Sakata setting example during Calif. drought

Sakata Seed America is doing its part to go green and conserve water during the severe California drought. The drought has taken a huge toll on the entire state; however, it has hit both the agricultural and horticultural industries particularly hard. In response, Sakata has made it a priority to focus on ways to reduce their water usage and boost long-term sustainability for the future.

According to a study by the University of California-Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, “the drought is expected to be worse for California’s agricultural economy this year because of reduced water availability.WSH-5-12-15-VTA--Sakata-SeedTye Anderson Farmers will have 2.7 million acre-feet less surface water than they would in a normal water year — about 33 percent loss of water supply. Individual farmers will face losses of zero to 100 percent.”

In 2014, two main projects were completed to conserve water at the Morgan Hill, CA, office headquarters. First, 12,500 square feet of turf was removed and replaced with drought-tolerant plants and landscape coverage.  In addition, the overhead sprinklers were removed and replaced with a low-volume drip system. The estimated water savings for the 2014 updates totals to 300,000 gallons of water annually. For the remaining turf, complete irrigation updates were implemented, and over 275 sprinkler nozzles were upgraded to a weather track system, which reduces water when it’s not needed, resulting in an additional 50,000 gallons of water conserved annually.

This year, Sakata has already begun its next phase of water reduction. Thus far, 16,088 additional square footage of turf has been removed from the front of the company’s headquarters and replaced with a new, drought-resistance landscape and low-volume drip systems. And it doesn’t stop there, Sakata’s internal committee, GreenUp, which is solely dedicated to creating a greener work environment has a lot more in store for the future — some immediate plans for facility upgrades include water-saving restroom updates such as touchless faucets. In addition, the committee is distributing free shower buckets to all interested employees.

Sakata’s water conservation efforts have not gone unnoticed. In September 2014, Sakata was deemed the title of a Water Saving Hero and presented a plaque by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, which has been encouraging water conservation all over Santa Clara County with its Brown is the New Green campaign, which distributes free Brown is the New Green campaign lawn signs, shower buckets, moisture meters, shower timers, shower heads and hose nozzles for Santa Clara County residents.

“It’s part of our responsibility to the community and the industry to conserve water and lower our carbon footprint," Tye Anderson, senior logistics and operations manager for Sakata, said in a press release. "We are proud of our efforts thus far, but are determined to take it further and become a role model for other companies."

Sakata’s GreenUp committee’s future plans stretch far beyond lessening water usage and focus on sustainability as a whole. Long-term goals include such workplace additions as bike racks and charging stations for electric cars.

For more information on how you can help conserve water during the California drought, please visit:

Mann's adds Kalettes to retail lineup

Mann-Kalettes-6oz-bag-smMann Packing is adding Kalettes to its lineup of washed and ready-to-eat fresh vegetables. The retail offering is in a six-ounce bag.

Mann’s is one of six U.S. companies licensed to grow and sell Kalettes. The company started offering Kalettes to its foodservice customers in 2014, with expansion to retail in June.

Kalettes are a non-GMO vegetable developed through traditional hybridization. They have a great taste by combining the best flavors from kale and Brussels sprouts, resulting in a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty.

"With an appearance of a tiny cabbage with green frilly leaves and hints of purple, they are a versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed steamed, sautéed, roasted, grilled or eaten raw," Kim St. George, director of marketing and communications, said in a press release.

 “The retail demand for Kalettes is incredible with the increased popularity on restaurant menus, so the timing is right to offer this hot new vegetable to consumers so they can enjoy at home,” St. George said in the release.

CMI re-releases cherry display for retailers

With the main cherry-selling season under way, CMI is re-releasing its proprietary free standing, secondary display for supermarkets. The self-contained shipping unit is designed to help retailers leverage the unique impulse purchase power of cherries by adding incremental displays in supermarkets.CMI-Cherry-Shipper

“Secondary displays sell cherries,” Steve Castleman, senior vice president of sales at CMI, said in a press release. “Our supermarket sales data consistently shows us that when retailers add secondary displays of cherries there is an immediate impact on sales.”

According to Castleman, the industry promotion agency Northwest Cherry Growers conducted extensive store testing which reinforced the effects of adding secondary displays. “The industry research revealed a sales lift of up to 30 percent with secondary displays in test stores," he said. "It shows that a lot of quick-trip shoppers dashing through supermarkets often miss cherry displays in the produce department but are enticed to buy when they see cherries in unexpected locations in the store.”

Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing for CMI, described the display as “wonderfully unique” because it is one of the few fully contained secondary display units for cherries that can be shipped directly to stores packed with product.

“What retailers like about this display is the beautiful graphic header card with two cases of cherries shipped together in one unit,” Lutz said in the release. “This eliminates any worries about how to get both product and graphics out to stores since everything required for the display is shipped together.

“Secondary displays like this flat outsell cherries so the time is now,” said Lutz. “With the re-release of our window box display we’re able pack these units for retailers at no incremental up charge. It’s a solid opportunity for everyone.”

NatureSweet unveils new tomato variety

CHICAGO — In the tomato category, there is a penchant to go big — with larger varieties, such as Beefsteak types — or go small — with the ever-growing grape and cherry types that have found a niche as a snack item. But there are few options in between.

NatureSweet believes it will fill a void with its new mid-sized Jubilee tomato.

Mike Joergensen, vice president of marketing at NatureSweet, based in San Antonio, TX, said each Jubilee tomato yields several slices, making it the perfect sandwich tomato.

“When you slice a Beefsteak for a sandwich, you have at least half of the tomato left over,” he said. “That gets put into the refrigerator and it eventually gets thrown out. With the Jubilee, you use the whole tomato for a sandwich, so there is no waste.”

IMG 5415Mike Joergensen and Olivia Zaleski of NatureSweet promoted (l-r) Glory, Jubilee and Constellation tomato packs at United Fresh.Joergensen said fear of waste is one of the leading impediments to produce purchases among consumers. The size of the Jubilee is one way to alleviate some concern about waste, but the Jubilee packs also carry a “best by” date, with a guarantee of 21 days of shelf life.

“We know of no other tomatoes with a ‘best by’ date, so I believe this is a first for the category,” said Joergensen.

In addition to good shelf life, the Jubilee variety carries a high Brix level of at least 5.8, according to Joergensen.

Jubilee is available in a five-count retail pack as well as a 12-count club pack, which made its debut in May. Current marketing efforts are concentrated in the West, but Joergensen said he expects availability will be nationwide in six to 12 months.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Joergensen. “As a company, we’ve been working on this for the last seven years. While we are continuing to refine it, we feel we have a very good start.”

Also at the United Fresh expo, NatureSweet unveiled a new pack for its “Glory” brand cherry tomatoes and introduced its “Constellation” brand tomato medley pack.

“Glory is the same red cherry tomato variety we have had for the last 15 years, but we are now packing it in a new clamshell that is round instead of square,” he said. “The new pack gives the fruit better visibility and better ventilation.”

Regarding the Constellation tomato medley, Joergensen said it offers “a tomato for every occasion,” with various sizes and varieties available.

“There are a lot of tomato medleys out there, but this one gives a consistency not available in others. We found that consumers liked knowing what they were going to get.”

He said there are currently four different tomatoes available in Constellation, but that it would be available with up to six varieties.

IGA Montauk looks forward to New York state produce

MONTAUK, NY — After an especially long and cold winter, the weather in the Northeast in June was slowly but surely turning better, with warmer temperatures heralding all the bounty that New York state agriculture is known for.

The Montauk IGA store here on the far eastern tip of Long Island was ready to handle that bounty, and was expecting to have a wide variety of New York state items on hand for its customers by the end of June, as usual.

Among the fresh produce items it was anticipating were perennial favorites such as sweet corn, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower and peppers, according to Mary Tyler, store manager.

Those items and more “usually start around the end of June,” Tyler, who has been at the Montauk IGA for 36 years — 19 as store manager, and produce manager before that — told The Produce News.

Produce is displayed in two areas: the produce aisle inside the store, and an outside area under a tent that evokes a kind of farmers-market ambience.

montauk2481Andrea Freeman, produce manager of the Montauk IGA store, tends to part of the produce aisle.Tyler said that customers “definitely” look for New York items and are very aware of buying locally grown. Many customers prefer locally grown items in season “since the items are transported over a shorter distance,” she stated. “And some like to help the local farmers.”

A good portion of those nearby items “come directly from local growers,” especially those right on Long Island, she noted. But throughout the year, the vast majority of the store’s produce comes from Bozzuto’s Inc., the wholesale grower headquartered in Cheshire, CT.

The store has been working with Bozzuto’s “for as long as I’ve been here,” she said proudly. “We have an excellent relationship with Bozzuto’s. They’re always very accommodating.”

Frank Cilurso, a produce merchandiser at Bozzuto’s, has been working with the Montauk IGA for about 10 years. He visits the store at least every other week during the season, which is generally between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

As part of the two organization’s ongoing relationship, Bozzuto’s helps to train some of the managers in the produce department, said Cilurso. Bozzuto’s also assists with the store’s merchandising, such as helping to set up new equipment or helping with special events.

One of the Montauk IGA’s very special events every year takes place over the Fourth of July, when the owner, Robert Stack, donates all of the profits from its outside produce display area during that holiday period to the Dream Ride Experience, an organization that helps raise money for Special Olympics.

The eastern end of Long Island, including the posh Hamptons area, has long been a destination spot for Manhattanites and many other New Yorkers who spend weekends or extended stretches of the summer there, enjoying the restaurants, shopping and pristine beaches.

These vacationers and yearlong residents both enjoy the fresh produce at the Montauk IGA.

“There’s a big boost in customers right after Memorial Day,” said Andrea Freeman, who has been at the store for about 12 years, the last year-and-a-half as produce manager. The customers “love the nice displays,” and they especially enjoy the local produce and organic items.

With the Montauk IGA just yards away from the ocean, Cilurso added, “In the summer, people literally walk over the dunes and shop here. And they often buy fresh produce and bring it back to the beach. The kids love the fruit.”

As just one indication of how important fresh produce is to the Montauk IGA, Bozzuto’s helped the store expand its produce area last November, moving it from the entranceway to a full aisle, so the space is “now much larger than it used to be,” said Tyler, the store manager.

“Fresh produce is really important,” she declared. “A lot of people are trying to eat healthier. The larger produce area is an indication of how much of a call there is for produce.”