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Insights into plant growth could curb need for fertilizers

New insights into how plants regulate their absorption of an essential nutrient could help avoid pollution caused by excess use of fertilizer.

The findings could lead to the development of crop varieties that need less of the primary nutrient — nitrogen — than conventional crops. It could also inform how much nitrogen should be added to plant feed.

This would allow optimum plant growth without producing excess nitrogen in run-off from fields, which is a major source of water pollution.

Agricultural fertilizers typically contain high levels of nitrogen that boost plant growth and yield even on poor soils. This helps plants avoid the typical characteristics of nitrogen deficiency — stunted growth and pale or yellow leaves.

The study, by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Campinas in Brazil, examined how nitrogen is absorbed and converted into cellular building blocks in plants.

They found that when nitrogen is absorbed, plant cells produce nitric oxide, which acts as a signalling molecule. This nitric oxide fine-tunes how much nitrogen is used for growth, by signalling to the plant’s cells when to limit its uptake.

The scientists say that because nitric oxide plays important roles in shaping the development of plants, and how plants respond to environmental stress, these insights highlight key considerations of how nitrogen-based fertilisers should be used in agriculture.

Their study, published in Nature Communications, was funded by the Royal Society and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Steven Spoel of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “Understanding nitrogen absorption better will ultimately allow us to breed crop varieties that need less fertiliser, and therefore are better for the environment.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Plant insights could help develop crops for changing climates

Crops that thrive in changing climates could be developed more easily, thanks to fresh insights into plant growth.

A new computer model that shows how plants grow under varying conditions could help scientists develop varieties likely to grow well in future.

Scientists built the model to investigate how variations in light, day length, temperature and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influence the biological pathways that control growth and flowering in plants.

They found differences in the way some plant varieties distribute nutrients under varying conditions, leading some to develop leaves and fruit that are smaller but more abundant than others. Their findings could help scientists develop crops that have high yield in particular environmental conditions.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh validated their results in lab tests by measuring the leaves of tiny cress plants. They say their findings give valuable insights into how plants adapt to ensure survival in less favourable conditions.

Their study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was funded by the Darwin Trust, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the European Commission. It was carried out in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Germany, Aberystwyth University, Cirad-Amis in France and commercial partner Simulistics of Edinburgh.

Professor Andrew Millar of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Biological Sciences, who led the study, said: “The more we understand the underlying reasons governing plant growth in different varieties, the better equipped we will be to breed crop varieties with stable, high yields in the future.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Edinburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Tooth plaque provides unique insights into our prehistoric ancestors’ diet

An international team of researchers has found new evidence that our prehistoric ancestors had a detailed understanding of plants long before the development of agriculture.

By extracting chemical compounds and microfossils from dental calculus (calcified dental plaque) from ancient teeth, the researchers were able to provide an entirely new perspective on our ancestors’ diets. Their research suggests that purple nut sedge (Cyperus rotundus) — today regarded as a nuisance weed — formed an important part of the prehistoric diet.

Crucially, the research, published in PLOS ONE and led by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the University of York, suggests that prehistoric people living in Central Sudan may have understood both the nutritional and medicinal qualities of this and other plants.

The research was carried out at Al Khiday, a pre-historic site on the White Nile in Central Sudan. It demonstrates that for at least 7,000 years, beginning before the development of agriculture and continuing after agricultural plants were also available the people of Al Khiday ate the plant purple nut sedge. The plant is a good source of carbohydrates and has many useful medicinal and aromatic qualities.

Lead author Karen Hardy, a Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Studies (ICREA) Research Professor at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and an Honorary Research Associate at the University of York, said: “Purple nut sedge is today considered to be a scourge in tropical and sub-tropical regions and has been called the world’s most expensive weed due to the difficulties and high costs of eradication from agricultural areas. By extracting material from samples of ancient dental calculus we have found that rather than being a nuisance in the past, its value as a food, and possibly its abundant medicinal qualities were known. More recently, it was also used by the ancient Egyptians as perfume and as medicine.

“We also discovered that these people ate several other plants and we found traces of smoke, evidence for cooking, and for chewing plant fibres to prepare raw materials. These small biographical details add to the growing evidence that prehistoric people had a detailed understanding of plants long before the development of agriculture.”

Al Khiday is a complex of five archaeological sites which lie 25km south of Omdurman; one of the sites is predominantly a burial ground of pre-Mesolithic, Neolithic and Later Meroitic age. As a multi-period cemetery, it gave the researchers a useful long-term perspective on the material recovered.

The researchers found ingestion of the purple nut sedge in both pre-agricultural and agricultural periods. They suggest that the plant’s ability to inhibit Streptococcus mutans, a bacterium which contributes to tooth decay, may have contributed to the unexpectedly low level of cavaties found in the agricultural population.

Dr Stephen Buckley, a Research Fellow at the University of York’s BioArCh research facility, conducted the chemical analyses. He said: “The evidence for purple nut sedge was very clear in samples from all the time periods we looked at. This plant was evidently important to the people of Al Khiday, even after agricultural plants had been introduced.”

Dr Donatella Usai, from the Instituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente in Rome led the excavation and Dr Tina Jakob from Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, performed the analysis of the human remains at Al Khiday. Anita Radini, an Archaeobotanist at the University of Leicester Archaeological Service (ULAS) and a PhD candidate at BioArCh, University of York, contributed to the analysis of microfossils found in the dental calculus samples.

Dr Usai said: “Al Khiday is a unique site in the Nile valley, where a large population lived for many thousands of years. This study demonstrates that they made good use of the locally available wild plant as food, as raw materials, and possibly even as medicine.”

Dr Hardy added: “The development of studies on chemical compounds and microfossils extracted from dental calculus will help to counterbalance the dominant focus on meat and protein that has been a feature of pre-agricultural dietary interpretation, up until now. The new access to plants ingested, which is provided by dental calculus analysis, will increase, if not revolutionise, the perception of ecological knowledge and use of plants among earlier prehistoric and pre-agrarian populations.”

Fieldwork was funded by the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, Centro Studi Sudanesi e Sub-Sahariani, and the Universities of Milano, Padova and Parma. The research was endorsed by the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (NCAM) of Sudan.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Discovery provides insights on how plants respond to elevated carbon dioxide levels

Biologists at UC San Diego have solved a long-standing mystery concerning the way plants reduce the numbers of their breathing pores in response to rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

In a paper published in this week’s early online edition of Nature, they report the discovery of a new genetic pathway in plants, made up of four genes from three different gene families that control the density of breathing pores—or “stomata”—in plant leaves in response to elevated CO2 levels.

Their discovery should help biologists better understand how the steadily increasing levels of CO2 in our atmosphere (which last spring, for the first time in recorded history, remained above 400 parts per million) are affecting the ability of plants and economically important crops to deal with heat stress and drought. It could also provide agricultural scientists with new tools to engineer plants and crops that can deal with droughts and high temperatures like those now affecting the Southwestern United States.

“For each carbon dioxide molecule that is incorporated into plants through photosynthesis, plants lose about 200 hundred molecules of water through their stomata,” explains Julian Schroeder, a professor of biology who headed the research effort. “Because elevated CO2 reduces the density of stomatal pores in leaves, this is, at first sight beneficial for plants as they would lose less water. However, the reduction in the numbers of stomatal pores decreases the ability of plants to cool their leaves during a heat wave via water evaporation. Less evaporation adds to heat stress in plants, which ultimately affects crop yield.”

Schroeder is also co-director of a new research entity at UC San Diego called “Food and Fuel for the 21st Century,” which is designed to apply basic research on plants to sustainable food and biofuel production.

“Our research is aimed at understanding the fundamental mechanisms and genes by which CO2 represses stomatal pore development,” says Schroeder. Working in a tiny mustard plant called Arabidopsis, which is used as a genetic model and shares many of the same genes as other plants and crops, he and his team of biologists discovered that the proteins encoded by the four genes they discovered repress the development of stomata at elevated CO2 levels.

Using a combination of systems biology and bioinformatic techniques, the scientists cleverly isolated proteins, which, when mutated, abolished the plant’s ability to respond to CO2 stress. Cawas Engineer, a postdoctoral scientist in Schroeder’s lab and the first author of the study, found that when plants sense atmospheric CO2 levels rising, they increase their expression of a key peptide hormone called Epidermal Patterning Factor-2, EPF2.

“The EPF2 peptide acts like a morphogen which alters stem cell character in the epidermis of growing leaves and blocks the formation of stomata at elevated CO2,” explains Engineer.

Because other proteins known as proteases are needed to activate the EPF2 peptide, the scientists also used a “proteomics” approach to identify a new protein that they called CRSP (CO2 Response Secreted Protease) which, they determined, is crucial for activating the EPF2 peptide.

“We identified CRSP, a secreted protein, which is responsive to atmospheric CO2 levels,” says Engineer. “CRSP plays a pivotal role in allowing the plant to produce the right amount of stomata in response to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. You can imagine that such a ‘sensing and response’ mechanism involving CRSP and EPF2 could be used to engineer crop varieties which are better able to perform in the current and future high CO2 global climate where fresh water availability for agriculture is dwindling.”

The discoveries of these proteins and genes have the potential to address a wide range of critical agricultural problems in the future, including the limited availability of water for crops, the need to increase water use efficiency in lawns as well as crops and concerns among farmers about the impact heat stress will have in their crops as global temperatures and CO2 levels continue to rise.

“At a time where the pressing issues of climate change and inherent agronomic consequences which are mediated by the continuing atmospheric CO2 rise are palpable, these advances could become of interest to crop biologists and climate change modelers,” says Engineer.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – San Diego. The original article was written by Kim McDonald. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Plan Offers Insights Into What Worries FDA’s Science Unit

What worries the deep thinkers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), the agency’s science-based regulatory unit, is pretty well spelled out in the Center’s new Science and Research (CSR) Strategic Plan.

Among these concerns are keeping imported foods safe as that sector doubled during the last decade and continues to grow very rapidly. “In 2011, 80 percent of seafood and 50 percent of fresh fruit consumed in the United States was imported—and consumer demand continues to rise for vegetables, coffee, tea, and cocoa from aboard,” the CFSAN planners wrote.

In addition, the CSR Strategic Plan points to a need for change in sterilizing and disinfecting food to accommodate consumer preferences for more fresh and minimally processed foods.

“New technologies, such as the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics and food packaging, require whole new regimens for assessing safety,” the planners wrote. “Further, ever-increasing consumer interest in dietary supplements poses special challenges for ensuring the safety of marketed products and their supply chain.

“Finally, unexpected contamination of food and cosmetics, whether by familiar agents or previously unrecognized ones, will continue to occur despite a new emphasis on preventing problems before they occur.”

In its forward planning, CFSAN will rest some of its actions on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which calls for updating the nation’s food safety system with hazard prevention controls for both domestic and imported foods.

“The goal of FSMA is to introduce safety standards and practices aimed at preventing contamination of food before it occurs, with standards grounded in the latest food-safety research and science,” according to CSR Strategic Plan. “By setting science-based preventive control standards for the way industry produces, distributes, and markets food, the government can better protect products entering the stream of commerce.”

CFSAN sees itself as a major participant in this effort to establish shared responsibility and accountability for food safety.

The CSR Strategic Plan, according to CFSAN, is “fully aligned” with FDA’s strategic priority to Implement a New Prevention-Focused Food Safety System to Protect Public Health and the goals and strategies of FDA’s new Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine (OFVM).

Five strategic goals, thought to have have the greatest impact for modernizing the nation’s food safety system and protecting public health,are included in the plan. These are:

  • Better control and preparation for hazards
  • Create faster and validated methods
  • Influence consumer behavior toward healthy dietary choices
  • Develop leading edge technology for understanding and evaluating scientific information
  • Improve our adaptability and responsiveness

Food Safety News

Five timely insights about price and service battles

Price and service battles are playing out much like trench warfare in markets across the country, according to SN data that stems from a new partnership. The results show not only which retailers are winning, but also why.

For the past three months we’ve showcased this data in print and online, based on a collaboration with Brand View, a company that markets a leading price and promotions intelligence analytics tool. The findings result from mystery shops conducted by RetailData in five markets: Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

Shoppers collect prices of 20 products in a typical weekly basket, and assess store service levels as well. The results are analyzed by Brand View and reported every two weeks by SN.

The findings illuminate how retailers go to market in these regions, and which strategies are successful. Here are some general conclusions based on the reports to date:

1. Although we’re seeing a wide range of pricing from retailers, in most markets there’s an 18% to 20% difference between the highest and lowest baskets in a market. Moreover, having the lowest basket pricing by no means guarantees an operator will have the largest number of lowest-priced items as well.

2. Winning may be everything, but it often comes down to a squeaker. Take the case of Walmart battling Target. Walmart can often claim the largest number of cheapest items because of its pricing strategy. While Target tends to price items in amounts ending in 49 cents or 99 cents, for example, Walmart often prices at 48 cents or 98 cents, according to Matthew Ferguson, SVP, Client Services, Brand View.


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In fact, of the 160 SKU comparisons Brand View provided so far between Target and Walmart, on a third of these Walmart edged out Target by just a cent, Ferguson added.

3. A strong regional operator can score big not only on service, but also price. H-E-B was a standout in our Houston three-week survey against Walmart, winning each week for most lowest-priced items, and two of three weeks for least expensive basket, which is quite a feat against the Bentonville giant. Moreover, H-E-B was a leader in the store appearance and ease of shopping categories as well, showing its strong reputation among Texas shoppers.

4. Sometimes a market can completely split between two operators on price and service. A case in point is Washington, D.C., where Walmart took the top honors in each of three weeks for least expensive basket and most lowest priced items. Meanwhile, Safeway, known for its lifestyle format, scored highest each week for both store appearance and ease of shopping.

5. In some highly competitive markets, like Chicago, retailers appear to be exchanging positions as pricing leaders each week. During three weeks of mystery shopping in the Windy City, Meijer, Target and Walmart rotated on producing the least expensive basket.

Meanwhile, you can see an in-depth feature from Jon Springer starting on SN’s main feature this week, which outlines the latest industry pricing trends. I encourage you to follow our ongoing pricing and service coverage in partnership with Brand View as we revisit these markets on a rotating basis. It will be interesting to see if the trends outlined here hold up through the year and beyond.

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New insights into ancient Pacific settlers’ diet: Diet based on foraging, not horticulture

Researchers from New Zealand’s University of Otago studying 3000-year-old skeletons from the oldest known cemetery in the Pacific Islands are casting new light on the diet and lives of the enigmatic Lapita people, the likely ancestors of Polynesians.

Their results — obtained from analysing stable isotope ratios of three elements in the bone collagen of 49 adults buried at the Teouma archaeological site on Vanuatu’s Efate Island — suggest that its early Lapita settlers ate reef fish, marine turtles, fruit bats, free-range pigs and chickens, rather than primarily relying on growing crops for human food and animal fodder.

The findings are newly published in the journal PLOS ONE. Study lead author Dr Rebecca Kinaston and colleague Associate Professor Hallie Buckley at the Department of Anatomy carried out the research in collaboration with the Vanuatu National Museum and researchers from the University of Marseilles and CNRS (UMR 7269 and UMR 7041) in France and The Australian National University, Canberra.

Dr Kinaston says the study is the most detailed analysis of Lapita diet ever undertaken and provides intriguing insights into the socio-cultural elements of their society.

“It was a unique opportunity to assess the lifeways of a colonising population on a tropical Pacific island,” she says.

The researchers analysed the isotopic ratios of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur in adult human bone collagen and compared these with ratios in ancient and modern plants and animals from the location, which provided a comprehensive dietary baseline.

“Examining these ratios gave us direct evidence of the broad make-up of these adults’ diets over the 10-20 years before they died, which helps clear up the long-running debate about how the Lapita settlers sustained themselves during the early phases of colonising each island during their eastward drive across the Pacific.”

Dr Kinaston says it appears that the new colonists, rather than relying mainly on a “transported landscape” of the crop plants and domesticated animals they brought with them, were practicing a mixed subsistence strategy.

“The dietary pattern we found suggests that in addition to eating pigs and chickens, settlers were also foraging for a variety of marine food and consuming wild animals — especially fruit bats — and that whatever horticultural food they produced was not heavily relied on,” she says.

Isotopic analysis of the ancient pig bones found at the site also suggests that they were free-ranging rather than penned and given fodder from harvested crops.

Study of the human bones revealed a sex difference in diet compositions, showing that Lapita men had more varied diets and greater access to protein from sources such as tortoises, pigs and chicken than women did.

“This may have resulted from unequal food distribution, suggesting that males may have been considered of higher status in Lapita society and treated preferentially,” Dr Kinaston says.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Otago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Bayer CropScience reveals insights into U.S. potato industry’s top needs

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop production predictions, average potato yield per acre increased during the 2013 season. In an effort to propel this upward trend into the new year, Bayer CropScience launched its Potato Perspectives Survey during Potato Expo in San Antonio Jan. 8-10, 2014.

Bayer CropScience collected insights from tradeshow attendees across the food chain to identify potato trends, opportunities and challenges as the industry prepares for the 2014 season.

Through its Potato Perspectives Survey, Bayer CropScience uncovered key issues and growth opportunities for the industry. Key findings include the following:

  • 48 percent of potato grower participants responded that early blight and white mold were the most difficult diseases to control during 2013.
  • 63 percent of potato grower participants pinpointed the reduction of yield and quality loss due to insects and disease as a critical need to ensure a successful harvest this season.
  • 37 percent of retailer participants identified solutions to enhance crop quality as a top necessity for the upcoming season.
  • 34 percent of other industry member participants cited the need for solutions to combat disease and pest-resistance issues in the field as a key need in the new year.
  • 54 percent of retailer participants cited increased price of potato production and changes in import and export patterns as the most critical concern for the upcoming season, while 33 percent and 25 percent of other industry member participants considered crop loss due to pests or disease and changes in consumptions patterns, respectfully, the most challenging issues for 2014.
  • 42 percent of grower participants, 35 percent of retailer participants and 46 percent of other industry member participants believed biotechnology may be able to expand production capabilities and crop yield for the potato market.

“Our commitment to potato innovation is driven by industry needs and demands,” Rob Schrick, Horticulture Strategic Business Lead for Bayer CropScience, said in a press release. “We continue to invest in the development of new solutions to meet the industry’s evolving needs, and insights from our Potato Perspectives Survey will aid us in providing resources to combat critical crop threats.”

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

Midwinter closes with insights on consumers, data

FMI’s 2014 Midwinter Executive Conference closed with presentations that addressed consumer behavior and Big Data.

These broadened the mix of topics addressed at the event in Scottsdale, Ariz., which also included cybersecurity, marketing, independent operator strategies, and collaboration.


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Attendees were told about new opportunities with Millennials in an address by Jason Dorsey, an author and business executive known as The Gen Y Guy. They also heard about potential challenges with using Big Data in a presentation by author and journalist Nate Silver.

The conference took a deep dive into Big Data by presenting not only the opportunities and challenges, but also the dangers of relying only on data to attract and keep shoppers.

That was underscored in an earlier presentation by Dina Howell, worldwide CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi X, who cautioned the audience to think not only about Big Data, but also “Big Emotion.”

“Data is rational,” she said. “People are not always rational. You must connect with people on the human level when you sell to them.”

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Fresh Insights: Exceptional produce departments require basic operating standards

Did you ever wonder why people shop for produce at your competitor’s store? Is their produce any better than yours? Your competition most likely has comparable product and prices. However, if they have a “great” produce department and yours is just mediocre, where do you think people will shop for their fruits and vegetables?

An exceptional produce department is one of the most decisive reasons customers choose a grocery store to do their regular shopping. Prod-Mgr-helping-a-customerA produce manager assisting a customer. A produce team must have the desire to sell and be in direct contact with customers in order to boost sales in the department.The store with the freshest and most impressive produce department will draw the most shoppers every time. In order to be the main focal point for customers, produce calls for specific operating skills in order to stay above the competition.

Here are some basic operating reminders for an exceptional produce department:

Generate sales
The produce team must have the desire to sell and be in direct contact with customers when on the sales floor. Employees should answer questions and make friendly suggestions for incremental sales.

Sales planning and layouts
Establish plans for advertised items and determine the amounts needed. Decide locations for ad item displays. Follow a regular department plan-o-gram layout. Set up a massive visual entrance display for impulse sales.

Ordering and checking deliveries
Inventory all backroom amounts before writing an actual order. Check inbound deliveries for proper weight, count, quality, condition and temperature. Move sensitive items into the storage cooler immediately and date all cartons. Segregate vegetables and fruit. Remove lids from bananas and tomatoes and cross-stack for ventilation.

Product preparation
Handle all produce with respect. Follow a regular crisping program. Use safe trimming and washing practices. Use proper tools, equipment and packaging material. Follow your company packaging and labeling guidelines. Adhere to all food-handling safety regulations and company policies.

Prevent shrink
Ensure all retails are correct. Check systems for item, code and retail accuracy. Control back-room inventory assets. Don’t stockpile. Watch load levels by avoiding over-piling product on displays. Handle all products carefully to prevent damage. Display bananas one layer only — do not stack bunches.

Workmanship
Whether it’s the backroom or the sales floor, every area should be fresh, clean, neat, organized and appealing — especially displays for customers.

Culling and rotation
Cull the entire department first thing in the morning. Use two totes when culling — one for items to be discarded and one for items to be reworked (retrimmed, repackaged, etc.). Check expiration dates on packages. Rotate displays by removing older product, filling with new and restocking the removed product on top. Use backroom product with oldest dates first.

Scheduling
Produce departments need to be ready for business early. Always consider store hours, deliveries, holidays, days off, vacation periods, time of season, weather and special promotions.

Cleaning and maintenance
Keep fixtures, equipment, tools, and floors clean and sanitized. Check refrigeration cases and cooler temperatures daily. Report equipment failures immediately.

Closing hours
Get ready for the next day by stocking hard goods, such as potatoes, onions, apples and citrus the evening before. Remove sensitive items and place in cooler. Clean and tone up the department before leaving.

Of course, these are only a few of the overall operating standards that determine a well-managed produce department. There is more to just ordering produce and placing it on a display. It takes well thought-out planning, determination, and skilled workmanship to be the best produce operator in the marketplace.

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

United Fresh unveils ‘Fresh Insights for Foodservice’ report

The United Fresh Produce Association has launched “Fresh Insights for Foodservice,” a new quarterly report showcasing the latest trends in fresh produce use in foodservice and restaurants.

“We are excited to offer the industry such an in-depth resource focused on foodservice,” said United’s Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, liaison to United’s Retail-Foodservice Board. “Our members know that foodservice trends shift quickly and this publication will be a valuable tool for them to stay on top of those trends and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The concept for this new report was initiated by United’s retail-foodservice board as a resource for United members to gain a comprehensive look at how chefs and restaurants are incorporating fresh produce on their menus. The report is developed by Datassential, a leading market research firm dedicated to the food Industry, using data from its menu database, MenuTrends.
 
The publication is organized in four core sections, including Fresh Flavors, which shows in-depth profiles of trending produce items; Menu Intelligence, featuring up-to-date information on how produce is being used in different menu items; Chain Report, which focuses on produce’s role in new menu items; and View From Above, offering a look into produce usage in a particular trend within the foodservice industry.

In this quarter’s report, Fresh Flavors highlights the market penetration and growth of rhubarb, romanesco and pickled vegetables. Menu Intelligence explores the growth of premium burgers and pie on restaurant menus. Chain Report investigates trends among top chain, including pumpkin, jalapeno and cocktails. View From Above describes the role of produce in Mediterranean fast casual cuisine.

Fresh Insights for Foodservice is free to United Fresh members and $ 50 to non-members. To order the report, visit United’s website. If you have questions, please contact Victoria Baker, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, at 202/303-3408. For questions about the data or content in this report, contact Maeve Webster, senior director of Datassential at maeve@datassential.com.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

United Fresh unveils ‘Fresh Insights for Foodservice’ report

The United Fresh Produce Association has launched “Fresh Insights for Foodservice,” a new quarterly report showcasing the latest trends in fresh produce use in foodservice and restaurants.

“We are excited to offer the industry such an in-depth resource focused on foodservice,” said United’s Vice President of Trade Relations Jeff Oberman, liaison to United’s Retail-Foodservice Board. “Our members know that foodservice trends shift quickly and this publication will be a valuable tool for them to stay on top of those trends and take advantage of new opportunities.”

The concept for this new report was initiated by United’s retail-foodservice board as a resource for United members to gain a comprehensive look at how chefs and restaurants are incorporating fresh produce on their menus. The report is developed by Datassential, a leading market research firm dedicated to the food Industry, using data from its menu database, MenuTrends.
 
The publication is organized in four core sections, including Fresh Flavors, which shows in-depth profiles of trending produce items; Menu Intelligence, featuring up-to-date information on how produce is being used in different menu items; Chain Report, which focuses on produce’s role in new menu items; and View From Above, offering a look into produce usage in a particular trend within the foodservice industry.

In this quarter’s report, Fresh Flavors highlights the market penetration and growth of rhubarb, romanesco and pickled vegetables. Menu Intelligence explores the growth of premium burgers and pie on restaurant menus. Chain Report investigates trends among top chain, including pumpkin, jalapeno and cocktails. View From Above describes the role of produce in Mediterranean fast casual cuisine.

Fresh Insights for Foodservice is free to United Fresh members and $ 50 to non-members. To order the report, visit United’s website. If you have questions, please contact Victoria Baker, United Fresh senior vice president of member services, at 202/303-3408. For questions about the data or content in this report, contact Maeve Webster, senior director of Datassential at maeve@datassential.com.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Family Dollar: Sharing Insights Key to Partnerships

CHICAGO — Sharing knowledge and objectives is to a successful retailer-manufacturer collaboration, Jocelyn Wong, chief marketing officer, Family Dollar, said in a session yesterday at the Shopper Marketing Expo.

Using a  “knowledge mapping” tactic, Family Dollar and Coca-Cola shared goals and consumers insights to determine the best ways to reach the Family Dollar shopper.

Both shared info on the lower-income customers. Family Dollar also detailed its business model to Coca-Cola. Yes, value and convenience are critical. But forming an emotional connection with consumers is just as important.

 “Our goal is giving her more for less so that she can say ‘yes’ more often,” she said.


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Indeed, sharing objectives lead to shared success, added Alison Lewis, Coca-Cola’s senior vice president, marketing.

“Collaboration has to be foundational,” she said.

Part of the collaboration focused on digital marketing. Family Dollar knew its shoppers are digitally savvy, but sought more information as to what degree.

Family Dollar and Coca-Cola conducted a joint study to analyze the touch points that would provide the greatest ability to influence and drive purchase. 

Read more: Coca-Cola Ties Pricing to Temperature

This led to a co-branded “Say Yes to Happiness” in-store promotion designed to help Family Dollar shoppers share more moments of family happiness, and position Family Dollar as a destination for Coca-Cola and national brand snacks.

Shoppers who purchased a single-serve Coke and box of Nabisco Ritz or bag of Chips Ahoy! cookies for $ 3.75 were rewarded with My Coke Rewards.

Both traditional and new media was used, including circular ads, bus shelter ads, Twitter, Facebook, blogger posts, receipt messages and texts.

Click here for more coverage of the 2013 Shopper Marketing Expo

A custom in-store display featured the participating products and the price point.

“We wanted to make it easy for the core shopper to come in grab a Coke and a snack,” Lewis said.

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