Produce is ripe for foodies - The Packer

Produce is ripe for foodies

04/03/2012 04:54:00 PM
Jody Shee

Jody SheeSharon Hernandez of Melissa’s World Variety Produce Inc., prepares sugarloaf pineapple from West Africa, which the company just introduced in January, and one-count steamed beets.NEW YORK — A few food and produce companies have learned a little secret about how to reach the widest audience.

Go to where the food bloggers, recipe writers, cookbook authors and cooking school teachers are and wow them with a product and message. It turns into fodder for blogging, tweeting, experimenting and developing.

That’s what companies counted on at the 34th annual International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) conference March 29-April 2, which drew about 1,000 attendees to the Big Apple. Besides workshop sessions targeted to bloggers, recipe writers, authors and teachers from all over the world, the conference included a four-hour expo, book and blog festival.

Only five of the 60 exhibitors represented produce at the expo, which has typically been off the produce industry radar screen.

Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice for the Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, said he was interested in workshops explaining how companies and brands use bloggers.

Jody SheeCristie Mather, director of communications for Pear Bureau Northwest, explains pear varieties and flavors at the International Association of Culinary Professionals expo, book and blog festival April 1 in New York.“The thing I learned is that as far ahead as I thought I was, I’m very far behind,” he said. Besides linking with about 20 food bloggers on its website, the commission concentrates on three of them, showing one- to three-minute videos of them preparng Idaho potatoes.

“What I really love, all three have different personalities and followings. Of the three, we’ve had over 150,000 views,” he added.

Conference organizers incorporated New York’s publishing offerings into the program by scheduling media tours, one to the test kitchens of Meredith Corp., which publishes Better Homes and Gardens, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and Every Day With Rachael Ray magazines. With the magazine food editors present for the tour, Rodger Helwig, marketing specialist with California Vegetable Specialties, Rio Vista, Calif., found the opportunity to inform them of endive, getting agreement from each editor to receive a box to experiment with — something he was unable to accomplish by phone, he said.

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