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CHICAGO — Packer freelance reporter Jody Shee collected these news items May 18-21 at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show.
BOSKOVICH FARMS: Lindsay Martinez, director of marketing for Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., gauged foodservice interest in the company’s newest fruit offerings, separate 2.7-ounce tube-shaped packages of diced fruit, available in pineapple, mango and red grapefruit. The product can be eaten fresh, or frozen and eaten like an ice-pop, she says. The company also now is producing pineapple bars, which are spears in 2.7-ounce packaging reminiscent of a candy bar. The product is so new, the packaging hasn’t been finalized. The company long has offered bulk herbs, but at foodservice request, it has begun selling parsley and cilantro in bulk bunches so chefs can easily cut off the stems. Parsley is available three bunches to a pack in a four-count box. The cilantro comes six bunches per package, two per carton.
SID WAINER & SON: Victor Simas, vice president of Sid Wainer & Son, New Bedford, Mass., shows off the company’s newest program, Tableside Harvest Selection, which is a variety of vegetables shipped potted in trays and uncut. Restaurant operators cart the plants to tables for guests to select which greens they would like for dinner. Sometimes the vegetables are cut for the guests at their table, or they select the vegetables and the chef takes them back to the kitchen to prepare, Simas says.
SAN MIGUEL PRODUCE: Brian Cook, director of sales for San Miguel Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., shows the company’s 40-ounce foodservice bags of greens, including braising mixes and soup blends with different varieties of kale. “We specialize in the heartier, good-for-you greens like kales, collards and rainbow chard. We are 99% retail right now, but we’re seeing a lot more of it on menus. We wanted to throw our name in the hat as far as foodservice,” he says. The product is available four packages to a carton.
LIVING WATER FARMS: Husband-and-wife team Kevin and Denise Kilgus, farmer-owners of Living Water Farms, Strawn, Ill., exhibited for the first time at the show, with hydroponic items they grow in their 9,000-square-foot climate controlled greenhouse using geothermal energy to heat and cool the water. They take their living product (with growing matter still attached) directly to Chicago chefs and are also in some Whole Foods and Schnuck’s stores in Illinois. They grow spring mix, bibb lettuce, lollo rossa, basil, endive, escarole, mizuna, arugula and other items.
NATURIPE: Dave Adams, director of business development for foodservice and value-added products for Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif., shows the company’s new cold-Infused, dried blueberries in half-ounce packages that some chefs are using in salads and in parfaits. He also showed the company’s 18-ounce Smartflow-wrapped blueberry package, which offers a 21-day shelf life. The point-of-sale material that comes with it shows 21 ways to use the berries in 21 days. The product became available in October and is now starting to roll out in foodservice, Adams says.
BUDDY FRUITS: Alexandre Chabert, product manager for Buddy Fruits, Coral Gables, Fla., exhibited for the first time at the show, showing the company’s Buddy Fruits branded pure blended fruit in kid-appealing 3.2-ounce pouches. The product is 100% fruit and currently available in Chick-fil-a kids meals, he says, adding, “the main focus for our company has been retail, but we have received so many requests from restaurants and schools, we decided to come to NRA.”
CHIQUITA: Miss Chiquita introduces attendees to Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands’ newest foodservice product, Stay Fresh bananas in cluster hands in a 30-pound box. The bananas use Chiquita’s patented technology that extends banana shelf life seven days beyond a traditional banana, says John Ballard, senior director foodservice/alternate channels. Chiquita has exhibited at NRA for the past five years. The company also showed its smaller Chiquita To Go single bananas, to extend its reach into foodservice.
FRESH DIRECTIONS: Manuel Castillo, vice president, and Sabrina Castillo, executive manager of Fresh Directions International, Miami, the marketing entity for a Dominican Republic avocado and mango grower and exporter, demonstrate the company’s new packs of avocado pulp and mango pulp, available in 14 ounces for retail and up to 6 pounds for foodservice. Foodservice operators often use it to make smoothies and shakes, Manuel says.
CALAVO: Alan Ahmer, vice president foods division sales and production for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., showed the company’s new avocado halves packed using ultra high-pressure technology. The process gives it a 55-day shelf life from the manufacturer or 30 days from the distributor. The halves are available in 2-3-ounce packages, 48 per box for foodservice.