The California Table Grape Commission is encouraging the use of fresh California table grapes in menu offerings such as Roasted Squash Farro with Pickled Grapes at foodservice operations nationwide. ( Photo courtesy California Table Grape Commission )

Several commodity boards, councils and commissions are planning promotional activities aimed at foodservice this summer. Here’s a look at some of them.

The California Strawberry Commission, Watsonville, is targeting school foodservice as it promotes “versatile and nutritious” strawberries as easy to include in school meals and snacks, said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director.

Individual-serve sliced strawberry cups are the cornerstone of the school meal programs, she said.

The commission provides handouts and videos, which it is promoting through paid advertising aimed at school foodservice professionals, O’Donnell said.

“We’ve also updated all of our classroom resources for grades K-5,” she added.

The California Table Grape Commission, Fresno, continues to encourage the use of fresh California table grapes in foodservice operations nationwide through a combination of education and direct outreach to culinary professionals, said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing.

New this year is advertising in a key foodservice trade publication, Flavor and the Menu, which allows the commission to deliver its message to its target audience of chefs more often and in a “visual and inspirational way,” she said.

The ads encourage chefs to “go with grapes and take menus into bold new territory,”  she said.

Ads are supplemented with digital advertising on the magazine’s website, as well as a slideshow of culinary ideas with grapes.

Photo courtesy California Avocado Commission.

The California Avocado Commission, Irvine, has a foodservice program that applies a three-prong approach targeting restaurant chains to increase and promote the use of California avocados on menus, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

The program includes menu ideation sessions, menu promotion support and training tools to maximize the use of California avocados.

The commission also has launched four new videos here that cover managing ripeness, handling tips, cutting techniques and trend-forward menu ideas, she said.

Photo courtesy The Mushroom Council.

The Mushroom Council, Redwood Shores, Calif., is partnering with the James Beard Foundation for the fifth annual Blended Burger Project, said Heather Harter, who handles industry communications for the council.

“The initiative calls on chefs nationwide to put a more delicious and sustainable spin on the iconic burger by blending mushrooms into the burger patty,” she said.

Burgers must be on the restaurant’s menu sometime from Memorial Day to July 31.

Burger fans can vote for their favorites, and a panel of judges will review the top 25 vote recipients and select five who will each receive $5,000 and have the opportunity to serve their winning burger at a Blended Burger Project celebration in October at the James Beard House in New York City. 

For details, visit the Blended Burger Project.

The National Watermelon Promotion Board, Winter Springs, Fla., is touting watermelon as part of the plant-forward menu, said Megan McKenna, senior director of marketing and foodservice.

“Whether it is using it as a complement to tuna in a poke bowl or grilled and completely in place of a piece of steak on a salad, watermelon can be a center-of-the-plate star,” she said.

The board also is conducting research to learn more about how consumers feel about watermelon in foodservice and continues to work with the International Foodservice Editorial Council, sponsoring its annual conference in Madison, Wis., in October.

Representatives will serve watermelon bites during the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Expo in July and will participate in the Roundtable Meetings to reach distributers and operators one-on-one, she added.

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., is targeting two primary foodservice audiences: menu decision makers at national and regional commercial operations and K-12 schools, said Victoria De Bruin, marketing manager.

USHBC is working with two media partners to promote blueberries among an influential chef audience, she said.

Promotional tools include custom advertorials, targeted e-newsletters and exclusive online advertising in widely read publications.

USHBC also has partnered with Plate magazine and the Culinary Institute of America to have representation at two notable industry events this year.

The council received seven new recipes from chef Stephen Rogers of Sachet restaurant in Dallas after sponsoring a Chef’s Table event with Plate in the spring, and the council will sponsor the institute’s Worlds of Flavor event Nov. 6-8, which includes a 60-minute cooking demo with chef Jamie Simpson demonstrating the versatility of blueberries in ethnic cuisines.

 
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