For a video, see U.S. firms find tastes differ in Canada.
News Editor Chris Koger, Retail Editor Pamela Riemenschneider and Cynthia David, Special to The Packer, gathered the following news items from expo booths at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's Convention and Expo April 18-19.
PEI POTATO BOARD: Prince Edward Island native Heather Moyse, gold medal winner for bobsled in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, promotes potatoes and the PEI Potato Board"s new website, www.peipotato.com, which features new recipes and photographs. The board is also working with Tourism P.E.I. to launch a food truck that will tour eastern Canada promoting the island"s culinary delights, including potatoes.
ARTHUR'S FRESH: Arthur"s Fresh Co. launched squeezable pouches of Fruit Crush pureed fruit at CPMA. The grab-and-go snack doesn"t need refrigeration and is ideal for kids, said Jeff Leeming, assistant product manager for Toronto-based H.J. Heinz Co. of Canada, which purchased Arthur"s in 2009. Each colorful pouch, aimed at kids ages 8-12, contains a full serving of fruit, Leeming said. Arthur"s also launched two new smoothies. Pineapple coconut blends pure pineapple juice and coconut cream, while Grape Wildberry combines concord grape and blackcurrant juice.
CLIFFORD PRODUCE: Meghan Agosta (left) and Tessa Bonhomme, Olympic gold-medal hockey players, help launch Clifford Crunchies, snack-size greenhouse cucumbers from Clifford Produce Sales Inc. in Leamington, Ontario. The cukes will be available in 1-pound stand-up bags for retail and 1.5-pound club packs. Sales manager Tony Coppola is also working on a grilled veggie kit that cooks in the microwave, on the grill or in the oven. The sturdy tray contains two peppers, a sweet onion, zucchini and eggplant. Coppola hopes retailers will merchandise the grill kit in the meat department near the steaks.
RENEE'S GOURMET: Kristen Lewarne, product manager for Toronto-based Renee"s Gourmet, introduced new fat-free Caesar salad dressing and refrigerated mayonnaise at CPMA. Both are made with fresh Greek yogurt and other natural ingredients. The Caesar has only 5 calories per serving, Lewarne said, and the mayonnaise has half the fat of regular mayonnaise. The products are only available in Canada.
GAMBLES: Gambles Ontario Produce Inc., at the Ontario Food Terminal in Toronto, is adding its redesigned Go Fresh private label to about 800 stock-keeping units, says business and product development manager Tom Kioussis (left). The Go Fresh logo, with quick-response code, will appear on everything from tray pack corn to single-serve veggie cups with dip. Trader Sean Balog shows off the company"s carrots in biodegradable bags. New hand-packed biodegradable bags of Go Fresh carrots have a money-back guarantee on the back, Kioussis said. Gambles wholesales and distributes fresh fruits and vegetables across the province. The new web address is www.goproduce.com.
OPMA: Cookbook writer and former TV host Cary Osmond is the face behind the Ontario Produce Marketing Association"s new back to basics campaign and website, Producemadesimple.ca. Every Monday, the site introduces a fruit or vegetable as Pick of the Week. Tuesday is prep day, Wednesday Osmond offers usage tips, Thursday she"ll discuss what the item pairs well with and Friday she"ll share a recipe. Osmond also stars in 10 videos that will change every three weeks.
PRIMEPRO: Grant Ferguson, director of sales for Mississauga, Ontario-based Chantler Packaging Inc., demonstrates PrimePro, the next generation of modified atmosphere packaging for fresh produce. Using the PrimePro carton liner, which absorbs ethylene to keep produce fresh, Ferguson says it"s now possible to ship fresh broccoli from Ecuador to northern Europe, a 28-day journey. Washington cherry and pear growers use the film, and greenhouse growers from Spain to Mexico to Canada have adopted it to keep their produce fresh. Ferguson said PrimePro was recently certified for use with organic produce by the Organic Materials Review Institute.
PROCYK FARMS: A massive display of fresh vegetables set against a background of cartons earned Procyk Farms Ltd., Wilsonville, Ontario, third place in the best booth contest on the expo show floor.
GWILLIMDALE FARMS: Whether a recipe calls for three medium onions or 1 pound of onions, a new offering from Bradford, Ontario-based Gwillimdale Farms Ltd. fits the bill, says Quinton Woods, salesman. The onions, in a mesh sleeve, offer a more attractive price point to retailers compared to bulk onions, Woods says.
ARIZONA LGMA: The Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement is introducing a fourth training module in a series designed to train field and packinghouse crews on food safety best practices. The new module, in a workbook format, focuses on environmental risk assessments, says Teressa Lopez, who is the Arizona LGMA administrator through the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Lopez, showing an earlier "tailgate training" module, says the format allows trainers to educate employees on site.
NATURIPE: Mighty Blues, 9-ounce containers of large blueberries (minimum of 18 milimeters), have greater availability in the Canadian market as California production starts, says Kyla Garnett, marketing manager at Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif. "If you place an order today, we"ll have it in the store tomorrow," Garnett says.
CHURCH BROS.: A 1-pound foodservice pack of Italian greens (a blend of scarlet and black kales and arugula), sold under the Tuscan label, is new to the Canadian market from Church Bros. LLC., Salinas, Calif., says Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for the Salinas, Calif., company. Kale"s popularity continues to rise Van Eeghen says, and the company is educating new kale consumers on how to prepare the greens. Canadian customers are responding in a big way to the kale blend and Church Bros". red heirloom spinach, Van Eeghen said.
DEL MONTE: New fresh-cut offerings in Canada from Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. include the company"s Gold Fresh Pineapple spears and chunks, melon spears/chunks (watermelon, Mag Melon, honeydew and cantaloupe), fruit parfaits and party trays that include celery, tomatoes, broccoli, carrots and other vegetables. Besides the standard packaging available in the U.S., Del Monte offers customized packaging for certain customers in Canada, says Amanda Press, assistant manager of trade shows and special events.
SCOTLYNN: The Vittoria, Ontario, grower recently opened a facility in Belle Glade, Fla., to precool, pack and ship sweet corn, says Joe Didiano, director of produce sales. The company also has 260 new acres of asparagus with plans to almost double that by next season, he says. The corn is packed under the Sweetpac brand.
F.P.D. EAST: Beaconsfield, Quebec-based F.P.D. East Inc., an importer of produce into Canada, is importing the South African Royal Beaut apple. Peter Martino, vice president, said the apple has a dominant red blush. Because of its newness to the market, only one container will be available, Martino said.
MASTRONARDI: Colorful displays of greenhouse tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers earned Mastronardi Produce second place in the best booth contest on the show floor. The company displayed new Duo/Trio/Quattro packs of mini/grape tomatoes and is rolling out the "Inspired by Flavor" branding campaign in Canada, says Chris Veillon, marketing director.
BIOLOGICO: Tom Huculiak, manager of business development for greenhouse grower Biologico, said the company will have bell peppers for the first time this fall, and is testing an organic zebra tomato. "We are aggressively converting to organic," says Huculiak, shown with a pack of the zebra tomatoes.
MANN PACKING: Mann Packing Co. Inc. is debuting an all-clear vegetable party tray pack to the Canadian market, says vice president of retail sales Greg Kurkjian, pictured here with Christine Keller, director of marketing and innovations. Another product introduced to the U.S. last year, Veggie Mac-n-Cheese meals, are now available in Canada. The meals are available in four flavors, and are a "great alternative to the center-of-store mac and cheese," Kurkjian says.
LA HUERTA IMPORTS: Corbeil, Ontario-based importer of Mexican and South American produce, is now marketing Mexican "Chico" sapote, which has a texture like a pear and has a slight flavor of cinnamon, says Graeme Bruce, vice president. People of Hispanic and Asian descent are familiar with the fruit, and the company is trying to reach other demographics with the sapotes.
BABE FARMS: One-pound bags of baby fennel and baby purple artichokes, in resealable bags featuring quick-response codes, are new to the Canadian market from Babe Farms, says Ande Manos, sales and marketing for the company. She says the codes offer convenient referrals to online recipes and menu ideas.
NATUREFRESH FARMS: Interest in a fried green tomato kit from NatureFresh Farms has picked up after the company moved from a four-pack to a two-pack, says Ray Wowryk, director of business development. The company also has 3- and 4-variety packs of mini tomatoes.