A longtime PMA Fresh Summit exhibitor, Frieda's Specialty Produce challenges this year's attendees to "Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You," and to try jackfruit, the scary-looking fruit that smells and tastes amazing.
Samples of jackfruit will be available at Frieda's booth (No. 2830) both days of the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, on Oct. 18-19.
"Jackfruit is a definite showstopper of tropical fruits," Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Los Alamitos, CA-based Frieda's, said in a press release. "It has the impressive size and a unique fragrance that reminds you of Juicy Fruit gum, and these succulent pods of sweet, yellow flesh that taste like all of your favorite tropical fruits in one perfect bite."
Jackfruit is the world's largest tree fruit. As the fruit ripens, the exterior turns yellow and becomes fragrant. When eaten fresh, the yellow flesh has hints of mango, banana and melon. Unripe fruit is often used as a meat substitute in curries, tacos and sandwiches. The seeds are also edible once boiled or roasted. NPR called Jackfruit "the ginormous fruit to feed the world" for its versatility.
Frieda's also will display other "scary fruits" such as organic finger limes, Buddha's Hands, Kiwano, cherimoya, Mandarinquats and Mangosteens.
Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. announced the expansion of its tropical and ethnic produce program and the launch of its new "Feliz" premium brand of items.
The company said it is seeking to increase its growth in the category in response to the changing demographics and demands of consumers in the United States.
Procacci's operation will now include a strategic sourcing office in Miami, which will be headed by Javier Alvarado. During Alvarado's 25 years of experience in tropical and ethnic produce, he has built relationships with an expansive network of growers throughout Central America, South America and other prime tropical growing regions.
Alvarado's hands-on approach to building his relationships with growers has him traveling frequently throughout the tropics, and the company believes his efforts will enable it to provide customers with consistent, high-quality tropical and ethnic produce year-round.
Alvarado will work closely with Procacci's Philadelphia-based sales team of Mike Barber and Luis De Vore. Barber brings over 30 years of experience in the procurement and sales of tropical produce. De Vore, a recent graduate of the Sustainable Business MBA program at Marylhurst University, has sales expertise strongly rooted in quality control. Before joining Procacci's sales desk, De Vore gained 13 years of quality-control experience, first as a researcher and inspector for the USDA and then as the director of the quality control department at Procacci Bros.
New label launched
In addition to announcing the expansion of its tropical and ethnic produce operations, Procacci Bros. also launched its new premium tropical and ethnic produce brand, "Feliz."
The "Feliz" brand will include tropical and ethnic items such as green plantains, avocados, calabaza, malanga, chayote, yuca and ñame, as well as many others. "Feliz" branded items will be sourced from select growers that meet Procacci's standards for outstanding quality and safety throughout the supply chain.
"All 'Feliz' items will feature distinctive Feliz PLU stickers," De Vore said in a press release. "The sticker is designed to show a smiling face with the word 'Feliz' making up the eyes of the face. That is what we believe our brand will come to mean to our customers. When they're in the produce department they will see 'Feliz' and experience happiness and peace of mind in knowing that they are purchasing delicious, responsibly-sourced products that they can count on being available, week after week."
Potatoes and onions are seen as classic commodity crops by many growers, who place too much emphasis on growing and harvesting their products as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell at lower prices.
While that approach may work for some, Fresh Solutions Network sees the equation differently. FSN feels that only focusing on squeezing down costs can actually cost retailers more, by short-changing them on quality, innovation and marketing support.
These areas — product quality, innovation and marketing support — are the three pillars that Fresh Solutions Network is using to help its retail customers to prosper. FSN believes the best breakthroughs — in products and in business — arrive at the intersection of insights and collaboration, so category data are analyzed and developed into insights to develop innovative products and strategic solutions.
"We think the value proposition for retailers has changed and that many of the ways potato and onion suppliers continue to try to capture market share may be a thing of the past," Kathleen Triou, president and chief executive officer of FSN, said in a press release. "They fixate on driving out costs to win business, to the point that their packaging is ineffective and their marketing support is non-existent. Fresh Solutions Network's approach gives retailers unprecedented access to competitive insights, to collaborative innovation, and ultimately to optimal assortments. For example, we recently collaborated with a regional retailer to strategize an optimized assortment that delivered a 7 percent sales increase and stole market share from their competition over a six-month pilot program."
Fresh Solutions Network has reinvented the "supply-and-buy" model by focusing on a direct-supply "dream team," an invitation-only network of potato and onion growers and shippers with superior products and trustworthy track records who personally own the land, work the soil and pack the product.
Many of the long-held ways of buying produce mean retailers may not know where their potatoes and onions are coming from, and that puts quality and accountability at risk. FSN customers always know exactly what product they're buying and which grower they're buying it from.
FSN members are accountable for quality and service — to each other and to their retail customers — because it is literally their own farms that are at stake.
Fresh Solutions Network Partners grow, pack, sell and deliver potatoes and onions directly to their retail and foodservice customers, providing seamless, transparent product supply and service. Fresh Solutions Network, LLC partners are Sterman Masser, Inc. (Masser Potato Farms and Keystone Potato Products in Sacramento and Hegins, PA), Michael Family Farms Inc. (Urbana, OH), Basin Gold Cooperative Inc. (Pasco, WA), Green Thumb Farms Inc. (Fryeburg, ME), Red Isle Potato Growers Ltd. (Prince Edward Island, Canada), NoKota Packers Inc. (Buxton, ND) and Sun-Glo of Idaho Inc. (Sugar City, ID).
California pomegranate growers have confirmed that the popular Wonderful variety has now achieved the deep red color and high sugar for which it is justly famous.
Tom Rouse at PomWonderful said that he has been patiently waiting for the Wonderful variety to reach maturity.
"We expect promotable quantities in a full range of sizes, by Oct. 8-10," he said in a press release. "If Mother Nature continues to cooperate, our full-season shipments should match — or slightly exceed — last year. We anticipate again setting a new record in the percentage of the total that goes out in our increasingly popular display bins and stackers. Retailers recognize the high-impulse purchase nature of pomegranates and these stand-alone units bring incremental profit to previously unused space in the produce section or by the front-end registers."
Jeff Simonian of Simonian Fruit said that they will be starting their Wonderful program at the same time.
"Our early varieties have moved smoothly into the distribution channels and we are now ready to ship our principal variety," he said in the press release. "Like the rest of the industry, we expect to peak on the medium sizes."
The Pomegranate Council said that a census of the principal growers suggests the industry shipments should again exceed 6 million boxes this season.
"There are still some low-index consumption markets in the U.S., and as shoppers discover the great taste and substantial nutritional benefits of pomegranates, there will be no problem absorbing the increasing annual volume," Tom Tjerandsen, manager of the Pomegranate Council, said in the press release. "Surging export and foodservice demand, along with sales of the increasingly popular arils and juice products, are also helping to move the harvest."
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants.
News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association.
"Helping families purchase more fresh produce is clearly good for families' health, helps contribute to lower health costs for the country, and increases local food sales for family farmers," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Sept. 29 in Richmond, VA, where he announced the launch of the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive, a new farm bill program.
Under FINI, applicants may propose small pilot projects, multi-year community-based projects, or larger-scale multi-year projects that test strategies to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables by SNAP participants through incentives at the point of purchase. Based on the type of project, USDA plans to award grants of $100,000 to $500,000, and applications are due on Dec. 15.
"We encourage our retail grocery members who operate stores in underserved communities to partner with their state SNAP agency and apply for a FINI grant," said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health at United Fresh, who added that the projects are likely to inform USDA programs in the future.
With 85 percent of all SNAP benefits redeemed at grocery stores, "we believe that scaling up produce incentives at grocery stores in underserved communities around the country will have the greatest public health reach by increasing access to a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year round," she said, adding that incentives can help SNAP families purchase more fresh produce and increase produce sales.
Stabenow praised the farm bill program she said was modeled after Michigan's successful "Double up Food Bucks" program, which provides SNAP participants with tokens to purchase to locally grown fruits and vegetables.
"These new programs will not only empower low-income Americans to provide their families with more healthy fruits and vegetables, they will also help strengthen local economies by investing in local food systems and organic agriculture," Stabenow said.
USDA listed the following project aspects it sees as priorities for funding:
The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture will host a webinar for interested applicants on Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.