ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Agricultural interests across the Garden State gathered the first week in February for the 2014 New Jersey Agricultural Convention & Trade Show and the New Jersey State Agricultural Convention.
This was the third year that the annual State Agricultural Convention co-located with the annual conventions of the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey and the New Jersey Blueberry Association.This year also represented the first time that those groups were joined by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station of Rutgers University and the New Jersey Grain & Forage Association.
This year's combined event was taking place Feb. 4-6 at the Trump Taj Mahal, here.
The State Board of Agriculture held an open meeting Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 4, chaired by Robert A. Swanekamp Sr., president of that board.
One of the highlights for the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey took place later that evening when the association's annual auction raised about $3,770, according to Joseph Maugeri, the association's vice president. All proceeds went to the Coach Wags Memorial Foundation, which was founded in 2010 and whose sole mission is to help raise money and awareness for children battling cancer.
Another highlight came Wednesday morning, Feb. 5, when New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher delivered the annual State of the State of Agriculture address, who opened his remarks by stating, "2013 was, in many respects, a very good year for New Jersey agriculture."
A number of awards were also set to be presented during the course of the combined event.
Organizers of the inaugural Tour de Fresh announced the collaborative industry event bringing fresh produce companies together for a four-day cycling event that will benefit United Fresh’s Let’s Move Salad Bars to Midwest Schools campaign.
In the days leading up to the PMA Convention, fresh produce industry members of any skill level can travel 275 miles along the coast of California, starting in Carmel on Oct. 13 and finishing in Anaheim on Oct. 16.
Conceptualized by Cindy Jewell, California Giant Berry Farms director of marketing, and Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales, this not-for-profit event will not only unite companies, brands and people within the fresh produce industry, but also aims to raise a total of $84,750 to finance 30 salad bars.
“This is a way for our industry to organize an event that focuses on the very type of healthy activity and lifestyle choice that our products promote,” Jewell said in a press release. “Fresh produce growers, shippers, packers and vendors can all come together and show that we aren’t just talking about ways to live healthier, we are working to make it a reality.”
The Tour de Fresh event is currently accepting sponsors from all areas of the industry to cover operations and marketing costs. There are four limited-availability sponsorship levels: gold, silver, bronze and rider. Opportunities are available to join confirmed sponsors and riders from California Giant Berry Farms, Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers and FoodLink, as well as rider participants from Costco UK, Taylor Farms, Hannaford Brothers, CHEP and Crunch Pak.
“This event provides fresh produce companies with an incredible, multi-faceted marketing campaign,” Brock Nemecek, account manager at DMA Solutions, said in the release. “Sponsoring this event will not only elevate the Let’s Move campaign, but also provide a great nine-month promotional opportunity for those companies whose names will be included throughout all event marketing touch points.”
Companies interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact Brock Nemecek at 214/444-7454, Cindy Jewell at 831/728-1965 x258, or visit www.tourdefresh.com for more information. Once the full website is launched, it can be used by companies and individuals alike to make donations, support individual riders and their school beneficiaries, and download a training guide to prepare along with ride participants.
Tim O'Connor announced the formal launch of his marketing and strategy consulting group, Tim O'Connor & Associates, specializing in the fresh food industry.
"Food marketing is a highly competitive and all too often commoditized business," he said in a Feb. 4 press release. "Knowing who your target consumer is and how to connect your products with them is more important than ever before.Our expertise in these areas will enable us to provide our clients with marketing strategies and initiatives that can change the game — and deliver results."
The newly formed consulting group offers services that include the following:
O'Connor has enlisted a network of all-star associates with extensive experience in fresh food marketing, consumer research and packaging, from which he will draw on uniquely depending on each client's individual business needs.
This business model creates the utmost efficiency for clients, minimizing day-to-day overhead while enabling the deepest marketing bench strength available in the fresh food industry.
"My vision for this consultancy is to exceed client expectations by looking beyond the limitations of the traditional fresh food marketing playbook and designing a strategic, innovative new game plan grounded in consumer and retail insights," O'Connor added in the press release. "I am excited to launch this business and inspired about this phase of my career."
O'Connor's career spans 24 years as a fresh food marketing executive. Prior to starting his consulting group, he was selected as the initial chief executive officer of Avocados From Mexico. Before being recruited by AFM, he served as president and CEO of the U.S. Potato Board for 14 years, providing strategic leadership to the USPB's award-winning marketing programs.
Prior to being recruited by the USPB, he was Executive Vice President/CEO of the Illinois Beef Association for 12 years, where he was part of the teams that launched the "Beef. It's What's for Dinner" campaign and opened the Japanese market for U.S. beef exports.
O'Connor's experience includes advertising, public relations, international marketing, category management, new product development, packaging, issues management and consumer research.
O'Connor received bachelor's degree in agriculture from Western Illinois University, an MBA from the University of Illinois and has completed the Harvard Graduate School of Business Competition & Strategy Program.
Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc. named ValuMarket Supermarket in Louisville, KY, as the winner of its Del Monte Gold Extra Sweet Pineapple “Gold for Gold” national retail pirate display contest.
As the winner, ValuMarket will receive the grand prize award of a truckload of pineapple and an ounce of gold.
The grocer’s staff will be on hand Feb. 7 to receive the award as they will be recreating its pirate-themed event for the presentation and photo shoot.
The five-week "Gold for Gold" promotion, which began Oct. 28 and ended Nov. 29, encouraged U.S. and Canadian grocery shoppers to enjoy Del Monte Gold extra sweet pineapples and participate in the sweepstakes housed on Facebook.
To entice consumers to the Del Monte Gold in-store pineapple displays, retailers were encouraged to participate in a pirate display competition — tying into the tropical nature of the golden fruit.
"We designed this promotion to create excitement about our pineapple even during a normally slow sales period," Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing-North America for Del Monte Fresh, said in a September press release that announced the contest.
The Washington State Potato Commission and the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee made sure that food banks in their respective states are the true winners of this year’s Super Bowl. Last week, both organizations agreed to a friendly wager on the outcome of the NFL’s championship game. The bet was that for every point scored in Sunday’s game, 500 pounds of potatoes would be donated to a food bank in the city of the winning team by the organization from the state that was home to the losing squad.
Based on the Seahawks' 43-8 victory and a total of 51 points being scored in the game, CPAC will be sending 25,500 pounds of potatoes to a food bank in Seattle. However, the WSPC has decided to match the donation so both cities will find themselves victorious.
“In the end it isn’t about who won or loss, it is about supporting food banks in each city in an effort to help families in need make ends meet,” WSPC Executive Director Chris Voigt said in a press release. “So we will provide an identical donation of 25,500 pounds of potatoes so that way food banks in both Denver and Seattle can assist people in their communities.”
“We might have been hoping for a different team to win the game, but we are delighted that the total score will allow for such a sizeable donation to food banks in both cities,” CPAC’s Executive Director Jim Ehrlich said in the release. “In the end I’m glad that food banks will be the true winners of the game.”
Both organizations will be working with local food banks in their areas to arrange for the delivery of potatoes in the upcoming weeks. It is estimated that this will provide more than 76,500 servings of potatoes to people within both communities who rely on support from food banks.
Another layer of the bet that Colorado added to the challenge was to have the executive director from the state with the losing team make a trip to the winning team’s city. While in that city they will help with a potato promotion of the winning state’s potatoes.
The WSPC will be soliciting ideas on their Facebook page of ideas of promotional activities that Ehrlich will need to conduct while on his trip to Seattle to promote Washington state potatoes. "We need the 12th Man to come up with some creative ideas that Colorado will have to do to help promote our Washington potatoes," it said.
Established in 1956, the mission of the WSPC is to support an economically and environmentally sustainable Washington state potato industry by providing strong leadership and innovation and building partnerships to meet the demands of global consumers.
For more information about the WSPC, Washington potatoes or other general inquiries please visit www.potatoes.com or call 509/765.8845.