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Specialty citrus key for healthy consumers and produce departments

During the winter months, shoppers are looking for citrus fruits to boost their immune systems and brighten up their meals. Frieda's Specialty Produce suggests that retailers take advantage of winter specialty citrus to give their shoppers more variety and liven up produce departments.frieda

The company said the bright color and fragrance of citrus will attract shoppers initially, but proper signage is crucial in getting shoppers to put those fruits in the basket. Shoppers need to be able to distinguish the many varieties and unique flavor profiles before making that final purchasing decision.

Frieda’s Specialty Produce recommends these winter citrus top-sellers: Blood oranges; Buddha’s Hand Citron; Cara Cara; Centennial Kumquats; Cocktail grapefruit (Mandarin oranges crossed with Pummelo), Kumquats; Lemonade lemons; Mandarinquats; Organic Finger Limes; Oroblanco (grapefruit crossed with Pummelo); Vaniglia oranges; and Variegated Pink lemons.

Frieda’s also offers Meyer lemons and seedless lemons in one-pound bags.

The company said it offers product information and high-resolution images to assist with the marketing needs for retailers, wholesalers and foodservice distributors.

MacKenzie honored with Lifetime Achievement Award at OPMA’s annual gala

Ian MacKenzie, president of the Ontario Produce Marketing Association, who will retire at the end of this year, was honored at the association’s annual gala with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award recognized MacKenzie’s 40-plus years of dedication to the produce industry and the “endless hours, tremendous energy and enthusiasm” that he put forth to assist members of the entire supply chain solve issues and problems for the betterment of the Canadian produce industry and in turn, the consuming public, the OPMA said in a press release. He played a key role in building the produce industry into a true value-chain environment.Ian-MacKenzie-Fred-WebberFred Webber of Dispute Resolution Corp. presented the Ontario Produce Marketing Association's Lifetime Achievement Award to Ian MacKenzie, OPMA president, who will retire at the end of this year.

The award presented to MacKenzie was just one of the awards that highlighted the Nov. 13 gala.

Additionally, the Dispute Resolution Corp. honored MacKenzie for his contribution to the formation of the DRC with his input from his years of historical accuracy, his policy insights, direction and vision, as well as his continued support lending his time and talents to the success of the DRC.

The OPMA Fresh Award was presented to Julian Sarraino, who demonstrated an ability to be innovative, passionate and dedicated towards the produce industry in the past year by consistently exhibiting a fervent determination to improve the quality, distribution and consumption of fruit and vegetables in Ontario.

The OPMA Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Wonderful Sales, which showed exemplary efforts to support the food retail environment with innovative displays, great point-of- sale materials, eye-catching packaging and excellent value for the consumer. In addition to its efforts to help grow categories in-store, the hard work of their entire merchandising team led by Chris Cockle, vice president of Wonderful Sales in Canada, has demonstrated their commitment to the Ontario and Canadian produce marketplace.

The OPMA Cory Clack-Streef Produce Person of the Year Award was bestowed upon Mike Venton, senior vice president for no frills and produce procurement at Loblaws, who demonstrated among many attributes his leadership regarding the re-engineering of how Loblaw Cos. viewed and managed produce. The Grown Close To Home marketing program was developed based on his initiative and is still in place today celebrating Loblaw’s commitment to local growers.

United Fresh to honor Rick and Tonya Antle with Lifetime Achievement Award

The United Fresh Produce Association will honor Rick & Tonya Antle with its Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2016 Produce Legends Dinner during the United Fresh Midwinter Leadership Forum, Jan. 12-14, at the La Quinta Resort and Club, in La Quinta, CA.

“When you think of true produce industry icons, both Rick and Tonya Antle are at the top of that list,” Brian Kocher, chief operating officer of Castellini Co. and chairman of the United Fresh board of directors, said in a press release. “Both Rick and Tonya each have had tremendous careers in their own right, not only advancing their own companies, but serving as leaders to move the produce industry forward.”united-fresh

The United Fresh Midwinter Leadership Forum brings together hundreds of the association’s volunteer leaders for council and board meetings, the annual United Fresh Start Foundation golf tournament and the Produce Legends Dinner honoring individuals for their lifetime achievement in the produce industry.  

“We are so excited to be honoring Rick and Tonya this year,” Tom Stenzel, United Fresh president and chief executive officer, said in the release. “This is the first time we’ve honored two individuals together, and I can’t think of another couple who so fully complement one another in their contributions to the fresh produce industry. From Tonya’s spearheading the growth of the organic produce sector to Rick’s constant innovation at Tanimura & Antle, both of our honorees truly deserve this recognition.”

The Antles join a distinguished group of past honorees, including Mike Cavallero, Joe Procacci, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, Reggie Griffin and Bob Grimm.

The 2016 Produce Legends Dinner will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 12, following the foundation golf tournament. All proceeds from the golf tournament and Legends dinner support the United Fresh Start Foundation’s mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. “Tickets for the dinner, golf tournament, and sponsorships are now available, and we invite friends throughout the produce industry to join us in honoring Rick and Tonya,” Stenzel said.

Rick Antle has been president and principal of Tanimura & Antle Inc., based in Salinas, CA, since its inception in 1982 and CEO since 2003. T&A today grows a full line of leafy vegetables on more than 35,000 acres in California and Arizona. The company also owns and operates a state-of-the-art sustainable hydroponic greenhouse producing leafy greens in Livingston, TN.  

He is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo and was honored by being named its distinguished alumni for the School of Agriculture. He was recognized by the Salinas Chamber of Commerce as its outstanding young farmer, and has served in many volunteer roles throughout his career, including chairman of the Iceberg Lettuce Research Board, chairman of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency and as a member of the United Fresh board of directors.

Tonya Antle has been a driving force in the farming and produce industry for more than 30 years since growing up on her family’s table grape and citrus farm in Delano, CA. She is recognized as a top spokesperson and true trailblazer for the organic produce segment, helping to propel organic produce from the fringe to mainstream mass-market retailing.

She is a graduate of the University of California-Irvine and held the position of vice president of organic sales for over 13 years at Earthbound Farm. During her tenure, she was an instrumental leader in building the brand to its half-billion-dollar sales level that it enjoys today. She is committed to mentoring young women in the industry and is a past recipient of United Fresh’s Women in Produce achievement award. In 2010, she joined the Ag Business Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, as a guest lecturer in fruit and vegetable marketing, and has served the university as a member of the President’s Council. She currently serves on the board of the Community Foundation for Monterey County.

Rick and Tonya Antle reside in Carmel, CA, and have three sons, one daughter and a daughter-in-law.

CPAC looking at multiple research projects, trade agreements

With a full plate of varietal data, trade negotiations and market studies, Jim Ehrlich, executive director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, said on Nov. 16, “I’ve been doing a lot of research stuff today.”

Ehrlich said this is the time of year he and growers are able to meet more frequently one-on-one as well as in group settings, and he said a recent research committee meeting had members looking at priorities for the upcoming year.cpac-potato-and-onionConditions this past growing season in Colorado’s San Luis Valley were favorable for a good crop, and shippers are reporting just that. Spuds coming out of storage are said to be very good to excellent quality, and supplies are good for both retail and foodservice.

“Our CSU Research Station new farm manager, Tyler Thompson, has ideas for improvements and projects, and we’re working closely with him,” Ehrlich said. He added that he had also been looking through 36 individual proposals to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service sent in by researchers from across the country.

Addressing trade issues, the director said he, along with the National Potato Council, looks favorably on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that he said “offers good opportunity for potato exports.” Ehrlich said, “Trade is obviously very important, and it’s a world market these days.”

He also said, “We want to do what we can to make the agreement realistically fair.”

The agreement with Mexico, which is stuck at the 26-kilometer buffer reinstated in June 2014 after a very brief opening of the Mexican interior, is status quo. Ehrlich said John Keeling, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the NPC, traveled to Mexico recently for further talks.

“Here at CPAC we just finished up with our yearly review of our block grant program, and one project we see as having been very beneficial was the market research we had done in Mexico,” Ehrlich continued. “Our researcher, Nora Gonzales, has done a very good job.” He said if that market does fully open up, Colorado will be ahead with solid information on retail support and consumer education.

“It was well worth the time and expense,” Ehrlich said.

Natural Grocers expansion to continue with 23 new stores

Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage Inc., a specialty retailer of natural and organic groceries and dietary supplements, is looking to add 23 new stores in fiscal 2016. The company, founded in 1955, currently has 106 stores in 18 states.natgroc

In 2015 the rapidly expanding smaller-store format specialty retailer continued its five-year annual unit growth rate of approximately 20 percent by opening 16 new stores, compared to 15 new stores in fiscal 2014, resulting in unit growth rates of 18.4 percent and 20.8 percent, respectively. The new stores in 2016 would boost the company's footprint by 22.3 percent.

In fiscal 2015, net sales increased $104.0 million, or 20 percent, over fiscal 2014 to $624.7 million, primarily due to a $73.3 million increase in sales from new stores and a $30.7 million, or 5.9 percent, increase in comparable store sales. Gross profit in fiscal 2015 increased 20.2 percent over fiscal 2014 to $182.1 million, primarily driven by positive comparable store sales and an increase in the comparable store base.

"We are pleased to report another year of strong financial results while continuing our annual unit growth rate of approximately 20 percent. We are encouraged by the acceleration of our comparable store sales trends this past quarter. The key drivers of our strengthening comparable store sales include our focused sales initiatives, outstanding customer service and continued operational excellence," Kemper Isely, co-president, said in a press release. "As we move into fiscal 2016, we expect to open 23 new stores, resulting in a unit growth of 22.3 percent, and to relocate four existing stores. We believe we have a strong foundation of staffing and systems to support our disciplined growth."