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Pacific Trellis announces changes at Dulcinea Farms

Pacific Trellis Fruit, the Fresno, CA-based distributor of grapes and tree fruit, announced it will implement some changes at Dulcinea Farms, which it purchased earlier this year.

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Key among those changes is the departure of John McGuigan, manager of Dulcinea, who will leave at the end of August.

"John, a 25-year veteran of the produce industry, has been a great asset to the company since his joining," the company said in a press release. "He was of great assistance to us on this latest acquisition, helping us to transition it from a public company structure to a more market- and grower-focused operation."

"I have had the great fortune to work for outstanding organizations and help get them positioned for success for the future," McGuigan added in the press release. "I know that the team will do great things with Dulcinea Farms going forward, and I wish them all the success in the world."

Other changes planned for the fall include the expansion of Dulcinea's melon program, with new production areas for all varieties. The company said the 2014-15 winter melon program will have increased volume with product coming from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.

Additionally, Pacific Trellis has hired former Syngenta employee Paul Collazo to a new research and development position, where he will work on existing and new proprietary melon varieties.

Steve Dabich, an eight-year veteran at Dulcinea Farms, continues the role of director of sales.

Pacific Trellis Fruit farms over 6,000 acres of melons annually and is the owner of the consumer brands "PureHeart," "Tuscan-Style" and "Ruby Bliss," and many others under the Dulcinea label. It is also a sizable grower and importer of grapes, tree fruit and other commodities.

 

Carter and USPB concerned with domestic potato consumption

Potato sales for U.S. growers pose interesting questions. Eighteen percent of the crop is exported, but statistics on domestic potato consumption create a mystery, according to Mike Carter, co-chair of the domestic marketing committee for the U.S. Potato Board and a member of the board's executive committee.

Carter, who is also the chief executive officer of Bushmans' Inc., located in Rosholt, WI, said that "overall meal occasions" for U.S. consumers to use potatoes have gone up, but domestic consumption "by volume is down [and] that is counter-intuitive."

One explanation of the contradiction is that "as family sizes have shrunk, and with the economic realignment since 2008, consumers are more frugal." Instead of buying a 10-pound bag of potatoes and eventually throwing out four pounds of old potatoes from that bag, they buy less volume but consume all they buy.

"I am not convinced that people are eating less potatoes," Carter said. "Potatoes are America's favorite vegetable. More pounds are sold in produce that anything. They are cheap and they are healthy, so we have all of those things going for us. Are people eating less now than they were? Maybe, but it's not as bad as it sounds."

Still, he added, it's up to the board to "get people excited" about buying spuds.

The board has partnered with the Hungry Girl culinary organization to promote potatoes. This has exceeded Carter's expectations, as the consumer blog now has over 1 million followers. Hungry Girl also operates a Facebook page and reaches consumers through many media outlets. Hungry Girl's audience involves the female demographics that USPB has targeted.

Carter noted that if the board's efforts can promote one more potato eaten each week per consumer, sales are no longer a concern. This can be achieved by showing that potatoes are healthy and nutritious. Fears caused by "perceived negatives" that potatoes are fattening need to be removed. New specialty potato varieties need to be understood and will open new ways of consuming potatoes.

Key to accomplishing these objectives is for the USPB to create a new five-year marketing plan. Carter said this strategic review and adjusted plan is underway.

In recent years, the board had targeted "Linda" as its primary audience. Linda represents women in the age range of 20s to 50s who cook for their family. Carter said the new target audience may be narrowed to the age group of the 20s, as health-conscious young people are learning to cook. "We have to develop a new wave of consumers."

Carter added that digital media provide many opportunities to reach this group.

He noted that the USPB is not just promoting fresh domestic potato consumption but, among other efforts, export markets to ensure ongoing expansion of that critically important segment.

 

Kalettes to be grown under new marketing agreements

Tozer Seeds announced that it has entered into exclusive marketing agreements with six companies to grow and market Kalettes, the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid.

The companies that have entered into the marketing agreement with Tozer for Kalettes are 4Earth Farms, Classic Salads, Mann Packing, Ocean Mist Farms, Southern Specialties and WP Rawl. As part of the agreement, Kalettes seeds will be sold by Johnny's Select Seeds to small farmers and home growers.

Tozer Seeds made the decision to enter into this agreement with a select group of companies to market under the "Kalettes" brand to create a consistent name and brand identity for the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid, which would allow consumers to easily recognize this new vegetable.

Tozer and these companies have committed to supporting the Kalettes brand though joint public relations efforts, consumer and trade advertising, and by providing recipes, cooking tips and other content to consumers through the website, www.Kalettes.com, and their social media channels.

Additionally, the companies that are growing as part of the Kalettes brand are subject to strict product specifications and quality controls. Product specifications include sizing, color and condition, which will ensure that consumers receive consistent top-quality product.

Tozer Seeds has applied for a PLU code under the generic name "kale sprouts," which will be available to any grower of the kale and brussels sprouts hybrid.

"Our collective goal is to successfully launch Kalettes in the retail and food service channels in the U.S. and Canada and build a strong awareness among consumers," Kraig Kuykendall, sales manager of Tozer Seeds America, said in a press release. "By working together, the joint marketing efforts of Tozer and these companies will be able to reach the consumer more effectively. We have been very pleased with the incredible response to Kalettes and predict it will be very successful."

Kalettes are the product of more than a decade of research by Tozer Seeds, a leading family-owned vegetable breeding company in England. The kale and brussels sprout hybrid offers a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty, combining the best traits of each of its parent vegetables. Kalettes are not genetically modified and were developed by cross-pollinating brussels sprouts with kale through traditional methods.

Kalettes are now available in very limited quantities and distribution will continue to increase throughout the fall and winter as production increases. Kalettes will be available to both retailers and foodservice distributors directly through the companies.

Baloian Farms partners with Michigan growers for locally grown squash product

Capitalizing on the growing popularity of the locally grown trend, Baloian Farms, based in Fresno, CA, announced a partnership with Michigan growers to offer retailers their sauté kits with locally grown squash. This value-added product features yellow and green squash with a seasoning packet included.

BaloianSquashMockups webUnderstanding the importance of offering locally grown products during peak season was a natural decision for Baloian Farms.

Launched in the fall of 2013, the new squash sauté kits have been well received with continued success at retail and was recently voted as the "People's Choice Best New Product" at the Fresno Food Show in July.

"It made sense to create this seasonal partnership and provide retailers with another strong selling point to further increase their sales," Jeremy Lane, sales manager of Baloian Farms, said in a press release. "The kits will be both grown and packed locally in Michigan."

Utilizing this grower partnership also made sense financially by drastically reducing the amount of food miles involved in delivering the value-added product to retailers.

"Consumers will enjoy the benefit of locally grown fresh squash, along with great flavor options, that are convenient and easy to prepare. We are constantly striving to find innovative opportunities like this partnership to provide premium products to our customers," Lane added in the press release.

Baloian Farms squash sauté kits with seasonings are available in with two flavor options, Parmesan with Herbs and Roasted Red Pepper. The kits contain three pieces of fresh squash and a premeasured season packet. Prep and cook time is about five minutes making this product an easy-to-prepare side dish solution.

 

Watsonville Coast Produce celebrating 40 years

Watsonville Coast Produce, a distributor of a full line of produce items, based in Watsonville, CA, is celebrating its 40th year in business this fall and will hold a festival next month to recognize those that have contributed to its success.

"Hard work, loyal employees and partners working together" are what Gary Manfre, a partner in the business, attributes to the success and longevity of the company.

logoManfre and partners bought what is now known as Watsonville Coast Produce Inc. on Oct. 1, 1974. At that time, the business was a seven-man operation on Menker Street in a modified barn. With long hours and hard work, the business has grown to what is now a 100-person staff in a 45,000-square-foot facility.

Among the staff family working there are a number of Manfre's family members, some of whom have been working there for over 35 years. The company also employs more than one family member of many Watsonville residents. For example, a member of sales support team has her father and brother working as drivers, her uncle is shipping foreman and her cousin works in the bookkeeping department. This family-like atmosphere creates a level of loyalty and commitment to provide the best service possible, and is a huge part of the company's success.

The 40th anniversary celebration festival will kick off Sept. 27 and will be focused on produce, employees and partners on-site at their facility. The week following the festival there will be food, raffles and more for the staff to continue the celebration.