Scaling the summit

Produce insiders are packing their Mardi Gras masks and heading to The Big Easy for the industry’s “big show”—the annual PMA Fresh Summit.

For the past 60-plus years the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) has hosted a convention and expo with the intention of bringing the industry together. What was, according to Kathy Means, vice president of government and public affairs for PMA, “a few hundred businessmen in suits in the early years” has evolved into an international affair that brings together 20,000 attendees from around the world.church

That is just what attendees heading to the 2013 PMA Fresh Summit Convention and Expo, taking place October 18-20 in New Orleans, should expect to experience. The Newark, Del.-based organization is gearing up for another successful show with a variety of returning elements, such as last year’s popular two-day expo format interest-based business communities—Science & Technology, Global Connections and Industry Talent and Floral—as well as a few new elements, including the introductions of the Digital Innovations Section of the New Products Showcase and the Innovation @ Work destination.

It will be, Means says, “a combination of solutions-based education and a whopper of a trade show—one of the top 100 trade shows in the country.”

Since the beginning, one of main purposes of the convention and expo has been to address the most pressing industry concerns by providing a focal point for education, discussion and collaboration. One such issue that is demanding more and more attention across the entire supply chain is sustainability, says Means. Fresh Summit officials are expecting many companies to focus on their latest sustainability and social responsibility programs at the expo, in addition to the educational sessions, “Produce Waste: Turn a Loss to your Advantage” and “The Changing Landscape: Today’s Restaurant Consumer.” Food safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act, marketing and the impact of a global marketplace will also be addressed throughout the general and education breakout sessions.

Move over to the expo hall, and innovations will run the gamut. “Many companies debut new products at Fresh Summit, and often buyers and sellers head to the show for annual business planning sessions,” says Means. “Even though our industry is embracing technology more and more, there is still a desire for face-to-face interaction; this is an outstanding venue for that.”

Some of the trends dominating the expo floor will include convenient on-the-go products, transparency, sustainability efforts, bold new flavors and artistic merchandising. Here is a run-through of what attendees can expect to see throughout the show.

Avocados from Mexico
Booth # 2249
Avocados from Mexico will be showcasing the largest marketing program in the brand’s history. Driven by the unprecedented collaboration between the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association and Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán, the new national campaign will differentiate and distinguish Avocados from Mexico through a fully integrated marketing program. It will include a new national television ad and national print media that will promote the benefits of Hass Avocados from Mexico that are “Always Fresh, Always Delicious and Always in Season.”

There will also be a consumer sweepstakes and a national coupon program with CPG partners designed to “take avocados from the occasional to everyday,” says Maggie Bezart, vice president of trade and promotions for the Washington D.C.-based organization. The retail promotions will be focused around six major themes and include dedicated retail programs, such as display contests, national in-store radio, point-of-sale, recipes and in-store secondary display bins.

Basket Ease
Booth # 4739
There is a trend towards creating gift baskets at the store level, says Rebecca Gibson, director of sales and marketing for Basket Ease. The Minneapolis-based basket manufacturer will be at PMA offering retailers new ideas to apply to their gift basket program. They will exhibit themed baskets using local ingredients, including Mardi Gras and holidays, to inspire attendees.basket2

“As more people are getting into making baskets at store level there is a whole new fresh group of people who have never made baskets before in their life, so we have started from scratch during the last couple shows,” says Gibson, adding that making them at store level benefits the business. “When they come from central packaging they usually don’t have fruits like grapes or bananas in them, but at the store level they can do that, as well as change out varieties to accommodate the consumer’s preference.” The company will be displaying out of the ordinary basket colors to receive feedback from attendees.

BioSafe Systems
Booth # 347
BioSafe Systems’ new class of Activated Peroxygen Chemistry is a powerful compound that successfully controls a wide variety of destructive diseases and pathogens, says Russell Owings, national food safety manager for the East Hartford, Conn.-based company. The company’s products are EPA-approved for direct contact with fruits and vegetables to eliminate human health pathogens including E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria and spoilage pathogens that reduce produce shelf life.

Additionally, its retail line of SaniDate ‘Ready-to-Use’ products makes its chemistries available to homeowners through local supermarkets. These products are designed to clean fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as counter tops, cutting boards and many other hard surfaces in the kitchen. With OMRI Listed (Organic Materials Review Institute) and NOP (National Organic Program) compliant chemistries, BioSafe Systems’ products can be used to achieve results without degrading the quality of fruits and vegetables or harming the environment, say company officials.

Bland Farms
Booth # 5527
It will be a saucy time at the Bland Farms’ Fresh Summit booth. The company is debuting two varieties to its line of Vidalia brand sauces: Hibachi White Sauce and Caesar Dressing.
“The Asian profile is very popular right now,” says Sarah Seebran, marketing director. “Everyone loves white sauce at Hibachi restaurants but it is not highly available in retail. A lot of people go home and try to make it themselves. It is a need that we don’t think is being filled to the extent that it can be.” The Caesar is a classic flavor which they added their own twist to with Vidalia Sweet Onions, she adds. Both are available now in 12-ounce bottles.

The Glennville, Ga.-based grower is also expanding on the snack food line it debuted last year in partnership with Inventure Foods. Joining the initial product, Vidalia Sweet Onion Petals, will be Sweet Potato Fries, made with real sweet potatoes. “The Vidalia sweet onion petals have gone over very well in the produce dept, especially as a complementary item in cross promotions,” says Seebran.

California Sun Dry Foods
Booth # 3051
California Sun Dry Foods will be bringing its A-game with new recipes that showcase the many uses of sun-dried tomatoes. The focus for the Danville, Calif.-based company is on serving food. “In the past we have done cheesecake, soup, holiday tortes and a tie-in with guacamole with smoked sun-dried tomatoes,” says Bill Riley, executive vice president, sales and marketing. “Attendees seek us out year after year. The big thing is we want to introduce the line to people in the trade who don’t yet know us.”

The popularity of sun-dried tomatoes is still growing. Development and consumption varies across the country and there are many areas of the country where sun-dried tomatoes do not have a presence, says Riley. To expand, the company looks to penetrate new markets methodically. All of the company’s products are California-grown, -dried and –packed. “We continue to grow; we continue to bring on new consumers; we continue to work on new things,” Riley adds.

Chilean Fresh Fruit Association
Booth # 3515
With Chilean cherry and blueberry programs ready to kick off in late 2013, the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) will be showcasing its merchandising and marketing opportunities for these and other numerous fresh fruits from Chile. New for 2013, the San Carlos, Calif.-based CFFA will be sponsoring the Produce for Better Health’s registered dietitian program, hosting nearly 30 dietitians from major U.S. retail chains at the CFFA booth and distributing usage and nutrition information on the fruit Chile has to offer.
When a consumer walks into their local supermarket during the fall and winter months, they see an abundance of high quality, fresh fruit from Chile, says Karen Brux, managing director. “We look forward to working with retail dietitians to share usage and nutrition tips with their customers and bring the orchards and growers of Chile just a little bit closer to this market. There’s so much to know about Chilean fruit, and this is a great opportunity to tell our story.”

Classic Salads
Booth # 4853
Foodservice operators and retailers with in-store salad bars will want to visit Classic Salads. The Watsonville, Calif.-based grower will be featuring its Nordic Blend and Nordic Spring varieties. Launched earlier this year, the Nordic Blend is made with heartier, bigger leaf varieties—Green Leaf, Red Leaf, Tango and Lolla Rosa. Then, add to that a spring mix to get the Nordic Spring.

Jon Burge, vice president of sales and marketing, says the mixes were developed for chefs looking for something new. “We kept receiving requests for something ‘different than spring mix.’ This is our answer to that. The lettuces are sweet to begin with and have a thicker texture so they hold up well to a blue cheese or ranch dressing,” he says. “The mixes have been on the market for more than six months and they are doing really well, especially with bigger distributors and bigger cities.”

Burge says the mixes are not yet available for retail, but Classic Salads Baby Kale and Supermix clamshells for retail will be featured at the show as well.

Clear Lam Packaging
Booth # 109
Clear Lam Packaging has innovated its PrimaPak product line with a Peel and ReSeal and a Semi-Rigid Snap Lid. The Peel and ReSeal Lid opens easily and reseals itself to the package with a light touch, say officials for the Elk Village, Ill.-based manufacturer. They recommend it for select fresh cut produce options, wrapped candy, chips, crackers and dried fruit among others. The Formed Semi-Rigid Snap Lid is a hinged lid that snaps down tight. “Consumers from recent focus group testing found the lid to be easier to close than a zippered lock closure,” says Jim Foster, marketing manager, adding that it was developed to handle products with a lot of particulate such as powders, cereals and snacks. Both lidding styles can utilize MAP technology, which allows the package to be hermetically sealed, and both lidding styles also deliver closure systems that are intuitive and easy to open and close for multi-serve occasions.

Columbia Marketing International (CMI)
Booth # 5915
New this year from Columbia Marketing International (CMI) is the Sweet Gourmet Pear program. Accompanied by a two-box shipping display and new two-pound pouch bags for the D’Anjou, Red Pear, Bartlett and Bosc varieties—each showcasing a fresh recipe centered on the variety—the program is designed to increase sales within the category. The Farm Stand Bin is also back by popular demand and looks like a real-life fruit stand found alongside the road. It ships with 10 boxes of fruit.

CMI has just launched its HERO snack-sized apple program showcasing Red Delicious, Fuji, Gala and Granny Smith varieties. The two-pound HERO pouch bags feature bold graphics and positive messaging to encourage kids to become everyday heroes, say officials for the Wenatchee, Wash.-based company.

CMI Exclusives are back this year with a two-pound pouch bag lineup. The Daisy Girl Organics, Ambrosia and KIKU pouch bags come complete with a two- and five-euro box shipping display.

Dole Fresh Fruit
Booth # 2107
Dole Fresh Fruit is getting down to business. Instead of an exhibition booth, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based grower will be meeting with retailers, wholesalers, partners and other industry professionals in a business space.

The main topic of discussion will be Peel the Love, the yearlong initiative focusing on the “fun, irreverence and universally beloved aspects of bananas.” The program will be continuing in some capacity into 2014, says Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications. Program elements range from dozens of new banana recipes, serving, pairing and entertaining suggestions to an expanded social media presence capitalizing on Dole’s nearly 700,000 banana-loving Facebook and Twitter followers.

The highlight was the Peel the Love Summer Truck Tour sponsored by Dole Bananas, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Dole Packaged Foods. Created specifically for the tour and staffed by healthy eating advocates, the truck stopped at supermarkets, parks and other public and private venues to dispense samples, recipes, serving suggestions and other information.

Dole Fresh Vegetables
Booth # 2107
Dole Fresh Vegetables will be showing its All Natural Dole Chopped Salads. Made up of three all-natural chopped salad kits formulated with kale and two chopped salad blends, the line delivers “exactly what consumers say they want in a chopped salad: a taste-first experience featuring layers of flavor, texture, color and crunch in every bite,” says Markus Eriksson, senior brand manager of product development, for the Monterey, Calif.-based company.

“Already the fastest-growing salad trend in the casual dining segment, as evidenced by the proliferation of chopped salad restaurants like Chop’t, chopped salad is expected to be one of the next big trends for the at-home, packaged-salad consumer,” he adds. The three kits also capitalize on the some of the industry’s popular dressing and ingredient flavors, such as Chipotle and Ranch dressings, cheddar and bleu cheeses and Applewood bacon, and the three kits and the Asian blend have been specifically formulated with kale.

Fresherized Foods
Booth # 3851
Wholly Guacamole is full of beans—quite literally. Joining Fresherized Foods’ line of Wholly Guacamole products is three bean dips: Avocado, Black Bean and Roasted Corn dip; Black Bean and Homestyle Guacamole layered dip, Taco Bean dip and Guacamole layered dip.

“The dips tested really well on indulgence,” says Tracey Altman, vice president of marketing. “Consumers are looking for snacks that are healthy that they can eat throughout the day. Dips, such as hummus, are very popular but I think people want to know ‘what’s next.’ Beans have fiber, protein and go very well with guacamole; it makes sense.”

Alongside the new dips, Saginaw, Texas-based Fresherized Foods will be spotlighting its updated Wholly Guacamole packaging. Both received a makeover and are now packaged in peel-and-serve trays—8- and 16-ounce trays replaced the 7- and 14-ounce bags and 2-ounce cups replace the snack packs.

The Garlic Co.
Booth # 120
When it comes to garlic, it is about location, location, location. More specifically, for The Garlic Co. is it about being from California. Officials for the Bakersfield, Calif.-based grower will be discussing its California-grown garlic products and vertically integrated business model. According to John Duffus, vice president of sales, there is a divide between consumers who only buy California garlic and those who do not care where it comes from.

“Grocery stores are becoming more particular about where they source their garlic from; they are not going after the cheapest thing, but instead choose California-grown or Product of the U.S.” says Duffus. “This is great for the consumer.” The Garlic Co.’s product line runs the gamut, from fresh whole-bulb garlic to vacuum-packed, peeled garlic to triple-washed diced garlic, which is a relatively new product for the company.

GO Veggie!
Booth # 4130
GO Veggie!, formerly Galaxy Nutritional Foods, will be bringing awareness to its new GO Veggie! brand, which launched earlier this year. According to Jamie Schapiro, director of marketing, the new GO Veggie! offers something for everyone. “Whether your consumers are looking to better their overall health or heart health, living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, experiencing food allergies and/or intolerances or seeking weight loss, our delicious cheese-free alternatives are the solution they need, but may have never thought of,” he says.

The North Kingstown, R.I.-based manufacturer will also be promoting its Dairy Free Cream Cheese Alternatives, available in Plain, Chive and new this year, Strawberry, as well as its Dairy Free Shreds in Mozzarella and Mexican flavors. Attendees should visit the booth for samples of the company’s products: Go Veggie! will be serving up Tomato & Cheese Skewers, Grilled Cheese Bites and a unique Bagel Bar during the show, and will be hosting a cocktail party, serving appetizers, such as Cheesy Griddle Corn Cakes, Strawberry Cream Cheesecake Bites, and beverages, including Strawberry Cream Cheese Coladas and Bourbon Lemonade, late Saturday afternoon.

Hollandia Produce / Live Gourmet
Booth # 4325
Hollandia Produce is looking at the organic side of things with its Grower Pete’s Organics brand. The Organic Certified line of hydroponically grown produce currently includes Butter Lettuce and Watercress.

The grower has been in the conventional market for about 16 years, now entering the organic market with the product’s launch earlier this year. “This is a new category for us,” says Vince E. Choate, director of marketing for the Carpinteria, Calif.-based company. “There has been really great response; it has been very well received in the marketplace. It is just basically an organically certified product that now has year-round production, uniformity and quality-assurance.”

Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee
Booth # 1831
Are you ready for some football? The Idaho-E. Oregon Onion Committee is. The Parma, Idaho-based organization will return to Fresh Summit with a tailgate- and football-themed booth, complete with onion snacks straight from the grill, prizes and live football.

The biggest focus for 2013 was to maximize space, says Sherise Jones, marketing director. “We are switching the way we do things a bit. The booth and activities were organized to maximize our opportunity to meet and visit with our customers. We are still going to have fun. We are still going to provide samples of great onions, but we are there for business and really focused on maximizing our meeting space.

Attendees can also check out recipes and videos from the most-recent USA Onion Grill-Off contests, and leave their business card for the chance to win a Weber grill.

Inline Plastics Corp.
Booth # 4125
Inline Plastic Corp.’s tamper-resistant, grab-and-go Snack Cup containers are now available with cup inserts. Available in 2- and 4-ounce versions to fit the flat or dome lid snack cups, the inserts can be filled with dips, sauces, granola, dried fruits or other foods that enhance the food in the cup itself, say company officials.

The 2-ounce snack cups themselves were designed to be easy to open and close while locking in freshness, extending shelf life. They are available with either flat or dome lids. Designed to fit most automobile cup holders, the cups are ideal for fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, bakery items, yogurt, parfait and a variety of snack goods, says Jack Tilley, market research analyst for the Shelton, Conn.-based manufacturer. The new containers’ crystal clear design promotes attractive product merchandising that highlights the quality of its contents with a perimeter seal closure that provides increased product shelf life, improved leak resistance and better protection of its contents.

Limoneira
Booth # 1429
Limoneira recently unveiled its campaign, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer – Every Season is the Perfect Opportunity to Unleash the Power of Lemons. It incorporates five different promotions that are designed to add value at retail and includes new “UNLEASH” packaging, in-store merchandising, consumer lifestyle advertising and robust social media marketing.

“Limoneira’s global UNLEASH opinion leaders will be promoting our grocery partners,” says John Carter, director of global sales. “Consumers will be advised to look for Limoneira’s new stand up pouches containing QR codes that point to helpful tips for beauty, natural green cleaning, nutrition, delicious recipes and decorating.” The Santa Paula, Calif.-based company will also be discussing their new pink lemons.

Ocean Mist Farms
Booth # 1929
What’s new at Ocean Mist Farms is an extension to its value-added Brussels sprout line. The Castroville, Calif.-grower/shipper is introducing three fresh-cut formats—SuperShreds SuperFood, Quick Cook Sprouts and Baby Sprouts—packaged in the Steamfast microwavable pack, which allows consumers to open the bag, pre-season the contents, reseal with the zip lock and steam by microwave all in the same bag. The SteamFast package is also gusseted for a stand up, face forward shelf presentation, says Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development.

Tuggle says the company was inspired to develop the line extension in order to leverage consumer demand by offering new formats that address multiple culinary and consumer trends and respond to category growth. “In the 52 weeks ended June 29, Brussels sprouts category sales volume has grown 24.5% over the same time prior year,” says Tuggle. “We wanted to create a more convenient and accessible way to use and cook with Brussels sprouts by eliminating preparation steps for the consumer and enhance the eating experience by using packaging that actually creates steam and not just heat, and allows consumers to pre-season the sprouts to their preference prior to cooking.”

Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers
Booth # 5539oneanta
Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers want retailers to help their consumers pick their flavors with its latest “U-Pick the Flavors” campaign. There are many different apple and pear varieties, each with their unique flavor, says Dan Wohlford, national sales representative. “We want consumers to know they have choices and they can pick the flavors they like.” The Wenatchee, Wash.-based grower can provide tote bags and bins with the U–Pick the Flavors design to merchandise apples and pears in store.

Last year the grower entered the organic market in partnership with Columbia Valley Fruit, and officials could not be happier with the results thus far. “Columbia Valley Fruit growers are the best around and they grow the finest organic apples. Our customers have been so pleased with the quality and availability that we offer and it has been a real organic category booster for them,” says Wohlford.

Both Wohlford and Scott Marboe, director of marketing, look forward to discussing this past year’s growth in both the apple and pear categories, as well as how to increase category sales and profits with the current crop, which is outstanding, says Wohlford.

Rainier Fruit Co.
Booth # 419
Rainier Fruit Co. has a big debut planned—its booth. Designed to make visitors feel as if they are visiting the Selah, Wash.-based company’s offices, the new booth incorporates the company’s “forward-thinking philosophy utilizing interactive technology to communicate the attributes of their expansive operation,” says Suzanne Wolter, director of marketing. “It will be a departure from showing a lot of fruit, and instead feature the things that are making an impact in the categories that we service, specifically apples.”

In addition to viewing first-hand farming and facility locations, visitors can learn about the opportunities for the upcoming apple and pear season. Inside the booth, Rainier will be featuring its signature and exclusive varieties in creative merchandising bins designed to drive additional sales.

During the 2012 season, the apple category experienced tremendous sales and dollar growth despite a short crop in the East and Midwest. High quality, flavorful bulk apples from Washington drove apple category success, providing supportive data that consumers are willing to pay a higher price for flavorful fruit, says Wolter. Rainier will lay out a marketing strategy designed to help booth visitors meet the apple category sales objectives for the coming season based upon sales data and consumer trends.

Shuman Produce
Booth # 5315
Shuman Produce will be sharing its year-round sweet onion program, available through its RealSweet brand. Sweet onions continue to be the driver of the onion category, accounting for nearly 30% of total sales, says Adam Brady, marketing coordinator. “A staple in most consumers’ kitchens, sweet onions are valued for their versatility and sweet, mild flavor in a wide variety of dishes.”

Along with its RealSweet brand, Reidsville, Ga.-based Shuman Produce brings to market its dedication to innovative marketing, including value-added packaging, a strong social media and web presence, inventive cross marketing opportunities and great in-store promotions—like Produce for Kids. “We know consumers value transparency in the food chain now more than ever, and we’re proud to share the story of how our sweet onions go from seed to shelf through video content and photos available through our website and social media channels,” says Brady.

T. Marzetti Co.
Booth # 2539
T. Marzetti will be introducing the newest flavors in its Simply Dressed product line. Some of the additions are Lemon Vinaigrette, Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette, Light Red Wine Italian and Light Red Roasted Tomato, and yogurt-based dressings, Light Balsamic and Light Veggie Ranch, providing a creamy, lower-calorie option.

The Simply Dressed line has attracted new younger consumers to refrigerated dressings, says Mary Beth Cowardin, marketing director, produce, for the Columbus, Ohio-based manufacturer. “And it has been a key driver to the 6.3% category growth.” The dressings offer consumers a choice that meets the desire to maintain a balanced lifestyle, she adds. Simply Dressed products contain extra virgin olive oil, sea-salt and Omega-3 ALA, as well as being preservative-free, containing no artificial flavors and no added MSG or trans fat.

Taylor Farms
Booth # 3657
Kale is the latest addition to Taylor Farms line of chopped salads. The Kale Chopped Salad includes kale, shaved Brussels sprouts and radicchio. The Salinas, Calif.-based company introduced the line two years ago and has expanded on it three times.

“This salad is really on trend with the popularity of kale and shaved Brussels sprouts, which are becoming popular this year since they are easier for people to eat,” says Christina Barnard, director of marketing. “It has the complexity of a chopped salad, and comes as a complete salad kit with shredded Asiago cheese, delicious lemon garlic vinaigrette and herb focaccia crouton crumbles.”

The company is also teaming up with Green Giant Fresh to launch items with the Green Giant logo. The new products include shaved Brussels sprouts, French green beans, a 20- and 40-ounce veggie tray with Hidden Valley Ranch Dip and a 40-ounce tray without dip.

Viva Tierra Organic
Booth # 4031
Viva Tierra Organic has turned the big 2-0. The Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based company became CF Fresh in 1993 and just this year changed its name to keep in line with its brand in the marketplace.

To celebrate, the grower took customers to Chile to tour the farm and facilities for its import business. “We wanted to give them a better idea of how the imported fruit is grown, packed and shipped—all the logistics that go into that,” says Addie Pobst, organic integrity and logistics lead. “We have also had some customers visit some of the orchards in California and Washington now that we are moving into those seasons, and will be giving away promotional items.” Pobst says the company is proud: “Twenty years in the organic business is big deal. Come by our booth and say congratulations!”

Well•Pict Berries
Booth # 519
Well•Pict has been in the strawberry and raspberry business for more than 30 years. In that time, Well•Pict’s proprietary varieties have been developed for superior flavor, aroma, appearance and more subtle characteristics, like how they perform in the climates of their different growing regions, says Dan Crowley, vice president of marketing. This allows the Watsonville, Calif.-based grower to fine-tune its regional harvest times to ensure the maximum possible availability at any time of year.

Well•Pict has also been a proud innovator regarding food safety and green practices, developing and implementing new ideas that have today become standard practices throughout the industry. “We always serve samples of our fresh berries at our booth, so the customer can get that great experience of tasting a Well•Pict berry. We let the product sell itself,” says Crowley.

Trend:  Artistic merchandising
Carlson AirFlo Merchandising Systems, Booth # 2627
Carlson AirFlo Merchandising Systems is turning the produce department into a work of art. The company will be unveiling its AirArt Vertical Merchandising Systems, a concept of vertical merchandising that includes different-shaped and -sized displays, such as refrigerator racks and perimeter cases, designed to create an impact section.carlsonairflow

“It is a brand new unique way of creating an artistic presentation,” says Mark Chenoweth, president. “We have seen a huge response to vertical merchandising so what we are trying to is create new ways of attracting the consumer’s eye. The AirArt products act as a statement piece in a small area; they are the Picasso in the middle of the produce department.”

Also capturing attention is the Brooklyn Park, Minn.-based company’s freestanding Pineapple display, launched last year. The response was overwhelming, says Chenoweth. The mobile merchandiser holds 24 or 60 pineapples and can be put out as needed to increase sales. This year Carlson AirFlo will be expanding the line of mobile merchandisers. “All retailers are trying to manage volume, increase sales and lower shrink,” he says. As with all of our product lines, we focus on increasing sales, creating a better presentation and getting a better price or premium for a product.”

According to company officials, retailers can see an increase in the 15-30% range when using mobile merchandisers. “The biggest impact on the success of a store is how well their produce department is merchandised,” says Chenoweth. “People do not go to one grocery store over another because their tomato soup tastes better; they go for the produce and other fresh areas.”

Trend:  On-the-go snacks
Chelan Fresh Marketing, Booth # 4157
Chelan Fresh Marketing is making it easier for consumers to snack healthy—in the car. Its new cup of cherries conveniently fits into a car cup holder and contains two compartments, one that comes full of stemless cherries and other to collect the seeds, making it possible to snack on cherries with one hand. “It is a Starbucks’ experience with cherries,” says Mac Riggan, director of marketing. “We realized that if we were going to grow our cherry business beyond the grocery store and get into people’s hands, one of the best places to do that is in a car cup holder. That is some of the most valued food real estate.” The cup holds about 26-28 cherries.

The Chelan, Wash.-based company will also be debuting its partnership with GreenScans, an app that allows consumers to scan a product’s PLU sticker to obtain information about Chelan Fresh’s apples product usage, flavor profiles, nutrition and grower videos. There is also a section for consumers to leave comments about their purchase or eating experiences. “It bridges the connection between the consumer and the grower right there in the store, which is a pretty interesting deal,” says Riggan.

Chelan Fresh has been working on it for about eight months and plans on expanding its use to interact more with its apple fans, such as collecting analytical data, understanding purchasing habits and offering online couponing. “It is also a great tool to help retailers educate their produce managers,” says Riggan. “When a produce manager can share just one piece of information with a consumer that they do not already know, that consumer will view them as an expert in their field. This can help them become experts.”

Trend:  Targeting transparency
Church Brothers, Booth # 1019
The message from Church Brothers is one of transparency. Using vertical-integration, the Salinas, Calif.-based grower has been able to ensure year-round availability and quality and enhance its food safety and traceability programs.

“We do everything ourselves—from seed selection to site selection to farming and harvesting to cooling and processing,” says Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development. “The vertical integration of the company allows us to efficiently run our quality, food safety and traceability programs because we are completely transparent. Another benefit is major cost efficiencies because there are no third parties involved.”

Innovation is a key component to growth, and the company has embarked on some unique items over the recent years, says Van Eeghen. New at the Fresh Summit is a Rainbow Kale Blend, made of shredded and chopped kales of different colors and varieties blended together, as well as an improved Red and Green Gems program. Both products were targeted for their popularity with consumers. To innovate the Gems category the company looked abroad for new varieties and did a lot of testing before launching them to market.

These debuts follow the launch of its Heirloom Spinach last fall, which will continue to grow. “We have been able to work closely with our customers in developing new salads along with closely interacting our product development team and retail customers,” says Van Eeghen.

Trend:  A healthier version
Litehouse Foods, Booth # 4039
Litehouse Foods will be spotlighting its venture into the Greek yogurt category. New to its portfolio of dressings is OPA! By Litehouse, a line of Greek style yogurt dressings. Launching with four flavors, Blue Cheese, Caesar, Ranch and Feta Dill, the line takes advantage of the most recent trend in the grocery industry, says Doug Hawkins, senior business development manager. “Greek yogurt is showing up in a number of places in the store and the variety of ways consumers are using it continues to expand. One of the most popular uses is as a replacement; they are swapping out sour cream for Greek yogurt.”

That was the idea behind OPA! By Litehouse; rather than using mayonnaise or sour cream as a base, the Sandpoint, Idaho-based manufacturer used Greek yogurt. As a result, the dressings have about two-thirds less calories and twice the protein of a regular dressing, Hawkins adds.

More than two years of research into trends and consumer demand went into the innovation. Hawkins says a lot of consumers were asking for a healthier option: “Hey, we love your Chunky Bleu Dressing but do you have something that is not going to make me chunky?” they would ask him. He says the line is geared toward the consumer looking for high-flavor but low-calorie. He adds the company received very positive feedback from third-party consumer research that included blind taste testing.

The company will also be highlighting its line of Instantly Fresh Herbs, a still “unique-to-the-industry” product line, says Hawkins. “The line continues to be a consumer favorite.”

Trend:  Superior sustainability
Rehrig Pacific, Booth # 1457
The motto at Rehrig Pacific is “re-use.” “Sustainability is in everything we do,” says Trent Overholt, vice president for the Los Angeles-based company. With an expertise in re-useable packaging systems, the company recognizes that while manufacturers and retailers have had sustainability practices in place for a while, many are just now beginning to “walk the walk.”

Re-use is in everything the company does. Even its technology deployment is about helping customers get more trips per year. “We plug in technology management programs that show them how to make it last for six years instead of four; we want our customers to get a good ROI on these assets,” says Overholt. “Our unique platform is to merchandise the world’s best brands and align ourselves with companies that actually care about sustainability—both the economic benefits and the environmental ones.”

Rehrig will be discussing two of its latest innovations at Fresh Summit. The first is the GMA-228, a plastic pallet with customizable technology to include environmental monitoring—temperature humidity, shock and vibration and RFID, among others. Weighing 50 pounds, it can rack 2,800 pounds.

The second item is a retail-ready, RPC-style merchandiser for fresh eggs, developed in conjunction with—and pooled through—Green-Bay, Wis.-based Tosca. The goal was to deliver product with less damage, but also minimize in-store labor. “We wanted something that could bring out a full case of eggs in a quick and efficient manner. You literally set the whole case down and the front wall just folds down,” says Overholt.

Trend:  Fun flavors
Sun-Maid Growers of California Booth # 2149
Building on the success of its Vanilla and Chocolate varieties, Sun-Maid Growers of California, the Kingsburg, Calif.-based raisin cooperative is launching four new flavors of yogurt-covered raisins: Cherry Chocolate, Orange Crème, Strawberry Greek and Dark Chocolate.sunmaid

“All four flavors tested well across different demographics,” says Joe Tamble, vice president of sales. “The Dark Chocolate was especially popular because it comes in a six-pack. Consumers rated that very high because of its portability—they can put it in an office desk drawer, backpack, have it for a snack at home.”

The Dark Chocolate is the only one available in a six-pack size; the Orange Crème comes in a mini-box (.5-ounce) and the Cherry Chocolate and Strawberry Greek come in a zipper bag.

Part of the inspiration behind the flavors was their appeal with demographics not currently associated with the dried fruit category, especially young adults and kids. “We are trying to expand the consumption of raisins in two ways,” says Tamble. “One is to get people who are currently buying raisins to expand their usage occasions. And two, to get people not in the category to try them; one way we do that is with cool, exciting flavors that don’t really remind them of raisins.”

The company will have its full portfolio of products with them. “We are the largest dried fruit company in the country. PMA gives us an opportunity to interact with our retail customers, sales agencies, colleagues and other people within the industry,” says Tamble.

 

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