(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 13) ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Packer editorial staff gathered the following news items Oct. 3-5 on the show floor at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit 2009. This is the second of three parts.
Business updates from more booths have been added to this article.
Piel del sapo melons are new this year from Itaueira Agropecuaria S.A., Fortaleza, Brazil, said Tom Prado, director. The company introduced canary melons at last year’s PMA expo and will have even more piel del sapo melons next year, Prado said.
They should be available year-round. The company also is shipping pearl pineapples from Brazil, which are sold through Melissa’s World Variety Produce Inc. in Los Angeles, he said.
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif., is now offering sweet petite peppers in 1-pint containers, said Amy Johnson, customer service manager.
The sweet petite pepper medley will be shipping at larger volumes in about two months, Johnson said, but the company currently has limited availability.
Miami-based J&C Tropicals is expanding its line of specialty items with rambutan, kumquat and Ugli fruit.
The company recently started importing rambutan from Costa Rica, and is about to start with kumquat out of Florida, said Jessie Capote, vice president of operations and owner.
The Ugli fruit will come from Jamaica.
“We have a lot of niche products, some Florida-based, some not,” Capote said.
The company also brought on Peter Leifermann as category manager in September, Capote said. Leifermann comes from Homestead, Fla.-based Fresh King, a grower-shipper of avocados, miniature vegetables and specialty fruits and nuts.
“This is a new position, and it’s something only he can do,” Capote said.
Sauce, dip and dressing company Litehouse launched a few new products to compliment the fresh fruits and vegetables in the produce department.
The company now offers its dressings in squeeze bottles instead of only smaller glass bottles, something its customers, especially in foodservice, had been asking for.
In September, The Sandpoint, Idaho-based company started test marketing three blends of fresh apple cider — gala, honeycrisp and fuji — to be merchandised in produce.
“This is our first branch outside of dressings,” said Carol Lotich, sales manager.
The most noticeable thing in its booth, though, was the giant blue monster, a costume rented from DreamWorks to promote the company’s tie-in with the “Monsters vs. Aliens” movie, which was released on DVD Sept. 29. Litehouse developed a green apple flavored and a cherry blast caramel dip, both of which are high-color, to tie in with the movie.
Mann Packing Co., Salinas, Calif., is offering chopped butternut squash in 12-ounce and 20-ounce bags for retail, said Elena Hernandez, marketing coordinator.
The company also has rebranded its Snacks on the Go to Light Bites, Hernandez said, and started shipping its new label in October.
Mann Packing also released new labels for its Simple Singles to show nutritional and grower information, and updated labels for its party platter line to correspond to holidays and other social events.
Lisa Lillien signed copies of her new book, “Hungry Girl: 200 (recipes) Under 200 (calories),” at the Mann booth since the company is now featuring a cartoon logo of the Hungry Girl on its packaging.
Mariani Packing Co.
Raisins that taste like cinnamon bread are among the items in a new line of Healthy Indulgence raisins, dried cranberries and dried cherries from Mariani Packing Co.
The products are flavored naturally, so their calorie content is the same as plain raisins. They should be available by the end of October, said Lisa Goshgarian, spokeswoman.
Participation in the Mex Best exhibit rose to 114 growers from 110 last year, said Claudia Monroy, director of the international promotion section of the program run by Mexico’s department of agriculture. The first time the growers participated in the PMA show seven years ago there were only 12 participants, and they had a single 20- by 60-foot booth.
At this year’s show, they had 115 10- by 10-foot booths, she said. The growers promoted 27 products, with an increasing number of value-added items, like bagged and jarred product, she said.
Beans, tomatoes, three kinds of lemons, avocados, pineapples and coconuts are a few of the products they represented.
Misionero Vegetables, Gonzales, Calif., is expanding its Garden Cuts line to include salad kits of butter lettuce with dried cherries, almonds and citrus; the cosmopolitan with cosmopolitan lettuce, shredded cheese, tortilla shreds and salsa; iceberg wedge with ranch, blue cheese and bacon; and romaine with Caesar, parmesan and croutons.
Danny Canales, vice president of sales and marketing, said the kits will be available in retail stores Dec. 1. Canales said the company also is offering a line of fresh herbs.
Modern Mushroom Farms
Modern Mushroom Farms, Avondale, Pa., is participating in the San Jose, Calif.-based Mushroom Council’s effort to donate $50,000 to fund research at the Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope cancer research center.
Scientists will study how the antioxidants found in mushrooms might help fight breast cancer, said Jeff Nichol, director of sales and marketing.
The company is packing its 8-ounce size of whole and sliced mushrooms in pink containers and printing a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness on the labels from mid-September until mid-November, Nichol said.
MountainKing Potatoes, Houston, is offering a new product for retail, Barbeque Stuffers, said Phil Baldwin, category development manager.
The potato two-packs will begin shipping about late October, Baldwin said, and will sell for either $1.99 for two, or four for $4.
Known for its dressings, sauces and now salad toppings, Atlanta-based Naturally Fresh Inc. launched a new four-item line of almonds.
The bags of almonds come in roasted garlic, caesar, original oven roasted and honey roasted flavors, said Paul Spinelli, director of retail sales.
An anti-greening potato bag earned NNZ Inc. recognition as a PMA Impact Award finalist. The Spud Shade bag has graphics that cover the entire front, blocking UV lighting that greens potatoes and providing a large space for marketing messages.
Steve Greenfield, director of sales and marketing for the Lawrenceville, Ga.-based company, said one of his vendors told him that the bags helped its retail customer completely eliminate shrink in his potato section.
The company also has a line of biodegradable, compostable trays made out of bamboo and sugar cane.
Noonan Farms Organic
Within the last year, Noonan Farms Organic has gone from a modest potato growing operation out of Klamath Falls, Ore., to signing a national deal with Whole Foods. The company made its premiere at Fresh Summit this year.
“Although Mike (Noonan) has farmed for years, we’re just really starting to market,” said Corina Moore, marketing.
The company is a partner of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and grows in a wetland area in Oregon.
“We are full circle sustainable, and we just added an organic dairy and use the manure for fertilizer, the grain and barley for the cows,” Moore said.
The company grows on 15,000 certified sustainable acres, she said, and grows many varieties of potatoes.
Northwest Cherry Growers
Getting consumers to pick up a few cherries instead of a candy bar is the newest goal of Northwest Cherry Growers.
The Yakima, Wash.-based association developed a small floor stack bin with the words “Sweet Health,” meant to be placed up near the cash registers in a store, rather than in the produce section.
“We did a test market on this, and cherries are very much an impulse-driven item,” said James Michael, promotion director for Northwest Cherries and the Washington State Fruit Commission. “They can line up front, by the candy bars.”
The company is also planning an overhaul of its Web site, as well as planning to anchor some communications efforts around health studies, including the beneficial components in cherries that fight prostate cancer, Michael said.
The Nunes Co.
The Nunes Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif., will start shipping organic asparagus in January in 1-pound bunches, said Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing.
The company is also licensing its Foxy brand on potatoes grown in California, Washington and Idaho, Seeley said, on 5-pound and 10-pound bags for retail and for bulk purchases.
Oneonta Starr Ranch
Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneoneta Starr Ranch Growers is taking its pears and apples out of the produce section and into the liquor and dairy aisles.
The company developed bins promoting “pear the taste” with cheese and wine, different bins for each section.
“They let the customer know how creative they can be, how pears can be a great compliment to the wine,” said Jill Morrison, a graphic designer behind the concept. “It also helps cross-merchandise more.”
The bins should be in stores the second week of October, she said.
The company is also expanding on its HealthCARE and Me campaign with tote bags for apples this year. Throughout October, the totes and display bins promote breast cancer awareness.
Also new to the company is its Oneonta Organic label for apples and pears, said Scott Marboe, director of marketing.
John Cannon joined the company in June in domestic sales, and made his first appearance at the expo. He comes with 10 years of experience in sales for a medical supply company in Ohio, he said.
Napa, Korean radishes and diakon are new to the mix for Mont-St-Hilaire, Quebec-based Organzo. The company now specializes in those three, plus eggplant, green onions, onion and bok choy.
“Our customers want to complete their loads,” said Julie Nichols, owner and president.
The company grows in Canada, but its main customers are in New York, Georgia, Florida, Illinois and California, Nichols said. She founded the company three years ago.
PEI Potato Board
Better growing season weather should deliver good quality potatoes from Prince Edward Island this year, said Roland MacDonald, market development officer, Prince Edward Island Potato Board, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.
“Last year, we had all kinds of rain in August but we didn’t have that this year,” he said. PEI potato acreage is estimated at about 85,000 acres, off from 93,000 acres in 2008, he said.
MacDonald said that Kendra Mills is the new marketing director for the board, MacDonald said. Mills joined the board in July but was unable to attend Fresh Summit.
Oso Sweet Onions
Twenty years after it had its first crop out of Chile, Oso Sweet Onions are officially a year-round deal. Brian Kastick, general manager of the program, said the onions are grown in Chile, Texas, Georgia and Peru.
The company also has come full circle with a new value-added product. Kastick said Oso Sweets began over a bowl of onion soup and now the company offers an Oso Sweet brand onion soup mix that can be used as a starter for dips, sauces and soups.
Developed by Tasty Blend Foods Inc., Fraziers Bottom, W.V., the line also includes an Oso Sweet brand onion ring batter. Both are perfect for cross merchandising in the produce department, Kastick said.
Pacific Gourmet Produce
By late October, Pacific Gourmet Produce, Vernon, Calif., plans to have 1-pound packs of its purple sweet yams for its retail customers, said Jeffrey Jacobs, co-owner.
Pero Family Farms
Single-wrapped vegetables, including bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash, are turning into a hit for Delray Beach, Fla.-based Pero Family Farms, said Dale Chase, director of sales. The company displayed its Freshwrap single-wrapped and overwrapped vegetables, which are new this year, Chase said.
The company is also debuting organic bagged green beans, either snipped or unsnipped, said Frank Pero, corporate executive vice president. The season should start soon, and the product should be on the market this fall, Pero said.
The green beans will come in a 12-ounce pack snipped product, or a 16-ounce if unsnipped.
Phillips Mushroom Farms
After building a new growing facility in Warwick, Md., Phillips Mushroom Inc., historically a specialty mushroom grower-shipper, is offering white mushrooms in a full line of pack sizes and styles.
Among its packages, during October, the company has mushrooms on a pink tray, packaged for breast cancer awareness, said Kevin Donovan, national sales manager.
A clip strip that offers an easier way to merchandise retail packages of dried mushrooms was introduced by Ponderosa Mushrooms, said Joe Salvo, president of the Port Coquitlam, British Columbia-based company.
The wild mushroom marketer of fresh, dried and individually quick frozen mushrooms said most wild mushrooms marketed in the U.S. are sold to foodservice operators.
That contrasts with Europe, where the majority of wild mushrooms are sold through supermarkets.
In addition to launching its new steamer bags of value-added potatoes, Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Potandon Produce LLC premiered packaging for its Klondike gourmet potatoes.
The 1.5-pound bags of baby purple, red, gold and mixed potatoes actually made their way to the show before they were available.
“We had to get these specially done,” said Barbara Keckler, marketing coordinator.
The C-size potatoes are available in Klondike Gourmet purple, Klondike Gourmet gold, Klondike Petite reds and Klondike Medley, which is a combination of the other three.
Railex, Riverhead, N.Y., as of late September, now has four trains departing weekly from Washington and California, up from three, said senior vice president Paul Esposito.
Each week, he said two trains leave from Wallula, Wash., and Delano, Calif., for Albany, N.Y., with guaranteed five day transit times. Esposito said the transportation option is ideal for apples, pears, potatoes and onions.
Ready Pac, Irwindale, Calif., debuted two additions to its Bistro Bowl line, with the label for the entire line of eight products changed to reflect calorie content and other nutritional information, said Ali Leon, senior director of strategic business. The Italiano and waldorf salads are the two new salad varieties in the line, Leon said, and are ready for distribution.
The company also will have sliced apples in a 4.2-ounce bag available in January in its snack line, Leon said.
Ready Pac also started shipping its salad kits in new clamshells in September, Leon said.
Ready Pac also added chopped escarole to its line of prewashed bagged greens, Leon said, and also expanded its line of platters to include fruit and chocolate, apples and cheese, fancy fruit, and harvest vegetables with cheese.
Rosa Secilia Gourmet
Canadian fresh herb and seasoning company Rosa Secilia Gourmet is launching a line of seasonings and a line of pesto, both fresh, in the U.S.
The seasonings, which have been on the Canadian market for nine months, include basil, dill, ginger, cilantro, chili peppers, Italian, lemongrass, roasted garlic, parsley and oregano. The pesto line, which has seven varieties, has been available in Canada for ten years, but it just making its way to the U.S., as well, said Gerard Trudeau, president. Some of the products will be in private label.
The company is also developing new products that should be released within the month, Trudeau said.
Dain Craver, a grower with Sage Fruit Co., Yakima, Wash., handed out samples of RosaLynn variety apples at the Sage Fruit exhibit.
The apple variety is a chance seedling discovered about 15 years ago in an orchard that included winesap, rome, jonathan, golden delicious and red delicious, with fujis and galas planted nearby. The variety features very strong keeping quality and crunch.
“I just call it the Mother Nature cross,” he said.
Craver said he expects to market about 6,000 cartons of RosaLynn apples through Sage Fruit Company this year.
San Miguel Produce
Jan Berk, vice president of San Miguel Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., showed off two new products, including the company’s 14th bagged greens variety, escarole, and a reconfigured, bilingual clamshell package used for both conventional and organic products.
The company has relabeled its line of Cut N’ Clean greens to meet Canadian requirements, said Brian Cook, key accounts sales and marketing representative.
The new labels, available now, appear on the organic clamshells containing collard, mustard, garden greens and rainbow greens, Cook said.
Sinclair Systems, Fresno, Calif., showed its new Sinclair VPS — Variable Print System.
The proprietary system is designed to fit with existing Sinclair systems, said president and chief executive officer Bill Hallier. The VPS can print DataBar codes, PLUs and lot numbers right on a label, and is supported by the company’s global technical staff.
South Carolina Dept. of Ag
Increases in local fruit and vegetable sales will be one way that South Carolina agriculture grows from its current $34 billion value in 2009 to about $50 billion by 2020, according to Martin Eubanks, director of the marketing department for the Agricultural Services Division of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
“We’re seeing a lot of growth in the state, and we think (reaching $50 billion) is very doable in the next 10 years,” he said. Eubanks said the PMA’s Fresh Summit provides growers and marketers from the state a great opportunity to find new ways to market and merchandise.
Southwind Farms, Heyburn, Idaho, has offered its fingerling potatoes to foodservice operators but now is introducing the product to the retail market, said Robert Tominaga, president. The fingerlings will be sold in cartons of 12 1.5-pound bags of yellow, purple and red varieties as well as a mixed medley containing all three kinds.
Bringing a focus on creating customer success served as the main message at Fresh Summit for Stemilt Growers Inc., said West Mathison, president of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
“I think it is even more important in these times of prices deflation, the question of how do we use category strategy to drive more sales when you’ve got deflationary pressure going on,” he said.
That calls for creative solutions that could include ancillary displays, placement of recipes and really pushing the sustainability commitment of Stemilt, he said.
“For us, the sustainability message is just awesome because it is something that has been our culture and the way we wake up every single day,” he said. “People want to know about it and it’s been fun to tell that story.”
SunCoast Produce Inc., Royal Palm Beach, Fla., is packing 4-pound bags of navel oranges under its Simply Sweet brand, said Neal Cunningham, salesman.
The new pack will be ready to ship in about four weeks, Cunningham said, and is meant for retail customers.
Winter Haven, Fla.-based SunnyRidge Farm Inc. is shipping certified pesticide-free blueberries, and the company will begin shipping certified organic blueberries in March or April, said Heather Forshee, communications and public relations coordinator.
SunnyRidge also grows conventional blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries.
The firm, which sources from Florida, Georgia and Oregon, may transition other berry varieties to organic, too, Forshee said. “We’re definitely looking to extend that operation. We’re looking at new opportunities.”