Peru to host World Avocado Congress

The World Avocado Congress, a meeting held every four years that brings together those involved in the avocado industry from around the globe, is set to take place in Lima, Peru, Sept. 13-18.

Among the topics to be covered are genetic resources and nursery management; pests and disease control; culture management and techniques; post harvest and processing; health and nutrition; and marketing. Presentations will be in English and Spanish.

The event will also feature optional tours of avocado orchards both north and south of Lima.

“It will be a great event and it is especially exciting for Peru to be the host country,” said Xavier Equihua, president and chief executive officer of the Peruvian Avocado Commission, based in Washington, DC. “These congresses typically cover production and marketing issues, but at this congress we will introduce the issue of health, which has never been addressed before. It fits in well with the overall theme of Peru being a super producer of super foods.”

This year marks the eighth World Avocado Congress, following the 2011 event in Cairns, Australia. The host country for the 2019 congress will be selected at the closing ceremony on Sept. 18.

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Whole Foods unveils new banner, president

Whole Foods Market Inc. announced the name of its new streamlined, value-focused brand: 365 by Whole Foods Market. Jeff Turnas, a 20-year Whole Foods Market veteran, will serve as president of 365 and will be based at the company’s headquarters in Austin.365

Slated to begin opening in 2016, the new stores will offer convenience and everyday low prices on natural and organic products that meet the company’s industry-leading quality standards.

Turnas has held various leadership positions on both the product and operations fronts, including president of the company’s North Atlantic Region, and most recently as president of its U.K. Region.

“We are excited to introduce 365 by Whole Foods Market to bring healthy foods to even more communities with a fresh, quality-meets-value shopping experience that’s fun and convenient,” Turnas said in a press release. “A modern, streamlined design with innovative technology and a carefully curated product mix will offer an efficient and rewarding way to grocery shop.

“For the past 37 years, we have built our company by leading with high quality standards and continuous innovation," he added. "We are now excited for the next evolution to extend our offerings to a broader audience in a way that complements our successful Whole Foods Market brand.”

PMA praises House vote to repeal Country-of-Origin Labeling Amendments Act

WASHINGTON — The Produce Marketing Association praised the U.S. House Wednesday for voting to repeal country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for meat products in hopes to prevent up to $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs on produce products alone in a trade dispute with Canada and Mexico.

The World Trade Organization has ruled four times against the United States’ COOL regulations for meat products after Canada and Mexico challenged them as discriminatory for its cattle and hogs. Two days after the U.S. government lost its final appeal, the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill that would repeal mandatory COOL for beef, pork and poultry products.

Throughout the process, Canada has threatened retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of products, including U.S. apples and cherries, and just filed a request with WTO to collect $3 billion in tariffs.

With the threat of retaliation looming, the House voted 300-131 in favor of the COOL repeal bill, H.R. 2393.

“California exports billions of dollars of commodities and manufactured goods to Canada and Mexico, many of which are produced in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA). “The tariff retaliations will cost California more than $1 billion, inflicting a devastating blow to the state’s economic well-being. The COOL Amendments Act will put the U.S. back in compliance with its international trade obligations and stop trade retaliations by two of the nation’s top export partners."

“The produce industry applauds the work of [House Agriculture Committee] Chairman [K. Michael] Conaway — through his leadership, today’s vote shows that members of Congress value the importance of trade and they recognized the potential $1 billion loss in produce exports to Canada and Mexico through tariffs and the uncertainty it would create for long-term contracts,” PMA President Cathy Burns said in a statement after the vote.

“Our industry depends on a fair, transparent and reliable international trading system to supply consumers around with world with affordable fresh produce year-round. As the bill moves to the Senate, we’re asking for their careful consideration and quick resolution,” she added.

Food retailers also praised the House vote.

“Clinging to a failed law in the face of economic harm simply does not make sense. Even the USDA’s own economic analysis of COOL found that it hurt producers, packers, retailers and consumers without offering any clear economic benefits in return,” said Leslie Sarasin, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute.

Some groups are trying to slow the legislation, however, and appealing to Senate lawmakers to find a negotiated resolution.

“U.S. consumers want more information about their food, not less,” said Chris Waldrop of Consumer Federation of America. “CFA urges the Senate to wait until the WTO process is finalized before determining a course of action.”

United Fresh New Product Awards winners

United Fresh announced the winners of the 2015 New Product Awards in five categories from a record 45 fresh fruit and vegetable innovations finalists at United Fresh 2015 in Chicago.uni

“We’re excited to announce the winners of the 2015 New Product Awards," John Toner, United’s vice president of convention and industry collaboration, said in a press release. "Of the record 45 finalists, the five winners exemplify exceptional ingenuity in fresh produce."

“New products like these are an essential element of the success of the fresh and fresh-cut produce industry," Tom Stenzel, United’s president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “Our member companies bring foresight about market trends and emerging technologies, and then apply creative ideas to capitalize on those trends, which contributes to the growth and profitability of our entire industry.”

The 2015 New Product Award Winners:

  • Best New Food Safety Solution: GO Lux, Locus Traxx Worldwide
  • Best New Fruit Product: Naturipe’s New “On-the-Go” Fresh Blueberry Mix, Naturipe Farms LLC
  • Best New Packaging: ReadyRipe Watermelon Pouch, Maglio & Co.
  • Best New Packing/Processing Equipment: Watermelon Peeler Chunker, ABL
  • Best New Vegetable Product: SUNSET Flavor Bombs Cherry Tomatoes, Mastronardi Produce/SUNSET

The New Product Awards were voted on by attendees throughout the two days of United Fresh 2015 in Chicago. The winner in each category was determined by total votes received as of 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 10 and announced at the United Fresh Membership booth at 3 p.m.

New report shows KIKU brand apples are setting records

A newly released Category Statistics (CatStat) report released by Columbia Marketing International shows that KIKU apples had the highest growth rate of any apple in the Top 40. According to Nielsen scan data, during the four-week period ending April 25, KIKU sales surged by 484 percent and KIKU volume was up a stunning 615 percent. In March (when apple sales historically decline), KIKU sales soared and are continuing to set summer records.Produce-News-50-50-kiku-email-image

Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, attributes this growth to the fact that more consumers are discovering the superior sweetness of KIKU apples, which is forging repeat sales. “The study evaluated KIKU performance data in retail chains all over the U.S.,” he said. “There are some critically different approaches used by top retailers, for apple sales, that supermarket chains at the back of the pack simply don’t use.” Lutz added that the CatStat report provides retailers with secrets to key sales success. “Displaying, merchandising, telling the story and running promotions — all of these tools can be used by any retailer, of any size, to maximize sales,” he said.

According to Robb Myers, vice president of imports for CMI, premium imported KIKU arriving from New Zealand and Chile are taking the program one step closer to having year-round availability. “Our customers are leveraging the success they have had with our domestic KIKU crop and are maximizing profits by rolling right into imported fruit,” he said.

Click here for the full report.