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Robinson Fresh adds Green Giant Fresh asparagus

Robinson Fresh continues to add to its lineup of consumer brands with the addition of Green Giant Fresh asparagus. The asparagus product line is available year-round and nationwide through an exclusive licensing agreement.Asparagus GGF 12oz ziplock-

Green Giant Fresh asparagus is offered in bulk packaging in club and retail boxes, as well as tags, wraps, and poly bags to provide quick and easy packaging options for today’s convenience-driven consumers.

The addition of Green Giant Fresh asparagus is a result of the collaborative success of the introduction of Green Giant Fresh avocados in May 2013.

“Asparagus is one of the fastest growing fresh vegetable categories and is an essential part of our full line of Green Giant Fresh products,” Jamie Strachan, chief executive officer at Green Giant Fresh, said in a press release. “Robinson Fresh's category leadership combined with our Green Giant retail support programs will put our customers in position to consistently outpace the rest of the market.”

In addition to being one of the faster growing retail brands in fresh produce, Green Giant Fresh supports the asparagus category through value-added services, including category management, brand support as well as comprehensive advertising and promotion campaigns.

“Robinson Fresh is proud to take part in bringing fresh, new asparagus options to our client base,” Michael Castagnetto, director of global sourcing at Robinson Fresh, said in the release. “The 'Green Giant' brand represents fresh, high-quality products that consumers can depend on.”

Similar to the Green Giant Fresh avocado program, the bagged asparagus options will feature the Box Tops for Education coupons. More than 40 million households participate in the Box Tops for Education program, and participating schools earned more than $80 million during the 2012-13 school years.

Ocean Mist Farms to celebrate artichokes at Monterey County Fair

Artichokes, the official vegetable of Monterey County and the state of California, will be celebrated at the 78th annual Monterey County Fair Aug. 27-Sept. 1.

Ocean Mist Farms will help celebrate the fair by sending Arti the Artichoke to the fair on Friday, Aug. 29 to meet fans from 3-6 p.m. Interested visitors can visit Arti's Facebook for more details about his appearances.

At the fair, Ocean Mist Farms will be serving fried artichokes and artichoke sourdough bisquePhoto-54Arti the Artichoke while entering Ocean Mist’s product line of fresh vegetables, including artichokes, for judging against other locally grown produce. It is an annual tradition for the Ocean Mist Farms harvest managers, crew supervisors and quality assurance team to demonstrate their expertise at putting together special fair packs for the vegetable commodity judging competition.

As part of its fair participation, Ocean Mist Farms donates product to the Country Store located in the Ag Building each day of the fair; all Country Store sales proceeds benefit the Monterey County Fair exhibit program and Ag department.

“We are excited to bring the majority of our local grown vegetables to this year’s Monterey County Fair,” Hilda Medina,  marketing event specialist and report analysis, said in a press release. “It’s a great way to demonstrate the quality and commitment we have as a local grower.”

Weis celebrates new flagship store with giveaways, donations

Weis Markets celebrated the grand opening of its new Selinsgrove, PA, flagship store with a true celebration. The festivities included a community ribbon cutting ceremony with local public officials and dignitaries, along with company donations to local nonprofits. Customers were also surprised with free bags of groceries during check out at the registers.

The 66,740-square-foot store features larger fresh departments with more than 700 varieties of produce and a greater selection of organic and natural items.

“We celebrated the exciting launch of a store we’ve been planning for a number of years," Jonathan Weis, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "From concept to ground breaking and now grand opening, we have meticulously planned every detail of this state-of-the-art store with great care to ensure our customers receive the very best from Weis Markets. We have proudly served Snyder County for more than a century and we’re honored to continue this for many, many more years to come.”

The new store is also designed to be eco-friendly, featuring advanced refrigeration and climate-control technologies to lessen its effects on the environment. These technologies will reduce the store’s refrigerant usage by 60 percent compared to that of a conventional supermarket.

Additional enhancements include an international cheese section, more gourmet and international foods, as well as a full-service pharmacy, deli and expanded food service department and bakery. The store’s café offers dine-in and take out service, outdoor patio seating, and 750 varieties of domestic and imported beer. The location also has a Gas N’ Go fuel station on the premise.

The store employs more than 200 full- and part-time associates.

Organizations receiving donations from Weis Markets at the grand opening ceremony were Snyder County Libraries, Selinsgrove Seals Summer Day Camp, Girls on the Run of the Greater Susquehanna Valley, Selinsgrove AYSO (youth soccer), Selinsgrove Football Boosters, All Saints Episcopal Church/Martha’s Table, Selinsgrove Youth Football, Meals for Seals, Dauntless Hook & Ladder, Union Snyder Community Action Agency, St. Paul UCC/Five Fishes & Two Loaves, Selinsgrove Area Band Booster Association.

Expanding export markets important to moving increased Washington apple volume

The Washington Apple Commission continues with due diligence to promote exports of the state's ever-increasing apple volume. "With the larger anticipated Washington apple crop, we are putting heavy emphasis on export opportunity," President Todd Fryhover told The Produce News. "I can say all programs are fully funded and we're hopeful to see a 20-percent increase or more for 2014-15."

Buzz in the orchard is translating to excitement for a successful season. "With 140 million [boxes] on the trees, the first exports will begin right away," Fryhover commented.ExportOverview1Last season, the Washington Apple Commission launched a new regional marketing campaign, Mother's Love, in Southeast Asia. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Apple Commission) Movement to Mexico, Canada and Taiwan continues to be robust, and important markets are developing in Southeast Asia and Central America.

Fryhover provided some numbers that illustrate the importance of export markets. "The 2013-14 WA apple crop is approximately 115 [million boxes]. For [2014-15], the August estimate indicates 140.19 [million boxes], our largest crop, above the 2012-13 volume of 128.25 [million boxes]," he stated. "Thirty-four percent is our goal and has been the percentage in past seasons. We are enthusiastically working towards reaching this goal this season."

Levels of increased production in Washington's apple industry have been carefully planned. "Some of the numbers above might seem daunting," Fryhover continued. "However, I would like to point out that we have been investing in more productive orchards, new varieties with a taste and texture for everyone, technology at the warehousing level and generally getting better and better at growing, packing and delivering high quality apples worldwide."

Prospects are good as the harvest approaches. "I've been around a long time, and this is one of the most 'even' crop loads I've seen," he stated. "Providing Mother Nature doesn't create issues or labor is short, this should be a good season."

Last season, WAC initiated a new regional marketing campaign, Mother's Love, in Southeast Asia. Export Marketing Director Rebecca Lyons said the program was highly successful. Lyons spoke with The Produce News to explain the concept of the campaign and the successes achieved.

"We wanted to create a region-wide campaign to engage our target consumers, women between the ages of 25 to 45, and appeal to their desire to feed their families delicious, wholesome food," Lyons commented. "Using the reputation of Washington apples coming from a safe, clean and healthy environment, the campaign focused on mothers providing only the best for their families."

Most of the promotional events associated with the campaign were held between November 2013 and March 2014. "Activities included specially designed point-of-sale material, display contests, consumer games and activities, in-store demonstrations and sampling, roadshows and other market-specific activities," Lyons went on to say.

The countries targeted by the Mother's Love campaign were Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. "Together, these countries account for over 4.5 million 40-lb cartons of Washington apples, worth approximately $93 million in f.o.b. sales," she stated. "Although due to the smaller crop versus 2012-13, our overall exports have decreased by over 7 percent, these countries -- with the exception of Thailand, which decreased 5 percent -- have all shown strong increases this season. During the campaign, we saw overall shipments to the markets increase an average of 50 percent compared to the same time frame last year."

WAC plans to expand the program within current Southeast Asian markets. "We are increasing the program reach beyond the major metro regions to appeal to consumers in outlying regions, which are experiencing strong growth in retail penetration and offer additional opportunities for Washington apples, particularly Red Delicious," Lyons said.

Although Red Delicious accounts for approximately 50 percent of Washington apple exports, Lyons said Mother's Love was not a variety-specific promotion. "We did encourage retailers to feature multi-varietal displays to heighten the visual appeal to consumers. We are seeing more and more displays of three or more varieties in the organized retail sector," she said. "They want to provide their customers with choices, and Washington certainly offers a lot of them."

Produce Mom promotes school salad bars on Indy TV

The ever-active “Produce Mom”, Lori Taylor was scheduled to raise awareness for the national school salad bar initiative on live Indianapolis television on Aug. 21. According to a press release on that morning, Taylor was slated for the IndyStyle program on WISH-TV 8.

Taylor is The Produce Mom for The Produce Mom LLC, which is a subsidiary of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.

2014-3-18-1357-Indy-Fruit Participating in a Produce for Better Health event in Scottsdale, AZ, on March 18 were Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, Indianapolis, and Antonia Mascari, marketing manager of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.The press release noted that to date, 2,800 schools nationwide have received salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Taylor refers the industry to for information on sponsoring a salad bar.

“Our industry is uniquely positioned to stem the tide of the national health epidemic while inspiring the next generation of produce consumers. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative highlights this commitment to combat childhood obesity through improving child nutrition. That’s why I’m honored to be assisting Hilary Martin of Frey Farms, the United Fresh Midwest Salad Bar Captain, in the industry push for salad bar placement in Indiana Schools,” Taylor indicated.

She also noted, “If you’re part of the produce industry, then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the tremendous potential that bringing salad bars to schools has for this country. Salad bars are popular with students and make it easy for schools to serve a wide variety of fresh produce. They empower kids to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables.”