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Summer Citrus from South Africa is continuing to grow business with retailers in midwestern and Gulf states with a 300 percent increase in tonnage flowing through the port of Houston this season.saci

Each year, approximately 50,000 tons of South African Navels, easy peelers, Midknights and grapefruit are imported into the U.S. primarily through the ports of Philadelphia and New York. As demand for South African citrus has increased, so have efforts to secure additional entry points into the U.S. market. Now in its third season working with Summer Citrus from South Africa, the port of Houston is the only Southern U.S. port approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the specific cold-treatment program required for fruit from South Africa.

“With the complex USDA regulations, we are pleased that we have been able to accommodate the South African program,” John Moseley, senior director of trade development for the Port of Houston Authority, said in a press release. “Our partnership is a result of the brand’s commitment to sending quality product, and we’re thrilled to be doing business for another year.”

In order to support the increased volume of Summer Citrus from South Africa in midwestern and Gulf states, the brand has partnered with regional bloggers to fuel demand at their local retailers. Paired with the new website design and social media presence, the brand is confident that shoppers will continue to seek fresh, great tasting citrus in the summer months.

“We’re confident that our consumer marketing campaign will inspire more interest in the brand,” Suhanra Conradie, chief executive officer of Summer Citrus from South Africa, added in the press release. “Coupled with our increased distribution, we expect to see positive sales growth from the elevated presence that Summer Citrus from South Africa will have this season.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Whole Foods Market broke ground on a 150,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market Midwest distribution facility in the Pullman neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Expected to open in early 2018, the new distribution center will initially employ 150 people and serve as many as 70 Whole Foods Market locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa, and the Canadian province of Ontario.wfm

Relocating from the current Whole Foods Market distribution center in Munster, IN, the new location offers a building double the size of the current facility. Investing in additional space to grow as the company expands its reach in Chicago and beyond, this new facility is expected to bring real, long-term economic benefits to Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood.

“We are thrilled to begin construction of our new distribution center,” Whole Foods Market Midwest Regional Vice President, Bobby Turner said in a press release. “We’ve grown so much since opening our first Midwest store in Chicago in 1993 and as our growth continues, this distribution center helps us continue our mission of providing access to fresh, healthy foods and supporting the communities where we do business.”

The new distribution center will occupy previously empty land and allow Whole Foods Market to join two major suppliers, Method and Gotham Greens, in the Pullman neighborhood.

It also builds on the company’s plan to serve Chicago’s South Side, including a recently opened location in Hyde Park and a location in Englewood that will open in the fall. Additionally, the company is hosting a Whole Foods Market Job & Employment Resource Fair for the new store in Englewood, July 29 and July 30.

“There is a renaissance happening in Pullman and this Whole Foods center will only make it stronger,” Mayor Emanuel said in the press release. “By investing in our neighborhoods and supporting projects like this distribution center, we are creating economic opportunities for families throughout Chicago. I want to thank Whole Foods for their continuing commitment to Chicago and our neighborhoods."

The new center is among more than $225 million in public and private projects moving forward in Pullman, including the 2015 construction of Method Products’ first U.S. factory and Gotham Green’s rooftop greenhouse.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Excell Prod. Inc. satisfied a reparation order issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act so the Los Angeles-based company is now free to operate in the produce industry.

Additionally, Wing Tsan was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.

Sanctions had been imposed on the company earlier this month for failing to pay a $15,526 award in favor of a California seller.

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.

As record-setting heat blazes across most of the country, retailers could see scorching sales of artichokes this summer with a little promotional help.OMF.Artichoke.SS.composite.2

Ocean Mist Farms, the largest grower of fresh artichokes in North America, researched historical summer sales as it related to promotional activity and found there is an opportunity to increase sales in August.

“Our production has stabilized to a consistent year-round supply and the data points show that August is great potential time period for creative promotions that will drive sales,” Diana McClean, director of marketing for Castroville, CA-based Ocean Mist Farms, said in a press release. 

In addition to having promotable supply, the company also has almost all sizes of artichokes available this season.

Ocean Mist Farms is doing its part to increase sales of artichokes during the summer by developing new uses and recipes for artichokes such as its award winning Season & Steam package that allows users to enjoy artichokes without heating up their kitchens, same with throwing artichokes on the grill or for something completely new and different, Artichoke Ice Pops.  

Nielsen data found summer sales of artichokes have experience steady year over year growth between 4 percent and 5 percent (Source: Perishables Group FreshFacts Powered by Nielsen).

“There is a lot of competition for attention in the produce department during the summer months” McClean said. “But research shows retailers can increase sales with creative promotions.”

With consumer attention pulled in myriad directions, the California Avocado Commission is extending its communications via third-party advocates. A team including artisan chefs, popular bloggers and registered dietitian ambassadors incorporates California avocados into menus, recipes, blogs and public relations activities leading up to and during the season. By April CAC’s influencer program reached more than 12 million consumers this season, according to Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing.Power-Hour-Pick-Me-Up-SmoothieKatie Ferraro's Power Hour Pick Me Up Smoothie.

New York City chef Ivy Stark has been a California avocado advocate for several years. “Being a California native myself, I love promoting California avocados, and seek to incorporate them on our Dos Caminos menus whenever possible,” Stark said in a press release. “Their rich nutty flavor is impossible to replicate and this year, we’re promoting a summer 'Guactailing' menu at our locations, pairing different delicious California avocado guacamoles with cocktails from our menu.”

CAC’s influential blogger partners reach targeted consumers to deliver information about California avocado season and availability. Recipes and usage ideas developed by these bloggers highlight the versatility of California avocados, and messaging reinforces the local origin of the California fruit.2016-CAC-Advocates-6-21-16California avocado advocates (clockwise from top left) Ivy Stark, Roni Noone, Katie Ferraro and Dara Michalski.

“I love working with the California Avocado Commission," Green Lite Bites blogger Roni Noone, who also contributes to CAC’s The Scoop blog, said in the release. "They genuinely want to educate consumers about the benefits of eating avocados and provide wonderful resources like recipes and tips. It makes me happy knowing I'm helping to support California farmers and they make it easy. California avocados are always the freshest and highest quality avocados I can find.”

Communicating when California avocados are in season is one of the key roles CAC’s blogger ambassadors play. "My entire family looks forward to the California avocado season each year," Blogger Dara Michalski of Cookin’ Canuck said in the release. "Their flavor, their creamy texture and their health benefits are all reasons why they're favorites in our house. To be in such a unique position to be able to create recipes with them is so inspiring and exciting for me as a home cook and recipe developer."

Third-party advocate recipes are used on CaliforniaAvocado.com, in CAC email newsletters, recipe booklets, social media and more. Registered dietitians develop California avocado recipes with particular attention to healthy eating and also provide consumers with avocado nutrition information.

"There is so much noise about nutrition out there and consumers are confused about which foods they should eat," Katie Ferraro, a California RD who frequently is a guest on local television programs, said in the release. "Being able to highlight the nutrition diversity and health benefits of California avocados is one of my favorite parts of being a registered dietitian ambassador for the California Avocado Commission.”