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CHICAGO — United Fresh 2016 got under way here June 21 with an elegant opening reception at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Attendees from around the world mixed and mingled among modern art masterpieces. They also talked with The Produce News about their expectations for the show, which continues through June 24.

Look for more as our United Fresh 2016 video series continues throughout the week.

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At United Fresh, Farm Star Living will be having fun filming a new consumer video for shoppers. It will share information and trivia about a variety of companies and their produce items. Look for Mary Blackmon, founder of Farm Star Living, and her team to have a chance to participate and pull a question from the "Grab Bag." You may even win free prizes!

pamlico

ELIZABETH CITY, NC — Dawson Pugh and Hunter Gibbs were childhood friends, playing on land their families have farmed here for generations. For the last decade they've been bringing a young, aggressive approach to the North Carolina fresh summer potato crop, available now through the end of July.

Technology meets good old fashioned stewardship of the land to make Pamlico one of the areas most progressive growers.

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ELIZABETH CITY, NC — Small potatoes are big business. They weathered the recession without a slip but now there are bigger challenges ahead. The Produce News caught up with Blair Richardson, U.S. Potato chief executive officer, recently during his annual visit with the North Carolina Potato Association here to talk taters and the state of the industry.

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The Rainier cherry harvest reaches its seasonal harvest peak this week, yet few retailers or consumers will ever have an opportunity to see the harvest in person. CMI has released a video highlighting one of its growers, which offers a unique glimpse into the growing and harvesting of Rainier cherries in Washington State.

This new video features CMI grower, Brian Sand, who talks about what it’s like to grow Rainier cherries — including the challenges and rewards of producing the fruit.Rainier-video-54.900-copy

Rainier cherries are among the more fragile items in the produce department. Their tender skin and light coloring makes Rainiers incredibly susceptible to orchard and harvest bruising. The cherries must be delicately picked by hand into small buckets. The fruit is then gently transferred into picking lugs that are immediately transported to a refrigerated packing facility.

Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, said that few fruits can match the flavor intensity and Brix levels of a ripe Rainier cherry. “It’s not uncommon for our Rainier cherries to have sugar levels above 25 percent, making them among the sweetest fruits in the produce department.

“Our CMI Rainier cherry growers are incredibly passionate about what they do,” Lutz said in a press release. “The goal of this video is to show our customers how dedicated we are to getting them the highest quality Rainier cherries in the industry.”

With CMI being one of the larger Rainier cherry producers in Washington state, Lutz said that now through the end of next week is the absolute peak of the Rainier harvest. He reports that over 85 percent of CMI’s Rainier cherries will be harvested by June 26.

“Right now — today if possible — is the time for retailers to book their orders in for Rainier cherries,” said Lutz. “Otherwise, you just might have to wait until next year.”