your-news image

Vidalia Onion Committee reaches younger audience with digital marketing efforts

The Vidalia Onion Committee reached a younger audience with successful results this past season when it launched the "V is for Vidalia" campaign. The campaign kicked off April 21 and focused on promoting the versatility and flavor of Vidalia onions with increased social and digital media outreach.

"The Vidalia onion brand has strong recognition among consumers nationwide," Susan Waters executive director of the VOC, said in a press release. "But our consumer research indicated that Baby Boomers have the highest percentage of usage while Millennial consumers have the lowest. In the past, we have spent the majority of our efforts on traditional [public relations] and we realized that we were not reaching this important younger audience."

As part of the campaign launch, the VOC hosted a field tour with food bloggers from around the country. Featured online with the hashtag #VisforVidalia, the weekend tour resulted in 324 social media posts from the food bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest reaching 5.45 million total consumer impressions. In addition, 7,000 fans followed the tour on the VOC's Facebook page.

From May through August, the bloggers posted 31 articles on their sites reaching an audience of 1.5 million consumers.

"We provided each blogger with a $500 Visa gift card to post on their blog sites as an online give-a-way," Waters said in the press release. "This resulted in 146,000 entries, which is the largest consumer audience we have reached with an online give-a-way to date."

The VOC implemented a digital coupon, weekly trivia contest and food blogger recipe contest on their Facebook page.

"We increased our Facebook fan base by 62 percent to over 57,300 fans," Waters added. "In addition, we had a 30 percent increase in unique visitors to our web site during the campaign and the majority of these were consumers aged 18-34."

The VOC provided high-graphic bins, bags and point-of-sale materials for retailers.

"In an effort to provide more resources for retailers," Waters said in the press release. "We created a new retailer section on the VOC web site which includes onion category research highlights, downloadable campaign graphics, merchandising tips and retailers can sign up to receive our seasonal crop report."

The Vidalia Onion Committee will continue with same "V is for Vidalia" campaign theme for the 2015 season as part of a long-term promotional effort to build consumer awareness and increase usage.

BroccoLeaf: Could it be the next kale?

The Nunes Co., a long time leader in the California fresh vegetable industry, is touting a new product, BroccoLeaf, as the next kale.

Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for the Salinas, CA-based firm, told The Produce News that the company has been marketing the item on a nationwide scale for about a month with great results from both retailers and consumers.

IMG 9729BroccoLeaf, which has a sweet flavor and pleasant taste."We started working on it earlier this summer and did our due diligence before we launched it nationwide," he said. "We discovered it has great flavor with a sweet taste and an excellent nutritional profile. Chefs love it because it is very versatile. You can juice it, sauté it, bake it, use it in smoothies, and of course as a salad item. It has numerous applications."

Seeley said its discovery as a potential commercial product was brought to the attention of the company by one of its longtime growers, who prefers to remain in the background.

Earlier this year, Nunes and its well-known "Foxy" brand of produce launched a juicing campaign as a great and nutritious way to use whole vegetables. The campaign included social media outreach and the development of numerous recipes, including some smoothie options using kale.

"While we were developing that campaign one of our growers told us about young broccoli leaves," said Seeley. "He said he uses them for juicing and smoothies because they work better than kale, which can clog up the machine."

Nunes decided the idea deserved further exploration, and so it sent some broccoli leaves for a nutritional analysis. The company also worked with some chefs and a registered dietitian to see how broccoli leaves could be utilized in the kitchen — both at home and in restaurants.

The results were surprisingly positive.

"It has a very sweet flavor and pleasant taste," said Seeley. "It doesn't have that bitter taste that is sometimes associated with other greens."

He explained that the broccoli leaves Nunes is now selling under the trademark-pending name of BroccoLeaf are the young leaves that surround a head of broccoli typically in the center of the plant. They are hand-harvested prior to the harvesting of the broccoli itself. And they are packed in the field just like other greens such as kale, chard and collard greens. They are also sold in a similar fashion.

"There are 10 leaves to a bunch and we are selling them in 12-count and 24-count cartons," said the Nunes executive.

He added that the product is being sold as part of The Nunes Co.'s organic lineup of greens. At this point, it is not offered as a conventional item as the greens category is trending toward the organic sector.

Seeley said Nunes did not launch the BroccoLeaf product until it had sufficient supplies to fill demand. "We are now offering it on a 24/7, 365 days of the year basis."

As far as a price point, it is being priced similarly to the other greens. Typically, the greens category has a fairly stable pricing structure though there can be times of short supply, high demand and a higher f.o.b. price.

In examining the nutritional content of this new vegetable item, Nunes worked with registered dietitian Ashley Koff, who is editorial director of The AKA List, a personal shopping tool to help consumers make healthier choices.

"I was not sure what to make of it when I received it," said Koff. "I sautéed it with coconut oil and loved it, then I added it to my smoothie and also made Greensadillas replacing the tortilla with organic BroccoLeaf so it was a naturally gluten-free quesadilla. Overall it surprised me that it didn't have raw broccoli's taste. I felt it tasted more like a sugar snap pea."

Koff said it is an extremely versatile vegetable. "I think it will be used in several ways -- certainly as a salad base, definitely in smoothies and juices, and likely in egg omelets and stir-frys."

Koff believes it has great utilization potential in the foodservice arena. "It has a lower price point than other 'super greens' and it could be added to a salad bar or pasta sauce or egg scramble."

Seeley said its nutritional profile show that it is an excellent source of antioxidants, calcium and vitamins A, K and C, as well as being a good source of folate.

In a company press release, Tom Nunes V, vice president of operations at The Nunes Co., said, "We are big advocates of full produce consumption, which is why we started experimenting with broccoli leaves. But, the health findings and taste even took us by surprise. We know how fantastic broccoli leaves are for the soil, but nobody considered it a viable produce item. Everyone in our industry's been trying to find the next kale, and BroccoLeaf has been staring all of us in the face for decades."

Typically, after broccoli is harvested, the nutritious leaves are tilled back into the ground as a way to replenish the soil.

In celebration of the new product launch, Foxy is debuting a number of original BroccoLeaf recipes with the help of BroccoLeaf spokesperson Koff to educate the public about the many ways it can be prepared and enjoyed. All recipes can be found on Foxy's website and on its social media channels.

Foxy will also launch a companion social media campaign encouraging the public to make and share their original BroccoLeaf creations on their personal social platforms as well as Nunes' social media pages. The best recipes will then be personally selected and incorporated into a forthcoming cookbook.

"It's incredibly rare, in this day and age, to be able to introduce a new non-GMO organic vegetable into the market," said Seeley. "We believe the potential for BroccoLeaf is massive and are very excited about consumers' and retailers' responses."

Giumarra redesigns 'Nature's Partner' brand

Giumarra Cos., based in Los Angeles, announced that it has redesigned its consumer brand, "Nature's Partner." The company will debut the new brand in October for its fall and winter products, including Argentinean blueberries and Mexican melons.

"Nature's Partner" was founded in 2003 as a unifying brand under which Giumarra's family of growers could pack their produce. The founding tenets of the brand include Italian heritage, family values, growing expertise and high-quality products.

The brand's new look builds upon the 2003 foundation and includes a renewed emphasis on service. The visuals of the brand express the foundation of the company, which stands alongside the new growth with modern, fresh colors and elements.

"Our brand refresh truly came from within the company," Hillary Brick, senior vice president of marketing at Giumarra, said in a press release. "We surveyed our employees and growers and heard an overwhelming sense of pride in the service Giumarra represents. We feel our new look represents this visually and will inspire our stakeholders."

Brick went on to note that the company has greatly increased in size since 2003, with a much broader product range. Additionally, Giumarra's new technology platform is designed to be the foundation for the future as the company expands globally.

"It was time for our brand to represent both our growth and our emphasis on service," Brick added in the press release.

Giumarra will launch the brand across company collateral on a rolling basis, highlighting its partnerships, technology, logistics and marketing.

"We look forward to introducing the new 'Nature's Partner' to our industry partners in the coming weeks," John Corsaro, chief executive officer of Giumarra, said in the press release. "We deeply appreciate the support from all of our customers and growers. The new brand represents our commitment to providing best-in-class service to our partners, mutually expanding our businesses into the future."

Kingston gearing up for Ecuador mango program

Kingston Fresh announced that its mango crop from Ecuador will commence with first arrivals into South Florida the week of Oct. 13.

"Ecuador fruit arriving into the market over the next few weeks will be timely to stabilize overall mango supplies," Ken Nabal, president of Kingston Fresh, said in a press release.mangos "Although estimates indicate that Ecuador as a country is expected to be off as much as 20 to 30 percent in overall mango volume, Kingston's growers will actually be increasing our program's imports as newer production comes into play. We are proud of the expansion of our Ecuador program as it is a critical piece of a quality year-round program. Needless to say, we are very excited to get started."

Kingston has been steadily expanding its imports division in recent years and is aggressively growing its footprint in both Central America and South America.

"For over 40 years at Kingston, our core brand promise continues to be a relentless commitment to customer service, product quality and food safety," David O. Kingston, chief executive officer, added in the press release. "Expanding our quality product portfolio will better help us deliver on this promise to our customers. We remain steadfast in our expansion plans."

Big Y helping to raise breast cancer funds, awareness

In order to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer, all Big Y Supermarkets will be donating proceeds from their entire produce department as well as additional select products throughout the store to over 22 local breast cancer support groups throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Since 2007, the chain has raised close to $1.1million dollars for this cause. The program, "Partners of Hope," reflects the partnership, commitment and support of breast cancer awareness and research that is so vital for many. Last year, Big Y raised close to $218,000.

During the entire month of October specially marked "pink" products and promotions, some with limits, will involve almost every department in the store. Big Y will donate a portion of the proceeds from both the floral and produce departments. Additionally, for every package of Big Y, Top Care, Full Circle, World Classics Trading Co., PAWS Premium pet products, Academix stationary, Electrix electrical supplies, and Domestix household brand products, Big Y will donate five cents between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15.

The Big Y Butcher Shop will donate 10 cents from every pound of All Natural Angus Beef and Big Y Smart Chicken to breast cancer research during the entire month of October.

During the month of October, Big Y Pharmacies will also donate $5 for every transferred prescription filled toward breast cancer research. Many other items with pink packaging will be available and their manufacturers will also be donating a portion of their proceeds for breast cancer research as well.

Big Y's pink reusable, earth-friendly shopping bag highlighting the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign will also be available and every store will be promoting Partners of Hope pink ribbons for $1 Oct. 2-30 as a way of generating additional proceeds for local breast cancer organizations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Big Y's dietitian team, Carrie Taylor and Andrea Samson, will devote a portion of their fall newsletter to cancer prevention. Look for the "Living Well Eating Smart" displays throughout the stores.

"Breast cancer affects thousands of women and many men each year," Donald D'Amour, Big Y's chief executive officer, said in a press release. "We hope that this initiative will not only promote breast cancer awareness but also save lives through early detection and care."

The beneficiaries this year will include the following organizations:

  • Mass General Hospital, Gillette Center for Breast Cancer
  • Brigham & Women's Hospital, Breast Oncology Program
  • Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers
  • Cancer-Connection
  • Cooley Dickinson, Women's Health Care
  • Berkshire Medical Center, Women's Imaging Center
  • Baystate Health Foundation, Rays of Hope
  • Mercy Medical Center, Mercy Breast Care Center
  • Noble Hospital, Comprehensive Breast Program
  • Saint Vincent Hospital, Breast Care Clinic
  • U Mass Memorial Health Care, Comprehensive Breast Center
  • Hartford Hospital, Partnership for Breast Care
  • St. Francis Foundation, Comprehensive Breast Health Center
  • Eastern CT Health Network, Breast Care Collaborative
  • CT. Breast Health Initiative
  • Terri Brodeur Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Yale-New Haven Hospital, Breast Cancer Program
  • Backus Hospital, Backus Cancer Center
  • Johnson Memorial Hospital, Breast Care Center
  • Charlotte/Hungerford Hospital, Pink Roses Program
  • St. Mary's Hospital, Breast & Oncology Center
  • Windham Hospital Foundation, Oncology Program