ATLANTA — Members of The Packer news staff gathered the following news items on the show floor at Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit 2011 from Oct. 14-17.
Modern Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa., has added quick-response codes to its point-of-sale materials, said Greg Sagan, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
The QR codes take consumers to recipes and information on mushroom varieties, he said.
Monterey Mushrooms, Watsonville, Calif., received a Produce Marketing Association Impact Award for Excellence in Packaging for its sustainable mushroom packaging.
The packs are 100% sustainable and biodegradable, said Leslie Black, sales manager.
The labels on the mushroom packs include pictures of product use ideas to provide meal solutions for consumers, Black said.
Nash Produce showcased a new case-level labeling and traceability system. The Nashville, N.C.-based sweet potato shipper will apply the labels to each of their cases and RPC’s of sweet potatoes.
The label on each case of sweet potatoes will include a Global Trade Identification Number, which will identify the specific product in the case. The labels also will be able to identify the lot number from the specific field and harvest dates as well as a description of the product in the box.
Through a partnership with RedLine Solutions Inc., Nash Produce will be able to install software that determines the traceability of each carton of sweet potatoes. The information will then be sent to the labeling system, which prints and applies the labels, according to a release.
Nature Sweet Ltd., San Antonio, unveiled a new marketing plan at Fresh Summit.
Formerly known as Desert Glory, the company showed its new Mother Nature Sweet character, which will appear on consumer publications and later TV ads.
Marketing director Kathryn Ault said the company also is moving away from mesh bags and packing all tomatoes, including cherry tomatoes, in its salad shaker style container.
Nature Sweet is marketing its cherry tomatoes as cooking tomatoes, grape tomatoes as salad tomatoes and sunburst yellow tomatoes as snacking tomatoes, she said, as part of the new marketing plan.
Ocean Mist Farms’ new microwaveable, recloseable artichoke bag won a PMA Impact Award for Excellence in Packaging.
The Season & Steam bags include a pair of trimmed green globe artichokes, and the resealable bag gives consumers the option of adding their own choice of seasonings before cooking, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing for Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist.
The bags reduce cooking time from 30 minutes to about six or seven minutes, she said, and will be available beginning in spring 2012.
The green globe artichokes are available March through May and August through October, Tuggle said.
Ocean Mist is working on a Season & Steam bag tailored for the other variety of artichokes available the rest of the year, she said.
The planned rollout for those bags is summer 2012, and the company is aiming for a year-round supply of the packs, she said.
After an agreement with Mexico-based Mainland Farms, The Oppenheimer Group for the first time is selling strawberries grown in North America.
The strawberries will be available from late October through March in 1- and 2-pound clamshells, according to an Oct. 14 statement from the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company.
“This is the start of something big, and we look forward to expanding our berry category and growing more with (Mainland),” Nolan Quinn, Oppenheimer’s berry category director, said in the statement.
Oppenheimer also introduced fresh pomegranate arils, which are supplied by California-based Madera Naturals and sold under the Ocean Spray brand.
Arils are the fleshy encasements of the seeds of the pomegranate, which recently has gained attention because of the fruit’s high levels of antioxidants, said Oppenheimer marketing communications manager Karin Gardner.
“People are becoming more familiar with the health attributes” of pomegranates, Gardner said.
Boise, Idaho-based PakSense Inc. has made it easier to get temperature monitoring results with its new XpressPDF temperature monitoring label.
The single-use, recyclable label is equipped with a USB-ready plug-in that users can take directly from the product to a computer.
The tag generates a PDF document users can print out with no additional software or readers, said Amy Childress, marketing director.
“This takes away the headache associated with temperature monitoring,” Childress said.
The system is perfect for applications such as monitoring temperature from a distribution center to a retail location, where not all end locations are equipped with readers and software.
Childress said the suggested price is $25.
Pero Family Farms
Pero Family Farms, Delray Beach, Fla., has expanded its mini sweet pepper line.
Pero has added 8-ounce and 1-pound bags to its 2-pound bags and 1-pint clamshells. It also is preparing to introduce 1-pound organic miniature sweet pepper bags.
Additionally, Pero added a 24-ounce organic snipped green bean line, said Frank Pero, corporate executive vice president.
Phillips Mushroom Farms
Phillips Mushroom Farms, Kennett Square, Pa., is completing the second phase of construction on a mushroom production facility in Warwick, Md., said sales coordinator Mike Commodari, who is in charge of fresh inventory control.
The initial facility opened two years ago, he said, but the addition will double production from 10 million pounds of white mushrooms to 20 million pounds, Commodari said.
He said the plant uses the Dutch system of mushroom growing.
“The unique thing about this operation is we can harvest up to three times a day,” Commodari said.
Traditional growing operations harvest once a day, he said.
The company expects the addition to be completed by January.
Pure Hot House Foods
Leamington, Ontario-based Pure Hot House Foods Inc. has a wash-and-go snack size tomato pack.
The Easy Bites rinse-and-ready tomatoes come in a three-pack of 2.6-ounce wash-and-go containers. The containers are perforated on the back and are recloseable, salesman Ken Paglione said.
The company also rebranded its sweet peppers and specialty tomatoes. Its long sweet peppers are now Aurora Sweets, its mini sweet peppers are Aurora Bites, its grape tomatoes are Juno Bites and the mixed snacking tomatoes are the Iris Medley.
The company also has a new beefsteak tomato slicer pack, which includes two beefsteak tomatoes in a tray. They retail for about $3 and come with a recipe on the packaging.
RD Produce BV, Amsterdam, Netherlands, is exporting a new leek to the U.S. that grows the white part of the stem much larger than traditional leeks, which appeals to more chefs, owner Dick Willems said.
The product is field-grown and helps fill a niche in the North American market, he said.
Russell Comport has joined Riveridge Produce, Sparta, Mich., as export/import manager.
Comport’s goal is to expand the company’s exports, particularly in Southeast Asia and Central America, he said.
His background is in the shipping industry, working with perishable food, including fresh produce.
Also, Richard Cotton joined the company in its sales office in September.
Cotton has a background in the cherry business, company president Don Armock said.
River Ranch Fresh Foods won best new product honors at the expo show with its Heritage Blend, a proprietary blend of petite red and green lettuces, first displayed at the 2010 Fresh Summit.
Heritage Blend first shipped in January and is available in 5-ounce or 1-pound sizes for retail, and a 1-pound foodservice pack. The line recently expanded with the introduction of a Heritage Blend Salad Kit, with dressing and toppings, available in a 13-ounce bag.
River Ranch has touted the blend as offering advantages over spring mix for shelf life, plate volume and nutritional value.
“We’ve been very focused on developing and perfecting this unique salad blend, and we’re pleased that the branding and messaging we conveyed at PMA was compelling to the show judges,” said Kim St. George, director of marketing.
Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE, formerly Russet Potato Exchange, has a new look for its bagged potato line.
The Old Oak Farms label and clear bags are available for the full line and have customized information for each type of potato, said Melissa Sylte, marketing manager.
“These are perfect for a retailer to manage their entire potato category,” she said. “They’re a very consumer-friendly package.”
Call-outs feature information about suggested cooking times and methods for each different type of potato as well as graphics touting caloric content and the fact that potatoes are a gluten-free product.
RPE plans to support the program with Twitter and Facebook profiles and bags carry quick-response codes for consumers to connect in the store.
Scientific Certification Systems
Emeryville, Calif.-based food safety auditor Scientific Certification Systems held three educational tasting sessions on the flavor attributes of watermelon and snacking tomatoes.
The sessions featured a “hands-on” tasting panel representing growers, retailers and seed companies, according to a company statement.
Wil Sumner, director of agricultural testing/certification, led participants through the company’s 15-point scale of sensory input, which generates a flavor profile and sensory rating, the first steps toward an SCS “Flavor Rich” certification.
South African citrus
Suhanra Conradie, chief executive officer of the Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, a group representing about 350 South African citrus growers, said the last conventional vessel of her citrus arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 16.
South African citrus should be available in the U.S. until mid-November in what has been an excellent season, she said.
Conradie said her group has worked more closely with North American retailers this year, even bringing in South African growers to retail store promotions.
The group’s midknight variety ships mostly to the East Coast and upper Midwest.
Conradie also served as a mentor during Fresh Summit as part of PMA’s Career Pathways program.
La Salle, Colo.-based Strohauer Farms Inc. was a first-time exhibitor at Fresh Summit this year, said Tanya Fell, director of sales and retail relations.
The third-generation grower markets a variety of specialty potatoes, including Russian banana fingerlings, rose finn fingerlings, French fingerlings, purple Peruvian fingerlings as well as russet, red, yukon gold and purple majesty.
Sherman Oaks, Calif.-based citrus cooperative Sunkist Growers recently became a “National Strategic Partner” with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Nutrition Communications Network.
Sunkist will launch promotions and education efforts this fall to support USDA dietary guidelines, including the “Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables” campaign, according to a company statement.
On the show floor, Sunkist displayed some recently launched products, including Ojai Pixie tangerines and Nature’s Treasure mini mandarin oranges.
The company is increasing production to keep pace with growing demand for these smaller, seedless “easy peelers,” which are becoming popular with kids, Sunkist spokeswoman Claire Smith said.
“But there’s been limited distribution, simply because there wasn’t enough available,” she said.
Sunsweet Growers Inc., Yuba City, Calif., introduced Plum Amazins diced dried plums.
Aimed at snacking and baking applications, Plum Amazins come in a lidded 9-ounce plastic pack and are available nationwide, said Brad Schuler, vice president of global sales.
National network TV ads will begin airing in December to promote the product, he said.