McEntire Produce debuts ChefBuddys Southern Slaw

McEntire Produce, a leading family-owned, fresh-cut produce company based in Columbia, SC, is expanding its value-added “ChefBuddys” product line with the introduction of Southern Slaw, Coleslaw with a southern accent.Southern-Slaw-Group

These diced slaws, which include simple-to-follow recipes on each package, feature three flavor profiles -- Green Cabbage, Green Cabbage & Carrots and Green Cabbage, Peppers & Onions -- to meet consumer demand for fresh, healthy, flavorful products that appeal to southern palettes.

Dubbed “Coleslaw with a Southern Accent,” these uniquely diced slaws are good sources of vitamins and minerals, and appeal to the consumer both in the taste and texture of a traditionally home prepared, hand-chopped diced southern coleslaw, according to a company press release.

Adorned on each of the slaw products is the Produce for Better Health “More Matters” logo.

“When you see the Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters logo on a package of fresh-cut fruit or vegetables, you know we’ve already done the label reading for you. It makes purchasing decisions easier,” Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of PBH, said in the press release. “Not all products will qualify to use the logo. We evaluate each product’s ingredients and nutrition panel to ensure that it meets CDC’s stringent guidelines before we allow the logo to appear on its packaging.”

“We have experienced a tremendous positive response from consumers on the ChefBuddys Southern Slaw products, and we are pleased with how these new items have been embraced by our retail partners and by the consumer,” Carter McEntire, president and CEO of McEntire Produce, added in the press release.

ChefBuddys new product additions are available for spring and summer cole slaw promotions, and are currently available from McEntire Produce for distribution throughout the Southeast.

Approximately $23 million available for citrus greening research

At an Orlando grocery store filled with Florida citrus, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $23 million in USDA funding to support research and extension projects for producers fighting citrus greening disease.

Huanglongbing, commonly known as citrus greening, threatens the future viability of the citrus industry in the United States, having infected more than 75 percent of the Florida citrus crop. This funding is available through the Citrus Disease Research & Extension Program, part of the 2014 farm bill.

"Citrus greening threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations," Vilsack said in a press release. "It will take continued collaboration with growers, state governments and researchers to find viable solutions to end this harmful disease. Only long-term solutions through research will help to stop this disease that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of citrus producers and workers and billions of dollars in sales."

Since the initial detection of Huanglongbing in Florida in 2005, the disease has affected the vast majority of Florida's citrus-producing areas. HLB has also been detected in Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina, and small areas in Texas and one residential tree in California. It has also been detected in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and 14 states in Mexico. A total of 15 states or territories are under full or partial quarantine due to the detected presence of the Asian citrus psyllid, a vector for HLB.

The CDRE grants will be administered by the National Institute of Food & Agriculture. NIFA will give priority to projects that are multistate, multi-institutional, or trans-disciplinary and include clearly defined mechanisms to communicate results to producers. Successful applicants will be expected to engage stakeholders to ensure solutions are commercially feasible. Projects should also include an economic analysis of the costs associated with proposed solutions. In fiscal year 2014, NIFA awarded $23 million to fight citrus greening through CDRE.


Diaz Foods opens state-of-the-art distribution center in Virginia

Diaz Foods, one of the larger distributors of Hispanic food products in the United States, announced the opening of its newest state-of-the-art distribution center, which was converted from a USDA-approved food facility. The new center is located in Manassas, VA, just outside the metro Washington, DC, area.diaz

With almost 40,000 square feet of refrigerated and freezer space and 60,000 of dry space, the Virginia distribution center will maintain a product portfolio that includes fresh produce, frozen seafood, dairy, meats and over 4,000 dry grocery items sourced from all over the world.

“The new Virginia distribution center offers the perfect complement to our distribution goals of providing superior service to both foodservice and retail customers while simultaneously increasing Diaz Foods’ presence in the Mid-Atlantic and New England markets,” Rene M. Diaz, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release.

In its first year alone, the new center is expected to handle over $50 million in sales volume. The Virginia distribution center is the second phase in a four-part plan that began with Diaz Foods’ 2014 acquisition of the New Jersey based company, La Cena Fine Foods Ltd. The new distribution center will extend access to Diaz Foods’ 6,000-item product portfolio to the New England area, as well as expand the "La Cena" brand into the Southeast.

With 100,000 square feet of warehouse space and 22 dock doors, the addition to the Diaz distribution network marks a strategic transition away from a centralized distribution model. In the multi-distribution center model, all business functions — including purchasing and sales strategies — will be centralized in the corporate headquarters in Atlanta. The company said this model should allow efficient distribution of the best specialty products to customers across more than 7,000 distribution points.



AFM announces brand spokeswoman with Hispanic promotion launch

Avocados from Mexico has named Maggie Jiménez as brand spokeswoman in its first ever Hispanic campaign, “Echale.” Jiménez is a professional host, celebrity chef, lifestyle expert and mother, regularly hosting a cooking segment on Univision’s “Despierta América.” afmlo

Jimenez has promoted the importance of healthy eating habits and fun, flavorful food with brands such as Got Milk? and Kraft for more than 20 years. She is a fixture on Univision, regularly appearing with cooking segments on “Despierta América” and as a co-host on “Fashionometer.”

AFM’s “Echale” campaign coincides with the launch of AFM’s new Hispanic website, The site features the “Mi Avo Club,” an online community where Hispanic avocado fans can connect with exclusive promotions, recipes, tips and lifestyle content. To generate awareness and excitement around the launch of the website, consumers who sign up for the “Mi Avo Club” will be entered for a chance to win a new tablet. Additionally, everyone registered will receive a complimentary e-reader from Jiménez featuring exclusive recipes. Avocados from Mexico will be launching  a digital and mobile campaign on key social platforms targeting  the Nueva Latina in an effort to generate awareness and sign-ups to the Mi Avo Club.

“We’re very excited to be launching our ‘Echale’ campaign and  partnering with Ms. Jiménez,” Stephanie Bazan, AFM’s Hispanic marketing director, said in a press release. “The concept of the ‘Echale’ campaign is to motivate the Nueva Latina to add avocados to her meal occasions and also serves as a very positive message to the Hispanic community about giving your all. ‘Echale’ allows the brand to connect on an emotional level with the Nueva Latina who is dedicated to her children and family and wants to only provide them with the best. Avocados from Mexico is a bridge that allows her to connect with her family and maintain tradition and heritage, which is so important to her.”

AFM has developed in-store promotional elements supporting its new spokesperson and the increasing demand for avocados that retailers are seeing from their customers. These efforts will be concentrated in key Hispanic accounts in top Hispanic markets in Spring 2015.

More information about Avocados from Mexico, Maggie Jiménez and the Hispanic “Echale” campaign is available at

Meijer investing nearly $50 million in Dayton supercenters

In an effort to further enhance its customer shopping experience, Meijer will invest nearly $50 million in extensive remodel projects for four supercenters located in Ohio.meije

Work on the four Dayton-area stores will begin in April and be completed in multiple phases so the stores can remain open during the construction process. The remodeled supercenters will boast enhanced floor plans to allow for expanded selections in departments throughout the store. The project is slated to be finished later this year and will also provide each store with a new facade, remodeled gas station and drive-thru pharmacy.

“We are pleased to reinforce our commitment to Dayton,” Meijer Co-Chairman Hank Meijer said in a press release. “Our customers expect high standards from us, and our investment in these stores will ensure they enjoy the best shopping experience we can provide.”

The remodel project will allow for wider aisles and redesigned departments in all of the stores, which will feature expanded selections of national and specialty brands.

Other upgrades at each of the four stores will include new finishes, color scheme and tile flooring; redesigned check-out and self-scan lanes; upgraded heating, refrigeration and lighting fixtures; and improved way-finding signage.

All stores will be remodeled to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards and include a variety of enhancements both inside and outside the store such as exterior lighting and parking lot upgrades. Additionally, the introduction of newer technology in key areas during the remodel process results in reduced energy usage and a more energy-efficient store.

“Our goal is to provide an exceptional shopping experience for our customers,” Meijer said in the release. “Dayton is a community we’ve enjoyed serving for nearly 25 years since our first stores opened in 1991. We are pleased to renew our commitment to meeting the needs of families in the Dayton area.”