New fresh corn line gives shoppers options

09/16/2011 10:10:00 AM
Don Schrack

Dan R. Costa Inc., an Escalon, Calif.-based grower-shipper of pumpkins, squash and corn, has developed what it calls “a new spin on fresh, sweet corn.”

Courtesy Dan R. Costa inc.Dan Costa, president of Dan R. Costa Inc., Escalon, Calif., shows off his company's new line of microwaveable sweet white corn on the cob and corn kernels. “The produce department can now compete with frozen and canned corn,” Costa said.The company’s new line offers microwaveable fresh white sweet corn kernels removed from the cobs in addition to corn on the cob in microwaveable packages.

“The produce department can now compete with frozen and canned corn,” said owner Dan Costa.

The cobs come in three ear packages with the husks removed, he said. For consumers who desire the taste of fresh, sweet corn without having to use their hands to eat the sometimes messy product, Costa is offering corn kernels in microwaveable plastic containers and trays.

“We have a 3½ ounce Grab and Go container that holds one ear of corn and a 10 ½ ounce Heat and Serve container that holds three ears of corn,” Costa said.

The company’s fresh corn kernel line also includes tray packs of kernels from up to seven ears of corn for larger family gatherings.

Getting the fresh corn products ready for distribution was no small task. After building a facility that removes the kernels from the cobs and packages the corn, Costa discovered there were drawbacks to using preservatives.

“Some of them changed the taste of the corn or left a bitter aftertaste,” he said.

After months of testing and research, Costa struck upon a method of maintaining the freshness of the corn kernels without using preservatives.

“And the corn still has a 21-day shelf life,” he said.

In addition to white sweet corn kernels, Costa’s line offers other options.

“We pack savory Southwest cartons that include diced mild poblano peppers, red onions and red bell peppers to the corn,” he said. “We also have a sweet summer medley of corn, diced zucchini squash, bell peppers and white onions.”

The response among retailers has been positive.

“We’ve done some in store sampling, and the public just loves our corn,” Costa said.

Distribution to selected Safeway stores is to begin shortly, he said, and other major retail chains have expressed interest. So, too, has the foodservice industry, Costa said.

The line will be available year-round, he said, with the corn grown primarily in the San Joaquin Valley and the California desert. During the off season, Costa will source the sweet corn from Mexico.

“Now the public has an option it never had before,” Costa said.



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