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Limoneira Co., based in Santa Paula, CA, announced that it will go back to the future by adding its oranges and specialty citrus varieties to its One World of Citrus model.  

“For 124 years, we’ve been growing a wide variety of citrus. We began our direct selling program for lemons six years ago, and we are excited to once again have our oranges and other citrus varieties marketed in Limoneira cartons,” Alex Teague, senior vice president and chief operating officer, said in a press release.

“Limoneira’s global lemon customers have been asking us to sell our other citrus varieties for quite awhile,” John Carter, Limoneira’s director of global sales, added in the press release. “We look forward to the opportunity to grow the category and connect shoppers to other citrus trees. Customers have appreciated the quality and consistency that they receive with Limoneira’s lemons, and we will deliver these same benefits with our oranges and specialty citrus”.

In addition to Navel and Valencia oranges, Limoneira will provide Cara Cara Navels , Moro Blood oranges, Pummelos and Star Ruby grapefruit from its groves. Limoneira will partner with Cecelia Packing Corp. for packing Limoneira oranges and specialty citrus.

“They share our values and commitment,” said Teague. “Like our lemon packinghouse in Santa Paula, they have a state-of-the-art facility in Orange Cove that’s close to our orange and specialty citrus groves.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on three produce businesses for failure to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

The following businesses and individuals are currently restricted from operating in the produce industry:

  • United Commodities USA Inc. operating out of Bakersfield, CA, for failing to pay a $262,863 award in favor of a North Carolina seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Kent D. Lancaster and Bruce A. Oettel were listed as the officers, directors and major stockholders of the business.

  • FMP Farms & Distributor Inc. operating out of Nogales, AZ, for failing to pay a $16,906 award in favor of a California seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Jose Vasquez was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  • PNL Produce LLC operating out of Miami for failing to pay a $7,013 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Paul N. Lazecki was listed as a member of the business.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Its experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million.


U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Office of Field Operations at the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility discovered that a commercial shipment of mangos contained more than five tons of alleged marijuana.

On July 19, CBP officers assigned to the Pharr International Bridge cargo facility encountered a tractor-trailer hauling a commercial shipment of mangoes from Mexico. The trailer was driven by a 32-year-old male Mexican citizen from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

After the conveyance was referred for a non-intrusive imaging inspection and with the help of a canine team, officers discovered 19,584 bundles containing a total of 10,566 pounds of alleged marijuana concealed within the shipment of mangos. The alleged narcotics carry an estimated street value of $2.1 million.

“This is an extraordinary seizure; our officers did a tremendous job in the interception of these narcotics," said Port Director Efrain Solis Jr., Hidalgo/Pharr/Anzalduas Port of Entry. "Smugglers are getting very creative with their smuggling attempts, but our officers remain vigilant and committed to our CBP mission.”

CBP OFO seized the drugs, arrested the driver and turned him over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations agents for further investigation.

“This team effort is a credit to the strong partnerships shared by DHS agencies like HSI and CBP in south Texas, " Shane Folden, special agent in charge of  HSI in San Antonio, said in a press release. "The seizure of more than 10,000 pounds of marijuana should send a strong message to criminal organizations: DHS will not tolerate the exploitation of our borders.”

Following the successful completion of its merger on July 23, Ahold Delhaize moves forward as one of the world’s largest food retail groups, a leader in supermarkets and e-commerce and a company at the forefront of sustainable retailing with 6,500 stores in 11 countries.AHOLDAEL

“Today is the start of an important new chapter and a unique opportunity to deliver even more for customers and communities, associates and shareholders," Dick Boer, Ahold Delhaize chief executive officer, said in a press release. "Building on common values, complementary operations and proud legacies of success, we move forward with leading positions particularly on the United States East Coast and in Europe. Our strong e-commerce businesses and 22 great, local brands each share a passion for delivering great food, value, and innovation for customers, and for making a difference in their local communities."

The combined company traces its roots back nearly 150 years. Ahold Delhaize’s 22 local brands serve more than 50 million customers each week in 11 countries and have a combined workforce of more than 375,000 associates.

To mark the start of the new company, Ahold Delhaize today introduced its new visual identity. The company’s fresh, new logo and visual identity honors its proud heritage while also reflecting the combined company’s new future.

MONTEREY, CA — There is no doubt that organic produce has moved into the mainstream realm as virtually every retailer of any significant size throughout the United States carries dozens of SKUs in this sector. As such, these retailers are faced with a decision of whether to “integrate” organic products into their departments or “segregate” those items.

This was one of the major themes explored by a panel of retailers at the recent Organic Produce Summit, held here July 10-13.  

Neil Cullen, senior manager of quality control at Sprouts Markets, said that that 240-store chain takes a segregated approach. Mark Carroll, senior director of produce and floral for the 25-store Southern California-based Gelson’s Markets, said his firm has a hybrid merchandising scheme utilizing both theories. Jonathan Steffy, director of sales and retail services for Four Seasons Produce Inc., based in Ephrata, PA, which serves hundreds of retailers, said either method can work, but added that the integrated approach is trickier.

Cullen agreed, noting that Sprouts uses the segregation concept primarily to eliminate issues. The chain has stores in multiple states covering many different demographics. Some stores sell a lot of organic produce and others do not. For consistency and ease of operations, Sprouts segregates organic produce, merchandising the items together within the produce department to create an “organic destination” for its shoppers. This is a very clear way to familiarize shoppers with that option, utilize large signage, cross merchandise with like items and allow the shopper looking for that choice to easily identify the assortment of items available.

Cullen said Sprouts is growing its organic produce section with about one-third of the department’s SKUs identified as organic. He said the firm uses the same techniques and concepts to merchandise both conventional and organic produce. There is a value component to the merchandising scheme and in-store promotions are heavily relied upon.

Carrol said quality and freshness drive Gelson’s organic offerings whether the produce is organic or conventional. But he acknowledged that the upscale retailer has a significant percentage of shoppers who skew toward organic produce with the price differential inconsequential. As such, Gelson’s uses a variety of merchandising techniques to sell its organic produce offerings. He said segregation works well, but it is what most retailers do.

Gelson’s uses its hybrid approach as a point of differentiation from its competitors. It has found that for high-velocity items, such as avocados and strawberries, it works best to merchandise the organic and conventional SKUs in the same location. That concept, he said, “generates the most dollars and generates the most movement.”

The retailer also groups like items. For example, it typically will have an eight-foot section of conventional wet vegetable items right next to an eight-food section of organic wet vegetables. Of course, he said, Gelson’s is mindful of rules against co-mingling conventional and organic product and guards against that.  

The company also uses both the “twin line” and “single line” philosophy depending upon the item and the quality available. He explained that twin line is carrying both an organic and conventional SKU of the same item, such as a 48-count Hass avocado. Because it is a high-velocity item — in fact, it is the No. 1 dollar sales produce item on an annual basis for the retailer — twin lining makes great sense.

Gelson’s typically single lines a slower-moving specialty item. In these instances, Carroll allows the quality of the product to determine whether it is a conventional or organic SKU.  

Steffy of Four Seasons, noting the co-mingling rules associated with organic produce merchandising, said it can be effective to merchandise organic produce on a top shelf of a refrigerated rack with the conventional items of the same ilk on the bottom and middle shelves.  He said that if a retailer wants to dip its toes in the integration arena, berries and tomatoes have proven to do very well with this concept, and would make a good first step.

But Steffy took more of an overview approach to organic produce merchandising, noting that utilizing a one-size-fits-all concept is a pitfall. Each retailer is different, and he said to be successful selling organic produce, it needs to be approached in the same manner as selling conventional produce, with complete buy-in by the produce department manager and clerks. Lack of variety and poor signage are typical pitfalls.

“You are going to fail with poor signage or no signage,” he said. “You have to tell your customers where it is.”

He added that the “set-it-and-forget-it” approach is also lacking, observing that some retailers get an organic produce delivery maybe twice a week and those are the only two days that staff pays attention to those displays. “That won’t work,” he said.

Carroll agreed, as Gelson’s does not treat organic produce as a separate category but rather each item falls into its produce category. For example, organic and conventional apples make up the apple category. When it comes to a measurement such as shrink, Gelson’s measures it against sales without differentiating the growing technique. Carroll believes this creates a better situation for organic produce to succeed.

The panelists agreed that one of the biggest issues with organic produce is making sure it is rung up properly at the register. For the most part, organic produce pricing is higher than the conventional product and it’s a problem if it isn’t being rung up as an organic item.  Exacerbating this issue is the general perception that the consumer buying organics tends to want less packaging and no stickers, which are common ways to assure the proper ring at the register.

The retailers indicated there are several ways to guard against this. At Sprouts, checkers are required to walk the produce department prior to their shift to familiarize themselves with the offerings of that day.

It was also suggested that produce department personnel engage organic shoppers, explaining to them the need for PLU stickers and packaging, with the proper ring up at the register being very important to helping retailers increase their organic produce items.