At its annual meeting in Salinas, CA, March 6, Navidad Medical Foundation honored Watsonville, CA-based Driscoll Strawberry Associates and the company's chairman and chief executive officer, J. Miles Reiter, with its annual Hero Award in recognition of donations from Driscoll's totaling $107,700 to support Natividad's cross-cultural initiatives.
That amount a included $75,000 donation to help launch a new nationwide medical interpreting initiative, for the benefit of medical patients who are from indigenous cultures of Mexico, Central and South America who speak neither English nor Spanish.The launch was announced at a press event in conjunction with the annual meeting.
According to a Natividad press release, the Mixteco, Triqui, Chatino and Zapoteco languages spoken by indigenous groups in the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla are among the 10 most-common languages spoken by patients at Natividad Medical Center in Salinas, which is supported philanthropically by the foundation.
The Central Coast of California "is home to more than 27,000 indigenous immigrants and their families," many of whom are field workers in the vegetable and strawberry industries, the press release stated.
The foundation's indigenous interpreting program is "a first-of-its-kind program to train essential community and medical translators for more than 685,000 Latinos of indigenous origin nationwide — a U.S. population that has increased nearly 70 percent over the past decade," according to a Natividad backgrounder.
Reiter is a fourth-generation farmer whose family "has specialized in berries for over 100 years," according to a backgrounder from Natividad. "Miles continues to farm through Reiter Affiliated Companies. He has served on numerous boards, including the California Strawberry Commission ." Driscoll's is "the world's largest distributor of fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries."
Reiter was a founding member of The Agricultural Leadership Council, established in 2010 under the leadership of John D’Arrigo, a third-generation Salinas Valley grower and president of D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, to help farm workers and their families through philanthropic support of Natividad. Among other founding members of TALC were Ed Boutonnet and Joe Pezzini of Ocean Mist Farms, David Gill and Jamie Strachan of Growers Express LLC, and Bob and Rick Antle of Tanimura & Antle. TALC donations to the foundation have totaled more than $1.1 million since its founding. TALC was the 2013 recipient of the foundation's Hero Award.
The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, a Colorado nonprofit corporation, announced the recipient of the 2013 breast cancer research grant: Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, has been awarded a $30,000 grant to fund breast cancer research.
The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation is comprised of pumpkin growers throughout the country, who in 2013 committed to donating funds to an organization dedicated to breast cancer research for every pink pumpkin sold. FFA students also raised substantial funds for the foundation through pink pumpkin sales.
“We want to express our gratitude to all of our Pink Pumpkin growers, without whom this grant would not have been possible,” Carol Holsopple-Froese, president of the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and a breast cancer survivor, said in a press release. “We are thrilled to be able to make a contribution to cancer research and hope this puts us one step closer to finding a cure.”
Funding from the Pink Pumpkin Foundation will specifically allow Rush to conduct research identifying the mechanism of action and propose a clinical trial evaluating adjuvant aspirin therapy in PIK3CA-mutant breast cancers, which exist in up to 45 percent of breast cancers.
The Departments of Medicine & Pharmacology, Division of Hematology & Oncology at Rush University Medical Center leads the laboratory focused on translational breast cancer genetics. Its research uses powerful genetic techniques to identify molecular mechanisms of drug resistance and identify new targets for existing therapies.
“This award carries special significance for me because I know it came from a portion of the proceeds collected by America’s hard-working pumpkin growers,” Dr. Abde M. Abukhdeir, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine & Pharmacology at Rush University, said in the release. “My research group and I are very grateful and we hope that our research results will have a far-reaching impact on the treatment of women diagnosed with breast cancer.”
SuperValu Inc. announced that two of its directors, Mark Neporent and Lenard Tessler, have stepped down from the board of directors effective March 6.
Neporent and Tessler were both appointed to the board in 2013 as designees of Symphony Investors LLC, a Cerberus Capital Management L.P.-led investor consortium, under the terms of the Tender Offer Agreement entered into with Symphony Investors and Cerberus in connection with SuperValu’s sale of five banners to an affiliate of Symphony Investors.
Symphony Investors owns approximately 20.9 percent of SuperValu’s outstanding common stock. Under the terms of the Tender Offer Agreement, Symphony Investors has the right to designate replacement directors for Neporent and Tessler.
Neporent is the chief operating officer and general counsel for Cerberus Capital Management, and Tessler is the co-head of global private equity and senior managing director. Their resignations followed the announcement of a definitive agreement under which AB Acquisition LLC, an entity controlled by a Cerberus-led investor group, will acquire all outstanding shares of Safeway Inc.
“In light of the transaction announced [March 6], we felt it was in the best interests of SuperValu for us to resign our seats on the SuperValu board," Neporent said in a press release. "The directors who will be designated to replace Lenard and me under the Tender Offer Agreement are expected to be independent of both Cerberus and SuperValu and will add to SuperValu’s outstanding board.”
Commenting on the change in the board, SuperValu’s Non-Executive Chairman Gerald Storch said, “I would like to thank Mark and Lenard for serving on SuperValu's board of directors and for their important contributions during the transition period following the banner sale. We look forward to working with Cerberus to identify two new, highly qualified director designees to replace Mark and Lenard, and who will help to lead our organization into the future.”
“I also would like to thank Mark and Lenard for their service," Sam Duncan, chief executive officer of SuperValu, said in the press release. "As the process moves forward to designate new directors, we are continuing our focus on driving sales and serving all of our customers, including providing services under the Transition Services Agreements with Albertsons LLC and New Albertsons Inc.”
SuperValu’s board currently has nine members, including seven members who are independent directors under the New York Stock Exchange listing standards.
The green beefsteak tomato will lead the way to the start of the 2014 greenhouse production at Nature Fresh Farms in Leamington, ON.
Foodservice distributors and retailers have experienced increased demand for the green fruit and continue to see consumer interest rise on this old-time classic.The company has a careful selection process, along with a special packaging technique, to ensure the fruit arrives in full green colour. Selecting green fruit right from the vine allows the tomato to remain its original green color longer.
In recent years the green beefsteak tomato has been returning to the dinner plates, and high-end restaurants are adding it into their creations, giving foodies a twist to classic recipes. Along with the more popular fried green tomato dishes, this colour fruit is well suited for salsas, chutney and salads.
Nature Fresh sells its green beefsteaks in a high-graphic display-ready 10-pound bulk box with it’s own unique PLU code. Fried green tomato kits are also available with all the fixings to prepare the dish.
Nature Fresh season starts in the month of March for the green beefsteak tomato.
The Texas onion deal will be a little late out of the gate this season but growers will get some help extending that season with a new later start date for Vidalia onion growers.
A cold winter by Texas standards — averaging about 10 degrees cooler than normal — will mean the Texas deal will not begin until about mid-March after harvest a week earlier. Mexico has also been behind this season due to cooler temperatures.
In late 2010, Texas onion growers appeared to be sitting pretty. They were coming off a year where their crop fetched as much as $40 a box — roughly a dollar a pound. Consumer demand had grown steadily for several years. Any past problems were squarely in the rearview mirror.
Then, as almost always happens, a few growers decided if some was good, more was better. Overplanting was rampant, production boomed. The predictable result of too much product on the market was a drop in pricing. Two years of struggle followed.
In 2013, growers cut back acreage by 40 percent. Most managed to work out water rights in drought-plagued Texas. The result was a return to solid markets and solid profitability.
Texas growers learned from the struggles of 2011-12, put that knowledge into play in 2013 and will follow the same template for 2014.
They may actually get a boost from an unlikely (and in some cases unwilling) ally as well — Vidalia onion growers. Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black earlier this year established a prohibition against early shipping of Vidalia onions. Though there is a court challenge under way, as it stands now, no Vidalia onions can be packed or shipped prior to April 15. Some Georgia growers said they will not even begin that soon this year.
That means Texas will have a wider window of exclusivity for its homegrown product, as much as a six-week window.
“Over the years the Vidalia growers have chipped away at the Texas deal by packing earlier and earlier,” said Marvin Davis of Tex Mex Sales in Weslaco, TX. “They weren’t doing themselves any favors by putting early-season product on the market before it was ready, some of them anyway. If consumers don’t have a good experience early in the season, they’re not going to come back.”
A judge is expected to rule on a court challenge to the Georgia pack-and-ship date some time in March. If the date is upheld, Texas growers will reclaim part of their original exclusivity window. If not, they stand to benefit anyway as some Vidalia growers have said they will not ship earlier onions regardless of the outcome of the judicial proceedings.
Meanwhile, “Sweet onions coming out of Mexico this year have been outstanding and the Texas crop looks even better,” said Delbert Bland of Bland Farms LLC in Glennville, GA, which also has operations in Mexico and the Lone Star State. “With the new highway and bridge in Mexico, the Southwest is becoming more important in the onion deal every day.”
“It’s still early, but the crop looks really good,” added Tex Mex’s Mike Davis.
Lone Star State growers are looking at promising markets — in the low and mid-20s in late February and early March — and decreased production in Mexico this year after similar drops in 2013 bode well for Texas.
Some key growing areas also benefited from several significant rain events over the last few months that helped growers stave off ever-present worries about water supplies.
“Prices should be strong,” said Bret Erickson, president of the Texas International Produce Association. “We still need moisture. But quality looks to be excellent and we will have a good supply of sweet onions out of Texas.”
In 2013 “there was one week in there you could actually call winter and that was it, the first week of January,” said Don Ed Holmes of The Onion House in Weslaco. This year the cooler weather provided a reverse of 2013.
And while the crop is late, Holmes was quick to note that onions are dormant during much of the production cycle, getting most of their growth in the month before harvest, and thus virtually impervious to cooler weather.