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Sun Pacific launches Vintage Sweets heirloom Navel oranges

Sun Pacific, a leading grower-packer-shipper of citrus, best known for its popular Cuties easy-peel mandarin oranges, is now shipping its new Vintage Sweets heirloom Navel oranges.VintageSweets-Bag-Photo-Straight

In the first few weeks of shipments, over 3,000 stores have displayed and reordered the premium produce and are receiving rave customer reviews, according to the company. The retailers to receive the first shipments of the oranges include Publix, Roundy’s, Safeway, Vons, Schnuck’s, Target, Topco-Coburns, Topco-HyVee, Savemart, Fairway, Fresh Direct, H-Mart, Jewel, Dietz, Giant Eagle/Riser and Wegmans. And the list of retailers continues to grow daily, said Sun Pacific President Bob DiPiazza.

“We could not be more pleased with the response we are seeing with the launch of our heirloom Navel orange program,” DiPiazza said in a press release. “The growing conditions in our Vintage Sweets groves have been ideal. Cold nights and mild sunny days produce these super sweet, flavorful and juicy heirloom oranges. They provide an exceptional eating experience that consumers today are looking for, especially in fresh fruit.“

Harvested from Sun Pacific's best old-line orange groves, the heirloom Navel oranges are grown under optimal conditions and are individually tested for high-sugar content to ensure outstanding quality and a superior, sweet eating experience. Vintage Sweets heirloom Navel oranges began shipping the week of Jan. 19 in three-pound bags, standard cartons and six-count trays.

Down $35 million, Fairway may face bankruptcy

Fairway Market, which operates 15 locations in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, said it intends to grow its store base in the New York City metropolitan area for the next several years; however, the company continues to experience significant losses, which could result in its need to file for bankruptcy protection.Fairway

"Unless we are able to raise additional capital, our current limited cash resources and significant leverage will adversely affect our ability to open new stores," the company said in its latest filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

In the quarter that ended Dec. 27, Fairway's net loss was $35.7 million, and according to the New York Post this comes after losing more than $300 million over the past five years.

While the company was in compliance with financial covenants as of Dec. 27, 2015, if its financial performance does not improve or additional third-party equity financing is not obtained, Fairway anticipates that it will not be in compliance at the end of its fiscal quarter ending April 3.

Fairway can seek an amendment or waiver of the violation from its lenders; however, they have the right to declare all outstanding debt immediately due and payable, and Fairway does not have sufficient working capital to fulfill this obligation.

Fairway cited competition as a major challenge. "The food retail industry as a whole, particularly in the Greater New York City metropolitan area, is highly competitive," the company said. "Due to the increasingly competitive environment in which we operate, our operating results have been, and in the future may be, negatively impacted through a loss of sales, reduction in margin from competitive price changes, and/or greater operating costs such as marketing."

USDA files action against Virginia company over $500,000 of produce payments

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has filed an administrative action under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act against Andrews Farming Inc. of Hillsville, VA. The company allegedly failed to make payment to 11 produce sellers in the amount of $513,226 from December 2014 through June 2015.

Andrews Farming Inc. will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry for two years.  Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for one year and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Its experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million.

Chipotle commits $10 million to help local farmers

Chipotle Mexican Grill announced the formation of the Chipotle Local Grower Support Initiative, a new program to help smaller, local suppliers meet its heightened food-safety standards. The company plans to commit up to $10 million to help local farms meet its food-safety standards and to make more local ingredients available across the country.chip

The news comes one week after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said the multi-state outbreaks linked Chipotle appear to be over. The most recent illness reported to CDC started on Dec. 1, 2015.

“We have supported local farms around the country for a number of years because we believe it is the right thing to do,” Steve Ells, Chipotle founder, co-chief executive officer and chairman, said in a press release. “We recognize that it may make it difficult for some local farms to comply with our heightened standards, but we are looking to help local farmers comply with our standards and to continue our support for local farms and rural communities around the country.”

The company said the initiative will provide the support and education necessary to meet the company’s high standards and help offset the costs of enhanced testing and food-safety practices for some smaller farmers. Additionally, financial assistance will be provided in the form of grants or premiums to help cover the higher costs of enhanced food-safety practices.

Chipotle will also look to develop new partnerships and seek out farmers using greenhouses and other technologies around the country that meet the company’s food-safety standards.

More information about the Chipotle Local Grower Initiative is available at Chipotle.com/localgrowersupport.

CAC shows marketing savvy with #BigGameAdd program

When your marketing budget is dwarfed by a heavy-spending Goliath, it’s time take a cue from David. That’s what the California Avocado Commission did with its #BigGameAdd program Super Bowl weekend, joining in the Big Game action on social media by celebrating commercials from food and beverage companies.2016-CA BigGameAdd

The commission took to Twitter to respond to ads in real time throughout the entire game, adding California avocado to advertiser products and serving up tasty recipe ideas.

“With California avocado season beginning now and peak availability expected from March to September, a big media spend around the football championship did not make sense for us,” Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the commission, said in a press release. “Social media gave us the opportunity to be part of the Big Game buzz and build excitement for California avocado season.”

CAC identified the food and beverage brands that would be advertising during the Big Game and created recipes using California avocados with those promoted ingredients. It created fun videos showing consumers how to make the recipes and tweeted them right after the featured commercials aired. CAC even showcased a recipe — Cali-Mex Bowls — using both California avocados and avocados from Mexico, which were advertised during the game.

CAC distributed the news of the #BigGameAdd program to more than 250,000 California avocado fans who subscribe to its recipe newsletter, encouraging a high level of engagement. The social media results were impressive, garnering more than 241,000 impressions in less than 24 hours. Notable retweets came from Butterfinger, Squarespace and Melissa’s Produce. One fan even mentioned “IMO @CA_Avocados is owning #SB50 with its tweets. Forget the commercials!!”

“It required nimbleness and creativity to capture this opportunity, and the resulting consumer engagement was worth it,” DeLyser added in the press release. “We don’t usually feature ingredients such as soda, beer and candy in California avocado recipes, but for this we stepped out of our comfort zone and into the end zone.”

The commission rounded-out game day promotions with targeted retailer activities on and offline in California.