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Duda announces celery recipe contest

To celebrate celery and the vegetable’s versatility, Duda Farm Fresh Foods is inviting cooks to enter the Sweet Celery Bake-Off and create an original dessert recipe featuring celery. Participants have a chance to win a grand prize of $500 and be a featured recipe on Duda’s website.
“As a sixth-generation American family farm that specializes in celery, citrus, lettuce, radishes and corn, we encourage healthy eating through social promotions, recipe development, contests and more,” Nichole Towell, director of marketing, said in a press release. Sam-Duda-celery-fieldSam Duda, fourth-generation Duda family member and vice president of western operations for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, inspects a celery field in South Monterey County, CA.“We decided to take one of the healthiest veggies in the kitchen and create a dessert challenge. We know celery isn’t normally a dessert ingredient, but we think the keen minds of food lovers everywhere will come up with some seriously sweet ideas.”
To enter, participants can visit the Duda website,, and follow the on-screen instructions to submit an original recipe that must include fresh celery. The deadline for submission is July 31. Anyone may enter, but the first 50 people who submit recipes will receive a coupon for free celery.

One grand prize winner will receive a $500 Visa gift card, and two others will receive $100 Visa gift cards for the most creative celery dessert and the best use of celery in a dessert.  Winners will be contacted on or before Aug. 15.

“Desserts are the most-requested and most-searched recipes on our website. With a little creativity and food-loving spirit, we think celery could be the refreshing ingredient summer desserts have been missing,” Towell said. “We’re looking for out-of-the-box dessert ideas that are on-trend and delicious — all featuring celery as one of the main ingredients.

'America’s First Pear' harvest to begin July 7

The first Bartlett pears of the season are set to harvest in California’s Sacramento River growing region July 7. According to the official crop estimate set by the California Pear Advisory Board at its June 12 meeting, the state’s total crop of Bartlett pears is expected to be just over 2.6 million 36-pound packages, slightly down from the four-year average crop size of 2.9 million packages.

The majority of the state’s Bartletts, 1.5 million packages, will come from the early harvesting Delta River growing district, with harvest in Mendocino County expected Aug. 4 and on Aug. 11 in Lake County.

image001California pear farmers are expecting an additional 550,000 packages of other pear varieties this season, including 220,000 Golden Russet Bosc and 80,000 Starkcrimson along with smaller quantities of Bosc, Sunsprites, Comice, Forrelle, Seckel, French Butter and other red varieties.

In addition to setting its official crop estimate and harvest dates during its most recent board meeting, the California Pear Advisory Board adopted a new brand positioning for Bartlett pears from California, calling them “America’s First Pear.”

“We realized that Bartlett pears from California are unique because they have been produced in California since the very beginnings of the state’s commercial fruit industry dating all the way back to the California Gold Rush in the 1850s,” Chris Zanobini, executive director of the CPAB, said in a press release.  “California Bartletts are also the very first pear of the season to be harvested in the U.S. each year, and consumer research shows Bartlett pears are the first choice of consumers when it comes to selecting a flavorful pear variety.  The title of ‘America’s First Pear’ just seemed to be a good fit.”

Zanobini noted that CPAB has been working closely in its hometown of Sacramento, CA, to promote a locally grown image, and it has become a regular sponsor of the “America’s Farm to Fork Capital” program launched in 2013.  The program promotes locally grown agricultural products to Sacramento-area consumers, retailers and restaurants.  The concept of giving consumers locally grown, sustainably produced food is rapidly gaining in popularity throughout the country.

“California Bartlett pears fit a highly desirable image because they are produced by the kind of artisan farmers that today’s consumers want growing their food,” Zanobini said in the release.  “California Bartletts are grown by about 60 pear farming families, most of whom have been growing pears on the same land for generations. The average size of California pear farm is 130 acres and the average age of the orchards are between 30 and 100 years.

“California Bartletts provide consumers with an heirloom experience because this is the same product people can find in their local farmers market.  They have been sustainably-grown for over 100 years by smaller, family farmers who are trusted and safe,” said Zanobini.

The California pear industry’s claims about sustainability are backed by research. During the past three years, the CPAB has participated in a program with the independent sustainability program design firm, SureHarvest, to assess the level of sustainable farming practices utilized by farmers.  SureHarvest has found an exceptionally high level of adoption amongst California pear farmers of sustainable practices like non-chemical treatments for pests.  According to the SureHarvest assessment, well over 90 percent of California pear farmers utilize practices like pheromone-mating disruption, scouting for pests and other Integrated Pest Management practices.

CPAB plans to launch an initial trade education effort this summer to communicate with grocery stores the benefits of selecting and staying with California Bartlett pears for the duration of the California pear season.

“This strategy allows retailers to maximize the pear category and to give consumers their favorite pear for longer,” said Zanobini.  “California pear farmers are confident we can work together with buyers to optimize their pear category profits.”

Zanobini noted the trade should look for new educational materials from CPAB along with some locally based, innovative online consumer promotions beginning this season.  More information is available at

PMA’s Foodservice Conference brings operators to Salinas Valley

The foodservice industry is expected to generate $2.2 trillion in sales by 2015, according to a Global Industry Analysts report, and much of the success can be attributed to the increasing role of fresh produce. Learning how to capitalize on that hefty number and increase the role of fresh produce in foodservice, operators and distributors will meet with members of the entire fresh produce supply chain at the Produce Marketing Association Foodservice Conference & Expo, July 25-27 in Monterey, CA.

The long-standing conference is a part of PMA’s efforts to aid consumer connections by linking industry to the people, new markets, trends and insights needed to grow business and increase consumption.

“Ensuring our restaurants receive the highest quality of fresh produce to serve to our guests is important to our success,” Cathy Leffingwell, director of produce management for Brinker International, said in a press release. “This conference provides the opportunity to meet with many of our supplier partners and provides the opportunity to network and learn what challenges are facing the industry.”

More than 1,700 attendees will convene to network and discuss emerging trends facing the industry, including the effects of global flavors on menus. The Culinary Institute of America’s Susan Renke and Food Network guest star Chef Jet Tila will help lead that particular discussion.

Chick-fil-A, a company that receives fresh produce to its restaurants daily, is a repeat attendee. “We’ve been attending this conference for several years. There continues to be a variety of exhibitors at the show that help us meet our goals in serving fresh produce to our guests,” Nick Eubank, purchasing supervisor, said in the release. “It’s important for us to come each year and learn about their businesses, their challenges and the growing trends that will impact us all.”

Attendees can register by June 27 for early-bird savings; advance registration closes July 11. Foodservice operators can receive significant discounts on conference registration rates. For more information and to register online, visit

'Summer Gold Rush' for MountainKing's Butter Golds

MountainKing, one of North America’s larger producers of Butter Gold potatoes, has announced the rollout of its Butter Gold “Summer Gold Rush” retail merchandising program for 2014, featuring high-graphic bins, comprehensive marketing support and prizes to retailers with the most creative “Summer Gold Rush” displays.Fresh-Harvested-Golds

MountainKing’s Butter Golds are packed fresh daily, with crops grown and harvested from the company’s fields in Texas, California and Colorado. The potatoes have become one of the fastest-growing varieties among all bagged potatoes, with shipments up 35 percent in the last five years. Moreover, Gold shipments are up 49.4 percent in the past five years.

MountainKing’s “Summer Gold Rush” retailer merchandising program includes bin art emphasizing the freshness of Butter Golds along with recipe tags and starter kits. Retailers can send photos of their “Summer Gold Rush” displays to MountainKing for the chance to win gift card prizes. Photos should be submitted to by Aug. 31.

Since the introduction of MountainKing’s Butter Golds, they have become one of the company’s most-popular varieties. They’re commonly used for mashing and boiling, which now exceeds baking as the number one in-home method of cooking.

“The Butter Golds are ideal for whipped potatoes or as baked potatoes that require fewer toppings,” John Pope, MountainKing’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. “Plus, they’re high in beta carotene, vitamin C and calcium.”

He added that MountainKing’s Butter Golds increase a retailer’s ring per pound by an average of $0.35 when compared to conventional types. They also increase basket ring by an average of $79 per trip compared to baskets without potatoes. Grocery carts that contain Golds also have 13 percent more total basket dollars than carts with conventional types.

Younger, health-conscious consumers, age 20-40, are the highest volume customers of the variety, Pope said.

Recipes and cooking demonstrations are available at

Scott Danner and Liberty Fruit go separate ways

Liberty Fruit of Kansas City, KS, announced yesterday in an email that Scott Danner is no longer its chief operating officer.  

The statement, issued by Allen Caviar, Liberty Fruit's owner and president, said"Valued Vendors, Customers, Friends – I am writing to let you know that Scott Danner, chief operating officer, is no longer employed at Liberty Fruit Company Inc. At the present time, please contact me on all business matters. DannerScott DannerAll of us at Liberty Fruit Company Inc. appreciate and value our business relationship with you. We look forward to continued success together in the future."
The Produce News contacted Danner at his home in Kansas City for comment, and he said, "I wish the Caviar family and all of the employees at Liberty Fruit much success. I have enjoyed my 10-and-a-half year tenure with Liberty Fruit, and it has been a wonderful experience. My wife, Karen, and I look forward to the future, whatever that may bring."

When asked about his future plans, Danner told The Produce News, "I have put out some feelers. I think that with my experience and my background, that I have a lot to offer." 

Prior to joining Liberty Fruit, Danner served as senior vice president of operations at Fleming Foods for two years.  Prior to that he was vice president of operations at C&S Wholesale Grocers. 

Danner can be reached at 913/238-4606 and his email is