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Kroger donates 50 million pounds of fresh food

kroggeeThe Kroger Co. donated more than 50 million pounds of fresh meat, produce, dairy and bakery items to local Feeding America food banks in 2013 through its groundbreaking Perishable Donations Partnership — enough bread, meat, cheese and produce to lay 3,700 miles of Kroger's classic deli sandwiches side-by-side from Washington, DC, through Houston to southern Oregon.

This also equates to more than 25,000 tons of perishable food waste diverted away from landfills and incinerators last year.

Coinciding with Hunger Action Month, Feeding America's month-long campaign to inspire individuals to take action to help end hunger in their communities, Kroger is raising awareness about food insecurity with customers and associates throughout September through social media, store signage and more.

Kroger's Fred Meyer division pioneered the Perishable Donations Partnership about 10 years ago. Stores partnered with local food banks in the Pacific Northwest to collect fresh food and properly store it so it could be quickly shipped to reach hungry families. Kroger adopted Fred Meyer's model and worked with Feeding America to develop food-safety and quality control standards, and trained associates to facilitate the program in their stores.

Scaled across Kroger's family of stores beginning in 2008, Kroger's Perishable Donations Partnership program depends on store associates taking the time every day to identify meat, produce, dairy and bakery items that can no longer be sold yet remain safe, fresh and nutritious complements to dry goods donations to food banks.

"Our associates bring our Perishable Donations Program to life," Lynn Marmer, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs, said in a press release. "Every day in our stores, individual associates rescue healthy, nutritious fruits, vegetables and proteins to be quickly distributed to feed hungry families through Feeding America's network of food banks."

As a founding partner of Feeding America, one of the nation's larger domestic hunger agencies, Kroger has been engaged in the hunger relief effort for more than 30 years. Today, the Kroger family of stores has longstanding relationships with more than 100 local food banks. The company's total contribution to food banks exceeds 200 million meals annually — or 4 million meals every week — when combining perishable foods, dry goods and funds.

More information on Kroger's year-round effort to alleviate hunger is available at www.BringingHopeToTheTable.com.

New pouch bag for CMI's Sweet Gourmet Pears

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With the fresh pear crop now being harvested, CMI has announced the national rollout of its new pouch bag for Sweet Gourmet Pears. Introduced on a test basis last year, the bag proved to be a hit with consumers, invigorating growth for pears, a category that has seen a slow but steady decline over several years.   

Bosc-for-press“CMI saw an opportunity to reach convenience-oriented consumers with a new premium bag," Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, said in a press release. "For years the only packages available for retailers have been low-quality, discounted poly bags. We saw an opportunity to introduce a high-quality pouch bag to raise consumer expectations and increase transaction size for retailers. That’s exactly what we’ve done with our new Sweet Gourmet Pears pouch.”

Lutz said the pear category is ripe for the new CMI pouch bag. Retail data shows that only 10 percent of pear sales occur in bags compared to nearly 50 percent in the apple category.  “With the use of premium packaging trending upward in the produce department, our team was confident that the same consumer buying apples and other fruits in these bags would be equally interested in pears," he said in the release. "That’s exactly what we experienced when we tested the bags last winter.”  

According to Katharine Grove, marketing specialist for CMI, the test was conducted late last year when CMI worked with a large Eastern retailer to document consumer demand for the item but also to identify whether or not the new pouch bag lineup would cannibalize sales from existing bulk pears.  According to Grove, CMI anticipated there would be some drop in bulk sales, but overall there would be growth in the category.  “Results were astonishing," she said. "Not only were existing  bulk sales not affected, the Sweet Gourmet Pears test drove almost $900,000 in incremental dollars.”

Grove said part of the sales success seen with the Sweet Gourmet Pears program was a result of the educational and usage information included on the new bag: “Our design, inspired by the natural beauty of pears, accompanied with usage and education information, was a winner with consumers in test stores. Immediately after introduction in the test retailer, the Sweet Gourmet Pears pouch bag became the No. 2 selling item in the pear category. Our retail partner not only continued with the program but expanded it to include other pear varieties. ”

This season, CMI is launching the Sweet Gourmet Pears three-pound pouch bag in Bartlett and D’Anjou varieties in select stores across the United States. These new pouch bags have been designed to complement the existing Sweet Gourmet Pears program that is currently available in two-pound packages of Bartlett, D’Anjou, Red and Bosc pear varieties.

Colombia using PMA Fresh Summit to open doors for new business in United States

The Colombian Pavilion at the 2014 Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Exposition will feature new opportunities for popular products, including avocado, goldenberry (uchuva), pineapple, herbs and limes.

Visitors to the Colombia Pavilion will be able to meet with exporters as well as promotion representatives and learn more about the new developments allowing for successful export of these products.

In the case of goldenberry (also known as uchuva, physalis or Cape gooseberry), Colombia is now approved by authorities for entry into the United States without cold treatment from certain parts of the country.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has recognized the Bogota Savannah and parts of neighboring Boyacá and Cundinamarca departments above 2,200 meters as Medfly-free. The systems approach approved for this export scenario will allow Colombia exporters to ship a higher-quality, fresher product than those needing to be held in cold treatment. Goldenberry from Colombia is available year round.

Another development is the admissibility of Hass avocados from Colombia. The Colombian Hass avocado industry currently exports to Europe, and the industry continues to invest with the goal of expanding exports to the United States. Colombia's Hass avocado production runs from September to June, with peaks from October to January.

The Colombian Pavilion will also promote exports of established products like fresh herbs (basil, mint, cilantro, dill, thyme, bay leaves) pineapples (variety MD 2 Golden) and limes (Tahiti).

Colombia's long history of exporting flowers and fresh produce around the world coupled with extraordinary prime growing climates for specific products holds great promise for expanding sourcing deals for the United States. Country representatives will be on hand at Booth No. 4629 in Anaheim, CA, to discuss additional products and opportunities with interested parties.

Pink Ribbon Produce supports National Breast Cancer Foundation, promotes healthy lifestyles

This October, Pink Ribbon Produce will continue its partnership with big names in the grocery industry to support the fight against breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Harris Teeter, Meijer and Price Chopper have once again joined together to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation by welcoming customers to take the Fresh Plate Challenge. image003-4

The prevention campaign is designed to help spread awareness and support for NBCF and Pink Ribbon Produce, which promotes the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce the risk of many non-communicable diseases with a focus on breast cancer. 

With the use of social media, Pink Ribbon Produce encourages consumers to “Take the Fresh Plate Challenge” and fill half of their plate with fresh fruits and vegetables in order to lower their risk of cancer. A free Fresh Plate Challenge Guide is available at www.pinkribbonproduce.org.

“We are proud to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation as we enter our ninth year with Pink Ribbon Produce, and our second year encouraging the Fresh Plate Challenge,” Debbie Augustine, chief executive officer of AugustineIdeas, said in a press release. “This is a challenge that makes it easy for everyone to get involved in and benefit from no matter who you are.”

The Fresh Plate Challenge campaign utilizes the Pink Ribbon Produce website and social media channels to encourage and educate consumers to live healthier lifestyles while promoting awareness and support for breast cancer. The campaign will feature an Instagram photo contest and other interactive activities using hashtags #donateNBCF, #freshplate and #pinkribbon. Contest winners will receive a retailer gift card and a donation to NBCF in their name.

Pink Ribbon Produce provides shoppers with an easy way to give back to their communities and support efforts to find cures for breast cancer. By bringing together more than 500 Harris Teeter, Meijer and Price Chopper stores and their produce vendors, Pink Ribbon Produce has been able to raise over $409,000 for breast cancer research since 2006. Stores direct shoppers to the participating produce suppliers with a Pink Ribbon Produce program icon on posters and point-of-sale signs next to the product. Donations made by the produce partners support NBCF and goes back into the community by providing mammograms and educational programs to help save the lives of thousands of uninsured women.

For more information about Fresh Plate Challenge, Pink Ribbon Produce, their partners and ways to donate, please visit pinkribbonproduce.org or follow Pink Ribbon Produce on Twitter @PinkRibbon and become a fan at www.facebook.com/PinkRibbonProduce.

Taylor Farms issues voluntary recall for certain Safeway and Costco products

Taylor Farms has issued a voluntary recall of certain products shipped to Safeway and Costco due to possible Salmonella contamination. No illnesses have been reported.

As a result of routine testing, Taylor Farms Pacific Inc. of Tracy, CA, was notified that specific lots of “Expo Fresh” Roma tomatoes may be contaminated with Salmonella. The lot of Roma tomatoes was used in products made for Costco and Safeway and is being voluntarily recalled as a precautionary measure.

Only specific “use by” and “packed on” codes are affected:

  • Roma whole tomatoes packed on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6 that were shipped to Costco locations in Hawthorne, CA, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Lynwood and Tacoma, WA.
  • The Sicilian Vegetable Salad Kit with a use by date of Sept. 20 and Sept. 21 shipped to Safeway in Vons El Monte, CA, the Safeway Warehouse in Tracy, CA, and the Safeway Warehouse in Tempe, AZ.

The product was sold as “Sicilian Vegetable Salad” at deli counters in Safeway, Vons, and Pavilions stores in California, Nevada, and Arizona.