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Produce Mom promotes school salad bars on Indy TV

The ever-active “Produce Mom”, Lori Taylor was scheduled to raise awareness for the national school salad bar initiative on live Indianapolis television on Aug. 21. According to a press release on that morning, Taylor was slated for the IndyStyle program on WISH-TV 8.

Taylor is The Produce Mom for The Produce Mom LLC, which is a subsidiary of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.

2014-3-18-1357-Indy-Fruit Participating in a Produce for Better Health event in Scottsdale, AZ, on March 18 were Lori Taylor, The Produce Mom, Indianapolis, and Antonia Mascari, marketing manager of Indianapolis Fruit Co., Inc.The press release noted that to date, 2,800 schools nationwide have received salad bars through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative. Taylor refers the industry to for information on sponsoring a salad bar.

“Our industry is uniquely positioned to stem the tide of the national health epidemic while inspiring the next generation of produce consumers. The Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative highlights this commitment to combat childhood obesity through improving child nutrition. That’s why I’m honored to be assisting Hilary Martin of Frey Farms, the United Fresh Midwest Salad Bar Captain, in the industry push for salad bar placement in Indiana Schools,” Taylor indicated.

She also noted, “If you’re part of the produce industry, then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the tremendous potential that bringing salad bars to schools has for this country. Salad bars are popular with students and make it easy for schools to serve a wide variety of fresh produce. They empower kids to make their own healthy choices and create excitement about trying new fruits and vegetables.”



Kragie: Orderly marketing will ensure retail, consumer satisfaction with kiwifruit

Chris Kragie, vice president of Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc. in Madera, CA, is urging California kiwifruit growers to hold off on their harvests until the fruit reaches a soluble solids content of 7.0, thereby ensuring the best product quality for retailers and a good eating experience for consumers. Conditions, he went on to say, should be optimal for California kiwifruit toward the end of September.

Kragie urges retailers to continue moving imported fruit at this time from sources they trust. “To ensure fruit quality and consumer acceptance, we believe in orderly marketing as the best strategy,” he told The Produce News. “We feel you should stay with the fruit from any country that will give this commodity a great tasting fruit and, in turn, will ensure trust and repeat business from the consumer.

01-Kiwi-WesternFresh-Chris-Chris Kragie, vice president of Western Fresh Marketing Services Inc. in Madera, CA“When the industry is buying kiwi from any country, they should ask if this fruit was picked and packed under proper conditions and not forced to ripen by gas before the fruit has reached high enough sugar content to ensure consumer acceptance,” he continued. “If not, the fruit will never ripen, meet a level of sugars that will ensure good taste, and overall will shrivel. Our opinion on gassing fruit is the sugars aren’t high enough to gas until late September, but we feel it best to wait until mid-October.”

Global kiwifruit dynamics are complicated, and the industry is currently facing a host of supply-side challenges. “There is such a shortage of kiwi worldwide,” Kragie stated.

Western Fresh has a branch office in Santiago, Chile and imports kiwifruit from mid-March through mid-September. “We had a major freeze in Chile,” Kragie commented. Data, he stated, reveal that overall kiwi shipments from Chile to the United States are down 65 percent.

The quality of product being imported by Western Fresh from Chile is good and holding well in storage. According to Kragie, in normal production years, the rejection rate on arrival is typically 5 to 7 percent. “This year, it’s been 2 percent,” he noted.

In addition to the freeze, vines in Chile were also attacked by Psa, a pathogenic bacterium. While growers have replanted vines, Kragie said it will take two to three years of recovery for more normal production to begin. Typically, growers can harvest a minimal crop three years after new vines are planted. Normal production occurs in the fourth and fifth years.

Globally, production is also down in New Zealand.

Turning to California, Kragie said water shortages in and south of Sacramento are affecting kiwifruit production. “California is short on water,” he stated. “This is putting stress on the vines.”

He expects overall volume marketed this season will be down approximately 10 percent, tracking statewide trends.

Western Fresh is looking at Sept. 28 as the first pick and pack date. As for the first pack out of California, he said, “Ten percent of the crop will move to fill worldwide pipelines.” As dry as the global pipeline is, Kragie added, “We’ve got to make it last into April before Chile starts.”

The company will have year-round kiwifruit supplies available. “We will stay ahead of the curve to ensure a great eating fruit for our loyal customers and consumers,” Kragie said.


Michigan Apple Committee announces official crop estimate for 2014

Michigan’s apple growers will harvest approximately 28.74 million bushels of apples this year, according to the official crop estimate announced Aug. 22 at the USApple Outlook meeting in Chicago. This estimate is in line with the 2013 crop, which was a record size crop of 30 million bushels.

“Michigan’s growers, packers and shippers are ready to get their apples into the marketplace this fall,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, who was in attendance at the USApple announcement in Chicago. “We are hearing from consumers that they can’t wait to crunch into their first Michigan Apple of the season,”

The predicted crop size would be one of the largest apple crops Michigan has seen. Last year, Michigan broke records with a 30 million bushel crop. Michigan is the second largest producer of apples in the United States, behind Washington.

“Many factors have contributed to this large crop,” said Smith. “Great weather this past spring and summer, including cool nights, plenty of rain as well as a good amount of sunshine certainly helped. Of course, the hard work of our apple industry always plays an important role.”

The estimate is showing what many in Michigan’s apple industry have been predicting for several years. The average Michigan apple crop size will continue to increase.

“With high-density plantings (approximately 1,000 trees per acre) and advancements in technology, Michigan is going to continue to produce a larger quantity of apples. We are also seeing great quality and size,” Smith said.

The USApple Outlook meeting’s estimate is the only official national crop estimate this year, as the federal sequester eliminated the United States Department of Agriculture’s estimate in 2013. The estimate will be important for Michigan as apples are one of the state’s largest and most valuable fruit crops.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded nonprofit organization devoted to marketing, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit


National Mango Board encourages 'Ripe and Ready to Eat' mango program

The National Mango Board is moving forward with its Ripe and Ready to Eat mango program — a program aimed to provide U.S. consumers with a quality fruit that is ripe and ready to eat by the time of purchase. The NMB has done extensive research that shows that ripe fruit has higher acceptance rates within consumers.

The RRTEMP gives mangos a marketing advantage, eliminating the obstacle of consumers purchasing fruit short of its desired ripeness level, thus providing high-quality fruit. To identify a high-quality eating mango, the NMB has developed minimum maturity indices, proper fruit ripening protocols and fruit sensory descriptions to attract and satisfy consumers. Proper mango temperature management is one of the most important elements in order to have a quality ripe fruit that is ready for consumers to enjoy.

“Appropriate temperature management is an important component to improve consumers’ mango eating experience and knowing the opportunities of improvement is beneficial to the industry. Consumers continue to tell us they do not know when a mango is ripe,” said NMB Executive Director William Watson. “Our mango ripening program is designed to provide tools for the industry to consider if they want to develop their own ripening system. We have seen considerable growth of many other commodities that have been packed and shipped through a ripening program. There is still much more research to do but feel we are on the right path.”

After extensive research, the NMB in conjunction with the University of California Davis (Department of Plant Science), the University of Florida (IFAS Center for Food and Distribution and Retailing), Universidad del Valle in Guatemala and INIFAP in Mexico, developed a Mango Handling and Ripening Protocol. The Mango Handling and Ripening Protocol is designed to help improve mango handling practices in the United States, leading to better quality mangos, greater consumer acceptance and higher mango sales. Topics covered in the protocol include: Mango Maturity and Ripeness, Mango Temperature Management, Mango Storage and Transportation, and Mango Handling and Merchandising at the Store.

The NMB hosted a Mango Ripening Webinar on August 20, that expanded in detail each of the topics covered on the Mango Handling and Ripening Protocol. Speakers included Dennis Kihlstadius from Produce Technical Services and Wendy McManus, retail program manager at the NMB. During the webinar, the experts provided best practices and recommendations for stores and distribution centers that included improving temperature management at all distribution levels during transportation and storage, as well as mango displays at store level.

For more information on mango handling best practices, visit

For a copy of the mango Handling and Ripening Protocol, visit

The Mango Ripening Webinar is also available to view at



Northwest pear growers forecast larger crop than originally expected

With harvest currently underway, representatives of the Northwest pear industry have officially updated their initial projections for the 2014 fresh pear crop yield.

Reports of a crop of excellent quality have been confirmed from all corners of the pear-growing regions in Washington and Oregon, and the updated projection is showing a crop larger than previously forecast in the spring.

The revised estimate points to more than 20.2 million standard 44-pound box equivalents (or 445,144 tons) of pears for the fresh market. This estimate is 2 percent larger than the five-year average, and 6 percent smaller than last year's record crop. The Northwest pear industry's initial spring projection showed a crop of 18.7 million boxes.

Harvest began in late July with the Starkrimson and Bartlett pear varieties. Anjou, Red Anjou, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle and Seckel will be picked from late August through mid-October. No significant weather issues have affected the crop to date.

The top three varieties in terms of production remain the same as in previous years: Green Anjou pears are anticipated to make up 53 percent of the total 2014 crop, while Bartlett and Bosc pears are expected to yield 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

The updated estimates for the organic portion of the Northwest pear crop have increased proportionally, showing a total of 976,780 standard 44-pound box equivalents (21,489 tons) of organic pears in the 2014 harvest. This is an increase of about 3 percent when compared to the 2013 record organic crop, and a 16.6 percent increase over the five-year average.

"Compared to last year's record crop, this crop is more consistent with the five-year average," Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Pear Bureau Northwest, said in a press release. "We're looking forward to another crop of excellent quality and fruit size to meet the demands of the domestic and export markets. Our representatives across North America and around the world have a full season of promotions in place to help boost sales, and we're looking forward to working with our retail partners in another successful pear season."