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Crystal Valley Foods announced that it is finalizing the acquisition of Joco Produce, a pioneer in the import and marketing of fresh Asian, tropical and specialty fruits and vegetables. The acquisition further enhances Crystal Valley’s ability offer a diverse and full line of specialty products to its customers throughout North America.

Joco has been a leader in the wholesale marketing of specialties since 1983. The company has a strong presence in South Florida and throughout the United States, especially in the wholesale and foodservice channels.

“We are excited to announce the strategic acquisition of Joco Produce and welcome them to the Crystal Valley Foods family,” said Jay Rodriguez, president of Crystal Valley Foods. “The addition of the company’s product line will allow us to become that one-stop-shop for our customers and help us to deliver new and unique products year-round.”

Over the last several years, Crystal Valley has focused on building its business and enhancing its core products by strengthening its grower-partner relationships, adding key personnel, and looking for new sourcing regions and unique products. The company has also focused on adding to its product line through the acquisition of well-recognized and reputable companies whose strengths and products would be complementary. The acquisition of Team Produce in 2017 was one example and now, the acquisition of Joco Produce.

“Joco has been in business for over 35 years and we are looking forward to leveraging the company’s strengths in sourcing and marketing these unique Asian and tropical items,” Rodriguez added. “The acquisition also comes at a perfect time for Crystal Valley as we have just completed an expansion and remodel of our Miami warehouse and we have additional cooler space for new items as well as a completely new and updated repacking area.”

“We are looking forward to joining the Crystal Valley team,” said Joel Figueroa, president and owner of Joco Produce. “Both companies are established and well recognized in the industry and our strengths as well as our combined inventories and staff will help build on our core competencies to promote future growth.”

Crystal Valley expects seamless continuity for Joco’s growing partners and customers as they move their operations to the Crystal Valley Miami warehouse by the beginning of December.

Wonderful Halos launched a new family-friendly, animated entertainment series on YouTube called Camp Halohead, which is now available to watch on the Camp Halohead YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/CampHalohead. Created by Wonderful Pictures, an original content studio and division of The Wonderful Company, in collaboration with Six Point Harness Animation, Camp Halohead is a first-of-its-kind original entertainment property to debut from a produce brand. Camp-Halohead-Animated-Series-0000 Layer-12

The series features five original episodes all set at Camp Halohead, where mandarin campers go to earn their halos, one good choice at a time — because only the best mandarins earn their halos. This season, join Clemmie, Bud and Tango on an adventure where they’ll learn to make good choices, while trying to save all mandarin-kind, all so they can make it to the good place (inside some kids’ belly).

In episode one, Camp Halohead viewers will be delighted to hear a familiar voice with special guest star, 13-year-old Evan of EvanTubeHD fame whose YouTube channel boasts nearly 6.5 million subscribers. In the first episode, Evan talks to fellow mandarin camper Clemmie about the challenging tests and lifelong lessons he has learned in the magical world that is Camp Halohead.

Episode two introduces another mandarin camper, voiced by eight-year-old Ryan of Ryan’s World, the star of one of YouTube’s largest kids’ channels, which has accumulated over 33.6 billion views to date and amassed over 22.5 million subscribers. The episode spotlights Ryan and his mystery egg, as he and his mandarin friends begin scheming a plan to earn their halos before it’s too late. Follow these links to view episodes three, four and five

“We’re delighted to introduce Camp Halohead, a safe, animated entertainment series on YouTube that shares a positive message that families can feel good about and enjoy watching together for free,” said Adam Cooper, senior vice president of marketing at The Wonderful Company. “Camp Halohead viewers will also have fun hearing some of their favorite YouTube stars’ voices like Ryan of Ryan’s World and Evan of EvanTubeHD, two of the biggest kid-stars on YouTube today who make special guest appearances in the Camp Halohead series.”

To launch the Camp Halohead original animated series, a private screening and after-party was held at the ArcLight Cinemas and the new Cayton Children’s Museum in Santa Monica, CA. Celebrity and influencer guests were invited to enter the world of Camp Halohead and earn their own halos. Check out some of the launch party highlights here.

The Camp Halohead animated series comes on the heels of Wonderful Halos being named America’s most-loved healthy snack brand by parents and kids, according to a 2019 Brand Love study, earning its top spot for two years in a row. The Wonderful Halos “Good Choice, Kid” national advertising campaign celebrates kids and adults who make good, healthy choices every day by choosing to be healthy, choosing to be active, and choosing to be kind.

Kathryn McLay has been named the president and chief executive officer of Sam’s Club. Her most recent responsibility has been executive vice president of Neighborhood Markets where she has led the growth and overall operations of nearly 700 stores across the U.S. kath

McLay joined Walmart in 2015 as the vice president of U.S. finance and strategy, where she led the legacy strategy — a set of initiatives that was critical to the progress in Walmart U.S. business these past few years. She was then promoted to senior vice president of supply chain where she had responsibility for transforming the way the company flows inventory before becoming executive vice president of Neighborhood Markets.

McLay began her career at Deloitte in 1992 while she finished her business degree and her postgraduate studies in psychology at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. After seven years in both external and internal audit, she moved to Qantas where she was promoted to internal audit manager. In 2001, McLay made the jump to retail where she joined Woolworths’ and had a number of roles in retail and supply chain, including the general manager for cost, Northern logistics operations manager for warehousing and transportation, and general manager of replenishment.

"Kath has a track record of success in every role she has taken on," said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart Inc. "Her ability to deliver results today, develop a vision for the future and lead the change necessary to achieve it is compelling. She is curious and courageous. Kath builds trust and is a servant leader. She understands the details of retail given her audit, supply chain and operational experience. John Furner and the Sam’s Club team have strengthened our foundation and built momentum. Kath will help build on that and take it to the next level. We look forward to seeing her contributions to this part of our business."

McLay, her husband, Jason, and their three children, made the move from Australia to Bentonville in April of 2015. McLay will assume her new responsibility effectively immediately.

The holiday season will look a little different for WP Rawl as the premier grower, processor and shipper of leafy greens began processing value-added leafy greens at its Bunnell, FL, facility early November.WPR-Florida-Processing

In 2013, WP Rawl first broke ground on the farming and packingshed operation in Bunnell that included a 34,000-square-foot facility.  Due to increase in demand of both conventional and organic product offerings, the company added acreage in January of 2017.  Fewer than three years later the company has now added its first value-added processing line within the original 34,000-square-foot Florida facility where the company has kicked off its 2019 holiday season preparations.

The entire Florida production line was built with sustainability in mind utilizing 75 percent of existing equipment originally used at the main headquarters in Pelion, SC. The new line will support current production capacities as well as offset growing demand for fresh leafy greens this holiday season.

“Processing in Florida is scheduled to run from now until the first week in January,” said Ashley Rawl, vice president of sales, marketing and product development. “Our ultimate goal would be to make processing continue in Florida year-round. We are excited about the benefits of growing, harvesting, processing and shipping within the same state.”

The additional processing facility also brings more production capacity which creates more flexibility for servicing customers. Current Southeast regional customers could potentially see a reduction in foods miles which allows for fresher product to be received. The company is thrilled for the ability to have more options for servicing customers and meeting their needs.

Mother Nature was not the California citrus growers’ friend during the 2018-19 citrus season. Harsh winds knocked fruit off trees and a lack of rain caused an overabundance of small-sized fruit. That meant less-than-normal quality and lower prices for most.

Mandarin Jeff Olsen, president of the Visalia, CA-based Chuck Olsen Co. noted that as of late October, most in the citrus industry were keeping a watchful eye on the weather, but fluctuations of 30 degrees between day and night in the fall have helped to bring on great color for citrus.

“Most of the Chilean navels are sticking around, but we’re not going to see any major overlap from that, so the California citrus market should be strong,” he said.

Then there’s the dreaded ACP, a tiny, aphid-sized insect that first made its way to California in 2008. Aside from damaging the new leaves of citrus trees, it also carries the bacterium that causes huanglongbing (HLB) disease, also known as citrus greening.

Those in the citrus industry are doing what they can to stay on top of this.

Victoria Hornbaker, director of the recently formed Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Division within the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said they are currently conducting a risk assessment and an intense delimitation any time it finds an HLB tree in the ground, or if they detect an ACP carrying the bacteria that causes HLB.

“We’re up to 1,650 detections in total and those are mandatorily removed for the most part,” Hornbaker said. “We have not detected HLB or an Asian citrus psyllid carrying the bacteria in a commercial grove at this point.”

Beyond defending against disease, freshness of fruit is also of paramount importance.

Jaclyn Johnston Green, operations manager for the Edison, CA-based Johnston Farms, said most people can tell the difference between an old orange and something that’s fresh, even if it’s just a couple of days difference, and that’s why it’s imperative that the freshest citrus makes its way to the supermarket shelves.

“People will continue to buy if they know what they have is the freshest they can get,” she said.

Display bins are always popular and push the citrus, and Green would like to see these efforts continued to promote citrus within the boxes, so consumers can see the graphics and see first-hand how fresh the products are.

Olsen said pricing is the biggest issue because between labor and merchandising, retailers sometimes balk at the prices of citrus.

“It’s a tough world and everything costs so much to do — to grow product, to move product, to put product on the shelf,” she said. “If the retailers are reasonably priced, it will sell.”