Oneonta to have New Zealand Honeycrisp in early May

“We are very excited to bring something special to our customers and to consumers who love the Honeycrisp apple,” Scott Marboe, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers marketing director, said in a March 26 press release, adding that OSRG will fill a five-week window with Honeycrisp New Zealand apples starting in early May.

National Sales Representative Bruce Turner said the new crop,NZ-Honeycrisp on-treeHoneycrisp apples from Honeycrisp New Zealand will be available from Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers beginning in early May. (Photo courtesy of Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers) which exhibits “outstanding color, flavor and texture,” is grown in the Timaru region of the Canterbury Plains on the nation's south island.

“New Zealand is in a marine climate, and its fruit trees grow somewhat faster, with earlier and heavier yields than in other production areas,” Turner said. “Because Timaru is south of Hawkes Bay, another New Zealand apple-growing region, the nights are cooler, which brings on the amazing color in our Honeycrisp.”

Turner said the growers' expertise and the natural growing conditions produce “the perfect blend of sugars and acid, and the crunch and juiciness are terrific. We're seeing better color and more optimal retail sizes than Honeycrisp from other Southern Hemisphere growing areas.

“It is a really wonderful piece of fruit,” he said, adding that the apple sizing peaks at 80-88, “ideal for retail.”

“The New Zealand Honeycrisp will start arriving in bins in late April, and we will pack fresh to order in Yakima,” Turner said. “They will bear the 'Honeycrisp New Zealand' label and will be distributed by Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers.”

Marboe said, “We strongly believe in the Honeycrisp apple and the consumer preference for this apple matches our vision. That is one reason we are heavily invested in certain New Zealand growing regions and committed to the long-term, year-round success of the Honeycrisp apple.”

Turner said, “The deal is in its early years, and volume will continue to grow. Organics are also being considered for the future. Right now, though, this fresh, new crop is bringing exceptional color and flavor to the market.”

Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers and New York Apple Sales are exclusive U.S. marketers for Honeycrisp New Zealand.

Walmart honors C.H. Robinson with first-ever 3PL Award

Walmart Stores Inc. has recognized C.H. Robinson with its first-ever 3rd Party Logistical Carrier of the Year Award for 2014, noting contributions for outstanding service, effective communication, and providing solutions and innovations in a changing industry.chrob

2014 was a year of challenges in the area of logistics and transportation, with extreme weather conditions and capacity issues challenging the industry as a whole, C.H. Robinson said in a press release. Through dedicated hard work and strategic collaboration, C.H. Robinson was able to exceed Walmart’s expectations as a logistics service provider.

“C.H. Robinson anticipated challenges due to weather conditions and the team went to work immediately,” Rob Kinsella, strategic account manager at C.H. Robinson, said in a press release. “By utilizing tools and programs customized to Walmart’s business we were able to assist with surge capacity and supply chain resiliency during the polar vortex, and throughout 2014’s extremely tight transportation market.”

The honor is designated to companies who provide support to Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and distribution facilities located throughout the United States. Strong relationships are key to the level of service and responsiveness that C.H. Robinson has with Walmart.

“Our more than 20 years of collaboration with Walmart has created solid relationships throughout the company — from analysts to presidents — enabling the kinds of strategic conversations and thoughtful planning that assists Walmart in achieving their goal of everyday low costs,” Kinsella said in the press release

“C.H. Robinson has consistently provided Walmart with exceptional service, maintained excellent safety standards, and proven their leadership in the transportation industry,” Kevin X. Jones, vice president of inbound transportation for Walmart, said in the release. “They are essential to accomplishing and exceeding our important goals. In turn, we are able to translate the efficiencies into everyday low prices for our customers.”

An official celebration of the award is scheduled to take place in May, when executives from Walmart will visit C.H. Robinson’s Eden Prairie, MN, headquarters.

“It’s satisfying to celebrate this win with the entire C.H. Robinson team, as it’s an effort that comes from across our entire North America network,” said Kinsella. “To accomplish what we do for a company like Walmart, it takes a lot of hard work and commitment from a lot of people.”

Bob Piccinini, Save Mart chairman, dies at 73

Robert (Bob) Piccinini, the chairman of Save Mart Supermarkets, died Tuesday, March 24 at his Modesto, CA, home. He was 73.

Mr. Piccinini purchased Save Mart from the Piccinini and Tocco families in 1985 after working his way up through the ranks, from box boy, truck driver, store manager, vice president of real estate and onto president and chief executive officer. He is credited with taking Save Mart from a homegrown, Central Valley chain to the regional competitor it is today.

Mr. Piccinini celebrated his 50th anniversary with the company this past summer. In September he stepped down as CEO, siting his confidence in the direction of the company and creating a joint partnership to lead the company: Greg Hill, co-president and chief finance officer; Steve Junqueiro, co-president and chief operating officer; and Nicole Pesco, co-president and chief strategy and branding officer.

Over the years, Mr. Piccinini supported many Central Valley community organizations. Often shying away from the spotlight, the impact of his contributions did not go unnoticed, Save Mart said in a statement.

Mr. Piccinini received several industry accolades throughout his career. He had partnerships and business interests and stock holdings in several real estate ventures and entertainment businesses, including the Golden State Warriors.

He is survived by children Nicole Pesco, Joseph Piccinini, Alexandria Piccinini and Dominic Piccinini; and he was preceded in death by son Michael Piccinini.

Chilean Fresh Fruit Association looking ahead to citrus and kiwifruit for spring and summer months

“Chile has a strong citrus program consisting of clementines, Navels, Mandarins and lemons,” said Karen Brux, North America managing director for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association. “Citrus used to be considered more of a winter item, but thanks to the growth in the Southern Hemisphere supply, consumers can enjoy high-quality, juicy and sweet citrus on a year-round basis today. Much of the summer citrus consumed by North Americans is from Chile.”

The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association directs all marketing and promotional activities for fresh Chilean fruit in the United States and Canada.citrus-displayIn-store merchandising shows off the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association’s strong promotional message. (Photos courtesy of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association) It is the North American counterpart of the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) based in Santiago, Chile.

At CFFA, Brux stays keyed into how each category of fruit from Chile is performing throughout the seasons.

Detailed forecasts of the Chilean citrus movement for this season will be available by mid-April. But as of late March, the forecast was for a small increase in Navel volumes, a decrease in clementine volume due to the ongoing drought in the Coquimbo regions and a double-digit increase in Mandarin volumes, which arrive just in time for big back to school promotions.

“The Chilean citrus industry recognizes the importance of the North American market and will continue to expand its marketing program throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Brux pointed out. “Expect to see numerous tailored retail promotions, e-newsletters directed at retail marketing and social media staff, trade advertising and public relations efforts as well as social media.

“The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association has reached millions of consumers by working with retail social media platforms across the country,” she continued. “Going forward we will do the same with Chilean citrus by engaging shoppers with usage ideas and nutrition info.”

Kiwifruit was one of the hardest-hit commodities when Chile was struck by devastating frosts in September 2013. Frosts affected the fertility of the buds that season, and Brux said this will continue to affect kiwifruit production in 2015.

“The estimate for Chilean kiwifruit exports is approximately 170,000 tons,” she said. “While this is about 70 percent greater than what was exported in 2014, it is still lower than historical volumes prior to the heavy frost in late 2013.”

The Chilean Kiwifruit Committee represents more than 80 percent of the kiwifruit production in Chile with over 48 exporter members representing more than 600 growers. Brux said the Chilean Kiwifruit Committee’s exporter-growers provide kiwifruit with guaranteed quality and maturity controls set and monitored by the committee.

“During its seven years of operation, the Chilean Kiwifruit Committee has worked diligently on behalf of the Chilean kiwifruit industry and has done a great job of raising the bar for taste and consistency,” she noted. “The committee aims to give greater support to retail chains and importers so they can better understand the required logistics and technology to achieve optimal consumption levels. Kiwifruit is a highly underrated fruit, and we look forward to showing North American retailers and consumers how great a good piece of kiwifruit can be.”

Brux added that as she looks ahead to the spring and summer opportunities for Chilean fruit, she thinks mainly of Chilean citrus and Chilean kiwifruit.

EPC to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market

The Eastern Produce Council will hold its May meeting at the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market. This is the third meeting at the state-of-the-art PWPM facility. The first two meetings drew almost 300 attendees each time.

This year’s theme will be "Cinco de Mayo in Philadelphia" and feature flavors and beverages from Mexico. The afternoon and evening event will feature guided tours of the facility, a performance by the Ferko String Band, a cocktail reception and a themed dinner that will include a taste of Old Mexico, Philadelphia style. The keynote speaker will be announced in April. Additionally, the EPC will be presenting a monetary donation to Philabundance, the area’s food bank.

Sponsors will include Avocados from Mexico, Corona, Dole, John Vena Inc., West Pak Avocado Inc., USA Pears and United Savings Bank of Philadelphia. Additional sponsorship opportunities are still available.

“We are very happy to have the Eastern Produce Council back to Philadelphia," Sonny DiCrecchio, president and chief executive officer of the PWPM, said in a press release. "The last meeting was a huge success and drew over 280 guests and visitors. We are very excited to have this event planned for May 5.”

“We are extremely pleased to be back in Philadelphia for another great event," added Paul Kneeland of Kings Food Markets and EPC president. "The Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market is critical to the region's produce industry in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond. This is a phenomenal environment for a great night. The vendors and staff at the PWPM have done a great job pulling together ‘Cinco de Mayo in Philadelphia.’”

This is a limited-space event, and those interested in attending should reserve their spot online or contact the EPC.