Giumarra anticipates high volume for 'eat brighter!' spring watermelons

Giumarra Nogales will begin spring Nature’s Partner melon shipments at the end of March and will offer seedless watermelon grown in Mexico featuring Sesame Street "eat brighter!" artwork.

The watermelon program is designed to get children and their families excited about eating watermelon, which is high in vitamins C and A.Oscar NaturesPartner Watermelon Each individual watermelon will include a peel-off label with information about watermelons and a kid-friendly recipe.

“We are offering large Sesame Street ‘eat brighter!’ bins as an added benefit for our retail partners, and they really stand out at store level,” Gil Munguia, division manager of Giumarra Nogales, said in a press release. “Watermelons are the perfect item for Giumarra Nogales to begin its participation debut in PMA’s far-reaching initiative, and we will have high supply to service all of our customers.”

The high-graphic bins feature Big Bird and Elmo, as well as the "Nature’s Partner" brand identity. Munguia said the bins will first catch the consumer’s attention from across the produce department, and the peel-off labels seal the sale with a fun, informative design, offering a total solution to customers.

“It’s important to highlight the awesome nutritional benefits of watermelon, but also appeal to kids with the label,” Ben Reilly, Midwest business development manager for Giumarra, said in the press release. “We decided on a recipe for a cupcake-shaped watermelon snack that families will have fun creating together.”

Giumarra worked with Pennsylvania-based Yerecic Label to produce the peel-off labels, which feature Elmo or Oscar.

“Our team is always excited to design fun and exciting labels, and Giumarra’s Sesame Street labels top the list,” Yerecic Label President Art Yerecic said in the release. “The ‘eat brighter!’ message and Sesame Street characters help draw attention to the product and entice kids to try more fruits and vegetables.”

Giumarra anticipates increased volume this spring, up roughlyf 28 percent from 2014. Shipments are expected to arrive beginning in mid-March.

United Family produce director retiring, successor named

The United Family announced Darvel Kirby, produce director, will retire effective Feb. 28. Joseph Bunting, who has been with the company for 22 years, will be promoted from produce business manager to assume the role of produce director.

“It has been an honor to be a part of The United Family,” Kirby, who has been with the company for more than two decades, said in a press release. “I’m proud of the team we have built over the past several years, which has allowed us to promote from within so we can carry on the operation and positive reputation of The United Family produce department in the future.”

Kirby, who originally joined The United Family as produce supervisor, served as produce director for 12 years, growing the company’s produce department sales by more than 100 percent during his tenure.

“I am extremely lucky to have worked alongside Darvel, especially as our stores transitioned from the pre-book order system and added our in-house fresh-cut produce program,” Bunting said in the release. “This is an exciting opportunity for me, and my goal is to continue the department’s tradition of excellence using the knowledge Darvel passed along to me.”

Bunting, who has begun to transition into his new role, most recently worked with Kirby as produce business manager. Bunting joined The United Family as a sacker in 1992.

Reggie Griffin joins Ocean Mist's board of directors

Reggie Griffin, former vice president of produce and floral at The Kroger Co., was elected by the shareholders of Ocean Mist Farms as an outside director.

Griffin retired from The Kroger Co. in 2011 and has been working since then as a business consultant.Reggie-Griffin-Head-Shot-Photo He is the second outside director to join Ocean Mist Farms’ board — Roberta Cook of the University of California-Davis was the first.

“I am honored to join the Ocean Mist Farms board,” Griffin said in a press release. “I’ve worked with the company for several years and have long respected the professional culture and quality of excellence that Ocean Mist Farms delivers. I look forward to moving into a productive future together.”

Ocean Mist Farms is a family-owned business that celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2014.

“We are extremely excited about Mr. Griffin’s recent election to the board and look forward to benefitting from his knowledge and expertise in the produce industry," Ed Boutonnet, company president and chief executive officer, said in the release. "His insight and passion for the business will help guide and direct the future growth of Ocean Mist Farms.”

USDA gives green light to marketing GMO apple varieties

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has deregulated "Arctic" brand apples genetically modified to resist the browning process, a decision that may not be popular with apple growers and consumer groups.

The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service took the action based on a final plant pest risk assessment that found GMO apples are not likely to pose a pest risk and on the results of an environmental assessment that found deregulation is not likely to have a significant effect on the environment, but don’t expect a ringing endorsement from apple growers.

The U.S. Apple Association, which has opposed deregulating GMO apples, said Friday it supports the choice of consumers, who will make the ultimate decision of whether to buy these apples.

“Consumers will be able to decide whether to try the new, ‘non-browning’ apples, and ultimately, the marketplace will determine whether there is a demand for them," the group said. "Because it will be several years before Arctic apples become available, consumers will have time to decide whether they want to purchase them.”

In the meantime, all other apples that are non-GMO will be on the market and the company that developed the non-browning varities said it will be “clearly marketed and sold under the 'Actic' label, allowing consumers to make informed purchase decisions.”

Consumer groups, like Food & Water Watch, used stronger language in opposing USDA’s decision.

“In its environmental assessment, the USDA glossed over the possibility of unintentional effects associated with the technology used to engineer these apples, potential economic impacts on the U.S. and international apple market, effects of potential contamination for non-GMO and organic apple growers and the impact of the non-browning gene silencing, which also can weaken plant defenses and plant health,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.

“The domestic apple industry is opposed to the commercialization of GMO apples and some food companies have already said they would not sell Arctic apples,” she said. Apple grower associations said GMO apples could have a negative effect on the apple industry, and Gerber and McDonald’s announced they would not use GMO apples in their products.

Consumer groups also expressed concern the particular gene targeted by this technology that allows apples to be sliced without turning brown could mislead consumers into thinking they’re eating fresh apples at all times.

USDA said the Arctic apples will turn brown over time, but they are genetically engineered to produce less of the substance that causes browning and will retain its original color longer when the apples are sliced or bruised.

After nearly two decades, Okanagan Specialty Fruits hailed the decision to deregulate the first two Arctic varieties: Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny apples. OSF is now free to market their trait to apple growers.

“Since it takes apple trees a number of years to produce significant amounts of fruit, it will likely be 2016 before any Arctic Granny or Arctic Golden apples are available for small, test-markets,” OSF said. “Following that, we expect increasing amounts of fruit each year, including additional non-browning varieties like Arctic Gala and Arctic Fuji.”

“The supply chain can feel confident knowing that Arctic apples are likely the most-tested apples in existence,” OSF said. “Rigorously reviewed by multiple regulatory bodies, all evaluations reach the same conclusion — Arctic apples present no unique risks and are just as safe and healthful as any other apple.” Arctic apples were field tested in Washington state and New York state.



FMI lists three steps to assure supply chain meeting produce-safety best practices

Retailer buyers should follow three steps to begin the process of assuring produce suppliers are following best food-safety practices, advised Hilary Thesmar, vice president of Food Safety Programs at the Food Marketing Institute, in a Feb. 12 blog.

A few weeks ago at an FMI meeting in Miami, the retailer association highlighted three steps as a starting point for implementing the Produce Safety Best Practices Guide for Retailers, a January 2014 guide FMI published with the help of the United Fresh Produce Association and Produce Marketing Association. The 12-page guide is directed at buyers, produce managers, food-safety associates and others involved in supply chain management and in-store handling of produce.

First, companies need to incorporate a food safety-systems approach that extends beyond the food-safety and quality-assurance departments, she said.

“Managers, buyers, quality assurance/food safety teams, suppliers, are just a few departments who play some role in the safety of produce — from the farm to the customer point of purchase,” she said. The food-safety guide should be shared with your team, said FMI.

Second, retailers need to appoint a project lead who will ensure suppliers meet the company’s produce-safety standards and adopt the best practices.

“Implementing produce safety best practices is dependent on a leader who will drive change across an organization,” Thesmar said. “Throughout the process, the lead will continuously communicate with all stakeholders to identify any gaps and troublesome issues that arise.”

Third, Thesmar said all growers, regardless of size, supplying retailers must have food-safety plans.

Small growers may lack the expertise or the resources to create and adopt a food-safety plan, but retailers “can play an integral role in assisting growers in understanding the importance of having a food-safety plan and by sharing resources to help small growers develop food-safety plans and attain safety standards, such as Good Agricultural Practices.”

She added, “A written food-safety plan is the foundation of building preventive food-safety, and communication is an essential part of this system. By engaging in a two-way dialogue, retailers can assure all requirements and specifications are clearly and fairly communicated, as well as identify needs for food-safety training.”