Daily Archives: August 20, 2015

Haggen: The Hits Just Keep On Coming

We don’t want to pile on, but what’s happening to the new Haggen presence in the Southwest, and pointedly here in California? The once small Bellingham, Washington based market expanded into the Southwest when they purchased 146 Albertsons, Vons and Safeways after those stores merged. However, they are quickly shrinking less than a handful of months after the acquisitions.

(KSBY photo)

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27 stores will be closing over the next two months including 21 in California. One of those stores to close will the Los Osos store here in San Luis Obispo County. And to add to the agonizing growth pains, Haggen admits this might not be the last of the closings.

It appeared there would be a new and different player in the world of supermarkets when Haggen grew from a relatively small 18 store local chain into a small regional 164 store powerhouse. Albertsons and Safeway merger forced those stores to sell off some of their locations to meet with federal restrictions regarding the mega-merger.

Plans quickly gone awry 

However, Haggen has struggled from the outset and not long after the takeover, they had to lay off some of their employees. Then it was announced last month that they had been sued by Albertsons for non-payment.

As far as competition, it’s always good to see a new and different approach to marketing your services, and certainly Haggen on paper had a fresh concept both literally and figuratively. They offer more locally grown products along with fresh goods for their customers. In a farm rich region like the Central Coast, that sounded great. In Paso Robles, we had lost the only decent market in town – Scolari’s – three years ago. Haggen came in and took over the Vons and we were hopeful; but high prices and otherwise indistinguishable products, leaves us wondering if there was much or any worthy differentiation.

Apparently many others around the state are wondering the same thing as Haggen stores start to disappear less than six months after they opened. Whether they can right the ship remains to be seen and the prospects are suspect for Haggen in the Golden State; yet, we hope they can turn around what so far has been a short and dismal stay outside the state of Washington.

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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Grape Waste Not

A rambunctious early harvest has started here in wine country. The drought conditions have created another earlier than usual picking time as tons of wine grapes start the process of becoming wine. However, with all those grapes being crushed into juice, what happens with the rest of the parts of the grapes, often called pomace? Grape waste not.

grape waste

Piles of grape waste

When I first learned about the processes of making wine, I wondered what was done with all those stems, skins, seeds and sediment. I learned then that some vineyards discarded these solids without any reuse and made into piles to be trucked away to a dump.

I talked with some winemaker friends of mine in the business and found out that more and more are using the waste for an assortment of utilizations. In this day and age of businesses trying to be more environmentally sound, these developments and practices are becoming more rewarding than just making an effort. Troublesome pomace piles are becoming a rare site.

Piles of pomace for good

Now, understand that grapeseed oil has been around since ancient times. Still, the process of taking grape seeds and making oils out of them, had not been widely done until recently. Pomace is the solids or pulp of what is left after the juice is extracted from the grape. Ask those in the know and they will tell you that the pomace of grapes has more of the beneficial health benefits than the juice. These by-products include flour, oils and many other goods. Animal feed is also being produced from grape waste.

Destemming grapes – What to do with the stems?

Some vineyards are creating piles of compost from their pomace and then sell to farms or keep and better their own vineyard amelioration.

The by-product can be made into food preservatives and in fact is used to spray on raisins as a natural preservative while helping to retain or even improve their flavor. Pomace is rich in antioxidants, iron, fiber, protein, vitamin E and anti-bacterial properties, so with a high-smoke rate, when combined as an cooking oil, offers a wonderfully innovative and unique cooking spray, ideal for baking, grilling, sauteing or stir-fries.

Pomace power

Another use that has budding growth in popularity is grape waste as a biofuel. A few years ago, UC Davis started a research project on taking pomace, prunings and other vineyard winery waste to create bioenergy. Considering many vineyards discard their pomace at a cost, making biofuel for the wineries seems a economically feasible and sensible thing to do. With farms trying to be more sustainable, this is a logical step towards those goals.

Bioenergy can be created from pomace

Reuse of any product requires extra cost, but as more ideas are pushed into the mainstream of business, the making of grape waste as a viable option is possible. Combining the nutritive advantages with bioenergy, it appears the useful compounds of pomace’s future look great. With new options popping up all the time, disposing of this grape waste may not be a problem anymore, but an actual benefit.

Additional sources: The Encyclopedia of Seeds, UC Davis

Cheers,

Daryle W. Hier

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