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PFK and Publix hold healthy family event with The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Central Florida families gathered Oct. 4 for a free event, hosted by Produce for Kids and Publix, at the Orlando Publix Aprons Cooking School to kick off the third annual Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign.

Publix resident chef, Anthony LoGerfo, guided families in the assembly of their own "healthy caterpillars" made with fresh fruits and veggies. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was on hand for a meet and greet with families.

the very hungry caterpillarMore than 100 families attended an interactive educational event hosted by Produce for Kids and Publix to kick off the third annual Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign.More than 100 families attended the Orlando event along with local bloggers and media. Several fruit and vegetable companies supporting the campaign were in attendance and sponsored products were displayed for families. Goody bags filled with partner coupons and promotional items were handed out to attending families.

"We are truly excited to have been able to introduce our Publix Aprons Cooking School to more than 100 families with an event that encourages families to eat healthier," Dwaine Stevens, media and community relations manager at Publix, said in a press release. "Publix is dedicated to educating shoppers on the benefits of eating healthy and our partnership with Produce for Kids supports that mission."

The Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign is educating Publix families on the benefits of healthy eating and raising funds to support local health and wellness classroom projects through To help Publix increase its donation, shoppers are encouraged to add more produce to their grocery carts through Oct. 22.

"As a parent, I understand the pressure to get a healthy meal on the table," Amanda Keefer, director of marketing communications at Produce for Kids, added in the press release. "Our goal for this event was to provide Orlando families with additional resources to help make this process a bit easier as well as introduce them to our fruit and vegetable partners' healthy products."

Shoppers should be on the lookout for Produce for Kids signage, featuring The Very Hungry Caterpillar, in the produce section of all Publix stores to find out more information on the Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign. The signage will direct shoppers to, which features more than 170 RD-approved and family-tested recipes, meal planning tools, campaign information and healthy tips from real parents. During the event, shoppers were encouraged to share their photos on social media using #HealthyCaterpillar.

The Orlando Aprons Publix Cooking School opened last December and offers a variety of classes that are entertaining and informative for beginners or experienced cooks looking to expand their repertoire. The school also offers children's cooking classes. Chef LoGerfo has an impressive résumé, and as a dad he has a true passion for making meal prep and dinnertime a family affair.

The interactive fun for Publix shoppers doesn't stop just yet. During the Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign, shoppers are encouraged to snap a photo near a sign located in the Publix produce department and upload it to Instagram using the #ProduceforKids hashtag for a chance to win a gift basket from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Funds raised during the Healthy Families, Helping Kids campaign benefit, an online charity aimed at helping public and charter schoolteachers across America obtain the supplies needed for their classrooms. To date, 190,000 public and charter schoolteachers have used to secure $247 million in books, art supplies, technology and other resources to enhance student learning.

All eight participating fruit and vegetable companies supporting the campaign will make a donation to support local classroom projects. These companies include Apio Inc., Buddy Fruits, Del Monte Foods, Chiquita Fresh/Fresh Express, Florida Department of Citrus, Evolution Fresh, Ventura Foods, and Paramount Farms/Wonderful Pistachios.

United Fresh staff changes to grow new foundation, enhance member service

Tom Stenzel, United Fresh Produce Association president and chief executive officer, announced several staff promotions that will create strong team alignment to enhance service to its members.unilog

Victoria Backer has been promoted to executive vice president of the association, with a mandate to lead it in all aspects of organizational development, management and operations. Backer will have several key areas of responsibility, including staff and organizational development and volunteer leadership development. She will also lead the new United Fresh Start Foundation and its mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Andrew Marshall has been promoted to director of foundation programs and partnerships. Marshall has been very effective in building United’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative and its school foodservice programs, and will now lead these efforts for the new foundation.

Lorelei DiSogra will continue her collaboration with Backer and Marshall as United’s nutrition policy leader in the public health and policy community. In addition, United Fresh Vice President Jeff Oberman will add to his current portfolio in trade relations, working with Backer in fundraising to help grow the foundation and member involvement.

Additionally, Miriam Wolk will become vice president of member services, adding direct program responsibility to her membership recruitment and retention portfolio. She will drive member engagement in United’s core programs, including the Produce Industry Leadership Program, Cornell Produce Executive Development Program, USDA Inspection Training, Retail Managers & Foodservice awards and convention education programs.

John Toner will now lead United’s multi-disciplinary staff team that works on the United Fresh convention as vice president of convention and industry collaboration. As United’s partnerships with the Food Marketing Institute, the International Floral Exposition and potentially new partners expand, Toner will coordinate collaborative efforts to better serve United Fresh members.

“Congratulations to these team leaders on their increasing responsibilities to deliver the highest possible value to our members,” Stenzel said in a press release. “These new assignments will further enable United’s talented staff to enhance and expand their service to the association in many key areas as they work to foster innovation and growth for our members.”

PAIA promoting Peruvian asparagus at PMA

The Peruvian Asparagus Importers Association will participate at PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, Oct. 17-19. Many of the PAIA importers will host booths at Fresh Summit to display a wide variety of new presentations, including value-added packaging. PAIA importers are well versed with merchandising ideas and tips, and have plentiful suggestions that will assist in the promotion and increased sales of fresh Peruvian asparagus.PAIA-Logo

The association will focus even greater efforts in 2014 on spreading the positive word to trade press, supermarkets and consumers concerning the benefits of fresh asparagus. Through articles, advertisements, direct-communication and trade show participation, the association anticipates increasing consumption and demand for fresh asparagus in 2014-15.

The Fresh Summit provides a platform to showcase Peruvian asparagus to the U.S. market and beyond. “Most if not all PAIA members will be attending PMA Fresh Summit, whether walking the show, exhibiting, participating in meetings or networking," Priscilla Lleras, PAIA coordinator, said in a press release. "We always have time to talk about Peruvian asparagus and the advances within our industry and we look forward to the interchange we can have with our valued customers during this time.”

PAIA member booths are:

  • Altar Produce: TBD
  • Alpine Fresh: 2014
  • AYCO Farms: 2978
  • Camposol: 742
  • Crystal Valley Specialty Produce: 2902
  • Customized Brokers/Crowley: 1853
  • Dole Fresh Vegetables: 986
  • Flagler Global Logistics: 4169
  • Gourmet Trading Co.: 1448
  • Harvest Sensations/Pro*Act: 851
  • Hellmann Perishable Logistics: 2550
  • Jacobs, Malcolm & Burtt / JMB: 602
  • Keystone Fruit Marketing: 3262
  • North Bay Produce: 631
  • Progressive Produce: 3368
  • Robinson Fresh/Rosemont Farms: 910
  • Southern Specialties: 2378
  • TamboSur: TBD

“PAIA members are always looking for opportunities while walking the show floor, so be sure to look for the following PAIA Member companies and discuss Peruvian asparagus,” Lleras said in the release.

PAIA members walking the show include Advance Customs Brokers & Consulting, CarbAmericas Inc., Giumarra, Maurice A. Auerbach, Pacific Produce, Perishable Specialist, Talma/Peru and Team Produce.

Kevin Doran named Houweling’s COO

Houweling’s Tomatoes has hired long-time produce industry executive Kevin Doran to the newly created role of chief operating officer. Doran brings over 20 years of strategic sales and marketing executive mangement experience. 

For the the last six years he was with the Greenery BV, where he served as a key member of the executive at the parent company in addition to managing director of multiple business units, including the Greenery UK Ltd., Greenery Overseas BV, Greenery North America Ltd., Blue Sky Cargo BV, Licensed Variety Editors BV and their subsidiaries.Kevin-Doran-COOKevin Doran

“Houweling’s is committed to setting the standard for excellence within greenhouse and produce industry," Casey Houweling, chief executive officer of Houweling’s Tomatoes, said in a press release. "Our growing expertise is second to none, and while we have made significant strides as a sales and marketing organization, I see Kevin as an integral piece to realize the vision I have for our company.”

As COO, Doran’s role will initially focus on all high touch customer interface platforms for all three Houweling’s greenhouse farm locations. He will elevate the company’s direct retail partnerships by adding management depth and specialized knowledge of protected crops and the greenhouse sector.

“I have always had a tremendous respect for Casey Houweling, his values and passion for growing," Doran said in the release. "When the opportunity to work alongside this industry pioneer and leader came, I knew it was one I could not pass up. It’s an exciting period in Houweling's history, and believe I can add value and perspective that will help the business achieve its stated objectives in what is a very competitive industry sector.”

Doran will ultimately be based in the company's Camarillo, CA, operation.

Houweling’s Tomatoes grows sustainable, year-round greenhouse tomatoes on 175 acres in Camarillo as well as Delta, BC. In January of 2015, Houweling’s will begin harvesting from its new 28-acre farm in Mona, UT.

Sunkist launches Sesame Street-themed packaging as part of 'eat brighter!' movement

This season, Sunkist will showcase its premium, fresh citrus in new Sesame Street-themed packaging as part of the cooperative's participation in the Produce Marketing Association and Sesame Workshop's 'eat brighter!' initiative. SesameStreet Giro LOS v2b

Kicking off the 2014-15 California and Arizona citrus-growing season, Sunkist will offer its customers a Sesame Street-themed 10-pound Navel orange carton and polybag as well as a Giro-bag for easy-peel mandarins, a kid-friendly favorite. The colorful, eye-catching packaging will allow retailers to showcase the beloved movement with the goal of helping kids and their millennial families eat more fresh produce.

"Childhood obesity is a critical issue for our country, and we are proud to be working with PMA and Sesame Workshop to encourage families to eat healthier," Kevin Fiori, vice president of sales and marketing for Sunkist Growers, said in a press release. "Like Sunkist, Sesame Street is a trusted family brand and we hope our collaboration will help generate consumer excitement about fresh citrus and the produce category as a whole."

Characterized by the small formation resembling a Navel on the blossom end, Sunkist Navel oranges are one of the most popular citrus varieties. Available from November to June, these winter oranges are seedless and easy to peel, and provide an excellent source of vitamin C.

Seedless and easy to peel, Sunkist mandarins are available mid-October through April. They are sweet, juicy and make an excellent treat for lunches, snacks and recipes. One serving of two mandarins provides more than the recommended daily value of vitamin C.