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Del Monte Fresh hosting third annual ‘Go Bananas! Halloween Costume Giveaway’

go-banGo-Bananas-Halloween-PromotDel Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. is hosting its third annual “Go Bananas! Halloween Costume Giveaway” in an effort to encourage healthy eating and living during the Halloween holiday and to promote Del Monte premium bananas as alternatives to traditional Halloween treats.

The sweepstakes will give consumers the chance to win a “Del Monte” branded banana costume to wear for their Halloween festivities.

The Go Bananas! promotion will randomly award a banana costume to 1,000 Del Monte social media fans who enter online at

In addition, users who submit photos of past Halloween costumes and use the hashtag #IdRatherBeABanana, will gain an additional five entries.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of positive feedback from consumers and we are excited to bring the promotion back for another year,” Dennis Christou, vice president of North American Marketing for Del Monte Fresh, said in a press release. “Consumers love dressing up as bananas and it is a great opportunity to reward our loyal fans while at the same time promoting healthy Halloween treats. We haven’t seen anyone turn down a Del Monte banana costume yet, or the chance to pose in one! They’d all rather be a Del Monte banana.”

The promotion will be supported throughout the United States and Canada with secondary banana stickers, point-of-sale material to liven up banana displays for Halloween, and through Del Monte’s social media platforms.

The three-week promotion will begin Sept. 15 and end Oct. 5 in order to guarantee delivery in time for Halloween.

For more information about Del Monte’s Go Bananas giveaway, contact your local Del Monte Fresh Produce representative or visit us at

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

Taiwan third largest exporter of stonefurit to US in 2013

Taiwan third largest exporter of stonefruit to US in 2013

Taiwan was the third largest export market for U.S. peaches and nectarines in 2013, as well as the third largest export market for U.S. cherries.  Stonefruits are appreciated by Taiwan consumers, but also by Taiwan wholesalers and retailers, who prefer them because of their profitability.

In 2013, Taiwan imported a total of 21,553 metric tons (MT) of peaches/nectarines, valued at approximately US$ 48 million.  Out of that total, the United States continued to dominate the Taiwan peach/nectarine import market, accounting for 76% of Taiwan’s total fresh peach/nectarine imports.  Taiwan’s imports of U.S. peaches/nectarines increased 16% by volume, while total imports also increased 16% during the 2013 season.  Currently, the United States supplies 33% of Taiwan’s total consumption.  The principal competition for U.S. peaches/nectarines is from local production with an estimated 27,156 tons harvested in 2013.   

Taiwan does not produce cherries, so 100% of local demand must be met by imports. Taiwan’s imports of U.S. cherries decreased by 55% in 2013; although the United States remained the fruit’s largest in 2013, with 4,401 MT or nearly US$ 34 million.  However, the entry of major southern hemisphere suppliers (e.g., Australia, Chile, and New Zealand) has shifted some market share away from U.S. suppliers in recent years.

In 2013, Taiwan peach/nectarine production totalled 27,156 MT, a nearly 7% decrease below the 2012 output, due in part to excessive rain in April and the powerful Typhoon Soulik, which hit central Taiwan in July.  The majority of peaches/nectarines are grown in the northern and central part of Taiwan.  In 2013, the area planted declined to 2,314 hectares, a 59 hectare decrease from the previous year.

Last year, Taiwan imported a total of 21,553 MT, or US$ 48 million, worth of peaches and nectarines, which represents a 16% increase in volume and 18% in value compared to the previous year.  The United States had the largest market share (76%), followed by Chile (22%), Australia (1.20%), Japan (1.08%), and New Zealand (0.03%).

As for cherries, Taiwan’s total imports dropped significantly, by nearly 45% in volume and 24% in value, reaching a total of 8,284 MT or US$ 67 million.  The United States remained the leading supplier with 53% of the market, followed by Chile (23%), Canada (10%), Australia (8%), and New Zealand (6%).

Publication date: 8/15/2014

Northwest’s cherry crop remains on track to be third biggest in history

Northwest’s cherry crop remains on track to be third biggest in history

The Northwest’s cherry crop remains on track to be the third biggest crop in history.

Northwest Cherry Growers held their five-state cherry commission meeting on Wednesday and largely validated a previous forecast of nearly 20 million boxes expected this year.

Forecasts can be proven wrong by surprises such as rain that can damage a crop just before harvest.

Early this month, the cherry growers released their “Round #1” estimate that predicted 19.96 million, 20-pound boxes, up from last year’s disappointing (because of rain) 14.3 million boxes. At the Wednesday meeting, growers from five states compared notes on different districts and concluded that this year’s harvest was on track for 200,060 tons of cherries.

The bullish forecast resulted from favourable degree days and consistent blooms. Though some trees were not “heavy” with fruit, the early signs were promising. Another encouraging sign was the indication that cherries would ripen in a nice sequence so retailers would get a favourable flow of product.

“This is a humbling business,” said B.J. Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers. “There are no guarantees but I really like the feel of the season we’re in.” Thurlby proceeded to knock on wood.

The Northwest’s bullish outlook contrasted with a depressed crop in California. Northwest growers were told California has so far shipped just 1.2 million boxes of cherries compared with a typical year of 3 million boxes. California’s cherry crop has been damaged by bad weather and inadequate water supplies. “It’s a real mess,” said Tate Mathison of Stemilt Growers of Wenatchee, Washington, which has acreage in California.

At the meeting in Richland, Washington, growers approved an $ 18 per ton assessment to finance marketing of this year’s crop.


Publication date: 5/26/2014

With help from Genpro, Bartolotta sees success in third annual charity fundraiser

Kevin Bartolotta, president of Bartolotta Inc., headquartered in Torrington, CT, held his third annual fundraiser, which ran from Feb. 10 to March 1.

The annual project has grown consistently each year since its inception. This year, Bartolotta partnered in the project with Rob Goldstein, owner and president of Genpro Inc. headquartered in Rutherford, NJ. Goldstein’s human resource director also became involved in organizing the fundraiser.

“We raised $ 36,150, about $ 4,000 more than what we raised in 2013,” Bartolotta told The Produce News. “That number is short of the $ 40,000 we were hoping to raise, but we feel good about the fact that the donations increased over last year.”

Bartolotta and Goldstein plan to partner again in future annual fundraisers and they hope that they will be joined by other companies. Bartolotta remains faithful to his favorite charity group, Friendly Hands Food Bank, also in Torrington. The organization works year round to help people, and is especially helpful during the holidays.

But Bartolotta also chooses other groups in need to split the money raised, and he feels it’s important that he consult with other produce companies across the country for suggestions on nonprofit organizations that the fundraiser can help.

This year two additional beneficiaries were chosen. One is Dorothy’s Place in Salinas, CA, a day center that provides meals, a health clinic, after-school child care, emergency walk-in shelter for homeless women and much more in community aid.

The third beneficiary is the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization with centers across the country that work to honor and empower wounded military people and in raising awareness for the needs of injured service members.

“Each of the three groups will receive $ 12,000 this year,” said Bartolotta. “While we had many new donors this year, some companies that donated heavily in the past two years had to pull back a little this year. We appreciate every dime that we receive.”

Bartolotta also digs deeply into his own pockets. He donated 7.5 cents per package that his company sold during the fundraiser, in addition to $ 50 per truckload.

“We raised $ 10,000 and the remainder came from donors,” he explained. “And the donations came from all over the place — not only produce people — which tells us that word is spreading each year. Even Rob Goldstein’s three kids dug into their personal bank accounts to make a donation.”

Employees of Genpro also reached out to help. The company is a leading truck brokerage operation that provides produce-specific end-to-end, technology-driven service with continuous systematic shipment visibility.

Stacy Petriello, Genpro’s human resource manager, put the fundraising information on the company’s website, which brought awareness to many more people.

“In my past job, I focused a lot on fundraisers and I know that people are more prone to offer up a credit card number when they’re donating,” said Petriello. “In the past, Kevin was having checks sent in to him. We believe that in the future the fundraiser can be organized so as to make it more streamlined and efficient.”

Bartolotta concurs, noting that he was still waiting for some checks to arrive in early April.

“I learned a lot this year, and Rob and Stacy really helped with their suggestions for the future,” he said. “We are now planning to establish a 5.03 non-profit organization to help us be better organized.”

Petriello also developed a letter for Bartolotta to send out announcing the fundraiser, “and as best as I could I collected money to pass on to Kevin,” she added.

The annual fundraiser also includes an incentive award program for donors. Based on the amount of money a company donates it is put into a category for a prize drawing.

This year the grand prize, a seven-day vacation for two to Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa in Cabo San Lucus, Mexico, which was donated by Van Solkema Produce in Byron Center, MI, was won by Richard Cochran, president of Robt. T. Cochran & Co., a full-line produce distributor located in the Bronx, NY.

Lance Dichter, general manager of LD Logistics LLC, a truck brokerage company also in the Bronx, won the second prize, which is a trip to Las Vegas.

“Several gift cards were also awarded,” said Bartolotta. “Bobby Peraza, a sales representative for J&J Family of Farms at the company’s Nogales, Arizona office won a $ 250 gift card. He plans to use the money to hold a party with fellow employees.”

Other gift cards were also presented, including one for $ 500, but the winners chose to remain anonymous. One of Bartolotta’s New England customers, who also wishes to remain nameless, won four tickets to a Boston Red Sox’ game.

“Special thanks for the success of the fundraiser are also extended to my own staff — Becky Helterbran, my administrative assistant, and Lisa Zampaglione, my officer manager,” Bartolotta said. “They, like so many others, were a tremendous help.

“We look forward to next year’s fundraiser, and we’ll be implementing all of the lessons we learned from the three we’ve held so far in an effort to streamline it, market it more heavily and make it an even greater success,” he added. “And we hope to partner with at least one more produce company next year. It’s a very rewarding thing to be able to help people in need, and anyone who would like to join our effort is welcome to contact me.”

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

One third of Top 75 offer e-grocery

Just over a third of the Top 75 — 28 companies — engage in some form of e-grocery.

Twenty retailers offer “click and collect” while 23 provide grocery delivery; 15 have both services. Of those that deliver, four only do so for non-perishables.

Moreover, many of the retailers that do e-grocery only offer it in limited markets. Whole Foods Market, for example, thus far is piloting click and collect at one store in Pennsylvania but plans to expand to other regions this year.

“I think that if you’re interested in driving sales then e-grocery is more attractive than if you’re primarily interested in driving profit,” said Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click. “So that means some of the private companies and heavily sales-driven companies are probably further along than some of the more publicly traded companies that need to balance sales and profits.”

Another factor is how company leaders see e-grocery fitting into their business.

“So you take somebody like Joe Sheridan, who’s the head of Wakefern/ShopRite, he’s extremely aware and competitive in that space,” said Bishop. “And so that combined with the fact that Wakefern is not a publicly traded company would put, as you’re probably aware, in my opinion, ShopRite right at the head of the list of outstanding providers of current retailers.”

Four retailers on the Top 75 list offer e-grocery through their operation of ShopRite stores: Wakefern Food Corp., Village Super Market, Inserra Supermarkets and Saker ShopRite. All do both delivery and store pick-up with the exception of Saker ShopRite, which currently only has click and collect.


Follow @SN_News for updates throughout the day.

Our neighbors to the north have not been as quick to adopt e-grocery, at least among the largest retailers. Sobeys is the only Canadian member of the Top 75 with online ordering, providing both delivery and pick-up through its Thrifty Foods and IGA banners.

Bishop noted there are some smaller Canadian retailers, such as Longo’s, that have made the plunge.

“Now they’re not one of the ones that are probably going to be a leader. But Longo’s does have a pretty nice e-grocery system in Toronto,” he said.

In the future, Bishop predicts e-grocery will spread to the entire U.S., although there likely won’t be one main player.

“I do think that probably in the next five years there’ll be multiple significant online offerings in most major metropolitan areas.”

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New soil testing kit for third world countries

Oct. 16, 2013 — Researchers at the University of Maryland and Columbia University have developed a new soil testing kit designed to help farmers in third world countries. On-the-spot soil testing could have major impact in improving crop yields due to poor soils. The kit contains battery-operated instruments and safe materials for agricultural extension agents to handle in the field. They can test for the availability of nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and potassium, as well as active organic matter, and certain soil physical limitations. The raw results of the tests are sent by cell phone to a central website. Then, calculations are made and recommendations are delivered back to the extension agent.

The kit, called SoilDoc, is the culmination of several years of work in Africa by Ray Weil, PhD. Weil, a soil scientist, spent his 2009 sabbatical working with the Millennium Villages Project in the some of the poorest areas of Africa. He started carrying common soil testing items in his backpack, but found he needed more. Back in the US, he discovered items used for testing home aquariums that would also work for soil tests. Upon returning to Africa, he adapted them with good results, carrying a larger toolkit. A colleague, Pedro Sanchez, a well-known scientist fighting world hunger, suggested that Weil create a product around his homemade kit. Sanchez brought the resources of Columbia University’s Ag and Food Security Center to bear on the project.

A post-doctoral researcher at Sanchez’s Center, Lydiah Gatere, recently rolled out the SoilDoc product. She trained 16 Tanzanian and Nigerian extension personnel. The group plans to conduct more training workshops in 2014 for Tanzania, Nigeria and possibly additional countries. Their vision is to train the trainers: thousands of extension agents, many with little more than a high school education, will then be consultants. They will be ready to diagnose soil fertility problems and offer recommendations to many thousands of “smallholder farmers.” These farmers work on less than 5 acres. The ultimate goal is to significantly increase crop production and food security in Africa.

Gatere will present “Field Kit Soil Tests to Assess Acidity, N, P, S and K Fertility in Kenyan Soils” on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013 at 2:45 PM. The presentation is part of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America Annual Meetings, Nov. 3-6 in Tampa, Florida. The theme of this year’s conference is “Water, Food, Energy, & Innovation for a Sustainable World” (

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News