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Meijer expands made-in-Michigan program

BY Alaric DeArment

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Mass merchandise chain Meijer is expanding an initiative started last year to feature products made in the state of Michigan.

The company announced Tuesday a plan to feature 55 new Michigan-made grocery products in all its stores in the state. The company started the Made in Michigan initiative in January 2012 with the Michigan State University Product Center for Food-Ag-Bio.

"It’s been a fantastic opportunity for all Michigan businesses to have this local selection at Meijer; many of them see amazing results," MSU Product Center High Impact Venture Action Team project manager Matt Birbeck said. "Now that it’s in every Michigan Meijer store, everybody gets to see and taste the diversity of this great state."

The products initially featured included marinara sauce, blueberry butter and gluten-free baking mixes. The new items include barbecue sauces, cherry butter, salsa, guacamole and potato chips. Meijer said the original launch had an economic benefit of $400,000, and it expects a $900,000 benefit from the latest rollout.

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KIND offers two new healthy snack bars

BY Jason Owen

NEW YORK — Healthy snack maker KIND has introduced two new snack bars to its lineup, Dark Chocolate Chili Almond and Maple Glazed Pecan and Sea Salt, the company announced today.

“The original KIND Nuts & Spices flavors became fast favorites. In fact, two of the flavors quickly earned themselves a spot on our best-sellers list, and we’ve since had an overwhelming number of requests for more variety,” said Marc de Grandpre, SVP marketing at KIND. “So, we’re excited to give our "KINDaholics" what they want by expanding the KIND Nuts & Spices line while staying true to our commitment to using the finest all-natural ingredients you can see and pronounce.”

Dark Chocolate Chili Almond contains a blend of mixed nuts drizzled in chocolate with a trio of cascabel, ancho and habanero chilies. The Maple Glazed Pecan & Sea Salt is a combination of pecans, almonds and peanuts covered in maple syrup with a touch of sea salt.

The two new additions expand the current lineup offering to six varieties containing 5 g of sugar or less and no artificial ingredients. Additionally, KIND Nuts and Spices bars are gluten-free, low-glycemic, contain no GMOs and are low in sodium. The new flavors will be available at retail outlets nationwide in June.


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Brewers Association: Craft brewing sees barrel full of growth

BY Jason Owen

BOULDER, Colo. — Craft brewers saw a 15% rise in volume and a 17% increase in dollar growth, the Brewers Association said today as they released preliminary 2012 data on U.S. craft brewing growth ahead of the Craft Brewers Conference to be held in Washington, D.C., March 26 to 29. The trade association representing small and independent American brewers estimated these findings represented a total barrel increase of almost 1.8 million.

With production at 13,235,917 barrels in 2012, craft brewers reached 6.5% volume of the total U.S. beer market, up from 5.7% the previous year. Additionally, craft dollar share of the total U.S. beer market reached 10.2% in 2012, as retail dollar value from craft brewers was estimated at $10.2 billion, up from $8.7 billion in 2011.

"Beer is a $99 billion industry to which craft brewers are making a significant contribution, with retail sales share hitting double digits for the first time in 2012,” said Paul Gatza, director at the Brewers Association. “Small and independent brewers are consistently innovating and producing high-quality, flavor-forward craft brewed beer. Americans are not only responding to greater access to these products, but also to the stories and people behind them.”

In 2012, there was an 18% increase in the number of U.S. operating breweries, with the total count reaching 2,403. This count includes 409 new brewery openings and only 43 closings. Small breweries created an estimated 4,857 more jobs during the year, employing 108,440 workers, compared with 103,583 the year prior.

"On average, we are seeing slightly more than one craft brewery per day opening somewhere in the United States, and we anticipate even more in the coming year. There is clearly a thirst in the marketplace for craft-brewed beer, as indicated by the continued growth year after year,” Gatza added. “These small breweries are doing great things for their local communities, the greater community of craft brewers, our food arts culture and the overall economy.”

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