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'Kanzi' brand apples now available

CMI has announced that "Kanzi" brand apples are now available. Each year Kanzi apples are held in storage and released in February, timed to coincide with dwindling supplies of local apple varieties and when retailers are hungry for a new products.Kanzi-pouch-bag

“Retailers have come to appreciate the quick punch in sales with Kanzi apples that jumps to an early peak by Valentine’s Day,” Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, said in a press release. “Historically, Kanzi sales build quickly on release and continue with strong performance well into March.”

This season CMI has also come out with a crystal-clear high-graphic two-pound pouch bag accompanied by a two-box shipper display. The display can be assembled in less than 30 seconds, making it one of the fastest displays on the market. Kanzi apples are also available in two-layer bulk and standard cartons.

Lutz said retail scan data shows the two-pound pouch bag is an ideal grab-and-go promotional item, bringing in incremental sales now that some of the other apple varieties have finished up. But he cautioned that retailers should take note that Kanzi sells out quickly. According to Nielsen Perishables Group, last February over 2,000 stores added Kanzi with an average shelf distribution of five weeks before supplies sold out.

Kanzi retail pricing is important, according to Lutz, with last season's strongest week in dollar performance taking place when the retail price dropped below $1.99 a pound.

Mushroom industry gathers for 23rd North American Mushroom Conference

The mushroom industry held the 23rd North American Mushroom Conference Jan. 22-24 at the Intercontinental Resort & Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The mushroom farm community, currently embracing the success and preparing for the strong sales potential of the meat and mushroom blend, had much to celebrate and share throughout the conference.

The blend was creatively served by the talented hospitality staff of the Intercontinental. Chef Efrain Cruz showcased mushroom versatility by featuring different varieties into plantain soup and other traditional Puerto Rican cuisine. Chef Cruz embraced the mushroom blend in 50/50 beef and mushroom meatballs for the opening reception and in a hearty meatloaf for the buffet lunch.

“The concept absolutely makes sense, especially in hotel dining where it keeps dishes juicy through long serving time while enhancing flavor, and blends seamlessly into our traditional banquet offerings,” Cruz said about the versatility of the blend.

Conference sessions featured presentations on global food trends, social media and measuring marketing return on investment to encourage mushroom shippers to best take advantage of the growing blend trend.

Additional sessions shared the latest in leadership, team management and growing techniques to support the industry in continuously producing high-quality mushrooms for the expanding market demand.

The warm and sunny location drew 300 participants including representatives from 45 North American mushroom farm operations, 25 exhibitors showcasing supplies, services and equipment, international researchers and farm management experts.

The business sessions concluded with a presentation by Curtis Jurgensmeyer of J-M Farms, who incorporated his operation’s struggle in his presentation, To the Brink and Back, which explored production struggles, staff and family tragedies and natural disasters before returning to a period of success and growth.

Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden also spoke on the future of agriculture and she encouraged mushroom growers to maintain the strong spirit of family and perseverance common in the mushroom industry. She shared the need to continuously communicate industry needs with Washington officials to work together in promoting U.S. agriculture.

Wholesum to deploy NAV LINKFRESH ERP

LINKFRESH Inc., a leading provider of supply chain ERP solutions designed specifically for the fresh food industry, announced that the Nogales, AZ-based organic fruit and vegetable producer Wholesum Family Farms Inc. will deploy its Microsoft Dynamics NAV LINKFRESH ERP solution.

The 40-user solution will be deployed across four sites in the United States and Mexico and will include the newest LINKFRESH modules for Foundation, Supply Chain, Operations, Logistics and Farming.

Wholesum Family Farms will also be using LINKFRESH mobility applications and the LINKFRESH Grower Portal. The LINKFRESH solution will provide timesheet management and specific integration to Wholesum’s existing Priva solution for greenhouse management.  

The deployment is expected to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Wholesum Family Farms says organic Mexican veg markets on the rise

NOGALES, AZ — As February rolled around, organic Mexican vegetable markets were “coming off,” Steve LeFevre, sales manager for Wholesum Family Farms, based here, told The Produce News Jan. 30. The movement had been “backed up by high prices. This will take a couple of weeks to settle,” he indicated.

In mid-January, organic Mexican vegetable supplies were down and demand pushed high prices for all products in this category except for red Bell peppers.

LeFevre said in mid-January that prices had risen to $40 per 25-pound organic cucumber package. It had been in the $36 to $40 range since late December.

Frost damage around the first of the year in Sonora reduced organic vegetable supplies. Fields farther south in Culiacan escaped damage.  

LeFevre said that in the 15 years he has worked for Wholesum, the company has moved from the range of $1 million to $1.5 million in sales to about $50 million to $55 million in sales this year through the Nogales office.

“We’ve had 18 to 20 percent growth per year,” he said.

Mexican watermelon new crop and increased volume coming in March

NOGALES, AZ – Because of short supplies, high Mexican watermelon markets can be expected until mid- or late March, according to Chuy Lopez, president of Big Chuy Distributors & Sons Inc., here.  

Because cold weather after Christmas affected production, acreage and volume was down, he said Jan. 20.

“Markets have been in the mid- to high 40s,” in cents per pound. In March and April, watermelon prices should decline as a new crop comes into production, he said.  

“The spring acreage will be about the same as last year,” he said. “We will be back to normal. The winter was a little short compared to other years. There is not much volume now.”    

Mexico has been short on watermelons for some time, since the fall 2014 crop was short due to damage from two August hurricanes striking Mexico’s west coast.