(Oct. 12) While a growing number of companies are raking in licensing fees from produce marketers, Sundia Corp. plans to give its growers rebates for qualified loads of watermelons carrying the Sundia labels.

“We think it’s somewhat revolutionary in the produce industry,” said Dan Hoskins, chief operating officer of San Francisco-based Sundia. “While some companies pay to license NASCAR, Disney or ‘Peanuts’ characters, we’re taking the opposite step and actually paying our growers to put Sundia labels on their watermelons.”

Hoskins said Sundia initially planned to charge a licensing fee of $15 per load, but the company waived that fee in its first year as an incentive for growers to sign up. That was in 2006, but the company didn’t implement the fee this year, either.

Sundia not only dropped the fee, it plans to offer a $10-per-load rebate to its 15 watermelon growers next year. It also will offer that rebate in a new pumpkin deal in 2008.

Hoskins declined to estimate the volume of pumpkins that will carry Sundia labels in the program’s first year, but he said at least four of the company’s watermelon growers also produce pumpkins.

To qualify for the rebate, growers will have to use all four of the suppliers with which Sundia has relationships. In an effort to leverage growers’ buying power, Sundia has established partnerships with IFCO Systems NA, Houston (pallet services); C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn. (logistics); MEI Labels Inc., Catoosa, Okla.; and Temple-Inland Inc., Austin, Texas, (packaging).

Hoskins said some Sundia growers are using one or more of the partnerships, and the rebate is intended to encourage them to use all four. He said the company expects to ship 30,000 truckloads of watermelon this year, about 35% of the national supply.

Grower-shipper Dosse Givens, owner of Dosse Givens Inc., Seaford, Del., said working with Sundia had allowed him to cut his label costs in half. He also said that using Sundia’s high graphic bins had helped him increase his melon sales, particularly in Canada.

LITE FRUIT

Meanwhile, Sundia plans to unveil its expanded line of packaged fruit cups, True Fruit, during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2007 on Oct. 12-15 in Houston.

Sundia launched True Fruit in June with 8-ounce and 20-ounce versions of its pineapple, mandarin orange, peach, grapefruit and tropical fruit cups. The 8-ounce cups have a suggested retail price of $1.29, while the 20-ounce cups are $2.99, Hoskins said.

Unlike some shelf-stable fruit cups that are stocked in canned food aisles, Sundia’s product is refrigerated and merchandised in produce departments.

New products being introduced at PMA are organic and lite versions of True Fruit in 10.75-ounce cups.

Rebates ensure more Sundia branded melons
Sundia Corp., San Francisco, plans to unveil its expanded line of True Fruit packaged fruit cups during the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2007 on Oct. 12-15 in Houston.