Cuties launches nationwide search for best Cutie Curl


Sun Pacific, the growers of California Cuties, is searching for the best Cutie Curl in the United States. The California grower is inviting all Cutie lovers to enter its Cutie Curl Photo Contest by submitting a photo of themselves peeling a Cutie in one curl. The winning entry will receive a family-friendly California getaway, Cuties style.

“We are asking Cuties lovers of all ages to show us their Cutie-peeling skills," Victoria Nuevo-Celeste, vice president of marketing for Sun Pacific, said in a press release. "Cuties are so easy to peel and eat that we are creating the ultimate challenge to get creative and have fun with Cuties.”

According to the release, the Cutie Curl jingle, found on the contest website and Cuties Citrus YouTube channel, provides the perfect soundtrack for Cutie-curling fun.

The contest began Feb. 9, and submissions will be accepted through March 1. A panel of judges will determine the top 10 finalists, which will be posted to an online gallery. From March 7 to March 15, the public will be invited to vote on which Cutie Curler should receive the grand prize. First- and second-place prizes will also be awarded. Winners will be notified on or around March 19.

The grand prize includes air transportation for two, a private tour of Sun Pacific’s Cuties orchards, hotel accommodations and ground transportation. First prize is a season-long supply of sweet, easy-to-peel Cuties. Entries can be submitted at, which also has a complete list of rules and prizes.


California Strawberry Commission, U.C. Davis settle lawsuit

The California Strawberry Commission and the University of California-Davis have settled lawsuits against each other and have plans to further the partnership between the commission and the university's strawberry-breeding program.csclo

The settlement brings to a close legal disagreements dating back to October 2013, when the commission filed a lawsuit against the university related to the strawberry-breeding program's research agreement with the commission. Both that lawsuit and the university's counter suit, filed in October 2014, are ended by the settlement.

Over the next five years, U.C. Davis will release new strawberry varieties available to all farmers, and the California Strawberry Commission will assist U.C. Davis in its identification of new commercial varieties. As part of the settlement, a new strawberry advisory committee will be formed, comprised of university representatives, strawberry farmers and commission representatives.

Since 1956, California's strawberry farmers have supported the U.C. Davis strawberry-breeding program through the California Strawberry Commission (formerly the California Strawberry Advisory Board). Annual contributions and research grants through the commission have contributed millions of dollars to support the development of strawberry varieties uniquely adapted to California's exceptional growing environment.

As part of this renewed commitment to a public breeding program, U.C. Davis announced the hiring of a new breeder for the strawberry-breeding program: Steven J. Knapp, a plant scientist with teaching and research experience at two other U.S. land-grant universities, as well as international plant genomics experience in the commercial sector.

"The hiring of the new plant breeder and the commitment to continue the public program were critical to resolving the dispute," Rick Tomlinson, president of the California Strawberry Commission, said in a press release. "Combined with the leadership of Dean Helene Dillard, the strawberry breeding program is positioned to continue releasing exceptional new plant varieties."

Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, also voiced confidence that the public breeding program will move forward to identify the best plant varieties for California strawberry farmers.

"I am very pleased to see U.C. Davis and the California Strawberry Commission move into a new era of collaboration," Ross said in the press release. "With a talented new plant breeder to lead the program, the commitment of the chancellor and the dean, and an industry advisory committee to provide input on the program's vision, we have all the ingredients for a partnership that will benefit the California strawberry industry and the university for years to come."

Knapp brings a wealth of research experience to the breeder's position. He served on the faculty of Oregon State University in the Department of Crop & Soil Science for 19 years from 1985, and then joined the faculty of the University of Georgia-Athens in the Institute of Plant Breeding Genetics & Genomics for five years.

He comes to U.C. Davis most recently from Monsanto's Vegetable research and development program in Woodland, CA. At Monsanto, he was the global director for two years for breeding of cucurbit crops, including melons, squash and cucumbers and then the global director for vegetable-breeding technology for three years.

"The strawberry industry and production climates in California are unparalleled," Knapp said. "I look forward to serving as an ambassador for the public breeding program on behalf of the university and state, and working with leaders from industry and academia as well as stakeholders and colleagues throughout California and abroad to tackle scientific challenges in strawberry production, breeding, genetics and genomics."

PMA Tech Talks grapples with technology

CHARLOTTE, NC — About 75 industry professionals from various stops along the supply chain gathered here Feb. 4 for a one-day Tech Talks sponsored by the Produce Marketing Association to embrace change and banish fear of failure, and to learn about emerging technology, as the moderator put it, “that can change the face of the industry.”

“Food production needs to go up 70 percent in the next 10 years, and change is already upon us,” said Cathy Burns, PMA president,PMA-TECH22315-WHITAKER--BURNBob Whitaker, PMA chief science and technology officer, and Cathy Burns, PMA president. introducing a video that showed indoor farming operations in Singapore and Japan, the latter producing 10,000 heads of lettuce a day. In England and Scotland, she said, there are automated fruit and vegetable vending machines. In the United States, she said, has spent seven years testing a system where customers order fresh produce on a mobile system and it is delivered to their door the next day.

Julie A. Busha, president of Nicole Foods of Cramerton, NC, supplier of Slawsa, the new slaw and salsa condiment, outlined how she introduced a new food product to grocery shelves. “People shop with their eyes,” she asserted, describing the redesign of the packaging to attract nature-minded millennials and hot-dog-chomping baseball fans. She now understands that the best place for Slawsa in the grocery store is not the relish section, where it started out, but the meat department, she said, where people can pick it up to go with their hog dog and bratwurst purchases.

Today, Slawsa is on the shelves at Harris Teeter, H-E-B, Albertson’s, Lowe’s, Walmart and Ahold’s, she said, and poised to enter Canada, Germany, Mexico and Switzerland. As Busha put it, the success of the new product has been “Slawesome!”

Other presentations included wearable sensors; 3-D printing; drones; supply-chain visibility to reduce loss, theft, spoilage ($35 billion a year in produce wasted worldwide) and contamination (76,000 illnesses a year); fertilizer that uses less water but increases yields; and a tractor-on-tracks system called Farmbot that robotically handles tilling, irrigation and fertilizing.

Along the way, the high-tech conference developed a number of technological glitches in its audio-visuals, prompting Bob Whitaker, PMA chief officer for science and technology and a moderator for the conference, to observe, “You are seeing the exciting side of technology and the frustrating side of technology.”

Ernesto Mier of Performance Produce in Salisbury, NC, said he had a number of ideas to take home from the one-day workshop, including the idea of supply-chain visibility, “So we can know where a particular batch of produce has been, when it was picked and how it has been treated.”

Kevin Hardison, a marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, liked “the wide variety of topics covered, the great resources.” He found the 3-D printer a practical tool. “If a farmer is harvesting and a small part on his tractor breaks, he can print a temporary ‘smart part’ and finish the harvest,” he said.

The closing session was a creative modeling of the change process, with participants using modeling clay to create monsters, changing places and monsters on command.

Whitaker said the next event in the PMA technology offerings is a Tech Knowledge Symposium later this spring in Monterey, CA, May 11-13.

Field Fresh Foods acquires assets of Superior Fresh Cuts

Field Fresh Foods Inc., a Los Angeles-based manufacturer and marketer of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables sold under the “Field Fresh Foods” brand, announced that it has purchased the assets of Superior Fresh Cuts LLC., a regional fresh-cut produce processor serving Southern-California foodservice distributors and industrial customers.

Superior Fresh Cuts’ operations will be consolidated into the Field Fresh Foods processing facility in Los Angeles.

Emelio Castaneda, president and chief executive officer of Field Fresh Foods, said in a statement that the transition is expected to be seamless and all customers will be able to take advantage of Field Fresh’s state-of-the-art processing and distribution capabilities, quality systems, significant buying power and 24-hour service.

Castaneda added in the statement that Field Fresh Foods became a leader in the market due to its market focus, willingness to innovate and desire to put the needs of its customers at the forefront of its business model.

Field Fresh Foods was founded in 1994 with a vision of providing exceptional quality products and service to the Southern California market, which quickly expanded to the western portion of the United States.

Peapod by Giant launches in more than 60 Pa. communities

Giant Food Stores — in partnership with its sister company Peapod, a leading internet grocer — launched online shopping and grocery delivery service to more than 60 communities in Pennsylvania. A new fulfillment facility in Camp Hill services Peapod by Giant’s home and workplace grocery delivery to these communities.

“It’s all about making it easy for our customers to shop for their groceries,” Tom Lenkevich, president of Giant, said in a press release. “With the launch of Peapod by Giant, our customers now have a full range of shopping options. Whether it is shopping in our stores, ordering online and picking up, or having their groceries delivered to their home or office, Giant customers truly can shop when, where and how they want.

“Customers will have a wide selection of well-priced, top-quality and fresh products that they have come to expect from Giant and not only will they continue to save money, but customers can save both time and travel by using Peapod by Giant,” Lenkevich added in the release.

Residents and businesses in more than 60 area ZIP codes can visit to shop for fresh fruits and vegetable, seafood, meat and dairy as well as best-selling national brands and Giant private label products, all of which can now be delivered to their home or workplace.  Shoppers can shop from their laptop, tablet or smartphone with Peapod’s mobile app. They can also create personal lists, read nutrition information online, and sort products rapidly by price or by nutrition criteria. 

Giant Bonus Card users can jumpstart their first shop online from a list of items they have bought at their local Giant simply by entering their card number online. Customers also earn Giant Gas Rewards and A+ School Rewards for their online purchases. Groceries can be delivered as soon as the next day after the order is placed.

In addition to providing home and workplace delivery, the new fulfillment facility in Camp Hill, which is located within the Camp Hill Giant, also serves Pick-up locations located in the Camp Hill and Linglestown Road Giant stores. This service offers consumers the option to shop online at and choose to pick up their groceries at one of those two Giant stores.

Peapod’s state-of-the-art order-fulfillment technology and proprietary transportation routing system help achieve accuracy and efficiency in picking, packing and delivering grocery orders. 

“We have delivered more than 30 million orders and recently celebrated our 25th anniversary,” said Andrea Eldridge, senior vice president, commercial, Peapod East Markets, Peapod, “and we are delighted to extend our service to consumers in this new market.”

Approximately 50 new jobs have been created, which include personal shoppers and delivery drivers, to provide customers with this new shopping opportunity.