The company also bags green asparagus for Green Giant Fresh, which promotes the Box Tops for Education program.
"Parents look for the label and are preferential to brands that carry it," Inestroza said.
Highline goes all year with stuffed portabellas
Stuffed portabella mushrooms, launched as a holiday item, are now a year-round item for Leamington, Ontario-based Highline Mushrooms, Canada’s largest mushroom grower.
The two newest fillings, Rustic Mediterranean and Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato blends, packaged in a recyclable black till, can be served as an appetizer, side dish or entree any day of the week, said Jane Rhyno, director of sales and marketing.
New sizes and fillings are in the works as the category continues to evolve, Rhyno said.
Sliced brown mushrooms now hold first place in growth in the U.S. and Canada, she said.
In fact, the entire mushroom category continues to grow as retailers devote more space to different varieties and cuts.
For the consumer intimidated by exotics such as oysters and shiitakes, Highline has packaged these mushrooms in three-mushroom blends including sliced white or crimini mushrooms.
"It’s hard to get customers to move into the exotic category unless a recipe calls for it," Rhyno said, "but these blends are opening up the category and making them less scary."
Testa Produce’s school snack packs take off
Peter Testa, president of Chicago wholesale distributor Testa Produce Inc., said 2-ounce fresh fruit and vegetable snacks bound for area school districts have taken off in the past year.
"Every school district wants them," said Testa, "but some local processors are using a heavy plastic that’s hard for the little kids to rip open."
He said the variety of mini portions being packaged is mind-boggling, from broccoli and cauliflower florets, mangos and star fruit to Belgian endive, radicchio, grapes and cherry tomatoes.
"Most little kids will tell you they’re not putting this stuff in their mouths," said Testa, a member of Pro*Act, "but, as amazing as it sounds, some kids are actually trying it and saying they like it. So now their parents can go out and buy those items for them in the grocery store."