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Go big... and then go home. A simple phrase that well describes the feelings that Rainier Fruit Co. had about its inaugural year as an official sponsor of The Boston Marathon.

The company, headquartered in Yakima, WA, is one of leading grower-packer-shippers of premium tree fruit in the Pacific Northwest. Earlier this year, Rainier announced the start of a multi-year relationship with the Boston Athletic Association as an official sponsor of the Boston Marathon.BostonMarathonRainierSponsorshipIn 2016, Rainier Fruit Co. announced the start of a multi-year relationship with The Boston Athletic Association as an official sponsor of The Boston Marathon. This year's event was held on April 18. Photo courtesy of Rainier Fruit Co.

Aaron DeHerrera, part of the sales team at Rainier, said The Boston Marathon is a global event, with 73 percent of participants coming from outside the Boston area. Domestically, runners from all 50 states participated, as did runners from 98 different countries. A total of 30,251 entries were received, and 97.9 percent of those signed up to participate finished the race. There were 500,000 spectators at the marathon.

With nearly half a million people in town for race day, DeHerrera said the excitement level for all concerned was off the charts. “It was like going to Disney World,” he told The Produce News. “It was a 12 [on a 1 to 10 scale]. The whole vibe of the community was overwhelming.”

As an official sponsor, Rainier supported multiple runners. And attendees had an opportunity to find out how the company has built a reputation for consistency and quality with the apples it grows and markets each year. In all, DeHerrera said 95,000 apples were sampled. Rainier featured Lady Alice, its proprietary apple variety, as well as organic Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.

Courtesy of a special marathon tie-in, consumers also had an opportunity to pick up their favorite Rainier apple varieties in produce departments at several retail locations during the entire weekend.

“We feel that having Rainier apples as the Official Apples of the Boston Marathon was a huge success,” said Mark Zirkle, president of Rainier Fruit Co. “There are very few other venues where you elicit such a huge number of consumer responses to the apple varieties that, as growers, we see as our future. Organic Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and our very own Lady Alice. We left there feeling very good about our commitment, and will continue to plant varieties based on consumer demand, not just because it may be a variety that is easy to grow.”

Freshway Foods has announced its new fall and winter line of fresh deli salads, which emphasize the vibrance of fresh produce. The new salads feature heirloom vegetables, such as golden beets and rainbow carrots, as well as ancient grains, including farro and quinoa.

Development of the new fall and winter deli salads was driven by market research, as well as customer feedback. “We are listening to the marketplace and we are listening to our customers,” Chef Douglas Bond, new product development manager for Freshway Foods, said in a press release.Image-1---Pear-and-Broccoli-Salad-1Freshway's new pear and broccoli salad. “We continually study what is going on in the marketplace, with an eye on trending ingredients and flavors, and we add that knowledge to feedback from our customers on what their consumers want, in order to build a better salad.”

“These new deli salads bring bold, vivid colors to your deli case,” said Chef Bond. “We’ve added color in unexpected ways. For example, golden beets are an heirloom variety that add sweetness and crunch to a salad, in addition to the bright golden color.”

The new salads include the following:

  • Sweet and Crunchy Couscous: Sweet, crunchy apples and celery, mildly tart craisins and earthy walnuts, accented by a mildly spicy, Asian-inspired orange vinaigrette.
  • Nutty Balsamic Kale Salad: A hearty and healthy combination of kale, nutty farro and quinoa, sweet and mildly tart craisins, and mellow peas brought together with a classic balsamic vinaigrette.
  • Buffalo Cauliflower Salad: Crunchy cauliflower, celery and carrot in creamy Buffalo-style dressing with a kick, accented by green onions and mellow chickpeas.
  • Ancient Grain and Garden Salad: Sweet and crunchy heirloom golden beets and rainbow carrots with nutty farro, savory green onion and sweet, juicy pears, accented by a pleasantly smoky sweet onion vinaigrette.
  • Pear and Broccoli Salad: Sweet pears, hearty broccoli, red onions and red cabbage with nutty Parmesan cheese and walnuts, brought together in a mildly tangy and creamy cole slaw dressing.

The new fall and winter salads focus on using trendy flavors and ingredients in new ways. “Our Buffalo Cauliflower Salad is a hit with consumers who love the taste of hot wings, but want a healthier option,” said Bond. “We have also reinvented the couscous salad, by giving it an Asian-inspired, fruity flavor profile.”

The company will introduce its new fall and winter line of fresh deli salads at the upcoming IDDBA Dairy Deli Bake food show.

ALDI will successfully take its California footprint from zero to 25 stores in less than three months with the grand opening of seven new locations on May 19. The company will open its newest stores in San Diego, Kern and Imperial counties. aldi

ALDI, one of the nation’s fastest growing retailers, is in the midst of an aggressive coast-to-coast expansion plan. The company plans to operate approximately 45 California stores by the end of 2016, and more than 2,000 stores nationwide by the end of 2018. Currently, the grocer operates more than 1,500 stores in 33 states and serves 30 million customers each month.

“We are thrilled with the overwhelmingly positive welcome we’ve received from California shoppers who are experiencing our premium, high-quality groceries at everyday low prices for the first time,” Gordon Nesbit, Moreno Valley division vice president, said in a press release. “With our May 19 grand openings, ALDI will be available in cities across Southern California — from Kern to San Diego counties — offering the best of customers’ weekly must-haves like fresh produce and organics, dairy, gluten-free foods, USDA Choice beef and bakery items priced up to 50 percent less than other grocery stores.”

Each ALDI store will host a four-day grand opening event that includes an on-site sweepstakes for a chance to win free produce for a year.

“We may be new to California, but we’ve been successful in the U.S. for 40 years and we’re excited to continue to grow and bring our unmatched combination of quality and value to Southern California,” said Nesbit. “We can’t wait for more California customers to discover that shopping at ALDI can save time and money without sacrificing quality.”

Building on the success and equity of the California Avocado Grower Campaign (2008-15), the California Avocado Commission is running a new campaign that positions the California avocado as the perfect symbol of the California lifestyle.z-CAC AvocadoDreaming 24x36 nocrop r01

“It’s a celebration of everything that is endemic to the Golden State, from a climate that’s unlike any other to its diverse people, ideas and interests,” Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president marketing, said in a press release. “Our new campaign aims to engage with current California avocado consumers and expands the target audience to include younger Millennials.”

MullenLowe, the commission’s advertising agency of record since August 2015, developed a media strategy with a hypertargeted, creative and interactive approach. They called on Michael Schwab, the California-based artist and designer of CAC’s Hand Grown in California logo, to create a series of compelling print ads that form a connection between California avocados and California culture. Working closely with CAC, Schwab expanded on the world he captured in his original logo design. Set in the pages of local lifestyle publications, the new ads evoke the natural beauty of the state, from the mountains in the north to the beaches in the south and all the picturesque avocado groves in between.The essence of this communication is expressed in a new themeline, “California by Nature.”z-CAC CaliforniaLove 24x36 nocrop r01

“In addition to print ads, murals will be painted in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. We expect these colorful creations to generate opportunities for consumers to show and share the murals with their content hungry social media followers, extending the campaign’s reach and serving as another vehicle to keep California avocados top of mind,” said DeLyser.

The new campaign will have an online component as well, with targeted digital ads, custom content on websites and visually stimulating, delicious recipes and imagery shared on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.

In addition, CAC will continue to support retailers with targeted radio spots, mobile ads, social media and store locator activations that drive consumers to the nearest point of purchase for California avocados. In-store radio ads will encourage shoppers to buy the locally grown fruit.

Curry & Co. and the Ensign Family recently announced a partnership that adds key management personnel, a strategic plan and financial resources to continue to grow the Curry & Co. operation at its Brooks, OR, headquarters along with growing partners and packers-shippers in Washington, California, Georgia, Chile and Mexico.curryandco

“We are very honored to be part of Curry & Company,” said Aaron Ensign, chief operating officer of the Ensign operation. “Both families are multi-generational and share the same passion and values for agriculture that make this alignment a perfect fit. Our partnership provides even greater stability for our growers, customers and employees, and we look forward to expanding our markets domestically and internationally.”

The Ensign family farms over 1,000 acres of land in Oregon and Arizona. Holly Ensign, who will be Curry & Co.’s chief financial officer, brings financial and operational talent as well as hands-on agricultural experience growing up on her family’s Wasco County, OR, farm.

Aaron Ensign brings extensive global business management experience, as well as worldwide production, procurement and sales skills.

“Curry & Company was the exact opportunity we were looking for,” Aaron Ensign added. “We wanted a company with a diverse product background that had strong relationships and sales both domestically and internationally.”

“Our partnership with the Ensign family enables us to continue to pursue our goals,” said Matt Curry, president of Curry & Co. “They bring a strong management team to the fold, and the financial resources for us to accomplish our strategic growth plans. I greatly respect Aaron and Holly and the passion and energy they have, I’m excited to be working with them.”

Curry & Co. was founded in 1967 and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017. It is a 52-week supplier of fresh blueberries, and also has year-round sweet onion and onion deals, as well as a seasonal Vidalia sweet carrot program and a seasonal West coast blackberry program.