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Chiquita rejects buyout offer, reaffirms plans to merge with Fyffes

Chiquita Brands International Inc. announced that its board of directors — after careful consultation with its legal and financial advisors — unanimously determined that the unsolicited buyout offer from the Cutrale Group and the Safra Group is inadequate and not in the best interests of Chiquita shareholders.

On Aug. 11 the pair of companies reached out to Chiquita in an attempt to acquire all of the outstanding stock of Chiquita for $13 per share in cash, which was nearly 30 percent above the share price when the offer was made. At this time Chiquita determined not to furnish information to, and have discussions and negotiations with, the Cutrale Group and the Safra Group.

Additionally, the Chiquita board of directors has unanimously reaffirmed its recommendation that Chiquita shareholders vote to approve the definitive merger agreement between Chiquita and Fyffes.

According to a press release, Chiquita remains committed to completing its transaction with Fyffes, which it believes will create a combined company that is better positioned to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace, while driving strong performance and value for shareholders.

PMA reveals finalists for Impact Award

The Produce Marketing Association revealed the PMA Impact Award finalists for 2014. PMA's Impact Award: Excellence in Packaging is a global program recognizing companies that use innovation and excellence in packaging to maximize the selling of fresh produce and floral. This award recognizes trendsetters that create and deliver bold new concepts for produce and floral packaging.

The award attracted 67 entries submitted by 56 companies. Twenty of those submissions have been identified as program finalists. Winners will be announced Oct. 17 at Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA.

  • Apio Inc.
  • A-ROO Co.
  • Clear Lam Packaging Inc.
  • Columbia Marketing International
  • Del Monte Fresh Produce
  • Earthbound Farm
  • Fresh Solutions Network
  • Mann Packing Co. Inc.
  • Mastronardi Produce
  • Mucci Farms
  • NatureSweet LTD
  • Naturipe Farms LLC
  • Ruby Fresh
  • Sage Fruit Co.
  • Snap Fresh Foods
  • Wholly Guacamole

CAC looks to boost consumption of California avocados with breakfast promotion

The California Avocado Commission has extended its program promoting the use of California avocados at breakfast with retail support materials, public relations outreach featuring registered dietitians spokespersons and digital media.

Participating retailers distributed a recipe booklet titled Wake up to Breakfast, featuring simple, produce-rich recipes and nutrition information. In addition to being merchandised with California avocado display bins, supermarket registered dietitians have utilized the booklets in their in-store education programs, demos and cooking classes.

BTaubDix-smBonnie Taub-Dix"Initiatives like our breakfast campaign are positioned to successfully expand usage of California avocados in support of overall category growth," Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the CAC, said in a press release.

The Avocado Tracking Study conducted by Bovitz Inc. in fall 2013 indicated an opportunity for increased usage of avocados at breakfast. Specifically, 76 percent and 81 percent of consumers in California avocado advertising markets said they eat avocados at lunch and dinner, respectively. In contrast only 35 percent of those consumers said they eat avocados at breakfast.

CAC aims to get more of those consumers eating avocados throughout the day.

The commission's breakfast campaign began in 2013 and drew considerable consumer attention, including 75,000 visits to a special California Avocados for Breakfast web page.

This year's breakfast web page, (CaliforniaAvocado.com/avocados-for-breakfast) went live July 30 and features a host of new recipes and tips. The program includes a breakfast-themed email to 220,000 subscribing California avocado fans as well as content on CAC's The Scoop blog.

To date its most popular recipe blog post was on the topic of Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed. Other posts featuring California avocado breakfast ideas will follow.

CAC is working with registered dietitians to share good news about California avocado nutrition and the importance of eating breakfast.

Well-known registered dietitians Michelle Dudash and Bonnie Taub-Dix provided content and outreach for CAC's breakfast campaign, including two new California avocado recipes with 130 calories or less per serving: California Avocado Pumpkin Bread with Dark Chocolate Chips and Almonds, which uses California avocados as a fat replacer in baking; and Eggs-traordinary California Avocado Breakfast Muffins, a make-ahead on-the-go breakfast option.

CAC distributed both a press release and mat release featuring these recipes and information about the benefits of eating avocados at breakfast time.

Taub-Dix also hosted CAC's breakfast-themed Twitter party on July 20.

Other social media channels are part of the program, including Facebook, where California avocados have 272,000 fans. Instagram and Pinterest pages give bloggers and consumers the opportunity to share their love of California avocados for breakfast. The most popular types of dishes include avocados on toast, eggs cooked in or with avocados, breakfast baking with avocados, especially muffins, smoothies and breakfast sandwiches.

CAC also sponsored California avocado breakfast content on the popular blog and website SeriousEats.com.

Christopher Ranch garlic gets home-field advantage with 49ers

Christopher Ranch will be a part of the new Levi’s stadium for the National Football League's San Francisco 49ers.cr49 The company's garlic will be featured in the garlic fries, aioli sauce and the Kale salad.

Christopher Ranch supplies Centerplate — the food and beverage company for Levi’s Stadium — with two kinds of garlic: freshly peeled garlic cloves and roasted garlic cloves.

Centerplate’s Gary J. Prell came out to the ranch to shoot a promotional video in which he states that most of the food items served at the stadium will be locally sourced for that fresh farm-to-fork flavor.

“As a lifelong 49er’s fan and seasoned ticket holder, I am thrilled they have chosen Christopher Ranch garlic in various food items at the new stadium," Bill Christopher said in a press release. "Using our fresh garlic on the new garlic fries is something I can’t wait to enjoy.”

California legislators put re-worked water bond on November ballot

After literally years of discussions, and with a deadline only hours away, California lawmakers forged a compromise the night of Aug. 13 to put a more than $7 billion water bond on the November ballot.

The compromise was reached just hours before the midnight deadline imposed to grant sufficient time for ballots to be printed and mailed prior to the election.

One of the major discussion points was the amount of the bond that would be devoted to building new surface water storage. The final compromise includes $2.7 billion to construct two new dams within the state, which agricultural interests believe is critical for maintaining a viable industry at its current level.

The California Legislature initially passed legislation creating the bond initiative in 2009 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor. At that time, it was an $11 billion bond.

However, the downturn in the economy and polling indicating a lack of support for the measure caused the legislature to pull the bond from the ballot in both 2010 and 2012. That $11 billion bond was once again slated to appear on the November ballot of 2014. But again, proponents believed that a bond measure of that magnitude would have trouble passing.

Gov. Jerry Brown and key legislators have been negotiating the current bond iteration for several months. The final version calls for $2.7 billion dedicated to construction of dams, reservoirs and other water-storage solutions. In addition, projects to protect and restore rivers, lakes and watersheds will get $1.5 billion. Another $900 million will be allocated to groundwater cleanup and sustainability; $810 million to drought preparedness; $725 million for water recycling; $520 million to provide clean drinking water in some critical areas; and $395 million for flood management.

While the building of the surface storage facilities will take years to accomplish, it is the part of the bond that agriculture -- and legislators friendly to agriculture -- rallied around as an area that had to be addressed.

Industry representatives quickly applauded the efforts of the California politicians.

Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual in Visalia, CA, issued a statement that said, in part, "I believe we have turned a corner in our state in which we quit destroying the land and the people that provide the world food and fiber."

He applauded both the Republican leadership and Gov. Brown for creating a bond that can take care of the many water needs of the Central Valley.

Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Western Growers Association in Irvine, CA, echoed the comments of many in stating, "Western Growers applauds passage of legislation today by the California assembly and senate establishing a $7.5 billion water bond that includes $2.7 billion for storage. We are especially pleased that the storage portion of this legislation is a continuous appropriation preventing the legislature from withholding funding. Passage of this legislation is an essential first step in adding capacity to our state's existing storage infrastructure."

Of course, the bond still has to be passed by the California electorate, which is still a daunting task. However, the compromise, which received overwhelming bi-partisan support from the Legislature, should have backers from many different factions when the campaign unfolds.