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Opportunities abound for garlic industry

ANAHEIM, CA — It’s been an interesting couple of months for garlic. U.S. restrictions on the importation of Chinese garlic have affected the domestic market and created an opportunity to shift the dynamics on a global level.

Members of the garlic industry convened at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel, here, to talk shop and catch up with friends at the annual Garlic Breakfast.

DSC 0799Javier Usabiaga III of Empacadora G.A.B. Inc., Teresa Usabiaga, Javier Usabiaga Jr. of Empacadora G.A.B. Inc. and Don Christopher of Christopher Ranch. Empacadora G.A.B. and Christopher Ranch hosted the Oct. 18 gathering, which took place shortly before the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit trade show floor opened. Several industry leaders addressed the current demand-exceeds-supply situation and the implications for the future.

Paul Auerbach, president of Maurice A. Auerbach Inc., said that the past month has seen a very high and short market — though it has come down a bit — and there has been an increased opportunity to sell fresh product in a wider variety of sizes.

Recently there has been greater demand for California garlic due to a lack of Chinese supplies. Things are tight throughout the United States, with low supply and high demand. As a result, the biggest challenge is in managing sales — how much to allocate to each customer since demand is high from all sectors.

And while there is a lack of Chinese garlic in the domestic market, there is plenty available; the problems are regulatory.

Jim Provost of I Love Produce said that Chinese acreage is down a little — possibly 5 percent — but yields are up in the areas that have it, netting a similar crop to last year. A lot of Chinese garlic is going to Brazil since less is going to the United States.

Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for Spice World, said prices are pretty shocking, and he noted that if China loosens up, it could come down a little. There is a chance that could happen, with roughly 80 containers of Chinese garlic recently released — half near Los Angeles and the other half throughout the rest of the country.

As far as the long-term consequences go, what could be seen as a gap is also the chance to sell high-quality California garlic to customers who would have traditionally purchased Chinese product. Garlic orders still need to be filled, and this provides a tremendous opportunity to showcase the quality of North American product. The scarcity of Chinese garlic could also push the industry to look into non-traditional import locations to meet demand.

Similar to California garlic, there is a strong market for Mexican product.

“Look at this as an opportunity,” said Javier Usabiaga Jr. of Empacadora. “People are going to be trying California and Mexican garlic again and appreciating the difference from Chinese.

“If we service our customers they’ll notice the difference and it’ll make for some very happy people,” he continued.

The current market is an investment in the future: When there is more Chinese garlic available customers will remember the higher-quality product they’re getting now and be able to get it at a price lower than its current rate, according to Usabiaga, who noted that this is a benefit to garlic worldwide, as the European market was able to sell to the United States and Canada, thus lightening its inventory.

Regarding the current market, Javier Usabiaga Sr., secretary of agriculture of the Mexican state of Guanajuato, said, “Let’s just enjoy it and be happy.”

On a more somber note, Auerbach addressed the loss of a key member of the garlic industry. “I’d like to acknowledge the passing of Jon Vessey for everything he did. We lost a gentleman, a friend and someone who has done a lot for the industry.”

Vessey died June 7 of complications from leukemia. He was a third-generation farmer who was a significant grower-packer-shipper of garlic, among other things.

Walmart Canada launches Half Your Plate program

Walmart Canada has joined Half Your Plate, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's healthy eating campaign designed to get Canadians of all ages to eat more fruits and veggies to improve their health. After a successful launch on social media this summer, Half Your Plate is now making its way onto produce packaging and into retail stores across Canada.cpma halfyourplate logo 4cl

“We are excited to be the first major retailer to promote Half Your Plate in our stores and flyers,” said Sam Silvestro, senior director of fresh foods for Walmart Canada, said in a press release. “We believe that healthy eating starts with getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and Half Your Plate provides an easy message for consumers to understand and keep in mind when doing their grocery shopping.”

“Rather than having people count servings or worry about serving size, our messaging is that at every meal, make half your plate fruit and vegetables. By the end of the day, you’ll have your recommended number of servings,” Ron Lemaire, president of CPMA, said in the release. “That also translates when you’re at the grocery store. Half your cart should be fruit and veggies, and having retailers promote the campaign re-emphasizes the importance of making healthier choices at the store.”

Half Your Plate offers a simple, consistent way to help consumers navigate the many different messages they hear each day about healthy eating. “It can be a bit confusing for some consumers to know what makes up a healthy meal,” added Lemaire. “What we hear most from consumers is that they’re struggling with what a serving is in a lot of instances and are looking for ways to make healthy choices fast, easy and affordable.”

Although Canadians are becoming more conscious of what they eat, studies show that the average person only consumes 3.5-4.5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Yet Canada’s Food Guide recommends that adults get seven to 10 servings per day, depending on gender. Half Your Plate encourages people to take it one meal at a time, analyzing the make-up of their plate rather than specific servings that can be confusing to many.

The Half Your Plate campaign was developed in collaboration with health partners the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Public Health Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. More information can be found at www.halfyourplate.ca or by following @halfyourplate on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Other retailers are expected to start using the campaign in the coming months.

Chiquita terminates Fyffes merger, in discussion with Cutrale/Safra Group

Chiquita Brands International Inc. announced that its shareholders have not approved the revised transaction agreement with Fyffes plc. In early March, the two companies announced plans for a $1 billion merger, but at this point the transaction agreement has been terminated.

Chiquita now expects to enter into discussions with the Cutrale/Safra Group regarding a revised offer to acquire all of the outstanding stock of Chiquita for $14.50 per in cash. This is an increase from the previously rejected offers of $13 and $14 per share.

"We appreciate the consideration and perspectives of all Chiquita shareholders who participated in this process," Edward F. Lonergan, president and chief executive officer of Chiquita, said in a press release. "Given today's results, we have determined to terminate the agreement with Fyffes and to engage with Cutrale/Safra regarding its revised offer."

Chiquita noted that no definitive agreement with Cutrale/Safra has been reached and there can be no assurances that any transaction will result from these discussions. The company said it does not expect to update the market with any further information unless and until the board has reached a final decision.

"I want to thank David McCann and the entire Fyffes team for their efforts throughout this process," Lonergan said in the release. "While we are convinced they would have been a strong merger partner, we will now go forward as competitors. We would also like to express our gratitude to Chiquita's employees for their hard work and dedication on behalf of Chiquita and our customers."

 

CAC announced retail contest winners at PMA Fresh Summit

At the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit, held Oct. 17-19 in Anaheim, CA, the California Avocado Commission announced the retailer winners from its 2014 5-Star Performance Program.

CAC also hosted supermarket registered dietitians as part of the Produce for Better Health Foundation program, held a brunch for retailers and highlighted the significance of the California avocado label.

Participants in CAC’s 5-Star Performance program earned points toward prizes by conducting or participating in various marketing activities that supported California avocados.Save-Mart--CAC-2014-2Retailers and members of the California Avocado Commissioin gathered at the CAC booth during the PMA Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA.

The contest grand prize was awarded to Save Mart and accepted by Jim Corby, senior director of customer solutions-produce. Other top winners were Sprouts Farmers Market, Stater Bros., Northwest Grocers, Albertsons Southern California and Nugget Markets. In total, 23 retailers earned prizes in the contest.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and participants of the California Avocado Commission’s 5-Star Performance Program and thank them for contributing to a successful 2014 season,” Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the commission, said in a press release. “Many of the prize-winning retailers visited CAC’s PMA Fresh Summit booth and had a good time selecting their rewards on the spot.”

Another highlight of the California Avocado Commission Fresh Summit program was its platinum sponsorship of the PBH SRD tour on Saturday, Oct. 18.

More than 20 SRDs visited CAC’s booth to learn about California avocados, the California avocado label and avocado nutrition. Registered Dietitian Katie Ferraro showed the SRDs how they could conduct demos of an easy, nutritious snack recipe, California Avocado Cucumber Cups.

After their expo visits, the SRDs traveled with CAC and PBH staff to Rancho Mission Viejo for an avocado grove tour and dinner featuring the sponsors’ fresh produce.

On Oct. 19, CAC hosted a brunch for retailers in its Fresh Summit booth. Showcasing how California avocados are perfect for breakfast and snacking, the commission served California Avocado Blueberry Muffins and guest Chef/RD Michelle Dudash’s California Avocado Breakfast Casserole with Spinach and Sweet Potatoes. Avocado ale served with the brunch dishes was a well-received addition.

On days of the expo, Dudash shared nutrition tips and samples of California avocado dishes she developed. CAC’s exhibit focused on the story behind the new California avocado label and the care and craftsmanship that goes into cultivating California avocados.

“The turnout for this year’s PMA Fresh Summit was outstanding and we really enjoy having the opportunity to showcase our product and programs in California,” DeLyser added in the press release. “We’re very pleased with the opportunities CAC had to meet with retailer executives, supermarket dietitians, the media, growers and peers in the produce industry.”

IPC launches new national television commercial

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For the past two years, the Idaho Potato Commission's national television commercial has featured the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck and a perplexed potato farmer who can't seem to keep tabs on it and its fun-loving Tater Team.

Now, the IPC has launched a new national television commercial that again features the now-famous farmer searching for his truck but this year his search soars to news heights with the help of a fellow farmer.

"These wildly popular national television commercials featuring the Great Big Idaho Potato and the farmer, Mark Coombs, have generated tremendous brand awareness but have also engaged consumers more than any of our other television commercials ever have," Frank Muir, president and chief executive officer of the commission, said in a press release. "Every week we receive dozens of calls, emails and messages on Facebook from folks around the country telling us they've spotted our truck. In fact when folks see the truck, they tell it go home!"

Not wanting to quell consumers' quest to help Coombs find the truck, the 2014 commercial again features him looking for his six-ton spud, but with some help from another grower, James Hoff of Idaho Falls.

Hoff takes Coombs up in his antique 1943 Boeing Stearman Staggerwing bi-plane hoping the oversized vehicle can be spotted from high above. Despite some impressive aerial maneuvers, he still doesn't have any luck finding it.

The commercial is currently airing on cable channels, including CNN, Fox News, Food Network, HGTV and Headline News. It will run through January, the end of the heaviest purchase period for Idaho potatoes.