Business updates: Fresh-Cut/Value-Added/Prepared Meals - The Packer

Business updates: Fresh-Cut/Value-Added/Prepared Meals

03/12/2010 03:39:00 PM
Susie Cable

Bonipak upgrades fresh-cut processing lines

Mitch Ardantz, vice president of sales and marketing for Bonipak Produce Co., Santa Maria, Calif., said the company recently installed an automated packaging system for one fresh-cut processing line. Bonipak runs primarily broccoli on that line, he said.

Early last year, Bonipak upgraded another fresh-cut processing line with a new cutting system and a new drying system. That line is used for bagged salads, Ardantz said.

Burch Farms begins processing greens

In January, Burch Farms, Faison, N.C., began offering fresh-cut produce.

Its line of washed and chopped mustard, collard and turnip greens are available in 2-pound retail packs and 2.5-pound foodservice packs, said Jimmy Burch Jr., vice president of sales.

The retail pack price point is about $3.96, he said.

Burch Farms processes and bags the greens in its own facility.

Burch said the company decided to enter the fresh-cut business because retailers were asking for more value-added products. The company grows and ships sweet potatoes in the U.S. east of the Mississippi.

Chiquita drops certain foodservice contracts

Chiquita, in an effort to build profit, terminated unprofitable foodservice contracts in 2009, said Ed Loyd, director of corporate communications and investor relations.

Loyd said the move was a major factor in the 12% decrease in sales dollars for the unit during the fourth quarter of last year.

Chiquita also made changes in operating structure and streamlined its product line to achieve better efficiency, and as a result the Fresh Express portion of the business achieved an operating margin of 7.6%. It had reached the break-even point a year earlier, Loyd said.

Crunch Pak extends distribution into Canada

Tony Freytag, marketing director for Crunch Pak, Cashmere, Wash., said the company plans to start distributing in Western Canada in March.

About 10 items will be available to Canadian buyers, including a family-size 14-ounce package of sliced apples. Distribution is expected to reach Eastern Canada by fall, he said.

Freytag said that when talking about her new children’s health initiative Let’s Move, first lady Michelle Obama used a phrase that caught his attention.

“Food desert,” he said. “The way I took it … there are places that it’s very difficult to get healthy snacks.”

Crunch Pak responded to the mention of food deserts by putting together a “food desert survival kit” to send to U.S. representatives and senators.

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