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Del Monte Fresh hosting third annual 'Go Bananas! Halloween Costume Giveaway'

go-banGo-Bananas-Halloween-PromotDel Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. is hosting its third annual "Go Bananas! Halloween Costume Giveaway" in an effort to encourage healthy eating and living during the Halloween holiday and to promote Del Monte premium bananas as alternatives to traditional Halloween treats.

The sweepstakes will give consumers the chance to win a "Del Monte" branded banana costume to wear for their Halloween festivities.

The Go Bananas! promotion will randomly award a banana costume to 1,000 Del Monte social media fans who enter online at www.freshhalloween.com.

In addition, users who submit photos of past Halloween costumes and use the hashtag #IdRatherBeABanana, will gain an additional five entries.

"We have seen a tremendous amount of positive feedback from consumers and we are excited to bring the promotion back for another year," Dennis Christou, vice president of North American Marketing for Del Monte Fresh, said in a press release. "Consumers love dressing up as bananas and it is a great opportunity to reward our loyal fans while at the same time promoting healthy Halloween treats. We haven't seen anyone turn down a Del Monte banana costume yet, or the chance to pose in one! They'd all rather be a Del Monte banana."

The promotion will be supported throughout the United States and Canada with secondary banana stickers, point-of-sale material to liven up banana displays for Halloween, and through Del Monte's social media platforms.

The three-week promotion will begin Sept. 15 and end Oct. 5 in order to guarantee delivery in time for Halloween.

For more information about Del Monte's Go Bananas giveaway, contact your local Del Monte Fresh Produce representative or visit us at www.freshhalloween.com.

GloriAnn Farms raises breast cancer awareness with Corn for the Cause

GloriAnn Farms announce the return of its “Corn for the Cause” campaign for the third consecutive year. In each of the past two years, the campaign has raised almost $20,000 for the National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc.cornpink Taking place the entire month of October, for every case of corn sold to participating retailers, GloriAnn Farms will make a donation to NBCF. For campaign details, retailers can contact their sales representative and visit www.gloriannfarms.com for additional information.

“GloriAnn, along with Five Crowns Marketing, are honored to be partnering with such a worthy charitable foundation as the NBCF,” Mark Bacchetti, GloriAnn Farms principal, said in a press release.  “We hope to not only raise a significant donation again this year, but believe our campaign and others like it raise awareness to the importance that early detection and general awareness can save lives.”

The GloriAnn tray packs for the month of October will include a sticker featuring the recognizable pink ribbon and highlighting the National Breast Cancer Foundation and some will also feature a pink tray.

"While helping to promote a worthy cause, the 'Corn for the Cause' campaign also provides a unique merchandising opportunity for retailers," Daren Van Dyke, director of sales and marketing for Five Crowns, said in the release.

FDA's Taylor says food-safety inspections to change in post-FSMA

WASHINGTON — The Food & Drug Administration is retooling inspectors to be more specialized in food and teaching them to assess a company's food-safety culture for the first time when deciding whether to return for another inspection, Mike Taylor, the FDA 's food-safety chief, said Sept. 10 at the United Fresh Produce Association's Washington Conference, here.

This was just one of several messages he brought to the breakfast meeting of the conference as he mapped out the FDA's plan for assuring compliance with the massive Food Safety Modernization Act.

While attendees had hoped Taylor would detail the new provisions of the produce safety proposal, he arrived to the meeting empty-handed as the White House has yet to complete the final review.

But Taylor laid out the "sea change" its field force is undergoing to prepare for the new food-safety law.

Bringing companies into compliance will be the new benchmark of FDA's field force, not collecting evidence for enforcement actions, Taylor pledged. The FDA is shifting away from general inspectors who are trained to check drug, food and medical device firms for a more specialized food inspector who can call technical experts at FDA for advice during plant assessments.

A company's food-safety culture will influence how often inspectors will check on a firm, whether it's the food-safety commitment of the top leaders at a company or the effort a facility takes in developing the right plans, he said.

"This focuses us on those few that aren't there, don't have a food safety culture for whatever reason and need our attention to get compliance," he said.

While the new produce safety and preventive controls are not out yet, Taylor said the industry should expect to see greater flexibility in the water quality and testing provisions and a different direction on the raw manure-compost section.

"You will see important new ideas in there," he said. "This next round will be very important."

Later, United Fresh conference packed two busloads of attendees to the FDA's College Park, MD, office to discuss a wide range of issues with regulators in charge of drafting the FSMA rules and overseeing various sampling programs.

One FDA official told the group to expect new supplier verification and product testing requirements in the supplemental FSMA rules expected as early as this month.

Expect a fix to the problem of neighboring farms being designated facilities if they pack other farms' produce.

"This is an area we considered when developing the supplemental," said Samir Assar, FDA's produce safety staff director.

Avocados, sprouts on FDA sampling list

Besides FSMA, Amy Barringer, FDA's director of field programs and guidance, briefed the group on the 2014 sampling pilot program and its new emphasis on taking a larger number of statistically significant samples of fewer commodities to check for pathogens.

This year, the FDA is in the process of taking thousands of samples of avocados, certain raw milk cheeses and sprouts, and Barringer said the agency is wrestling with a way to share data with stakeholders before releasing a final report. Cheese and sprout testing will be wrapped up in January, and avocados in June.

In response to a question of why avocados were targeted, Barringer said FDA has seen an uptick of illnesses from processed foods that may contain avocados, such as salsa, but the agency had little data.

Driven by demand, commission extends Potato Lovers' Month

The Idaho Potato Commission's annual Potato Lovers' Month display contest has become so successful, with so many stores participating, that it has become necessary to expand the promotion to eight weeks, rather than just four weeks in February.

Last year, demand for Idaho potatoes during the February promotion was so great it essentially reached the limit of the capacity of Idaho potato packing facilities to meet the demand. Therefore, for the 2015 Potato Lovers' Month, the contest period will be extended to eight weeks. It will start mid-January and continue into mid-March.

17-IDPot-IPC-Retail-Seth-PeSeth PemslerPotato Lovers' Month, now in its 24th year, "has grown exponentially," said Seth Pemsler, vice president of retail for the Idaho Potato Commission. "It is now the largest display contest in all the U.S. in fruits and vegetables," and that success is expected to continue.  For 2015, "we will hopefully add some new customers, which we are always trying to do."

According to Frank Muir, president of the commission, Prior to 2005, the average number of displays for the annual Potato Lovers' Month display contest was 600. From 2006 to 2012, there were an average of 2,000 displays. "The last two years, we have averaged 4,500. A big part of that is we now have Walmart as a major partner in that event."

The commission will continue to work with Hormel as a partner for the Potato Lovers' Month promotion, Pemsler told The Produce News.

As an adjunct to the national contest, "we do individual contests with retailers," Pemsler said. "We go to retailers and say, 'If you convince your chain to participate, we will give you an internal contest,' and the retailer can still participate in the national contest," he said. "That will continue to expand."

Elaborating on the reason for extending the time period for the Potato Lovers' Month contest to eight  weeks, Pemsler said that the number of participating stores has increased so  much in the past two years that "our shippers can't pack that fast. We actually missed some opportunities this year" because there was not enough volume available to meet the additional demand. By expanding the promotion to eight weeks, "the Idaho shipping community can meet the increasing demand" generated by the Potato Lovers' Month promotions.

The Potato Lovers' Month promotion — and many other commission programs — couldn't be executed without the field team, Pemsler said.

Among the commission's other retail programs is "our category management initiative, our new data initiative, which is very helpful to retailers. But the way we execute all these things requires our field team," he said.

The field team consists of people who "grew up doing exactly what the people they are calling on do," Pemsler continued. "All of our field people — retail and foodservice — come from the industry. " On the retail side they have been produce directors, "and they have been distributors on the foodservice side, so they have phenomenal knowledge and credibility. They act as consultants to their counterparts."

The commission is giving increased attention to the Hispanic marketplace in its retail programs. "We did extensive research to identify and understand the Hispanic consumer, and what we learned was the Hispanic consumers are very brand conscious," and when it comes to produce "they are extremely brand conscious because there are so few bands," Pemsler said. The Hispanic consumers "skew very heavily toward the perception that a brand is better and Idaho is the best brand."

To make retailers that have stores with Hispanic demographics aware of those facts, the commission "created a presentation that explains what Hispanic consumers are looking for and how the retailers are missing opportunities if they are not making sure Idaho potatoes are present and visible in those stores, he said.

Harris Teeter and Titan Farms team up to fight hunger

Titan Farms and Harris Teeter donated more than 58,000 pounds of peaches to the Second Harvest food banks in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, NC, to help feed the hungry in the local communities. This donation is part of the retailer’s participation in the second annual Peaches with A Purpose program, sponsored by peach grower Titan Farms.titan

Titan Farms, one of the larger peach growers on the East Coast, created the Peaches with a Purpose program to help feed the underserved while bringing attention to the problem of food insecurity in the United States. This is the second year the North Carolina-based retailer and the peach grower partnered in the fight to aid hunger relief.

“We are pleased to partner with Harris Teeter on this program that assists them in giving back to their local communities,” Lori Anne Carr, vice president of Titan Farms, said in a press release. “It is an honor to bring it back for a second year and we look forward to strengthening with each year to come.”

The program ran through the month of August and encompassed 144 Harris Teeter stores in North Carolina. For the total amount of peaches purchased during the campaign period, Harris Teeter in turn donated a percentage back to the food bank. The total donation is in excess of 58,000 pounds of peaches from the fields of Titan Farms.

“On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of children, seniors and families who struggle daily with hunger in our region, we want to thank Harris Teeter and their partner Titan Farms for their commitment to help end hunger,” Kay Carter, executive director for Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, said in the release. “Produce is an item that those living in poverty can least afford but need as part of a healthy diet.  We are very grateful for this support.”