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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

FRESH FOOD GROUP: Ann Miller, vice president of sales — Walmart & Sam’s Club — for the Fresh Food Group, The Woodlands, Texas, says the company has introduced seven Freshly Crafted brand plant-based microwaveable meal kits in the U.S. Selections include Szechuan Veggies & Rice Kit, Quinoa Chili Kit and Pico De Gallo. The firm has more than twice that number in Canada, she says. In all, Fresh Food Group offers up to 200 items in four categories: fresh-cut vegetables and fruit, fresh snacking solutions, ready-to-go meals and meal kits solutions. Many are sold under retailers’ private labels, she says. Fresh Food Group is made up of three companies: Country Fresh, a supplier of fresh-cut fruit and vegetable and snacking solutions; Sun Rich, supplier of fresh-cut for foodservice; and Tiffany Gate Foods, which manufactures fresh prepared foods for major retail and foodservice companies.
 

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

FRESH INTERNATIONAL: Javiar Badillo established Fresh International three years ago but stepped up its introduction to the industry with a booth at Fresh Summit for the first time this year. He says he wants to be more than a supplier of tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers to his customers and become a partner and share market data with them. His team includes his daughters Bella (from left) and Milana and his wife, Lori.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

4 EARTH: Salesman Jon Vance (from left); Mark Munger, vice president of sales and marketing; and Dave Hewitt, director of sales for Los Angeles-based 4 Earth Farms, say conventional and organic French beans from Guatemala are the item the company now is promoting. Last year, the company also got into the Persian cucumber deal in Guatemala in a big way, and now Persian cucumbers are a year-round program, Munger says. “Our growers (in Guatemala) are growing a lot of other items, so we really feel it’s opened the door for us to expand into a lot of new things,” he says.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

DUDA: Mark Bassetti (left), senior vice president of sales and marketing, and Sam Duda, senior vice president of national operations, told booth visitors how Oviedo, Fla.-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods has expanded its cooling and fresh-cut facility in Oxnard, Calif. The facility produces a variety of celery sticks. Duda says the $5 million expansion was the result of consumer demand for product that has proven itself in the marketplace. Last year, demand outstripped supply for the company’s value-added products, Duda says. With the new expansion, that won’t happen this year. “We are not going to disappoint our customers again,” he says. Duda Farm Fresh Foods also is positioning itself to bring new products to market, Bassetti says. “We spent the last 18 months working on a new innovation project so that we can have a more disciplined approached to our business, especially bringing in new products,” he says.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

DOMEX: The proprietary Autumn Glory apple program is going strong at Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., says Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communications manager. Autumn Glory, a blend of the fuji and golden delicious varieties, was the No. 1-selling proprietary apple variety for the first quarter of the year, she says. The company also is excited about participating in the new Cosmic Crisp apple program that kicks off out of Washington in December, she says.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

DIVINE FLAVOR: Michael DuPuis, who handles quality assurance and public relations for Nogales, Ariz.-based Divine Flavor, says the company has enhanced the packaging on its high-flavor Jelly Berries table grapes to be more appealing to kids as well as adults. Divine Flavor has been focusing on extending availability of Jelly Berries and other grape varieties by complementing its Mexican program with fruit from Chile and Peru. And by planting acreage in Jalisco, Mexico, and in Baja California, the company has added a few months to the typical Sonoran grapes season, which runs from May to June. The company also is working to make its cucumbers, bell peppers, mini peppers and squash available year-round. 

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit.

DEL MONTE: Rebecca Gautrey, director of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce, shows the Better Break line of vegetable-rich, microwaveable snacks that debuted in late August and now are shipping nationwide. There are three varieties: Spicy Pomodoro, Zesty Green Chile and Summer Corn. “They’re a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is looking for a healthy snack or lunchtime meal,” she says. They are ready to eat in 3 minutes. 

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

CRUNCH PAK: Candi Burge, sales office manager for Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak, shows a new product called Opera — ready-to-eat sliced pears. The product should be available in November, Burge says. Crunch Pak offers up to 75 stock-keeping units of sliced apples, pears and baby carrots for retail and foodservice, she says. The company also offers some organic items.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

AVOCADOS FROM MEXICO: Dianne Le, associate shopper marketing director for Irving, Texas-based Avocados From Mexico, shows an interactive sign with metal racks that hold up to 100 bags with ripening tips and features a motion-activated screen that plays a video with avocado education tips. Avocados From Mexico also has a flipbook for retailers to help them educate consumers about how to select, ripen, preserve and serve avocados.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

COLOMBIA: Camilo Lozano (left) and Gabriel Botero of AsocolBlue, the Colombian Association of Blueberries Growers, say blueberry acreage in Colombia is expected to increase from its current 1,100 acres to about 25,000 acres in five years. Avocados also have started shipping to the U.S. Nine Colombian companies showed products at Fresh Summit. Other items on display included goldenberries, yellow dragon fruit, passion fruit, limes, pineapples, bananas and valencia oranges. Products can ship from Colombia year-round because of its position on the equator. “We don’t have seasons,” Lozano says. He Lozano says Europe is Colombia’s main avocado market, but he expects growers to export more of the fruit to the U.S. in future seasons. Columbia has nearly 44,500 acres of avocados and eventually is expected to have nearly 250,000 acres, he says.

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit.

BEE SWEET: Mandarins have taken the produce industry by storm, says Monique Bienvenue, director of communications for Fowler, Calif.-based Bee Sweet Citrus. Bee Sweet’s clementine mandarin program is expected to kick off the first week of November and continue through mid-December. Murcott mandarins will be available from mid-January through May. The seedless easy peelers are grown in California’s Central Valley. 

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Tom Burfield

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer correspondent Tom Burfield collected these new items on the expo floor at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit. 

CMI: Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards wants to help “bring our country together” by enabling retailers to make a per-box donation to local military groups during its American Dream promotions tied to Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, says George Harter, vice president of marketing. “The Wounded Warrior project or any local military group sees the funds coming from the retailer, not from us,” he says. The promotion involves all of CMI’s core apple varieties plus three branded apples and cherries. 

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