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Local Farmers Market program helps retailer boost produce sales

Summer is peak produce season, and Associated Retail Operations banners — Macey’s, Lin’s, Dan’s, Dick’s Market and Fresh Market — are adding Utah love to the produce department with its Local Farmers Markets program, which launched July 1 and has been successful in increasing produce sales and guest count in each store

The in-store program includes signage highlighting Utah-grown produce and the farmers who supply them, as well as parking lot tent sales on Saturdays.

“Buying from Utah farmers and growers allows us to offer our guests the freshest produce at great prices, since it doesn’t have to travel as far,” Danni Barnhart, produce manager for Associated Retail Operations, said in a press release. “As locally owned retailers, it is important for us to support other local businesses, especially our farmers and growers. Our guests love that we offer a wide variety of Utah grown products.”

The Local Farmers Market program is made possible through a partnership between Associated Retail Operations and 33 Utah farmers and growers, including Bangerter Farms, Houwelings Tomatoes and Hartley’s Best Onions.

Each of the farmers is GAP certified or in the final stages of achieving the certification, which was set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the new food-safety regulations. The program aligns with industry trends that show local is the new organic according to consumer preferences.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Australia plans to double mango exports to U.S. in 2016-17

While Australian mangoes only represent a tiny percentage of the U.S. market, the relative newcomer is set to expand its presence in North America this year.

Speaking with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Australian Mango Industry Association (AMIA) CEO Robert Gray said hopes were high the sector could double U.S.-bound shipments this year from last season’s 100 metric tons (MT).

In addition, Northern Territory mangoes are expected to be exported to the market for the first time with four businesses registered from the Katherine region.

“Last year we only used Queensland fruit, which meant we only had half the season to supply,” Gray told the broadcaster.

“The aim this year is to start in October and have product going into the US for the full four or five months of the Australian mango season.”

In June, Gray told the industry would also be testing new trade routes into the U.S. market this year.

Australia currently has a testing protocol for mango exports to the country.

Chinese officials destroy Philippine banana shipment

As tensions continue over the South China Sea ruling, yet another Philippine banana shipment has been intercepted on pest risk grounds.

Qingdao News reported Shandong officials destroyed 21 metric tons (MT) of the fruit, which had a value of US$ 21,683.

bananas dumped - Qingdao news

Photo: Qingdao News

The story reported the fruit was put into landfill because the gray pineapple mealybug Dysmicoccus neobrevipes was found in the consignment of 1,556 boxes.

It is the same pest reported in interceptions of Philippine bananas that took place in March.

While the official reason behind the destruction of fruit is pest threats, these types of SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary) announcements often coincide with international disputes.

Amid a territorial conflict over the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, China placed restrictions on Philippine bananas alleging mealybug detections.

Last year the Philippines shipped 686,904 metric tons (MT) of bananas to China, accounting for 64% of total imports. However, this represents an 11% reduction year-on-year while the second-largest supplier Ecuador raised its shipments by 22% to reach 283,006MT.

Other suppliers include Myanmar (55,683MT), Thailand (26,115MT) and Vietnam (10,133MT).

Eduardo Ledesma of the Ecuadorian Banana Exporters Association (AEBE) told the problem between China and the Philippines could generate more demand for Ecuadorian fruit.

“Hopefully that happens as it would help strengthen Ecuadorian bananas, and in the end it would generate more investments and jobs in Ecuador,” he said.

“This year we’ve fallen by more than half in China, mainly because prices from the Philippines are cheaper and the distance for them is much shorte. We also have some domestic problems – we have to be more agile. We must have procedures and processes that are less cumbersome.

China-Philippines conflict flows over to social media

Philippine mango growers have also suffered from the conflict, with some Chinese fruit traders refusing to stock the country’s dried mango products amid calls for a boycott.

Also on social media, Chinese netizens have slammed a Japanese YouTuber for a video (which you can see below) eating 137 Philippine bananas, in what some saw as a reference to China’s population of 1.37 billion people, Mingpao reported.

“During this sensitive period, you eat 137 bananas from the Philippines to insult China – do you have brains? Do you think us Chinese people can be easily bullied?” one comment said.

Headline photo:

U.S.: Limoneira expands direct sales program

California-based Limoneira Company will now build on its direct lemon sales programs with oranges and other specialty citrus items.

Chief operating officer Alex Teague tells the move ties into Limoneira’s One World of Citrus program, meeting the needs of customers not only in the U.S. but throughout the globe.

He says the direct sales method outside the lemon category – in citrus referred to as “round fruit” – has been in trials for a couple of years, but now the it would make up 100% of volume.

“One of the big drivers is the foodservice industry. Whereas probably 70-80% oranges go to retail, only about 20-30% of lemons go to retail,” Teague says.

“So bringing the foodservice-size oranges to coincide with our foodservice business in the lemons is a big help.”

In addition to Navel and Valencia oranges, Limoneira will provide Cara Cara Navels , Moro Blood oranges, Pummelos and Star Ruby Grapefruit from its groves.

The company will partner with Cecelia Packing Corporation for packing Limoneira oranges and specialty citrus.

“Limoneira via Sunkist used to have an orange house up until 2001 – for a variety of reasons it was shut down and we had always planned to going back to packing and selling direct ourselves with the oranges – now just appeared the opportune time with Cecelia to go do it,” he says.

“Like our lemon packing house in Santa Paula, they have a state-of-the-art facility in Orange Cove that’s close to our orange and specialty citrus groves,” Teague says in a release.

In the release, Limoneira director of global sales John Carter says global lemon customers have been asking Limoneira to sell its other citrus varieties for quite a while.

“We look forward to the opportunity to grow the category and connect shoppers to other citrus trees,” he says.

“Customers have appreciated the quality and consistency that they receive with Limoneira’s lemons, and we will deliver these same benefits with our oranges and specialty citrus.”

When asked about the current citrus market, Teague is still upbeat despite some short-term challenges this year.

“I would say the round fruit, because of unusual crop size, some maturing issues, there was a struggle this year,” he says.

“But of course we think that’s only temporary and it’ll work its way out. It was more a seasonal crop condition than it was a market condition. We still have strong confidence in the marketplace and consumption.

“The lemon market is continuing to be very strong. Consumption, from what we can tell comparing stores and restaurants, consumption continues to rise. We continue to have a lot of interest from retail and foodservice to have more fresh lemon programs.”

In terms of the upcoming California deal, he says orchards are getting enough heat units to have good-tasting oranges, and Limoneira has a full water allocation in the San Joaquin Valley.

“For fruit condition we’re very much looking forward to the 2016-17 season,” he says.

Year-long hunt finds almost 200 Peter Pan, Great Value victims

Close to 200 victims of the Salmonella serotype Tennessee outbreak that ended in early 2007 are in line for restitution when ConAgra Grocery Products Co. appears in federal court for sentencing.

Credit for finding so many documented victims of a nearly decade-old outbreak goes to federal Judge W. Louis Sands, who has delayed proceedings in the case for more than a year to give the government time to reach out to victims and their families.

peterpan_406x250According to the latest status report filed with his U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, more than 150 victim statements and victim claims for restitution were ready in April. An additional 42 claimants were filed with the court as of June 8 and were immediately disclosed to defense counsel.

ConAgra owns the Sylvester, GA, peanut processing plant that late in 2006 and early 2007 was associated with the 44-state outbreak of Salmonella Tennessee that sickened at least 425 people. Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter, sold in retail stores, were blamed for the outbreak.

On May 20, 2015, the government charged ConAgra with one misdemeanor count of violating the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The Justice Department and the company filed a signed plea agreement with the court, with ConAgra agreeing to plead guilty.

“Both the government and counsel for the defendant are in the process of reviewing and evaluating the statements and supporting documents submitted by potential victims, including those submitted on June 8,” said Graham A. Thorpe, assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, in the latest status report.

The parties expect to complete the review and provide an assessment of the materials no later than July 29.

“At that time, and in consultation with the U.S. Probation Office, both counsel anticipate requesting a hearing and/or status conference with the court to address the issues of victim restitution, and timing in relation to either a single hearing date or both entry of a guilty plea and sentencing or alternatively a hearing date for the entry of a guilty plea and sentencing date,” Thorpe added.

Under the plea bargain, ConAgra has agreed to enter a plea of guilty to the misdemeanor and pay a fine of $ 8.01 million and forfeitures of $ 3.2 million, in addition to any restitution ordered by the court.

The agreement does not include any probationary period for the company, largely because it has been operating the Sylvester, GA, peanut butter plant for almost a decade since the outbreak without problems. ConAgra will be required to report on the anniversary date of the executed agreement with written confirmation that its food safety and quality program are being followed.

Multiple failures are believed to have contributed to the contamination of Peter Pan and Great Value branded peanut butter. An older peanut roaster was not sufficiently heating raw peanuts, a sugar silo was storm-damaged, and birds and bees were taking advantage of a leaky roof.

ConAgra Grocery Products Co., a unit of ConAgra Foods, has annual sales of $ 15.8 billion and 20,000 employees. Long based in Omaha, NE, ConAgra Foods is relocating to Chicago this summer.

Peanut butter from different manufacturers became poisoned three times between 2006 and 2012.

  • The outbreak involving Peter Pan and Great Value, both made in the Sylvester, GA, plant, was first in 2006-07.
  • Two years later, peanut butter and peanut paste made by the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America at nearby Blakely, GA, was blamed for the Salmonella serotype Typhimurium outbreak that sickened 714 people in 46 states. Nine people died. A 76-count federal criminal indictment led to convictions of five former executives involved with PCA. They are now serving prison sentences that total 62 years for the group.
  • In 2012, Sunland Inc. in Portales, NM, was blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney involving 42 people in 20 states. FDA suspended Sunland’s food facility registration before the plant was sold. No criminal charges were filed.

The now-closed Portales peanut processing plant was purchased out of the Sunland bankruptcy for $ 26 million in March of 2014 and then resold to Ready Roast a year later. Ready Roast has three plants in California, where the company is based. The Portales facility reopened as the Ready Roast Nut Company’s fourth plant in September 2015, returning as many as 200 jobs to the small New Mexico community.

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Food Safety News

Canadian market to reopen for Italian table grapes

Italy’s Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy (Mipaaf) has announced a deal has successfully been completed to regain access to the Canadian table grape market, which was blocked in 2010.

In a release, Mipaaf said the agreement follows the successful outcome of evaluations from Canadian phytosanitary experts who visited the country in October last year.

The inspectors visited fields in the southern Italian regions of Basilicata, Puglia and Sicily.

In summary, the ministry said producers and exporters interested in shipping to Canada would undertake the necessary steps.

“This is a major achievement for the whole Italian table grape sector, and is the fruit of the work of the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policy in close cooperation with producer associations and regional institutions,” Mipaaf said.


Giant recalls Own Brands 3 bean salad because of Listeria

My Giant Food Stores logoGiant Food Stores Inc. is recalling store branded 3 bean salad because an unnamed ingredient from an unnamed supplier may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The salad may have been sold in bulk or in 1-pound prepackaged containers from service deli cases and/or from “Grab 7 Go” deli cases in Giants and Martin’s stores, according to the recall notice on the Giant website.

The recall notice on the Giant website does not include product photos or details about distribution. The retailer is offering consumers full refunds when they return the recalled salad to stores.

Identifying information for the recalled “Own Brands 3 Bean Salad” includes:

  • OB 3 Bean Salad BULK – 1 LB; UPC 23700600000; Codes: ALL CODE DATES
  • OB 3 Bean Salad PREPACK – 1 LB; UPC 23657100000;  Codes: ALL CODE DATES

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Food Safety News

Lead contamination spurs recall of water bottles from L.L. Bean

Thousands of insulated water bottles designed for children and sold by L.L. Bean are under recall for lead content because the Chinese manufacturer used the wrong kind of solder material.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

About 6,700 of the recalled bottles were sold online, at retail stores and through the L.L. Bean catalog from July 2015 through May of this year, according to the recall notice on the Consumer Products Safety Commission website.

“The lead solder at the exterior base of the bottle contains high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues,” the July 21 notice states.

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and contact L.L.Bean for a full refund.”

When sold, the recalled 13.5-ouncerecalled L.L. Bean kids water bottle insulated water bottles carried label stickers with the item identification number 297684 on the bottom of each bottle. The stickers also had the codes “PO#844” and “BB2D2-LLB-R45-0413.”

The bottles were available in five printed graphic patterns:

  • Dino Bones;
  • Flower Power;
  • Orange Grid camo;
  • Purple Tie Dye Butterfly, and
  • Robo Shark.

“Routine testing by the manufacturer resulted in a positive reading for the presence of lead on the outside bottom of the bottle where the outer vacuum layer is sealed,” according to a statement on the L.L. Bean website.

“It was determined that some of the water bottles provided to L.L. Bean were erroneously sealed on the bottom with a solder bead containing lead instead of the lead-free solder bead originally specified. This could potentially expose the user of the bottle to the lead seal on the outside bottom of the water bottle. For your child’s safety, immediately stop using the water bottle and return the bottle to L.L. Bean,” the company stated.

GSI Outdoors Inc. of Spokane, WA, imported and distributed the Chinese water bottles, according to the recall notice.

Federal officials warn that even very low levels of lead can harm children.

“Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Food Safety News

Two E. coli cases linked to livestock close Washington school

Two young Washington state girls are hospitalized with complications from E. coli infection and their school has been temporarily closed for cleaning. One of the girls has reportedly developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious kidney condition linked to E. coli infection.

Health officials said the source of their exposure to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria was probably not food but contact with animals.

Contact with livestock can be a source of E. coli infection. (Photo illustration)

“The exact source of contamination in E. coli can be very difficult to identify, but at this point we believe the children were likely exposed to livestock near their home,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer and director of the Snohomish Health District.

A health district Facebook posting indicated that, “… based on our Communicable Disease team’s initial investigation and interviews with family, we do not believe this was caused by a food source.”

The Monroe Montessori School in Monroe, WA, was temporarily closed on Wednesday, and nobody answered the phone there on Thursday. Approximately 60 students and staff members were said to have potentially been exposed to the bacteria and were being tested for the infection.

A health district statement issued Wednesday noted that the school “has temporarily closed for disinfecting as a precaution,” and that the school, the district, the Washington State Department of Health and the Washington State Department of Early Learning were coordinating on the E. coli testing.

Contact with livestock in a rural area, a farm, or a petting zoo are common sources of E. coli bacteria. An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infection last year in Washington state was traced to a fairgrounds dairy barn in Lynden, WA. That outbreak sickened 25 people, mostly young children, and hospitalized 10 of them.

Symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is less than 101 degrees F. Most people get better within five to seven days as infections can be mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening.

Young children and the elderly are more likely to experience serious illness. People with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are also at risk for serious illness.

Between 5 and 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develop the potentially life-threatening complication of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people who develop HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.

Handwashing is the most effective way to reduce chances of getting sick. Adults should supervise young children to make sure they don’t put their hands in their mouths and make sure that their hands are washed thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom.

The spread of illnesses from animals, such as those caused by E. coli, are commonly linked to hand-to-mouth contact. It is also important to avoid swallowing water when swimming and playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

More information about STEC and other types of E. coli can be found here.

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Machinery hiccup hits Colombian pitahaya exports to Korea, Japan

Despite a free trade agreement (FTA) coming into effect between Colombia and South Korea, a machinery deconfiguration has put dragon fruit exports to the country and Japan on hold along with U.S. negotiations. Grower group Asoppitaya is seeking investments to rehabilitate its vapor heat treatment (VHT) equipment to get back on track with these prospective markets. 

pitahaya zoom

When visited Asoppitaya’s packing plant in Pereira in August last year, the group’s general manager Sandra Garcia was excited for an upcoming inaugural shipment to South Korea.

But it did not come to pass.

“Last year we managed to have everything ready to export to Korea, but unfortunately we had an electrical failure and the machine was deconfigured,” she says.

The VHT machinery is supposed to keep the fruit, also known as pitahaya, at 46°C (115°F) for approximately three hours to meet the East Asian country’s specifications.

The treatment is also required for exports to Japan, and forms a vital part of negotiations for U.S. access.

“We didn’t manage to configure it because it has to be done by a Japanese technician, so our attempt failed.

“It cost us a lot of money but we’re still going to try again and we’re looking for foreign investment to bring a Japanese technician.

“It’s a large investment that has to be made in repairs, we’re talking about US$ 50,000 and as small growers for us that’s a lot of money.”

Garcia says discussions are underway with a South Korean company to provide the capital necessary to get the machine back on track, but she is open to further support.

She hopes the funding can be secured for repairs by the end of this year, getting the machine operational for the 2017 season.

In the 2015-16 deal, Asoppitaya exported 28 metric tons (MT) of pitahayas worldwide, to markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Brazil, Canada.

When asked about the FTA with South Korea, Garcia says tariffs will be gradually reduced to zero over the next five years, and she will also try to use the agreement to improve some aspects of the export protocol.

“Specifically for pitahaya, the phytosanitary rules are not negotiated as it’s a sovereign right of every country. But what can be negotiated in line with the FTA would be the reduction of some costs to be able to comply with the rules,” she says.

“In this case it’d be about organizing the feesof the inspector which are very high, between transport, food, overseas calls. It cost us almost 30 million pesos (US$ 10,230).

“An important message is that as small growers and business, we want to know the opportunities of every agreement very well. A lot of the time growers don’t make the most of these agreements because they’re not known in the productive sector.”

What else could benefit from the Colombia-South Korea FTA?

In a search of Korea International Trade Organization (KITO) statistics, bananas appeared as the main fruit crop Colombia has shipped to the country in the past.

However, the last registered exports were in 2013 when 164MT were shipped, down from 360MT in 2011 and a much higher figure of 908MT almost two decades prior in 1993.




Chile expects to double China-bound avocado exports

The Chilean Hass avocado industry is looking to build on last season’s exports of around 90,000 metric tons (MT), particularly in China where volumes are still small but are growing very quickly.

Chilean Hass Avocado Committee managing director Juan Enrique Lazo told the industry only shipped one container when the market was opened for the 2014 season, but shipments have increased significantly since then.

“Last year we reached 5,300 [metric] tons, and this season we expect to at least double that,” Lazo said.

He said the sector would be undertaking much larger promotion campaigns in China to keep up with the extra volume.

“We will hit points of sales, we’ll do cooking activities, and we’ll have a presence on social media,” Lazo said, adding the promotions would take place during the Northern Hemisphere fall through to November.

He said the first harvests were expected in the first week of August, and it was possible that would also coincide with the first shipments to China.

From a production perspective, Lazo said while Chile had been experiencing a cold winter, there had not yet been reports of frost damages from orchards.

“We haven’t had any serious frosts, but the cold always has an effect, for example in delays for starting harvests – sizing takes a bit more time, and the metabolism is slowed during these months,” he said.

Last season Chile produced 180,000 metric tons (MT), and Lazo expected this figure to rise to 200,000MT in 2016-17, provided no unexpected weather events occur.


More than 600 sick in 45 states because of poultry pets

Salmonella traced to backyard flocks and pet chicks and ducklings continues to claim victims, with public health officials now tracking eight outbreaks across 45 states.

chick-nuzzler-406Since the outbreaks were reported on June 2, there have been 287 confirmed cases added, bringing the total to 611 people sickened, according to an update this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At least 138 outbreak victims had to be hospitalized, according to information available on 496 of the outbreak victims. The illnesses began Jan. 4 and are ongoing. People who became ill after June 16 may not yet be reflected in the outbreak statistics because of the lag time between onset of symptoms and data being reported to federal officials.

“These outbreaks are expected to continue for the next several months since flock owners might be unaware of the risk of Salmonella infection from live poultry or participate in risky behaviors that can result in infection,” according to the CDC.

In interviews, 434 of 493 ill people told health officials they had been in contact with live poultry, including chicks, chickens, ducks and ducklings, during the week before they became sick.

Victims reported buying live baby poultry from several suppliers, including feed supply stores, Internet sites, hatcheries and friends in multiple states. Some of the places ill people reported contact with live poultry include their home, someone else’s home, work or school settings.

“Epidemiologic, traceback and laboratory findings have linked the eight outbreaks to contact with live poultry such as chicks and ducklings sourced from multiple hatcheries,” CDC reported.

“Regardless of where they were purchased, all live poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria, even if they look healthy and clean.”

To help prevent the spread of Salmonella bacteria, the CDC advises consumers to:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where the birds live and roam;
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house; and
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision.

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Food Safety News

China finds first case of “kiwifruit rot” in NZ shipment

The Tianjin Entry-Exit Inspection Bureau has announced the interception of two lots of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit, citing the existence of “kiwifruit rot bacteria”.

In a release dated July 18, the bureau said it was the first ever interception of this nature in Tianjin and the country.

The authority claimed the fungal disease Botrytis phariadothide was found in batches of green and gold kiwifruit.

The bureau said while domestic market demand had prompted substantial kiwifruit import growth in recent years, if the pathogen recently found in these shipments were to enter domestic production areas it would cause “incalculable damage”.

The release said it could also be present in apples, persimmons and red eucalyptus trees.


Baldor Forager to launch at new Whole Foods Market store

Baldor Specialty Foods and Whole Foods Market announced a collaboration that will make the company’s selection of unique culinary items available to home cooks for the first time through an in-store, digital kiosk called The Baldor Forager, which will launch exclusively on July 26 in coordination with the grand opening of Whole Food Market Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY.whofele

When The Baldor Forager launches, it will satisfy the growing demand for wild mushrooms, heirloom produce and other items that were once the secret of the metro area’s top chefs. The Baldor Forager’s digital interface will encourage exploration, discovery and a retail experience focused on customization. Shoppers will be able to place their orders conveniently at The Baldor Forager kiosk and return for in-store pick-up in a day or two on average.

The Baldor Forager is tailor-made for an era when retailers must compete for the business of an increasingly sophisticated customer. Despite surging interest, specialty ingredients are rarely available through brick-and-mortar retailers. The inaccessibility of these items is reflected in search results, where two of the terms most commonly associated with a wide array of specialty ingredients are “where to buy” and “substitute.”

Baldor will curate items based on uniqueness, seasonality and popularity with celebrated restaurants like Estela and Daniel. At launch, offerings will include fresh, water-grown wasabi root, white strawberries and an unusual variety of lavender-hued mushroom from France called a Bluefoot.

“High-quality, specialty produce has always been the core of our business,” TJ Murphy, Baldor chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We’re really passionate about the items available through The Baldor Forager and can’t wait to share them with a new audience.”

“At Whole Foods Markets, we’re all about constantly improving the customer experience,” Tony Rajaram, Whole Foods Northeast produce coordinator, said in the release. “We know our customers want to try new, special and exotic ingredients; however, it has been a challenge for us to stock fresh, unique produce items that are very fragile and have a short shelf-life. Now, our customers have the ability to order these items and have it delivered to the store, retaining the integrity of the product. The Forager is going to let us accomplish this simply and efficiently through our in-store kiosk.”

The new Whole Foods store will also feature Gotham Greens Ugly Greens, greens and herbs that are slightly imperfect on the outside and perfectly delicious on the inside. To help further reduce food waste, the store will be introducing an Imperfect Produce program, offering customers the opportunity to purchase select cosmetically challenged produce at a lower price.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Kroger announces retirement of Bill Breetz, names three new division presidents

The Kroger Co. announced the retirement of Houston division President Bill Breetz and the promotion of Marlene Stewart to succeed him. Stewart currently serves as president of the company’s Dillons division.

Colleen Juergensen, who currently serves as vice president of merchandising of the Smith’s division, will succeed Stewart as president of Dillons.krolog

Kroger also announced the promotion of Pam Matthews to serve as president of the company’s QFC division. Matthews currently serves as vice president of operations for Kroger’s Delta division. She succeeds Dennis Gibson, who was recently named president of the King Soopers/City Market division.

“Kroger has an exceptionally strong team of leaders who are fueling our growth and improving our connection with customers,” Rodney McMullen, Kroger’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Marlene, Colleen and Pam bring unmatched depth and experience to their new roles. They will help Kroger continue to make a difference for our customers, associates, and communities — and by doing so create value for our shareholders.”

“Bill’s extraordinary career demonstrates a passion for people and a passion for results. He leads by caring deeply about associates and developing future leaders,” said McMullen. “Bill’s leadership has contributed to Kroger’s success and growth. The entire Kroger family thanks Bill for his many contributions over the years and wishes he and his family all the best in retirement.”

Breetz began his Kroger career in 1972 as a bagger in Louisville, KY. After earning a degree at the University of Louisville in 1977, he joined the management training program and was named a co-manager in Cincinnati. He served in several leadership positions through the years, including store and district management and vice president of merchandising for the company’s Cincinnati/Dayton division. In 2000, Breetz was promoted to executive vice president of Kroger’s Southwest division with responsibility for operations in Dallas. In 2001, he assumed responsibility for operations in Houston as well. He was named president of the Southwest division in 2002, and president of the Houston division in 2015.

Breetz has been active in a variety of community organizations throughout his career, most recently supporting the Houston Food Bank, the Greater Houston Partnership, the Boy Scouts of America, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and other local charities. Breetz and his wife, Jo Ann, have three children and three grandchildren.

Stewart started her career with Kroger in 1977 as a bagger in the company’s Cincinnati division, where she worked full-time while attending the University of Cincinnati. She went on to serve in many leadership roles in Cincinnati, including store and district management, training and merchandising. In 2005, Stewart was named director of operations for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division before being named vice president of operations in 2007. She was named vice president of merchandising in the company’s QFC division in 2011. She was named to her current role in 2015.

Juergensen began her Kroger career with the Dillons division in 1981. She served in various leadership roles of increasing responsibility including store manager, zone manager and director of advertising. In 2008, she was promoted to Dillons vice president of operations. She was named vice president of operations of Smith’s in 2012, and to her current role in 2015.

Matthews began her career with the company’s Fred Meyer division, based in Portland, OR, in 1980. Throughout her 25-year career with Fred Meyer, she held a variety of leadership roles in store management, corporate brand development and merchandising. Matthews also served as director of deli/bakery merchandising and director of floral merchandising and procurement at Kroger’s general offices in Cincinnati before being promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Central division in 2006. She was named vice president of merchandising for the Delta Division in 2014 and to her current role in 2015.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Murano strawberries gain traction in Benelux

CIV Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti is seeing increased interest in its patented strawberry variety Murano in the Netherlands and Belgium, expanding from its success with retailer Sainsbury’s in the U.K.

In a release, the company said the variety was gaining support from supply chain operators in the two countries with extremely attractive price quotations compared to other varieties.

Murano strawberries

Murano strawberries

CIV added consumers were attracted to the fruit for its optimal combination of taste and color.

The group emphasized the performance of its patented varieties had once again been confirmed both from production and commercial points of view.

The group made mention of Clery as the leading strawberry variety in the early segment in Belgium, France and Germany; the variety Joly which is very popular in the Belgian direct sales segment; and Murano and Capri as the most popular everbearers in Northern Europe.

Additionally, the new Flavia and Flaminia varieties are outperforming in Southern Europe and France, as strawberries suitable for production in temperate Mediterranean climates.

CIV said the varieties’ versatility was based on a common thread of technology, with quality characterized by:

  • Natural rusticity and vigour of the plants;
  • Good adaptability to both integrated production and organic cultivation, as well as, obviously, high-yield conventional cultivation;
  • Low environmental impact production thanks to their tolerance to disease and low water and feed requirements; And,
  • Top quality fruit with a distinctive flavour and optimal consistency and shelf-life characteristics.

“The CIV’s primary objective is increasingly to target our Research & Development activity towards the varietal development of environmentally sustainable strawberries of the highest quality, to satisfy every player in the supply chain, from the producer to the end user at an international level,” said CIV president Pier Filippo Tagliani.

Bar S recalls chicken and pork products including franks and corn dogs

The Altus, OK-based Bar-S Foods Company, late Tuesday recalled approximately 372,684 pounds of chicken and pork hot dog and corn dog products that may be adulterated with Listeria monocytogenes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The ready-to-eat, chicken and pork hot dog and corn dog items were produced on July 10, 11, 12, and 13, 2016. The following products are subject to recall:

  • BarSfranklabel_406x25016-oz/1-lb. packages of “BAR-S Classic BUN LENGTH Franks MADE WITH CHICKEN, PORK ADDED” with “Use By” date of 10/11/2016 and case code 209.
  • 12-oz. packages of “BAR-S CLASSIC Franks MADE WITH CHICKEN, PORK ADDED” with package code 6338, “Use By” date of 10/10/2016 and case code 6405.
  • 24-oz./1.5-lb. cartons of “SIGNATURE Pick 5 CORNDOGS – 8 Honey Batter Dipped Franks On A Stick” with a “Use By” date of 4/6/2017 and case code 6071.
  • 42.72-oz./2.67-lb. cartons of “BAR-S CLASSIC CORN DOGS – 16 Honey Batter Dipped Franks On A Stick” with “Use By” dates of 4/7/2017 and 4/8/2017 and case code 6396.
  • 48-oz./3-lb. cartons of “BAR-S CLASSIC CORN DOGS – 16 Honey Batter Dipped Franks On A Stick” with package code 14054, “Use By” dates of 4/6/2017 and 4/9/2017, and case code 14038.

The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. P-81A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations nationwide.

Bar-S Foods notified FSIS’ Dallas District Office earlier on July 19, 2016, of its intention to recall five chicken and pork hot dog and corn dog products that could potentially be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The company has not received test results for Listeria monocytogenes in connection with the recalled products, but due to recurring Listeria species issues at the firm, it has decided to remove the products from commerce as a precautionary measure. There have been no confirmed reports of illnesses or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

Consumption of food contaminated with L. monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that primarily affects older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women and their newborns. Less commonly, persons outside these risk groups are affected.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. Persons in the higher-risk categories who experience flu-like symptoms within two months after eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

FSIS and Bar S are concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.


Food Safety News

State of the Market – Week 28, 2016

Northern Hemisphere market report for Week 28 (ending July 15)

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Feel free to click one of the links below for more weekly reports on the international fruit market:

Weekly Stonefruit Market Reports

Weekly Cherry Market Reports

Weekly Table grape Market Reports

Weekly Blueberry Market Reports

Weekly Avocado Market Reports

Decofrut/edited by is not responsible for the information provided by State of the Market. The contents only reflect analysis carried out by Decofrut.

U.K.: Tesco to stock world’s hottest chilli pepper

A cursory YouTube search for the Carolina Reaper chilli pepper is a curious exercise in Schadenfreude, which is a German word defined as “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune”.

However, the demand for extremely hot peppers is clearly there with last year’s launch of the Komodo Dragon pepper at Tesco proving a hit with shoppers.

Now the retailer has upped the ante with the Carolina Reaper going on sale today.

In a release, Tesco highlighted the pepper was the hottest in the world according to the Guinness Book Of Records, measuring an average 1.5 million Scoville units, but another independent test recorded last year registered a Carolina Reaper grown in Bedfordshare as reaching a mouth-numbing 2.2 million Scovilles.

To give some idea of the phenomenal heat – it is about more than 400 times hotter than a jalapeno, the chilli pepper commonly used on spicy take away or supermarket made pizzas.

Carolina reaper - Tesco

“The Carolina Reaper is absolute meltdown material – it’s one for absolute hot food connoisseurs,” said Tesco chilli pepper buyer Phoebe Burgess.

Tesco said the pepper still had a wonderful fruity taste despite it being astonishingly hot, suggesting only a sliver is needed to add exciting flavor to a curry.

“Last year the Komodo Dragon became our most popular chilli pepper ever and since then we’ve been inundated with requests from customers to see if we could go one better and thanks to the fantastic growing skills of our chilli producer we’ve done that,” Burgess said.

The Carolina Reaper is being grown by the UK’s largest producer of chilli peppers, Salvatore Genovese whose seven acre farm is based in Blunham, Bedfordshire.

Genovese only started growing chilli peppers 15 years ago after he took over his parents’ cucumber business.

Since then chilli peppers have become so popular that he now grows about one million, or 15 metric tons (MT), each week just to satisfy U.K. demand.

“Chilli pepper culture has become very popular in the UK over the last five years and on the back of the acclaim I’ve received from supplying Tesco I now get requests from all over the world,” Genovese said.

“The fantastic success of the Komodo Dragon proved that Brits are among the world’s greatest lovers of chilli peppers.

“But I wonder if the Carolina Reaper will test British palates just a touch too much?”

Tesco has become well-known for its top of the heat range chilli peppers and over the last few years has stocked the Trinidad Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia and Bedfordshire Super Naga.

The trend runs in parallel to similar demand seen across the Atlantic Ocean in the United States, where consumers are also jostling to test their palates with the world’s spiciest peppers.

Tesco pepper chart

Seven brands of black beans recalled because of ink pen

Faribault Foods Inc. is recalling 15-ounce cans of black beans after a consumer found part of an ink pen in a can.

Seven brands are included, but only one production code is implicated in the recall of no-salt-added black beans, according to a recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

The code on the recalled cans is “Best By 04 APR 2019 258F2 095 16 XXXX” and can be found on the bottom of the 15-ounce cans.

These are two of seven brands of 15-ounce cans of no-salt-added black beans that have been recalled.

These are two of seven brands of 15-ounce cans of no-salt-added black beans that have been recalled.

Brands included in the recall are:

  • Hyvee No-Salt-Added Black Beans
  • La Preferida Low Sodium Black Beans (Frijoles Negros Bajo En Sodio)
  • Our Family No-Salt-Added Black Beans
  • Sprouts No-Salt-Added Black Beans
  • Mrs. Grimes No-Salt-Added Black Beans
  • Kuner’s No-Salt-Added Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
  • HEB Black No-Salt-Added Beans (Frijol Negro Sin Sal)

No other production codes, sizes or brands of Faribault Foods Inc. products are affected by this recall.

“This has been determined to be an isolated incident,” according to the recall notice. “We are recalling these products because they may contain small pieces of plastic and/or metal that may cause injury. Although our investigation is ongoing, we believe the source of the plastic and/or metal was an ink pen that entered the product stream.

“Consumers who may have purchased the products listed above should not consume them but should instead return them to the store where purchased for a refund or replacement.”

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