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.
Sales of easy-to-peel Orri mandarins from Israel packed under the Jaffa label are increasing in Canada.
“They’ve been well-received across the country and consumers are starting to notice the difference in taste,” said Peter Martino, vice president of Beaconsfield, Quebec-based FPD East Inc. Over the past three years, Martino said sales have increased from zero to 70,000 cases, even though the mandarins are more expensive than Moroccan clementines.
Vancouver, British Columbia-based produce importer, distributor and marketer Fresh Direct Produce Ltd. introduced four Asian stir-fry kits.
“If you’ve never tried baby bok choy, Shanghai bok choy, sugar peas or snap peas, our kits make it easy,” said president Davis Yung.
Each clamshell includes four servings of a fresh Asian green plus packs of vegetable oil, oyster sauce for flavoring and fresh-peeled garlic cloves. A recipe and quick-response code for more information appear on the back of the package.
Yung said retailers who’ve test-marketed the kits in Alberta and British Columbia are excited about them.
Vidalia, Ga.-based Giro Pack Inc. has fashioned the film on mesh bags to provide a slimmer label cut to follow the shape of the printed image.
“Everyone buys with their eyes, and this is going to make consumers take a second look,” said sales and marketing director Jennifer Pierce.
The vertical panel, unveiled at Fruit Logistica in Berlin in February, can be applied to existing packaging systems and works well with whatever produce is begin packed, Pierce said. Handles are optional.
Gourmet Trading Co.
Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co. is updating the graphics and tags on its asparagus packages with photos and an emphasis on Gourmet as the company name.
The artwork appears on a 1-kilogram bag of green asparagus just launched in club stores, said marketing and packaging administrator Chloe Varennes.
On May 22, Gourmet is scheduled to receive an award from the Institute of Packaging Professionals for its 11-pound corrugated polypropylene asparagus shipper with a removable top that converts it quickly to a display box. The shipper holds bunches upright and keeps the ends moist with a water-moistened pad.
Perrysburg, Ohio-based GreenLine Foods has launched a family pack of trimmed, washed green beans in Canada following its success in the U.S.
“It’s taking off,” said Eastern regional sales manager Rob Haley.
The microwavable bag, ideal for a family-size bean salad, joins GreenLine’s 12-ounce bag of trimmed green beans, which are processed for Canadian customers at the company’s Ohio plant, Haley said.
Mirabel, Quebec-based HydroSerre Mirabel recently launched a clamshell duo of boston lettuce in Quebec. President Sylvain Terrault hopes to introduce the lettuce to Ontario supermarkets soon.
The long, flat clamshell fits easily in the fridge and the washed, ready-to-eat lettuce inside has a 15-day shelf life, Terrault said.
With more interest in red lettuce, HydroSerre is planning a red and green duo later in the summer.
IFCO Systems NA Inc. has added a banana crate to its growing lineup of reusable plastic containers.
The vented RPC holds 40 pounds of bananas and offers good airflow and better protection for the fruit, said Andy Hamilton, vice president of Eastern sales for RPC Management Services.
“It pulls out field heat 30% faster than a corrugated box and gives you healthier bananas,” said Hamilton. Ippolito International
Brussels sprouts are becoming more popular, said Paul Mocettini, vice president sales and marketing for Salinas, Calif.-based Ippolito International.
The company introduced a 2-pound bag of brussels sprouts aimed at club stores.
He said the package has helped boost sales, along with Food Network chefs who demonstrate different ways to prepare them.
JemD Farms, Leamington, Ontario, has added the brown cocoa tomato to its Artisan series.
Sabrina Pokomandy, marketing and public relations manager based in Forest Park, Ga., said harvesting of the savory tomato with the meaty texture began the first week of April.
The company may distribute it in a four-pack throughout Canada and the U.S.
JemD is also harvesting baby Piccolo cucumbers the size of a finger, Pokomandy said.
“They’re the equivalent of a baby carrot and make great snacks,” she said. “The packaging has yet to be determined.”
Yakima, Wash.-based Kwik Lok Corp.’s new 901 Auto Print system uses digital technology to print everything from serial numbers to complex high-resolution bar codes with 500 characters and Global Trade Item Numbers.
The machine can update the date and time minute by minute on a plastic Kwik Lok, which is impossible on the company’s older systems, said Pierre Gendron, regional sales manager.
The new, portable SmartTraxx system from Jupiter, Fla.-based Locus Traxx, makers of SmartTag wireless temperature sensors, gives growers, transportation providers and retailers the ability to monitor their shipments in real time from field to dock.
“Most produce shipments on the road today are not monitored,” said John Hennessy, vice president of sales and marketing.
Hennessy said Locus Traxx’ battery-powered device, clamped on the back of the trailer with a wireless sensor inside, comes in a cardboard case with a pre-paid return label.
“There are no switches,” he said. “It turns on when you take it out of the box and starts working and reporting. You can see it from any computer, there’s no software and you can set the alerts for different cargo, temperatures and routes.”
The $65 cost per shipment covers shipping to the buyer and back by courier, managing online data and refurbishing the unit.
Kingsville, Ontario-based Mastronardi Produce Ltd. has two new sweet options in its lineup: the Sweet Twister pepper and Angel Sweet tomato.
Sweet Twisters are the same concept as the Ancient Sweet pepper, but are even sweeter, said salesman Joe Canzoneri.
The packaging bears the tagline “Maybe the sweetest pepper in the world?” They’ll be offered in an 8-ounce grab bag with a suggested retail price around $2.99-3.99.
Angel Sweet grape tomato packs haven’t hit the market yet. They’re modeled on the company’s Zima wash-and-go containers but feature blue and green.
“This is a new variety for us, the sweetest grape tomato variety we produce,” Canzoneri said.
Mastronardi Produce plans to offer the 1-pint containers in a 15-count case, shipping starting in May.
Moorpark, Calif.-based Muranaka Farm Inc. is reintroducing cambray onions from Mexico year-round. The white bulbs are larger and taste sweeter than conventional green onions, said salesman Charles Muranaka.
He said the onions were a tough sell a few years ago, but the company is seeing more demand for them at retail, especially in Southern California.
When veteran Ontario fruit grower Philip Short began working on a more attractive package for his peaches, he didn’t realize his invention would become an industry in itself.
At CPMA, his son, Christopher Short, showed off the plastic clamshell with a lid and handle that fits just about any fruit or vegetable.
Vortex Packaging Niagara Inc., Vineland Station, Ontario, supplies clamshells to its sister company Niagara’s Best Fruit. NBF represents and markets tender fruit and romaine for four family farms in Niagara.
Loblaws has used the clamshell for several years, and Christopher Short said U.S. retailers are showing interest in the concept.
“Loblaws found they increased sales and created neater, stackable displays,” said Short, Niagara region sales manager for Vortex.
National Watermelon Promotion Board
To put more watermelon on Canadian tables, the Orlando, Fla.-based National Watermelon Promotion Board is offering healthy snack and beverage recipes this summer.
For the fourth year, prizes will be awarded in July for the most eye-catching retail display during National Watermelon Month, said Stephanie Barlow, director of public relations and social media.
On June 30, watermelon queens from Florida and Georgia will attend the 11th annual watermelon eating contest at Longo’s supermarkets.
Palm fiber, normally considered agricultural waste, is the base for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms’ biodegradable tray for organic berries.
Even with a plastic cover to let consumer see the berries, the two-part pack reduces the plastic by 50%, said Jim Roberts, vice president of sales.
The palm tray can be composted or recycled with paper, said Roberts.
Naturipe also has a specialized package for the 9-ounce Mighty Blues.
A breatheable film on the bottom helps extend shelf life, Roberts said. The resealable label on top will also be breatheable.
For foodservice, Naturipe has created a 24-ounce, vented clamshell of washed, ready-to-eat blueberries covered with a breatheable film that gives the berries a 21-day shelf life.
It’s expected to ship in early May, Roberts said.
Westport, Conn.-based NatureSeal Inc. has developed a natural coating that prevents fresh-cut potatoes from browning after processing and extends shelf life.
Regional sales manager Brendan Foley said Reducit provides a low-cost alternative to sulfites, which are being phased out because many people are allergic to them.
NatureSeal also introduced First Step product wash for whole fruit, fresh-cut vegetables and leafy greens.
Made of fruit acid and minerals, it’s an environmentally friendly alternative to chlorine-based washes, Foley said.
He said First Step is offered in liquid and dry forms and leaves no aftertaste.
San Antonio-based NatureSweet Ltd. continues to expand distribution of yellow SunBurst tomatoes in North America, said Arlington, Texas-based division manager John Cameron.
The cherry tomatoes from Mexico are grown specifically for snacking as a way to increase tomato consumption beyond lunch and dinner, Cameron said.
The key to success is to offer consistent quality and sweetness, he said.
“All our fruit needs to taste the same from January to July,” he said.
The SunBurst package features a resealable label and holes in the bottom that act as a colander for draining the tomatoes.