MONTEREY, Calif. — Sections Editor Dan Galbraith gathered these news items July 28 from the show floor at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference and Expo:
Del Monte Fresh
In early July, Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., started California testing of a new bagging machine to produce single-serve packs for schools and other foodservice operations.
The machine, expected to be added to more Del Monte facilities by 2014, can process bags from 2 ounces to 10 pounds, but Del Monte is currently focused on 2- to 6-ounce bags, said Melissa Athanasopulos, director of key account sales (fresh-cut), and Julie Gates, district sales manager.
They said the bags will be ideal for use in schools on breakfast, lunch or snack items, and the bags could include fruit or vegetables.
Out in the market only a couple of weeks, Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Kingston Marketing’s Kingston Ringer onion and Kingston Fryer potato offer foodservice customers an opportunity to increase profit margins and use contract pricing, said Nick Proia, vice president of business development.
“The Ringer is similar to what Outback Steakhouses use on their Onion Blossom. An item like that requires a very tight double heart onion,” he said.
The Ringer typically produces two more onion rings and a 33% increase in ring yield compared to other onions.
The Fryer is geared for restaurants producing fresh-cut french fries and chips, allowing them the convenience of contract pricing. The company bills it as the “ultimate frying potato.”
Nashville, N.C.-based Nash Produce in late July began testing a carbon dioxide system designed to replace fungicide and add shelf life.
“It will be incredible if it works,” president Thomas Joyner said.
“It will give us a real leg up on our competitors.”
The company also has a new stainless-steel packing line that is fully Produce Traceability Initiative-compliant, said marketing director Laura Kornegay.
Faison, N.C.-based sweet potato grower-shipper Southern Produce Distributors Inc. has set its 2014 sights on the fresh fruit market.
“We’re always looking to expand our business. We’ve always been focused on mainly sweet potatoes and veg side, but we may get into fruit next year,” said Dennis Harrell, director of food safety and marketing.
The Salad Farm
Salinas, Calif.-based The Salad Farm opened a Hollister, Calif., facility April 1 to cut packing time to six hours our less, said president Lex Camany. The 37,000-square-foot facility on 5 acres is used for processing of spring mix, spinach, radicchio, frisee, arugula and other items.
Varsity Produce, Bakersfield, Calif., recently began packing its own onions in 40-pound cartons and plans to ship them through October this year, said salesman Matt Rhodes.
Vaughan Foods’ launch of two romaine blends in late 2012 is already paying dividends for the Moore, Okla., company, said sales director Scott Bricker.
“It’s doing really well with schools looking for an alternative to iceberg lettuce,” he said.
The company’s two newest products are TS-13-80/10/10 Romaine/Green Leaf/Radicchio and TS-23 Romaine/Baby Spinach With Color — the color provided by shredded carrots and radicchio.
Wayne E. Bailey
Sweet potato fingerlings — North Carolina chefs asked for them and Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. delivered them last year. At PMA Foodservice this year, the company sought out a broader audience for them.
“We’re really pushing sweet potato fingerlings. We have seen a lot of restaurant chains interested in them today, and they have applications in not only fine dining but casual dining,” said George Wooten, owner of Chadbourn, N.C.-based Wayne E. Bailey.