For more expo booth news, check out From the show floor: CPMA booths, F-N and From the show floor, CPMA briefs, O-Z.

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.

From the show floor: CPMA booths, A-EApio

A 4-pound square “celebration” vegetable tray is doing well in Canada after its debut in U.S. test markets last year, said regional sales manager Bob DeCosta of Guadalupe, Calif.-based Apio Inc.

The $15.99 tray contains mini peppers, cauliflower, celery, carrots, broccoli and grape tomatoes. Apio’s patented BreatheWay patch hides underneath to let in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide, giving the vegetables a longer shelf life, DeCosta said.

Asociacion Agricola Local

The Asociacion Agricola Local de Productores Uva de Mesa, Hermosillo, Mexico, offers support for more than grapes.

Juan Laborin, director, said growers approached the association for support for its other enterprises.

“We’ve got a young group of enthusiastic growers,” he said. “They want us to promote their product.”

That includes squash, watermelons, eggplant, cucumbers, bell peppers and hot peppers, he said.

The Sonora spring grape harvest could be a week early, Laborin said.

“We’re also testing a few new early varieties, the Prime and Early Sweet,” he said. “They should be ready around the first week of May.”

Babé Farms

From the show floor: CPMA booths, A-EBaby purple artichokes from Lompoc, Calif., are now in season and growing in popularity, said Ande Manos, saleswoman for Santa Maria, Calif.-based Babé Farms, a specialty grower, packer and shipper of specialty vegetables.

The deep purple artichokes are popular in Mediterranean cuisine, Manos said, and the season runs from March to November. They’re completely edible and retain their color when cooked.

Baby beets are also popular, she said, appearing on more and more restaurant menus.

BC Hot House

Pink blusher cherry tomatoes with a 9.5 brix level were on display at the Langley, British Columbia-based BC Hot House booth. Production began at the end of March, said president Mike Reed, and more commercial volumes will be available this year.

Increased supplies of mini red, yellow and orange sweet peppers, packaged as Taste Buddies, should also be available this year using a new seed variety, Reed said. BC Hot House has increased acreage to meet the growing demand for its clamshell of assorted Tomato Gems, now in its third season.

“Sales of Tomato Gems have taken off,” said Reed, who expects total BC greenhouse production to increase by 28% this year.

All BC packages now contain a QR code on the carton and information inside the lid linking to recipes and information about growers.

“We’re using our package to promote our products,” he said. The company has also discovered that packaging hothouse purple and graffit eggplant in zippered bags of two lengthens the shelf life because consumers aren’t handling them and creating brown spots.

Bolthouse Farms

Bolthouse Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., has added four items to its beverage line for Canada.

National merchandising manager Jody Cnossen said the new items were the Chocolate Protein Plus in a 450 milliliter bottle; Amazing Mango smoothie in 1.54 liter bottle, Orange + Carrot juice in both 450 milliliter and 946 milliliter bottles; and 100% Pomegranate juice in 946 milliliter bottle.

He said all Bolthouse juices are made without preservatives.

C.H. Robinson

The Pink Ribbon promotion benefitting breast cancer research from C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., now will appear on mini watermelon being sold in Canada starting in May.

Sav Tsoukalas, general manager of the Oakville, Ontario, office, said the promotion has been well received in Canada.

Calavo

Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers is going full bore this year with its cut-to-order pineapple program from Costa Rica.

“It’s all about flavor,” said national sales director Mike Angelo.

“Cutting and shipping pineapples by the hundreds of loads doesn’t work,” Angelo said.

“We understand the volume our customers need and we cut it and get it to them as fast as we can.”

Providing a fresher piece of fruit that’s consistently delicious creates loyal customers and drives sales, he said.

California Table Grape Commission

The Fresno-based California Table Grape Commission launched a Web page for Canadian consumers that offers a choice between Canadian English or French, said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing.

“We’re also doing advertising for both English and French versions of Chatelaine magazine,” Plummer said.

The commission also plans to run radio spots in markets with retailers featuring California grapes on the front page of their weekly ads.

Cal-Organic

Lamont, Calif.-based Cal-Organic Vegetable Co. sees a growing market in Canada for organic produce thanks to the 2009 equivalency agreement with the U.S.

“We continue to see strong growth, and we’re shipping our full line of 65 organic vegetables across Canada,” said Todd Linsky, vice president organic sales.

Linsky said the Canadian market appears more regional than the U.S. market. Toronto and Montreal markets are active, he said, Calgary is becoming more active and Vancouver has always been a hotbed for natural products.

Linsky also said he’s seeing more organic Canadian produce in the U.S.

Chelan Fresh

Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash., plans to expand its promotion with the National Football League’s Play 60, childhood obesity program.

Terry Braithwaite, director of marketing for Chelan, said last year, the company test-marketed using the logo on its apples, and it plans to expand to nationwide in 2012 starting with a kickoff event in October.

He said the company plans to partner with other commodities, such as citrus, grapes and carrots this year, and the company has begun talks with the National Hockey League for a similar program in Canada.

From the show floor: CPMA booths, A-EChilean Fruit

Chile has gathered seven of its commodity groups under a new logo, Fruits from Chile, and created a new tagline, The Pride of our Land.

Groups representing Chilean blueberries, citrus, cherries, kiwifruit, walnuts and prunes synchronized their look at the beginning of the year, said Fernando Balart, marketing manager for U.S. and Latin America for the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association. It’s hoped that other groups such as Chilean grapes will join the umbrella group.

The new logo and color scheme, unveiled at CPMA, give the groups a unified look at trade shows, Balart said. The changes are part of a two-year rebranding strategy.

Classic Salads

Watsonville, Calif.-based Classic Salads LLC recently introduced three varieties in its lineup of organic gourmet salads to Canada.

Earlier this year, Italian Salad, a blend of romaine and radicchio; Romaine Salad, a blend of romaine, radicchio and carrots; and Hearts of Romaine began shipping into Canadian markets, said John Burge, vice president of sales and marketing. All three are packed in a 7-ounce clamshell.

CMI

Consumers will have a chance to win a bicycle this summer during Wenatchee, Wash.-based Columbia Marketing International’s cherry promotion.

Regional director of marketing Brett Burdsal said the promotion runs during cherry season, about June through August, and offers consumers a cherry-themed bicycle if they are chosen after posting about their CMI cherry experience on the company’s Facebook page.

Burdsal said this promotion marks the company’s expansion of its social media campaign.

Coastline Produce

Little Gem Hearts from Salinas, Calif.-based Coastline Produce are now available in Canada, said owner Phil Adrian.

Little Gems are a cross between butter lettuce and romaine hearts and come in 2 and 3 hearts per resealable bag for retail and 24 hearts in a liner for foodservice. Adrian said the item was first popular in Europe, then started catching on in the U.S. last year.

Dole

Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Food Co. has another way for retailers to sell more bananas — even the ones that are a little overripe.

The company purchased a stake in Yonanas, a frozen dessert maker that uses frozen bananas as a base.

“We think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Bil Goldfield, communications manager. “It really tastes like frozen yogurt with only bananas.”

Offering a tool like Yonanas will help retailers add life to their banana category, and hopefully reduce shrink, Goldfield said.

“This goes with Dole’s mission to promote healthier eating,” he said.

Domex Superfresh Growers

Loren Queen, marketing and communications manager for Yakima, Wash.-based Domex Superfresh Growers, said the company’s proprietary Orondo Ruby cherries should be available in Canada for the first time this summer.

The 2-3 week season generally runs from late June to early July. Queen said the variety is positioned as a third stock-keeping unit because it’s different from rainier and dark sweet varieties.

From the show floor: CPMA booths, A-EEarthfresh

The smell of hot klondike rose potatoes smothered in mesquite-flavored melted butter brought a steady stream of visitors to the booth of Toronto-based Earthfresh Foods, which grows, processes and distributes potatoes for retail and foodservice.

Key account manager Derrick Rayner said the refrigerated packages, under the Green Giant Fresh label, have a four-week shelf life and retail for about $3.99. They’re expected to appear on Ontario shelves by fall when local potatoes are harvested.

Flavors include smoky mesquite, mild chili fiesta, four cheese and garlic-flecked Tuscany.

Rayner said EarthFresh grows, processes and distributes proprietary potato varieties. It also sources products throughout North America.

Evergreen Herbs

Grower-shipper Evergreen Herbs, Surrey, British Columbia, showcased pots of parsley, basil and cilantro protected by plastic sleeves.

Sales and marketing director Yannie Keyser said Evergreen began growing herbs in 1996 and is now one of western Canada’s largest distributors. The company carries specialty items such as lotus root and packages edible flowers, greens, herbs and unique vegetables including sunchokes.