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Chilean Fresh Fruit Association wins Sensory Experience Contest at PMA Expo

A recipe entered by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association won top honors at the Produce Marketing Association’s Sensory Experience Contest at this year’s PMA Foodservice Expo.

The recipe, created for CFFA by Executive Chef Don Cortes, is Chilean Fruit Medley Gazpacho with Grape, Bacon and Brie Melt, an innovative interpretation of the classic soup-and-sandwich combination. The winning recipe is described by the chef as “a duet that pleases with beautiful colors, contrasting/complimentary textures and temperatures, and delicious flavors.”

gaspChilean Fruit Medley Gazpacho with Grape, Bacon and Brie Melt.“The versatility, flavor and beauty of Chilean fruit joined with Chef Cortes’ skill and creativity to create this standout recipe,” Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in a press release. “We are honored to be recognized by such an impressive panel of foodservice professionals and look forward to seeing what we can create for next year’s Expo.”

A panel of 11 foodservice professionals — comprised of representatives from Brinker, Darden, Culinary Sales Support, Produce Alliance, Brinker International, Pro*Act, Fresh Point, Wendy’s, Sysco, Southern Specialties and Chick-fil-A — selected CFFA’s entry from among 10 finalists. Recipes were judged on the following criteria: produce-centric, innovative, appearance and kid-friendly. Additional considerations included a recipe name that is descriptive, health value, taste, aroma and presentation.

As first-place winner, CFFA will receive second choice of booth location at the 2015 Foodservice Produce Expo; an announcement on the show floor; and recognition in PMA’s press outreach and on PMA’s website.

Chile is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest producer of fresh fruit and North America’s top source of fruit during the winter months. The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association directs all marketing and promotional activities for fresh Chilean fruit in the U.S. and Canada.

Baltimore leads national movement to encourage healthier eating for children

A couple of Baltimore-area businesses are taking the lead in a national movement, ‘eat brighter!’ to inspire young children and their families to eat healthier.

With the help of friends from Sesame Street, Savage, MD-based fresh produce supplier East Coast Fresh and grocery retailer Mars Supermarkets are putting emphasis — and marketing — in the produce department where Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Elmo and several other furry faces will adorn packages of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Mars is the first retailer to partner with a supplier like East Coast Fresh to offer the ‘eat brighter!’ product in stores.

The ‘eat brighter!’ movement offers royalty-free access to Sesame Street characters and was forged by the Produce Marketing Association, Sesame Workshop and the Partnership for a Healthier America. The initiative is supported by grocery retailers and fresh produce companies across the United States and Canada.

In September, Mars will host an event to kick off the Sesame Street produce promotions in its Wise Avenue store. It will feature activities for children and their families, including a fresh produce scavenger hunt and sampling.

For more information about the event or the ‘eat brighter!’ movement, visit http://www.pma.com/eatbrighter or contact Ashley Boucher at aboucher@pma.com or 302/738-7100, ext. 3092.

Mucci Farms, execs charged with fraud

A court hearing has been scheduled for Sept. 15 in connection with charges filed against two top officials at Mucci Farms, headquartered in Kingsville, ON. General Manager Danny Mucci and Vice President of Sales and Marketing Joe Spano face charges of defrauding the public and three major grocery store chains by misrepresenting the country of origin of greenhouse vegetables the company markets.

Mucci Farms is also being charged as a business in the case. The retail outlets involved are Costco Wholesale, Sobeys Inc. and Loblaw Cos.

According to court documents filed in Ontario, the men are charged with violations of the Criminal Code, Canadian Agricultural Products Act, Fresh Fruit & Vegetables Regulations, Food & Drug Act and the Consumer Packaging & Labelling Act.

In a prior interview, Spano told The Produce News the company owns and operates 150 acres in greenhouse production and represents an additional 400 acres of Canadian greenhouses. Mucci also represents Mexican growers with an additional 200-300 acres in production.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is conducting an investigation into the case.

When asked about the involvement of the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., Fred Webber, president and chief executive officer, said, "It would not be appropriate for DRC to comment on any ongoing investigation or any pending charges. From a broad perspective, DRC members all have standards and responsibilities they must maintain to continue as DRC members. Any member found guilty of breaching those standards and responsibilities could be terminated or required to post financial security."

Attorney Patrick Ducharme, a senior partner at the Windsor law firm of Ducharme & Fox LLP, is representing the defendants. The Produce News reached him in Miami on July 30 for his comments.

“Yes, I’ve been advised of the charges and expect the case will go to trial,” he stated. Ducharme said he had not received disclosures from the prosecutors prior to his trip to Miami.

Emily Murracas, marketing director for Mucci Farms, also provided The Produce News with a brief statement on July 30. “We cannot comment at this time because of pending litigation,” she said. “But we’re staying positive at this time.”

Stemilt begins sixth season of all-organic peaches and nectarines

Harvest is under way for Stemilt’s all-organic peach and nectarine crop in Washington state, and natural farming methods are proving yet again to deliver summer fruits with true dessert flavors.

“This is the sixth season that our entire peach and nectarine crop is grown and certified as organic," Roger Pepperl, Stemilt's marketing director, said in a press release.OrganicPeaches MetricPanta "Consumer demand for organic fruit is very high, and we look forward to supplying organic peaches and nectarines that burst with flavor during the final stretch of summer."

Stemilt’s peaches and nectarines are packed under its "Artisan Organics" label and available from late July to mid-September. The majority of these summer fruits are grown by the Douglas family of Douglas Fruit in Pasco, WA. The family has been farming fruit in Washington state since the early 1900s and has grown peaches since 1980.

Back in 2007, the Douglas family and Stemilt transitioned their entire crop of peaches and nectarines to organic production. They took their first all-organic peach and nectarine crop to market in 2009 and haven’t looked back since.

“The move to organics brought our trees into balance from a horticultural standpoint, and balanced trees deliver fruit with higher sugars and acids, resulting in a better eating experience for consumers,” Jill Douglas, general manager of Douglas Fruit, said in the press release. “We also benefit from growing peaches and nectarines in the best locale. The Columbia Basin and Tri Cities area of Washington state has a volcanic-rich soil and is known for having long, warm summer days that build the fruit’s flavor and cool nights to reenergize trees. The perfect combination that is only enhanced by farming the fruit with natural methods.”

The 2014 season is trending a week ahead of normal with growing conditions from spring bloom through summer described by growers as “absolutely ideal” for peaches and nectarines, Pepperl said.

“The fruit looks and tastes incredible," Pepperl said in the release. "Vibrant colors, juicy and sweet flavors with a good amount of acid. Our focus on tree-ripened fruit ensures a consistent level of maturity to further enhance the consumer eating experience. Artisan Organics peaches and nectarines offer retailers with a true differentiation point to their late summer fruit program. We look forward to delivering a premium, high-flavored crop in the coming months.”

Stemilt has a variety of merchandising materials to assist with promotions around Artisan Organics peaches and nectarines, including pop-up display bins and signage that features the Douglas family and conveys their commitment to organic farming practices.

Ready Pac celebrates new Wrap Kits with vacation giveaway

Ready Pac Foods, Inc. recently launched its latest contest promotion, Elite Eats. This indulgent-inspired promo gives contestants the chance to win an ELITE spa vacation for two at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix — valued at $3,000, courtesy of Ready Pac.

Contestants enter by voting for their favorite new Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Wrap Kit on Ready Pac’s website before Aug.10 or by following a link from any one of Ready Pac’s other digital sites on Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

EliteEats Ready Pac is using #eliteeats to notify customers of contest news and updates. The winner will be randomly selected from all submitted entries by Aug.10. Through this web-based promotion, Ready Pac aims to broaden and delight their consumer base, while spreading the word about their exciting new line of Bistro Bowl Wrap Kits.

As a departure from the traditional concept of healthy single-serve salads, Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Wrap Kits are the only on-the-go meal solution to fuse the concept of healthy ready-to-eat salads with a build-your-own-wrap component. Ready Pac plans to elevate their relationship with consumers beyond the sales transaction to a place where the Bistro brand and user lifestyles are effortlessly connected.

“We have so many fantastic new wrap flavors – even I am having trouble narrowing down my favorite!” said Tristan Simpson, vice president of corporate communications at Ready Pac. “Our Elite Eats contest is a great way to engage and reward our consumers for responding so positively to our latest innovation platform. Bistro Bowl Wrap Kits are such a clever departure from other fresh prepared meal offerings on shelves right now — we’re excited to find new opportunities for shoppers to fall in love with our line of Bistro Bowl Salads all over again.”

To learn more about the Elite Eats contest or about Ready Pac Bistro Bowl Wrap Kits visit readypac.com.