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Blue Book Services unveils new marketing pages

Blue Book Services has announced new marketing pages available to users worldwide with Internet access. The pages showcase how Blue Book’s business information and marketing tools can help a company grow sales and manage business risk.

“We are excited about these new marketing pages,” Jim Carr, president and chief executive officer of Blue Book Services, said in a press release. “The pages allow anyone to learn about the valuable features of Blue Book membership and how they can be easily integrated into a company’s day-to-day operations.”

“No matter how a company operates in the global fresh produce supply chain — from grower-shipper to retailer, from wholesaler-distributor to foodservice, from importer-exporter to transporter or allied service supplier — these pages clearly communicate the value of membership,” Jeff Lair, manager of service and sales administration, said in the release. “Whether a sales team needs a new list of leads or a credit team needs a comprehensive Blue Book business report, with an industry-specific and proven predictive score, our membership provides information to grow and prosper.”

“Our mission is to provide businesses in the global fresh produce industry with the best resources to succeed,” Carr said in the release. “These marketing pages capture this pledge. Plus, we included membership information in Spanish specifically for this growing segment of the industry.”

“Blue Book Services has been in business for over 100 years,” Lair said. “Our success is a testament to the thousands of members worldwide who rely on our services each day. It is an honor to help these companies succeed and enjoy the fruits of their labor. We intend to be around another 100 years doing just that.”

Blue Book’s new marketing pages can be viewed at www.ProduceBlueBook.com.

Perfection Fresh Australia and D'VineRipe to merge

Australian companies Perfection Fresh Australia and D'VineRipe have announced in a joint press release that they will merge, effective July 1.

Perfection Fresh is one of Australia's well-known marketers of fresh fruit and vegetables. Started in 1978, the family business has evolved from wholesale and now handles production, processing and marketing.

D'VineRipe operates the largest glasshouse in Australia, based north of Adelaide. Established in 2006, D'VineRipe is a joint venture alliance between Perfection Fresh and the Victor Smorgon Group, a family business.

The merged company will continue to operate under the name Perfection Fresh, and it will be business as usual for growers, staff, customers and the industry, according to the press release.

The integration of Perfection Fresh, and its subsidiary Picasso Foods, with D'VineRipe aligns the two company strategies to control 70 percent of total sales through production, licensed varieties and fresh value-added processing by 2018. This includes a 50 percent increase in protected cropping to 150 hectares, or about 370 acres.

The companies currently employ more than 500 staff at 12 sites across Australia. The merger creates future employment growth opportunities, with plans to expand Perfection Fresh operations across Australia and into additional categories.

"We are excited to continue to bring high-quality fresh produce, new and fresh processed products to the Australian market place — while creating job opportunities across the country," Michael Simonetta, chairman of Perfection Fresh, said in the press release.

James Orloff, joint managing director of the Victor Smorgon Group and chief executive officer of D'VineRipe, added in the press release, "Our family business has a long history in food production and manufacturing, and this is the next step in that evolution. Our new partnership with Michael and John, and their great team, gives us the ability to expand using innovative farming and growing methods to take advantage of Australia's changing place in the world food chain."

Industry warns proposed APHIS fee hike is unfair, damaging to market

WASHINGTON — Fruit importers are protesting a government proposal to hike agricultural quarantine and inspection service fees — the first in nearly a decade — they say will have severe financial repercussions throughout the market.

In April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service proposed new user fees to defray the cost of inspection services at U.S. ports of entry to prevent pests and diseases. At the same time, APHIS proposed changes to the hourly rates charged for overtime work. Comments are due today.

But the industry says the fee hike, particularly a $375 fee for fumigation oversight, misses the mark.

“With the suggested increase in fees, businesses will be forced to alter their cost margins and potentially lay off employees in order to accommodate the fees,” Frank Ramos, president and chief executive officer of the Perishable Specialist Inc., warned in a letter to APHIS. “The proposed $375 fumigation fee could potentially inflate the total price-per-box rate of commodities by up to 200 percent,” which would have a severe effect on perishables imported through south Florida.

Ramos said the fees will hit hardest on commodities such as asparagus, blueberries and yams among others that must fumigate as a condition of treatment.

New Jersey-based Capespan North America LLC agrees, insisting the fees have the potential to create an inflationary effect on fresh fruit products and force fruit exporters to pull fruit away from the U.S. market, which will cause seasonal shortages.

The flat fumigation fee will also cause growers and exporters to alter their shipping choices and documentation to minimize the fee rather than shipping efficiency, said Mark Greenberg, president and CEO of Capespan.

Patricia Compres, president and CEO of Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting LLC, said APHIS should scrap the rule altogether. At least one-third of the Miami-based firm’s business relies on asparagus shipments from Peru, which require fumigation.

“We have been counting on the recent expansion of agricultural trade with Latin America and the Caribbean, and the new Cold Treatment admissibility in Florida for the future growth of our company, but now we feel that the fee may be perceived as barrier to trade, thus encouraging these countries to look for other markets such as Asia, Russia and Europe,” she said.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance is not happy either. The proposal to increase APHIS fees from $5.25 per truck, per crossing, to $8, and from $105 for trucks that use transponder technology to $320 is “beyond any reasonable level” and will cause delays at border crossings, the group told APHIS.

SPC raises $50,000 at charity golf classic

SPCgolf112The Southeast Produce Council raised $50,000 for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children at its inaugural SPC Charity Golf Classic, held June 18-19 at Chateau Elan in Braselton, GA. Shown with the ceremonial check were Chad Phillips of the hospital; David Sherrod, assistant executive director of the council; Zach Kallenbach of the hospital; and Andrew Scott, president of the council. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Pierce/SPC)In what can be described as a magnificent and successful first venture, the Southeast Produce Council raised $50,000 at its inaugural SPC Charity Golf Classic.

About 125 people gathered June 18-19 at Chateau Elan Winery & Resort, about 40 miles north of Atlanta in the beautiful mountains of Braselton, GA, where the golf tournament as well as silent and live auctions helped to raise money for the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children.

“I thought we did really well. We’re happy, we’re very happy,” SPC President Andrew Scott of Coosemans Worldwide told The Produce News Monday, June 23. “We appreciate the support of our sponsors this first year. We couldn’t have done this without them. It turned out great.”

David Sherrod, the council’s assistant executive director, agreed. “I think it was real successful for the first time. We had really good member turnout. We’re hoping to increase the retail and foodservice attendance next year and in years to come,” he said. “As word gets out about this event, I think it’s only going to grow from here.”

One change that the council is already planning for next year’s charity golf event is the timing. “We’ll probably shoot for the last week in April or the first two weeks in May,” said Scott. The council may return to Chateau Elan next year, but a final decision has not yet been made, he added.

In looking for a specific earlier date for next year’s charity golf event, Sherrod stated, “We’ll look at the calendar to make sure we don’t interfere with any other industry events” taking place around that time. “We’ve always tried to do that.”

SPC Executive Director Terry Vorhees is dealing with health issues and was not able to attend, but the council set up a video link with him during this year’s event. During that video link, the council surprised Vorhees by announcing that in future years, this event would be known as the Terry Vorhees Charity Golf Classic. The longtime executive director also was able to see a poster, set up during the silent and live auctions, which showed the logo for the newly named golf classic and which noted that the name change was made “in honor of Terry Vorhees for his vision in creating this event, his commitment to giving back and his service to the Southeast Produce Council.”

The fact that Vorhees was not able to attend was the only real downside to an otherwise superb charity event. “We all missed Terry at the golf classic. It was a perfect event except for that,” said Scott.

“We’re so pleased to put Terry’s name on this event” starting next year, said Sherrod. “We were going to find a way to include Terry in this event,” and with the video link, “we found a way for him to be there.”

In summing up the overall successful first SPC Charity Golf Classic, Sherrod concluded, “We did it the way Terry taught us.”

CMI declares July the month of jumbo cherries

Cherries from the Pacific Northwest are sizing larger than years past, with sugar levels at the top of the charts, according to Columbia Marketing International. Retailers are reporting positive feedback from consumers, but CMI anticipates that the best is yet to come.

The company has declared July the month of jumbo cherries and is setting up retail programs with its retail customers to make sure that they have adequate supplies in stores to cover consumer demand. CMI-Cherry-Shipper-at-RetaiCMI's high-graphic cherry display ships with two boxes of red or Rainier cherries and can be set up in less than 30 seconds.

“We have an incredible opportunity with this year’s Northwest cherry crop," Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing at CMI, said in a press release. "After low cherry production out of California this season, consumers are hungry for cherries. With our estimated 22 million-box crop out of the Northwest this year, consumers can expect great eating cherries, with larger-than-normal sizing.”

Warm, sunny days and cool, crisp nights have provided optimal growing conditions for the Northwest cherry crop this season, leading to high sugar development and great flavor. Unlike the 2013 cherry season, which was hit by several adverse weather events, 2014 is shaping up to be a huge, successful crop year with minimal rain, hail and wind events that can damage cherries in their final growing stages.

Packouts continue to be high, and this trend looks like it will continue through the end of the season, offering a great retail opportunity for stores looking to increase incremental sales in their produce section now through the beginning of August.

As part of its cherry promotions this season, CMI is tooling its customers with a high-graphic instant cherry display that ships with two boxes of red or Rainier cherries. The pictured display can be assembled in less than 30 seconds. CMI has produced a brief video of how easy this shipper is to set up.