Going for gold

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association Annual Convention heads to Vancouver.

By Carol Radice

The ski jumps have been disassembled, the hockey skates hung up and the snow they trucked in for the Winter Olympics has long melted, but Vancouver is far from returning to its roots as a quiet gateway to the Pacific Northwest. On May 12 to 14, the city is playing host to the Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) Annual Convention & Trade show, Fresh Excellence, located at the Vancouver Convention Center, British Columbia. The show has grown into one of the top places for attendees to view the latest new products and programs from more than 240 exhibitors from the U.S., Canada and Mexico as well as many other countries.
Here’s a preview of what attendees can ex­pect to see from some of the companies exhibiting at this year’s show.

Terry Braithwaite, director of marketing for Chelan Fresh Marketing, says the company will be promoting its GrannRosé apples and Disney programs.

“Our relationship with Disney has allowed us as a shipper to emphasize the importance of healthy eating for kids,” he says. “While health-oriented marketing has been a growing trend for several years, we recognize that we purely offer one of the most natural and healthy products on the market. The connection with Disney characters helps to grab consumers’ attention, makes the packaging memorable, and helps drive repeat purchases.”

GrannRosé will be Chelan Fresh Marketing’s second area of focus at the show. “As a Northwest shipper, we grow many blush Granny Smith apples,” he says. “GrannRosé apples not only taste sweeter, but with less starch, they are healthier than traditional Granny Smith apples. While most Granny’s tend to be picked [before they are ripe], ours stay on the tree longer,” he says.

According to Braithwaite, the goal for this program is three fold: to help educate consumers that “blush is better;” rejuvenate the overall granny category and improve their growers’ return on investment.

Over the past 20 years, Wenatchee, Wash.-based Columbia Marketing International (CMI) has steadily grown into one of  the state’s largest apple, pear and cherry shipper and grower and continues to be a pioneer in new varieties, sustainability, creative packaging and growing technologies.

At this year’s convention, CMI will be introducing its new Daisy Girl organics program. According to Bob Mast, vice president of marketing, inspiration for the Daisy Girl Organics program was inspired by the concept “from our backyard to yours” and all collateral materials for retailers now reflect this. “These pieces feature a young child in an organic orchard setting with all the pure, just picked flavor and quality you would expect from your own apple trees,” says Mast. “The new attractive packaging will help the consumer to quickly identify the product as organic.”

CMI has been a strong advocate of organic growing for years and its organic products are distinguished as some of the best organic fruit in the market, according to company officials. “The nutrient-rich soil, arid climate, plentiful water and advanced growing practices provide the right ingredient for producing top-quality organic fruit,” Mast says.

In addition to Daisy Girl Apple Bags, tote bags, POS materials and boxes, Mast says CMI has created a new two-box display shipper that ships with fruit.

Located in Cashmere, Wash., the heart of Washington state apple country, Crunch Pak is a leading maker of cleaned, ready-to-eat fresh apple slices.

“For many years, our company has lead the sales of sliced apples in the U.S under our Crunch Pak, Disney Garden and now Burger King branding relationships,” says Tony Freytag, director of marketing for Crunch Pak. “With both East and West Coast production facilities and product designed and labeled for Canadian distribution, we are ready for this next step.” He notes that a full assortment of SKUs will be available throughout Canada including the 14-ounce family size, single snackers with apples and grapes, and clamshells with individual bags of sliced apples and dips.

Freytag describes Crunch Pak’s programs as a combination of  everyday value and right-priced promotions designed to increase consumption and consumer loyalty. “We are not about training consumers to just buy on sale. We do extensive consumer research to find out the right price points and design product sizes and assortment to fit,” Freytag says.

At CPMA, Del Monte Fresh Produce, based in Coral Gables, Fla., will be exhibiting its full line of fresh and fresh cut products, including Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet pineapple, bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew, tomatoes, avocados, grapes and their deciduous line. The company will also be featuring its Controlled Ripening Technology (CRT) packaging for 40-pound bulk banana boxes and single finger bananas.

According to Dionysios Christou, vice president marketing, Del Monte Fresh Produce, the CRT 40-pound bulk banana packaging, targeted at traditional grocery and club/wholesale stores, was developed to address the need to better manage the ripening and handling process, reduce shrink and labor costs. “The goal was to have a better quality banana at store level and to help increase sales. The technology helps to extend the shelf life of the bananas and produces a better looking, better tasting banana with less bruising and a brighter yellow color,” says Christou.

He describes Del Monte’s CRT single finger banana as 100% natural, individually packaged, and designed to satisfy the demand for premium quality Del Monte bananas in non traditional retail channels. “Research and tests have shown that consumers enjoy the sweeter taste and improved texture and operators enjoy the reduction in shrink and labor costs,” he says, noting that the packages’ cutting-edge technology helps maintain optimal quality and controls ripening to extend the yellow life of the banana for up to five days.

“Del Monte continues to place emphasis on innovation by introducing new products to the market and researching alternatives to improve upon its current products, processes and packaging. As a leader in the industry, we understand our responsibility to help educate consumers on healthy lifestyles by encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” says Christou.

According to Tracey Altman, vice president of marketing for Fort Worth-based Fresherized Foods, makers of Wholly Salsa and Wholly Guacamole, the company will be focusing on several of their new products at the CPMA show including their newly introduced Wholly Salsa Snack Packs, available in both a “Classic” variety including mild, medium and hot and a sweeter “Garden Fresca” version. Both are packaged in 3.6-ounce individual portion-control cups, four per sleeve. The company will also be featuring its new Wholly Queso, 14-ounce cheese dips, available in Blanco and Classic flavors.

“The Canadian Market is big for us and we are extremely excited about new distributions and building relationships in the Canadian market with our staple products as well as our newer ones like Wholly Salsa and Wholly Queso which will be available beginning in May,” says Altman.

“We have found the further north you go that a lot of people don’t know what guacamole is so this show is a good opportunity for us to build the market for it. Convenience is important, as are foods that are easy to prepare. Ethnic foods are becoming more popular as well so we are excited about the potential that Wholly Guacamole, Salsa and Queso bring to the refrigerated fresh produce sections.”

Connecting with customers is one of the chief goals of attending the CPMA show, notes Candi Fitch, executive director of the Parma, Idaho-based Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Com­mittee. Fitch notes that during the past several years the committee has exhibited at the show they have built many relationships in Canada. “The Export Committee uses the show as a way to increase awareness of our growing region and the high-quality onions that are grown in the Snake River area of Idaho and Malheur County Oregon,” says Fitch.

“Not many are aware that the Idaho-Eastern Oregon onion growing region is one of the largest in the U.S. and supplies about 30% of all the fresh onions in the country between the months of August and March,” she says, noting that harvest of the Idaho-E. Oregon Onion region begins in August and continues until October. Onions grown in the Idaho-E. Oregon region, adds Fitch, are governed by a Federal Marketing Order.

“Convention attendees at the Vancouver CPMA will have the opportunity to meet with Idaho-E. Oregon Onion shippers and Committee members, and will be some of the first to see the newly released video, ‘Watch your Onion Profits Bloom,’ that will be shown at our booth during the convention,” says Fitch.

Attendees who stop by the Mastronardi Produce booth will find several new items being launched. According to Chris Veillon, director of marketing for the Kingsville, Ontario, Canada-based company, new items include: SUNSET Mini Kumato grape tomatoes, a dry pint format, grape tomato, unique color with sweet taste, cousin to KUMATO; SUNSET ONE SWEET Peppers, extra week elongated peppers available in an 8-ounce, multi-color pack;  SUNSET Minzano Snack Tomato, a dry pint format, plum shape, a mini San Marzano variety with a unique shape and flavor; and SUNSET Kidz Program—MiMi Candy Tomatoes, a 3-ounce pack, extra sweet cherry tomato.
Company officials will also be showing attendees a number of new projects it has on tap for this year, including the start of construction of a carbon negative greenhouse.

Veillon notes that Mastronardi’s website, www.sunsetproduce.com, has been updated and now includes recipe ideas from celebrity chef Kathy Casey.

At this year’s show the company will introduce its new theme, “From our Family Farms to your family’s table.” Robin Doran, director of communications for the Salinas, Calif.-based company says the booth will highlight their local blueberry growers as well as their locally grown program.  “Our local grower, Ray Biln, will be on hand at the booth. To accentuate his appearance, we are going to be showing a video loop that features our family farmers across North America who grow fresh berries for us, many of whom are third generation farmers.”

Doran says in addition, all of the Naturipe products will be on display. “We will offer product sampling and will display large colorful graphics,” Dorian says. “Attendees will also notice that our booth is much bigger and easier to spot this year.”

Family-owned Ocean Mist Farms, is based in Castroville, Calif., in the heart of the World’s Artichoke Capitol, a region with prime soil and microclimates. Comprised of third- and fourth-generation growers, Ocean Mist Farms may be best know for its signature fresh artichokes, but it also grows a full line of premium fresh vegetables, including lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, fava beans and more.

According to Kori Tuggle, the company’s marketing manager, Ocean Mist’s focus is on providing the safest, most nutritious vegetables possible.

Tuggle notes that the company will be exhibiting its new bi-lingual packaging at the show. “With our new French/English packaging, there are three areas we focused on improving: product visibility, strengthened nutrition value information for the customer and consistent graphic design to enhance the product inside,” says Tuggle. “We wanted shoppers to see more of the product, but at the same time wanted to ensure we were in compliance with the Canadian labeling laws. The result is a comprehensive package redesign that brings consistency to the company’s branding elements, including name, logo and graphics, and prominently features the company’s website, www.oceanmist.com.”

When CPMA returns to The Oppenheimer Group’s hometown of Vancouver, B.C., visitors to the company’s booth will discover some of the best produce from around the neighborhood, notes Dawn Gray, Oppenheimer’s senior vice president of sales, marketing and categories. The full-service marketer will offer a fresh look at conventionally-grown greenhouse tomatoes-on-the-vine, beefsteak tomatoes and cucumbers grown by Houwe­ling’s Hot House in nearby Delta, and sweet bell peppers produced by Sun Select Produce, Inc. in Aldergrove, a short distance away.

The Oppenheimer exhibit will also feature organic greenhouse cucumbers, tomatoes-on-the-vine and beefsteak tomatoes from Origin Organic Farms, sold under the OriginO brand and grown in the same vicinity.  “CPMA is perfectly timed for us to share the bounty of our local greenhouse growers,” says Gray. “The Canadian greenhouse season will be in full production with products at the peak of flavor.”

In addition to its greenhouse vegetables, Oppenheimer will also showcase other seasonal items at CPMA. Signature brands ZESPRI and ENZA will be featured, with green and gold kiwifruit, as well as JAZZ apple samples shared at the booth.

The Tanimura & Antle families have been growing premium fresh produce for over 25 years. Based in Cali­fornia’s Salinas Valley, this family owned and operated business focuses on quality, freshness and innovation to deliver a full line of fresh vegetables across North America, Europe and Asia.

Based on the success of Tanimura & Antle’s Artisan Lettuce, Diana McClean, marketing manager for the company, says they will continue promotion of this unique lettuce variety pack at CPMA 2010. “Our Artisan Lettuce is whole head, petite mature lettuce, offering unrivaled flavor, freshness and variety and is available in two-, four-, and six-count packages,” says McClean.

“In addition to our Artisan Let­tuce, Tani­mura & Antle will continue to promote our full line of fresh vegetables at the show, which includes over eight varieties of lettuce, broccoli, broccoflower, celery, cauliflower, green onions, sweet and round red onions, plus a selection of specialty vegetables,” she says.

Attendees at CMPA will find Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries promoting its two new proprietary varieties of premium strawberries and raspberries. According to Dan Crowley, sales manager for the company, the new strawberry variety is bred for excellence in flavor, size, shape, texture, and shelf life, while the latest raspberry variety features a much larger sized berry with all of the full flavor of other Well-Pict varieties. “At Well-Pict, we offer year-round availability and a variety of packaging options in both conventional and organic lines, our berries are shipped within hours of harvest to ensure they arrive as fresh and perfect as possible, every time,” says Crowley.

The company will also be promoting its newly redesigned two-pound strawberry clamshell, which officials note will help reduce fuel and freight costs while lowering the impact on the environment. “We wanted to go beyond product protection. Packing in a 4×2 configuration with a 160 case count, the new clamshell design provides approximately 35% more unit density, resulting in reduced fuel usage and cheaper freight rates without compromising product quality or consumer safety,” says Crowley. He notes that the clamshell’s smooth sides help reduce damage to the berries while still providing ventilation and cooling for overall product protection.

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