Blog Archives

Programs connect consumers to locally grown products

New York state government is sending a strong message to consumers in the Empire State, encouraging them to take advantage of the Empire State’s rich agricultural heritage and bounty. The message: buy local.

Launched in 1996, the Pride of New York program has branded New York agricultural commodities by providing instant recognition for products grown and consumed in New York. “Be part of the Pride. Look for products displaying the ‘Pride of New York’ logo when you shop and support your neighbors — BuyLocal2Farmers’ markets provide consumers with community-based opportunities to purchase fresh produce grown in New York. Seen here is the Union Square Farmers’ Market. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)the generations of family farms and food processors who have made New York state one of America’s leading suppliers of food and agricultural products,” the Pride website states.

Last year, approximately 2,800 members participated in the Pride of New York program. Participants include farmers, food processors, vineyards and wineries, retailers, foodservice organizations, wholesalers and distributors, agri-tourism destinations, culinary arts programs and related trade associations.

Restaurants have actively embraced the program and continually promote locally grown products on their menus and in advertisements. A rich heritage of ethnic diversity and culture has earned New York the solid reputation as one of the most “foodie” locations in the nation.

On May 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that consumers can easily locate a wealth of information about local businesses using New York-produced commodities by visiting www.Open.Ny.Gov. The comprehensive open data portal was launched this past March and continues to be updated.

“With summer right around the corner, I encourage New Yorkers to pick up fresh produce at a local farmers’ market, raise their glasses at a local brewery, or visit a neighborhood vineyard, and support our state’s growing agriculture, tourism and beverage industries,” Cuomo said. “The state now offers a wide breadth of information on open.ny.gov on local farmers’ markets, wineries, breweries and distilleries, helping New Yorkers, tourism officials and local governments to bring new customers to our state’s small businesses.”

Several interactive maps — including links to New York’s farmers’ markets as well as all retail stores licensed by the New York Department of Agriculture & Markets — are available at the website.

In March, the governor also announced that $ 285,000 was made available for the third year of the “FreshConnect” program, which brings fresh food from New York farms to underserved communities in the Empire State. The purpose of the program is to increase the sale of locally grown food products, improve nutrition and promote economic development. The program fosters development of new farmers’ markets and supports existing markets located within communities in need.

“The FreshConnect program has been a real success in promoting healthy living while supporting the state’s vibrant agricultural industry,” Cuomo said. “This year, the program will provide even more avenues for low-income New Yorkers to purchase affordable, healthy and locally grown food. We are also continuing to support more marketplaces where local farmers can sell their goods and expand their operations. Through this program, more New Yorkers can eat healthy, and New York farmers can sell more products. That is what FreshConnect is all about.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

OTA applauds proposed rule exempting organics from check-off programs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that organic farmers and handlers are exempt from paying into conventional commodity check-off programs, saying that it is an important step that recognizes the organic industry’s unique needs and lets the industry decide where the dollars are best spent.

“OTA has worked very hard to get this exemption on the books, and we are optimistic that this important regulation will now soon take effect,” Laura Batch, executive director and chief executive officer of the Organic Trade Association, the leading organization of the organic industry, said in a statement. “The organic sector is a fast-growing, distinct industry with its own unique demands for research and promotion. We’re pleased USDA is moving swiftly to allow the industry to use its money to grow and develop its own sector.”

National commodity research and promotion check-off programs, funded by producers of the specific commodity, have been a part of American agriculture for almost 50 years. There are now 22 national check-off programs in place, ranging from the oldest check-off program begun in 1966 for cotton, to one of the newest that promotes American-grown mangos. The iconic “Got Milk” and “The Incredible Edible Egg” campaigns are examples of promotion and education programs paid for by successful producer-funded check-offs.

The proposed exemption, which was expanded by Congress in the farm bill of 2014, would extend the exemption for organic farmers, handlers, marketers or importers from just the 100 percent organic label to the primary organic label (95 percent organic) and pertain not exclusively to farmers or handlers who work solely with organic products, but also to those who produce, process, handle and import both organic and conventional products.

The exemption from conventional commodity check-off program assessments is very significant for certified organic operations. The USDA estimates that not having to contribute to conventional check-offs will free up an extra $ 13.6 million for organic stakeholders to invest back into the organic industry.

“These additional savings that will be available as a result of this exemption can be used by organic farmers, ranchers and handlers to address everyday problems and to tackle issues that will help advance their businesses and the organic sector,” Batcha added in the statement.

The USDA proposed rule will also exempt eligible operations from paying into the portion of the assessment in federal marketing order programs designated for market promotion activities. There are 23 marketing order programs with market promotion authority.

The USDA published the notice of the proposed changes Dec. 16 in the Federal Register, with a 30-day public comment period.

“OTA is heartened by USDA’s quick action to get this provision implemented and to allow for a concise 30-day comment period,” Marni Karlin, vice president of government affairs for OTA, added in the statement. “It is the result of the clear and unambiguous farm bill language passed with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by the president. These important gains for organic farmers and the organic industry were achieved through lots of hard work by organic stakeholders.”

The 2014 Farm Bill also authorizes USDA to consider and hold a vote on an organic research and promotion check-off program if the organic sector submits to the agency an official proposal for an organic check-off. OTA has been gathering input from organic stakeholders for the past three years on how best to shape a check-off program that could effectively serve the industry.

The organic industry is experiencing booming times, with organic sales hitting a new record of over $ 35 billion in 2013. More than 80 percent of families in the U.S. now buy organic products.

“The successes in the organic industry have been enormous,” Batcha added. “However, there is still much that needs to be done in the way of educating consumers about organic, devoting more research dollars to organic agriculture, and helping farmers to convert to organic. Giving the industry more ability to invest in its future is very significant.”

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

Spending Bill Bans ‘Chinese Chicken’ From Federal Meal Programs

A provision included in the $ 1.1-trillion spending bill Congress passed last week and which is now headed to the president’s desk prevents poultry processed in China from being used in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program (Section 736 of Division A).

Four Chinese poultry-processing plants have been approved to export cooked chicken to the U.S. as long as the chicken was raised and slaughtered in the U.S., Canada or Chile.

The ban on including such products in federal meal programs was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and cosponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME). Both are members of the House Appropriations Committee and added the amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 agriculture appropriations bill last spring.

Congressional leaders included the provision in the omnibus spending bill that funds the federal government through Sept. 30, 2015, the end of FY 2015.

“Banning Chinese chicken from school meals is a common-sense step to protect our kids,” DeLauro said in a statement. “China’s food safety record is atrocious, yet last year USDA deemed poultry processed in China to be as safe as poultry processed here. Children are among the most susceptible to foodborne illness. We cannot take unnecessary risks with their health.”

Nancy Huehnergarth told Food Safety News that she and Bettina Siegel, co-sponsors of a Change.org petition to keep poultry processed in China off U.S. plates, were relieved to see the provision carry over into the omnibus bill.

“We’re really happy,” Huehnergarth said. “It’s exactly what we were hoping for.”

In garnering nearly 329,000 signatures, the petition showed strong grassroots support for the ban. The team plans to declare victory once the president signs the bill, which he has indicated he plans to do.

China, on the other hand, is not so pleased because of provisions in the U.S. bill that “discriminate against Chinese companies, violate the principles of fair trade and send the wrong signal,” International Business Times reported. In addition to the poultry ban, the bill also restricts purchase of IT systems produced in China.

“China urges U.S. to take effective measures to correct the erroneous practice and create a favorable environment for the healthy development of Sino-US economic and trade relations,” stated Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Sun Jiwen.

Food Safety News

“European retailers want programs with Israeli growers”

Oron Ziv from Befresh Europe
“European retailers want programs with Israeli growers”


Oron Ziv checking the grapefruit

After a bad season last year for Israeli citrus exports, the start to this year’s citrus export season has been promising. BeFresh, an importer and exporter of fresh produce based in Tel Aviv, has benefited from the good prices in Europe for their grapefruit. With low avocado consumption in Europe, they also see potential in expanding the market for that product across the continent.


Workers in the pack house, packing the grapefruit
 
“It was a tough season for grapefruit last year, but we started in a much better market situation this year,” said Oron Ziv of BeFresh. “Prices were low and there was no demand this spring, so shipments from South Africa stopped around August. Because there was a lack of grapefruit, we came into a good market.” The dearth of fruit on the market, a result of an early exit by South African exporters who weren’t getting good returns, cleared the pipeline for Israel’s exports in September.

“Historically, November is a dead month for us for grapefruit, and we usually find ourselves with a big stock of fruit,” explains Ziv. “But nobody has fruit in stock this year.” That lean pipeline is encouraging to Israeli shippers, because when the market for their grapefruit warms up again there won’t be a glut of product on the market bringing down prices.


Stapling the boxes that are ready
 
Most competition on grapefruit comes from Turkey. Though fruit from Florida and Spain is also available when Israel exports their fruit, they don’t compete for the same share of the market that Israel seeks. Florida fruit is the gold standard when it comes to grapefruit, and it commands prices that put it on a different level from any other fruit, and the Spanish season doesn’t overlap significantly with the Israeli season. But Turkish fruit is, roughly, on the same level as Israeli fruit in terms of price and quality, though Ziv believes Israeli fruit still holds an edge.


The forklift brings the pallets that are ready to the palletizer

“Turkey has large quantities, so they need to sell their fruit, and they do it at low prices during the winter,” said Ziv. “But I think people are willing to pay more for Israeli fruit because of the taste and appearance of our grapefruit.”


Oron Ziv holds a box of Sweetie

Easy Peelers
Easy peelers have also been good for Israeli exporters, though there have been some markets lost to competing products in other countries. Spanish and Moroccan mandarins have edged out Israeli fruit in Europe. The cheaper production costs in both those countries make it hard to compete, and the shorter transit times for Spain gives that country’s exporters an advantage. As a result, Israeli exporters have largely ceded Europe in that category.
 
The bright spot for Israel, when it comes to easy peelers, has been the Or clementine. The wildly successful product has spurred increased acreage for a product that is in demand and commands premium prices. The challenge, as more growers look to cash in with the Or, is in the marketing.


 
“The acreage of new plantings is massive for the Or,” said Ziv. “There are more and more plantings every year. In that past few seasons, Israel has exported about 50,000 to 60,000 tons, but this season’s forecast is around 100,000 tons of fruit that is ready for export. If this figure is realistic, then it will be a big challenge to market the Or.” But he added that even if Israel produces enough Or clementines to fully satisfy European demand, North America and Asia are also potential markets for expansion. The qualities of the Or have made it a hit in Europe, and it’s reasonable to believe that those same qualities can make it a hit in other markets.
 
Avocado
An area in which BeFresh sees much potential is their avocado program. It’s estimated that avocado consumption in Europe has grown by 25% over the last five years, and there are signs that consumption will continue to rise. Ziv noted that while per capita annual consumption of avocados in Israel is about seven kilograms, it’s only about two or three kilograms in Spain and France, and it’s under one kilogram in Holland. That leaves a lot of room for more avocados.
 
“If you can make avocados more available in Europe, there’s huge room to develop that market,” said Ziv. Most European consumers prefer Hass avocados, which leaves the green-skinned variety that Israeli consumers prefer, out of export programs. The slow-maturing nature of avocado trees, however, could slow expansion, as it takes over seven years for an avocado tree to bear its full yield potential.


 
Melons
Melons were a tough product for BeFresh last season, with the traditional gap between Spanish production and Brazilian production greatly diminished. While Spanish shipments of melons to Europe usually come to a halt near the end of August, supplies lasted into September last season. At the same time, Brazilian supplies, which don’t typically arrive in Europe until October, hit the European market much sooner. That meant that the September and October window that Israeli shippers use to sell their melons in Europe was largely gone last season. But this year looks better.
 
“It was not a big success for the Galia melon season for us last year because we were squeezed out,” said Ziv. “But we produced less this year, due to our bad experiences last year, and we’re now enjoying a good situation.” While they shipped about 30% less volume of melons this year, a sharp drop from last year’s shipments, their profits were much better because of higher prices.


 
BeFresh’s success with melons this year was also due to their partnership with the largest melon grower in Israel. That gave them direct access to a steady supply of melons with consistent quality. Though BeFresh is a small company, they are able to consistently deliver melons to retailers. Large supermarkets appreciate that, and Ziv explained that those ties give them an advantage when dealing with retailers.
 
“The advantage is that I work with the grower, so the retailer is getting product straight from the farm,” said Ziv. “But you also need a combination of supermarket programs and open market selling.” While the retailer programs are attractive because they offer steady payments for a set period of time, retailers typically only ask for a few sizes. Ziv’s job with BeFresh, is to find a home for all of the product he receives from growers, not just for the handful of sizes supermarkets want. That’s where the open market comes in.
 
“You need a good combination with the packing house, the local market and the export market,” said Ziv. “It’s like a puzzle, to find the right market for each segment of your produce. It’s easy to sell just the best sizes, but it doesn’t help the grower if you can only sell 20 percent of his produce.”

For more information:
Oron Ziv
BeFresh Europe Ltd.
Phone: +972 3 968 2929
Fax: +972 4 672 5001
Email: [email protected]
www.befreshcorp.com
 

Publication date: 11/21/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

As the export arm of Milouot, Galilee Export has established itself as one of the two largest exporters of avocados & Citrus in Israel. They’re now looking to build on that success and expand both their mango and avocado operations.


Tamir Porat

Out of the vacuum left by the liquidation of Agrexco, Galilee was formed as a cooperative to help growers ship their products to other markets. Through expanding acreage and the addition of new growers to the cooperative, Galilee cemented their position as one of the top exporters of fruits mainly Avocado. Currently, they sell about 17,000 tons of avocados to foreign buyers every year, and not wishing to rest on their laurels, Dror Eigerman, Galilee’s new CEO, is looking to build on that success by increasing the volume of fruit they handle.

“This year we signed an agreement with ZEMACH that will bring us extra avocados,” said Eigerman. The deal could boost Galilee’s annual exports to 23,000 tons, and it will also bring an added benefit of increasing the volume of mangos they sell. Currently, Galilee exports around 1,600 tons of mangos annually, but the new production they’ve acquired could yield an additional 3,000 tons of mangos per year. The area in which Galilee’s new partner grows its avocados also means they’ll have fruit earlier in the season, which could allow them to reap the better prices often seen at the start of the export season.

Galilee is also looking to bring more aspects of their mango operation in-house. The vertical integration would give them a better command of the process, would be more cost-efficient and would allow Galilee to stay on top of evolving market trends.

“Ready-to-eat is the future with avocados, so we’re investing in ripening rooms in France,” explained Eigerman. “Supermarkets are asking for 12-month supplies, so it makes sense to invest in ripening rooms that will help guarantee supplies and guarantee us a place on the shelf. So I’d prefer to be the one leading.” The ripening rooms will be located in the southern part of France, where Israeli shipments can quickly reach Europe. Once there, avocados can be ripened and efficiently distributed throughout Europe via France. Eigerman noted that they need the kinds of advantages this move will bring in light of increasing competition from Chile. While Spain is their biggest rival in Europe when it comes to avocados, Chile is making big strides in Europe.

“Chile is the one we’re colliding with on Hass avocados, and they’re growing,” said Eigerman. “As long as Chile continues to develop, we’ll be in a competitive market. At the moment we have an advantage in quality, volume and ability to deliver, but they are coming with volumes later and later in the season.” South Africa & Peru still ships avocados to Europe when Israel begins their export season, but at that point, Israeli growers only have Ettinger avocados, which are sold mainly domestically, so Israeli exporters don’t really compete with South Africa.

Eigerman sees mangos and medjool dates as products they can grow their market presence with. Aside from the additional mango production from ZEMACH, he wants to bring additional growers into the fold. But he noted that new growth needs to be balanced in order to preserve the unique character they’ve built so far.

“Coming from Mehadrin, the difference between there and Galilee has been that Mehadrin was like an armada and Galilee is like a commando unit,” said Eigerman. “This company was started with avocado and citrus, and later on growers brought in mangos and sharon fruit. So we’re getting more products in, but only the ones we choose. One product I believe in is the medjool date. It has a good shelf life, we have a good area behind us now, it’s easier to grow than avocados and I think it will keep growing.” He mentioned optical sorting machines as a way to make their date program more efficient, though they’ve not yet installed those machines.

While they don’t have the advantages with dates and mangos that they do with avocados, Eigerman said they’ll proceed in a growth pattern that prioritizes control. Much like the in-house ripening they’re building in France, integrating all aspects of the export program for each commodity is key to retaining control over the things that can be controlled.

“The biggest threat we face is the rising costs of water, electricity and labour,” said Eigerman. “It’s nothing critical at the moment, but it is a problem. The currency, it’s strong, but I would prefer a better currency situation. But we can’t control it.” The exchange rate with the Russian ruble has made it so that Russian importers, who are suffering under a ban on European goods, are looking to Israel in greater numbers for fresh produce, but they often can’t offer the competitive prices needed to secure that produce. So Eigerman doesn’t think they’ll expand into that market. In the future, he mentioned Asia as a possibility for expansion, but Chinese phytosanitary regulations must first be dealt with at the government level.

But those challenges can definitely be dealt with, noted Eigerman, especially given their company make-up and strong ties to growers. Because they’re small and nimble, they can adapt quickly, and the fact that they’re actually a cooperative of growers also helps.

“At the moment, we are slim, and we have to keep it like this,” said Eigerman. “Our future is bright because our strength is that we are growers. Growers understand what clients need and then we have the strength to give them what they need.”

For more information:
Dror Eigerman
Galilee Export
Office:+972-3-6539012
Mobile: +972-52-4475506
Fax: +972-3-6539026
[email protected]
www.galilee-export.com

Publication date: 11/17/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez / Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

As the export arm of Milouot, Galilee Export has established itself as one of the two largest exporters of avocados & Citrus in Israel. They’re now looking to build on that success and expand both their mango and avocado operations.


Tamir Porat

Out of the vacuum left by the liquidation of Agrexco, Galilee was formed as a cooperative to help growers ship their products to other markets. Through expanding acreage and the addition of new growers to the cooperative, Galilee cemented their position as one of the top exporters of fruits mainly Avocado. Currently, they sell about 17,000 tons of avocados to foreign buyers every year, and not wishing to rest on their laurels, Dror Eigerman, Galilee’s new CEO, is looking to build on that success by increasing the volume of fruit they handle.

“This year we signed an agreement with ZEMACH that will bring us extra avocados,” said Eigerman. The deal could boost Galilee’s annual exports to 23,000 tons, and it will also bring an added benefit of increasing the volume of mangos they sell. Currently, Galilee exports around 1,600 tons of mangos annually, but the new production they’ve acquired could yield an additional 3,000 tons of mangos per year. The area in which Galilee’s new partner grows its avocados also means they’ll have fruit earlier in the season, which could allow them to reap the better prices often seen at the start of the export season.

Galilee is also looking to bring more aspects of their mango operation in-house. The vertical integration would give them a better command of the process, would be more cost-efficient and would allow Galilee to stay on top of evolving market trends.

“Ready-to-eat is the future with avocados, so we’re investing in ripening rooms in France,” explained Eigerman. “Supermarkets are asking for 12-month supplies, so it makes sense to invest in ripening rooms that will help guarantee supplies and guarantee us a place on the shelf. So I’d prefer to be the one leading.” The ripening rooms will be located in the southern part of France, where Israeli shipments can quickly reach Europe. Once there, avocados can be ripened and efficiently distributed throughout Europe via France. Eigerman noted that they need the kinds of advantages this move will bring in light of increasing competition from Chile. While Spain is their biggest rival in Europe when it comes to avocados, Chile is making big strides in Europe.

“Chile is the one we’re colliding with on Hass avocados, and they’re growing,” said Eigerman. “As long as Chile continues to develop, we’ll be in a competitive market. At the moment we have an advantage in quality, volume and ability to deliver, but they are coming with volumes later and later in the season.” South Africa & Peru still ships avocados to Europe when Israel begins their export season, but at that point, Israeli growers only have Ettinger avocados, which are sold mainly domestically, so Israeli exporters don’t really compete with South Africa.

Eigerman sees mangos and medjool dates as products they can grow their market presence with. Aside from the additional mango production from ZEMACH, he wants to bring additional growers into the fold. But he noted that new growth needs to be balanced in order to preserve the unique character they’ve built so far.

“Coming from Mehadrin, the difference between there and Galilee has been that Mehadrin was like an armada and Galilee is like a commando unit,” said Eigerman. “This company was started with avocado and citrus, and later on growers brought in mangos and sharon fruit. So we’re getting more products in, but only the ones we choose. One product I believe in is the medjool date. It has a good shelf life, we have a good area behind us now, it’s easier to grow than avocados and I think it will keep growing.” He mentioned optical sorting machines as a way to make their date program more efficient, though they’ve not yet installed those machines.

While they don’t have the advantages with dates and mangos that they do with avocados, Eigerman said they’ll proceed in a growth pattern that prioritizes control. Much like the in-house ripening they’re building in France, integrating all aspects of the export program for each commodity is key to retaining control over the things that can be controlled.

“The biggest threat we face is the rising costs of water, electricity and labour,” said Eigerman. “It’s nothing critical at the moment, but it is a problem. The currency, it’s strong, but I would prefer a better currency situation. But we can’t control it.” The exchange rate with the Russian ruble has made it so that Russian importers, who are suffering under a ban on European goods, are looking to Israel in greater numbers for fresh produce, but they often can’t offer the competitive prices needed to secure that produce. So Eigerman doesn’t think they’ll expand into that market. In the future, he mentioned Asia as a possibility for expansion, but Chinese phytosanitary regulations must first be dealt with at the government level.

But those challenges can definitely be dealt with, noted Eigerman, especially given their company make-up and strong ties to growers. Because they’re small and nimble, they can adapt quickly, and the fact that they’re actually a cooperative of growers also helps.

“At the moment, we are slim, and we have to keep it like this,” said Eigerman. “Our future is bright because our strength is that we are growers. Growers understand what clients need and then we have the strength to give them what they need.”

For more information:
Dror Eigerman
Galilee Export
Office:+972-3-6539012
Mobile: +972-52-4475506
Fax: +972-3-6539026
[email protected]
www.galilee-export.com

Publication date: 11/17/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez / Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

Galilee Export to expand avocado, mango programs

As the export arm of Milouot, Galilee Export has established itself as one of the two largest exporters of avocados & Citrus in Israel. They’re now looking to build on that success and expand both their mango and avocado operations.


Tamir Porat

Out of the vacuum left by the liquidation of Agrexco, Galilee was formed as a cooperative to help growers ship their products to other markets. Through expanding acreage and the addition of new growers to the cooperative, Galilee cemented their position as one of the top exporters of fruits mainly Avocado. Currently, they sell about 17,000 tons of avocados to foreign buyers every year, and not wishing to rest on their laurels, Dror Eigerman, Galilee’s new CEO, is looking to build on that success by increasing the volume of fruit they handle.

“This year we signed an agreement with ZEMACH that will bring us extra avocados,” said Eigerman. The deal could boost Galilee’s annual exports to 23,000 tons, and it will also bring an added benefit of increasing the volume of mangos they sell. Currently, Galilee exports around 1,600 tons of mangos annually, but the new production they’ve acquired could yield an additional 3,000 tons of mangos per year. The area in which Galilee’s new partner grows its avocados also means they’ll have fruit earlier in the season, which could allow them to reap the better prices often seen at the start of the export season.

Galilee is also looking to bring more aspects of their mango operation in-house. The vertical integration would give them a better command of the process, would be more cost-efficient and would allow Galilee to stay on top of evolving market trends.

“Ready-to-eat is the future with avocados, so we’re investing in ripening rooms in France,” explained Eigerman. “Supermarkets are asking for 12-month supplies, so it makes sense to invest in ripening rooms that will help guarantee supplies and guarantee us a place on the shelf. So I’d prefer to be the one leading.” The ripening rooms will be located in the southern part of France, where Israeli shipments can quickly reach Europe. Once there, avocados can be ripened and efficiently distributed throughout Europe via France. Eigerman noted that they need the kinds of advantages this move will bring in light of increasing competition from Chile. While Spain is their biggest rival in Europe when it comes to avocados, Chile is making big strides in Europe.

“Chile is the one we’re colliding with on Hass avocados, and they’re growing,” said Eigerman. “As long as Chile continues to develop, we’ll be in a competitive market. At the moment we have an advantage in quality, volume and ability to deliver, but they are coming with volumes later and later in the season.” South Africa & Peru still ships avocados to Europe when Israel begins their export season, but at that point, Israeli growers only have Ettinger avocados, which are sold mainly domestically, so Israeli exporters don’t really compete with South Africa.

Eigerman sees mangos and medjool dates as products they can grow their market presence with. Aside from the additional mango production from ZEMACH, he wants to bring additional growers into the fold. But he noted that new growth needs to be balanced in order to preserve the unique character they’ve built so far.

“Coming from Mehadrin, the difference between there and Galilee has been that Mehadrin was like an armada and Galilee is like a commando unit,” said Eigerman. “This company was started with avocado and citrus, and later on growers brought in mangos and sharon fruit. So we’re getting more products in, but only the ones we choose. One product I believe in is the medjool date. It has a good shelf life, we have a good area behind us now, it’s easier to grow than avocados and I think it will keep growing.” He mentioned optical sorting machines as a way to make their date program more efficient, though they’ve not yet installed those machines.

While they don’t have the advantages with dates and mangos that they do with avocados, Eigerman said they’ll proceed in a growth pattern that prioritizes control. Much like the in-house ripening they’re building in France, integrating all aspects of the export program for each commodity is key to retaining control over the things that can be controlled.

“The biggest threat we face is the rising costs of water, electricity and labour,” said Eigerman. “It’s nothing critical at the moment, but it is a problem. The currency, it’s strong, but I would prefer a better currency situation. But we can’t control it.” The exchange rate with the Russian ruble has made it so that Russian importers, who are suffering under a ban on European goods, are looking to Israel in greater numbers for fresh produce, but they often can’t offer the competitive prices needed to secure that produce. So Eigerman doesn’t think they’ll expand into that market. In the future, he mentioned Asia as a possibility for expansion, but Chinese phytosanitary regulations must first be dealt with at the government level.

But those challenges can definitely be dealt with, noted Eigerman, especially given their company make-up and strong ties to growers. Because they’re small and nimble, they can adapt quickly, and the fact that they’re actually a cooperative of growers also helps.

“At the moment, we are slim, and we have to keep it like this,” said Eigerman. “Our future is bright because our strength is that we are growers. Growers understand what clients need and then we have the strength to give them what they need.”

For more information:
Dror Eigerman
Galilee Export
Office:+972-3-6539012
Mobile: +972-52-4475506
Fax: +972-3-6539026
[email protected]
www.galilee-export.com

Publication date: 11/17/2014
Author: Carlos Nunez / Sander Bruins Slot
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

CAC’s social media outreach enhances retail programs

Social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and the California Avocado Commission is taking full advantage of these new opportunities to reach consumers with targeted messages. CAC has expanded its social media efforts to fully support retailers with a variety of customer-specific programs and communications.

Jan-DeLyser-newJan DeLyserA key component of CAC’s social media program is providing timely content to retailers for their shopper outreach. Supermarket registered dietitians have been able to use this content, adapting and personalizing to fit their own communication styles. CAC also supports retailers by geo-targeting Facebook posts to provide information about California avocado availability in specific regions as well as to publicize local retailer events such as demos and cooking schools that encourage California avocado sales.

According to a 2012 study titled “U.S. Grocery Shoppers,” 28 percent of respondents said they use Facebook to gather and share information on food products, nutrition and recipes.

“The sweet spot of social media geo-targeting is the three-way intersection of CAC targeted social media outreach, consumer fans looking to buy California avocados and retailers who merchandise them and want to bring those shoppers into their stores,” Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing, said in a press release. “We approach this engagement the same way with foodservice operators who feature California avocados on their menus.”

The commission integrates social media with CAC marketing programs, both online and offline, to ensure consistency of message wherever the consumer may be and from whichever device they use. For example, the same key communication points of CAC’s traditional advertising campaign are part of the commission’s social media messaging.

Social media plays an integral part in promoting and engaging users around CAC’s themed promotions and co-marketing efforts such as CAC’s Wake up to Breakfast with California Avocados breakfast promotion, Cinco de Mayo, and the promotion with Naturipe Berries. CAC also recently launched a Fourth of July campaign, with a recipe contest, co-marketing recipe exchanges, tweets and posts.

“By integrating social media into our marketing communications we are able to add a much deeper level of engagement with our consumers,” said DeLyser. “We have had success with our integrated approach and find it to be much more effective than managing social media as an independent silo.”

California avocados now have more than 200,000 very enthusiastic Facebook fans engaging with our product and brand. More than 5,600 Twitter followers help promote CAC recipes and usage tips. CAC also uses Twitter to promote events and activities, both in advance of the events and with live coverage.

Newer social media for CAC include Pinterest, with more than 10,000 followers of the California avocados page. The top category of “pins” on Pinterest is Food & Drink, and 75 percent of respondents to a 2013 survey conducted by AllRecipe.com reported that the site inspired them to try new dishes. Importantly this social media outlet skews heavily to women and drives considerable traffic to the Commission website.

Instagram has been added to the CAC social media line-up and appeals to an expanded demographic. DeLyser calls it “a grand slam” that reaches a younger demographic, including more men, African Americans and Hispanics than Pinterest. CAC already has more than 7,800 followers on Instagram, which now has 100 million monthly active users.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

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

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

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

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

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

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

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

New officers and new programs mark SEPC fall conference

YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council’s 15th annual fall conference will be remembered for a simple and very moving tribute to its co-founder and longtime executive director. But it will also be remembered for the election of new officers as well as the introduction or rebranding of some new and exciting programs.

The council opened its fall conference Thursday evening, Sept. 25, at the Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here, with its traditional get-acquainted opening party.SEPC1686SEPC introduced its new officers at the President’s Dinner Dance. They are President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group, First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America, Second Vice President Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board, Secretary Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and Treasurer Steve Pinkston of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., along with Executive Director David Sherrod. This year’s opening party was dubbed the Get Acquainted Hoedown at Brasstown, in keeping with the theme of this year’s event: the Hoedown Touchdown Throwdown in Brasstown.

But before the festivities got under way, David Sherrod, who was officially named executive director during the fall conference, led a ceremony honoring Terry Vorhees, the council’s co-founder and its first executive director. After Sherrod read one of Vorhees’ favorite passages from the Bible, attendees released 64 purple balloons — Vorhees was 64 years old when he died July 30 — and the SEPC directors released 15 crystal balloons — to mark the council’s 15th anniversary. The ceremony brought tears to the eyes of Sherrod and many others that evening.

The conference held two workshops on Friday morning, Sept. 26, one on “Defining Locally Grown” and another on the “Future of Online Grocers.” Both workshops were very well attended.

After the workshops, attendees gathered for the general session and luncheon, which featured keynote speaker John Smoltz, a former Major League Baseball pitcher best known for his years with the Atlanta Braves, and one of only 16 pitchers in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts during his career.

Smoltz told the large crowd about his childhood and how he got into baseball, and he gave a good deal of credit to his parents, who “allowed me to pursue my passion,” and who instilled in him the discipline to help him succeed throughout his life.

Outgoing President Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and incoming President Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group both addressed the luncheon attendees, as did Sherrod, who had been serving as assistant executive director of the council during Vorhees’ illness and who had just been officially named executive director.

“It’s a tough road to follow behind Terry,” said an emotional Sherrod, thanking the board of directors and everyone at the Southeast Produce Council for their strong support as he carries on Vorhees’ work in moving forward. He also announced that beginning Oct. 15, the council would have a new address in Millen, GA, Sherrod’s home where he will be working.

Attendees also heard reports from the chairpersons of all the committees during the luncheon.

In one of those reports, it was announced that beginning next year, the name of the fall conference would be changed to Southern Innovations Symposium. That event is scheduled to take place Sept. 17-19, 2015, at Wild Dunes in Charleston, SC, a new venue.

After the general session, the council’s new leadership program for women in produce, known as Southern Roots and chaired by Teri Miller of Delhaize America, held its first official reception. (See separate story on page 82.)

At the President’s Dinner Dance Friday night, the council recognized the 10 members in the graduating class of the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, known as STEP-UPP and spearheaded by Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who serves as chairperson, and Tom Page, retired from Supervalu, who serves as vice chairperson.

Another highlight at the President’s Dinner Dance was the introduction of the four new members of the board of directors: Raina Nelson of Renaissance Foods, Barb Anderson of DNE World Fruit LLC, John Williams of L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms and Daniel Klausner of Apio Inc. The four members of the board who were re-elected were also introduced: Brian Rayfield of J&J Family of Farms, Tommy Wilkins of Grow Farms, Brandon Parker of Shuman Produce and Mike Ryan of Bayshore Produce. All serve for two-year terms.

The new officers were also introduced during the dinner dance. They are Mark Daniels of Military Produce Group as president, Teri Miller of Delhaize America as first vice president, Sheila Carden of the National Mango Board as second vice president, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa as secretary and Steve Pinkston of Walmart Stores Inc. as treasurer, along with David Sherrod as executive director.

On Saturday morning, Sept. 27, golfers enjoyed the 15th annual Ken Lanhardt Memorial Golf Tournament. The foursome of Steadman Taylor, Matt Howell, Allen Dalton and Kevin Taylor, all of Progressive Freight, took first place with a score of 14 under par.

As always, the fall conference ended with the Ultimate Tailgate Party.

Contacted Monday afternoon, Sept. 29, Sherrod offered his first impressions of the event.

“We were very happy the way things worked out,” he told The Produce News. “We had great attendance at all the functions. Our workshops were at max capacity. Our panelists and speakers were excellent. We had very informative seminars. The Ultimate Tailgate Party was probably the biggest we ever had.”

Sherrod said that 275 people had attended the just-completed fall conference, “almost exactly the same as last year,” which took place in Myrtle Beach, SC.

“The golf tournament was excellent,” he said, and referring to the perfect weather conditions, he quipped, “Terry was looking down and handled the weather.”

Sherrod concluded by saying that throughout the fall conference, “We felt the absence of Terry, but we felt that his spirit was still there. Everyone I spoke to said that.”

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

Could Funding Cuts to Food Safety Programs Make You Sick?

(This blog post by Michelle Forman was published July 23, 2014, at APHL’s LabLog.com and is reposted here with permission.)

When public health works, no one sees it.

That’s a common adage at APHL and is most frequently used when referring to the gross lack of — and ever-plummeting — funding for valuable public health programs. But what does it mean? When do we see public health and when does it vanish into the background?

The public health system comprises many areas from healthy eating to smoking cessation to biomonitoring to newborn screening. To answer this question, we’re going to focus on food safety — something that impacts every person in the United States — by following the journey of peanuts as they pass through the food system and into your lunch bag.

(Note: Peanuts were chosen to make a point. They are not inherently risky. As of the original date of this post, there is no current known outbreak associated with peanuts. This journey could feature any food item.)

Our peanuts were grown on a large farm that distributes its harvests for use in many different products.

After being roasted, they are shipped to another facility to be ground into a paste. That paste is then used to make peanut butter for cookies, crackers, ice cream, dog treats and many other products.

In a perfect situation, our peanuts are grown using the safest growing practices: They are thoroughly roasted to kill pathogens acquired on the farm, processed in facilities that ensure utmost safety and cleanliness in accordance with all food safety guidance provided to them, and sent to stores, restaurants and other food service facilities where they will be purchased and consumed by families trusting that they are receiving peanut butter crackers free of Salmonella. Public health has worked in the form of inspectors, guidelines, regulations, sample testing, quality assurance, staff training and public education to ensure that a perfect situation can and will exist most of the time. Although you never saw public health working to prevent you from getting sick, it was there.

Even when all goes right — even when there are not blatant safety oversights along the way — sneaky Salmonella can find its way in. What then?

Our peanuts have picked up Salmonella after roasting (there’s likely no more heating to kill that nasty pathogen) in the processing facility. They are then mixed with more and more peanuts, shipments from other farms, passing through machine after machine, being ground into peanut paste, infecting huge lots of peanuts along the way. Our peanuts are now causing a silent outbreak deep within the processing facility.

The lots of infected peanut paste — soon to be peanut butter — go unsuspected and are sent to the next phase of processing where they will become cookies, crackers, ice cream, dog treats, etc.

Suzy Public loves peanut butter cookies, so she picks up a package during a routine grocery store visit. Two days later, Suzy is very sick.

Vomiting takes a turn to more severe symptoms, so Suzy does the right thing and heads to her doctor. In keeping with clinical care guidelines, Suzy’s doctor orders a stool sample, which is then sent to a clinical lab where it tests positive for Salmonella. This is obviously important information for Suzy’s doctor, who needs to determine the most effective treatment, but it is also important for the public at large, especially for those in her community.

Additional testing at the public health laboratory could link Suzy’s Salmonella to other cases in her area or across the country.

While clinical labs must submit a report alerting epidemiologists of Suzy’s Salmonella, many states don’t require clinical labs to submit isolates (a sample of the Salmonella that made Suzy sick) to the public health lab. The report allows epidemiologists to gather initial exposure information on cases, but identifying potential outbreaks among sporadic cases can be tough without additional information. An isolate allows the public health lab to subtype or get DNA fingerprints from the Salmonella (more on this below), providing greater information and more rapid outbreak detection. So why wouldn’t states require these isolates be submitted? There are likely different reasons for this; one common reason is simply that the states lack resources. Some states can afford to have a courier pick up and deliver those isolates, but not every state is able. It is hard to mandate that the clinical labs handle shipments on their own time and dime. Additionally, some states simply cannot process all of those isolates at their current funding level. Requiring all clinical labs to send those isolates would put an enormous workload on already understaffed public health laboratories.

Once the investigation has been opened, an epidemiologist or public health nurse will contact Suzy Public to begin the investigation to nab the culprit. The first question they will ask Suzy is to list everything she consumed in the week or so prior to getting sick. These interviews allow disease detectives to track patterns in sick individuals’ diets. If everyone ate peanut butter crackers, they can target their investigation.

Could funding cuts to food safety programs make you sick? | www.aphlblog.orgDelays in testing or reporting will delay these disease detectives, and that means Suzy and the others who were made ill may not remember so far back. Even if they do remember and the disease detectives can identify a common food item in their diets, that product may already be off the shelves and in more people’s homes, thus exacerbating the outbreak. Additionally, departments of public health face staff shortages that mean overloaded epidemiologists and public health nurses. Their ability to conduct thorough interviews requires ample time — and time is limited when staff are carrying a workload suited for several people.

If that isolate was sent to the public health lab, additional testing is done to confirm Salmonella and to subtype the pathogen. There are more than 2,500 subtypes of Salmonella, so the first step in outbreak detection is determining which type has made this individual sick. PFGE testing delves further into the identification of the pathogen by identifying its DNA fingerprint. For example, there could be multiple outbreaks associated with Salmonella Typhimurium at the same time, but that doesn’t mean it is the same culprit. Isolating the DNA fingerprints is like a detective pulling fingerprints from a crime scene — when there are multiple offenses committed, fingerprints can link them to the same perpetrator. The DNA fingerprints are then entered into the PulseNet database, a system used to detect clusters nationally. This information is used by epidemiologists to further target their investigation.

But staff shortages in public health laboratories mean that not all isolates can be tested, and those that are tested could be delayed. That means less information is making its way into the PulseNet database, or it is being entered too late.

Delays or gaps in information make the investigation extremely difficult.

The case of the contaminated peanuts is a complicated one. We know the contaminated peanut butter used to make Suzy’s cookies caused her illness, but identifying those cookies as the source is only the beginning of the investigative process. Was it the flour, sugar, salt, eggs, peanuts, or one or more of the other ingredients that made Suzy sick? And what about the people who were sickened by peanut butter crackers? Or energy bars? Finding the common denominator — and drilling all the way down to where contamination occurred — is very difficult. These complicated investigations can last upwards of a year, but they are being closed without resolution simply because public health departments don’t have the means to keep them open. No resolution means contamination at the processing facility could continue and more people could become ill. It also means the rest of the industry cannot learn from the outbreak and implement changes to improve product safety.

Rapid detection leads to faster recalls of contaminated products. That means fewer people get sick. But our public health system does not have the means to investigate every case of foodborne illness. There are not enough resources to follow up on every cluster.

Without question, more outbreaks would be found if there were sufficient resources to detect and investigate them all. Simply put, funding cuts are ultimately causing more people to get sick.

Advocates continue to work hard to convince decision makers that increasing funding for the public health system is a very good investment in our population. Healthy people are better for every aspect of society. While the advocates are working, public health professionals continue to seek more ways to improve the system with fewer staff and fewer resources. Whole genome sequencing, for example, could provide more information to better understand outbreak clusters, and that could mean less follow-up testing, which could mean operating with fewer staff. However, implementation of advancements such as whole genome sequencing requires time and money that the system simply does not have.

Every day that you wake up without foodborne illness, thank the public health system. Waking up healthy did not happen without the dedicated men and women working hard to prevent the spread of dangerous bacteria.

When public health works, no one sees it, but it still needs adequate support to continue protecting our health. The disease identification system described above operates on only $ 40 million annually and is in immediate need of at least an additional $ 10 million as indicated in the 2015 budget request. To realize significant improvements, CDC funding for food safety should, at a minimum, be doubled.

Tell Congress that more money is needed for food safety! Follow these two simple steps:

  1. Here is a letter telling Congress that more funding is needed for public health. Complete the information and it will be sent to your elected officials.
  2. Copy the following sentence and paste it into the letter to draw attention to the specific needs for food safety: I am especially concerned with the need for funding to improve our nation’s food safety system. CDC’s food safety office is in immediate need of an additional $ 10 million as indicated in the 2015 budget request. Without this funding, more Americans will get sick from foodborne illness.

Food Safety News

4Earth Farms growing its conventional and organic Brussels sprouts programs

With 4Earth Farms’ rebranding effort now well under way, the company (formerly MCL Fresh Inc.) continues to generate excitement with new acreage and increased yields in both conventional and organic Brussels sprouts.

“As the popularity of Brussels sprouts continues to grow, so does our commitment to expanding our sources and supplies” David Lake, chief executive officer and co-founder of 4Earth Farms, said in a press release. “Through strategic growing partnerships, increased acreage in both Mexico and California, as well as experimenting with different varieties of Brussels sprouts, we have taken what has traditionally been a cold-weather crop and successfully turned it into a year-round program.”

“We are always looking for ways to help our customers drive sales, and providing consistent year-round supplies is our goal for all our core vegetable items,” Mark Munger, vice president of sales and marketing, added in the press release. “We focused our efforts last year on making our year-round conventional Brussels sprouts program a success, and now our energies are being focused on doing the same for our organic Brussels sprouts program.”

With organic products becoming increasingly mainstream and demand remaining high, the expansion Munger refers to encompasses an increase in the company’s organic yield, including potatoes, pineapples, cabbage, green beans, cilantro, spinach and kale.

“I am not going to say that developing a year-round organic Brussels sprouts program has been easy — it has not,” Anthony Innocenti, vice president of organic sales, added in the press release. “That said, but for a couple short gaps, we are very close to being there.”

The company has cultivated a number of new Brussels sprouts grower relationships in the past six months, adding to its more than 2,000 harvested acres in California and Baja California.

“While focusing on supply, we have also focused on providing 4Earth Farms Brussels sprouts in a variety of ways,” Munger added in the press release. “We are currently offering branded 4Earth organic bags and clamshells, 4Earth Farms conventional one- and two-pound pillow packs, Brussels sprouts on the stalk, bulk cases for both retail and foodservice customers, as well as we are fulfilling a number of private-label programs.”

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

Farm bill’s effects on floricultural programs

The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the farm bill, will affect the nation’s Christmas tree growers in addition to other floricultural programs.

Once it is signed by President Obama, the bill will create a check-off program to fund a national Christmas tree promotional board. A provision in the bill adds a 15-cent surcharge on the cost of each tree sold by larger farms. This money will go into a specific program of research and marketing for live trees. It is similar to other check-off programs that led to such slogans as “The incredible edible egg,” “Got Milk” and “California grown.”

Jennifer Greene of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association said the program can help growers combat the influx of artificial trees. “It is estimated that the assessment can raise $ 3 million a year for promotion,” said Greene. “We want to promote the American farmer and American products like the live trees.”

Although the legislation did pass Congress, there remain opponents who maintain that it is a tax on unwilling Christmas tree farmers that would be passed down to consumers.

Al Wilson, who runs Al’s Hidden Valley Tree Farm near Eugene, OR, said it’s hard enough to make a living by growing and selling Christmas trees without adding to their cost. “If you can sell enough trees just to break even and try to keep going, you’re very fortunate,” Wilson said. He also expressed wariness about more governmental interference with his livelihood.

The bill will also affect other aspects of floriculture.

The critical pest and disease research program coordinated by USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service was increased from $ 50 million per year to $ 62.5 million in each of the next four years, and $ 75 million in 2018, with a minimum of $ 5 million targeted to the National Clean Plant Network. The APHIS research has targeted research dollars to study impatiens downy mildew, chrysanthemum white rust, gladiolus rust, boxwood blight and new invasive insects. These are just a few of the research projects that have benefitted the floriculture industry.

The bill provides $ 80 million annually for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, an increase from the previous level of $ 50 million, with new provisions providing for increased industry participation in review of research proposals to ensure that industry priorities are addressed.

Specialty crop block grant funding is increased from $ 50 million per year to $ 72.5 million per year for the next four years, and to $ 85 million per year in 2018. Block grants have provided funding for important state initiatives to increase flower and plant promotion in states like Hawaii, Alaska, California, Texas, Michigan and others.

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

Farm bill’s effects on floricultural programs

The Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the farm bill, will affect the nation’s Christmas tree growers in addition to other floricultural programs.

Once it is signed by President Obama, the bill will create a check-off program to fund a national Christmas tree promotional board. A provision in the bill adds a 15-cent surcharge on the cost of each tree sold by larger farms. This money will go into a specific program of research and marketing for live trees. It is similar to other check-off programs that led to such slogans as “The incredible edible egg,” “Got Milk” and “California grown.”

Jennifer Greene of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association said the program can help growers combat the influx of artificial trees. “It is estimated that the assessment can raise $ 3 million a year for promotion,” said Greene. “We want to promote the American farmer and American products like the live trees.”

Although the legislation did pass Congress, there remain opponents who maintain that it is a tax on unwilling Christmas tree farmers that would be passed down to consumers.

Al Wilson, who runs Al’s Hidden Valley Tree Farm near Eugene, OR, said it’s hard enough to make a living by growing and selling Christmas trees without adding to their cost. “If you can sell enough trees just to break even and try to keep going, you’re very fortunate,” Wilson said. He also expressed wariness about more governmental interference with his livelihood.

The bill will also affect other aspects of floriculture.

The critical pest and disease research program coordinated by USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service was increased from $ 50 million per year to $ 62.5 million in each of the next four years, and $ 75 million in 2018, with a minimum of $ 5 million targeted to the National Clean Plant Network. The APHIS research has targeted research dollars to study impatiens downy mildew, chrysanthemum white rust, gladiolus rust, boxwood blight and new invasive insects. These are just a few of the research projects that have benefitted the floriculture industry.

The bill provides $ 80 million annually for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, an increase from the previous level of $ 50 million, with new provisions providing for increased industry participation in review of research proposals to ensure that industry priorities are addressed.

Specialty crop block grant funding is increased from $ 50 million per year to $ 72.5 million per year for the next four years, and to $ 85 million per year in 2018. Block grants have provided funding for important state initiatives to increase flower and plant promotion in states like Hawaii, Alaska, California, Texas, Michigan and others.

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

CDC Wants to Survey Some Local and State Food Safety Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is requesting approval to evaluate local and state food safety programs (FSPs), according to a proposal posted to the Federal Register on Friday, Jan. 17.

“The current tight fiscal environment faced by U.S. health departments has led to a significant reduction in funding for public health programs, such as food safety,” reads the proposal. “For example, 57 percent of local health departments reduced or eliminated at least one public health program during 2011.”

CDC is requesting a two-year approval from the Office of Management and Budget to survey a representative sample of local and state health departments implementing FSPs in the U.S. The agency wants to know about food safety activities, workforce capacity and competency, financial resources, community health and demographics.

The data collected will help CDC better understand the relationship between funding and the programs’ effectiveness.

The agency has been able to gather insight into the status of FSPs partnered with the Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net), but there’s a lack of such information on the national level. There are more than 3,000 state and local health departments in the country, and it’s unknown how many would participate in the voluntary survey.

Food Safety News

The Lempert Report: What’s Next for Loyalty Programs? (Video)

The Lempert Reports says that loyalty programs should be quick, easy to use and volume building that appeal to today’s time-poor, value-driven shoppers.

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Supermarket News

Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo unveiling new brands and Fair Trade programs at PMA Fresh Summit

At the PMA Fresh Summit convention in New Orleans, Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, a leading organic grower and shipper based in Pescadero, CA, will launch a new brand, “Kitchen Harvest” living herbs, and will also announce that it is bolstering its social mission with new Fair Trade-certified product offerings.

basilVisitors to the Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo booth (No. 4720) at the PMA Fresh Summit in New Orleans have the opportunity to view its expanding culinary herb line, featuring “Kitchen Harvest” organic living basil, which begins shipping this month and will be available year round.

“The certified organic hydroponic process creates an ideal environment for ultimate plant health and crop performance,” Marina Pace, who is involved with marketing at the company, said in a press release. “The plants are harvested with roots intact and packaged in a protective sleeve that extends the optimum greenhouse environment and shelf life. The freshest possible plants are those with roots intact.”

The 12-count shipper makes for easy display and requires only simple maintenance. The new product is focused on convenience, as customers harvest only what they need and the remaining plant stays intact and alive.

Another line extension is Jacobs Farm Organic Ginger, packaged in four-ounce clamshell packs. The package merchandises perfectly alongside Jacobs Farm’s line of clamshell herbs in racks or on hooks.

“The ginger is produced in Peru through a strategic partnership with Fairtrasa, a company that shares our social mission,” Pace added in the press release.

The “Del Cabo” brand has also added Rubies On The Vine cocktail tomatoes to its line of specialty tomatoes, vegetables and fruit. Developed by Del Cabo’s plant breeding program, this latest addition will ship at the end of November.

Del Cabo also continues to add more grower groups producing Fair Trade-certified products, allowing for more offerings, stronger supplies and year-round availability.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines