REFRIGERATED FOODS/DAIRY: NFRA Names First Refrigerated Hall of Fame Members; RFA Appoints New Head

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REFRIGERATED FOODS/DAIRY: NFRA Names First Refrigerated Hall of Fame Members; RFA Appoints New Head

The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) has revealed the first three inductees to the recently established NFRA Refrigerated Food Hall of Fame, which honors individuals for contributions made, and leadership provided, to the refrigerated food industry. The inaugural inductees are the late James Lewis (J.L.) Kraft, founder of Kraft Foods; John Bottomley, senior director of retail and merchandising for Sargento Foods, Inc.; and Johnny L. Harris, dairy category manager for Harris Teeter, Inc.

The induction ceremony will take place at the annual National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Convention during the awards banquet scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010, at the Hilton San Francisco.

Johnny L. Harris of Harris Teeter

J.L. Kraft, who died in 1953, was a pioneer in developing a processed cheese product with a longer store life and more uniform flavor, earning four U.S. patents in the process. Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods, which he founded back in 1909 as J.L. Kraft & Bros. Co. is the world’s second-largest food company and manufactures the popular processed cheese brands Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Kraft cheeses and Velveeta.

Bottomley began his food industry career in 1970 as a grocery bagger at U-Save Supermarkets in Tampa, Fla. In November 2010, he will mark 20 years at Plymouth, Wis.-based Sargento, where he has held various positions in sales and received the prestigious Sargento Chairman’s Award and High Performance Team Award. Bottomley served on the NFRA board of directors as vice chairman of refrigerated for several years as the nonprofit trade association grew its membership to encompasses refrigerated foods, an expansion he worked tirelessly to advance. In 2007, he became the first refrigerated manufacturer to be chairman of Harrisburg, Pa.-based NFRA. Additional industry honors include induction into the Honorable Order of Golden Penguins in 2003 and the Distinguished Order of Zerocrats in 2006.

Harris joined Matthews, N.C.-based Harris Teeter in 1964 as a bag boy in the company’s York, S.C., store. In 1969, he left for military service in the U.S. Army, but returned to the grocer in 1973. During his tenure, he has worked in a range of store and corporate positions, including the post of dairy buyer/merchandising, to which he was promoted in 1976. September 2010, Harris will celebrate 37 consecutive years of service with Harris Teeter. He became chairman of the board of NFRA in 2005, after serving as a director for several years. One of NFRA’s first Refrigerated Food Council members, Harris played a pivotal role in boosting refrigerated membership and developing the organization’s first June Dairy Month promotion. As an active member of the association for 30 thirty years he is a member of the Honorable Order of Golden Penguins and Distinguished Order of Zerocrats.

The 2010 iteration of NFRA’s June Dairy Month promotion features two new initiatives: a partnership with radio and TV culinary expert Art Ginsburg, a.k.a. Mr. Food, and a consumer-oriented Facebook page. Mr. Food is devoting an entire show to the campaign, showing viewers the benefits and wide variety of refrigerated foods. Additionally, recipes and tips are available to help consumers prepare meals with ingredients from the refrigerated dairy aisle. In February, NFRA launched the Easy Home Meals fan page on Facebook, giving sponsoring companies further exposure among hot consumer markets. The page provides fans with updates on the newest industry products, recipes and tips, in addition to info on association sweepstakes and annual promotions.

To help NFRA members pique consumer interest during June Dairy Month, new point-of-sale materials have been developed, along with a reusable freezer bag. Consumer media releases are being distributed to 10,000 newspapers across the United States. Additionally, the June Idea Book will assist retailers in devising creative in-store displays to enter in the yearly Golden Penguin competition.

In other refrigerated food industry news, the Refrigerated Foods Association (RFA) has appointed Erik S. Lawser its new executive director, effective June 1. In his new role, Lawser will lead the organization in alignment with its mission, goals and objectives, managing day-to-day operations and developing member services to enhance the value of RFA membership. He will also be actively involved in planning and executing the association’s conferences and symposiums, as well as marketing and promoting the Atlanta-based RFA, its members and the refrigerated food industry overall.

Lawser’s extensive association management experience includes working with the Wood Component Manufacturers Association (WCMA), which represents 150 manufacturers of dimension and wood component products for the cabinet, furniture, molding and millwork, flooring, building products and related decorative wood products industries, over the past six years. While working for the WCMA, Lawser earned his Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), among other accomplishments.