CHICAGO — The Packer’s Fred Wilkinson, managing editor; Tom Karst, national editor; and Amelia Freidline, copy editor collected these news items Aug. 20 on the show floor at the Midwest Produce Conference & Expo.

Alsum Farms
Alsum Farms & Produce, Friesland, Wis., displayed new potato package designs, said Larry Alsum, president and chief executive officer. The new design features a picture of Alsum in a potato field holding product. Randall says the concept behind the new red and gold potato consumer packages is to give consumers an opportunity to “know their farmer” through the image and connect with the company’s marketing efforts.

Black Gold Farms
Keith Groven, tablestock sales associate for Grand Forks, N.D.-based Black Gold Farms, showed off the company’s value-added red potatoes with spice packets, launched in June in partnership with McCormick & Co., Sparks, Md. Groven says the 24-ounce product was tested regionally and is now ready to ship nationwide. He says the potatoes have received positive feedback at retail with consistent sell-through.

Bland Farms
Glennville, Ga.-based Bland Farms showed off the company’s pink bagged onions, which should hit retail shelves in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The pink packaging program is available for 3-pound bagged and 40-pound boxes of onions.

Central American Produce
Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, Fla., should be up 30% for its Brazilian mango volume this fall, said Shannon Barthel, marketing director for the company. Promotional volumes are expected by early September, with first arrivals coming into Philadelphia.
Brazilian mango volumes are expected through October, at which time shipments from Ecuador will start, Barthel said.

Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
Allison Myers, Central and Great Lakes region merchandiser for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, Santiago, said the organization expects strong crops of cherries, blueberries, grapes and stone fruit in the upcoming season, thanks to ideal growing weather. Myers said the association updated its point-of-sale materials this year and has focused on retail and consumer education through a series of videos and social media.

Chris Ferrelli, regional customer manager for Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands North America, showed off the new Fresh Express Asian and Southwest chop salad kits. The kits feature packets with dressings and condiments and should retail for $3.79 to $3.99.

County Line Transport
Educating traders on federal new hours of service regulations was the focus of marketing efforts by Cary, Ill.-based County Line Transport Inc.
Curt Rubin, representative with County Line, said the new regulations became effective July 1. Rubin said the new regulations prevent drivers from operating two consecutive nights from midnight to 5 a.m., which he said is disrupting the patterns of some drivers hauling produce from California.

Crunch Pak
Gary Zych, regional manager for Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak, said the new retail display-ready box for the Foodles line of fresh-cut snack packs are eight-count boxes designed to save stocking time and make the product stand out on the shelf.

Fresh Line
Indianapolis-based Fresh Line has introduced a 4-pound fresh fruit bowl, packed under the company’s Garden Highway label, sales director Randy Poiry says. The pack features fresh-cut mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, grapes and melon.

The Giumarra Cos.
Cesar Pachecho, salesman with Rio Rico, Nev.-based Giumarra, and Job Villanueva, organic salesman, said the firm expects to increase its fall and winter watermelon volume from Mexico by about 30%. Imports should begin about Oct. 10 and continue through the first week of June, Pachecho said. Organic vegetable and organic melon imports also should increase, with organic squash expected the second week in November, Villanueva said.

Goodness Greeness
Jim Lawdenski, salesman and marketer for Chicago-based Goodness Greeness Inc., and Maggie Hughes, in operations support, said the organic pink pearl apple boasts pink flesh. Lawdenski said the company expects to have heirloom apple varieties starting in September. Goodness Greeness entered the heirloom deal for the first time last season, he said.

Growers Express
Mishalin Modena, senior marketing and communications manager for Salinas, Calif.-based Growers Express Green Giant Fresh, said 1-pound pouch bags of sweet baby broccoli and 2-ounce packs of cilantro, Italian parsley and basil are joining the lineup.

HBF International
HBF International, McMinnville, Ore., plans to market kiwiberries from Oregon by mid-September, said Lori Hickey, marketing manager. The fruit grows on the vine and tastes like a kiwi but is eaten like a grape, she said. Harvest of cranberries from Oregon also should begin in September, she said, and in January limited imports of kiwiberries should begin from Chile.

Interrupcion Fair Trade
New York-based Interrupcion Fair Trade is adding its first U.S. supplier, said Michela Calabrese, stakeholder director. Seven growers in Watsonville, Calif., will supply organic strawberries to be marketed under the Taste Me Do Good label. The farms are run by farmworkers who are on a path to ownership of the operations, Calabrese said.

L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms
Lyons, Ga.-based L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms Inc. has introduced 2-pound red onion bags, salesman John Williams said. “A lot of retailers we work with like the 2-pound bag,” he said. “They don’t want a 4- or 5-pound bag.” Herndon has seen a boost in demand for red onions and plans to expand its Georgia acreage next season, Williams said.

Highline Mushrooms
Jane Rhyno, director of sales and marketing for Leamington, Ontario-based Highline Mushrooms, said the company’s recently introduced 8-ounce till is made from recycled plastic water bottles sourced from North America. Rhyno said the company plans to launch other till sizes in coming months.

Indianapolis Fruit
Nick Mascari, director of new business development for Indianapolis-based Indianapolis Fruit, said newly designed pack for the company’s Garden Grillers line is a 10-ounce package available for 14 combinations of commodities, spices and seasoning. The packages have quick-response codes that take consumers to recipes about the various commodities in the package.

Lakeside Produce
Leamington, Ontario-based Lakeside Produce has expanded its Brunetto brown tomato program, said Ray Mason, salesman for the company’s Chicago office. “We’ve really worked with the packaging style and seed and have the flavor profiles where we want them,” he said. “It’s a great program for us.” The company also plans to expand its heirloom varieties and organic tomato programs, especially for the winter, fall and spring seasons.

Lane Southern Orchards
Pecan season will start at the end of October in Georgia, said Duke Lane III, vice president of sales for Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley, Ga. Heavy rain has increased disease pressure in the Southeast, and Lane said that could reduce the volume of pecans from the Southeast this year. “The quality will be fine, but the volume could be reduced,” he said. Harvest is expected to finish in January, he said.

Maglio & Co.
Maglio & Co., Glendale, Wis., in June began packing clamshells of organic round, roma and grape tomatoes at its facility, said vice president of sales Dana Summer. The tomatoes previously were packed offsite.

Mann Packing
Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing Co. Inc. has a new version of its Arcadian Harvest Petite Whole Leaves foodservice pack, said Denise Takakjian, account executive. Arcadian Harvest Ruby is a favorite of chefs because it sits up and fills plates well and has good shelf life, she said. The product is packed six 2-pound bags to a case.

Anthony Marano Co.
Paul Calas, business development manager for the Anthony Marano Co., Chicago, said the firm recently established a Compac line for repacking tomatoes, with four lines in the facility running with the new technology. The company also is expanding its line of specialty produce offerings in addition to new packaging options, he said.

Michigan Apple Committee
Gretchen Mensing, communications and marketing manager for the DeWitt-based Michigan Apple Committee, said the group is updating its logo and rolling out new point-of-sale materials. The committee also is seeking candidates for the 2013-14 Michigan Apple Queen, who will be crowned in December at the Great Lakes Expo. The award’s scholarship, which goes to a woman 17-23 who is involved in the state’s apple industry, was increased to $6,000 this year. Mensing and Mike Bardon, account manager, said this season’s apple crop is looking good in initial harvests.

WP Rawl
Ashley Rawl, director of sales and marketing for WP Rawl, Pelion, S.C., said the company in September plans to introduce a Tangy Citrus Kale Yeah salad kit. The case of six 12-ounce packs will include greens, sunflower seeds and dressing self-contained in the bag.

Riggio Distribution Co.
Scott Hoerman, corporate sales manager for Riggio Distribution Co., Detroit, and Janet Cousino, marketing coordinator, said the new fresh-cut apple consumer pack options include a 14-ounce pack for retail and a 2.5 individual size portion, in addition to 3-pound bags of fresh apple slices for foodservice.

C.H. Robinson
C.H. Robinson plans to begin shipping its new Green Giant-branded three-count avocado pouch bags soon, said Drew Schwartzhoff, director of sourcing marketing. The bags feature recipes, serving and storage information and quick-response codes. A four-count bag is also in the works, Schwartzhoff said.

Rocket Farms
John Palczynski, regional sales manager for Salinas, Calif.-based Rocket Farms Herbs Inc., said the company’s new Fresh Herbal Lemonade Kit has 2.5 ounces of assorted herbs, including fresh dill, edible flowers, mint and rosemary, and can be added to lemonade, tea or other beverages. It retails for about $3.99.

RPE account managers Greg Zdoik and Mike Shamberg said Bancroft, Wis.-based RPE is adding three varieties of potatoes under the Old Oak Farms label. Honeysuckle Golds feature gold skin with red blushes, Cherry Creek Reds have white flesh and anti-greening properties, and Willow Creek Golds are elongated with yellow flesh and skin.

Ruby Fresh
David Anthony, salesman for Ruby Fresh, Firebaugh, Calif., said a new, smaller package size for its Salad Jewels line is a single-serve pack of 3.5 ounces. “It is perfect for a family of three or four people,” he ssaid. The company offers a Sparkling Spring Mix (pomegranate arils, chopped walnuts and gorgonzola cheese), the Gleaming Mediterranean Medley (sliced almonds, arils and feta cheese) and the Brilliant Southern Blend (sliced pecans, arils and feta cheese), but Anthony said new flavors and ingredients are on tap for future introduction.

Sun Pacific Marketing
Barney Evans, vice president of sales and marketing for Pasadena, Calif.-based Sun Pacific Marketing, said the company has made big strides in adding clementine growers to make up for volume lost through the end of a partnership with Paramount Farms. Evans said the company estimates it will ship 50 million packages of 5-pound boxes. He said Sun Pacific’s navel orange growers report volume to be down by up to 10% for the season, which should lead to bigger fruit around size 72. Evans said sales of the company’s preripened kiwifruit are up 300% to 400%.

Sunrise Produce
A new sweet corn consumer package is displayed by William Kercher, vice president of business development for Goshen, Ind.-based Sunrise Produce. The pack, featuring eight ears of corn on an overwrapped tray, is being delivered to Costco stores, primarily in the Midwest, Kercher said. Volume for the new pack is running about one load per week, Kercher said.

Taylor Farms Retail
Taylor Farms Retail, Salinas, Calif., showed off its shaved brussels sprouts, introduced this summer under the Green Giant Fresh label. “Green Giant vegetables have really taken off,” said Mark Plantam, director of sales for the mid-South.

Wada Farms
Wada Farms plans to offer 1-pound packages of mini red and mini gold potatoes this fall, said Joe Esta, vice president of sales for Wada Farms Marketing Group LLC, Idaho Falls, Idaho. Marketed as bite-sized and kid-friendly, the potatoes don’t require peeling and can be cooked quickly.

West Pak Avocado
Matt Smith, salesman for West Pak Avocado Inc., Midwest region, said the company’s new bagged avocado merchandising solution holds eight bags of avocados and can be affixed to shelves, end-caps and reefer cases and is ideal for cross-merchandising with chips, tortillas and salad ingredients.

Kurt Zuhlke & Associates
Kurt Zuhlke, president and chief executive officer of Bangor, Pa.-based Kurt Zuhlke & Associates, said the company’s new two-compartment and three-compartment containers are made from recycled plastic and can be used for blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes or dried fruit and nuts.