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USApple’s Summer Selfies show apples as ideal summer fruit

U.S. Apple Association is encouraging individuals to photograph their favorite summer moments with an apple in hand through its “Summer Selfie” social media and PR campaign.

apsusme“Apple Summer Selfie," which launched July 1, encourages individuals to snap and share selfies in a summer setting with their favorite apples or apple products to celebrate the fruit’s convenience and taste during the warmest months.

Throughout the seven-week campaign (June 30–Aug. 15), while educating consumers about apples’ perfect role as a summer snack on its social channels, USApple will encourage fans to post their “Apple Summer Selfie” to its Facebook page.

The Apple Summer Selfies can be photos of apple lovers enjoying summer by themselves — or with friends or family — with an apple or apple product in hand or on their plate.

USApple will share fan selfies on its Facebook page and other social channels throughout the campaign and will choose at least one fan’s photo each week to win a special prize from one of the campaign partners: Brooks Tropicals, Dizzy Pig BBQ, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken and Tajin.

“The peak of summer has traditionally been a quieter time for USApple as our growers prepare for harvest,” Wendy Brannen, USApple’s director of consumer health and public relations, said in a press release. “This year, we decided to change that by reaching out to apple lovers where they are most likely to be found this time of year — on the go and using their mobile devices — and remind them in a fun way that apples’ portability makes them the ideal fruit for summertime adventure.

“Selfie was the 2013 Oxford Dictionary ‘Word of the Year,’ so we’re going to use that to the apple industry’s advantage," Brannen said in the release. "We look forward to seeing our social channels filled with apple selfies — from apples in-hand on a long hike to warm and gooey in a fried pie to cocktails poolside.”

USApple will accompany the Facebook contest with a PR outreach campaign, sharing apple summer recipes and health facts that underscore apples’ convenience, nutrition and role as the ideal summer fruit.  Meanwhile, the promotion will be cross promoted by participating partners.

For more information, visit www.Facebook.com/USApples.

Roundy’s closing distribution center, eliminating jobs

Roundy’s Inc., a leading grocer in the Midwest, announced the closure of its Stevens Point, WI, distribution facility. Several reports noted that Roundy's contacted the Department of Workforce Development to inform it that the 196 employees working at the facility would be laid off by Sept. 13.

The company operates 174 retail grocery stores and 110 pharmacies under the Pick ’n Save, Rainbow, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano’s retail banners in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois.

The company stated that the closure of its Stevens Point distribution center is in connection with its recent announcement of the divestiture of its Rainbow stores in the Twin Cities area. The company will consolidate operations to its Oconomowoc, WI, and Mazomanie, WI, distribution facilities.

A gradual phase-out of operations will occur and operations at the Stevens Point facility will cease entirely by Sept. 30.

Oceanside Pole vine-ripe season starts strong

The Oceanside Pole tomato season arrived right on schedule, just in time for consumers to enjoy the tomatoes during the Fourth of July weekend.

First shipments of the vine-ripes rolled away from Oceanside, CA, on June 27, following an excellent growing season for Southern California tomato producer Harry Singh Jr.

With twice as many Romas as last year in the plans, as well as new acreage planted in Singh’s signature vine-ripe seed, West Coast Tomato Growers and The Oppenheimer Group are entering the third year of their marketing partnership with high expectations.OceansidePole2014-01Vine-ripe and Roma tomatoes should be available into November. 

“Over the last 70 years, Mr. Singh’s family has perfected the art and science of growing tomato plants on poles, yielding uniquely good-tasting and long-lasting tomatoes,” Mark Smith, the senior sales representative who leads Oppy’s marketing strategy for Oceanside Pole, said in a press release. “When you blend that with our hands-on approach to quality assurance, sales and logistics, we offer Oceanside Pole customers an unparalleled advantage in the summer tomato category.”

Oppy staff members relocate to Oceanside throughout the season, working hand-in-glove with the team at West Coast Tomato to assure customer expectations are consistently met and exceeded, Smith said.

“Together, we’ve refined our color staging practices to assure the tomatoes we ship will match our customers’ arrival specifications every time,” Smith said in the release. “We offer this considerable benefit to help our customers optimize their results on this popular highly seasonal item, and have found that it drives consistent repeat sales.”

The vine-ripe harvest is well under way, and the first Romas will be picked in August. Both will be available into November.

Watermelon Night begins and ends with watermelon; helps home team snap losing streak

CHARLESTON, SC — In a game that began and ended with watermelon, the Charleston RiverDogs snapped an eight-game losing streak July 5 at Riley Park here by defeating the Rome, GA, Braves, 9-1 in South Atlantic League action. Watermelon Night, an annual event at "The Joe," featured the South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture; a representative of the 2014 South Carolina Watermelon Queen; a watermelon-eating contest for youngsters; the ubiquitous RiverDogs mascots, Charlie T. RiverDog and Chelsea; a South Carolina Ghostbusters performance; and watermelon slices for fans. (See more photos here)

QUEEN--MASCOTEmily Dick, presiding as the South Carolina Watermelon Queen at Watermelon Night, had a pre-game baseball discussion with the team mascot, Chelsea.The watermelon-bookended game began with Hugh E. Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture, throwing (rolling, actually) the first watermelon and ended with free watermelon slices for the crowd of about 4,600 as they left the park after the game. In between innings, a watermelon-eating contest was held with four youngsters competing and Emily Dick, the Watermelon Queen representative, kibitzed with fans.

The South Carolina Watermelon Association, which sponsored Watermelon Night, is promoting watermelon as an alternative to chemically influenced sports drinks, according to Matt Cornwell, marketing specialist for watermelon with the South Carolina Department of Agriculture. The association had stickers and placards touting the health benefits of watermelon on hand at the tables where fans picked up slices of watermelon as they headed home after the game.

The association will distribute watermelons at preseason football practices at the University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Clemson University and The Citadel. Earlier this year, in a massive undertaking, the group provided a cup of watermelon to each of the 40,000 runners in the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston on April 5, Cornwell told The Produce News.

A team of five workers fell into an accustomed routine and started slicing 200 watermelons during the second inning of the game to have slices on hand for the 4,600 fans as they left the park.

The association noted that watermelon keeps hydration levels high for athletes and adds more lycopene and vitamins A and C antioxidants than provided by a leading sports drink. Other research has been conducted and reports will be issued within a year. In South Carolina, one of the nation's top 10 watermelon growers, the harvest runs from mid-June to late August, said Ann Bryant, the association's promotions coordinator.

New Jersey Peach Promotion Council touting high-quality state-grown peaches

Pegi Adam, director of communications for the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council, told The Produce News that the council has produced two videos for retailers to use in their closed loop televisions -- one meant for produce professionals and the other for consumers.14-Buyer-guide-Cover0527201

"Supermarkets will start buying Jersey peaches in mid-July due to the crop running a little late this year," said Adam. "The videos should be ready by that time. One will help produce workers learn how to increase sales by rotating the peaches and offer display tips and advice. The other is for consumers and provides storage, handling and usage tips."

The council announced in June that the 2014 edition of the New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide is now available. It offers valuable information for wholesale and retail buyers on where and how to buy and handle New Jersey peaches and nectarines.

"The guide lists, in alphabetical order, growers and shippers of New Jersey peaches including their brands, and general information on what and how they ship," said Adam. "This section has been completely rewritten for easier use and placement on the New Jersey Peaches website at www.jerseypeaches.com. It also contains a complete listing of farm market retailers of Jersey peaches with their websites."

She noted that the guide has been an important source of information for the media over the years because it provides details and statistics on the peach industry. Color photos of some of the most important varieties are highlighted along with details on when they are available for buyers. Information also is included on the 2014 Jersey Fresh promotional program for peaches and the quality-grading program run by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Details on officers and directors of the New Jersey Peach Promotion Council are listed along with an outline of plans for the 2014 promotional program on peaches.

The guide is available by contacting jfrecon@verizon.net.

"We are also having a phone survey conducted this year," said Adam. The phone poll is being conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University.

"People will be asked where they see Jersey peaches advertised, where they buy them and other questions related to how they are aware of Jersey peaches. The results of the survey will be released in August," Adam said.

She also mentioned the Just Peachy Salsa campaign that combines the generosity of Jersey peach growers and the Campbell's [Soup Co. Foundation] to benefit the South Jersey Food Bank. Jersey growers donate the fruit and Campbell's volunteers the labor and time to produce the salsa, which is then donated to the food bank. It is sold in numerous retail, farm markets and specialty stores, and it can be ordered on the food bank's website.

Increasingly more stores, farm markets and foodservice operators are jumping on board each year for the council's Peach Party events to promote New Jersey peaches. Last year it had 35 events, and Adam said that she hopes to top that number again this year.

"People are still booking them, so we won't know until the end of the season how many we'll end up having, but the numbers climb every year," she said. "Participants are allowed to develop their own event in ways that work best for them. A retail store, for example, can display banners and offer samplings. Farm stands can organize events that include activities for participants and restaurants can create a menu that includes peaches. They want to hold their events under our umbrellas because they can use our point of sale materials, such as our brochures and banners."

Adam said that the New Jersey peach crop looks vigorous this year and is expected to yield 30,000 tons to 35,000 tons of fruit from the state's 5,500 acres of trees.

Jerry Frecon, Rutgers professor emeritus of fruit science, a consultant to the council, and editor of the annual New Jersey Peach Buyers Guide, said, "Our peach buds survived a brutal winter, a cool and frosty spring and are still loaded with fruit."

He added that some of the best growers of the year's peach crop are excited about the quality and size of their crops. This summer's favorite fruit is coming to market about ten days later than usual, around the second week in July, according to growers polled.

The peach promotion council stresses that New Jersey's more than 100 varieties ripen at different times through the summer, starting with white-fleshed and yellow cling peaches and nectarines, and proceeding with yellow-flesh, flat and nectarines throughout August and into September.

"We want retailers to know that our high-quality New Jersey peaches are available throughout most of September -- especially true this year because the season will wrap up late due to the late start," said Adam. "We encourage retailers and foodservice operators to promote and offer peaches to consumers and to help get the word out. It's still warm in September, and people, kids included, love the sweet juicy peaches and nectarines."