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Baloian Farms partners with Michigan growers for locally grown squash product

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of the locally grown trend, Baloian Farms, based in Fresno, CA, announced a partnership with Michigan growers to offer retailers their sauté kits with locally grown squash. This value-added product features yellow and green squash with a seasoning packet included.

BaloianSquashMockups webUnderstanding the importance of offering locally grown products during peak season was a natural decision for Baloian Farms.

Launched in the fall of 2013, the new squash sauté kits have been well received with continued success at retail and was recently voted as the "People's Choice Best New Product" at the Fresno Food Show in July.

"It made sense to create this seasonal partnership and provide retailers with another strong selling point to further increase their sales," Jeremy Lane, sales manager of Baloian Farms, said in a press release. "The kits will be both grown and packed locally in Michigan."

Utilizing this grower partnership also made sense financially by drastically reducing the amount of food miles involved in delivering the value-added product to retailers.

"Consumers will enjoy the benefit of locally grown fresh squash, along with great flavor options, that are convenient and easy to prepare. We are constantly striving to find innovative opportunities like this partnership to provide premium products to our customers," Lane added in the press release.

Baloian Farms squash sauté kits with seasonings are available in with two flavor options, Parmesan with Herbs and Roasted Red Pepper. The kits contain three pieces of fresh squash and a premeasured season packet. Prep and cook time is about five minutes making this product an easy-to-prepare side dish solution.


Kalettes to be grown under new marketing agreements

Tozer Seeds announced that it has entered into exclusive marketing agreements with six companies to grow and market Kalettes, the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid.

The companies that have entered into the marketing agreement with Tozer for Kalettes are 4Earth Farms, Classic Salads, Mann Packing, Ocean Mist Farms, Southern Specialties and WP Rawl. As part of the agreement, Kalettes seeds will be sold by Johnny's Select Seeds to small farmers and home growers.

Tozer Seeds made the decision to enter into this agreement with a select group of companies to market under the "Kalettes" brand to create a consistent name and brand identity for the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid, which would allow consumers to easily recognize this new vegetable.

Tozer and these companies have committed to supporting the Kalettes brand though joint public relations efforts, consumer and trade advertising, and by providing recipes, cooking tips and other content to consumers through the website,, and their social media channels.

Additionally, the companies that are growing as part of the Kalettes brand are subject to strict product specifications and quality controls. Product specifications include sizing, color and condition, which will ensure that consumers receive consistent top-quality product.

Tozer Seeds has applied for a PLU code under the generic name "kale sprouts," which will be available to any grower of the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid.

"Our collective goal is to successfully launch Kalettes in the retail and food service channels in the U.S. and Canada and build a strong awareness among consumers," Kraig Kuykendall, sales manager of Tozer Seeds America, said in a press release. "By working together, the joint marketing efforts of Tozer and these companies will be able to reach the consumer more effectively. We have been very pleased with the incredible response to Kalettes and predict it will be very successful."

Kalettes are the product of more than a decade of research by Tozer Seeds, a leading family-owned vegetable breeding company in England. The kale and brussels sprout hybrid offers a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty, combining the best traits of each of its parent vegetables. Kalettes are not genetically modified and were developed by cross-pollinating brussels sprouts with kale through traditional methods.

Kalettes are now available in very limited quantities and distribution will continue to increase throughout the fall and winter as production increases. Kalettes will be available to both retailers and foodservice distributors directly through the companies.

CMI named as a finalist for PMA Impact Award in packaging

Columbia Marketing International has been named as a finalist for the 2014 PMA Impact Awards in Excellence in Packaging for their innovative single-serving cherry package.

The Produce Marketing Association reported that 56 companies entered 67 products for consideration. Twenty packaging submissions have been chosen by the Impact Award committee as finalists for 2014.

CMICherryDisplay 3b 6743 According to Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, Go-Go Fresh sweet cherries was introduced during the 2014 season with the intent of providing packaging specifically targeting the convenience store channel.

“More and more consumers are shopping convenience stores looking for fresh fruit options,” Lutz said. “The conventional grocery store 2-pound cherry bags are far too large for convenience stores so fresh cherries were rarely seen in this channel despite the fact that cherries are a high-demand and high-impulse product. The new CMI Go-Go Fresh single serve bag really opened the convenience store channel for the first time.”

The Go-Go Fresh graphics displayed eye-catching retro graphics which appealed to a wide range of consumers. According to Lutz, in addition to being the first single serving cherry bag, it also features messaging that is important to convenience store shoppers.

“Our consumer research showed that the displaying of nutritional information and fiber content are important purchasing factors for many consumers,” Lutz said. “We used the new packaging to call out these benefits as well as highlight that our cherries are GMO free.”  

“We look forward to an expanded roll out of the CMI single serving cherry packaging during the 2015 season,” said Lutz.

To view CMI’s Go-Go Fresh cherry video, visit:


Watsonville Coast Produce celebrating 40 years

Watsonville Coast Produce, a distributor of a full line of produce items, based in Watsonville, CA, is celebrating its 40th year in business this fall and will hold a festival next month to recognize those that have contributed to its success.

"Hard work, loyal employees and partners working together" are what Gary Manfre, a partner in the business, attributes to the success and longevity of the company.

logoManfre and partners bought what is now known as Watsonville Coast Produce Inc. on Oct. 1, 1974. At that time, the business was a seven-man operation on Menker Street in a modified barn. With long hours and hard work, the business has grown to what is now a 100-person staff in a 45,000-square-foot facility.

Among the staff family working there are a number of Manfre's family members, some of whom have been working there for over 35 years. The company also employs more than one family member of many Watsonville residents. For example, a member of sales support team has her father and brother working as drivers, her uncle is shipping foreman and her cousin works in the bookkeeping department. This family-like atmosphere creates a level of loyalty and commitment to provide the best service possible, and is a huge part of the company's success.

The 40th anniversary celebration festival will kick off Sept. 27 and will be focused on produce, employees and partners on-site at their facility. The week following the festival there will be food, raffles and more for the staff to continue the celebration.

Limoneira invests in Chilean citrus packing operation

Limoneira Co., a leading agribusiness based in Santa Paula, CA, with prime agricultural land and operations, real estate and water rights in California and Arizona, announced that it has made an investment in Rosales S.A, a citrus packing, marketing and sales operation in La Serena, Chile.

Through its wholly owned Chilean subsidiary, Limoneira Chile SpA, Limoneira invested $1.75 million for a 35 percent interest in the business. Limoneira will earn equity income from its investment as well as 50 cents per carton on lemon sales to Asian markets, which combined is estimated at $200,000 to $300,000 per year.

With its location in a coastal region of northern Chile, La Serena is a major citrus- and avocado-growing area of the country. Rosales, which primarily packs and sells lemons, currently sells its produce into Asian, European and Chilean markets. Going forward, Limoneira will handle Rosales' lemon sales to Asian markets.

"We are excited about our first international business investment," Alex Teague, senior vice president of Limoneira, said in a press release. "Our management team has a long-standing relationship with Rosales, and we look forward to working with them more closely following our investment. Along with expanding our participation in the growing global lemon business, this investment also enables Limoneira to better evaluate future potential investment opportunities in Chile's vast, productive agricultural properties."

"With its favorable climate for lemons and other citrus, we have been looking for the right opportunity to enter the Chilean agriculture market for some time and are very pleased with our partnership with Rosales," Harold Edwards, president and chief executive officer of Limoneira, added in the press release. "Our investment in Rosales is consistent with our long-term strategy to expand our agribusiness internationally as a global year-round supplier of lemons. Our business will benefit from our increased packing capacity following our Rosales investment, as well as our recently announced acquisition of Marlin packing house in Yuma, Arizona, and the expansion of our packing facility in Santa Paula, which will be completed next fiscal year. Our team also continues to evaluate strategic opportunities to acquire additional agribusiness acreage in both domestic and international markets."