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Avocados from Mexico rolls out new promotional tools

ANAHEIM, CA — As the promotional arm of the largest worldwide supplier of avocados, Avocados from Mexico faces a challenge of devising programs to move a crop of fruit that eclipses 1 billion pounds annually.

At the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition, held Oct. 17-9, here, AFM introduced a new retail display case and an educational program for register clerks designed to move more product and increase the produce department ticket ring.AFM2Maggie Bezart Hall, vice president of trade and promotion for Avocados from Mexico, with the organization's new permanent display bin for Mexican avocados.

Maggie Bezart Hall, vice president of trade and promotion for AFM, said the new permanent display bin has been well received by retail customers and has design features to allow for easy cross-promotions with other items to increase sales.

The bin, constructed of steel in the shape of an avocado, is on wheels, which allows for easy movement throughout a store. It has padded shelves that hold approximately 75 pounds of avocados and taller shelves on the lower tier to display complementary items, such as chips, taco shells or beverages. It also has two front pockets, which are ideal for merchandising guacamole or taco spices or recipe cards.

AFM will use the new display in its Guac Fiesta program, a cross-promotion with General Mills' "Old El Paso" branded items beginning in mid-December and leading up to the Super Bowl in early February.

"It's a great promotion and we are very excited to be working with General Mills on this program," said Bezart Hall.

AFM also unveiled a new in-store training tool to educate cash register clerks about properly ringing Mexican avocados on the checkout line.

Designed for smaller retailers that typically carry only one size of fruit, the tool is a bin with separate compartments for various sizes of avocados, and the idea is to have clerks handle each size and familiarize themselves with the look and feel of each, according to Bezart Hall.

"Since most clerks are female, we are trying to educate them about how each size feels in their hands," she said.

The 48 is the most common size, so register clerks can hold one of those to get a standard measure. Then when they hold a size 60, 70 or 84, for example, they can feel how much smaller they are in their hands.

"The goal is to provide a sales and volume lift for the avocado category and increase the produce department ticket ring," said Bezart Hall.

The bin also has graphics on the front to show the avocado sizes and the ideal uses for each size.

At the PMA Fresh Summit expo, the AFM booth featured AFM-themed food trucks, which served a variety of dishes that featured Mexican avocados. Traffic was strong throughout the two-day expo, as attendees stopped for samples of creative dishes and examined the new shipper display and bin.

"This has been a great convention for us," said Bezart Hall. "We are promoting all of our different programs to continue to drive consumption and maintain sales."

New York Apple Growers partners with Wegmans to introduce SnapDragon apples this fall

The New York Apple Growers LLC will be launching a new apple called SnapDragon in all Wegmans stores starting in November.

Known for its crispy texture combined with a sweet and juicy flavor, SnapDragon has a distinctly bright red dappled color.  SnapDragonLogo horiz

Unlike many other produce items, apples are commonly sold by variety and consumers have shown a continued interest in trying new apples that offer unique colors, flavors and textures.

SnapDragon has a limited crop this year but supplies are expected to increase in 2015.

"This bi-color apple is a hybrid of a Honeycrisp that has excellent quality, storage and shelf life," Jeff Crist, vice chairman of the board of directors of NYAG, said in a press release. "Our consumer research revealed that consumers not only responded very favorably to SnapDragon's crisp texture and sweet taste, but also noted high willingness to purchase."

Because of the super sweet flavor profile of this apple, growers expect SnapDragon to be a hit with moms who are looking for a healthy alternative to traditional junk foods. Marketing efforts will include point-of-sale materials, high-graphic packaging, in-store demos, public relations and social media activities. Growers will also make in-store appearances and be available to visit with shoppers during select in-store demo events in November.

Snapdragon-singleTo help educate consumers, a website was developed to highlight the benefits of SnapDragon and provide consumers with recipes and pairing suggestions at www.SnapDragonApple.com.

The site also includes a "Meet the Growers" section that profiles a grower of the month and includes the full list of growers in New York State. Also included are links to Facebook and Twitter pages.

Formed in 2010, the New York Apple Growers is a grower-owned company united by the mission of introducing exclusive, premium flavor apple varieties to the marketplace. The organization is comprised of 145 grower members in the state of New York, representing about 60 percent of the state's apple production.

Developed by Cornell University, SnapDragon is licensed for a managed release with the New York Apple Growers. RubyFrost, another new variety, will go to market in January 2015. Growers pay royalties on trees purchased, acreage planted and fruit produced, and the income is used to market the new apples and support Cornell's apple-breeding program.

Both SnapDragon and RubyFrost have been a decade in the making with the first trees planted in farmers' orchards in 2011. Now the still-young trees have produced a limited crop this year with plans for a much larger roll out in 2015-16.

"Retailers will appreciate SnapDragon because although the apple's harvest window starts relatively early -- in late September -- its long storage and shelf life means they may be able to offer it with consistent quality for a longer time than Honeycrisp," Apple breeder Susan Brown at Cornell's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, added in the press release.

Fresh Summit 'eat brighter' town hall addresses industry issues, promotes healthy choices for kids

ANAHEIM, CA -- With the average child viewing around 5,500 unhealthy food ads on television per year, compared to the fewer than 100 healthy food ads featuring fresh fruits and veggies, it's no wonder 33 percent of children in the United States fall under the category of "overweight or obese." And this is exactly the problem the produce industry hopes to change through its new 'eat brighter' campaign.

"We actually have to make these healthier choices exciting for kids," Sam Kass, executive director of First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move!" initiative, said during the "eat brighter" town hall workshop Friday, Oct. 17, at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition, here.

"If this room sells more of its products, the country will be better for it," he added.

Kass was part of a panel of industry members that also included Donna Bogia, PMA director of information and customer service; Derrick Jenkins, vice president of produce and floral at Wakefern Food Corp; and Robert Verloop, executive vice president of marketing at Naturipe, who came together to discuss the 'eat brighter' movement with PMA Fresh Summit attendees.

The 'eat brighter' campaign offers the fresh produce industry royalty-free access to Sesame Street character images and was forged by the Partnership for a Healthier America, which works with the private sector and PHA Honorary Chair First Lady Michelle Obama to make healthy choices easier for busy parents and families.

The mass-marketing of junk food is one of the "biggest issues" facing the produce industry today, said Kass, who noted that the partnership with Sesame Street will help to reverse this problem by promoting healthier food choices to young children and their parents.

"The key is making it fun and feel good," he said.

Verloop, an early supporter of 'eat brighter,' agreed with Kass and added that this campaign is about much more than the famous characters.

"It's not a promotion, it should be a part of our everyday mission," he told PMA workshop attendees. "We're talking about rebranding retail produce from the ground up. This creates a whole new level of communication that we've never had before."

The 'eat brighter' town hall workshop was moderated by Todd Putman, chief commercial officer of Bolthouse Farms, and also featured PMA President Cathy Burns.

"Part of being pioneers is being able to test something and make changes," Burns said of PMA's plans to continue evolving the program.

As for the future, Sesame Street is excited about continuing its partnership and expanding into other countries, Burns said, adding that this program "is deeply embedded into their mission."

Kass, Verloop and Burns, as well as the rest of the panelists, recognized the companies in attendance that are already supporting the "eat brighter" program, and encouraged all attendees to hop on board and change the way they market healthy foods to kids.

"We have a chance to make this a much bigger market," Kass said. "I have complete confidence that we will find a way to continue this program past 2016."

For more information on the "eat brighter" campaign, or to sign up, visit: www.pma.com/eatbrighter.

D'Arrigo Massachusetts website 'uniquely New England'

The new website at D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts has plenty of information about this wholesaler located on the New England Produce Center in Chelsea, MA. It also contains, as one might expect, lots of history and old-time photos about the well-known D'Arrigo family, which got into the fresh produce industry back in the 1920s and is perhaps best known for its pioneering "Andy Boy" brand of broccoli and other fresh vegetables.

Nick Pasculli, president and creative director of The Marketing Department Inc., headquartered in Salinas, CA, and Peter D'Arrigo, president of D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of Massachusetts, began working in February to redesign the produce company's website. It went live in May.

Pasculli had previously worked on the D'Arrigo company's California website, so it was a natural move for him to then work on the company's Massachusetts website. "I knew the company. I spent time with the salespeople. I spent time in the coolers," Pasculli told The Produce News Wednesday, Oct. 15.

"It was a great experience to work with Peter," he continued. "All the people at D'Arrigo were incredible and very gracious to work with. I really enjoyed working with them."

The new website provides a history of the D'Arrigo family, beginning in the 1920s, recounting in text and photos how it all started and evolved in California, in Boston and in New York.

Of course, one of the highlights of this iconic company is its "Andy Boy" brand, utilized first on fresh broccoli and then on a wide range of vegetables. According to the new website, "the first-ever brand of fresh vegetables in the USA, 'Andy Boy' was trademarked in 1927 by the brothers [Stephen and Andrew] and has been recognized for more than 80 years as a leading brand in the industry. The 3-year-old youngest son of Stephen, Andy, served as the name for the brand. This was fitting, as Andy was the son of one brother named after the other."

But the new site contains more than just history. It explains the products and services that the company offers, and talks about three key issues at the company's core: cold chain management, food safety and social responsibility.

In addition, the wholesaler's extensive product line is listed not only by individual item but also by salesperson, so that "existing customers and prospective customers alike may see who to contact for a particular commodity group" without wasting any time, said Pasculli.

The new site was also designed specifically with the terminal market atmosphere in mind. "It is easy to view on mobile devices or tablets," said Pasculli. "To be able to digest information in a fast way is very important for the terminal market industry." Grower-shippers, retailers and others have modern, up-to-date websites, and "this is just as important for terminal markets," said Pasculli. "This new website at D'Arrigo is a very fresh and modern site. It is personal, friendly and uniquely New England."

United Fresh to honor Mike Cavallero with Lifetime Achievement Award at Midwinter Leadership Forum

Michael Cavallero, retired president of North American Tropical Fresh Fruit for Dole Fresh Fruit Co., will be the 2015 honoree at the Produce Legends Dinner during the United Fresh Midwinter Leadership Forum, to be held Jan. 13-15 at the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, CA.

"Mike is a tremendously deserving honoree," United Fresh Chairman Ron Carkoski, president and chief executive officer of Four Seasons Family of Cos., said in a press release.CavalleroMichael Cavallero

Cavallero has served the fresh produce industry for more than 40 years, working his entire career with the Dole Food Co. and its predecessor, Castle & Cooke. Cavallero has also served on many industry boards and councils, including as a member of the board of directors of United Fresh and the Produce Marketing Association, as well as chairman of the board of the International Banana Association.

United's Midwinter Leadership Forum brings together all of the association's volunteer leaders for council and board meetings, its annual United Fresh Start Foundation golf tournament to support children's increased access to fresh produce, and the Produce Legends Dinner honoring an individual for his or her lifetime achievement in the produce industry. Past honorees have included Joe Procacci, Frieda Caplan, Reggie Griffin and Bob Grimm.

The 2015 Produce Legends Dinner will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 13, following the Foundation golf tournament.

Cavallero began his career as a technical service representative in the Fresh Fruit Division of Castle & Cooke. Four years later, he was promoted to director of marketing services.

In 1983, he was promoted to the Fresh Vegetable Division in Salinas, CA, with responsibility in central sales. After a stint in New York as Eastern Division sales manager, Cavallero returned to Salinas as vice president of sales for fresh vegetables.

In 1992 he returned to the Fresh Fruit Division as vice president of sales and marketing for tropical products, and was promoted to president of North American Tropical Fresh Fruit in 2001, serving as an officer of the Dole Fresh Fruit Co. He retired in 2014.

"Volunteer leaders and friends from throughout the fresh produce and supermarket industry are invited to participate with Mike in the Foundation Golf Tournament on Tuesday, January 13," United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said in the press release. "Many friends throughout the industry have enjoyed being Mike's guests at Dole golf tournaments over the years, so it's great to be able to turn the tables and honor him at this year's event. And, it's for a great cause increasing kids' access to fresh produce, which Mike has supported for so long."

The 2015 United Fresh Start Foundation Golf Tournament will be played on the renowned TPC Stadium Course at PGA West. Rated one of the "Top 100 Courses in the World" by GOLF Magazine and fourth toughest course in America in Golf Digest's "Top 50 Toughest Courses in America" (2007), this Pete Dye course offers one of the most enjoyable challenges in the game of golf. For those guests who do not play golf, United will arrange a tour on Tuesday of local fresh produce operations in the Palm Springs area.

On Wednesday morning following the Produce Legends Dinner, United Fresh will host a Keynote Leadership Breakfast for all volunteer leaders and dinner guests. After that event, United's boards and councils will begin their meetings, and guests are welcome to observe a meeting of their choice or to depart.

Registration for all events is available on the United Fresh Midwinter Leadership Forum website.