The following items were compiled by The Packer staff from the show floor of the United Fresh Marketplace April 21-24 in Las Vegas.
Abbott & Cobb
Abbott & Cobb Inc., Feasterville, Pa., introduced a line of easy-open, single-ear microwaveable corn. It plans to sell the corn to retailers in display-ready cartons, 24 ears to a carton. Each ear is individually wrapped for freshness.
"When you microwave it, a strip pops up, and you roll the wrapping right off," said Victor Lomoriello, vice president of sales/operations for Abbott & Cobb.
The microwaveable corn, to be marketed under the company's Summer Sweet label, will be available year-round.
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Accu-Label Inc., Leamington, Ontario, is touting the Orb-it G-2, which can label individual fruit and vegetable items with GS1 DataBar technology.
Accu-Label Inc., Leamington, Ontario, is offering a new machine, the Orb-it G-2, that can label individual fruit and vegetable items with GS1 DataBar technology, said Sam Sleiman, co-owner.
The equipment has been available since January, Sleiman said.
Ag-Pak Inc., Gasport, N.Y., unveiled a prototype of bagging machine.
The German-made machine can bag a variety of fruits and vegetables, said Jan Verde, a sales representative with the manufacturer, German-based C-Pack, and can make up to 20 bags per minute.
The machine is already in use in Russia, Turkey and Portugal, Verde said, and the company is now building the machine for North American companies.
Bakersfield, Calif.-based Agra-Best LLC debuted a machine capable of processing cauliflower and broccoli florets at speeds up to 52 heads per minute, said David Vargas, owner.
The machine is called Pop A Top and eliminates the need for manual cutting of cauliflower and broccoli florets.
Vargas said the Pop A Top machines can help reduce labor by up to 70%.
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AMF Farms Inc., Burlington, Wash., unveiled a pumpkin painting kit, available in the fall during the Northwest pumpkin season.
It consists of six small pumpkins, four paint pots and a paint brush, said Liz Mitchell, pumpkin catergory president. She said the club store pack has an expected retail price point from $20-22 per carton and a wholesale price of about $16. The item is expected to be a popular and easy option for parties and school projects, she said.
AMF Farms also featured a walk-around pallet display, which allows consumers to pick what pack size of value-added pumpkins they want from a high graphic display.
Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce
Mark Munger, vice president of marketing for San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, said the firm displayed its first pick of organic strawberries at the expo. The Watsonville, Calif.-grown berries were the albion variety, he said.
"This is our newest thing, and we are excited about the organic deal," he said, calling the organic program a "customer-driven endeavor."
The company plans to offer organic strawberries from Baja California for the winter and spring.
"This will be a year-round program we will have on an ongoing basis," he said.
While not commenting on volume, he said the organic berries represent up to 3% of the firm's total strawberry offerings this year.
Bard Valley Medjool Dates
Dave Nelson, president of the Bard, Calif.-based Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association, said the group expects confirmation of a health claim about medjool dates later this year.
"We're trying to establish all the nutrition information from a legal perspective and trying to make it FDA-compliant," he said. Nelson said he expects the health claim, relating to the level of antioxidants in the fruit, to be approved later this summer.
"Dates are high in antioxidants, and the right kind of antioxidants," he said, adding they compare favorably to blueberries.
Best Sorting, Heverlee, Belgium, showed off its four-way sorter.
The unit features optical, infrared, laser and fluorescent sorting to grade product for color, defect and foreign materials, said Nicolas Stein, sales manager.
The four-way process also helps ensure consistency of product, he said.
BioIonix Inc., McFarland, Wis., offers a water treatment system that reduces water use for processors.
An electro-chemical process sanitizes wash water and permits reuse of water, said Russell Schlager, sales and business development manager.
The technology is useable for fruit and vegetable rinse water disinfection and doesn't rely on hazardous chemicals or radiation, he said.
The process is environmentally friendly and reduces odors.
Charlie's Machine & Supply
Charlie's Machine & Supply Inc., Boulder, Colo., has introduced a stainless steel corer for head lettuce and peppers that fits over a standard trash can.
The corer costs around $400, said company spokeswoman Janice Janis, and can be sharpened using a rotary sharpener.
The company also has introduced a heat sealer for bagging product.
Orlando, Fla.-based Chep Equipment Pooling Systems introduced a series of developments in its customer Web-based portal application.
The new offerings in the Chep Portfolio+Plus system are designed to improve end user online experiences, complete with real-time aggregated data that can help optimize supply chain decisions, make for more efficient online transactions and find answers to questions more quickly.
"We've directly enhanced what the customers wanted, directly meeting their needs," said Derek Hannum, director of marketing for Chep. "With hundreds of thousands of transactions every day, the customer portal is really important. It frees up customers to do what they do."
Chiquita Brands International Inc., Cincinnati, introduced Pineapple Bites, an individually packed pineapple spear in a 2.8-ounce bag.
Saleswoman Thelma Rockhold said the company began shipping the products nationwide in April after test marketing it last year in California markets.
She said the bags are designed for retail and convenience stores with a recommended retail price of about $1 per spear.
Salinas, Calif.-based Colorful Harvest LLC began shipping its rainbow baby carrot line in 3-ounce packs in mid-April.
The bags come in 98-count boxes and are designed for school and commissary customers, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner.
Conwed Global Netting Solutions is in the process of converting its extruded and mesh bags to Ecocycle technology, said Brad Budde, strategic business manager for the Minneapolis-based company.
Budde said the technology, delivered at the same price as conventional material, gives the biodegradable bags a five-year lifespan.
The company expects to convert 70% of all netting products to Ecocycle technology in 2009, Budde said. The company makes the netting for automated produce packaging equipment, including vertical form fill and seal machines.
Cool Pak LLC, Oxnard, Calif., is venturing into new product packing by creating three tills for mushrooms, said Vanessa Lawrence, sales.
The tills come in 8-ounce, 10-ounce, and 12-ounce sizes, Lawrence said. All but the 8-ounce pack are still in the prototype stage.
The company also showed its 4-pound clamshell for grapes and a hinged plastic spring mix case that will be out in mid-August, Lawrence said.
Tony Freytag, marketing director of sliced apple marketer Crunch Pak LLC, Cashmere, Wash., said the company's consumer bag offerings of organic sliced apples are finding a good reception from retailers.
"About 30% to 40% of retailers are taking organic and we're seeing that expand," he said.
Although the recession has apparently slowed demand for organic produce, Freytag said he expects the effect to be temporary.
"We're laying the groundwork for the future and we're trying to get a reasonable price and lower the price point differential between conventional and organic to be more palatable for consumers," he said.
He said the company is also exploring further expansion of 2-ounce or 3-ounce bags of sliced apples to break the dollar price barrier for consumers.
Del Monte Fresh Produce
Beginning in mid-May, shoppers purchasing Del Monte Fresh Produce Co.'s pineapple, bananas, cantaloupe, tomatoes or fresh-cut products can receive discounts from Bally Total Fitness, Lady Foot Locker and SpaFinder, said Vidya Samsundar, marketing manager for the Coral Gables, Fla.-based company.
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Vidya Samsundar, marketing manager for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., shows off an example of a retail display as part of Del Monteâs spring and summer Fitness Center promotion.
Shoppers buying any one of the products must go to www.fruits.com and enter the last four digits of the UPC from the purchased item to get a free 30-day guest pass to Bally Total Fitness, $10 off any purchase of $50 or more at LadyFootLocker.com or $15 off a $150 gift certificate at SpaFinder, Samsundar said.
Potential savings total $84.
Del Monte is providing point-of-sale materials including channel strips, price cards, danglers and display signs for the effort, Samsundar said.
The Del Monte Fitness Center is part of the company's Eat Healthy, Live Healthy marketing strategy.
The offer is scheduled to run from May 18 through July 31.
Domex Superfresh Growers
With an expected record Northwest cherry crop this year, big volumes will be available in July and August, said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers, which is working with retailers to run cherries on ad virtually every week during that time period.
For smaller cherry sizes such as 11-row and 11.5-row, he said that could mean consistent retail pricing opportunities between $1.49 and $1.99 per pound.
"That is something that will jump at consumers every single week as truly an affordable luxury," he said.
Nager said he expects about 30% of the Northwest cherry crop to be exported, which is typical.
Meanwhile, Nager said Washington apples remain plentiful and will be attractive for promotion this summer.
Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., showcased its new Web site, which publicly launched April 27, said Gloria Chillon, director of marketing.
The site offers more interactive features, Chillon said, including Driscoll-exclusive recipes, healthy living tips, nutritional information and where to buy Driscoll's berries.
Eurofresh Inc., Willcox, Ariz., is offering 3-pound packs of tomatoes on the vine for Costco that started shipping this spring, said Kevin Partida, regional sales manager.
The company also has a 5-pound pack of tomatoes for Costco, Partida said, and plans to pack 11-pound cases.
Partida said 12-ounce and 8-ounce packs of grape tomatoes debuted at the expo.
James Borys, produce program buyer/manager for Feeding America, Chicago, said exhibitors at the United Fresh Produce Association exposition donated 42,000 pounds of fresh food to the Three Square Food Bank, Las Vegas, a member of Feeding America.
Borys said the donated products will be distributed through food pantries, soup kitchens and other emergency feeding centers in the region.
Borys also thanked Sysco Corp. and Champion Exposition Services for their support and assistance in the donation.
Golden Eagle Extrusions
Milford, Ohio-based Golden Eagle Extrusions Inc. rolled out its peelable lidding film for polypropylene trays, the company's first offering of a breathable film that's also peelable. Offered in various levels of peelability, the film could be used for trays of fresh-cut tomatoes and onions to dual microwaveable meals.
"Instead of having to use a knife to open, it makes it a whole lot easier," said Jim Potts, account manager with Golden Eagle.
Gilroy, Calif.-based Heinzen Manufacturing International introduced the company's fully automated wash and dry system for fresh produce processors.
The system can process 4,500 pounds of produce an hour, said president Alan Heinzen, and reduces operating costs by eliminating at least four workers. The cost of the system can be recaptured in about one year, he said.
The equipment features the 30-year-old company's automatic basket loading system, or ABLS, and works with nearly any packing or processing line equipment, Heinzen said.
Bartlett, Ill.-based Herrmann Ultrasonics unveiled a machine that can cut through leafy products and seal a package at the same time, said Uwe Peregi, executive vice president and general manager.
The machine uses ultrasonic waves and microscopic thermology to slice the leaves of, for example, spinach or lettuce, at the same time forming a seal in the packaging. Peregi said the process reduces the amount of packaging as much as possible, improving overall equipment efficiency (reducing leaky packaging rates) and reducing energy consumption.
"It's a closed-loop system," Peregi said. "The entire system is contained."
Sacramento, Calif.-based Ingersoll Rand's EMS-3100 kills pathogens in the air and on surfaces in cold storage rooms and ripening facilities, says Stefan Majeske, salesman.
Air is circulated through the unit, where a high voltage reaction chamber then releases ozone and hydrogen peroxide to clean surfaces and air within the treated space, he said.
The EMS-3100 is designed to cut ethylene, reduces odors and kills bacteria, mold and viruses.
It also is suitable for restaurant prep area sanitation.
Check out more coverage from the show floor of the United Fresh Marketplace in The Packer's United Fresh 2009: Expo notes part 2.