Braga Fresh, a third-generation farming family, has recently launched its new packaged organic Belgian-style leeks under the Josie’s Organics label featuring its signature blue polka dot packaging.BFF-trimmed-leeks-2ct-overhead-wood-6870-edited-R1-RGB-approved

The company said Josie’s Organics packaged Belgian-style leeks are the special ingredient in many recipes or that perfect side dish to any meal. These long, slender leeks can be compared to shallots in flavor, but are milder and somewhat sweeter. These packaged leeks have more edible flesh than most bunched leeks, save time when it comes to cleaning and preparing, and limit the amount of product wasted — allowing the consumer to experience convenience and versatility. Josie’s Organics Belgian-style leeks are grown in the United States and are available year round.

“We are always thinking of ways to add more value and quality to our products. When we took a closer look at the amount of shelf space that bunched leeks required, we wanted to come up with an alternative. Josie’s Belgian-style leeks are trimmed in an eye-appealing package, and take up less shelf space at the store and in the consumers’ refrigerator. Our packaged leeks are simple, flavorful and stunning. Their gourmet appearance is sure to please organic consumers. We are excited to continue to expand our line of Josie's products and feel we have a unique item that our customers will love,” Peter Cling, senior vice president of operations, said in a press release.

"We know that value-added products and organics are what’s driving consumer purchasing and fueling growth in the produce department," the company said. "Braga Fresh is continuing to develop a comprehensive product line of organic fresh vegetables, organic chopped salads, organic baby leaf blends, and organic fresh-cut vegetables to fill that need."

Josie’s Organics packaged Belgian-style leeks are available now to major retailers and wholesale distributors throughout the United States and Canada.

LumiGrow Inc., a smart horticultural lighting company, announced a partnership with CF Industrial, a lighting and power solutions provider in Leamington, ON. The new partnership bolsters LumiGrow’s commitment to its Ontario greenhouse growers, further providing responsive local support for those implementing smart horticultural lighting for precision greenhouse management. The CF Industrial team is yet another addition to LumiGrow’s Ontario-based services, as the company has already deployed plant science research support across the region.cande

“We are happy to welcome CF Industrial as a LumiGrow Canada Partner," Jay Albere, vice president of sales and marketing, said in a press release. "This partnership will ensure that our superior level of technical support can be deployed immediately upon short notice. Our local lighting specialists will be able to personally visit and consult with commercial growers in Ontario, assisting with lighting implementation, as well as environmental and horticultural considerations.”

“It’s important for us to find partners that share our values of long-term customer relationships, and we feel that’s exactly what we’ve found," Jason Papp, CF Industrial business operations manager, said in the release. "We’ve been involved in the greenhouse industry here in Leamington for many years, and until now we haven’t seen an LED technology work like the LumiGrow solution. Both companies have been in business for a long time and realize that enterprise horticulture takes more than the right tools, but requires top-notch service from experts you can trust. We’re really here to bring this high level of knowledgeable support closer to home for our Canadian growers.”

The LumiGrow Plant Research Group will continue to work with growers in the Ontario region to develop crop-specific adjustable lighting strategies tailored for specific growth goals and financial objectives.

“Our research team is already working with Canadian growers to develop custom lighting strategies for cucumber, tomato, pepper, leafy green, and strawberry cultivation," Albere said in the release. “The ROI is proven and the crop-benefits are well-known. We’re just expanding our local support to offer a full breadth of sales, infrastructure, and research service so that greenhouse business owners, facility managers, and growers alike have access to LumiGrow lighting resources when their operations most depend on it.”

The grocery industry is in a state of flux. Everybody is talking about online shopping, even though very few consumers are doing it. Actual stores are getting smaller, and there seems to be fewer of them — at least in Chicago.

According to an urban grocery report by retail brokerage Mid-America Real Estate Group, there are 262 grocery stores in the Chicagoland area, the least since 2009.  blue skyline chicago illinoisThe Chicagoland area currently has fewer grocery stores than any other time since 2009.

“It's certainly a sign of the times," Dan Tausk, a principal at Mid-America and the report's co-author, told the Chicago Tribune on Aug. 12. "The market is changing, and I would expect that to continue.”

Bankruptcies, and store shutdowns in the area have been factors. “In the past you'd see a grocer go out and another grocer go in," Tausk said. "Now we're lucky if half is backfilled by a grocer.”

The Tribune reports that much Chicago’s declining grocery industry can be traced back to Central Grocers cooperative, which filed for bankruptcy in May. Central Grocers was the parent company of Strack & Van Til and Ultra Foods stores in addition to operating as a wholesaler for more than 400 independent stores in the Chicago area.

Amazon’s pending acquisition of Whole Foods will likely upset the apple cart further, not only in Chicago, but also across the country.

Matt Seeley, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Organic Produce Network, will speak next month on the topic of organic merchandising at the New England Produce Council's annual expo.Matt-Seeley-headshot

The workshop, titled Excellence in Organic Merchandising and Trends in the Floral Industry, will take place from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12. The expo will take place Sept. 12-14 in Boston.

Seeley, who is also well known for his many years at The Nunes Co., will speak on the "state of the organic produce industry" and will "give an overview of sales, trends and opportunities" in the organic produce field, NEPC Executive Director Laura Sullivan told The Produce News.

Seeley will be joined at the workshop by Kevin Barry of Big Y Foods Inc. and Denise Dryzga of Hannaford Bros. Co., which is now part of Ahold Delhaize.

For more information about the NEPC expo, contact Laura Sullivan at 781/273-0444.

Online sales continue to soar, yet cyberspace still has very little impact on the retail grocery industry. According to Gallup's annual Consumption Habits survey, conducted July 5-9, only 9 percent of adults said their household orders groceries online at least once a month. Just 4 percent said they shop online weekly. Comparatively, 83 percent said somebody in their family shops in person at least once a week.

Not surprisingly, the highest rate of online shoppers were aged 18 to 29, as 15 percent of that age group said they make online grocery purchases at least once a month. Twelve percent of those aged 30 to 49 and 10 percent of those aged 50 to 64 make online grocery purchases at least once a month. Age had little affect on those shopping in store, as all age groups make regular in store visits.

Regionally, consumers in the East were most likely to shop online at least once a month (16 percent). Followed by the West (11 percent), South (8 percent) and Midwest (5 percent). Fifteen percent of city dwellers shopped online at least once a month compared to 8 percent of suburbanites.