Google has added fresh groceries to its Google Express delivery service. Express was launched in March 2013, at which point it was limited to the San Francisco Bay Area. In response to consumers requesting fresh foods it has now launched a pilot in select Los Angeles and San Francisco neighborhoods so customers can get same-day delivery of fresh produce and other groceries.
"Since we launched Express, you’ve ordered enough water to fill 10.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools and enough toilet paper to circle the earth 15 times. But we’ve also heard your feedback that you’d love for Express to help you check off your entire grocery list, including fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy and frozen foods," the company said in a release. "Whether you need to restock your pantry, get some ingredients for tonight’s dinner, or just need some help carrying the heavier stuff — all you have to do is place your order, and we'll take care of the rest."
The company's fresh grocery deliveries start at $2.99 for members and $4.99 for everyone else, and customers can choose when they want them delivered in two-hour windows, available every day.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. The USDA also filed an administrative action against Poppell’s Produce Inc.
The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:
Poppell’s Produce Inc., operating from Georgia, allegedly failed to make payment to 20 produce sellers in the amount of $327,702 from September 2012 through December 2013. The company will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that it committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry for two years. Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for one year and then only with the posting of a USDA approved surety bond.
Lemon plums from Chile will add color and excitement to the stone fruit display a little longer this year, as volumes increase and the unique yellow fruit edges into the mainstream.
Oppy, which represents the largest slice of the lemon plum crop, will ship them through the second week in March.
“Until recently, industry volumes have been small, so lemon plums have occupied a fairly select niche,” Evan Myers, executive director of South American imports for Oppy, said in a press release. “It’s a really nice piece of fruit, and more growers are getting involved. That greater volume gives us the opportunity to offer it farther and wider this season.”
To help introduce lemon plums to consumers who are unfamiliar, Oppy is packing an eye-catching one-pound pouch bag.
Lemon plums, so named for their harvest color, not their flavor, are tear-drop shaped, sweet-tasting and juicy, according to Myers, who added, “Their skin blushes to red as they ripen, so there’s no guesswork about when to eat them.”
Oppy is expecting arrivals of lemon plums on both coasts through the first week in March.
On the heels of the 2015 sold-out show, and amid preparations for the 2016 show that is already sold out, three prominent Texas retailers have endorsed the Viva Fresh Produce Expo, which will be held March 30-April 2 at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort & Space in San Antonio, TX.
Attending buyers regularly point to the key benefits of the rapidly growing Tex-Mex corridor and its importance to trade, the strong educational programs with Virtual Field tours and the ability to connect with grower-shippers in a more personal setting as reasons for attending the Viva Fresh Expo.
Part of the impetus for the creation of the Viva Fresh Expo was the growing importance of the Tex-Mex corridor, the national changes in transportation, labor and the availability of water, which continue to make produce imports from Mexico an important source for fresh produce, and of significant economic importance to Texas and the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, which sits at the end of the new Mexican superhighway.
In fact, by 2023 fruit and vegetable shipments from Mexico to Texas are expected to grow by as much as 70 percent in comparison to 2015, or the equivalent of nearly 360,000 truckloads annually, according to the most recent analysis by the Texas A&M Center for North American Studies.
“The tremendous response from this past year’s expo shows the importance of the Texas, Southwest and Mexico growing regions,” Hugh Topper, group vice president at H-E-B, said in a press release. “This is a true regional expo with an international flair that brings value to both suppliers and customers.”
“As an ex-retailer, I know from first-hand experience how important the Gateways to the Americas is to the produce industry, especially with the amount of products that pass through and are grown in Texas each year,” added Tommy Wilkins, director of sales for Grow Farms Texas, who also serves on the expo steering committee. “More importantly, I am proud to be a part of such an innovative regional expo.”
The Viva Fresh Expo was also created to take advantage of the trend to offer more intimate and affordable regional tradeshows that allow vendors and customers to create meaningful networking opportunities.
According to Joseph Bunting, director of produce at United Supermarkets, “The Viva Fresh Expo provides ample opportunity to develop new business relationships and strengthen already established relationships in a personal setting. We look forward to connecting with suppliers from the Southwest, Mexico and, of course, Texas, the fastest growing produce corridor of the country.”
In addition to networking, the expo focuses on education programming with the inclusion of technology that includes virtual field tours at farms and facilities in Texas and Mexico.
“The educational program is outstanding, especially the virtual field tours that bring the farm into the conference room,” Keith Durham, category manager of fresh produce at Brookshire Grocery Co., added in the press release. “This is a must-attend event to network with best-in-class growers, meet other buyers and learn about the challenges and opportunities of the Gateway to the Americas region while enjoying all the hospitality the Lone Star State has to offer.”
And since everything is bigger in Texas, attendees can expect more big ideas and big flavors at the 2016 Viva Fresh Produce Expo. Along with the education component, the expo will continue to be focused on the health benefits, style and taste of Southwestern U.S. and Mexico-grown produce, with chef-inspired events and receptions with regional-specific foodie flair.
The Eastern Produce Council will host its annual dinner dance Saturday, April 9, at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, NJ, during which time it will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a council.
In attendance to mark this special occasion will be many of the council’s past presidents and former EPC Men of the Year. Additionally, Al Ferri and Joe Procacci will be inducted into the council’s Hall of Fame.
Founded in 1966 in New York City, the Eastern Produce Council's mission is to provide its membership with multiple networking opportunities and the most relevant, up-to-date information available in the produce industry and to advance the sales and awareness of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Originally called the Produce Sales Club by its charter members, the EPC was formed primarily as a social organization that gave members a chance to work closely with each other, collaborating rather than competing, while discussing experiences and insights common to everyone in the fresh produce market. Three years later, the Produce Sales Club became the Eastern Produce Council with a new name and a renewed purpose for engaging members.
Today, more than 350 members span a variety of categories such as growers, retailers, wholesalers, vendors, brokers, logistics and transportation professionals who all come together to support their industry and give back to the community. To that end, portions of the funds generated from its annual golf outing, New York Produce Show and dinner dance are shared with food banks in New York and New Jersey, Hackensack’s University’s Tomorrows Children’s Fund, NJ Farmers Against Hunger, Lead NY (Cornell University) and scholarships for Rutgers agricultural majors.
In addition, the council works closely with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to place salad bars in schools to promote healthy eating and support the NJ School Garden Program.
For the past 25 years, the EPC was led by industry veteran John McAleavey. Since his death in June, his daughter, Susan McAleavey Sarlund, has succeeded him in the role of executive director. Together with the council’s volunteer board — consisting of President Vic Savanello, vice presidents Marianne Santo and Greg Veneziano, Secretary Rob Goldstein, Treasurer Sal Zacchia and the EPC’s officers and directors — Sarlund will continue to guide the organization toward future growth and success.
For more information about the Eastern Produce Council or to become a member, visit its website easternproducecouncil.com.