North of the border

Produce growers are heading to Canada to celebrate the warm weather and share their latest offerings at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Annual Convention & Trade Show.

By Elizabeth Louise Hatt

Montréal may not be known for its produce, but for three days this month it will be the center of the produce universe as growers, retailers and industry experts visit the city to discuss the industry’s hottest topics and check out the latest and greatest products and innovations.

The largest Canadian trade show dedicated to the produce industry, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s Annual Convention & Trade Show attracts exhibitors from Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Central America, Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Here is a preview of what attendees can expect to see from some of the companies exhibiting at the show.

Beach Street Farms
To kick off the strawberry season, Beach Street Farms is showing its fresh organic and conventional strawberries at CPMA, along with the available packaging. Watsonville, Calif.-based grower sells conventional strawberries in 1-, 2- and 4-pound packages and organic strawberries in 8-ounce, 1- and 2-pound packages, selling more than four million trays of strawberries from more than 500 acres in the Watsonville/Salinas area of Californa.

Chelan Fresh Marketing
Disney characters are at the center of Chelan Fresh Marketing’s latest campaign. The Chelan, Wash.-based apple, pear and cherry shipper is continuing its partnership with Disney, adding images from the movie Cars to its apple polybags. “A Disney package immediately translates trust and value,” says Mac Riggan, vice president of marketing.

Classic Salads
New to Classic Salads’ offerings last fall, a line of organic clam­shells and bags will be featured at the CPMA and the NEPC. The response has been very good, says John Burge, vice president of sales and marketing. “We are in the process of talking to a few retailers about private label versions of the clamshells.”
The Watsonville, Calif.-based company will also be featuring its bulk packs of baby leaf items.

Clifford Produce
With consumers and the environment in mind, Clifford Produce has revamped its packaging. Clifford will be featuring its new three-pack eco-trays and super seller display units at CPMA. “I think people are looking for new and innovative packaging ideas so we are trying to get away from the standard,” says Chris Jacobs, president of the Ruthven, Ontario, Canada-based company.

Columbia Marketing International (CMI)
Although cherries will not join Columbia Marketing Inter­national’s display of apples and pears at the CPMA, the Wenatchee, Wash.-based company will be featuring a new cherry packaging design called Summer Dreams.
“The graphic shows a couple lounging in beach chairs and snacking on cherries. We were trying to appeal to the emotional aspect of consumers and get them thinking of cherries as a great snack item for summer activities,” says Bob Mast, vice president of marketing.

Del Monte Fresh Produce
“The CPMA show is a unique opportunity to meet our customers and discuss ways we can expand our relationship and grow our business,” says Dionysios Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce.

The company will be highlighting its new MAG-nificent melon, “a variety developed to meet consumers’ growing demand for a cantaloupe that is consistent in quality, flavor and aroma,” Christou says.

Dole Fresh Fruit
“Canadians love the convenience of a clamshell over a bag, so Dole is introducing seven new clamshells,” says Bil Goldfield, Dole Fresh Fruit’s communications manager. Four of the varieties are lettuce blends converted from a bag and three are new SKUs, including Arugula, Endless Summer Kit and Spinach Cherry Almond Bleu.
In May, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based company will be launching the second year of its “Go Bananas After Dark” initiative.

Fresherized Foods
Officials at Fresherized Foods will be bringing the party with them, displaying their line of guacamole and salsa. The Wholly brand product line includes three varieties of salsa—Mild, Me­dium and Hot—and seven varieties of guacamole—Classic, 100-calorie, Spicy, Organic, Guac Salsa, Pica de Gallo Style and Double Dip, as well as Classic and Blanco Queso.

The Saginaw, Texas-based company recently teamed up with the NBC series The Biggest Loser to  promote Wholly Guacamole and Salsa.

Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee
According to the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee (IEOOC), Canada is the largest export market for the region’s onions. “We use the CPMA Show to help build awareness of our area,” says Candi Fitch, executive director.

The Parma, Idaho-based commodity board will be showing its new promotional materials and trying to build awareness for its website,, and Facebook page.

National Watermelon Promotion Board
Be prepared to bow to her highness, the Na­tion­al Watermelon Queen, who will be joining the National Watermelon Pro­motion Board to meet retailers at the CPMA. The National Queen, who is elected from the eight state association queens, travels to grocery stores nationwide for in-store promotions. “When retailers meet her and talk to her at the show, it’s only a matter of time before they get around to asking if they can have her in their store,” says Gordon Hunt, director of marketing and communications for the Orlando, Fla.-based board.

Ocean Mist Farms
The artichoke retail category is growing in Canada, and Ocean Mist Farms will be center of it all. “The CPMA happens to be during the spring peak of artichoke season, so it is a good opportunity to link up with our Canadian retail partners,” says Bob Polovneff, senior sales manager for the Cas­troville, Calif-based company.
Family-run Ocean Mist Farms will be displaying its full product line.

Rainier Fruit Co.
“Our focus for both the CPMA and NEPC will be our organic and conventional blueberry program,” says Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing for Rainier Fruit Co. “Most of the trade doesn’t think of Washington state when it comes to blueberry production. We start in early- to mid-June, earlier than some of the better known regions get going.”

The Selah, Wash.-based company will also be showing its new organic apple display boxes.

River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC
Introduced in February and new to Canadian market is River Ranch Fresh Foods’ (RRFF) new Heritage Blend salad variety. Described as a new and improved Spring Mix, it has a higher nutritional value and a three- to four-day longer shelf life.  “Heritage Blend is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and iron,” says Kim St. George, director of marketing.

Based in Salinas, Calif., RRFF will also be showing its full line of salads, cut vegetables and commodity vegetables.

Tanimura & Antle, Inc.
Celebrate Summer is the message Tanimura & Antle is sending CPMA attendees. Featured at the show, the Artisan Lettuce Celebrate Summer packaging promotion is the third in a series of seasonal promotions that began in November. “We want to continue to provide consumers with simple meal solutions that offer great flavor and value,” says Rick Antle, CEO of the Salinas2, Calif.-based company.

Well-Pict Berries
All of Well-Pict’s berries are patented proprietary varieties, naturally bred for attributes such as flavor, color and shelf life, says Dan Crowley, sales manager. “We are always working to improve on perfection. One of our newest—the ‘9271’—is a summer variety with excellent flavor and improved shelf life.”

The Watstonville, Calif.-based company will be displaying both its conventional and organic berry lines at CPMA.

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