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Big Y donates 176,000 pounds of food to local charities

In a chain-wide effort to help the hungry within their local communities, Big Y's fifth annual Sack Hunger/Care To Share Program brought 19,238 bags of food to local charities.

Sack Hunger bags are large brown reusable grocery bags filled with staple non-perishable food items for local food banks. Customers purchase a Sack Hunger bag of groceries for $10 and Big Y distributes the food to that region's local food bank. In turn, the food banks distribute the filled "sacks" to area soup kitchens, food pantries, senior food programs, daycare centers as well as many of their other member agencies.

All of the donated sacks are distributed within the supermarket's marketing area so every donation stays within the local community. Since its inception five years ago, over 74,000 bags have been donated to area needy via Big Y's Sack Hunger Program. This year's Sack Hunger ran from Nov. 6 through Dec. 31.

"Our Sack Hunger program makes it easy to provide nutritious, non-perishable staple food to those less fortunate within our community," Charles L. D'Amour, president and chief operating officer, said in a press release. "We are grateful to our customers who helped to support our friends and neighbors in need. In fact, all of their donated food has already been distributed to our area food banks."

All five food banks within Big Y's marketing area are participating in Sack Hunger. These food banks represent over 2,100 member agencies throughout the region. They are the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, The Greater Boston Food Bank, Worcester County Food Bank, Foodshare of Greater Hartford and The Connecticut Food Bank.

The sacks include the following non-perishable Big Y items: instant rice, elbow macaroni, kidney beans, peanut butter, cut green beans, whole kernel corn, 2 cans of chunk light tuna, sweet peas, quick oats, and corn flakes. Sacks were available at all 61 Big Y Supermarkets and Fresh Acres.

The world’s produce industry is gearing up for Fruit Logistica

More than 2,600 exhibitors and 62,000 trade visitors attend Fruit Logistica in Berlin every year. They see it as the ideal place to establish and build the personal trust, which is so essential for dealing successfully in perishable products such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

The expo covers every sector of fresh produce and provides a complete picture of the latest innovations, products and services at every link in the international supply chain. Its superb networking and contact opportunities help key decision-makers in every sector of the industry.Paramount2Paramount is one of the U.S.-based exhibitors that will participate in the 2015 Fruit Logistica trade fair in Berlin, Germany. The event is among the largest of its kind in the world, with 62,000 visitors and 2,600 exhibitors expected to attend.

At this year’s expo on Feb. 4-6, companies from across the entire fresh produce sector and from all over the world will again be present in Berlin, including major global players, small and medium-sized companies.

Besides fresh fruit and vegetables, Fruit Logistica’s exhibitors include dried fruit and nut producers and distributors, packaging and labeling firms, transportation and logistical systems, produce handling and storage services, computer and Internet solutions, cultivation systems and plenty of press and media to help get the message out to the entire world’s fresh produce industry.

The USA pavilion adopted a more updated and fresher look at the 2014 Fruit Logistica, and the theme is continuing with vivid colors. According to Anna Shaw, project manager with B-for International, the organizer of the USA pavilion and Canadian pavilion, the pavilion will highlight the United States a little stronger this year.

“We also have several co-exhibitors at the USA booth this year, which is a very nice way for trade organizations to garner good exposure for less money,” explained Shaw. “For example, the U.S. Apple Export Council will be sharing a booth with the California Blueberry Commission and California Olive Oil Council.”

As of early January, U.S. exhibitors at Fruit Logistica 2015 also includes Bard Valley Medjool Dates, the California Table Grape Commission, Chelan Fresh, Farm Fresh Produce, Ham Produce, Michigan Specialty Crops, Northwest Cherry Growers, Paramount Citrus, POM Wonderful, Ruby Fresh, USA Pears, the Washington Apple Commission and Wonderful Pistachios and Almonds.

The U.S. lounge, also located in the pavilion, offers exhibitors a place to take a break or sit and talk with colleagues.

Something new at this year’s expo is a separate Canadian pavilion, which is adjacent to the USA pavilion.

“We tried a separate Canadian pavilion at Fruit Logistica Asia last year, and we received a lot of interest from it,” said Shaw. “There are currently five exhibitors, including BC Tree Fruits, Sutherland S.A. Produce, Potatoes Canada, BC Blueberry Council and Summerland Varieties Corp.”

First-time visitors to Fruit Logistica will experience an expo like no other, with an overall area of 106,600 square meters. Of the 2,630 exhibitors, 2,366 are from countries outside of Germany, and they represent 84 countries.

Of the more than 62,000 visitors, 82.4 percent are from countries other than Germany, and they come from 141 countries. Of those visitors, 80.1 percent hold leading management positions in their companies, such as managing director, partner, member of the board of management and head of a department, as well as independent business people and procurement professionals with decision-making process within their firms. An impressive overall 88.4 percent of trade visitors are involved in purchasing for their firms.

Areas of most interest to visitors aren’t surprising. Those interested in fresh fruit represent 49.3 percent and fresh vegetables are next with 38.4 percent interest.

Packaging and packaging machinery are next in line. Packaging draws 20.1 percent of visitors’ interest while packaging machinery is of interest to 16.8 percent.

Apparently the potato is a staple commodity not only in the United States, as it has its own category at Fruit Logistica and draws interest by 14.6 percent of visitors.

There’s something for everyone in the fresh produce business at Fruit Logistica, including an opportunity to premier novelty products. The “Spotlight – Premieres and novelties at Fruit Logistica” listing, which Shaw said will debut in time for the event, is a free service that offers exhibitors and co-exhibitors an opportunity to present their premieres and novelties.

“This includes products and services to be launched at the leading international trade fair for fresh produce marketing,” she said.

“Spotlight” is presented on the Fruit Logistica website, The exclusive overview of premieres and novelties presents images and text describing new and improved products, machinery and processes, systems and techniques, technologies, services, promotions and exhibitor campaigns.

“’Spotlight’” is a valuable tool for both trade journalists reporting about new products, and industry professionals who want to plan their trade fair visit more effectively,” Shaw added.

Consumers, retailers benefit from Maglio's fresh-cut watermelon bags

Maglio & Co. has completed a new product pilot program evaluating its patented, retail watermelon bags. Over the last three months, Maglio partnered with a national retailer to test the bags in 300 stores throughout a cross section of the U.S. market.watermealo The company said melon sales with this offering were brisk even in the late fall and early winter season, confirming the strength of the value proposition to the consumer. The test also earned full endorsement by the National Watermelon Association.

The company's cut watermelon program includes two gusset bag designs custom sized for quarter-cut and half-cut sliced watermelon. The bags, which have a large window area to allow consumers easy view of the fruit quality before purchasing, keep the fruit fresh for an extended period of time — up to 11 days from the date of cutting and packaging as compared to three days with conventional plastic overwrap methods, the company said in a press release.

Aside from the extended shelf life, the benefits for consumers include a carry handle, a compact, resealable storage bag to use at home, and the ability to purchase only the amount of watermelon they need. Retailers also benefit from the elimination of wet and unsanitary displays, lower labor rates and lower shrink rates since each piece is 100 percent saleable upon arrival.

With today’s announcement of this successful product test, Maglio & Co. is making plans to roll out the current program to multiple retail formats utilizing its strategically located fresh-cut facilities. Additionally, the company is working on a proprietary extension to the product line in the next several months.

Bidart expands apple recall on heels of Listeria outbreak

On Jan. 6, Bidart Bros., headquartered in Bakersfield, CA, issued a recall of all its Granny Smith and Gala apples shipped from the company's packing facility in Shafter, CA, during 2014.

This action follows a voluntary recall by the company's customers that produce caramel apples. Following this recall, officials from the Food & Drug Administration and the California Department of Public Health inspected the facility, noting the the presence of Listeria on surfaces that might come in contact with apples.

On Jan. 7, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued its own updated information about the recall warning the agency had initially released on Dec. 24 concerning tainted caramel apples.

Two of the branded recalled caramel apples were “ Big B” and “Granny's Best.” Tainted caramel apples may also have been sold under other branded and unbranded labels. Voluntary recalls for branded candied apples have been issued by Kroger, Merb's Candies, California Snack Foods and Happy Apple.

The Food & Drug Administration is continuing its investigation to determine whether an outbreak of Listeria found in caramel apples can be linked to 32 cases of reported illnesses that occurred beginning in mid-October. The states in which contaminated caramel apples were distributed are Arizona, California, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

A total of six death have been reported, and federal officials are working to determine whether a link to the tainted product resulted in those deaths.

The FDA is cautioning consumers who may have purchased Gala and Granny Smith apples to check with retailers to see if apples were sourced from Bidart Bros.

As part of the ongoing investigation, FDA is also investigating whether caramel apple producers may have used the same sources for packaging, caramel and ingredients or sticks.

On Jan. 6, Leonard Bidart, president of Bidart Bros., issued a written statement: “As a family-owned grower operating in California since the 1930s, Bidart Bros. places safety at the forefront of everything we do. Our hearts go out to all who have been impacted by the apple-related listeriosis outbreak.

“Bidart Bros. takes product safety very seriously, which is why the company has extensive, time-tested best practices within its facilities to address contamination-related issues.”

Bidart went on to say the apple packingline in question was shut down in late October and the last shipments of Granny Smith apples that moved through this line were shipped out Dec. 2.

Customer questions concerning the recall can be directed to Jack Burns, apple packing manager for Bidart Bros., at 661/399-0978.

Get ready for game day with NatureSweet SunBursts

NatureSweet Tomatoes is kicking off the New Year with the return of the popular NatureSweet SunBursts MVP promotion with retailers across the United States.naturesweet Designed to aid shoppers in planning the perfect game-day party, NatureSweet will give away one daily $200 prize and one weekly $1,000 prize from Jan. 5 to Feb. 1 for a total of $6,800.

Along with the cash giveaways, NatureSweet has created the ultimate MVP Party Playbook, complete with delicious recipes, healthy game-day snack ideas and money-saving coupons.

Packages of SunBursts tomatoes with unique on-pack codes can be found with the Party Playbook at the NatureSweet MVP display in produce sections of participating retailers. Consumers are invited to text in the code on their SunBursts package to see instantly if they have won.

“At NatureSweet, our continued focus is on providing the best-tasting tomatoes year-round,” Michael Joergensen, vice president of marketing, said in a press release. “No matter what the occasion or time of year, including NatureSweet tomatoes in the menu will win guests over every time.”