your-news image

Shuman Peruvian program thriving; new mandatory ship date bodes well for Vidalia deal

Shuman Produce Inc. of Reidsville, GA, has seen its Peruvian onion deal grow in the last few years to become one of the industry’s largest, and the company also grows in California, Idaho, Texas, Chile and Mexico. But the Vidalia is still the crown jewel of the company’s program, and President John Shuman believes the new mandatory ship date established recently by the Georgia Department of Agriculture will make his program and the industry stronger.

“Being born and raised in the Vidalia sweet onion industry, we have a very good understanding of the product and what we’re trying to deliver to the consumer,” Shuman said. “We grew up around the best sweet onion out there and we understand fully what it should look like and taste like, so we’ve gained experience over the years cultivating and bringing to market these varieties.”

ShumanshumanShuman Produce’s ‘RealSweet’ brand onions. (Photo courtesy of Shuman Produce)Though there is indeed demand for early season Vidalias, research has not been able to keep pace. Over the last decade or more that has led to lower quality product to kick of the Vidalia onion season each year. Starting in 2014, no grower can pack or ship Vidalias before 12:01 a.m. on the Monday of the last full week of April each year, which will be April 21 for the upcoming season.

“It’s important to remember all of us have the best interests of the Vidalia industry at heart, but I do feel in an effort to extend the season there’s been too much focus put on early varieties,” Shuman said. “Demand from the industry has driven seed companies to spend more time and effort to develop early varieties and there has been progress in that area. But it hasn’t come fast enough or timely enough, those early varieties simply don’t exhibit the characteristics of a Vidalia onion. We’ve got to protect the brand.”

The early start has also sometimes resulted in Vidalia growers coming up short on retail deals, which typically run four-to-six weeks ahead of any promotion, due to weather-related problems.

If retailers “have an early April go date in Vidalia, you’re looking at making that commitment in early March,” Shuman said. But at that time of year in Georgia, “you’ve got four-to-six weeks of very wild fluctuations in weather.”

This year, most of the months of March and April were cooler and wetter than normal in Georgia “and the crop just would not finish,” Shuman said.

“Long term, the mandatory pack date is going to be a great benefit to the industry,” Shuman said. “It’s going to give retailers confidence it’s time to go to market. It’s going to relieve a little of that early season market pressure. It’s going to give seed companies confidence and time to focus on improving early varieties. And finally, it’s going to give the consumer confidence. We’re going to put a better product on the market.”

C&S Wholesale Grocers has appointed Christopher Brown as senior vice president of independent sales, effective Sept. 29. According to the company, this appointment underscores C&S’s commitment to its independent customers and reflects its plans to continue to grow its independent business. “It is incredibly exciting to be joining a company like C&S... Read more
POM Wonderful launches new Antioxidant Super Teas
POM Wonderful, a leading premium refrigerated juice company and purveyor of pomegranates, is powering up the produce aisle with new Antioxidant Super Teas. The new line includes Pomegranate Lemonade Tea, Pomegranate Sweet Tea and Pomegranate Honey Green Tea. POM's top-selling Pomegranate Peach Passion White Tea will join the new Antioxidant Super Teas with a... Read more
Tarheel 2014 sweet potato harvest will be back to normal
BENSON, NC — North Carolina's sweet potato harvest, still in full swing at mid-September, is back to normal, and none too soon. After two years in a row of below-average acreage planted due to weather, the 2014 crop is growing on 66,000 acres. That's the USDA estimate cited by Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission,... Read more
Veg-Fresh Farms expands portfolio, launched Crystal Cove Berry Farms label
Following the recent opening of its new distribution facility and the addition of a long-time fresh berry expert, Veg-Fresh Farms announced the expansion of its business and the launch of the new consumer label, Crystal Cove Berry Farms. Sourcing strawberries from throughout Mexico and California's fertile berry-growing regions, Crystal Cove Berry Farms will... Read more
If conditions remain as expected, Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. believes the 2014 global industry cranberry crop will be between 11.2-11.6 million barrels, down from the 2013 global industry record crop of 12 million barrels. The company expects its grower-owners to deliver 6.6-7 million barrels, which is down from the 7.2 million barrels delivered in 2013. Ocean... Read more
Hot summer brings full flavor to Sunlight’s fall harvest
It’s a non-stop harvest in the vineyards as Jakov P. Dulcich & Sons’ Green and Red Emerald, Scarlet Royal, Autumn Royal, Autumn King, Luisco, Crimson, Vintage and Red Globe grape varieties are being picked and packed. Due to the hot summer, the brix are up, the crunch is strong and the taste is exceptional. “Overall, the grape eating quality is at premium... Read more
NMB announces Mango Mania Display Contest winners
The National Mango Board has announced the winners of the Mango Mania Display Contest and reports an increase of 138 percent mango volume among participating stores compared to the same time last year. The contest is designed to help stores boost mango sales, while showcasing creativity and educating shoppers about mangos. This year, for the first time, the... Read more
Chiquita Brands International Inc. and Fyffes plc have approved a revised agreement for the proposed combination of the companies. Under the terms of the amended agreement, Chiquita shareholders are expected to own approximately 59.6 percent of ChiquitaFyffes, an increase from 50.7 percent under the previous agreement. The companies have also increased the termination... Read more
Snack it Forward to launch Sunkist Fruit 2.0 at PMA Fresh Summit
Snack it Forward LLC announced the launch of Sunkist Fruit 2.0, a new line of natural and healthy freeze-dried fruit that will be unveiled by Snack it Forward under license from Sunkist Growers Inc. at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Oct. 17–19 in Anaheim, CA. Following Fresh Summit, Fruit 2.0 will be rolling out to grocery, convenience and... Read more
Caramel Naturel Dates 2014 fresh harvest under way
Atlas Produce and Distribution Inc., a shipper of 100 percent natural strictly California-grown dates, announced that the 2014 date harvest is under way. "The quality once again is looking excellent," Robert Dobrzanski, president of Atlas Produce, said in a press release. The California drought condition is a major concern for all of the agricultural community,... Read more
Crunch Pak to debut new products at PMA Fresh Summit
Crunch Pak, a sliced apples specialist, will debut several items at the 2014 PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim. Crunch Pak’s booth (No. 3084) will highlight the variety and scope of the company’s products available and feature its newest items, including the NBA Fit Snacker, which will be sold in Walmart stores this basketball season. NBA Fit Snackers contain sliced... Read more
Avocados from Mexico set to unveil 'Made with Love' campaign at PMA Fresh Summit
Avocados from Mexico will be sharing the love at the upcoming Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA. With over 1 billion pounds of imports in the United States and 70 percent market share, AFM will be unveiling its "Made with Love" campaign, which showcases the love and dedication that goes into carefully... Read more
Procacci Bros. expands tropical import program, launches new label
Procacci Bros. Sales Corp. announced the expansion of its tropical and ethnic produce program and the launch of its new "Feliz" premium brand of items. The company said it is seeking to increase its growth in the category in response to the changing demographics and demands of consumers in the United States. Procacci's operation will now include a strategic... Read more
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced up to $31.5 million in grants are available to test new ways to make fruits and vegetables more affordable to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants. News of the program launch drew immediate praise by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the United Fresh Produce Association. "Helping families... Read more
Beneficial rains over the Red River Valley in late August and early September were setting the stage for good harvest conditions of the region’s red potato crop. Ted Kreis, marketing and communications director of the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, MN, added that good harvest conditions, including a softening of the northern... Read more
Southern Roots holds reception at SEPC fall conference
YOUNG HARRIS, GA — The Southeast Produce Council launched its new leadership program for women in produce with a reception Friday afternoon, Sept. 26, during the council's annual fall conference, Sept. 25-27 at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, here in the scenic mountains of north Georgia. The program, called Southern Roots, was announced June 30 by the council... Read more
Former UFFVA president Bernie Imming dies at 94
Bernard Joseph Imming, the former president and chief executive officer of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, which is now known as the United Fresh Produce Association, died Sept. 23 at the age of 94. In April 1948, Mr. Imming was employed by the United Merchandising Institute in Kansas City, MO, as an instructor in retail merchandising. He... Read more
Fresh Solutions Network takes fresh approach to potato and onion sales
Potatoes and onions are seen as classic commodity crops by many growers, who place too much emphasis on growing and harvesting their products as inexpensively as possible so that they can sell at lower prices. While that approach may work for some, Fresh Solutions Network sees the equation differently. FSN feels that only focusing on squeezing down costs can... Read more
Wonderful pomegranate harvest begins
California pomegranate growers have confirmed that the popular Wonderful variety has now achieved the deep red color and high sugar for which it is justly famous. Tom Rouse at PomWonderful said that he has been patiently waiting for the Wonderful variety to reach maturity. "We expect promotable quantities in a full range of sizes, by Oct. 8-10," he said in... Read more
'Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You': Frieda's brings jackfruit to PMA Fresh Summit
A longtime PMA Fresh Summit exhibitor, Frieda's Specialty Produce challenges this year's attendees to "Eat One Fruit A Day That Scares You," and to try jackfruit, the scary-looking fruit that smells and tastes amazing. Samples of jackfruit will be available at Frieda's booth (No. 2830) both days of the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA, on Oct. 18-19. "Jackfruit... Read more