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Prime Time Sales LLC, the exclusive sales representative for Prime Time International in Coachella, CA, is a long-time exhibitor at the Produce Marketing Association's foodservice expo, to be held this year Aug. 1 in Monterey, CA. But for Mike Aiton, who joined the company in November 2009 as marketing manager after 22 years with King Soopers and 18 years with Sun World International, this will be his first time at the show representing Prime Time.

Prime Time is a year-round grower-shipper of colored bell peppers and other seasonal vegetables with growing operations in California and in Mexico. "Obviously, our focus" at this year’s expo “is going to be on peppers — red, yellow, orange and green,” Mr. Aiton said. The objective is “to promote and stimulate the sale of peppers through showing different ways they can be used, both fresh and cooked.”

The company will have a display in the booth and some information about Prime Time, and will also “have recipe books available that have a nice assortment of pepper recipes that people can take away with them.” The recipe book includes recipes for the use of bell peppers fresh in salads, in various cooked dishes, in hors d’oeuvres and “just all kinds of different ways that people can use the peppers,” he said.

In addition, Prime Time will be offering to people who come by the booth “taste samples of different ways peppers can be prepared.”

Once again, the company has teamed up with the Monterey Culinary Arts School, “and they are going to be helping us” at the booth, Mr. Aiton said. “They are whipping up some creative new recipes, and we plan on giving those out in cooperation with them. They are going to do all of the prep work, and their chef will be there” preparing the recipes live, “so we will have some nice different approaches to fresh peppers available for people to enjoy.” The chef will also be available to answer questions about the use of bell peppers, he said.

“Foodservice is a growing and important part of our business, I think primarily because we are in the pepper business 365 days a year and that seems to be very appealing to foodservice operators,” Mr. Aiton said. “We can be their one-stop shop for peppers all year long.”

Consumption of fresh bell peppers has continued to rise steadily over the past four or five years, he noted. “People are finding new ways to incorporate peppers into their menus.”

The PMA foodservice expo is “a great fit for us,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for us to interface with both buyers and operators and to see what is going on in foodservice. It is a great conference, and we enjoy it. It is intimate, and you get to talk to a lot of people who are very passionate about what they do. It is just overall a great experience for us.”