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Mann Packing announced has added three new and innovative products to its award-winning Mann’s Culinary Cuts line of fresh cut vegetables. Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Cauliettes and Broccoli Clovers will join Sweet Potato Ribbons and Butternut Squash Zig Zags in the line. The full line, along with recipes, photos and videos can be viewed at

Mann’s Culinary Cuts are a revolutionary line of fresh cut vegetables cut into distinctive shapes. The veggies are washed and ready to eat, and versatile enough for multiple uses such as side dishes, stir-fry’s, appetizers, desserts and casseroles. These convenient vegetables are uniquely cut and are all natural, preservative-free and gluten-free.

Each package contains four to five one-cup servings and can be prepared in four minutes or less in the microwave, sautéed, steamed or on the stovetop. Detailed cooking instructions are included in each package.

“These new items address a number of hot consumption trends right now, including carb-swap, Paleo, gluten free and Whole30,” Lorri Koster, Mann’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “Our Broccoli Clovers make the perfect cracker or chip substitute and Cauliettes can be prepared to substitute the role of starch in a myriad of dishes. Mann’s Culinary Cuts put a new spin on traditional veggies and are aimed to drive incremental sales to the cut veg category.”

HOLLYWOOD, FL — The Southeast Produce Council's 2016 conference and trade show saw record-breaking attendance and drew high praise from council executives, exhibitors and attendees for all aspects of the three-day event.

Southern Exposure, as it is known, was held March 3-5 at the Diplomat Resort & Spa, here in south Florida, a new venue for the annual event.SEPC3000John Avola of Idea Garden Marketing was moderator and 'bus driver' at the workshop titled Fresh from the Farm Field Trips, a new video series that brought the farm to Southern Exposure attendees by providing a fun and educational field trip-like experience to learn about the grower-shipper side of the produce industry. Photos by Gordon M. Hochberg.

"Our visit to south Florida was very successful," SEPC Executive Director David Sherrod told The Produce News the day after the event ended. "We had over 2,400 registrants. That's a record. The seminars were very relevant. The gala was so good and well attended. In fact the gala had record attendance, too."

He added, "The show itself all came together. Everyone said that turnout from the retail-foodservice sector was tremendous."

Asked why he thought the expo was so successful, Sherrod replied, "Being under one roof helped. The expo will always be what we strive for. It goes to the point that we built the council on: everyone is on an even playing field."

The traffic at the expo seemed quite busy, and in fact just walking down some of the aisles was sometimes challenging. But Sherrod stated that this would not be an issue next year, when Southern Exposure will take place at the Walt Disney World Dolphin resort in Orlando, FL.

"Next year we will have a bigger expo hall that can accommodate wider aisles and alleviate some of the congestion," he said. This year's expo had about 275 exhibitors, and that number will stay pretty much the same next year, said Sherrod.

Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa, who chaired Southern Exposure 2106 and who also serves as secretary on the council's board of directors, said, "I've had nothing but positive comments. This show gets better and better each year. Those walking the show told me they've had plenty of time to spend at each booth. People are already looking forward to next year and can't wait to book rooms."

Dan Wohlford of Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers said, "The whole weekend has been fantastic. The show today has been terrific — really busy. We're seeing the retail customers that we're looking for. They're relaxed and taking time to have some meaningful conversations."SEPCdinner2999At the STEP-UPP/STARS dinner Thursday evening, March 3, Faye Westfall of DiMare Fresh Tampa and secretary of the council's board of directors introduced the members of the newest STEP-UPP class, and Raina Nelson of Renaissance Food Group and a member of the council's board of directors introduced the members of the STARS group.

Al Finch of Florida Classic Growers said, "It's so exciting to see how the council has grown over the years. At the first conference in 2004 in Lakeland, it was hard to get 100 booths. The enthusiasm has been outstanding. It's turned into being a show that our wholesale, retail and foodservice partners look forward to coming to every year." He added, "Every year, everyone says how can you top Southern Exposure, and each year we find a way to keep getting better and better. Everyone likes the relaxed atmosphere. The retailers like this platform where they can meet with their grower-shipper partners."

Kevin Donovan of Phillips Mushroom Farms said, "Customers and suppliers alike all love it. The show is always good for us. The programs they offer, the receptions — they do it right every year."

David Arena and Bob Donio of Frank Donio Inc. said, "This show does a good job of leveraging a lot of benefits: good weather, location, relationships. It's a relaxed show, and we're seeing good people. There's true value in this show."

Martin Eubanks of the South Carolina Department of Agriculture said, "There's a great mix of the retailer-wholesaler community, and the right decision-makers are here. We've supported this group since day one, and we'll continue to do that. We look for continued growth as we get more and more young people involved."

Christina Regan of Sbrocco International said, "We've seen a lot of our customers, a lot of our friends in the industry. We always have a great time at Southern Exposure. The retail turnout is great." She added, "Everybody's always excited to come to Florida at this time of the year. And there's always a great turnout. The opening gala was a lot of fun. I think the council does a really good job with all the events."

The highlights

Southern Exposure 2016 opened Thursday, March 3, with the annual Tom Page Golf Classic. About 280 golfers participated in the event, held on the east and west courses at the Jacaranda Golf Club in Plantation, FL, according to Andrew Scott of Nickey Gregory Co. and a former president of the council.SEPCgolf2995This team took first place on the west course at the Tom Page Golf Classic Thursday, March 3, during the Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure conference and trade show in Hollywood, FL. Shown were Neil Milburn of Church Bros. LLC, Dan Floyd of The Castellini Co., Bobby Ham of Ham Produce Co. Inc. and Scott Danner of Premier Produce.

On the west course, the winning team consisted of Neil Milburn of Church Bros. LLC, Dan Floyd of The Castellini Co., Bobby Ham of Ham Produce Co. Inc. and Scott Danner of Premier Produce. On the east course, the winning team consisted of Al Oliver and Randy Brittain, both of Military Produce Group, and Jim Richter and Lynn Wilcox, both of Wilcox Fresh.

The golf classic, which is named after Tom Page, one of the founders and past presidents of the council, and who remains active with the organization, raised $5,000 for the Society of St. Andrew, according to Sherrod.

On Thursday evening, the STEP-UPP/STARS dinner was held, spotlighting two of the council's outstanding programs: the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Produce Professionals, and the Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship.

After Sherrod welcomed everyone to the dinner, Westfall introduced the members of the newest STEP-UPP class, and Raina Nelson of Renaissance Food Group and a member of the council's board of directors introduced the members of the STARS group.

Two educational workshops were held Friday morning.

The first was Fresh from the Farm Field Trips, a new video series that brought the farm to attendees by providing a fun and educational field trip-like experience. John Avola of Idea Garden Marketing was moderator and 'bus driver' for this workshop, with panelists Maggie Hall of Avocados from Mexico, Chuck Bruno of DiMare Fresh Tampa, Brian Reyfield of J&J Family of Farms and John Shuman of Shuman Produce.SEPCgolf2996This team took first place on the east course at the Tom Page Golf Classic Thursday, March 3, during the Southeast Produce Council's Southern Exposure conference and trade show in Hollywood, FL. Shown were Al Oliver and Randy Brittain of Military Produce Group, with Jim Richter and Lynn Wilcox of Wilcox Fresh.

The second workshop featured Michael Moss, author of "Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us," which reached No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list.

Fighter pilot Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot in the U.S. Navy, addressed the Southern Roots luncheon Friday, March 4. Southern Roots is the council's leadership program for women, co-chaired by SEPC First Vice President Teri Miller of Delhaize America and Sabrina Pokomandy of Red Sun Farms.

The opening gala Friday evening took on the look of an island luau, with many attendees dressing in Hawaiian-type garb. The gala also saw record attendance, noted Sherrod.

Saturday's general session and keynote brunch saw two very special presentations.

Joe Klare of The Castellini Co. received the council's newly named Terry Vorhees Lifetime Achievement Award, which is co-sponsored by The Produce News. Klare's seven children, two brothers and three of his 13 grandchildren were on hand to see him receive the council's highest honor. Jimmy Johnson, known as the architect of the Dallas Cowboys' consecutive victories in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII, delivered the keynote address, filled with stories both entertaining and inspiring.

The expo took place right after the general session, running until 6 p.m., followed by the Gator Moon Closing Reception, held under the stars at the Diplomat's Landing Pavilion.

Inspired by the United Fresh Start Foundation’s efforts to get the produce industry involved in the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, Blair Richardson, chief executive officer of the U.S. Potato Board, challenged the potato industry to donate salad bars to 300 schools each year as part of the program. The board leadership approved using assessment funds to match every salad bar donated by the potato industry starting in July 2015. Through February 2016, the potato industry has donated 84 salad bars, which have been matched by the board. Together with additional bars donated by the board, a total of 180 salad bars have been placed in schools. The potato industry has now donated more salad bars to the program than any other sector of the produce industry.uspb

“Salad bars donated by the potato industry have been placed in school districts in 16 different states," Richardson said in a press release. "The board is excited about the involvement of the potato industry in this program as state commissions, individual farms and industry members have stepped up and become contributors.”

To facilitate the program, the board is working closely with the United Fresh Start Foundation, which is coordinating outreach to schools, tracking donations and ordering salad bars, and facilitating connections between school foodservice leaders and potato industry donors.usbp

“We are very appreciative of the potato industry for their significant contributions to support salad bars for schools,” Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of United Fresh, said in the release. “Working together, we can ensure children have access to a wide variety of vegetables in school meals. Salad bars are an excellent way to give kids choices and highlight new and innovative options that speak to a generation of students who want more fresh and healthy options."

“Today’s students recognize good food quality when they see it and crave food that is on-trend and customizable,” said Richardson. “They want choice — whether at home, dining out or at school. Potatoes are the perfect healthy canvas for everything from global flavor inspired salads and sides to simple herb-oven-roasted spuds, providing the choice today’s students demand.”  

To capture the palates of today’s students, the board has also partnered with Chef Garrett Berdan, a registered dietician and child nutrition specialist, to develop over a dozen new school-friendly, potato-centric recipes. The recipes range from Potato Wedge Nachos to Smokey Chipotle Potato Salad to Thai Potato Veggie Curry, for variety that appeals to students, meets the USDA guidelines and fits within the diverse school foodservice operations. The tasty recipes have been featured in leading school foodservice and nutrition publications, School Nutrition Association conferences and at several industry events through the board’s Potatoes Raise the Bar program.

The Potatoes Raise the Bar program works to increase overall vegetable consumption in schools by integrating potatoes into salads and other vegetable items being served at schools. Students consistently choose items with potatoes and are more willing to try something new if their favorite vegetable is included. By raising the bar on all vegetable consumption with school kids, the board hopes to help establish healthy eating habits that will last a life time.


Dave Gleason, chief horticulturist at Domex Superfresh Growers, walks us through upcoming projects in the orchards and the current status of the crop. The Yakima Valley weather has been a bit warmer than the company would like to see, but it's beginning to see swelling in the buds and a little bit of green on some apple and cherry trees.

Domex is involved in many different projects right now, including prepping wind machines for frost season and looking at its heating systems to supplement some wind machines. Gleason and his team are also focusing on water conservation and irrigation. There has been a great deal of snow in the mountains this winter and things look very good for the season.

With over 250 participants from as far away as Spain, New Zealand, Italy and the United States, the Special New Fruit Licensing Open Days in Chile were deemed a great success.

SNFL’s sister company, AMC North America, was also in attendance to visit the trial blocks, taste the new varieties and hear the experts discuss each cultivar and variety in depth.

The first of the Open Days was held Feb. 11 in Santiago for domestic growers and exporters. The group was comprised of 200-plus technicians, growers and producers who were all eager to see how the SNFL/Sheehan Genetics varieties are performing in Chile.teamAMCCasey Ison of AMC North America, Andy Barks of MMUK, Gavin Pearce of AMC North America and Duncan Macintyre of SNFL.

The following week, SNFL hosted a two-day agenda for international visitors that included many field tours and an afternoon seminar where attendees had the opportunity to hear from grape experts on topics such as post-harvest best practices, global market trends and SNFL variety updates.

The partnership between the two Muñoz Group companies, SNFL and AMC North America, has continued to grow as the new varieties are coming to production and will be available for the first time this season to U.S. consumers through AMC North America’s sales team.

SNFL has over 20 million boxes in production worldwide on the new varieties. In Chile alone, nearly 6,000 acres are planted and AMC will be importing over 100,000 boxes this season to the US.

“It was extremely exciting to see these varieties in full production in Chile,” Casey Ison, sales and marketing manager for AMC North America, said in a press release. “We have been talking about these new, delicious varieties to our customers but this will be the first Chilean season where good volume will be available.” 

The varieties include Krissy, Allison, Russell’s Pride, Magenta, Timco and Carlita on red seedless. Ivory, Timpson, Great Green and Kelly make up the green seedless varieties. Melody, a black seedless, and Black Moon, a seeded black variety, round out the lineup.

AMC North America will be selling the new varieties in its exclusive Sheehan Personal Selection stand up, high-graphic pouch bag this season.

“We are excited to offer our customers the very best grape varieties with the guarantee that Sheehan Personal Selection offers — only the best,” Ison added. “The specifications for grapes in the Sheehan Personal Selection bag assure the customer that they are getting the best quality, highest Brix and improved technical practices to deliver the most delicious grapes.”