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The European Flavors marketing program is in its second year of a three-year effort to promote both fresh and processed fruits and vegetables grown in Europe to the United States, Russia and Japan.

The marketing efforts vary among the three target countries. Currently, in the United States, European Flavors promotes two items: kiwifruit and blood oranges, both of which are grown in Italy and approved for importation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The European Flavors program is funded by the European Union, Italy and Centro Servizi Ortofrutticoli, a cooperative that assists member companies in marketing fresh produce.

The European Flavors program launched in summer 2008 and gained broad visibility in the United States at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit in Orlando, FL, in October. European Flavors had a booth on the exposition floor.

"[The program] has been very well received," said JC Barros, the U.S.-based liaison for the program, who works in New York City. "The program promotes eating more fruits and vegetables, and consuming healthier foods."

Mr. Barros said that in promoting European fruits and vegetables, the program seeks to educate consumers about preparing produce according to European styles and traditions, which is exemplified by a Mediterranean diet. The European Flavors program offers point-of-sale materials to its customers.

European Flavors plans to have a booth at PMA's Fresh Summit in both 2009 and 2010, Mr. Barros said.

Italy's most popular kiwifruit is the Hayward variety, which is available from November to May. Mr. Barros has helped coordinate samplings of the variety in some 200 stores in the Northeast, divided among Costco Wholesale Corp., Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and Price Chopper Supermarkets chains. Some of the samplings were slated for the weekends of Jan. 24-25 and Jan. 31- Feb.1. Super Bowl XLIII will be played on Sunday, Feb. 1.

"Everyone is really excited" about the samplings, Mr. Barros told The Produce News Jan. 16. "We're hoping to have great results on Super Bowl weekend."

Mr. Barros said that while his focus currently is on kiwifruit, he also will promote blood oranges. He said that he is hopeful that the USDA also will approve pears from Italy for export to the United States. In Italy, blood oranges are grown in Sicily in the south, and kiwifruit is grown in the Emilia- Romagna region in the north.