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Domex expects year-round opportunities for Washington apples

The record 2014-15 Washington apple crop is currently forecasted at over 140 million boxes of fruit. This vintage crop is expected to provide good quality, sizing and aggressive promotional opportunities benefiting retailers and consumers alike. Apples BrainPower

"We are looking forward to what 2015 will bring and Superfresh Growers’ sees excellent opportunities to promote Washington apples throughout the spring and summer months," the company said in a press release.

Most of the varieties like Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious will be available through the summer months. With ample supplies of all major varieties from Washington state, retailers will have the ability to offer U.S.-grown apples to their customers for the entire year.

Apples are the perfect fruit to promote year ‘round as they contribute approximately 12 percent of the entire produce department’s dollar sales, according to Nielsen data ending Aug. 24, 2014. The top five apple varieties of Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith represent almost 75 percent of the entire apple category.

“Gala Apples are the No. 1 apple in both dollar and volume sales in the United States” Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers, said in the press release. “Nielsen data shows that Galas represent almost 25 percent of apple dollars sales and 27 percent of the apple volume sales.

“Social media has been very successful in helping us educate and inspire consumers on the benefits of increased apple consumption,” Nager added in the release. “We encourage retailers to view and share our consumer oriented content available on our blog at”

The Superfresh blog contains educational content about Washington apple varieties and inspirational promotions focused on the health benefits of increased apple consumption. Some of the most popular Superfresh blog posts include the Washington Apple Variety Guide, Supercharge Your New Year’s Resolutions With 2 Apples Per Day, Easy Apple Chips: Your DIY Guide to Drying Fruit, Everything You Need to Know About Gala Apples and Apples Help Boost Brain Power.

AFM to keep momentum strong following football season

Avocados from Mexico plans to keep avocado consumption strong following the Super Bowl with its new Fanwich campaign. Launching nationwide and running Feb. 2 to March 13, the Fanwich campaign will feature a variety of consumer-focused marketing efforts to encourage consumers to create their own unique and delicious sandwiches featuring avocados from Mexico.afmlo

Consumers can enter their sandwich creation at for a chance to win one of four $500 grocery gift cards, which will be awarded weekly, or the grand prize of either a kitchen makeover, a “man cave” or a 10-day trip to any destination in the world, a value of $25,000.

“This Fanwich campaign will keep avocado fans pumped up long after the Big Game comes to an end,” Alvaro Luque, president of AFM, said in a press release. “This promotion will give our consumers a reason to eat and feel better with avocados From Mexico while having fun building the ultimate Fanwich.”

Retailers will also get a chance to score big by participating in AFM’s first national display contest. To enter, retailers can submit a picture of their unique displays online at The displays must utilize Fanwich point-of-sale items and all entries must be submitted no later than March 20. Prizes range from an iPad to $10,000 cash for retailers to create their own ultimate “man cave.”

Along with a consumer contest and a retail display contest, the campaign will be supported with a digital and social media campaign, as well as in-store radio and merchandising. AFM has also partnered with Jeff Mauro, “Sandwich King” and co-host of “The Kitchen,” to create hype videos leading up to, and during, the contest.

More information about Avocados from Mexico and the Fanwich campaign is available at

Hunts Point agreement pending contract vote

A press release issued by the Teamsters Union on Jan. 17 announced that Teamsters Local 202 had reached a tentative contract agreement with Hunts Point Terminal Market. The union’s 1,300 market members, who have the final say, will vote Jan. 21 on the agreement.

“Our members stood strong and the market knew we were serious,” Daniel Kane Jr., president of Teamsters Local 202 said in the press release. “We said we deserved a fair wage, we fought for it and we got it.”

Merchants on the market, some of which are third- and fourth-generation family members, supply the gross amount of fresh fruits and vegetables to New York City and beyond.

The contract deal comes on the heels of a strike vote taken by members late last week wherein 95 percent of members approved the strike after merchants gave a “final offer” with raises “far short of those proposed by the union,” according to the press release. It also stated that after the strike vote, merchants raised their wage offer.

“We were boosted by the support of our elected officials and everyday New Yorkers," Kane added in the release. "It’s getting harder and harder to get by in this city. People really rallied around these workers demanding a wage that their families can live on.”

Another issue, yet to be resolved, is that the Hunts Point merchants were demanding that more workers begin contributing $20 a week to their health plan. Employees hired during the past three years already make that contribution. Under the tentative agreement, the health care contributions would be extended to some higher paid workers such as supervisors and salespeople.

Modified order allows Bi-Lo to hold on to more Fla. locations

The Federal Trade Commission approved a modified final order settling charges that grocery store operator Bi-Lo Holdings LLC’s $265 million acquisition of 154 stores from Delhaize America would harm competition in markets in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Under the new order, Bi-Lo will retain ownership of three Sweetbay stores in Florida for which it could not find a buyer.

Under the proposed settlement reached in 2014, the FTC required the merged Bi-Lo/Delhaize to sell 12 of the Delhaize stores to buyers identified in the proposed order. One of the buyers, Rowe’s IGA, subsequently withdrew its commitment to purchase four Sweetbay stores located in Arcadia, Dunnellon, Lake Placid and Wauchula, FL, requiring Bi-Lo to continue and expand its efforts to identify an alternative buyer or buyers for those stores. 

Since Bi-Lo was unable to find buyers for three of those stores, the FTC has issued its modified final order that no longer requires Bi-Lo/Delhaize to divest the four Sweetbay stores to Rowe’s IGA. It also requires Bi-Lo/Delhaize to divest the store in Wauchula to Sunripe Market within 30 days of the modified order becoming final.

Sustainability and organics a perfect match

Sustainability, careful use of the land and protecting the environment are key to the produce industry. Today, many major chain retailers and foodservice operators are asking fruit and vegetable producers and distributors about their corporate sustainability practices, and some are even asking for written commitments from suppliers to guarantee they will do their parts to help to protect the environment.

The produce industry, however, already has had a strong and positive reputation related to taking care of the earth. Field growers understand the importance of crop rotation and other ways of protecting the soil, and everyone is keyed into every possible way of recycling and minimizing waste. Regardless of whether for financial reasons or for concern for the environment, the produce industry stands proud of its practices.

The organic produce industry provides an extra boost in this respect. Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control.

Depending on whose definition is used, organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides, which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides if they are considered natural. Examples are bone meal from animals and pyrethrin, a natural insecticide made from the dried flowers.

But organic growing excludes or strictly limits the use of methods such as synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators such as hormones, antibiotic use in livestock, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials, for reasons that include sustainability, openness, independence, health and safety.

Organics and sustainability are a perfect match. The words resonate the same basic message: take care of the earth and of the body. But few industry segments practice such a natural form of total sustainability as does the mushroom category.

Bill Litvin is vice president of sales and national account manager for Giorgio Fresh, headquartered in Temple, PA. He said the company’s organic line of mushrooms are produced primarily at its farms in Berks County, PA.

“We grow our mushrooms in a fully organic substrate without artificial fertilizers,” said Litvin. “Giorgio is leading the way in Integrated Pest Management to limit the use of synthetic pesticides in our products. Giorgio does not bio-engineer mushrooms or use ionizing radiation.”

Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, told The Produce News that the mushroom business is naturally totally sustainable. The company produces an extensive line of organic mushrooms in addition to a conventional line.

“We use the straw from wheat grain, horse bedding, brewer’s grains and even chicken manure — things that no one else wants — and we turn them into compost that our mushrooms grow in,” explained Donovan. “While we cannot reuse compost, we can make good use of it once it is used. We partner with a company that sterilizes it, dries it, processes it into potting soil and sells it for things like rooftop gardens. It’s even used on fields to aid in nutrition.

“The mushroom industry was sustainable before the word sustainable was a catch-word,” he added. “And growing organically and sustainably is as good as it gets.”