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Red Sun Farms cuts ribbon at new Virginia facility

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Red Sun Farms welcomed over 225 guests to the first phase of its newest state-of-the-art greenhouse in Dublin, VA, to officially cut the ribbon and celebrate the grand opening of the facility.

Amongst community leaders, retail partners and local business owners was Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who participated in the ribbon cutting and celebrated alongside Red Sun Farms' ownership and team members.

The event that celebrated the beauty of the greenhouse and featured a gastronomic adventure made from Red Sun Farms' greenhouse-grown vegetables. Attendees feasted on shallot red pepper tarte tatins, BLT scallops, grilled shrimp with tomato Brava sauce, fried green tomato BLT's and an heirloom tomato carving station complete with a variety of cheeses and finishing salts from around the globe.

"I was so pleased with the event, it was wonderful to share this proud moment with the community of Dublin and the New River Valley, our retail partners and state officials," Carlos Visconti, chief operating officer of Red Sun Farms, said in a press release. "Not only were we able to celebrate with our friends and partners, it was the perfect opportunity for guests to taste our produce grown in Virginia and grown in our greenhouse facilities in Canada and Mexico."

Mung bean sprouts blamed for 10-state Salmonella outbreak

WASHINGTON — Federal and state officials have traced back a 10-state outbreak of Salmonella to mung bean sprouts sold by Brooklyn, NY-based Wonton Foods Inc., which is the focus of an FDA inspection.  

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said at least 63 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis since Sept. 30, and disease investigators have identified mung bean sprouts as the likely source. Some people have been hospitalized but no deaths were reported.

Twenty-nine of 37 ill persons reported eating bean sprouts or menu items containing the sprouts in the week before becoming ill, CDC said. Sprouts identified in five illness clusters and individual cases were traced back to Wonton Foods, prompting the company to stop production and sale of mung bean sprouts and take other actions to prevent Salmonella contamination.

“The firm has reported that their last shipment of bean sprouts was on November 18, 2014.  FDA is continuing its investigation and will work with the firm on any required corrective actions,” the FDA reported Nov. 23.

There was no company recall due to the short shelf life — three to eight days — of mung bean sprouts, along with the company’s commitment to destroy all seeds and finished sprouts grown from the seed lots used at the time of the illnesses, said an agency spokesman.

FDA became aware of the outbreak on Nov. 12 when the agency’s Coordinated Outbreak Response & Evaluation Network began evaluating the outbreak. On Nov. 17, it was suspected the vehicle could be an FDA-regulated product, FDA said.

The agency said it has begun an inspection of Wonton Foods but “cannot comment further on the specifics of that at this time."

AFM's Hungry for Football promotion a big success

Avocados from Mexico, the number one selling avocado in the United States, has announced successful results for its Hungry for Football promotion.bin

The campaign launched Sept. 8, and within the first five weeks had already brought in over 92,000 consumer sweepstakes entries. Additionally, retailers have ordered roughly 9,500 promotional pieces and over 9,000 co-branded bins.

Hungry for Football, which will run through Dec. 15, is a partnership with Ro*Tel, a ConAgra Foods brand, and designed to get customers and consumers excited about the college football season and eager to incorporate Avocados from Mexico into their celebrations.

"We were pleased to see the success of the campaign thus far," Maggie Bezart, vice president of trade and promotions for AFM, said in a press release. "It's clear that guacamole remains a favorite recipe among consumers, and avocados are the perfect produce item to pair with all football celebrations."

AFM is celebrating the success of the Hungry for Football campaign as it gears up for its next campaign, Guac Fiesta, which will position the brand as the owner of guacamole during the prime football season and the Super Bowl. Taking place Dec. 16 through Feb. 1, 2015, AFM will partner with Old El Paso for the promotion, which includes various signage options and a new, unique produce bin to assist retailers in creatively designing displays.

Additionally, consumers will get a piece of the action with in-store and online savings and a chance of winning a prize pack to host their own Guac Fiesta prize pack, a value of $3,500. The prize pack includes a $1,000 grocery gift card, $2,500 gift card for fiesta supplies and a bundle of branded materials. Beginning on Dec. 16, 2014, consumers can enter to win by visiting AvoFan.com.

Key Food introduces new banner: Food Universe

Key Food Stores Co-operative Inc., a chain of independently owned and operated grocery stores, introduced a new banner into its supermarket family: Food Universe. As this new banner continues to roll out, customers can expect to see a growth of locations, ensuring convenient access to Food Universe and its offerings.

“We are so excited to introduce Food Universe as the newest member in the Key Food family of supermarkets,”  Dean Janeway, chief executive officer, said in a press release. “With the addition of these new, convenient locations we are dedicated to upholding the high level of quality and value that our customers have come to know and love.”

As Food Universe joins the Key Food supermarket family, it carries traditional quality and value customers can trust. With a variety of locations, each Food Universe will be able to cater to its individual neighborhood’s needs — ranging in sizes and product offerings.

Specialty crop grant earmarked by IEOOC for export market expansion

A $40,000 specialty crop grant from the Idaho State Department of Agriculture is being used by the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee's export committee to seek additional outlets for Spanish Sweets in foreign markets.

IEOOC's federal marketing order represents more than 300 growers and 36 shippers in the Treasure Valley area of Idaho-Eastern Oregon, and currently 22 shippers are exporting Spanish Sweets to foreign markets.exporttrademission2IEOOC Export Committee Vice Chair Joe Standage (right) meets with an importer/distributor during an early November trade mission to Brazil. (Photo courtesy of Idaho Department of Agriculture Markets Division) The export committee members are Joe Farmer, Fort Boise Produce, chairman; Logan Skeen, Skeen Farms, secretary/treasurer; Joe Standage, Standage Produce, vice chair; Tim Gluch, Golden West Produce; Bill Hartman, Hartman Farms; and Weston Schulties, Schulties Farms.

The grant was approved earlier in 2014, and IEOOC Executive Director Candi Fitch said it has expanded the export committee's capacity for promotions in Mexico as well as for trade missions to Central America and South America over a two-year period.

“It has really increased our budget,” Fitch said in mid-November, shortly after a trade mission to Brazil had provided members of the committee insight into that South American country's foodservice marketplace.

Standage told The Produce News the trip to Brazil, which was his inaugural trade mission, was eye-opening both to him and to the importers and distributors in that country.

“We went there primarily to inform buyers about our larger onions, the colossals and super colossals,” Standage said. “We hope to educate them at the foodservice level about our onions, and we were also seeing first-hand the volume of onions they go through. Brazil is a big consumer of onions, and they do grow them there in different growing regions much like we have in this country. What we want to impress upon them is that we are an outlet to fill gaps in their crop and also that we have something that no one else does: our big Spanish Sweets.”

Standage went on to say that Brazil's middle class is increasing, which in turn will lead to an increase in restaurant dining and more demand for foodservice onions.

Fitch said another trade mission to Colombia is scheduled for February, and Standage will accompany members of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association on that trip.

As the committee continues making inroads into Latin markets — a yellow onion program is increasing awareness in Mexico's retail markets for the Spanish Sweets — Canada remains the number one buyer of IEOOC exported product.

“We are always looking for new opportunities to build our export markets, and Canada is not only our largest but also a market that continues to grow,” Fitch said.

The committee has implemented a number of steps to reach out to offshore buyers, including shipper directories in Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish and French Canadian. All of the directories are downloadable from usaonions.com.

“And we want buyers to know that while our focus has traditionally been on North America, Central America and South America, our export shippers send onions worldwide. We're not limited to any area, and we ship to wherever phytosanitary regulations allow us to ship,” she said.