CALGARY, Alberta — Hundreds of companies exhibited new products and services and met with potential buyers during the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's annual convention.
The Packer’s Editor Greg Johnson, Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider and Canadian beat writer Cynthia David gathered these news items from the expo show floor during the convention, April 12-13.
The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, started distributing Kitchen Pick Living Herbs this spring.
The herbs, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia-based Kitchen Pick, are grown using an automated greenhouse system, said Steve Pelton, president of Kitchen Pick, and no hands touch the product until the pots are sleeved during harvest.
“All a consumer has to do is put it in their kitchen and keep it hydrated,” he said. “It can be used all at once, or they can watch it grow back.”
Kitchen Pick living herbs retail for around $2.99 and include a year-round lineup of basil, parsley, cilantro, spearmint, sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary and pea shoots, along with a seasonal rotation of thai basil, red basil and dill.
They’re available in British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, Pelton said.
Watsonville, Calif.-based Pacific AgPak Inc. has introduced a 2-pound Freight Buster clamshell for berries and other commodities.
AgPak introduced a 1-pound version last fall, which can help retailers lower freight costs by up to 33% by maximizing the amount of product on the truck.
Interlocking tabs on the top and bottom improve stackability and offer a neater display on the supermarket shelf, said salesman Kyle Baum.
Boise, Idaho-based PakSense Inc. is bringing its XpressPDF temperature monitoring label to Canada after a successful launch last fall in the U.S.
Smaller than a credit card, the flat, waterproof card with a USB connection at one end works by measuring the surface temperature inside a box of perishable food for up to 90 days during shipping or storage.
The sensor doesn’t require a reader or software and starts with the push of a button, said director of sales Doug Thurston.
Peak of the Market
A towering “peak,” complete with skiers and snowboarders, pushed Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Peak of the Market’s booth to the top for the annual CPMA Best Booth contest.
“This took about 110 people hours to put together,” said Larry McIntosh, president and chief executive officer.
McIntosh said Peak of the Market’s spring planting schedule is ahead this year.
“We (had) carrots in the ground in March,” McIntosh said. “That’s never happened before for us.”
Pear Bureau Northwest
Cristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., said the commission offers retailers loyalty card data that’s targeted to selling pears better. For instance, she said consumers who buy pears often buy more expensive cheeses, so there are cross promotion opportunities.
“Retailers like actionable data,” Mather said.
PEI Potato Board
The Prince Edward Island Potato Board ambassador Heather Moyse, gold medal women’s bobsled champ at the 2010 Winter Olympics, will appear on potato bags this year.
“We have been finding great mutual benefits,” said marketing director Kendra Mills.
“Heather is homegrown and international, just like us, and our nutritional message isn’t lost on her.”
The board is testing 10-pound paper bags with Moyse’s photo and a recipe on the side, which will be changed every few weeks. By the end of April, the bags should be available across North America, Mills said.
If they work well, the potato board will introduce different sizes.
Moyse also stars in cooking videos on the board’s website and YouTube.
Joe Salvo, president of Coquitlam British Columbia-based Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods, recently launched a 400-gram plastic spice container of dried, ground wild mushrooms for foodservice.
Produce Pro Software
When retailers want to make it easier for customers to order products, Woodridge, Ill.-based Produce Pro Software has an app for that.
The company’s latest invention allows salespeople working for distributors and wholesalers to access all the information they need and place orders in real time, said national sales manager Marc Hatfield.
Rainier Fruit Co., Selah, Wash., plans to change blueberry packaging this season to better highlight that it’s organic, said Suzanne Wolter, marketing director. She said Rainier plans to ship about 6 million pounds of blueberries, up 50% from last season, which typically runs from late June to October.
Wolter said about 90% of the company’s blueberries are organic.
She also said the company just finished the season for its proprietary Lady Alice apple, which sold about 40% more than last year.
The apples did well in Canada’s Loblaw stores and also shipped from Toronto’s Ontario Food Terminal, Wolter said. The variety’s season is usually February to April.
Scotian Gold Cooperative
Coldbrook, Nova Scotia-based Scotian Gold Cooperative Ltd. has launched a 32-ounce tray of sweet and tart apples, combining either locally grown gala or ambrosia and granny smith from Washington, said David Parrish, vice president of sales.
Since the $7.99 tray launched at eastern Loblaws stores in December, Parrish said sales have increased weekly. It has a 21-day shelf life.
Nova Scotia Sonya and Sweetango apples should both be in marketable supply in Atlantic Canada this fall.
Parrish said 2,000 cases of Sonya apples were sold in three weeks after taste tests at Loblaws stores last fall, and volume should double this year.
The 30-grower co-op owns the eastern Canadian rights to the hard, sweet Sonya, a gala-golden delicious cross out of New Zealand.
Nova Scotia growers harvested 5,000 bushels of the Honeycrisp-Zestar cross last year, and Parrish said that number could triple this year.
Starting in May with the California crop, Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International plans to offer cherries.
The company plans to market cherries under its label, said Chris Brown, salesman. About half of the acreage is owned by Seald Sweet, Brown said, and the other half from outside growers.
“We’re allying ourselves with some great growers,” he said.
A cherry tomato branded Blusher is now available from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based Star Produce, through its partnership with BC Hot House, Langley, British Columbia.
Mike Reed, president of BC Hot House, said the seed is from Japan and is sweeter than a normal cherry tomato, but it also features the umami flavor profile, which is savory. He said the tomato is grown in the Vancouver area and is shipped across Canada and the U.S.
Sun Rich Fresh Foods Inc., Richmond, British Columbia, introduced a Sunshine Salad kit, available in the U.S. and Canada.
The salad has fresh-cut pineapple, orange segments, diced red and green apples, shredded coconut, dried cranberries and a vanilla yogurt dressing. Carl Svangtun, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said it comes in 26-ounce clamshells for retail and in 10-pound containers for foodservice.
The Sunshine Salad adds to a line that includes Sun Rich’s recently released Waldorf Salad kit.
Tanimura & Antle
Tanimura & Antle Inc., Salinas, Calif., plans to run its summer promotion offering $1,000 a week to consumers for 13 weeks, promoting its Artisan lettuce line.
Diana McClean, director of marketing, said the promotion runs from May to July in the U.S. and Canada.
Consumers who buy Artisan lettuce, romaine or boston can enter the promotion at artisanlettuce.com, McClean said.
The weekly award will be announced on the company’s Facebook page, she said.
Taylor Farms’ three chopped salad kits are now available in Canada, said Vicky St. Geme, vice president of marketing.
The three salads — Asian, Garden Vegetable and Southwest — debuted in the U.S. last summer and emulate the restaurant eating experience, St. Geme said.
Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Farms also introduced its organic baby kale and organic baby spinach, both in 5-ounce packs in Canada, and fresh spinach, kale and chard in 11-ounce and 1-pound packs.
Delta, British Columbia-based Village Farms has a variety of tomato in testing, the Exquisite Heirloom, which it hopes will be a better experience for retailers and consumers.
It has a bit of streaking and stripes, and is designed to be eaten with a little green visible, said Mitch Fortier, a grower in the company’s Delta operation.
“Most heirlooms don’t have legs,” Fortier said.
“This one has a better shelf life and a better flavor.”
Delta, British Columbia-based Windset Farms drew traffic to its booth with a unique dessert offering, “Sorbetto Windsetto,” a red pepper sorbet made from the company’s Maestro sweet bell peppers and Gusto hot peppers.
The company displayed the Symphony heirloom tomato pack, a 10-ounce clamshell available of heirloom cherry, brown, strawberry and other tomatoes.
The pack debuted in February and retails for around $3.99, said Shiho Uzawa, marketing assistant.
The company also has a new mini romaine heart pack, a clamshell featuring 8 romaine hearts, greenhouse-grown in British Columbia.
They’re available at Costco, Uzawa said.