view current print edition




PF-Georgia Update-1-14Feb2018

Mild weather this winter has sparked a fury of activity at the site of Pure Flavor’s greenhouse project in Fort Valley, GA. Ground leveling completed in late fall led to a smooth start of construction of the company’s new 75-acre high-tech greenhouse facility in Peach County.

Over the course of the last few weeks, once post holes were dug and back filled, Dutch greenhouse builder Havecon began erecting the main structure with full scale implementation now under way. From a timing standpoint, the project is on track for completion by late summer with the first crop of tomatoes and seedless cucumbers to be planted shortly thereafter.

“Building a high-tech greenhouse in Georgia was part of our growth strategy to extend our reach across North America. Being strategically located in Peach County allows us in some instances to have same day and next day deliveries in the Southeast region,” said Matt Mastronardi, executive vice president.PF-Georgia Update-1-14Feb2018

Pure Flavor researched more than 400 sites throughout North America before settling on Peach County, GA. The 75-acre greenhouse project broke ground in September 2017 and will be built in three phases, each 25 acres. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in late summer.

“Greenhouse tomatoes and seedless cucumbers grown in Georgia will help breathe new life in to the category,” Mastronardi added. “It will help our retail and foodservice partners in the region to have fresher product on store shelves while maintaining consistent quality and availability year-round. In the end, it is the consumer who will benefit from great product grown in the state of Georgia.”

“We are connecting our customers with the project in every way possible with frequent updates via social media, the photo gallery and video stories shot by drone,” said Chris Veillon, chief marketing officer.

A custom website was built just before the groundbreaking in September 2017 to announce the project, the page now serves as the central resource for everything to do with the Georgia project.

“A connected customer is an informed customer, and we can’t wait to get our first plants in the greenhouse later this summer,” Veillon said, adding that Pure Flavor expects the first crops to be picked in early fall.

Pure Flavor will be exhibiting at the upcoming Southern Exposure Trade Show & Convention in Tampa, FL. Visitors are encouraged to visit booth No. 605 to learn more about the Georgia project.

Retail partners and consumers can follow the progress in photos of the Georgia greenhouse construction on a weekly basis by visiting the Pure Flavor Georgia photo gallery.

Avocados From Mexico's Fanwich campaign will be launched for its fourth consecutive year, running Feb. 26 through March 30.

Designed to drive excitement and avocado consumption during the college basketball season, Avocados From Mexico will inspire shoppers to turn ordinary sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs into something extraordinary with guac mashes, fueling their basketball viewing experience.afmlogo

The Fanwich program will be promoted through a variety of marketing efforts, including Avocados From Mexico partnering with Smithfield Bacon and Anytime Favorites Ham as they provide the perfect solution to maximize the flavor of any handheld meal with recipes for delicious guac mashes, toppings and spreads.

“Game days are the times for fans to come together to root for their favorite team, and this experience usually includes a great spread of delicious dishes, including sandwiches, burgers and more,” said Maggie Bezart-Hall, vice president of trade and promotion, AFM. “By leveraging our high volumes of avocados following the big game, we intend to strengthen and expand the core usage of Avocados From Mexico on handhelds this college basketball season.”

The No. 1 selling avocado brand in the U.S. is driving consumption with a nationally-integrated shopper program, including dynamic in-store displays, big consumer savings, and digital support. AFM’s eye-catching display bins and signage will serve to showcase how Avocados From Mexico is the key to adding flavor to sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and other handheld game day bites. Its robust paid social program features Facebook and Instagram posts, allowing AFM to connect with Fanwich Fanatics anywhere. The campaign continues online as avo-lovers can learn more about the Fanwich program and discover some delicious avo-recipes and how-to videos at Consumers can also save big this campaign with a digital consumer savings offer of $1.50 off purchases of Avocados From Mexico and Smithfield via

AFM is also making it easy for retailers to promote the campaign by offering support through various merchandising options and retail-specific programming. NewsAmerica Elements will include standard FloorTalk merchandising and a ShelfTalk Tear Pad featuring a recipe for a delectable bacon, avocado and ham sandwich and an avocado dijonnaise spread. To build brand awareness and presence, 2,000 Kroger, Supervalu, Wakefern and Albertsons division stores will highlight the Fanwich promotion through ShelfTalk and FloorTalk merchandising options.

Taking efforts a step further, Avocados From Mexico is helping shoppers elevate their game day sandwiches this college basketball season by creating flavor-packed sandwich combinations with Smithfield’s. By engaging shoppers with easy, holistic game day solutions, like mouthwatering guac mashes with Smithfield Bacon and Anytime Favorites Ham, AFM is promoting the consumption of Avocados From Mexico, while driving basket ring for retailers.

AFM will also be holding its Annual National Retail Display Contest, in which retailers can win big by using AFM Fanwich POS or display items creatively. Twenty creative retailers will be awarded a prize pack valued at $2,000, which could potentially include a tablet, smartwatch, fitness tracker, headphones, speakers, gift cards for special events, travel, dining or video game system and more. To enter, retailers must use at least three pieces of AFM Fanwich POS or display items, simply photograph their display creation and submit online at by March 30. Winners will be chosen based on creative usage of AFM Fanwich promotional pieces and overall display look.

Stemilt Growers is inviting parents to shine the spotlight on their witty children through a nationwide video and story-sharing contest called Snappiest Lil Snappers. The digital contest is reaching parents via their favorite social channels and reinforcing Stemilt’s popular Lil Snappers brand of kid-sized apples and pears.Lil-Snappers-Contest

“The Snappiest Lil Snappers Contest is a unique way to reach parent consumers and tap into what they love to talk and share most about — their kids,” said Brianna Shales, communications manager at Stemilt. “We’re encouraging video or written submissions of those witty, or snappy things kids say and emphasizing the Lil Snappers brand throughout in order to continue building awareness for these healthy, kid-sized fruits.”

Lil Snappers kid-size fruit hit markets in 2011 and quickly became a popular produce item for parent consumers around the country. The smaller-sized fruit provided kids favorable portion sizes in the flavorful varieties they love. Today, Lil Snappers includes a full line of three-pound pouch bags of various apple or pear varieties, and an entire line of Lil Snappers Artisan Organics apples and pears. With wide distribution, Stemilt created the consumer contest as another method that brings the Lil Snappers brand to a national scale.

To enter, consumers need to complete a quick form, and either upload a video or share a story about their Snappiest Lil Snapper by 11:59 PT, March 1 here for their chance to win. Stemilt will then be selecting 11 winners for a chance to win a Visa gift card. The grand prize winner will receive a $1,000 Visa gift card, second place will receive a $500 Visa gift card, four third place winners will receive $250 Visa gift cards and five fourth place winners will receive $100 Visa gift card.

Shales and the Stemilt team are also using various public relation efforts, including influencers, social media and advertising to build up the contest. “We are using social media to help push the contest and working with some great influencers to help reach parents in key market areas,” said Shales. One example of the influencer work isa postby Ashley from A Party of Four blog. She created two delicious and healthy Apple Cookie recipes using Lil Snappers Piñata apples and also shared contest details with her loyal following.

With Lil Snappers garnering attention on social channels, Shales encourages retailers to make sure this excitement carries over into the produce department. The company can provide social assets for partner retailers, and has a number of merchandising options to promote this brand and sell more Lil Snappers in stores.

Gourmet’s Finest is shouting out “Get Ready to Crumble” with its new Gourmet Mushroom Crumble, a blend of fresh white and various brown mushrooms.D85 2683 preview

Alan Kleinman, sales and business development manager for the Avondale, PA-based mushroom producer, told The Produce News that the new item is being rolled out now.

“Gourmet’s Finest has partnered with Atlanta-based Maxwell Chase, which manufactures packaging solutions that improve quality and extend the shelf life of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, for this special pack,” said Kleinman. “The patented technology is built into the bottom of the tray, and it has the ability to absorb any moisture the product throws off.”

Gourmet Mushroom Crumble is a perfect fit with the Mushroom Council’s The Blend initiative, which encourages blending chopped mushrooms with meat proteins for higher nutrition, lower costs and better flavor.

“The result is a slime-free fresh crumbled mushroom product, and the mushrooms stay crumbly,” Kleinman pointed out. It also has the added benefit of a longer shelf life — from 10 to 12 days — because there is less condensation on the product.”

Several mushroom producers have introduced fresh chopped mushrooms in recent years, but almost all are frozen. This is because once washed and chopped, mushrooms tend to leak a lot of moisture.

“Gourmet Mushroom Crumble is available in an eight-ounce retail package, a 32-ounce club store package and a pair of five-pound tubs or trays for foodservice operators,” noted Kleinman.

“We’re now in the process of testing the item for a national foodservice company,” he continued. “And we’re readying ourselves for a retail push after having done a lot of testing on the package.”

Tops Markets LLC is pursuing a financial restructuring in order to eliminate a substantial portion of debt from the company’s balance sheet. Tops stores across the company’s portfolio in upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and Vermont are continuing to serve customers with no impact to day-to-day operations. The company fully expects operations to continue as normal throughout this financial restructuring process.tops

To implement the financial restructuring, the company elected to file for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. Tops is working cooperatively with certain holders of more than 65 percent of its senior secured notes due 2022 and is continuing constructive discussions.

Tops has received a commitment for a $125 million debtor-in-possession term loan financing facility from certain noteholders and a $140 million DIP asset based revolving loan from Bank of America N.A., which are expected to support the company’s continued operations during the court-supervised restructuring process.

The company has filed a number of customary motions seeking court authorization to continue to support its business operations during the court-supervised restructuring process, including the continued payment of employee wages and benefits without interruption. The company intends to pay vendors and suppliers in full under normal terms for goods and services provided after the filing date of Feb. 21, 2018. Tops expects to receive court approval for all of these requests.

“Tops has built strong market share and our stores continue to distinguish themselves by offering quality products at affordable prices with superior customer service,” said Frank Curci, chief executive officer of Tops. “We believe the financing that we received from our noteholders is a vote of confidence in our business. Our operations are strong and we have an outstanding network of stores and a talented team to support them. We are now undertaking a financial restructuring, through which we expect to substantially reduce our debt and achieve long-term financial flexibility. This will enable us to invest further in our stores, create an even more exceptional shopping experience for our customers and compete more effectively in today’s highly competitive and evolving market.”

Curci continued, “We are continuing to provide our customers the convenience, savings and friendly service that they expect from us. Our priorities, values and commitments to our customers and our communities will not change. On behalf of everyone at Tops, we thank our customers for their continued support and look forward to ensuring that their every need is met. I also want to thank our 14,262 employees and associates for their continued hard work and dedication.”