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Shuman Produce comes to the Southeast Produce Council's 2010 Retail & Foodservice Conference & Expo March 4-6 in Tampa, FL, with a focus on food safety and new packaging.

Last year Shuman Produce received a four-star rating from Primus labs. This year, "We are increasing our transparency by becoming a member of Primus Labs platinum program," according to John Shuman, president and director of sales for the Reidsville, GA-based company. "We want our customers to know that all the onions they buy from Shuman Produce -- whether they are from Peru, Mexico, California, Texas or Vidalia -- are covered. When you provide your customers with a comprehensive traceability program, then food safety begins to mean something: peace of mind."

Shuman Produce will showcase new packaging for the "RealSweet" brand at the expo, displaying vertical two-, three-, and four-pound bags as well as a new five-pound mesh bag rolling out in March for its Texas sweet onion program.

New, consumer-friendly, vertical graphic bags include sweet onion recipes, storage tips, a nutritional panel and a list of the health benefits of onions. Other packaging options include five- and 10-pound drawstring bags and high-graphic display bins.

There are bilingual packaging options for Canadian markets, and all packaging features larger PLU stickers for easy product identification and a lot ID number on each box for instant traceability through the chain of distribution.

"Our new bags are flying off stores shelves this season. Shoppers love the eye-catching graphics and on-pack information that includes recipes and health and nutrition information. We are increasing our capacity with these bags to meet the demand," Mr. Shuman said. The "RealSweet" brand image "is colorful, engaging and consumer-friendly. When it comes to packaging, our focus is on your consumer. This translates into increased sales."

For Shuman Produce, business is not just about the bottom line. In 2002 Mr. Shuman, who is also the current vice president of the Southeast Produce Council, created Produce for Kids, a charitable program that benefits children-in-need and educates kids and parents alike on the benefits of a healthy diet featuring more fruits and vegetables.

Produce for Kids bridges the produce industry and non-profit organizations that benefit children in need. There are two national fundraising campaigns each year. The spring campaign (May/June) benefits local Children's Miracle Network hospitals in the retailers' markets; the fall campaign (September/October) helps support the PBS Kids' lineup of educational programming, on-line resources, outreach materials and health initiatives for kids and parents.

The PFK program provides retailers with an innovative, turnkey promotional campaign for the produce department that combines advertising, colorful in- store point-of-sale materials, customized public relations plans and interactive internet marketing.

Participating produce sponsors donate a portion of proceeds from each sale during the semi-annual campaigns; to date the program has raised almost $2 million.

Shuman Produce Inc. specializes in the year-round growing, marketing and distribution of quality sweet onions. The Shuman family has been in the Vidalia onion business for more than 25 years and the year-round sweet onion business for more than 12 years.

Attendees to the SPC expo can visit Shuman Produce at booth No. 301.