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 Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider gathered the following news items March 3 on the expo floor at the Southeast Produce Council’s Southern Exposure 2012 in Tampa.

Bard Valley Medjool Date

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 2The Bard, Calif.-based Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association offers the first pitted date pack available in the U.S. under its Natural Delights brand. The marketing organization also has packs of pitted dates with chocolate or peanut butter ready for wider distribution, said Dave Anderson, marketing director.

The organization plans to add new capabilities to its social media, which will allow consumers to locate retailers carrying their products. The site redirects consumers based on their location.

“We’re relying so much on banner ads and Web-based inquiries,” Anderson said. “This will direct consumers based on location.”

BC Hothouse

Langley, British Columbia-based BC Hot House Foods Inc. plans to roll out its Blusher pink cocktail tomato in wider distribution this season, said Michael Reed, president.

The company also changed its variety of mini sweet pepper for a better flavor and higher brix level, Reed said, and after a few years’ hiatus, its Piro Peppers assorted color hot peppers are shipping again this season in a half-pound cello bag and clamshell. The Piro pepper pack includes hot red, yellow, orange and green peppers.

Borton & Sons

Yakima, Wash.-based Borton & Sons Inc. celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2012, said Denny Annen, president of sales and marketing.

The company hopes to move into new office in Yakima June 1, he said, and is working on restructuring its website and social media presence, launching changes before the new crop this fall.

Classic Salads

Watsonville, Calif.-based Classic Salads LLC has three new varieties in its lineup of organic clamshell salads.

Italian Salad, a blend of romaine and radicchio; Romaine Salad, a blend of romaine, radicchio and carrots; and Hearts of Romaine rolled out in early January, said John Burge, vice president of sales and marketing.

Packed in a 7-ounce clamshell, the salads have a 16-day shelf life and a suggested retail price of $3.49.

East Coast Fresh Cuts

Savage, Md.-based East Coast Fresh Cuts has a new line of oven-ready trays. The trays include 12 to 16 ounces of fresh-cut vegetables or fruit and appropriate herbs for seasoning.

There are 14 varieties in the line, with flavors such as Cranberry Butternut Squash and Root Medley featuring diced rutabagas, parsnips and carrots.

The line retails for around $3.99, said Ross Foca, president.

Fresherized Foods

Saginaw, Texas-based Fresherized Foods Inc. redesigned the packaging for its Wholly Salsa line. Tubs are 10 ounces instead of 12 and have a wrap-around label that features recipes, Chip’s Tips usage information and a quick-response code leading to more information, said Jay Alley, vice president of sales.

The company also added two fruit salsas, Red Pepper Mango and Pineapple, and an Avocado Verde avocado-based salsa verde.

The flavors should start shipping the second week of May, promotable for Memorial Day, Alley said.

Fruit salsas retail for around $2.99-3.49 and the Avocado Verde retails for $3.49-3.99.

Family Tree Farms

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 2Reedley, Calif.-based Family Tree Farms plans to start shipping its early variety blueberries around the first week in April and have them available for up to eight weeks, said salesman Doug LaCroix.

The company’s early variety produces large, exceptionally sweet berries and is exclusive to Family Tree Farms, he said. Plants are finally at full maturity, he said, and the company has berries for wider distribution this season.


Houston-based IFCO Systems NA has a new 40-pound banana reusable plastic container, the Caja de Oro.

It’s designed to pack in the field and in testing has shown to be nearly 40% more efficient in reducing field heat, said Andy Hamilton, vice president of Eastern sales.

This is the only RPC available for bananas designed to hold the 40-pound size used in standard corrugated banana boxes.

Craig Slate, director of retail sales, said RPCs are a good fit for bananas, especially for retailers, because they do not break down in high humidity storage like corrugated boxes. They’re also a time saver for air stacking in the back room.

Hamilton said implementing RPCs for banana shipments should be cost-neutral compared to corrugated boxes.


The Nunes Co., Salinas, Calif., now offers an organic option for its complete lineup, said Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing.

“Organic is a great complement to our business,” Seeley said. “Retailers especially are looking to get into more organics.”

Ocean Mist

Consumers looking for Ocean Mist artichokes at retail will have the ability to do so from their mobile devices.

Starting in mid-March, a new button will lead consumers to a site where they can identify retailers near them featuring Ocean Mist artichokes on sale at any given time.

The mobile site features the store, size and price, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development.

Pandol Bros.

Delano, Calif.-based Pandol Bros. is ramping up production of its mid-season Sweet Celebration variety.

John Pandol, director of special projects, said the variety should start shipping around Labor Day.

“In a sea of new varieties, we really think we’ve found something that has some good characteristics,” Pandol said.

Pandol said the company plans to focus on production of the Sweet Celebration red grape for the 2013-16 seasons.

Pear Bureau Northwest

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 2With a bumper crop available this season, the Pear Bureau Northwest is working with retailers on a two-size promotional strategy, said Walter Johanson, Southern regional marketing manager for the Milwaukie, Ore.-based organization.

Johnson said the strategy works well with bagged, tote and bulk fruit and prices are favorable for retail promotions.


Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries should make the transition to California production before the Easter pull.

“It’s a challenge to make the transition seamless but we do want to get them out there,” said Dan Crowley, sales manager. “We’ll be out of Florida for Easter.”

Crowley said Well-Pict’s Florida production should taper down in mid- to late March.

Westlake Produce

A cold snap in competing regions could help the Florida blueberry harvest this season, said Brandon Mullis of Westlake Produce, Winter Haven, Fla.

The harvest should start around March 15 with peak volume around April 1, Mullis said.

A cold snap affected early berries in Georgia. That should allow the Florida berry deal some room to breathe, he said.

Wilcox Fresh

Rexburg, Idaho-based Wilcox Fresh’s Potato Jazz line continues to develop. Jim Richter, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the company started shipping size C potatoes instead of size B for its Baby Medley Potato Tray. Switching the size gives consumers the perception of a fuller tray, Richter said.

Southern Exposure: From the expo floor, Part 2The company also plans to change the seasoning blend in its baby russet potato tray and is doing recipe development to find the best pair of flavorings to go with the potato variety.

“It’s kind of like pairing a wine with a dish,” he said.

Flavors up for consideration include mesquite barbecue, parsley garlic and Cajun, among others.

The company also opened a Midwest office in Iowa City, Iowa.

“Dave Sherman moved there and will be working with current customers and new customers out of that office,” Richter said.