For a video, see U.S. firms find tastes differ in Canada.
News Editor Chris Koger, Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider and Cynthia David, Special to The Packer, gathered the following news items from expo booths at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's Convention and Expo April 18-19.
HIGHLINE MUSHROOMS: Leamington, Ontario-based Highline Mushrooms is packing its organic and exotic mushrooms in new paperboard trays, which offer more surface area for nutrition and how-to-use information, says corporate communications manager Hsian Kim. Highline has also launched recycled PET trays made from water bottles sourced in North America. The new plastic trays took two years to develop and are manufactured in Canada, says Kim, who cooked up mushroom tarts for CPMA visitors.
VAN-WHOLE PRODUCE: Leonard Jang, vice president and general manager of Vancouver, British Columbia–based Van-Whole Produce, flies in durian fruit from Vietnam in nonpermeable bags packed in sealed Styrofoam cases to give Southeast Asian immigrants a taste of home. Van-Whole, which has imported ethnic specialties into Canada for 29 years, also sells young coconuts ready to cut open and drink with a straw.
VINELAND GROWERS: Sarah Friesen, food safety coordinator for Vineland Growers Co-Operative Ltd., Vineland, Ontario, is promoting the arrival of the Sundown pear in 2014 from Niagara’s Harrow breeding program. More than 50,000 Sundown trees were planted in 2010. Vineland is also celebrating its first plantings of pluots, apriums and hardy new apricot varieties, which should be ready for harvesting in 2017. The cooperative is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
PONDEROSA MUSHROOMS: Joe Salvo, president of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia-based Ponderosa Mushrooms & Specialty Foods, offers retailers the first fiddleheads of 2013 from northern British Columbia, along with morels from Oregon and other dried wild mushrooms. Salvo called 2012 the worst wild mushroom season in his 20 years in business.
PEAK OF THE MARKET: Larry McIntosh, president and chief executive officer, Winnipeg, Manitoba-based grower-owned vegetable supplier Peak of the Market, says the grower-owned vegetable supplier has opened a 24,000-square-foot distribution center in Calgary, Alberta. It’s the company’s first expansion outside Manitoba in 71 years. “We’re closer to our customers, we can deliver more reliably and we can bring in more produce from the U.S.,” McIntosh says.
SUN RICH: Don Jankey, director of national accounts at Richmond, British Columbia-based Sun Rich Fresh Foods Inc., shows off a 37-ounce Fruit Medley bowl filled with cut strawberries, mangoes, oranges, grapes and honeydew melons. Fresh-cut kent mango spears from Mexico are available in 16-ounce bowls and grab-and-go cups, Jankey says. , while diced mango makes an instant salsa for fish and chicken. Sun Rich also launched 16-ounce tubs of preservative-free orange and grapefruit sections with a 14-day shelf life. In addition to its Richmond plant, Sun Rich has fresh-cut facilities in Reading, Penn, Corona, Calif. and Brampton, Ontario.
CHILEAN FRESH FRUIT: Pink muscat seedless grapes and sweet lemon plums were the stars of Chile’s challenging grape and stone fruit season, says Karen Brux, managing director for North America for the San Carlos, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. Chilean kiwis are now coming to market, Brux says, and apples are plentiful. The Chilean citrus committee is funding new retail programs across North America this year for clementines, mandarins and navels, which should begin in late May or early June.
TANIMURA & ANTLE: Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle Inc. is launching its Little Gems in the Canadian market to gauge retail interest, say marketing manager Diana McClean and Jason Dunn, Canadian regional sales manager. Each package contains three heads of the miniature romaine-like lettuce, McClean says. For retailers who prefer a bagged lettuce, T&A offers new Field Fresh wrapped romaine, green leaf, red leaf, escarole and endive. According to a company study, the wrapped lettuce offers 20% less shrink and saves 22 cents in labor compared to naked leaf lettuce.
EARTHBOUND FARM: Steve Koran, vice president of retail sales for San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm, shows off Zen Blend, a blend of Asian greens and baby spinach leaves consumers can toss in a soup, salad or stir-fry. It’s available in a 5-ounce clamshell or 1.5-pound bag. Koran also showed off the organic grower’s butter lettuce leaves, washed and ready to use in salads, sandwiches and wraps or on burgers.
DAN-D FOODS: Richmond, British Columbia-based Dan-D Foods Ltd. launched a 6-ounce high-graphic pouch called Salad Topping to jazz up salads. Ingredients include dried green peas, slivered almonds, cashews, raisins, soy nuts, dried blueberries and coated peanuts. Suggested retail price is $3.99 to $4.99, said key account manager Amber Huguet.
NUNES: Jesse Gomez, organic produce manager of Salinas, Calif.-based The Nunes Co. Inc., shows off bunching lacinato and green kale in organic and conventional lines under the Foxy label. The greens grow year-round in Arizona and California, where production just started up, Gomez says. The line debuted in December and includes red, green and rainbow chard, plus new organic sweet baby broccoli. Nunes also launched Foxy-branded seeds and grains at CPMA. From quinoa to chia seeds, the 12- to 14-ounce clamshells are designed to complement fresh produce.
LIMONEIRA: Santa Paula, Calif.-based Limoneira has expanded its “Unleash the Natural Power of Lemons’ campaign to Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, adding a chef, florist, dietitian, eco-cleaning service and beauty mavens. Director of marketing John Chamberlain said the grower-shipper is also inviting Canadians to pucker up and send in a photo of their Pucker Face for a chance to win an iPad. Limoneira is also searching the world for bartenders to take part in its Sink the Pink in the Drink campaign to promote its pink variegated lemons.
TAYLOR FARMS: Sara Mohsin, business development analyst for Salinas, Calif.-based Taylor Fresh Foods Inc., shows off two chopped salad kits to the Canadian market. The Baja features cabbage and romaine topped with pumpkin seeds, tortilla strips and a separate dressing packet, while the Asian kit includes a variety of crisp cabbage and other chopped vegetables, wonton noodles, almonds and a tangy sesame ginger dressing.
FRESH EXPRESS: Miss Chiquita appeared at CPMA to promote the “refreshed” Caesar salad kits from Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands. Senior marketing specialist Cassie Callon says the kits feature larger croutons and higher-end ingredients such as aged parmesan. They’re also packed in a new bag that keeps the romaine fresher longer. Callon says Chiquita launched Green Leaf Shreds in the U.S. in mid-April as part of its “Shreds” line.
VEG PRO: Sylvain Racette, vice president of sales and marketing for Sherrington, Quebec-based Veg Pro International Inc., shows off the Attitude Greek Mix salad kit. The new single-serve kit pairs baby greens with feta cheese, pita chips and tomato-olive salsa. Veg Pro has also launched Solo single-serve salad bowls. The newest, Crunchy Spinach, features baby spinach and Swiss chard tossed with beet and carrot strips. Racette said Solo bowls are lunchbox-friendly, and without dressing or toppings they can retail for under $2. In addition, the lettuce grower-shipper has color-coordinated labels to unify the look of its salad collection.
THE LITTLE POTATO CO.: Angela Santiago, president of Edmonton, Alberta-based The Little Potato Co. Ltd., shows off Potato Jazz kits, created in partnership with Rexburg, Idaho-based Wilcox Fresh. The seasoned potatoes are ready in five minutes in their microwaveable steam tray. The new $3.99 Potato Jazz roasting kit with a garlic-herb flavor pack is ready in 30 minutes on the barbecue or in the oven. It should be available across Canada by early June, Santiago says, and in the U.S. in October. The grower-shipper has also launched a 3-pound bag of organic yellow or red potatoes and a bag of two-toned Miss Blush, a pink and yellow-skinned potato with a yellow flesh.
PUMPKIN PATCH PALS: Michele Youngquist, president Burlington, Wash.-based AMF Farms, Inc., said anyone can bake a perfect pumpkin pie with her new Pie Baking Kit. Each mesh kit contains two 1.5 to 2-pound pie pumpkins, a sachet of spices and an easy recipe that’s mixed in a blender. Kits can be merchandised in a quarter pallet display, Youngquist said, and cross-merchandised with whipped cream and prepared pie crusts.
DULCINEA FARMS: Ladera Ranch, Calif.-based melon specialist Dulcinea Farms LLC continues to branch out into grape and cherry tomatoes, such as the Amadoro, grown in Mexican shade and greenhouses, says marketing associate Corey Hill. The Amadoro, grown in Mexican shade and greenhouses, is as sweet as a backyard-grown cherry tomato, says senior sales manager Steve Dabich.
DOLE: Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co., introduces three Savvy Salad kits destined for eastern Canada. The kits include a dressing pouch, toppings and a fork. The salads come in three flavors: Four-Cheese Caesar, Herb Italienne and Sunflower Ranch. Suggested retail price is $3.99.
SAVOURA: Marie Gosselin, president of Portneuf, Quebec-based Savoura greenhouse tomatoes, plans to change the company’s Lunch cherry tomato snack pack to attract new customers. The new packs will feature yellow and red tomatoes, and they’ll be packaged in a bundle of five to give moms a week’s worth of healthy snacks for their kids. Savoura has also launched its new website at www.savoura.com, with a link to the company’s Facebook page.
COUNTRY MAGIC: Every bottle of pure Bloo blueberry juice contains 600 blueberries, said Peter Chapman, director of sales, marketing and product development for Country Magic, a group of Annapolis Valley growers based in Centreville, Nova Scotia. Chapman said Bloo is pressed from three types of blueberries, most grown in Nova Scotia, and uses a special process to preserve antioxidants. He hopes to have it on the market in early summer.