One to grow on

With Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom as a backdrop, the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit takes center stage in Orlando.

By Craig Levitt

A company is only as good as its people. With that mantra in mind, The Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Assoc­iation (PMA) and its Foundation for Industry Talent (FIT)has made developing and retaining talent a priority at its Fresh Summit Convention Oct. 15-18 in Orlando. PMA FIT is offering numerous opportunities for companies looking to recruit new talent as well as companies that want to hone their employees’ management and leadership skills.

PMA Fresh Summit also features three days of workshops addressing some of today’s most pressing topics, such as: “Traceability in the Real World,” “Consumer Behavior: What’s Next?,” “Cream of the Crop: Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent” and “What’s Your Story? Communicating With Consumers to Create More Customers.” As always the show floor features the best of what companies in the produce industry have to offer. Here is a look at a few:

Chelan Fresh Marketing
In addition to its ongoing Disney program, Chelan, Wash.-based Chelan Fresh Marketing will feature its newest program at PMA, NFL Play 60, According to Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing, the NFL Play 60 program ties in what kids learn at school through NFL Play 60, which is spending 60 minutes a day  exercising and eating well.

“Our hope is kids will go home and tell mom and dad ‘hey this is what we saw in school and these are the types of foods we’d like to get.’ And apples and milk are big part of it.”

Part of the Chelan Disney program focuses on the movie Toy Story highlighting the DVD release in November. Riggan also anticipates continuing with Disney through 2012 and that discussions in the booth will revolve around future plans.

Chilean Avocado Importers Association
The Aptos, Calif.-based Chil­ean Avocado Importers Assoc­iation (CAIA) tried to retire the AvoDog, but popular de­mand wouldn’t let them. That and it is also being featured in the CAIA national kick-off promotion and Fox football campaign. The joint promotion with the Haas Avocado Board runs November through December. In January, the CAIA will become the first produce company to sponsor a college bowl game, according to Maggie Bezart, marketing director.

“We will be discussing with retailers all of our promotional programs for the upcoming year,” says Bezart. “Also,  due to the freeze and extended California crop, we will be discussing volumes and promotional opportunities associated with moving those volumes.”

Along with the promotional opportunities, which include the “Avocado Lovers” consumer contest and the tailgate-themed “Grab One for the Game” program, Bezart says the CAIA offers retailers a new bin that holds double the capacity of the bin from last year, yet within the same space, featuring a double-sided sign which retailers can use to advertise the various promotional opportunities.

The Chilean Avocado Importers Association can be found within the Chilean Fresh Fruit Pavilion.

Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI is using PMA to focus on its Daisy Girl organic and Or­chard Fresh programs. The Daisy Girl organic program consists of apples for the fall season, with pears to follow, says Bob Mast, vice president of marketing. The launch includes POS materials with the Daisy Girl logo featured on bins, tote bags, a 3-pound bag and 7” x 11” POS card.

“The Daisy Girl slogan is ‘from our backyard to yours’ and an image shows a farmhouse with an apple tree nearby attached by a clothesline with a yellow dress hanging,” says Mast. “That’s the Daisy Girl look. We never show Daisy Girl, we leave who she is up to the imagination. So a grandmother may envision her granddaughter or a young man may envision his wife. We have left it open to letting it appeal to the emotions of consumers and let them decide who their own Daisy Girl is.”

Orchard Fresh, CMI’s conventional line, has a new look as well. Mast says CMI has tried to create a compelling look with mini-bins and tote bags that look like a roadside stand. “Basically crates that just came out of the orchard,” he says. The apple bins and tote bags feature a sweet/tart meter on the side for the different varieties and the pear totes say which wine and cheese match up best with a certain pear.

“We are trying to make pears trendier for younger consumers while also emphasizing around the holiday season,” says Mast.

Desert Glory
The 15-year-old San An­tonio-based company is using PMA to focus on unveiling the story of the NatureSweet tomato brand, according to Bobby Patton, vice president of marketing. For Desert Glory, that means discussing the usage occasions for its three product lines.

Patton says the signature brand is the NatureSweet Cherry and it is the only nationally branded cherry tomato. He says that this tomato goes a long way towards making a meal fresh, and that fact is being emphasized at PMA. Creating growth in the grape subsection of fresh tomatoes has been the NatureSweet Cherubs, which is in distribution primarily from the Mississippi River and west. This tomato, says Patton is perfect for salads while the third tomato, the NatureSweet Sunburst, a yellow cherry tomato, is a snacking tomato.

“We are also highlighting, and this is what makes us unique in the fresh tomato industry, our merchandising capabilities,” says Patton. “We put incremental racks in the produce section, which no one else is doing. We want the customers we partner with to grow the fresh tomato category. We help them do that by bringing forward consumer programs that are both in-store and out-of-store.”

Beyond selling tomatoes, Patton says a major part of the NatureSweet story is the human element and how they impact consumers, retailers and just as important, employees. “Our associates are the heart of our company, we put them first,” says Patton.

Dole Fresh Fruit
Dole Fresh Fruit will be using PMA to showcase “Go Bananas After Dark,” a long-term initiative design­ed to introduce banana lovers to the wonders of bananas after the sun goes down. The program kicked off in May as a direct response to research showing that while 95% of American households buy bananas, almost all of the fruit is consumed early in the day.

“We will be serving guests at the booth samples of the popular Dole Banana S’mores—the same recipe we took on the road to TV stations, BBQ festivals and other events all summer long,” says communications manager Bil Goldfield.

During the summer Dole Fresh Fruit developed a multimedia “Go Bananas After Dark” communications program encompassing local spot radio, national digital/online and social media, PR and strategic partnerships with Char-Broil and other brands to increase awareness of after-dark banana consumption nationally and in key banana-friendly markets such as New Orleans, Kansas City and Des Moines. A key component of the program was the creation of the first-ever Dole bananas-dedicated microsite ( and Facebook page to showcase the unique nature of the fruit.  According to Goldfield the Facebook page amassed more than 150,000 fans in its first three months.

For the remainder of 2010, Dole Fresh Fruit will be switching the emphasis of “Go Bananas After Dark” from backyard summer grilling to fall tailgating, and eventually to baked recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas and holiday entertaining. All of these special summer, fall and holiday Dole Banana recipes will be distributed at PMA and featured on the Dole Bananas micrcosite.

On the Dole Fresh Vegetables side, packaged salads, berries and whole vegetables are getting a facelift with a new array of graphics.

Dulcich & Sons
Dulcich & Sons will have their new Pretty Lady colander bags front and center at PMA. According to Nick Dulcich, director of sales/owner, with expertly placed holes for perfect drainage, all the customer has to do is open the top, run under the kitchen faucet, than let dry on their rack for a minute or two. Retailers are discovering that this new packaging has a variety of benefits other than just as a disposable colander that saves the consumer time. Dulcich says many have reported that not only do they find the self-standing, flat bottom bags easy to display, but they are also very effective at catching a shopper’s eye.

“The feedback has been amazing,” says Dulcich. “The new bag acting as a colander has raised some eyebrows, as it is not only an easy and effective way to rinse and store the grapes, but is also less expensive than some other counterparts now available in the industry.”

In addition to the new colander bags, the company will also be showing the rest of their 2010 merchandising products, which include Pretty Lady shelf danglers and matching display bins. Together, Dulcich says these newly designed items create a cohesive look for Dulcich’s premium products, and are sure to increase sales for produce departments carrying Pretty Lady Premium Table Grapes this fall.

Included in the newly branded merchandising efforts is the popular Harvest Hobgoblin Program, available again this October. While the Hobgoblin program was originally created specifically for Halloween, Dulcich says many retailers have commented that it could fit the fall theme of their produce department and add a little “flavor” to the programs that are already in place.

Earthbound Farm
“At Earthbound Farm, organic food is more than our business. It’s our passion,” says Samantha Caba­luna, director of communications and marketing for the San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based company.

That passion is expected to shine through at PMA. Earthbound Farm began on a two and half-acre backyard garden in Carmel Valley, California, with a big commitment to the health of the land. That meant farming organically. Today Cabaluna says Earthbound Farm is the largest grower of organic produce in North America.

“Together with 150 dedicated family farmers, who use the same regenerative farming methods on the smallest farm (about 5 acres) as on the biggest (about 680 acres), we work to bring the benefits of organic food to as many people as possible and serve as a catalyst for positive change,” says Cabaluna.

While the company has grown over the years, the commitment to the environment is as strong as ever. In 2010 their organic farming on about 35,000 acres will keep more than 11.5 million pounds of synthetic chemicals out of the environment, and their organic fields will absorb as much carbon dioxide as taking more than 7,800 cars off the road.

“We’re proud to offer a reliable supply of over 100 varieties of innovative, healthy, and delicious organic salads, fruits, and vegetables, making organic food accessible to people wherever they shop and eat, all across the country,” says Cabaluna.

Fresherized Foods
The Fresherized Foods booth has the makings of great party. Traditionally the Saginaw, Texas based company features its GuacMobile, however this year’s booth has a Vegas theme with live casino games such as Texas Hold ‘em, Craps, Slots and Roulette as well televisions playing the weekend football games. Jay Alley, vice president, retail operations, says the theme ties into the company’s philosophy that its’ Wholly product line, which consists of Wholly Guacamole, Wholly Salsa and newcomer Wholly Queso are perfect party items. Along with the product offerings, Fresherized Foods is also showing off a rack system that can reinforce sales opportunities for retailers.

“We have been testing the rack system in the Northeast for about a year and it has been showing huge double-digit increases, in the 50% to 60% range,” says Alley. “So we will be looking to roll that program out nationally.”

He says they are looking at testing the rack system in about 1,200 stores across the country with the intent of building a party destination for the retailer. He adds that Fresherized offers other things for retailers to get excited about, all designed to help them sell product. Some of those other things include major sports sponsorships with team like the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys as well as a potential college bowl game sponsorship.

Ocean Mist Farms
The first order of business at PMA for Ocean Mist Farms is a focus on sustainability. A large part of that consists of showcasing the Castroville, Calif.-based company’s new waxless recyclable carton, an alternative to the traditional industry standard of waxed cartons for hydro-cooled vegetable commodities.

“Because these waxless alternative cartons are recyclable they can be placed in regular corrugated container bales, which minimizes the amount of paper that goes into a landfill and increases grocers’ recycling revenue,” says marketing manager Kori Tuggle.

Conservation methods are being implementing within the booth as well. Instead of bottled water the booth will feature water dispensers, water cups made of earth friendly corn material and food prepared by Chef Tony Parker will be served with plates and utensils made of sustainable compostable materials. There will also be compost receptacles within the booth making it easier for visitors to recycle.

“With the amount of waste we create on a daily basis within our booth, it only makes sense to use the same recycling practices we do at our own business facilities,” says Tuggle. “We feel good about making it easier for visitors to our booth to reduce-reuse-recycle.”

Ocean Mist is also debuting a premium 2-count fennel (Sweet Anise) clamshell pack. Tuggle says that Ocean Mist has been growing the Italian specialty for more than eight decades and its proprietary fennel variety consistently produces a bright white large bulb. She adds that the clamshell has 100% product visibility country of origin and UPC code.

Shuman Produce
Shuman Produce is unveiling a new booth at PMA where the Reidsville, Ga.-based grower/shipper is intent on delivering three main messages; that they are a year-round grower/shipper, their dedication to food safety and traceability and their innovative marketing. Retailers shouldn’t underestimate the advantages of working with a year-round grower/shipper. John Shuman, president, says “the benefit of a year-round season creates a consistent brand image on the retailer’s shelf, plus retailers don’t have to work with more than one supplier.”

Shuman Produce also boasts a four-star rating with Primus Labs, one of the major accepted third party food safety programs. “As a platinum member Primus allows us to make our food safety information available online for retailers to look at. That is just more transparency and we hope that transparency grows confidence.” Shuman has also embraced the need for traceability with the instillation of comprehensive traceability program.

In regard to marketing, Shuman offers multiple 5-pound promotions to retailers in attempt to bring value to consumers while also catering to retailer needs. “We have a platform that we use to see if it fits with what retailers want,” says Shuman. “And we can make adjustments along the way to meet these needs even better. The program changes with every retailer we go to.”

One significant promotion featured at PMA is Shuman’s partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness Month with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. According to Shuman, 3- and 5-pound sweet onion bags will carry the signature pink ribbon.

Sun-Maid Growers
The Kingsburg, Calif.-based grower/co-operative will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2012 and will be starting the party early at PMA. Part of the celebration includes the unveiling of a new booth.

“The old booth was 12 years-old and we were due for an update,” says Joe Tamble, vice president of sales. “The new booth has a more modern look to it, yet we are going to emphasize the fact that we are approaching our 100th anniversary by highlighting the tradition of those 100 years.”

The booth will include video screens playing commercials as well as messaging conveying Sun-Maid’s leadership in the dried fruit category. In fact, Tamble says part of Sun-Maid’s objective at PMA is to continue and convey to its trade partners that dried fruit is a growing and profitable category and that Sun-Maid is leading the charge.

There will be new products on display as well, including vanilla minis and vanilla cherries. The vanilla minis are available in a 10-count mini bag while the vanilla cherries come in a resealable stand up bag, similar to other Sun-Maid products offered. Even with the cherry product, Tamble says the core of products at PMA will obviously consist of raisins.

“Our grapes and sunshine theme is still very much who we are,” he says. “And that simple message is still important as more consumers are looking for that healthy alternative to sweet. From a retailer standpoint, they can still make some money as we provide very good margins.”

Sun World International
Since 1976, Sun World Inter­national has been a developer, grower and marketer of fresh fruits and vegetables. The Bakersfield, Calif.-based company is currently focusing on three key areas to bring fresh ideas to the produce arena:  innovation, differentiation and collaboration. According to Natalie Erlendson, marketing specialist, those three areas will be on display and discussed with visitors to Sun World’s booth. There will be sampling of Sun World’s unique and proprietary varieties as well as a demonstration of how consumer-unit traceability works first hand. Differentiation, by showing how Sun World is marketing its proprietary brands and new products to enhance retailers produce category. Sun World also collaborates with retailers by helping them turn consumer insights and unique marketing programs into category growth.

The Garlic Co.
“We are reinventing our brand at PMA,” says John Duffus, sales and marketing manager. The new look for the Bakersfield, Calif.-based company includes a new logo and new graphics for its retail brand. “It’s more of modern look that features the fact that we are from California,” he adds.

Although the Garlic Company has been around since 1980, most of its business was done at the food service and industrial ingredient level. Duffus say they felt there was a “need to bring up our image so it is relevant in the retail market.”

In addition to the brand building, The Garlic Company is also showing its new 3-oz. bag along with the retail half-pound and one-pound bags for bulk bulbs as well as its VakPak product and POS materials.

Duffus says PMA will also be used as a platform for the Garlic Company to discuss the “craziness of garlic market right now.” China produces about 70% of the world’s garlic, yet for the past two years the Chinese garlic crop has been significantly diminished causing a shortage and concern that demand is going to exceed supply. Duffus says this has caused garlic prices to nearly double.

“With garlic it’s hard to adjust to the supply situation,” says Duffus. “It’s not like tomatoes where you can just plant more seed. We are handcuffed by the amount of seed available, which are essentially garlic bulbs. We have to explain this to retailers, but we are making sure that all our regular customers are covered on supply and we are confident that will be the case.”

Village Farms
In keeping with the consumer trend toward value and convenience in the face of the new economy, Village Farms has added value-added packaging to their full line of tomato, sweet bell pepper, and cucumber retail product offerings. The Eatontown, N.J.-based company will be featuring its value-added products at PMA.

In addition to its value-added products, Village Farms has enhanced its packaging capabilities to service its value-added business at all its distribution centers in the U.S. and Canada to meet the growing demand from its customers.  According to Doug Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, “Village Farms’ value-added packaging capabilities are state of the art and ready to handle volume.”

New items displayed at the show include Tomato-on-the-Vine in 2-pound clamshells, Roma tomatoes in 2-pound clamshells, and Beefsteak tomatoes in 3-pound clamshells. Sweet Bell Peppers in 2-pound and 6-count zip-lock tamper proof bags will be shown in 3 color options; red, yellow-orange, and red-yellow-orange and long English cucumbers in 2-count and 3-count pack sizes. Other new value-added items for Village Farms include Mini-Cucumbers in 8-count trays and 2-pound zip-lock tamper proof bags.

Well-Pict Berries
Well-Pict Berries is excited to show off their new raspberry variety at PMA.  Using tried-and-true growing methods, where the cultivars are picked based on the desired characteristics of the fruit they bear, Dan Crowley sales manager, says this variety has been naturally engineered to deliver not only larger berries, but “supersized” flavor as well.  These new raspberries also maintain all the flavor that Well-Pict is known for worldwide.

In addition to the improved raspberry, Well-Pict is announcing the introduction of their new strawberry variety. While it’s their first year in production, these strawberries were specifically developed to produce larger berries later in the season, without sacrificing any of their natural flavors. He says this makes for bigger strawberries and for even more beautiful displays this fall, which means higher sales in produce departments. Both the new raspberry and the new strawberry varieties will be on display and available for tasting.

“We’re thrilled to have our new varieties ready for people to enjoy at this year’s show,” he says.  “It takes a lot of time, money and energy to develop superior varieties like these, and we think people will not only be able to see, but also taste the difference.”

Equipment/Service Providers

BioSafe Systems
BioSafe Systems will be featuring the new FogTunnel Produce Treatment System and the comprehensive “Field to Fork” food safety program at PMA. The FogTunnel will be on display and live produce treatment demonstrations will be taking place throughout the day. Thomas Garcia, National Accounts Manager, says BioSafe Systems will be also featured in the PMA’s Food Safety Solutions Center as their “Field to Fork” food safety program addresses the ever-changing GAP and HACCP audit requirements that producers, packers, processors, shippers and retailers are now facing. From chemical solutions to field support to dosing and monitoring equipment.

CHEP is promoting its “Bet­ter Everyday” quality improvement program and the Or­lando-based company’s support for environmental sustainability. They will also discuss the latest developments in global supply chain efficiency and the new partnerships that have been formed with growers, shippers and trade associations.

According to Karen Hempel, senior vice president of sales and marketing, CHEP USA “The Better Everyday” program consists of pallet quality improvement so users receive the most reliable shipping platform available, ease of doing business to improve productivity throughout the supply chain and a renewed customer focus. The company is committing $200 million to program.

“CHEP’s goal is to improve overall supply chain efficiency and sustainability through product and service offerings,” says Hempel. “To accomplish this goal of driving integrated business performance and environmental stewardship, sustainable development criteria is a core component in the design and execution of all products, services and processes.”

New pallets from Or­lando-­based iGPS will be on hand at PMA this year. According to Lou Taffer, chief marketing officer, many of the company’s new pallets are fitted with a GPS chip, which enables iGPS to locate a given pallet as well as allows for pallets to send alerts back to the company.

“For example, if a pallet was to go to an area that they weren’t supposed to, it’ll call home, or we can send out a signal telling it to call home so we know where they are,” says Taffer.

In addition to the pallets, iGPS recently announced that they are opening a national sales and innovation center in the Bentonville area and will be providing info on that at PMA as well. Taffer says much of the messaging at PMA will also be about how using iGPS pallets can save money, based on information provided by iGPS customers.

“Our pallets are 25 pounds lighter than wood, so there is a savings right there,” says Taffer. “Our customers have also documented that there is virtually no production down time attributed to iGPS pallets and there is much less product damage because our pallet is much more rigid.”

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