Spring in New England

To find out what is hot in the produce category this year, retailers are heading to Boston for the New England Produce Council Produce and Floral Expo.

By Elizabeth Louise Hatt

The snowstorms have passed and the ground has thawed; it is time for New England to bloom. To kick off the growing season, produce growers and shippers are coming together in Boston for the New England Produce Council (NEPC) Produce and Floral Expo on April 27. Packed with new products, innovations and exciting promotions, the NEPC Expo offers retailers a chance to meet with their favorite growers from across the country and check out the latest that fresh produce has to offer. Here is what retailers can expect to see from some exhibitors.

Chiquita Brands International
Duos is the newest product to join Cincinnati-based Chiquita’s line of branded products. The no-sugar-added fresh fruit cup will be showcased at the NEPC, along with Chiquita Bananas and Fresh Express salads, including the company’s new Artisanal line. Chiquita’s Fresh & Ready Avocados and Pineapples and process innovations such as the Fresh Rinse salad washing technology will also be on display.

Retailers can also check out Chiquita and its Fresh Express subsidiary’s latest cross-promotional marketing partnership with the makers of the animated feature film Rio. “This unique in-store and online marketing partnership links Chiquita’s healthy products with family friendly entertainment,” says Chiquita spokesman Andrew Ciafardini.

Idaho Potato Commission
“The NEPC and CPMA offer a great opportunity to touch base with everyone that we don’t see regularly and answer their questions and concerns,” says Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail and international for the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC).

The Eagle, Idaho-based commodity board will be exhibiting at both the NEPC Expo and the CPMA Convention to promote its resources and services. “We work with the buyers and category managers often, but a lot of show attendees are directors and VPs. We want to make sure they are leveraging our resources to the fullest.”
Litehouse Foods

New salad dressing flavors, a line of probiotic smoothies made with kefir and freeze-dried jalapeno rings will be among the products on display at the Litehouse Foods booth.

“There has been a lot of growth in the refrigerated salad dressing category led by fruit flavored vinaigrettes,” says David Rich, business development manager for the Sandpoint, Idaho-based company.

Shuman Produce
“We are very excited to bring our new bag designs to the NEPC show,” says John Shuman, president and director of sales at Shuman Produce. “We have redesigned our Vidalia bags using the same innovative design ideas we’re known for throughout the industry.”

This year the Reidsville, Ga.-based produce grower/shipper is debuting a new website. “Our website, www.realsweet.com, is undergoing a complete redesign to appeal directly to consumers,” says Shuman.

Sweet Onion Trading Co.
Showing it’s commitment to quality, the Melbourne, Fla.-based Sweet Onion Trading Co. will have an independent firm test the flavor profiles of all its onion fields. Company officials say the impetus behind the initiative is to understand the flavor qualities of onions labeled as “sweet.”

The Sweet Onion Trading Company will be displaying its Vidalia Sweet Onions as well as a selection of sweet onions from Mexico.

Village Farms
Village Farms’ new value-added packing will be on display at  NEPC and CPMA, along with its range of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. “Our new packaging showcases a stronger retail position,” says Doug­las Kling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

In the upcoming year, the Eatontown, N.J.-based company will be highlighting stronger long-term partnerships that drive mutual growth and profit.

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