Ready Pac adds to back-to-school options

With the new school year top of mind, Ready Pac Foods has added several on-the-go snack options to its popular Snack Cups and Ready Snax offerings — an ideal option for school lunches and quick and healthy snacking.readpey

“By offering parents and students a wider range of nutritious snacks to choose from, the new Ready Snax and Snack Cups will give parents confidence in selecting a better-for-you option,” Tristan Simpson, chief marketing officer at Ready Pac Foods, said in a press release.

The company said Ready Snax is an ideal solution for parents and students looking for easy and nutritious options. Ready Snax, all with fewer than 300 calories, are available in six flavor combinations, including four brand new options:

  • Caprese, a combination of grape tomatoes, mozzarella, toast chips and basil balsamic dressing at 150 calories.
  • Apples, Yogurt & Trail Mix, a blend of apples, yogurt and trail mix at 150 calories.
  • Caramel Apple Crisp, a mix of apple slices, graham crackers and praline pecans at 220 calories.
  • Veggies, Hummus & Flatbread, a medley of carrots, celery, hummus and flatbread at 140 calories.

The new Snack Cup options provide a convenient and low-calorie solution for snacking with several bold flavor options:

  • Antioxidant Berry Blend, a mix of strawberries and blueberries at 40 calories.
  • Kickin’ Veggies with Buffalo Ranch, an assortment of carrots, celery, broccoli and buffalo ranch dip at 70 calories.
  • Protein Power, a combination of apple slices, celery and peanut butter at 200 calories.
  • Spinach Parmesan and Veggies, a blend of carrots, celery, broccoli and spinach parmesan dip at 120 calories.

United Supermarkets bringing 'next generation' of stores to Lubbock

United Supermarkets reaffirmed its commitment to the Lubbock, TX, community with news that it will open a new location in 2016. According to Ron Bonacci, senior director of marketing, it will showcase a new look and feel for United shoppers, including a larger produce section with extensive organic options.

Construction is expected to start late this fall and is targeted for completion in late summer or early fall 2016, according to Robert Taylor, president of United Supermarkets LLC.

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring a next generation United store to Lubbock," Taylor said in a press release. "Lubbock and the surrounding communities have always been highly supportive of United. We are glad to continue expanding to serve guests in our home-base city, which continues to grow and thrive.”

At 56,000 square feet, the new United will anchor a larger development that will include additional retailers. The store will feature an adjacent 2,500-square-foot United Express convenience store with a convenient drive-through.

“This store will be the third United that reflects our new brand strategy and the first in Lubbock,” Bonacci said. “The Lubbock community is so important to our company, and we believe the welcoming floor plan, signage and department layouts will be a positive expression of the strong relationship we have with our Lubbock guests.”

The new United store will offer some features currently found in Market Street stores, including fresh sushi and expanded foodservice options. A large salad bar and restaurant-quality food will be accompanied by an expanded in-store dining room. A larger produce section with extensive organic options, as well as a wide variety of beer and wine, is planned for the new store.

In addition, a significant expansion project at the Lubbock’s Llano Logistics distribution center is under way, paving the way for future growth. Both the new store and distribution center project will create new jobs for Lubbock.

New reports shows that organic growing methodology is bee-friendly

An important and timely report released in June by The Organic Center shows that organic farming practices are effective in maintaining the health and population of important crop pollinators — predominantly bees — which have been declining at an alarming rate in the past decade and threatening global food security.

Titled The Role of Organic in Supporting Pollinator Health, the report reviewed 71 studies detailing current threats to our pollinators and the effects of organic practices.beePollinators on a honeycomb. (Photo courtesy of the Organic Center)

It found that organic methods not only reduce risks to bees, but actively support the growth and health of populations of bees and other pollinators. The paper outlines pollinator-friendly techniques used by organic farmers that can also be incorporated into conventional farming systems.

“Our paper takes an in-depth look at the challenges faced by honey bees and other pollinators, and we look at organic as a model for supporting pollinator populations,” Jessica Shade, director of science programs for The Organic Center said in a press release. “We hope this report acts as a tool to educate policymakers, growers and consumers. Bee-friendly practices being used by organic farmers can be adopted by all producers to foster healthy pollinators.”

Seventy-five percent of all crops grown for food rely on pollinators, mostly honey bees, for a successful harvest. But over the past decade, the bee population has plummeted. Since 2006, beekeepers have lost over a third of their bee hives.

More than $16 billion worth of crops in the United States alone benefit from pollination every year. Without pollination from honey bees, many favorite fruits and vegetables such as apples, berries, carrots and onions would not be on our grocery shelves. The lack of these products has a direct effect on all segments of the produce industry.

No single factor has been singled out as the cause of the disproportionate bee declines. Instead, it is attributed to a number of factors, including exposure to toxic pesticides, parasite and pathogen infections, poor nutrition and loss of habitat. These are thought to interact resulting in lethal consequences for bees. Large-scale chemically intensive agricultural production has been implicated as a major source of the threats to pollinators.

Organic farming, because of the practices it follows, has been demonstrated by a number of studies to support more pollinators than conventional farming.

“One of the simplest ways to conserve our pollinator populations in an agriculturally reliant world is through organic farming,” Shade noted. “Consumers can rest assured that every time they purchase an organic product, they are supporting pollinator health.”

Organic practices are found to protect and support the health of bees in two critical ways. One is less exposure to toxic chemicals through insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other synthetic toxins used in industrial agriculture. The other is a reduction in the bee habitat and biodiversity. Lack of habitat and nutritional food sources are key factors in pollinator decline.

Bees need a diversity of plants from which to collect sufficient pollen and nectar to support their hives. Because organic producers are required to manage their farms in a way that maintains and improves natural resources, organic farms tend to have a more diverse landscape with more flowering plants to support and feed bees.

“Organic farming supports all of agriculture by maintaining and nourishing healthier pollinator communities, through practices such as crop rotations, hedgerow planting and the use of integrated pest management techniques,” said Shade. “Our goal is to gain recognition for these important organic practices.”

BJ’s names president

BJ’s Wholesale Club announced that Christopher J. Baldwin will take over as president and chief operating officer, effective Sept. 8, with oversight of the chain’s business operations, including merchandising, marketing, membership and logistics. He will also sit on the company’s board of directors.

Prior to joining BJ’s, Baldwin was chief executive officer of Hess Retail Corp., which operates gas stations and convenience stores. He also previously worked in leadership roles at Kraft Foods, The Hersey Co. and Procter & Gamble.

“Chris’ record of excellence in leading large and successful organizations in the retail and consumer sectors will help us to build upon BJ’s strong heritage of offering a distinctive shopping experience and deep value proposition to BJ’s millions of loyal members,” Laura Sen, CEO of BJ’s, said in a statement.

Sen previously held the combined role of president and CEO; the COO position has been vacant for several years, according to the company.

BJ’s, based in Westborough, MA, operates 208 clubs and 123 gas stations.

Go Broncos... Go Colorado fruits and veggies

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association is reaching out to broad audiences in Colorado and eight other states with a focused message: Fall in love with Colorado produce.

Adrian Card, who works as an agent with Colorado State University Extension in Boulder County, serves as a partner on the association’s board of directors. He talked about the unique partnership the association has developed with 850 KOA Radio and the Denver Broncos Radio Network to promote an array of fresh produce, including Colorado-grown potatoes.BroncosOV-ADRIAN-CARDAdrian Card

“KOA is the home radio station for the Denver Broncos Radio Network,” he told The Produce News. “It seemed like the logical fit for identification to radio listeners visiting our website.”

During the Broncos pre-season and regular season games, fans will hear a specific ratio ad. “Each will promote specific fruit and vegetable crops to a broad audience, encouraging them to buy Colorado produce,” Card stated. “Here is our first ad on peaches, apples and pears:

“'Although you didn’t pick it right off the tree, it tastes like you did. Now is the time to enjoy the sweetness and unrivaled flavor of Colorado peaches, apples and pears fresh off the tree before the season is over. Look for the Colorado Proud logo when shopping for Colorado peaches, apples and pears at your supermarket and buy them at your local farmers market or produce stand. Find tips for choosing, preparing, preserving and more healthy eating success with Colorado produce, at and click on the 850 KOA logo'.”

Card said ads will feature Colorado potatoes later this fall. “We think each radio spot reaches about 80,000 listeners,” he said of the campaign.