US Foods’ Produce Vendor of the Year

Mann Packing was selected as the Produce Vendor of the Year for 2015 by US Foods at the US Foods Fall 2015 Food Lovers Forum in Chicago.  

US Foods presents six Vendor of the Year Awards, which includes an Innovation Award, four category awards (Center of the Plate, Grocery, Non-Foods and Produce) and the Easy To Do Business With Award.Produce-Award2Josh Waters (left) of US Foods presented the award to Cody Ramsey and Rick Russo of Mann Packing.

According to US Foods, the awards recognize the vendor partners who demonstrate excellence over the past year in various aspects, including as innovators in packaging development and R&D, experts in commodity purchasing and risk management, and creators of new, ingenious solutions that add value to products. The selected vendors also provided best-in-class service to US Foods associates and shared customers.

“We are honored that US Foods recognized Mann and our relationship with them,” Gina Nucci, director of foodservice marketing for Salinas, CA-based Mann Packing, said in a press release. “They are an important customer, and we look forward to further building a significant partnership together.”

This is the second foodservice award Mann Packing received in 2015.

Southeastern Grocers customers raise $500,000 for Wounded Warrior Project

Thanks to the generous support of their loyal customers and associates, Southeastern Grocers LLC, the parent company of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores, is giving $526,825.66 to benefit Wounded Warrior Project in support of the Independence Program.wwp

Through the two-week Wall of Honor community donation campaign, held Nov. 2-15, customers were encouraged to visit their neighborhood BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie to purchase a $1 Dedication Card and write a special message to their own military hero. These personal dedications built elaborate Wall of Honor displays at each store as visual tributes to those who served, continue to serve and sacrifice for the nation.

“Through the Wall of Honor campaign, our customers and associates continued to demonstrate the pride they feel for our military and their families who have sacrificed so much for our country,” Ian McLeod, chief executive officer and president of Southeastern Grocers, said in a press release. “We want to thank them for their outpouring of support, through generously donating funds and sharing personal dedications to their military heroes, which built impressive Walls of Honor throughout our stores in the Southeast. We’re honored to provide these funds to Wounded Warrior Project’s Independence Program.”

“Our partnership with Southeastern Grocers demonstrates what can be achieved when like-minded charities and corporations join forces,” Steve Nardizzi, CEO of the Wounded Warrior Project, said in the release. “Their continued generosity has provided Wounded Warrior Project with critical resources to make a positive impact in the lives of wounded veterans. That spirit of giving and support was seen once more through the Wall of Honor campaign. We’re extremely grateful to Southeastern Grocers for their tireless efforts to give back to our nation’s injured service members.”

Southeastern Grocers has actively listened to its customers and associates, and it is abundantly clear that they have tremendous respect and appreciation for Wounded Warrior Project. This passion for the cause led Southeastern Grocers to name WWP as an Official Charity Partner for 2016, enabling future initiatives to increase awareness and support for WWP across all BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores throughout the Southeast. The Wall of Honor campaign provided an immediate opportunity to raise funds and much needed attention for Wounded Warrior Project.

Lineage Logistics breaks ground on Tacoma expansion

Lineage Logistics LLC, a temperature-controlled warehousing and logistics company backed by Bay Grove Capital LLC, has broken ground on the expansion of its Tacoma, WA, cold storage distribution facility.linea

The expansion project will add over 20,000 pallet positions of frozen warehouse capacity and bring Lineage’s total capacity in the Pacific Northwest to over 93 million cubic feet of temperature-controlled warehousing space. Opening of the expansion is planned for 2016.

Since announcing the project last fall, Lineage acquired Columbia Colstor, a warehousing and logistics company with locations primarily in central Washington’s robust agricultural region. The addition of Columbia doubled Lineage’s presence in the Pacific Northwest to 13 properties spanning the state.

“The expansion project in Tacoma represents our active commitment to supporting the growth and success of our customers by providing additional storage capacity in the region,” Greg Lehmkuhl, chief executive officer of Lineage Logistics, said in a press release. “We are excited to break ground and to add to the breadth of world class warehousing and logistics solutions Lineage has to offer in the Pacific Northwest.”

“Lineage’s investment in the port’s supply chain infrastructure is tremendous,” Scott Francis, director of real estate for the port of Tacoma, added in the press release. “We are confident their expansion project, combined with their significant added capacity in the region, will help support greater import/export activity through the port and the Pacific Northwest market as a whole.”

The expansion plans include innovations in energy efficiency and automation as well as expanded dock capacity to accommodate cross-dock activity and intermodal rail business.

Washington potato supplies could be tight this marketing season

Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission, said the 2015 harvest has generally been picture perfect. “This was one of the smoothest harvest seasons we’ve had in Washington,” he told The Produce News. “There were no major delays, and the crop got into the barn much earlier than normal.”WA-PotatoOV

He provided some additional insights about the crop. “The crop looks good, but yields are down due to the high heat we experienced this summer,” Voigt continued. “The USDA announced [the week of Nov. 8] that per acre yields were down about 4 percent in Washington state. I think that number surprised a lot of us. We were expecting the crop yield to be down maybe 7-9 percent. Even if the USDA numbers are correct, supplies will be tight this marketing season.”

Ryan Holterhoff, WSPC director of marketing and industry affairs, provided a profile of the state’s fresh crop. “More than 70 percent of the fresh market potatoes grown in Washington are Russet potatoes,” he stated. “Red potatoes are the second-most widely grown type at about 16 percent or so of the total fresh market crop. People love the consistency and quality Washington’s crop provides. We continue to see a lot of growth in the specialty potato varieties grown in Washington state. Fingerlings, purples, specialty yellows and reds are all growing markets as farmers who grow potatoes for the fresh market are looking to provide customers with options.”

Washington’s growers and shippers continue to provide the market with a good mix of conventional and organic potatoes. “You will find every type of potato grown in Washington and available through one of our fresh pack shippers,” Holterhoff continued.

Potatoes have great versatility in the kitchen, and Holterhoff said evaluation of consumer trends has been interesting. “The WSPC has been collaborating with other farm groups throughout the state in helping to highlight the amazing food scene and family farms found throughout Washington,” he noted. “The campaign is called ‘Washington Grown,’ and although the overarching theme of ‘Washington Grown’ is to help people throughout the state understand the importance of agriculture to our state, it has also provided the opportunity to help people reconnect with the great bounty of fresh local options found here.”

Looking at Washington’s potato industry, Holterhoff said the campaign not only highlights the state’s potato growers but also provides consumers with insights from top local chefs who are using Washington potatoes. “We provide their recipes so people then can make a variety of dishes at home with Washington potatoes,” he added.

During the past few years, WSPC has held a culinary student competition with student chefs studying at Washington schools accredited by the American Culinary Federation. “What we find is that these future chefs are truly enjoying their experience in working with potatoes and coming back with very creative recipes that are showing off the many wonderful attributes potatoes provide,” Holterhoff said. “Our panel of culinary professionals who serve as judges for the competition are always taken aback at how the students are using potatoes. We have seen a great variety of recipes from the culinary students using potato products in soups, salads, entrees, sides, appetizers, breads and even desserts. We include all of their recipes on our website,”

Florida, fresh produce a winning combo

Florida’s prominence as a supplier of quality fresh produce from the fall through spring seasons is underpinned by geography, diversity and industry know-how.

“Abnormally cold weather conditions and winter storms often pose the primary threat to healthy crop conditions and yields. Florida is fortunate to have most of its fresh market production come from the southern part of the state which has historically been less likely to experience cold damage,” said Aaron Keller, press secretary to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“November for Florida’s fresh market crops usually signifies the start of Florida’s agricultural season,” he went on to say. “Certain early crops such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and tomatoes are already reaching consumers. The majority of Florida’s crops come into production in November and continue on through the winter and spring.”

In 2014, Florida ranked first nationally for the value of production for fresh market snap beans, fresh market cucumbers, cucumbers for pickles, grapefruit, oranges, squash, sugarcane, fresh market tomatoes and watermelons. The Sunshine State ranked second in value of production for bell peppers, fresh market sweet corn, greenhouse/nursery, peanuts, strawberries and tangerines; and third in value of production for fresh market cabbage and honey.

“Florida enjoys an excellent transportation network of interstate highways plus international airports and seaports,” Keller commented. “Florida’s four largest ports are Port Tampa, Port Everglades, Port Miami and Port Jacksonville, and all are closely tied into rail and highway transportation networks. Major international airport hubs located in Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville and Tampa provide excellent air-freight shipping outlets for more delicate crops. Due to the network of state-of-the-art post-harvest facilities being located in the heart of Florida farming districts, it is conceivable that within hours, freshly harvested crops can be on their way to markets located throughout the U.S. and worldwide.”

Florida exporters set another record in 2014 shipping more than $4 billion in agricultural products to worldwide markets. “This marked the third year in a row that Florida has topped $4 billion in exports,” Keller said. Florida’s fastest growing markets over $50 million from 2010 to 2014 were: Colombia/37.8 percent per year; South Korea/33.4 percent per year; Mexico/30.1 percent per year; Hong Kong/19.4 percent per year; and United Arab Emirates/19  percent per year.

Canada remains Florida’s most important export partner, with total exports nearing $1 billion in 2014. This figure is 4.5 times greater than total exports for Florida’s number two partner, Keller added.

“Canada is the leading destination for Florida’s vegetable exports including celery, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh peppers, lettuce, potatoes, snap beans and tomatoes. Canada is also the leading destination for Florida’s fruits including blueberries, fresh oranges, melons, strawberries and watermelons [and] orange juice.”

During 2014, Keller said Florida cash receipts’ value of vegetables, melons, fruits and nuts totaled $2.97 billion or about 36.2 percent of the state’s total agricultural cash receipts.

The “Fresh From Florida” program has created immediate visibility in the produce department. “Fresh From Florida represents Florida agriculture’s worldwide image of excellence,” Keller commented. “The Fresh From Florida membership program provides members with use of the widely recognized ‘Fresh From Florida’ logo on product packaging, advertising and in promotional materials. Members also receive point-of-purchase materials to display with Florida-grown products; customized business signage; discounted industry trade show participation, the opportunity to participate in a logo incentive program and puts the marketing expertise of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to work for member businesses.”

“Fresh From Florida” also markets directly with major domestic and international grocers and distributors to promote the purchase of Florida agricultural commodities. According to Keller,  “Fresh From Florida” partnered with 64 retailers representing 12,357 stores located in 26 countries during 2014. “The upcoming ‘Fresh From Florida’ advertising campaigns will feature a variety of Florida produce and seafood,” he added. “From January through May, the marketing campaign will include statewide television commercials, digital display ads, social media outreach and outdoor billboards.”