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State Garden launches 'Simple Beginnings' celery hearts line

State Garden Inc., a Northeast supplier of organic and conventional tender leaf greens, spinach and celery hearts, is expanding its "Simple Beginnings" conventional produce line with the addition of 10-ounce celery heart bags and 20-ounce celery heart trays.Simple-Beginnings-Celery-Gr

The new products are available to State Garden customers along the Eastern Seaboard, with expansion into additional markets expected throughout the fall.

“We are excited to announce this latest addition to the 'Simple Beginnings' brand,” Stephen Noll, vice president of sales and marketing at State Garden, said in a press release. “State Garden has been a family-run business for more than four generations and celery has been a staple in our company’s offerings since the very beginning.”

Simple Beginnings 10-ounce single celery heart bags and 20-ounce double celery heart trays will contain fresh, U.S.-grown washed and trimmed celery hearts that are produced and packaged according to State Garden’s strict food-safety standards.

State Garden launched "Simple Beginnings" in October 2013, a line of high-quality conventional produce, including triple-washed salads, cooking greens and cut squash with a focus on making fresh, wholesome eating accessible to all. State Garden previously offered conventional celery hearts under its former "Northeast Fresh" brand. In addition to its new Simple Beginnings celery program, State Garden produces organic celery hearts for its "Olivia’s Organics" brand along with multiple private label celery heart programs in the Northeast.

More information about carrying Simple Beginnings celery hearts is available at www.stategarden.com.

Research provides National Mango Board with insights on consumer behavior

The National Mango Board conducts ongoing consumer research to explore consumer awareness, knowledge about mangos, buying habits, barriers to purchase and many other factors of consumer attitudes relative to mangos. Understanding consumer purchasing behavior is key to increasing mango consumption in the U.S.

In 2013, the NMB conducted an in-depth consumer attitude and usage study to better understand consumer purchasing behaviors. The overall goal was to measure consumer awareness and usage practices as they relate to mangos, and importantly, determine the extent to which shifts have taken place over time.

In addition to tracking and updating who mango consumers are, why they buy the fruit and what might encourage future purchases, the study also investigated health awareness and health perceptions toward mangos. Results highlight that overall, providing more information and education about mangos and keeping them in front of consumers at point-of-sale and in the media would help increase mango sales. Basic education is most needed by consumers since the research reflects not knowing how to choose and select a “good” mango, as well as what to do with it after purchase.
 
In 2014, the NMB conducted qualitative exploration research, also known as focus groups, with small groups of mango buyers and non-buyers to provide direction on effective mango messaging. The study included discussions of mango associations, usage, likes and dislikes, and the buying or eating experience and then progressed through a series of messaging statements. The statements covered general, education, nutrition and sustainability messaging. Key findings include the overall positive mango associations with tropical and sweet — with nutrition being one of the strongest messages for consumers. Top interest was paid to “100 percent of daily vitamin C in a single cup,” “20 vitamins and minerals” and “100 calories a cup.” Other opportunities for mango messaging include the lack of familiarity, not knowing what to do with a whole mango, and selection and cutting.
 
“Consumer research is vital to focusing our marketing strategies around the obstacles and opportunities that mangos present to consumers,” Megan McKenna, NMB director of marketing, said in a press release. “Armed with these findings, the mango industry can move forward with its outreach regarding mango selection, ripening, cutting, and usage since they continue to be the barriers to purchase.
 
To learn more about the 2013 Attitudes and Usage Study, 2014 Qualitative Exploration Research, and other consumer research please visit mango.org/retail/category-development-and-consumer-research.

GROW Month, hosted by Organics Unlimited, begins Sept. 1

Starting Sept. 1, Organics Unlimited will host its ninth annual GROW Month, a celebration of its non-profit program GROW (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers). In an effort to raise consumer awareness, Organics Unlimited encourages all retailers who carry the "GROW" label organic bananas to share the positive work stories they have helped make possible.

Since 2005, GROW has raised more than $1 million in support from those who have chosen to sell GROW bananas in their stores. This year alone, Organics Unlimited has raised almost $250,000 for the GROW Fund, which contributes to scholarships, educational programs, health clinics and safe water projects for workers and families in Mexico and Ecuador.

“This is a very exciting time of the year for everyone at Organics Unlimited,” Mayra Velazquez de Leon, Organics Unlimited president and GROW founder, said in a press release. “Each year our customers asking for the 'GROW' label exceed our expectations. They are benefitting from the program as much as the people they are helping in Mexico and Ecuador. They are changing lives.”

With each box of GROW bananas sold, a portion of the proceeds go into the GROW Fund. These donations are managed and distributed by the International Community Foundation. Project Amigo in Mexico and Children International in Ecuador are two places where GROW has helped build better communities.

Organics Unlimited continues to offer point-of-purchase materials to its customers. Complete with posters, header cards and recipe card, most items in the Organics Unlimited online store are available to download for self-printing. Banana bags are also available in the online store for free during GROW Month.

Giant/Martin's takes action against hunger this September

In recognition of Hunger Action Month this September, Giant Food Stores and Martin's Food Markets are asking customers to join them in the fight against hunger in the local communities the grocers serve. Throughout the month, Giant/Martin's-sponsored food drives and hunger-awareness initiatives will support regional Feeding America food banks, including the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Philabundance, Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley, FeedMore-Central Virginia Food Bank, Food Bank of Western Maryland, Greater Berks County Food Bank, Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster, Food Resources of Washington County, Maryland and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in Virginia.

“While Hunger Action Month is a time to raise both funds and awareness for local food banks, it’s important to remember that there is a need every month of the year,” John MacDonald, director of marketing and external communications, said in a press release. “Too many in our local communities go hungry, which is why as part of our ongoing better neighbor efforts, Giant/Martin's remains committed to the fight against hunger through the donation of food, funds and volunteer time.”

Running Aug. 31-Sept. 13 is Giant/Martin's annual Bag Hunger in-store campaign, where customers have an opportunity to donate $1 at the checkout to benefit their local food bank. Those who donate will receive a free Unilever product coupon book. A similar campaign held earlier this year raised a record-breaking $607,035 in support of local hunger relief efforts.

Also in partnership with Unilever, Giant/Martin's is hosting a Stuff-A-Truck event at its Havertown, PA, store Sept. 6.

In addition, for each flu shot Giant/Martin's pharmacies administer this year, Unilever will donate three meals to Feeding America, one of the nation's largest domestic hunger-relief charities.

Recognizing that high-quality protein is most in need by hungry families, Giant/Martin's innovative “Meat the Needs” frozen meat donation program has donated more than three million pounds of meat that would otherwise go unsold to its regional food bank partners since 2010.

In 2013, hunger relief efforts and donations to regional food banks accounted for approximately 40 percent of Giant/Martin's community giving with over 100 regional food banks and local pantries receiving $10 million in product, customer, vendor and corporate donations.

To learn more about the partnership between Giant/Martin's and Unilever to combat hunger, visit www.feedourfamilies.org.

QPMA convention ushers in positive change

The Quebec Produce Marketing Association held its 67th annual convention in scenic Charlevoix, Québec, at the Fairmont Manoir Richelieu Aug. 21-24. Under the umbrella theme “People at the Heart of the Industry,” over 500 guests attended the banquet and attendees enjoyed networking events, business sessions, meetings and motivational speeches.

Celebrating women in leadership roles was a big part of the event with 2013-14 QPMA President Marie Gosselin of of Les Serres du St-Laurent (Savoura) presiding over events. During the annual general meeting, Judith Basque of Loblaw/Provigo joined the executive, marking the first time the association’s five-member executive committee included three women.Basque-Perreault-Gosselin-QJudith Basque of Loblaw/Provigo, Sophie Perreault QPMA President/Director General and outgoing QPMA 2013-2014 President Marie Gosselin of Les Serres du St-Laurent (Savoura).

With overwhelming support from the membership, a key change was made to the leadership of the association with Sophie Perreault being named president and director general. The key change to the role will help provide more stability for the volunteer executive committee and provide a little more heft to the role when dealing with government. The change was voted upon unanimously by the membership at the AGM.

“Our association is moving ahead as never before, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to contribute. I certainly plan to stay on the scene and keep actively involved in the QPMA,” stated outgoing president Gosselin. Gosselin’s presidency was a busy one with strategic planning and revisions to the organisational structure. Key work on government relations and issues management were a big focus in the past year as well.

“It’s a great pleasure to see Sammy become my successor. He’s a hard worker, he’s a straight talker, a committed guy,” said Gosselin by way of introduction of the 2014-15 QPMA President Sammy Cacciatore of Sun Grape Marketing.

“I’m deeply convinced of the need for the QPMA. There’s simply no other place like ours where all the stakeholders in the Quebec produce industry can get together,” said Cacciatore in his introductory speech as new QPMA president. He thanked and commended Gosselin on the hard work during her tenure and terrific strides over the past year, particularly in the strategic planning, association governance and modernisation of the mission and structure of the association.

The Pillar of the Industry for 2014, Bernadette Hamel, was welcomed onstage during the closing banquet with a thundering standing ovation. She made her mark at QPMA by being elected its first female president in 2007-08. “Her contribution to the industry and her career path make her an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in the business, as well as a Pillar of choice. For all these reasons and more, she most definitely deserves the recognition we are giving her tonight,” said Gosselin.

“Over the years, I’ve had the great privilege to work for people who have helped me grow in this industry by giving me the chance to meet its many challenges head on,” said Hamel.

“You all know that having a successful career doesn’t happen without the support of a strong team, and I’m happy to say I’ve had the good fortune to manage some of the hardest-working, most-dedicated and passionate employees in the business,” continued Hamel. When asked what was next after reaching all these milestones and accolades, Hamel replied, “Retirement!” with a good chuckle — but not any time too soon she was quick to note.

The 2015 QPMA Convention will be held Aug. 20-22 at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec under the theme, “A Healthy Industry, A Shared Responsibility.”