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To-Jo launching value-added foodservice products at PMA Foodservice Expo

Paul Frederic, senior vice president of sales and marketing for To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms Inc. in Avondale, PA, told The Produce News that company officials will be representing To-Jo Mushrooms at the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference & Exposition in Monterey, CA, July 29-31. The company will be exhibiting at booth number 49.

In attendance on behalf of the firm in addition to Mr. Frederic will be Tony D’Amico, president; Todd Kostka, sales and marketing specialist; and Pete Wilder, director of business development.

“We will have our full lines of fresh and prepared mushroom products at this year’s show,” said Mr. Frederic. “And we are showcasing three new line extensions to our prepared mushroom line. They are Asian sesame mushrooms, red wine and olive oil marinated mushrooms, and our all-natural prepared mushrooms. These products are fully prepared. Consumers simply heat and serve.”

Asian sesame marinated mushrooms combine fresh and fully prepared mushrooms with a sweet and tangy Asian sauce made with sesame oil, sesame seeds, garlic and soy. It is a great way to add an Asian flair to proteins in stir-fries and grilled or steamed vegetables in minutes.

To-Jo’s all-natural quick-blanched mushrooms offer foodservice operators high quality, flavor and convenience in a natural way. The item is packed with a newly formulated brine for improved flavor. An extended shelf life of six months is ensured through the use of an all-natural preservative system.

Red wine and olive oil vinaigrette marinated mushrooms combine fresh and fully prepared mushrooms with a marinade of red wine vinegar and olive oil. Added spices and herbs enrich the marinade, making the item great for salads and side-dish offerings.

“These items are all in the process of being launched and will be presented at the show,” said Mr. Frederic. “Our goal is to develop new value-added products to extend our line, and the three new items are packaged for the foodservice industry. Customized pack options are available.”

He added that the Asian sesame mushroom item will be sampled at the expo.

“To-Jo is proud to be a co-sponsor of the 30th Anniversary Opening Reception at the event,” said Mr. Frederic. “Several of our products will be incorporated in menu items that will be served at the reception.”

Approximately half of To-Jo Mushrooms’ business is with the foodservice industry, mainly casual-type restaurants, but it extends to high-end white-tablecloth restaurants and national quick-serve chains. The company ships its products primarily east of the Mississippi River and along the East Coast. Its prepared and processed products are shipped nationally and into Canada.

Mr. Frederic said that the weakened economy has caused some chefs and buyers to make changes to both how they buy and what they use as ingredients in their dishes.

“Operators are looking to cut costs and find cost-effective options that decrease labor and waste without hindering flavor,” he said. “There also seems to be a greater focus on healthy, fresh and natural options.”

Mr. Wilder joined the company on May 1, 2011. He is responsible for developing sales with national and emerging restaurant chains for To-Jo’s lines of value-added processed mushroom products. Prior to joining To-Jo, he was with the Produce Marketing Association as its business development, sponsorship and advertising sales manager.

“Peter brings a unique combination of skills and experience in business development to To-Jo,” said Mr. Frederic. “We welcome him to our organization, and we know he will have a remarkable impact on the development of our national chain-account business.”

In a June 13 press release, Mr. D’Amico announced that the company has achieved its SQF 2000 Level 3 certification. “The SQF Level 3 certification is a reflection of our commitment to the continuous improvement of our food safety and food quality management systems,” Mr. D’Amico said in the release. “This has been a major opportunity for learning and the growth of our entire team and has involved continuing training and education because all of our employees at every level have a major impact on safety, quality and the ultimate satisfaction of our customers. We are extremely proud to join other SQF-certified suppliers who share our commitment to implementing world-class standards for food safety and food quality.”

The company will be introducing a new microwavable mushroom product in the near future, Mr. Frederic said: traditional sautéed mushrooms. “The item can be prepared in less than four minutes.”