(April 3, 12:10 p.m.) Entering vegetable tray distribution and strengthening its Northeastern presence, the marketer of the Green Giant Fresh produce brand has picked a New Jersey fresh-cut operator to roll out its vegetable trays.

Minneapolis-based Sholl Group II, which owns the licensing rights to the national Green Giant Fresh brand, is partnering with F&S Produce Co., Rosenhayn, N.J., for processing and distribution of two fresh-cut veggie trays.

F&S plans to be the exclusive northeastern distributor of the Green Giant Fresh-branded 22- and 40-ounce packs that feature baby carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets and ranch dressing produced by T. Marzetti Co., Columbus, Ohio.

F&S and the Sholl Group planned to roll out the packs at the New England Produce Council's eighth yearly trade show April 9 in Boston.

Green Giant Fresh has long offered microwaveable cut vegetable packs, but not variety trays, said Jason Landry, Green Giant Fresh/The Sholl Group’s director of sales.

“This is a unique item that adds to our cut vegetable line and is something we haven’t done in the past,” Landry said. “It fits in well with the rest of the cut vegetable category. It’s is something that’s different that F&S specializes in and we wanted to expand into.”

The Green Giant Fresh packs represent the start of additional products F&S plans to introduce under the Green Giant label, such as larger sizes, different vegetables and organics, said Sam Burleson, F&S’ vice president of sales and marketing.

“We wanted to start with these two basic trays that everyone uses to get everything going,” he said. “We plan to do this in a little different manner than what a local packer might do. We wanted to take some of the power that we have with the volume we do on the institutional side and try to spread our wings by coming out with an item that has a little longer shelf life.”

F&S, which sells to retail and foodservice customers, last fall began cutting, packing and distributing sliced and bagged apples for Mott’s Inc., Ryebrook, N.Y., throughout the Northeast and greater Eastern Seaboard. Burleson said F&S launched that line with an eye to gaining the Green Giant Fresh label.

F&S, located in a suburb of Vineland, N.J., plans to market the two brands to customers from North Carolina to Maine and west to Ohio, Burleson said.

The company specializes in fresh-cut bell peppers, carrots, onions, celery, and fruit, including melons and cored pineapple, was founded in 1981 by Sam Pipitone Jr., a third-generation grower. The company last year ended a co-packing arrangement it had with Country Fresh Inc., Houston, Burleson said.

The New Jersey addition should help Green Giant Fresh with its Northeast distribution, which it handles through its Saco, Maine, operation, Landry said.

F&S Produce to distribute Green Giant Fresh trays