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A chief goal of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association is to partner with retail chains across North America to set up savvy promotional campaigns for their shoppers. That dedication has helped the summer citrus category see strong growth.

“In 2017, we ran promotions in more than 40 retail chains across the U.S.,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the CFFA, based in San Carlos, CA. “We expanded our marketing support to nationwide chains and, for the first time ever ran a Chilean citrus campaign in Canada.”lemons-on-a-tree

For mandarins specifically, large marketing campaigns during the domestic season have certainly contributed to increased consumption throughout the year, and Chile has responded by growing more early-season clementines (May-August) and late- season mandarins (August–early November) to satisfy this demand.

“Chile dominates the summer market for mandarins, and the trade looks to us when the domestic season comes to a close,” Brux said.

In 2017, Chile’s total citrus exports to North America — including clementines, mandarins, lemons and navels — increased 18 percent to about 227,000 tons. The largest growth was seen in mandarins, which grew 43 percent to almost 73,000 tons.

“In 2018, this growth pattern will continue,” Brux said. “We expect Chile’s total global mandarin exports to surpass the 100 million-ton mark for the first time ever, with volume jumping 32 percent from 2017. With minimal exports to other markets, the vast majority of Chilean mandarins will come to North America.”

Brux noted that Chilean clementine volume is also expected to grow by 27 percent, from 41,000 tons in 2017 to about 52,000 tons in 2018, as virtually all of Chile’s clementines are shipped to North America.

“Double-digit increases in both clementine and mandarin volume means we’ll have a strong, consistent supply of easy peelers into early November,” she said. “This gives retailers numerous promotion options, whether cross merchandising with other summer barbecue items, promoting mandarins for school lunches or introducing ghoulish concepts for Halloween.”

Turning to navels, the CFFA foresees an increase in volume of 12 percent, increasing to about 85,000 tons in 2018 from about 75,000 tons in 2017. Chile exports more than 90 percent of its navels to North America.

“With continued growth across all citrus categories, we plan to increase our investment in the North American market this year,” Brux said. “Our main focus will continue to be on supporting the trade in their promotions of Chilean citrus. Whether offering digital coupons, sales/display promotions, in-store videos, social media campaigns or other marketing tools, our Chilean citrus merchandisers are working with retailers large and small to find the perfect fit for the shopper demographics of each chain.”

The CFFA has also developed new point-of-sale material, new usage ideas/images and new tasty-style videos to showcase easy, healthy and tasty ideas for lemons, mandarins and navels. Brux shared that these will be used on Fruits from Chile social media platforms, and also shared with retailers so they can incorporate them into their social media programs.

"The usages for summer citrus are somewhat different than what you might see during the domestic season in winter, so we focus on grilling ideas, salads and refreshing drinks,” she said. “We try to incorporate trendy things like tapioca pearls in our lemonade recipe.”

Living with Lidl? Be prepared, not afraid. Grocers are being challenged at every turn. The online pressure from Amazon has been well documented. There is also the brick-and-mortar threat from discount chains such as Lidl.lidl

While grocers should not ignore Lidl’s presence, they don’t necessarily need to fear it either. According to a recent study by Catania, when a Lidl store opens in a particular market it does initially negatively impact area retailers’ sales. Quite often, however, those sales are recaptured.

The study, Defending Supermarket Share When Lidl Comes to Town, found that store dollar sales decreased 4.3 percent in the first 16 weeks of Lidl’s presence. The greatest decline was in the first month when dollar sales decreased 6.8 percent. Month two saw a decline of 6 percent. After that decreases in months three and four were only 2.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

The report noted that among the factors drawing customers to Lidl were fresh and low prices in the produce department. In fact, 60 percent of the Lidl impact was driven by produce, beer and wine. Produce accounted for 33 percent of lost sales, more than any other department.

By age, younger adults showed slightly higher sales losses then the average, a decline 4.8 percent over the course of 16 weeks. Seniors 65 and above showed significantly lower impact, down just 3.5 percent. The highest impact was seen in consumers aged 35-44, with a decrease of 5.1 percent.

Village Farms has launched a new topseal program for its exclusive specialty snacking tomatoes. Available in 10-ounce containers are Heavenly Villagio Marzano, Cabernet Estate Reserve, Cherry No. 9, Lip Smackn’ Grape, Maverick Mix and Village Farms’ newest tomato variety Lorabella Blossom. Topseals

The clear topseal label film rimmed with fun and lively designs depicting the spirit of each variety are all original illustrations as part of the ‘Stackable Snackables’ line created exclusively by Village Farms.

Village Farms is challenging consumers to Snack with Impact to encourage healthy snacking through its new Stackable Snackables program. Company officials said the program offers more items per square inch of merchandising space allowing five-high container stacking, increased shelf life compared to bags or clamshells and reduced plastic waste compared to clamshells making topseal better for the environment.

According to Helen L. Aquino, director of brand marketing and communications for Village Farms, “Increasing dollar sales in the same shelf space and reducing the potential of out of stock all while improving labor efficiency with less restocking are all benefits with this program. Plus reducing shrink by increasing shelf life with topseal containers provides an important benefit for our retail partners.”

Red Sun Farms has always been associated as being a leader within the greenhouse industry. Through its vertically integrated business model, it ensures the highest level of quality in all its products.IMG 4330

This year, their level of quality had been commended as Red Sun Farms has taken top honors in various categories at the 2018 Annual Greenhouse Competition.

This competition which takes place every year in Leamington, ON, showcases some of the largest greenhouse growers in North America, and awards their produce through various categories such as Hottest Tomato, Perfect Pepper and Coolest Cucumber.

This year, Red Sun Farms came away with three first-place awards and one second-place award:

  • 1st place Best Hothouse Mini Seedless Cucumbers — Red Sun Farms Mini Cucumbers;
  • 2nd place Best Hothouse Cluster tomato — Red Sun Farms Specialty Tomatoes on the Vine;
  • 1st place Best Hothouse Roma Tomatoes — Red Sun Farms Roma Tomatoes;
  • 1st place Best Hothouse Specialty Tomato — Red Sun Farms Gourmet Cherry on the Vine.

“These awards solidify what we already knew, in that we have some of best products available on the market. The recognition of our produce is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team here at Red Sun,” said Carlos Visconti, chief executive officer for Canada and United States operations.

All funds raised from the Greenhouse Competitions go to R.E.A.CH. International. This local charity has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to build schools and clinics, drill water wells and sponsor and care for impoverished children in Uganda.

In January, Wayne Bailey Produce Co., a leading sweet potato producer headquartered in Chadbourn, NC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. On June 20, company President George Wooten told The Produce News it was preparing to successfully exit Chapter 11 in September.

“Our planned confirmation for exiting is in September,” said Wooten. “Throughout the process, Wayne Bailey Produce has continued to supply and service its customers with the highest- quality sweet potatoes. We look forward to the upcoming crop and to continuing our strong relationships with existing customers as well as attracting new ones.”IMG 3800The Wayne Bailey executive team: Sterling Cook, George Wooten Jr., Jose Maria Lopez Arroyo and George Wooten III.

The restructuring efforts have been assisted by Sterling Cook, current chief restructuring officer. He will remain with the company as chief executive officer following the restructuring.

“Sterling has extensive experience in the produce industry,” explained Wooten. “He grew up in eastern North Carolina, and he has worked in the sweet potato industry for the past seven years. We are excited about adding Sterling’s leadership abilities to our team.”

“The entire Wayne Bailey Produce team is enthusiastic about its bright future as it emerges a stronger company that is well positioned to thrive in the United States and beyond,” said Cook.

Wooten said that current sweet potato supply levels are in great shape.

“As in every year, we are on par to ensure our customers will get from cured-to-cured again this year,” he noted.

The 2018 North Carolina sweet potato crop had a slow start with excess rain and cooler temperatures in late spring, according to Wooten. But production is now well under way and plant quality is very good.

“Overall, North Carolina is going to see a decrease in sweet potato acreage this year, but Wayne Bailey Produce has increased its production,” stressed Wooten. “We have sufficient planned acreage to fulfill our customers’ needs, and we’re excited about adding new relationships to our team.”

Wayne Bailey Produce, founded in 1935, is one of the largest sweet potato producers in the nation. Known as an innovator and pacesetter in the sweet potato industry, it offers sweet potatoes in bulk, value-added, numerous pack styles and sizes and organic options. Its trademarked Petitelings fingerling-sized sweet potatoes are a hallmark of the company’s creative ingenuity.