Fresh from the summit

A walk around the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit revealed a rainbow of fruits and vegetables along with packaging upgrades.

By Suzanne Vita Palazzo

Innovation was plentiful at the 2010 Produce Marketing Association (PMA)’s Fresh Summit, held Oct. 15-18 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. Grocery Headquarters takes a look at some of the noteworthy product, packaging and promotional developments to grace the tradeshow floor.

News was plentiful at the Chiquita booth, where product developments and new food safety technology took center stage. On the healthy snacking side of the business, the company launched Juice + Fruit Duos, a line of four fresh fruit cups that feature real juice and has no added sugar. The company also debuted its FreshRinse technology, a produce wash designed to reduce microorganisms on leafy greens and to better maintain freshness. According to Joe Huston, president of Chiquita North Amer­ica, the new technology stands to be one of the industry’s biggest innovations in the past 20 years.

Christopher Ranch
The Christopher Ranch booth was filled with company developments, including several new products and packaging options. One particularly exciting debut was the company’s packaged green garlic. Resembling scallions in appearance, green garlic is reportedly a favorite among many chefs, and can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Patsy Ross, marketing representative for the company, also highlighted Christopher Ranch’s new line of peeled specialty onions as well as its peeled garlic in new stand-up pouches.

Curry and Co.
The Vidalia name is not just reserved for onions anymore, thanks to the launch of Vidalia Sweet Carrots by Curry and Co. Like Vidalia sweet onions, the new carrots can only be grown in designated regions within Georgia that have the exclusive rights to the Vidalia carrot seed. Harvest occurs from January through early June, and the carrots will have a national and local presence. One- to 10-pound consumer packs are currently available

Bananas are no longer just for breakfast. That’s the message of Dole’s new “Bananas After Dark” marketing campaign, which aims to encourage consumers to eat bananas at other times of the day. An extensive online program, including an interactive website and Facebook page, as well as in-store promotions and sampling, all combine to provide shoppers with quick, practical recipe ideas. Additionally, Dole officials highlighted the company’s  revamped bagged salad packaging. The new packages are scheduled to start shipping in early 2011.

Fresherized Foods
With the popularity of guacamole and the healthfulness of avocados on the rise, Fresherized Foods, the makers of Wholly Guacamole, is actively promoting its 100-calorie packs. Jay Allen, vice president of retail operations for the company, says that the portable convenience of the packages makes them ideal for moms on the go as well as a great fit for kids’ lunches. He also notes that the company’s Wholly Queso products are great for accompanying fresh veggies and for rounding out holiday entertaining and tailgaiting spreads. A recently launched website,, takes this concept a step further by giving consumers ideas for tailgating at home.

Hurst’s Berry Farms
Although it has a very short window of availability from late September through October, the kiwiberry, which was being sampled and displayed at the company’s booth, has proven to be a big hit for Hurst’s Berry Farms. A fuzzless, bite-sized fruit, the kiwiberry has a similar flavor to a conventional kiwi, but it also has some sweeter attributes. According to Doug Perkins, director of sales for the company, in-store consumer education is crucial for proper promotion of the product, as many shoppers are not familiar with the unique variety.

Idaho Potato Commission
The buzz at the IPC booth surrounded the organization’s new comic book retail ad campaign, which features the Idaho Potato Field Force—animated depictions of four real-life IPC field representatives. The initiative has been designed to offer practical solutions to everyday issues that retailers face, such as interpreting market sales data and developing effective marketing tools. A series of online videos further supports the campaign. A third “surprise” element is ex­pected to be released later in the year.

Pear Bureau Northwest
According to Dennis James, director of marketing for the Pear Bureau Northwest, most consumers are unaware of how to choose a perfectly ripe pear. With that in mind, the organization has launched its “Check the Neck” program, which has been designed to compliment retailers’ own ripening programs to ensure that consumers have an enjoyable pear-eating experience. The campaign features an illustration of how to properly check the ripeness of a pear and is currently available to support the fall crop, which James notes produced larger than normal fruit. He says that although there was initially some concern regarding the prolonged harvest period, the extended time proved to be just what the fruit needed to bulk up.

A new retail stand-up bag is now available from Sunlight, a grower of California table grapes. The package, which is currently available in stores, has been designed to double as a colander for easy cleaning and storage once it is brought home. Additionally, the company highlighted the success of its Hob Goblin campaign, a Halloween-themed pack­aging concept that has proven to boost impulse sales of its grapes.

The Garlic Co.
Responding to the demand for packaged diced garlic made without any preservatives, The Garlic Co. has announced the launch of a  preservative-free, fresh diced garlic in vacuum-packed pouches. According to Corrine Pettit, retail sales manager, the patent-pending item, which is scheduled to begin shipping in November, has a 45-day shelf life. She also notes that the pouches have been designed to be recipe ready, including approximately half an ounce or three to four cloves of diced garlic so there is no waste.

Wada Farms
With an emphasis on color, texture and variety, Wada Farms officials were proud to highlight the company’s various sweet potato offerings, which include red, orange, purple and white varieties. All of the sweet potatoes are packaged and available nationally under the Dole brand. CEO Bob Meek notes that while many consumers may be most familiar with the red and orange varieties, each type of sweet potato has a unique flavor.

In response to consumer demand for larger size fruit, Well-Pict has developed two new varieties of berries. A new strawberry variety, designed to produce larger berries later in the season without sacrificing any of their flavor, joins the latest raspberry variety, which will now compose the entire Well-Pict raspberry crop. According to James Grabowski, merchandising manager for the company, both offerings deliver large fruit with vibrant color and flavor. He says an extended growing season yields a year-round supply.

Classic Salads
Previously only available in food service, the Classic Salad line of organic packaged salads is now available for retail customers. The line includes five-ounce clamshells of spring mix, sweet baby lettuces, baby spinach, baby romaine, baby arugula and fresh herb mix, as well as a seven-ounce clamshell of romaine heart whole leaves. Additionally, one-pound clamshells of the baby spinach and spring mix varieties are available as are three chopped ro­maine blends. All gourmet varieties are available as private label of­ferings.

Rainier Fruit Co.
Rainier Fruit Co. officials were proudly showing visitors the company’s new QR code technology that is now being featured on select display cartons, bins and bags. Generated by the company specifically for its own use, the code, which is scanned by shoppers’ smart phones in the store, gives consu­mers immediate access to a variety of information, including rec­ipe ideas and growing specifications.

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