Potandon Produce LLC, the exclusive marketing agent for Pinto Creek Co. LLC in Eloy, AZ, announced that its fresh potato season will begin May 9.
Red potatoes will start shipping that day, and the Green Giant Fresh Klondike Goldust potatoes are expected to start May 13, followed by Green Giant Fresh Klondike Gourmet mini potatoes on May 25. Fresh shipments will be available from Arizona until approximately July 4, at which time production will move to Texas.
“We’ve had excellent red potato demand throughout the winter and we expect that to continue throughout the summer,” Dick Thomas, senior vice president of sales, said in a press release.
Arizona potatoes will be available in Idaho Falls to load with russet orders approximately one week after production starts. With a full-service distribution warehouse in Idaho, Potandon is able to offer its customers the option of combining varietal potatoes with russet orders.
Pinto Creek is a PRIMUS-certified facility with a full-time quality assurance person on-site daily. The packing facility has seen steady improvement over the past five years, with improvements to the grading and sizing equipment and the addition of a refrigerated storage. The Pinto Creek team commitment to excellence has elevated its status to one of the premier potato packingsheds in the country.
Wendy Oliver has joined Weis Markets as a regional vice president. She will oversee the day-to-day operations of 58 stores in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. She reports to David Gose, senior vice president of operations.
Oliver has more than 35 years of industry experience working for Lucky Stores, Albertsons and Supervalu in Southern California. She recently worked as vice president of operations for Albertsons Southern California division.
Earlier in her career, Oliver worked as an assistant store manager and a store manager before working as a field specialist, district manager, center store merchandising lead, vice president of fresh merchandising and vice president of operations.
Oliver holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of La Verne in California and graduated from the University of Southern California Food Industry Management Program.
Laura Batcha, president of the Organic Trade Association, and Tonya Antle, a principal at Tanimura & Antle, have been added to the the featured presentation and keynote speakers portion of the inaugural Organic Produce Summit, in Monterey, CA, July 13-14. Batcha will deliver a state of the industry report on organic fresh produce, while Antle will serve as master of ceremonies for the event.
Batcha and Antle will join Chad Hagen, vice-president of SunOpta; Doug Evans, founder of Juicero and noted former New York Times columnist; and co-founder of Purple Carrot Mark Bittman as featured presenters at the first-ever event focused exclusively on organic fresh produce.
“A key part of being a successful leader in the organic space is knowing how and when to seize opportunities, gain knowledge and share ideas with your peers and other thought leaders. I believe that The 2016 Organic Produce Summit is going to be just that place,” Antle said in a press release.
The exhibition part of the event sold out last week, with 70 confirmed producers of organic fresh produce committed to displaying their products. The Organic Produce Summit has received confirmation from over 45 different retail and buying organizations who will be attending the event. These retail organizations total over 20,000 stores across the United States and Canada. A list of those attending the inaugural event can be found at www.organicproducesummit.com.
Additional educational seminars hosted by the Organic Trade Association are being finalized with an array of established industry educators and leaders serving as panelists in three different educational sessions. A fourth educational session on the growing e-grocery sector and organic produce is also being finalized with panelists Tony Stallone, vice president of merchandising for Peapod, and Mike Buffington of IdeoClick. Kevin Coupe, founder of The Morning News Beat, will serve as moderator.
The OPS is co-sponsored by Taylor Farms and Braga Fresh with support from other major sponsors, including Tomorrow’s Organics, Homegrown Organic Farms, Earthbound Farms and Driscolls.
More information about the inaugural Organic Produce Summit is available at www.organicproducesummit.com.
US Foods has acquired Food Genius, a leading provider of foodservice data and analytics. The Food Genius team members will join US Foods.
Focused exclusively on foodservice, Food Genius offers a suite of technology applications that simplify the interactions needed to transform large-scale unstructured data into application-ready datasets and actionable insights.
“Our core technologies are built for a single purpose, providing consistent and predictable structure on top of what is normally inconsistent datasets in foodservice,” Jason Felger, chief executive officer of Food Genius, said in a press release. “We’re all very excited to be a part of US Foods mission of being first in food.”
With an increase in volume of its various differentiated produce offerings, Pasadena, CA-based Sun Pacific has added Canadian retailers as a target group for its sales effort.
Sun Pacific President Bob DiPiazza said there are Canadian retailers that have done business with the firm and have been regular buyers of its well-known Cuties brand of clementines. However, in the past several years, Sun Pacific has also added proprietary offerings in kiwi and heirloom Navels under the brand names Mighties and Vintage Sweet, respectively. DiPiazza said what all three of these products have in common is that they have points of differentiation from the competition and their volume is increasing.
Hence, the firm used the Canadian Produce Marketing Association convention in Calgary to familiarize more Canadian retailers with these products.
“In the past we have had a presence at CPMA, but this is the first year we are exhibiting there,” DiPiazza said. “We are bringing out our owner, [and] I’m going to be there. We are making a big deal of this.”
DiPiazza said thousands of U.S. retailers and consumers have enjoyed these products and the time has come to make a greater push in Canada.
Speaking specifically of each item, DiPiazza said Cuties were the first branded Mandarin in the U.S. market and remain a leading brand in the category. In fact, he said Cuties, with their easy-to-peel skins, have driven the growth of the Mandarin category in the United States to the point where it exceeds all other citrus sales.
Sun Pacific has increased its acreage of Cuties and expects the volume to rise each year for the foreseeable future. Cuties are available in five-pound boxes, and three- and five-pound bags
Mighties, DiPiazza said, invigorated the kiwi category when they were introduced in the 2014-15 season, driving 14 percent growth for the total U.S. kiwi category and capturing 78 percent share of branded kiwi. Sun Pacific has significantly increased its kiwi acreage and is expecting volume growth every year for the next decade. By 2025, the firm expects to produce 70 percent of the North American kiwi supply.
Again, he said this product has been introduced in thousands of U.S. stores and it’s time to achieve greater reach in Canada. Mighties are available in one-, two-, three- and four-pound clamshell packages.
The newest branded item for Sun Pacific is its Vintage Sweets oranges. DiPiazza said these oranges are a high Brix, heirloom Navel oranges, debuting in 2016 in both the U.S. and Canadian markets. The firm expects Vintage Sweet to do for Navel oranges what Cuties and Mighties have done in their fruit categories.
The Sun Pacific president said that like the other branded products of the firm, Vintage Sweets will provide “a great customer experience, which is what Canadian and U.S. retailers are looking for.”
The product combines a curated growing process with sensory testing to ensure just the right characteristics for a delicious eating experience. Vintage Sweets are available in standard cartons, as well as three-pound Giro bags and a six-count shrink-wrapped tray.
Sun Pacific also provides a wide range of grape varietals in customized packaging, Navel oranges and lemons under the Air Chief brand, as well as Valencia oranges, grapefruit, Cara Cara and blood oranges, Minneola tangelos, avocados, and both round and Roma tomatoes.
“Our commitment to retailers goes beyond our products,” DiPiazza said. “We work to form long-term, trusted partnerships that include customized marketing programs, in-store training and support, and customer service to ensure a produce program is thriving. We are excited to be expanding that dedication to new partnerships with Canadian retailers.”