TAMPA, Fla. — Thousands of produce industry buyers, growers, marketers and others in the supply chain found new products and services on display at the Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure show in Tampa.

The Packer's Eastern Editor Doug Ohlemeier gathered the following news items March 3 on the expo floor.

Ayco Farms

Ayco Farms Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla., is introducing specialty melons.

The piel de sapo, Spanish for its frog skin texture, and juan canary melons contain high brix and high sugars, said Chris Horrell, salesman.

Ayco began shipping the melons in December.

Horrell said the grower-shipper, importer and distributor of melons, watermelon, asparagus and baby artichokes is receiving strong retailer response to the specialty melons.

“Especially with what has been happening with the shaky cantaloupe market,” he said. “Cantaloupe sales continue to be sluggish.”

Central American Produce

Central American Produce Inc. is entering the cucumber, squash and okra deals.

The Pompano Beach, Fla.-based grower-shipper and importer of cantaloupe, vegetables and tropicals is importing Guatemalan cucumbers and zucchini and yellow squash and Honduran okra.

Central American Produce began shipping the vegetables in January.

In early March, it began importing Honduran galia and Italian specialty melons and watermelon.

“We are expanding our categories and distribution,” said Michael Warren, president.

“While we are well-known for cantaloupe, we are diversifying into other items.”

Central American is increasing its partnerships with Georgia and North Carolina melon growers, Warren said.

Colorful Harvest

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 1Hoping to lift strawberry sales through cross-merchandising, Colorful Harvest LLC is introducing a tall display.

The three-foot-high “Strawberry Parking Garage” display is designed to attract shopper attention, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner of the Salinas, Calif.-based Colorful Harvest.

Featuring a rear clip that allows it to hook onto center racks, the display allows for eye-level viewing, Ranno said.

Designed for placement in cereal, dairy and bakery areas of supermarkets, the secondary display should help boost sales.

“This is the same principal of placing bananas in (the) cereal aisle,” Ranno said.

“This is a good way for Colorful Harvest partners and other retailers willing to explore how such displays can incrementally grow strawberry sales.”

Ranno cited research and said he expects the secondary displays to yield up to 20% increases in sales.

Flavor-Pic Tomato

Flavor-Pic Tomato Co. Inc., Birmingham, Ala., is introducing convenience-sized grape tomato cups.

The 4-ounce biodegradable “Handy Candy” cups are designed to appeal to shoppers looking for convenience items, said Rick Murrah, marketing director.

“The retailers are always looking for you to do something different,” Murrah said.

“We address the packaging as a means of capturing market share.”

Murrah said Flavor-Pic is setting up U.S. and Canadian distributors to handle the convenience product, which he said should work well with healthy eating initiatives.

Pero Family Farms

Pero Family Farms, Delray Beach, Fla., is adding quick-response codes to miniature sweet pepper bags.

The codes include information on recipes for grilling, salads, side dishes and entrees, said Scott Seddon, marketing and advertising specialist.

He said the codes are affixed to 8-ounce, 1-pound and 2-pound bags.

Seddon said the upgrade follows consumer requests for recipes.

Pero began adding the codes in early March.

Walter P Rawl & Sons

Walter P Rawl & Sons Inc., Pelion, S.C., is expanding its Versatile Veggies line.

The leafy greens grower-shipper is adding 8-ounce bags of English peas, french beans, snow peas, sugar snap peas and 10-ounce bags of select stem broccoli.

The packaging promotes the products’ use in salads, baking, boiling, stir-frying and microwave preparation.

Also, Rawl & Sons is shipping organic 8-ounce clamshells of collard greens and 7-ounce clamshells of kale under the Natures Green label.

Rawl plans to increase shipments of the products in April, said Chad James, buyer and salesman.

Supreme Cuts

Supreme Cuts LLC, Mahwah, N.J., is adding to its line of fresh-cut vegetables for retail and foodservice.

In November, the fresh-cut processor introduced 20-ounce plastic packs with lids holding chunks of butternut squash, rutabaga and sweet potato.

Supreme Cuts is releasing two-count 5-pound and two-count 10-pound bags of rutabaga, butternut squash and sweet potatoes and two-count 5-pound bags and 20-ounce clamshells of the autumn medley of carrots, rutabaga and butternut squash chunks.

In early March, Supreme Cuts began shipping 16-ounce microwaveable bags of rainbow fingerling and petite gold potatoes as well as 11-ounce clamshells of brussels sprouts, said Merle Axelrod, president.

Wayne E. Bailey

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 1Trying to help shoppers bake more sweet potatoes, Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., is selling sweet potatoes in tray packs.

The grower-shipper is packing four-count sweet potatoes in microwaveable overwrapped packs similar to white potato tray packs, said George Wooten, president and owner.

Wayne E. Bailey is marketing the washed potatoes under the “Sweet Potatoes Made Simple” slogan.The trays come 12 per case and feature consistent-sized sweet potatoes that individually average 9 ounces, he said.

“These are like baked potatoes for grilling,” Wooten said. “We had to set up a special packing line to run the correct sizes.”

Wayne E. Bailey began shipping the packs in January.