Mann Packing starts Kalettes for foodserviceSALINAS, Calif. – Mann Packing Co. is getting out in front on Kalettes – a cross between kale and brussels sprouts from British breeder Tozer Seeds – with an introduction at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference and Expo.

Salinas-based Mann Packing will also be showing an upgrade of its Arcadian Harvest Emerald, part of a line of three salad blends. The conference is July 25-27 in Monterey.

Tozer Seeds announced in June it was pooling as yet unnamed suppliers to sell – at retail starting in September – under the Kalettes brand. That"s expected to provide a consistent identifier amid other labels and packaging variations.

Because building volume on the green and purple vegetable is a slow process, Mann Packing is starting with comparatively modest foodservice shipments. A bigger offering is planned for 2015, said Gina Nucci, director of healthy culinary innovation.

"We felt that it"s better to get some smaller chefs and restaurants on now instead of handling a huge chain," said Nucci. "We"re slowly ramping up acreage. We"ve been working with it for almost a year. It takes about four to six months to transplant over, and so much volume, it"s difficult to roll out."

Tozer Seeds America is in Santa Maria.

"The seed company is doing a lot of the marketing," Nucci said. "Golden Sun Marketing is doing all the consumer marketing."

She sampled Kalettes at a July photo shoot.

"It looks a little odd but the flavor is amazing in a light saute or raw," Nucci said. "They"ve done a great job on its development. We believe consumers want flavor, and you don"t have to kill it like you might some of the thicker kales."

"It looks like kale but grows like a brussels sprout," she said. "It"s a little ball."

Arcadian Harvest Emerald

Mann Packing starts Kalettes for foodserviceAt PMA Foodservice, Mann Packing will be showing an updated version of its Arcadian Harvest Emerald, first released in 2012.

"We"ve reformulated it and it"s two varieties," Nucci said. "It"s a rich, dark hued Emerald green variety and a lighter blonde variety."

"Arcadian Harvest Emerald is the first all-green variety since chopped romaine," she said. "Most people put mixed colors, radicchio or something in. What we heard back from chefs is that they want a clean palate to work with and add components too. They really wanted a consistent green color. Using petite leaves, you get that whole green leaf. The blonde and the dark add a bit of depth and give you a great presentation on the plate."

The new Emerald began in late May for the Salinas season. "We"re just getting the volume pumped up," Nucci said.

Emerald and its companion blends, Classic and Ruby, comprise Mann Packing"s Arcadian Harvest line. The grower-shipper is also introducing a marketing program, Salad Solutions.

"The elements of it take a three-way approach to the Arcadian Harvest product line and rebrand it with the different varieties we have," Nucci said.

Mann Packing uses some Rijk Zwaan and Nunhems varieties in its leafy blends.