, which is based on 2007 research findings from Penn State University that found people who ate a whole apple 15 minutes before lunch would consume fewer calories overall.

During the five-week study, researchers looked at how calorie consumption fluctuated as a group of normal-weight adults snacked on different apple products, including juice, sauce and whole apples just before eating lunch. Another group of participants didn’t receive a snack before lunch. On average, the participants who ate a whole apple before lunch consumed nearly 190 fewer calories than those who snacked on something else, or didn’t snack at all. Researchers attribute the act of eating a solid, high-fiber food as the reason those who ate a whole apple filled up on fewer calories.

The newly designed “Crunch before Lunch” promotion highlights a few of the health attributes that consumers can obtain from eating apples. The signage (11-inch-by-7-inch POS cards and 22-inch-by-28-inch posters) has a similar color scheme as the “What a Pear” promotion and other pieces from Stemilt’s fall merchandising collection, so that retailers can easily integrate the materials into several promotions this year.

“The What a Pear and Crunch before Lunch promotions are great for retailers because they fit with multiple varieties, including conventional or organic,” notes Pepperl. “Crunch before Lunch brings attention to health and nutrition, a popular topic among Americans today, while the pear promotion appeals to the curious consumer by providing them with a unique snack tip that is fun and easy to recall.”

For more information, visit www.stemilt.com.
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