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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.

Organic Produce Summit has tremendous debut

MONTEREY, CA — The inaugural Organic Produce Summit, held here July 13-14, was a resounding success with a sold-out trade show and attendance roster, standing-room only seminars, thought-provoking featured speakers and a trade show floor buzzing with activity.

“Have you ever seen a trade show with more excitement,” asked Dave Moore of Earthbound Farms, the San Juan Bautista, CA-based company that was a pioneer in organic produce production. “It reminds me of a party in high school where everyone hangs in the kitchen.”

Moore was speaking of the crowded aisles, which did seem to have a party atmosphere, and didn’t bother anybody, especially the exhibitors like Earthbound.

Tonya Antle, another organic produce pioneer who is now a principal at Salinas, CA-based Tanimura & Antle, served as mistress of ceremonies during the two-hour keynote session that featured four diverse speakers. Antle beamed as she remembered the early days of organic produce and surveyed the packed room that gathered to hear these speakers.

After Chad Hagen, a noted organic industry devotee, made his presentation, Antle said she felt like a “proud mother” as she gave the speaker his start in the business about 25 years ago.

And after listening to Organic Trade Association Chief Executive Officer Laura Batcha wax poetic about the value of the organic shopper, Antle noted that it was great to have statistics backing up what the early pioneers seemed to know intrinsically — that buyers of organic produce buy more produce than the average shopper.

The summit, which began with a reception on Wednesday, July 13, and continued through a morning of seminars and an afternoon trade show the following day, did have a buzz as it is hard to deny that this segment of the industry is amazingly passionate about the organic sector. Antle revealed that the trade show had 75 different companies exhibiting and that there were more than 800 attendees, representing 100 buying groups and 50,000 grocery stores.

The main keynote speaker was noted author Mark Bittman, a well-known advocate of the consumption of “real food.” Bittman opened his remarks by opining that he was speaking to the “good guys.” Perhaps capturing an unannounced underlying theme of the show, Bittman focused on the “real food” nature of organic produce as its main advantage, rather than the fact that it is organic. He noted that “organic” junk food is still junk food, and is not good for you, while saying that fruits and vegetables — conventional or organic — should be the basis of every diet. He called organic produce a subset of the bigger category of real food, which he is on a mission to promote.

Batcha of the OTA touted a similar theme in her speech. An unabashed advocate for organic produce and food in general, Batcha ticked off a litany of statistics proving that the organic category is being driven by organic produce (about one-third of all organic food sales). She noted that 50 percent of organic produce buyers are millennial parents, and 51 percent of all households do purchase organic produce during a year.

“Retailers who sell more organic produce, sell more produce overall,” she said.

But she also said that the majority of organic buyers will choose an alternative produce item if the product they are shopping for is not available in an organic SKU.

While there is a small number of passionate organic produce shoppers who won’t buy conventional produce, Batcha said the vast majority (98 percent) are crossovers. The OTA’s advice to retailers is that a positive message touting organic produce is much more effective than a negative messaging denigrating conventional produce.

The show seemed to have the same vibe as the majority of exhibitors and attendees appeared to be from the mainstream produce industry, buying and selling both organic and conventional produce.

However, seminars earlier in the day were clearly devoted to specific organic produce topics. A trio of retailers discussed the best way to merchandise organic produce, while a trio of shippers talked about many of the challenges in attempting to fill the growing demand for organic produce. There is real concern about how supply can keep up with demand.

Another session was devoted to trends in organic consumption, while a final session dealt with the role organic produce plays in e-commerce retail produce sales.

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

What’s big in the organic produce sector?

While the booming $ 13 billion organic fresh produce marketplace continues to attract attention from consumers and traders alike, certain products have performed more strongly than others. Organic Produce Summit held in Monterey, California this week, Organic Trade Association (OTA) CEO Laura Batcha gave the lowdown on some key trends to watch.

The OTA had previously revealed the strong growth rates seen for organic produce in its industry survey released in May, but in Monterey Batcha drew attention to more revealing insights.

She said more than half of all households in the United States now purchase organic produce, and findings from Nielsen show today’s organic produce shopper tends to be more kid-focused than the average produce shopper.

Additionally, the vast majority of these enthusiastic organic produce buyers, at 77%, are going to their favorite grocery store or supermarket chain to buy their organic fruits and vegetables.

Within organic produce there are some very strong categories in their own right, particularly organic bananas which grew 33% year-on-year to US$ 165 million, and organic value-added veggies grew 54% to almost US$ 150 million.

She added high growth rates had also been seen in organic blackberries (+61%), organic salad greens and baby carrots (+11%) and organic Pink Lady apples (+96%).

“The organic produce market is growing and strong, and it is driving trends in produce innovation across the board,” Batcha said.

The U.S. organic industry saw its largest dollar gain ever in 2015, adding US$ 4.2 billion in sales, with organic produce sales accounting for 36% of the US$ 39.7 billion U.S. organic food market.

Almost 13 percent of all the produce sold in the United States now is organic.

“We are excited to be sharing these numbers and findings on the rapidly growing organic produce sector.

“The more we know about the market and what consumers want, the better the organic produce grower, distributor and retailer can respond to meet the needs of today’s food buyer. Understanding the organic produce consumer will drive the future growth of the sector.”

Batcha said the findings bear important insights for retailers looking to draw more shoppers to the fresh produce section, as the booming demand for organic produce will spill over into purchases of conventional produce.

“Data show that the organic shopper is an extremely health-conscious consumer who is completely dedicated to eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.

“Organic is a top choice because of the confidence in organic as the choice to avoid foods grown with toxic and persistent pesticides.

“Because of this health-driven commitment retailers should not be afraid to differentiate organic produce on their store shelves.

“Shoppers recognize the USDA Organic seal and respond to positive messaging about what organic delivers, but at the end of the day they want to fill their carts with farm fresh foods — benefiting the entire produce section of the store.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

FreshFruitPortal.com

Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Produce industry praises Senate for immigration vote, urges House to act

WASHINGTON—The agricultural industry wasted no time hailing the Senate for passing, by a 68-32 vote, an immigration reform bill on June 27, but the focus quickly shifts to the House and a July 10 meeting where the House Republican leadership will carve out next steps for immigration reform.

The “Gang of Eight” Senators spearheaded this bill, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) worked behind the scenes to forge an agreement between the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and the United Farm Workers on the agricultural provisions that producers and farm workers could live with.

For the produce industry, immigration reform has been a number one issue for years and the Senate vote was nothing short of historic.

“This bill will ease the burden on agricultural employers, create more jobs along the entire supply chain and boost the economy,” said Tom Stenzel, chief executive officer of the United Fresh Produce Association. “We appreciate the efforts of our allies in the Agriculture Workforce Coalition and United Farm Workers with whom we worked to advance provisions that will provide a legal and stable workforce for fruit and vegetable growers.”

“The hardworking farmers, farm workers and workers from every affected industry deserve a new immigration system from its elected representatives,” said Western Growers CEO and President Tom Nassif, who thanked lawmakers for their leadership in approving S. 744.

United Farm Workers said the bill “fulfills the urgent need for an earned legalization program that enables undocumented farm workers who are the backbone of the nation’s agricultural industry to swiftly obtain legal immigration satus,” as well as stablize the farm labor workforce by providing incentives for workers to continue jobs in agriculture.

All eyes turn to the House, which is scheduled for a weeklong break in their districts before returning to Capitol Hill for a much-anticipated July 10 meeting with House Republican leadership on the best ways to tackle immigration reform legislation. Chances of considering the Senate-passed bill in the House are slim.

“The Senate’s passage was remarkable in a lot of ways, but it’s just the next step in a journey,” said Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. The House needs 218 votes to pass a bill that can go into conference and work out differences on the agricultural provisions, he said.

“We need to get to conference or we won’t have any bill,” Stuart added.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh Produce ramps up bell peppers program, cabbage

Farm Fresh has 50 acres of peppers. Most of Farm Fresh’s produce is shipped to the East Coast, noted Ceccarelli, because their location in North Carolina gives them cheap freight costs when shipping to markets in the region. Ceccarelli noted that the season hasn’t been the best, but they’re busy providing for their customers.
 
“Peppers have been pretty good so far,” said Ceccarelli. “The market hasn’t been ideal, but we’re keeping our product fresh and our customers happy.”

Farm Fresh Produce is also in the thick of their cabbage program this year. Like with their peppers, Farm Fresh’s cabbage program is focused on East coast markets, which they can reach in about two days from their facilities in North Carolina.

“We’re going to do a lot of cabbage this year,” said Farm Fresh’s Steve Ceccarelli. They began harvesting Napa cabbage at the beginning of last month, and harvesting of regular green cabbage and Flathead cabbage began shortly after. The Napa variety is what Farm Fresh produces the most, with 70 acres dedicated to that kind of cabbage, while 30 acres are dedicated to the Flathead variety.

“We have an advantage from a freight standpoint,” said Ceccarelli. “It’s cheaper for us to ship to the East Coast and the Eastern part of Canada than it is for competitors who aren’t in this region.” Another big program for Farm Fresh is their line of sweet potatoes, which they also predominantly sell on the East Coast. Currently, Farm Fresh has grey, yellow and green sweet potatoes available.

For more information:
Steven A. Ceccarelli
Farm Fresh Produce
Tel: +1 910-508-8933
[email protected]
www.farm-fresh-produce.com

Publication date: 6/28/2013


FreshPlaza.com

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

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

WP Rawl donates 500 cases of fresh produce to Harvest Hope

This Christmas, WP Rawl made the holidays a little merrier for families serviced by Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, SC, through a donation of fresh produce to the local food bank.

Fresh produce is oftentimes hard to come by or absent in food banks across the country, in particular during the holidays. WP Rawl donated 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce to Harvest Hope, which included apples, oranges, regular and sweet potatoes, celery and onion mix, collards, butternut squash, cabbage, squash and zucchini.DSC 0912Over the holidays WP Rawl helped families in need with a donation of 500 mixed gift boxes of fresh produce.

“This donation of packed fruits and vegetables for our clients during the Christmas season is such a thoughtful and generous gift; these boxes will be used throughout our Emergency Food Pantries and Mobile Food Pantries,” Denise Holland, Harvest Hope Food Bank chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Having fresh fruit and vegetables is very important to our clients at this time of year and some have little to no access to it otherwise. I am so thankful for the support from WP Rawl for their help in providing delicious, fresh produce to struggling families in our community.”

The donation is one of several ways that WP Rawl assists Harvest Hope throughout the year. This summer, the local leafy greens grower and shipper hosted the Katie’s Krops Camp at their headquarters in Pelion, SC, which included a service project at the food bank. For the project, the campers built a raised bed-vegetable garden with 12 beds and various types of vegetables per bed, which is meant to serve as a sustainable source of fresh produce for Harvest Hope. WP Rawl hopes that this holiday donation will supplement the vegetables they are already growing on site. The donation was made in honor of all of WP Rawl’s customers and employees as a thank you for their support.

“As a family and as a company, it is important to us to share with our global and local communities,” Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at WP Rawl, said in the press release. “It is so satisfying to see that the Harvest Hope staff and volunteers have enjoyed maintaining the raised beds that the Katie’s Krops campers built this summer and we are happy to continue to help them in various ways throughout the year.”

WP Rawl’s year-long mission to end hunger leads them to give back to other organizations such as RAMP, the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project and Katie’s Krops.

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

Produce professionals have eye toward future trade with Cuba

The Dec. 17 announcement of a restoration of full diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba has some produce industry members intrigued with the prospect of future trade with Cuba.

Robert Colescott, president and chief executive officer of Southern Specialties, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, said, “As Cuba begins to open for commerce with the U.S. the opportunity will favor the U.S. Exporters supplying Cuba with grains [will] potentially open doors for ports in Louisiana and Houston. I would expect tourism to begin making an impact that will improve the economy and, eventually, create demand for more specialty produce and other traditional fruits and vegetables. It will take several years before we see Cuba become a significant agriculture producer and exporter. Lots of work is necessary on their infrastructure including significant investments in logistics.”

Geno Valdes, vice president of sales and marketing for Southern Specialties, and a second-generation Cuban-American, said, “Fresh produce opportunities will be very exciting if relations with Cuba are truly a reality. Cuban people will want to eat produce they know, such as tomatoes, avocados, mangos and other tropical items.

“Due to its strategic location and rich soil many crops currently grown in Costa Rica and other Central American countries can be grown there,” Valdes continued. “Cuba has experienced farmers, lots of farm land and abundant water. The fact that Cuba has a high literacy rate is also an asset. The port of Miami, currently undergoing a massive drayage and expansion project, is the natural port of entry for Cuban produce. As a company with lots of experience growing and supporting farms in Latin America, Southern Specialties will examine opportunities in Cuba.”

“With both governments now in consideration to open new opportunities for trade, it only makes sense to look at the entire portfolio of products offered,” Craig Uchizono, vice president of Southern Hemisphere for the Giumarra Cos., said.“Everyone will be interested to learn as much as possible for all fresh fruit, vegetable and tropical commodities both countries have to offer.”

Raul Millan, executive vice president and partner of Vision Import Group, headquartered in Los Angeles and a first-generation Cuban-American, said that as a son of Cuban parents, produce trade with Cuba has always been on his mind since beginning his produce career.

“Cuba’s proximity to the U.S. offers an opportunity that cannot be ignored, both in freight savings and transit time,” said Millan. “Cuban farmers have lacked resources for so long that I can only imagine most fruit and vegetable exports will take longer than most want.

“Politics aside, I for one, am looking forward to do business in a country where I will be able to relate so well to the language, culture, food and, of course, the people,” he added.

Jim DiMenna, president of Red Sun Farms a hydroponic vegetable grower and distributor with greenhouses in Canada, Mexico and Dublin, VA, said that true to his and his company’s nature, he looks at all opportunities when it comes to business, adding that as a Canadian, he has always has the freedom to look at Cuba with a keen business eye because the U.S. embargo did not involve Canada.

“Although Canada has always had the opportunity to do business with Cuba, transportation has been a key problem in the past,” DiMenna said. “But if that issue goes away and we can move a ship 90 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, things may change.

“But we also have to do our due diligence,” he added. “Does Cuba have the proper elevation for a highly technical greenhouse facility? Does it have the altitude that will affect crops in any way? We have to assess and analyze all aspects of doing business there. It’s not something we’ll do overnight.”

DiMenna stressed that Red Sun is a progressive company that is cautiously optimistic.

“We continually look for options for developing business,” he added. “But our stringent rules and regulations would apply to doing business with Cuba the same as they do with our business partners in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Everything that we do we do to a stringent stet of standards.

“I am glad, however, that after more than 50 years everyone in North American will be building a relationship with Cuba and its people,” he added.

Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, added, “The thought of having a potential new client and supplier-base located only hours from our facility is quite exciting. But we need to keep in mind we are in very early stages of opening any real relationships with Cuba. The average yearly income for the 11 million Cubans of $ 6,000 does not make for a strong customer base for every product. Large international companies like Coca-Cola will make initial investments. The Cuban government has made tourism, from countries other than the U.S., its biggest profit center. Opening Cuba to American tourism would be huge and we could expect a large influx of money into the Communist government. It will be interesting to watch this relationship unfold. Perhaps, ultimately, Southern Specialties may play a part in Cuba by expanding its core competencies of growing, importing and processing vegetables grown in Latin America, the U.S., Mexico and Canada.”

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

Produce Shows Sales Gains

WASHINGTON —  Fresh fruit and vegetables both posted sales gains the first quarter of this year over the same period a year earlier, according to the latest edition of FreshFacts for Retail, a quarterly research report from The United Fresh Foundation.

Produce departments as a whole experienced a  2% increase in volume sales, and 7% increase in average dollar sales, spurref by a 4.9% increase in retail prices.


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By volume sold, vegetables beat fruit, with a 2.1% increase, while fruit posted an increase of 1.4% over the same quarter in 2012.

In dollar sales, fruit outdid vegetables, increasing nearly 8% over the first quarter last year, with vegetable dollar growth coming in at 5.7%.

The report also includes these stand-out findings:

Nine out of 10 of the top 10 selling fruits posted dollar gains over first quarter 2012, with citrus, melon, specialty fruit and apples chalking up double-digit gains, mostly related to price increases, the research showed, and half of the top 10 vegetable categories gained both in dollar and volume sales.

Read more: Whole Foods Imagines Produce Department Without Bees

The report also showed sales gains for organic and value-added fruits and vegetables. Organic fruits increased 24.4% in dollar sales, and organic vegetables showed an increase of 14.9%.

Value-added fruits increased in dollar and volume sales by 10.7% and 2.9%, respectively.

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North Bay Produce partners with the Produce Mom

The Produce Mom announced the addition of North Bay Produce Inc. to her family of trusted partners. North Bay offers its customers a year-round supply of a variety of fresh produce, thanks to its network of domestic and Latin American growers.The-Produce-Mom-North-Bay-Produce-Infographic

“There’s so much culture represented in this company,” Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, said in a press release. “Together we will raise consumer confidence and understanding of import produce.”

“Fresh from the Farm, Year Around” is more than a slogan to North Bay. The company currently offers customers a year-round supply of apples, asparagus, blackberries, snow peas, sugar snap peas and blueberries, one of North Bay’s signature items.

The company’s ready-to-eat blueberry snack packs were featured during one of The Produce Mom’s Indy Style segments this summer. North Bay supplies customers with blueberries from its domestic growers spring through fall, then imports fresh blueberries from its Latin American growers during the winter months. Raspberries are offered seasonally, September through June.

“North Bay Produce is committed to providing the world with an uninterrupted supply of high-quality produce,” Sharon Robb, national marketing manager for North Bay, said in the press release. “Partnering with The Produce Mom will allow us to better educate consumers on the year-round freshness, availability and safety of produce.”

The “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools” initiative, a public health campaign to increase salad bars in schools across the country, is another common goal for the two companies. Mark Girardin, President of North Bay Produce, is a Midwest campaign co-chair for the initiative and serves as a captain for the state of Michigan. Taylor takes every opportunity to promote the initiative, whether it’s on her Indy Style morning show segment, her blog or at a speaking engagement such as The Indiana School Nutrition Association Conference.

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

Study: E. Coli From Feedlots Can Contaminate Produce by Air

New research finds that E. coli O157:H7 can spread more than a tenth of a mile downwind from a cattle feedlot onto nearby produce.

In the study, first author Elaine D. Berry of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Meat Animal Research Center and her colleagues sampled leafy greens growing in nine plots (three each at 60, 120, and 180 meters downwind from the cattle feedlot at the research center) over a two-year period.

The rate of contamination with the pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 declined with distance. There was an average positive sample 3.5 percent of the time at 60 meters and 1.8 percent at 180 meters.

The findings suggest that current buffer-zone guidelines of 120 meters (400 feet) from a feedlot may be inadequate.

Transmission of the pathogens is thought to be airborne. The researchers found E. coli in air samples at 180 meters from the feedlot, though the instruments were not sensitive enough to pick up E. coli O157:H7.

The highest levels of contamination on the produce were in August and September of 2012 after several weeks of very little rainfall and several days of high temperatures, conditions that appear to aid airborne transport of bacteria.

The research was published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

Food Safety News

Produce flash sale site offers deals to retail, foodservice buyers

A new website called Produce Pipeline advertises daily flash sales with discounts of 10% to 20% for retailers, foodservice and wholesalers.

Though flash sale sites like Groupon have been around for years, it’s a relatively novel concept for the produce industry.

“So for a variety of reasons — geography, marketing capacity, a number of other issues — it’s been challenging to move produce quickly on the spot market. And that’s what we’re trying to help growers and shippers do and buyers benefit from,” said Produce Pipeline founder Randy Hartmann.

For the past 10 years, Hartmann has worked at his family’s company, Pacificpro, a produce distributor based in Bellevue, Wash. He noticed that the company often talked to buyers looking for deals and growers trying to unload extra produce, but it was difficult to connect the two.

“We’ve got five salespeople in the office all talking to different people on the phone. Everybody’s talking to different growers and shippers. And there’s no way efficiently to put the two together,” said Hartmann.

“And so we came up with this as an idea of how we could efficiently update buyers nationwide with a full run of commodities that various growers, well-known growers and shippers around the country are looking to move.”

Produce Pipeline, which went live Oct. 1, is able to source produce and ship it all over the country thanks to Pacificpro’s established business relationships.

A daily email alerts potential buyers to the top deal of the day as well as eight other deals on items like apples, onions and lemons. A recent offer featured Granny Smith apples at $ 9 for a box of 72, compared to a regular price of $ 12.90 per box.

Thus far, Hartmann said about half of Produce Pipeline’s customers have been supermarket retailers — with the other half comprised of foodservice and wholesale operators — but the majority of the interest comes from supermarkets.

“But what we’re finding is that typical produce buyers are accustomed to buying a certain way. They buy from relationships they’ve had for a long time. And they’re accustomed to doing it over the phone, via email or potentially EDI [electronic data interchange]. And this is a new medium. And so it’s trying to get the buyers comfortable with making a purchase of a perishable commodity via a new medium,” said Hartmann.


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He has been working with buyers to help them understand what the company is all about. On request, Produce Pipeline can send photos of the produce, product labels and food safety documentation.

In addition, Pacificpro can provide logistics to buyers that need it.

“For our larger retail customers, a lot of times they may have their own in-house logistics department, and so that’s not something they would need,” said Hartmann.

“But for others, they may say, yeah I really like that deal on Gala apples, but I only need five pallets of them for an ad I’m running next week and I don’t have a truck out there. Well we can deliver it for them at no additional cost.”

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Excellent conditions produce perfect Tasmanian cherries

Excellent conditions produce perfect Tasmanian cherries

The weather in Tasmania has been favourable leading into harvest and cooler weather has made the harvest later than previously expected for cherry producer Reid Fruits.

“Some good sunshine and warmth prior to the season commencing has allowed the fruit flavour complexity and brix to develop perfectly. We expect an increase in production but aligned with our predictions given a lighter crop last season.”

“Harvest will start in the Derent Valley in late December – around Christmas. We only produce cherries in Tasmania – currently growing only in the Derwent Valley in Tasmania but intend to plant high altitude orchards in other locations in 2015.”

The company hopes to increase its export to South Korea in particular, due to the FTA which came into effect on the 12th of December.

“China will continue to grow but we have a portfolio of over 25 countries and we see all of them playing a significant role in our marketing strategy. With the lower Australian Dollar we expect that we will re-enter several markets such as the USA and some European countries after an absence of many years due to the challenging exchange rate combined with tough economic times.“

Reid Fruits re-branded last season and is committed to producing the finest cherries for discerning cherry consumers around the world.

“Our Gold Kangaroo range of  premium packaging reflects our commitment to the consumer. To complement our premium 2kg cherry cartons we have also launched a 1kg gift pack as well for export markets.”

For more information:
Lucy Gregg
Reid Fruit
Mobile: +61 408 977725
www.reidfruits.com

Publication date: 12/17/2014
Author: Katja Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

SunFed backing up ‘Perfect Produce’

EMPALME, SONORA — “Perfect Produce” is gracefully emblazoned on a towering black marble foyer wall at SunFed’s headquarters. The company’s stylish new black consumer packaging and corresponding industry t-shirts promote “Perfect Produce.” And promotions and packaging push “Perfect Cucumbers,” “Perfect Squash” or “Perfect Melons.”Perfect-CucumbersShowing SunFed’s new ‘Perfect Cucumbers’ t-shirt are cucumber grower Santiago Zaragoza with SunFed’s Matt Mandel.

Matt Mandel, SunFed’s vice president of sales and marketing, recognizes this “Perfect” approach is rather forward. Brett Burdsal, SunFed’s new director of marketing, is unabashed in his artistic “Perfect” approach from the firm’s headquarters in Rio Rico, AZ.

The company’s premiere brand is “SunFed,” and Mandel said everything to be packed in that brand is top quality. The firm has two other brands: “SunOne” and “Almost Famous.”

This year marks SunFed’s 20th anniversary. “In 18 of the 20 years we focused exclusively on the production side,” Mandel said. “Now we focus on the tag line ‘Perfect Produce,’ which requires doing everything as well as you possibly can. Brett is here to help us reinvent ourselves. He is very much outside the box. I’m not sure he knows there is a box. I think that is a good thing — to have fresh ideas and fresh ways to be looking to improve the company, our processes and protocols. We built the company based on being conservative. So we are not getting too far out. We are going forward in metered steps.”

Juan-Ramon-SanchezStanding before an irrigation pond at Agricola Bay Hermanos near Empalme, Sonora, are Juan Ramon Sanchez, Brett Burdsal and Matt Mandel. To assure quality and management control of its new packaging, SunFed has slowed rolling out the “Perfect Produce” consumer campaign introduced in October at the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA.

Burdsal said his job “is to expand on a phenomenal brand.”

Offering perfect produce is quite a challenge for a shipper-distributor that is intimately involved with 51 growers scattered along Mexico’s west coast.

To demonstrate the quality of programs shipping perfect produce to the Rio Rico distribution center, Mandel and Burdsal escorted The Produce News to Empalme, Sonora, Dec. 10-11. Empalme is a scenic Gulf of California commercial fishing port located about four hours south of Nogales. The farming area visited by The Produce News is cultivated from seemingly virgin desert land to the east and south of Empalme. Empalme is across a small blue bay from the better-known commercial seaport of Guaymas. The region is in Yaqui Valley, which is fed by rich rivers and good wells.

yellow-squash-harvestAt Agricola Bay Hermanos, squash harvesters maximize efficiency through use of an ‘águila.’ Águila is Spanish for ‘eagle.’ The machine has wide conveyor belts — wings — to carry plastic field bins to the central trailer. This tour involved two growers: Agricola Bay Hermanos and Agroproductos San Rafael, S.A. de C.V., Empalme, Sonora. Santiago Zaragoza owns the San Rafael operation.

Agricola Bay Hermanos is owned by three brothers. Lorenzo Bay operates the Empalme farm. His brothers, Fausto Bay and Bernardo Bay, operate two separate farms to the north of Hermosillo. Collectively, the Bay brothers produce more than 2,500 acres of vegetables.

“They started with 30 hectares (90 acres) almost 10 years ago,” Mandel said. “They have very sophisticated operations. They exemplify the concept that we don’t work with farmers, but with businessmen who are in the agricultural industry. They invest in their operations, including their people. That is what made them successful, their attention to detail. A lot of what they do mirrors the SunFed mentality.”

Squash varieties — notably zucchini, yellow, straight neck and Mexican grey squash — are the primary crop for Bay brothers. Mandel said the grey squash has grown so much in demand that it surpasses yellow squash in production on the Bay farms. Grey squash has long been popular in Mexico, but consumers north of the border and gaining an appreciation for its good taste. Bay grows about 90 acres of organic vegetables at any given time.

The Bays are increasing their production of conventional and seedless watermelons, as well as cantaloupe.

At Agroproductos San Rafael, Zaragoza produces about a thousand acres of cucumbers, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, mini-watermelons, green and colored Bell peppers and jalapenos.

Empalme production is timed to generally, but not absolutely, precede and succeed vegetable production in Culiacan, which is a few hours to the south. Culiacan production runs from mid-November until March.

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

Vision Produce expands chili pepper program

Vision Produce Co. has expanded its chili pepper program and announced the debut of its own grower direct deals that encompasses a year-round program with fields in Sinaloa, Sonora and Baja Mexico in addition to Southern California.  20141210 111320

The first harvest was shipped the week of Dec. 8 and included Jalapeños, Pasilla, Serrano, Caribe and Tomatillo. In the spring, Vision will be adding Habanero and Manzanos to complete the full line offering.  All varieties will be packaged under the “California Chile Co.” and the “Rodriguera Farms” labels. 

“This was the next natural evolution in our ongoing goal to get closer to the source,” Donald Souther, vice president of marketing and sales development, said in a press release. “With the growing popularity of chili peppers, it was important for us to have our own product controlled from seed to distribution.” 

“This will allow us to have complete control over quality and availability to best service our growing customer base,” he said. “Certified Food Safety will accompany both labels as an additional feature.”

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

Vietnam ban on AU produce imports likely

Vietnam ban on AU produce imports likely

Vietnam has decided to suspend imports of fruits from Australia for concerns over fruit fly, according to the Department of Plant Protection under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on Wednesday.

Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the department, said imports of all 38 kinds of Australian fruits will be suspended from Jan. 1, 2015 to prevent fruit fly infestation as Australia is facing outbreaks of fruit fly which attack and damage fruits and vegetables.

Vietnam has sent an announcement to the Australian side in accordance with international regulations, said Hong.

He said quarantine work will be strengthened for fruit shipments on the way to Vietnam.

The imports will be resumed when no fruit fly outbreak is reported in Australia and if the country’s fruits meet quarantine requirements of Vietnam, reported the website of the Vietnamese government on Wednesday.

According to statistics by the Department of Plant Protection, in the first 10 months of 2014, Vietnam imported some 2,000 tons of fruits from Australia, mainly apples, pears, grapes and cherries.

Source: www.shanghaidaily.com

Publication date: 12/17/2014


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