PMA Foodservice awards


Exhibitors were awarded for various contests at the 2015 PMA Foodservice Conference, including the Chefs Talk: A Strolling Lunch event, Sensory Experience Contest, Best of Show and Best Product Promo.

Fresno Food Expo taking back Fresno’s identity as Food Capital of the World


The 2015 Fresno Food Expo boasts an 86 percent growth in the number of participating exhibitors and a 400 percent growth in buyers since the expo first began in 2011. The expo, held on Thursday, July 23, drew big buyers with high levels of purchasing power from some of the largest and most recognized domestic retail outlets, including Costco Wholesale, Food 4 Less, Grocery Outlet, Raley's Supermarkets, Save Mart Supermarkets, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Whole Foods Market, who walked the floor looking to connect directly with Valley companies.

“This is providing increased opportunities for big and small Valley-based food and beverage producers to network, create new collaborations and business contacts, increasing exposure to broaden their market all leading to increased sales opportunities, while also giving our local food industry a new unified voice that is being noticed in a big way worldwide,” said Bill Smittcamp, founding advisory committee member and president of Wawona Frozen Foods.

PMA Foundation Career Pathways students try specialty produce items


College students interested in learning more about careers in the fresh produce industry joined the PMA Foundation Career Pathways program at PMA Foodservice Conference in Monterey, CA. Activities included a specialty produce item tasting session, hosted by Coosemans LA Shipping’s Jill Overdorf.

In this video, students explain their reaction to a variety of speciality items, including rambutan, finger limes, dragon fruit, passion fruit and buzz buttons.

Catching up with Bryan Silbermann at PMA Foodservice show


MONTEREY, CA — The 2015 PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo kicked off with a seaside gala here July 24. Record numbers of attendees were expected, as Bryan Silbermann, PMA's chief executive officer, told The Produce News Assistant Editor Maggie Giuffrida, the newest member of our video team.

Great Lakes International Trading's Awesome Apricot Yummy Fruit Bus

ProdNews YummyBus-7127

For some youngsters — and their parents — it’s the same old peanut butter and jelly sandwich, an apple or fruit cup and some carrots sticks day after day in lunch boxes.

But Great Lakes International Trading’s new Awesome Apricot Yummy Fruit Bus is bringing new zest and a lot of fun to kids. The adorable school bus-designed box holds nine 1.4-ounce individually wrapped packs of moist delicious sugar-free sun-dried Turkish apricots. They are perfect for school lunches, and a healthy alternative to sugar-filled foods. And kids love playing with the bus.SmallGroup MG 8068

Great Lakes Director of Fresh Sales John Battle explained to The Produce News the inspiration behind the new item.

“Our office employees, combined, have over a dozen school-aged kids,” said Battle. “We got our inspiration from them as they explained that a new, healthy item was needed to add to their kids’ lunch boxes. People love the buses, and kids keep them as a toy. But that wasn’t the idea; we wanted to portray a healthy lunchtime snack.”

Great Lakes’ design and sales team put their heads together and went about figuring out how to step up to the task. They put the Turkish apricots in snack-size peel-back trays. Parents need only to pull out a tray and tuck it inside lunch boxes.

“The next question we asked ourselves was how to get kids to not be afraid to eat apricots,” Battle explained. “That’s when the idea of packing them insides of a high-graphic school bus took hold. People love the buses, and kids keep them as a toy. That’s great, but we wanted to portray a healthy and easy to pack lunchtime snack.”

The company, which is highly recognized as a leading distributor of high-quality dried fruits and nuts, began receiving and promoting the Awesome Apricot Yummy Fruit Bus last school year. New Turkish apricots arrive in August each year, marking the beginning of the new season. Great Lakes takes control of the apricots from the orchards to the packinghouse in Turkey. As the importer of record, the company has total control all the way to supermarket warehouses.

Its nationwide push, which included its video ad campaign, was, and continues to be, directed through social media.

“Within two days of putting the promotional message on Facebook we had virtually thousands of hits,” said Battle. “We also sent dozens of samples to mom-focused bloggers and parent magazines. Amazingly, it’s the bloggers that are grabbing this message quickly, and once they start chit-chatting the sky is the limit.”

With the beginning of a new school year on the near horizon, Great Lakes is now into its big back to school nationwide push, and it is asking retailers for pre-orders for the back-to-school year.

“Retailers and consumers alike enjoy the benefit of the 12-month shelf life,” noted Battle. “We’re promoting the Awesome Apricot Yummy Fruit Bus to an entirely new demographic; kids who are opening up their lunch boxes to find a delicious, healthy treat.”

Great Lakes suggests a $5.99 retail price for the box, and retailers are finding success at this price while still enjoying a nice return. The fact that each bus has nine packs breaks down to a very reasonable per-portion price for a healthy and delicious snack.

The company is also packing a couple other healthy snack items in school bus boxes, but their big initial push is on the apricots.

“The Awesome Apricot Yummy Fruit Bus is in stores now, but with the new apricot season, and the new school year starting, our push is for back to school orders,” said Battle. “The item is doing very well in New England, and we’re pushing for the Midwest and Western U.S. It’s a brand new demographic being introduced to a brand new dynamic item.”