Updated Dec. 12, 2014.
he new owner of old Adventist favorites like FriChik and Big Franks decided to get its production of meat substitutes off on the right foot on Thursday by inviting a trio of Adventist pastors to dedicate its manufacturing facility to God.
Atlantic Natural Foods acquired the Loma Linda and Worthington Foods brands of canned soy meat products, along with Kaffree Roma, from the Kellogg Company this fall.
"We honor the SDA dedication to a healthy lifestyle and the heritage of this iconic brand,” Kelly Krause, CEO of Atlantic Natural Foods, said at the dedication ceremony at the facility in Nashville, North Carolina.
“As its shepherd, we plan to grow the traditional stable of Loma Linda/Worthington Foods canned products, reintroduce some iconic items that have been discontinued over the years, and create new and exciting items that will address changing consumer preferences,” Krause said, according to a company statement.
Rick Russell, vice president and treasurer of the Carolina Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, underscored the importance of vegetarianism in the Adventist lifestyle at the ceremony.
"Keeping our foods and diet clean and healthy allows us to continue to be of service to our communities and to the world,” Russell said. “ Plant based, sustainable protein products like Loma Linda help us lead long, healthy, and energetic lives."
The Loma Linda brand, founded in 1921, has long led in developing vegetarian products that support the healthy lifestyle embraced by the Adventist community.
A company spokeswoman declined to discuss annual revenue or unit sales. She also said the amount that the company paid Kellogg from the brands would not be released.
“This was a private sale and undisclosed,” she said in an e-mailed reply to questions.
Thursday’s ceremony was also attended by Jeff Sagala, pastor of the Rocky Mount Adventist Church; Richard Peterson, pastor of the Raleigh Adventist Church; and Nashville Mayor Donald B. Street.
Rebecca Carpenter, communication director for the Carolina Conference, indicated that the pastors were glad to participate.
"Atlantic Natural Foods recognizes and values the relationship the Loma Linda and Worthington brands has had with the Seventh-day Adventist church and its members," she said by e-mail. "They invited our participation as a way of connecting and continuing this relationship, and inviting the Lord’s blessing on the new venture."
J. Douglas Hines, chairman of AFT Holdings, an international investment and management group that is the principal owner of Atlantic Natural Foods, opened the ceremony with words of praise for God and Adventist university students.
"We are grateful and humbled in our position today and know God is behind all that we do, who we are, and what we will be," Hines said.
He said the Loma Linda label would continue a tradition of supporting Adventist education by donating a portion of sales proceeds with Southern Adventist University and Loma Linda University.
"We support the efforts of the young people from these fine universities in their efforts in the foreign fields for 2015," he sad. "We believe in the future and want to give back a portion of that with which we have been blessed."