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Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella Inc. will release a new eight-ounce stand-up bag for its roasted pistachios in mid-October, company officials said.

Joseph Setton, the firm's vice president of sales and marketing, told The Produce News Sept. 22 that "the smaller pack size is attractive this year because of pricing," and added that the firm believes that this will help increase sales of pistachios that might otherwise be lower due to the downturn in the economy.

The new bag will join the firm’s 16- and 32-ounce stand-up bags, Mr. Setton said, noting that the company also offers its pistachios in 12-, 16- and 48- ounce lay-down bags.

Setton Pistachio also plans to release several specially designed shippers, complete with eye-catching graphics, for the new bags, including one that is designed for retailers’ checkout aisles.

“We will have various sizes to provide flexibility for produce buyers,” Mia Cohen, the firm’s chief operating officer, told The Produce News. “They will also [enable] us to create programs for promotions during the year.” Ms. Cohen said that the release of the new packaging was “purposefully timed” to coincide with the new pistachio crop harvest, which is currently taking place.

“We are expecting good quality and size,” she said, noting that estimates call for the crop to be about 400 million pounds, “which taking into consideration the lack of carryover into this year is on par with the salable supply of last year.”

The family-owned-and-operated firm is one of the United States’ larger growers and processors of pistachios.

“Our goal is to increase household penetration,” Ms. Cohen said. “The more [consumers] eat, the more they will continue to purchase” pistachios because “they are delicious and good for you too.”

To that end, the firm has a heart healthy logo prominently displayed on the front of its pistachio packaging and a qualified health claim on the back. Ms. Cohen mentioned several health benefits that pistachios provide, including reducing the risk of heart disease and Type II diabetes. At 49 nuts per serving, pistachios offer the largest amount per serving of any nut, she said.

“They also promote satiety, so consumers feel full faster,” one of the more important inherent characteristics of pistachios, she said.

Setton Pistachio’s commitment to California pistachios does not stop at marketing. It extends to its food-safety message and its ongoing investment in its food-safety program, Ms. Cohen said.

The firm has implemented and continues to improve upon its food-safety program which “is arguably one of the most sophisticated programs in the entire nut industry,” Lee Cohen, the firm’s general manager, said in an e-mail correspondence. “Our thinking surrounding food safety revolves around a single principle, which is a complete and absolute commitment to the underlying science behind food safety. We have drawn on internal technical resources as well as external scientists, consultants and engineers to lay a framework for our quality program, which is grounded in science.”

Mr. Cohen said that “we are currently utilizing concepts from thermodynamics, microbiology, chemistry, anemometry, optics, electrical and mechanical engineering in our program. In 2009, we conducted an exhaustive review and GAP analysis of our food-safety program, and [created] a program which strategically addressed as many vulnerabilities in our food supply chain as possible.”

He said that the program starts in its pistachio orchards, where the firm has implemented a Good Agricultural Practices program that “educates our partner-growers on best practices for farming and harvesting as well as bringing them up to speed on the latest agricultural and pesticide research. This harvest we also expanded our water treatment program to monitor, test, treat and recycle processing water used during the water-intensive pistachio harvest. Most of our water is recycled back to our orchards. Additionally, in cooperation with a leading bird control organization, Setton installed bird control netting over our main pistachio hulling facility as an added preventive measure.”

Setton Pistachio employs a wide array of optical devices to safeguard against defective pistachios entering its supply chain, and “as a first for the industry, last year Setton designed and implemented a facility-wide anemometry [air- flow control] program to control and minimize potential cross-contamination through airborne risks,” he said.

In another first for the industry, Setton Pistachio is also “in the process of scientifically validating mechanical auto samplers for microbial and aflatoxin sampling,” he said. “These devices were designed, engineered and manufactured in-house and are compliant with sampling protocols defined in the CODEX Alimentarius and the International Commission on Microbiological Specification for Foods.”

He concluded, “Setton is proud of our food-safety program. We have implemented a state-of-the-art food-safety program that distinguishes us from our competitors. As a result, the quality and wholesomeness of our pistachios is universally unparalleled.”