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Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association names Tighe, Aerts to new positions

Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association President Mike Stuart has announced two important staff changes that will enhance FFVA's ability to provide expert knowledge and quality services to its members.

Sonia Tighe has joined join the FFVA staff as director of membership, effective Aug. 1. For the past several years, Tighe has served FFVA in a consulting role as executive director of the Florida Specialty Crop Foundation.

Sonia-TigheSonia TigheIn 2011, her association responsibilities expanded with the successful launch of the Emerging Leader Development Program. In her full-time staff role, Tighe will take on full responsibility for all aspects of membership recruitment, retention and administration in addition to her previous duties.

Mike-Aerts-8Mike AertsAlso effective Aug. 1, Mike Aerts, formerly director of membership, took the position of director of production and supply chain management. He will focus his time and energy on two critical areas of importance to FFVA members: pest management and food safety. Aerts also will continue his administrative responsibilities with the sweet corn exchanges and the management of supply chain issues on behalf of FFVA membership.

Tighe is chair of the Florida Ag Expo Committee, the Florida chapter of National Agri-Marketing Association, the RCMA Christmas Card Steering Committee and the Wedgworth Leadership Institute Advisory Council.

Aerts also served as assistant director of FFVA's Environmental & Pest Management Division for nine years. Prior to joining FFVA, he was an extension faculty member at the University of Florida's Food Science & Human Nutrition Department.

China reopens doors to California citrus

California citrus will be permitted entry into China more than 14 months after shipments were disallowed due to a discovery of brown rot in some shipments, according to California Citrus Mutual, based in Exeter, CA.

The industry received verbal notice, which was confirmed in writing on Aug. 4, that the Chinese market is now open for California citrus, according to a CCM statement.

"It has been over 14 months since we had official access to one our larger export markets," Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual, said in a press release. "The credit for this final agreement must go to USDA/APHIS and their continued efforts to reach a mutually satisfactory goal. Obviously industry members urged a strong response after the apparent agreement last November fell through, but actually USDA and the APHIS team needed little nudging. They recognized the importance of the market and they were steadfast in support of our industry."

The Chinese market is one of the industry's largest export markets and is growing, according to CCM. Each year, 4 million to 5 million cartons are shipped and the number has been increasing with demand growing. South Korea and Canada continue to lead in terms of cartons received, but China is gaining on both as an export destination. The primary varieties shipped are Navel oranges, lemons and Valencia oranges.

Produce industry donates more than 17,000 pounds to Monterey County food bank

This past weekend, the fresh produce industry showed its commitment to alleviating childhood obesity through healthy food choices with a 17,141-pound fresh produce donation to the Food Bank of Monterey County after the annual PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo.

One-fifth of the population of Monterey County now receives food assistance — 90,000 residents annually, up from 55,300 in 2005, according to reports produced by the food bank.Untitled-1Following the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo, the fresh produce industry donated 17,141-pounds of fresh produce to the Food Bank of Monterey County.

“Here in Monterey County, over 20 percent of the population struggles with hunger, including 1 in 4 children,” Melissa Kendrick, executive director of the Food Bank for Monterey County, said in a press release. “As the 'Salad bowl of America,' we could not accomplish what we do without the generous support of the ag community in our fight against hunger.”

The show's exhibitors have been donating fresh produce to the county as a result of the show for more than 15 years.

“The produce industry is in a unique position to give back,” Barbara Keckler, marketing manager for Potandon Produce and PMA Exhibitor Advisory Committee member, said in the release. “The exhibitors who came together to donate fresh, healthy product to those in need did a good thing this weekend, and I’m proud to know it’ll make a difference in Monterey County.”

Oneonta kicks off Northwest pear season with 'big, clean' Bartletts


Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers of Wenatchee, WA, launched its 2014 pear season in early August with what Marketing Director Scott Marboe described as a very clean crop with “lots of 90 and larger” Bartletts.

“We are very excited to officially kick off the new season with 'Diamond Starr Growers' Bartlett pears,” Marboe said in a press release. “This is a clean and well-sized crop — one we know is going to bring great results to the category.”

The first pears are “big, green and clean, and they look great,” Marboe said. “There's not much in the way of small fruit, but a very strong market for cannery will keep a stable price floor.”

As the Bartletts lead off pear movement, other varieties are nearing harvest as well.

“Red Anjous and Starkrimson are really looking good this season,” Marboe said. “There is excellent color at this time of year, and we should start on the Starkrimsons about Aug. 11, then sail right along with the other varieties in a timely manner.”

Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers also grows, ships and markets Bosc, Forelle, Comice, Seckel, Asian and Red Sensation pears, with the “Diamond Starr Growers” label on cartons, totes and bags.

Bartletts, Starkrimsons and Red Sensations are available through December. Seckels, Comice and Asians ship during the winter months, and Red and Green Anjous typically ship from late summer or early fall into the next summer.

With custom promotions for its retail partners, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers provides high-graphic point-of-sale for its “snaQ” programs for its pears and apples. Appealing to young consumers, the promo features kid-friendly illustrations on packaging and cards with information on varieties, health tips and eating suggestions.

In addition to its focus on health and nutrition through increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, Oneonta puts food safety at the top of its priorities, and its packinghouses are in compliance with food-quality and safety requirements. GAP standards have been implemented in growing, harvesting, warehousing, packing, storage and shipping.


Ready Pac goes Italian with Caprese Bistro Bowl Salad

Ready Pac has added a new item to its Bistro Bowl offerings: the Caprese Bistro Bowl Salad, a 210-calorie salad that includes mozzarella over ripened tomatoes with a tangy balsamic drizzle.redpak

Ready Pac expects its latest release to quickly become a customer favorite. The single-serve, complete meal is based on the latest restaurant trends.

According to Technomic, Caprese salads have been growing on menus for five years and are still running strong (37.1 percent increase in mentions on national restaurant menus since 2009). Ready Pac carefully crafted the Caprese to follow a classic Bistro-authentic recipe consisting of Arugula and Spring Mix, fresh mozzarella pearls, grape tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

“We have built a reputation for delivering inventive new flavors, but we also have a soft spot for the classics,” Tristan Simpson, vice president of corporate communications at Ready Pac, said in a press release. “We’re eager to provide consumers with a flavor that didn’t previously exist in this category. The Caprese Bistro Bowl Salad takes customers out of their busy week for a moment, which is fantastic because everyone deserves some time to slow down.”

The Caprese Bistro Bowl Salad has a recommended MSRP of $3.99, is currently available in Safeway and is slated for national distribution soon. Its new branding and packaging design is reminiscent of a trendy sidewalk café that emphasizes the fresh restaurant-inspired flavors found in each Bistro Bowl Salad and Bistro Bowl Wrap Kit.

To learn more about Ready Pac Bistro line, in addition to their extended range fresh-cut offerings, visit