These news items were collected by Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider at the Fresh Produce and Floral Council’s Northern California Expo on March 30 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, Calif.

California Sun-Dry

Smoked sun dried tomatoes are great as an ingredient and just for snacking, said Gary DeAtley, president of Danville-based California Sun-Dry.

The company added smoked sun dried tomatoes to its lineup in a 3-ounce zip top bag, DeAtley said. Bagged sun dried tomatoes are one of the fastest growing areas of the category.

Dream Foods

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Dream Foods Intl. plans to start shipping its Italian Volcano lemonade and limeade in 8.5-ounce convenience sizes by early April.

David Dalessandro, sales and business development associate, said the company hopes to target college markets and convenience stores with the new sizes.

The company already ships its blood orange and tangerine juices in the smaller size bottles, Dalessandro said.

Gill’s Onions

Oxnard, Calif.-based Gill’s Onions LLC plans to have its 19-ounce tub of diced onions and celery available in about 2 weeks, said Nelia Alamo, director of sales and marketing.

The tub was first available for the holidays and now features a new label, complete with quick-read code that takes consumers to the Gill’s Onions website for more information about growers and recipes.

Gill’s sliced sweet yellow onions also should start shipping in 2-3 weeks, Alamo said, and are available through mid-September.

The 6-ounce containers are California-grown sweet onions, Alamo said.

Gourmet Garden

Consumers have a chance to win a foodie’s dream trip to Noosa, Australia in the Gourmet Garden sweepstakes.

The Folsom, Calif.-based company is giving away a trip to the Audi Noosa Food & Wine Festival along with a seven-night stay and round trip airfare.

The sweepstakes runs through June 15 in the U.S. and Canada, said salesman Rob Doolan.

Consumers can scan quick-read codes on point of sale materials and packaging to get to the entry form, or visit the company’s website www.gourmetgarden.com.

The company also added a new poultry seasoning in a 2.8-ounce tube. The seasoning includes sage, thyme, parsley, garlic and cracked pepper and is perfect for poultry, dressing and roasted vegetables, Doolan said.

Fresh Produce & Floral Council: Expo notes

Pamela Riemenschneider

Allen DeMo of Green Thumb Produce, Banning, Calif., shows how the company’s microwaveable produce trays work.

Green Thumb

Olive oil, salt and cracked pepper are some of the premium ingredients in Banning, Calif.-based Green Thumb Produce’s new line of microwaveable tray packs.

The line, which currently includes 12-ounce Brussels sprouts, multi-colored cauliflower and asparagus cuts, also has several other flavors in test phases, said salesman Mike Ingalls.

Each tray includes three or four servings and a 10-day shelf life. The 10-day shelf life is shorter than standard trays, but Green Thumb Gourmet decided to forgo gas injections.

“Our goal was to be different than other trays,” Ingalls said. “We want it to be completely natural.
The line is available in selected California and Arizona stores for now, with plans for expansion.

Fresh Produce & Floral Council: Expo notes

Pamela Riemenschneider

HerbThyme’s new quarter-ounce single serving herb packs allow retailers to merchandise more varieties in less space and provide an attractive 99-cent price point.

HerbThyme

Most consumers don’t finish standard fresh herb clamshells, so HerbThyme Farms, Perrysburg, Ohio, has a solution.

The company launched quarter-ounce single-serving herb packs in about 20 varieties.

The quarter ounce packs are certified organic and carry a suggested retail price of 99 cents, compared to the $1.99 price for its standard size herb clamshells.

The smaller packages also allow retailers to carry more varieties in the same space, said Don Krekorian, western regional sales manager.

“Consumers see this price point as a better value because they have less waste,” Krekorian said.

Plastitech

Monrovia, Calif.-based Plastitech Specialties Co. has an answer for companies wanting to implement mobile marketing.

The company’s MobiShelf.com service creates a complete quick-read code experience, from the point of purchase signage, to the QR code itself, to the mobile site that corresponds to the code.

Patrick Delaney, president, said this service gives retailers and shippers everything they need to build a mobile program in one easy location.

Pura Vida Farms

Brea, Calif.-based Pura Vida Farms LLC now has pineapples available for retail customers.

Wes Liefer, vice president, said the company sources Costa Rican pineapples, bringing them through Freeport, Texas, and Pompano Beach, Calif., for distribution in most North American markets.

The company also added new varietal melons to its lineup, including crenshaw, casaba, canary, galia, ogen, sharlyn and santa claus.

The company’s Arizona deal should start around May 20, Liefer said.

Fresh Produce & Floral Council: Expo notes

Pamela Riemenschneider

San Miguel Produce’s new kits include a Comfort Greens and Asian Stir Fry. Both include a seasoning packet and protein.

San Miguel Produce

San Miguel Produce is making it even easier for consumers to make fresh greens at home.

The Oxnard, Calif.-based company has two new kits — Comfort Greens and Asian Stir Fry — that each contain all the components to make the dishes in one place.

Comfort Greens has a seasoning packet and a pouch of bacon bits along with a blend of cut and washed greens, said Jan Berk, vice president.

Asian Stir Fry has a seasoning packet along with a pouch of sausage.

“This is a very traditional flavor,” Berk said.

Tavilla Sales

Los Angeles-based Tavilla Sales Co. plans to have its Pinicola pineapple program year round in 2012, said salesman Chris Vangelos.

The company is working with growers in Veracruz, Mexico, to plant MD-2 pineapples for production availability during the Costa Rican off season.

“When Costa Rica goes dormant we will still have fruit available,” Vangelos said.

The company also has a new mango box under the Van Gogh label.

Westlake Produce

Los Angeles, Calif.-based Westlake Produce Co.’s newly updated website is now live.

“It’s easier to navigate, much more user-friendly,” said Bill Brooks, partner. “we also have links to industry information, events and product information.”

It also is a way to reintroduce customers to the company’s Always Fresh label.

The website is www.westlakeproduce.com.

Westland Produce

Carpentaria, Calif.-based Westland Produce Inc. made the jump from floral to produce.

The company began growing several varieties of living lettuces in addition to its floral programs about a year and a half ago, said David Van Wingerden, salesman.

The company’s line includes butter, red oak, living basil and living upland cress and is available to California retailers.

Wholly Guacamole

On April 5, the television program The Biggest Loser plans to air a feature on Wholly Guacamole.

Wholly Guacamole, marketed by Fresherized Foods, Fort Worth, is the “official guacamole” of the show, said Jay Alley, vice president of sales.

Alley said the show plans to feature the health benefits of eating avocados. Partnering with the show and featuring it on packaging has been a great boost for sales, he said.