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Organics Unlimited, an organic banana grower and importer headquartered in south San Diego County, will host GROW month in September. The GROW month initiative is a 30-day campaign aimed at partnering with retailers and media in order to create more consumer awareness of organic bananas, healthy lifestyles and GROW’s social responsibility programs.organicunl

Since 2005, through retailer and distributor support, GROW organic banana purchases have provided over $2 million in aid for underserved communities. A percentage derived from the purchase of each box of GROW organic bananas is earmarked for the GROW fund. Donations are used for youth educational scholarships and dental and vision care in Mexico, clean water programs in Ecuador, clean air initiatives in the San Diego/Tijuana border region and more.

“This year, GROW month is particularly exciting, as our new messaging aims to educate consumers about the organic and sustainable properties of the bananas they eat, as well as the company’s mission of social responsibility,” Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president of Organics Unlimited and GROW, said in a press release. “During GROW month, we hope more consumers can connect with the GROW brand, learn about the positive impact their banana purchases have and recognize that by buying our organic bananas, they really can help change lives.”

Organics Unlimited recently unveiled a fresh, new look to its branding, including new banana stickers, revised packaging and an updated look and messaging. Since its founding in 2000, Organics Unlimited has been committed to providing a truly organic and sustainable product to consumers in the United States, Canada and Asia.

Consumers can participate in GROW month throughout September and raise awareness of the humanitarian work of GROW by purchasing GROW organic bananas and sharing the hashtag #GROWmonth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Consumers will also see outdoor advertising that promotes GROW organic bananas in selected cities in the United States.

Organics Unlimited encourages retailers to join in GROW month by purchasing GROW organic bananas and sharing information with consumers on how their purchases affect lives in communities in need. Organics Unlimited has created a GROW month toolkit of items that retailers can use in-stores and online. For additional materials and retailer support, contact

Midwest retailer Meijer is getting ready to welcome an estimated 40,000 incoming college freshmen as they head to campus this fall during widely popular shopping parties dubbed “Meijer Mania.” One of retail’s leading shopping seasons, back-to-school and college is a $75 billion industry, according to the National Retail Federation. The retailer said it expects to sell 1.6 million pounds of apples during back-to-school season.meijer

The annual Meijer Mania back-to-college events celebrate incoming students in style during a night of fun — complete with a DJ, photo booth and interactive contests — while helping them collect their last-minute dorm and classroom essentials. The retailer kicked off the Meijer Mania events last week and will host a total 22 events at 20 colleges across the Midwest through early September.

“Our Meijer Mania events provide new students the opportunity to shop for their first living spaces away from home and share a fun-filled bonding experience with classmates,” Cathy Cooper, senior director of promotions and sponsorships at Meijer, said in a press release. “We are pleased to partner with so many colleges and universities to help ease the transition of moving into a new living environment for these students.”

Meijer began throwing in-store parties for incoming college freshmen more than 10 years ago to give students a chance to get to know their peers in a fun atmosphere, and introduce the Meijer brand to those who may not have grown up shopping at the Midwest supercenter — some of whom may learn how to pronounce the retailer’s name for the first time, Cooper said.

In total, an estimated 40,000 students — about 1,700 freshmen per event — will bus from campus to their local Meijer store for a night of festivities. Typically, a DJ will get the crowd pumped up while students participate in interactive games and contests, snap pictures in the photo booth, and stock their carts with snacks and school supplies. Meijer also provides samples and coupons, and occasionally hosts big-ticket giveaways.

NFF-Education-1-25Aug2016Even in the heart of the summer when there is an abundance of fresh produce choices, NatureFresh Farms mobile Greenhouse Education Center is gaining momentum with consumers who want to know how and where their tomatoes, Bell peppers and cucumbers are being grown and by whom.

“Using the Greenhouse Education Center as a living example of how we grow, we have a unique opportunity to connect with consumers,” said Chris Veillon, director of marketing at NatureFresh. “Our teams spend as much time as needed with the consumer to explain how we grow and the various benefits of eating greenhouse grown tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers.”

Now in its second full year, the company’s #GreenInTheCity Tour has been visiting schools and retail locations across eastern North America since late spring connecting with consumer of all ages. Combined with product demonstrations at all events, consumers not only get to learn about how greenhouse vegetables are grown but also taste them.

“We have invested a great deal of resources in not only talking about how we grow but putting locally grown, greenhouse vegetables in to the consumers hand to taste the quality that NatureFresh Farms produces. The message really hits home with the consumer when we tell them we are the grower,” said Ray Wowryk, director of business development. 

NatureFresh began shipping locally grown OhioRed tomatoes from its Delta, OH, greenhouse back in February and will be shipping an extensive variety of locally grown specialty tomatoes year round later this fall. NatureFresh Farms is the first vertically integrated greenhouse grower to ship locally grown tomatoes year round from Ohio.

NatureFresh Farms partnered with Walkerville Collegiate in Windsor, ON, to develop an information video to explain the various processes of greenhouse vegetable growing. The video has been particularly successful with schools, which has resulted in the demand for more digital resources to support in-classroom initiatives.

With more than 60 events already completed this year, NatureFresh has seen tremendous support for the initiative with very positive feedback & support from both retailers and consumers alike. The #GreenInTheCity Tour is scheduled to continue through the middle of November wrapping up Nov. 13 at the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto.

In 2006, C.H. Robinson and Western Growers Association formed the Western Growers Transportation Program to provide supply chain solutions for fresh produce growers in North America. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this program, the two organizations hosted a “Giving Day” on Aug. 24, 2016, using C.H. Robinson’s Bethlehem, PA, hub as a collection and distribution center.

More than 240,000 pounds of donated produce, along with monetary donations, resulted in the delivery of enough food to produce more than 250,000 meals.SL0A1228Rob Lynch and John Stenderup of C.H. Robinson, Paul Lynch of Feeding America/Second Harvest, Matt McInerny of Western Growers Association, and Gary York and Luke Gowdy of C.H. Robinson in Bethlehem, PA, helping to distribute thousands of pounds of donated produce to the needy.

“Over the past 10 years, C.H. Robinson has worked with many grower-shippers through the Western Growers Transportation Program and has helped them improve their supply chains,” said Luke Gowdy, general manager at C.H. Robinson. “We are energized by the 10-year celebration, the participation of growers in Giving Day, and the future of the program.”

Matt McInerney, senior executive vice president of WGA, thanked the many grower-shippers for their participation. “Thank you to the generous grower-shippers who donated product and monetary donations. It is rewarding to see how these donations will impact local communities and bring fresh produce to those who may not have easy access to it.”

McInerney said that when the Feeding America staff saw the quality of product donated they were in awe — and very excited to get that product in the hands of the needy and working poor who rarely have access to such top quality merchandise.

John Stenderup, manager of grower-shipper transportation services for CHR’s Western region, said he was overwhelmed by the generous support from the grower-shipper community.

“I say I am surprised, but I am really not. This is what they do over and over again. They are like the offensive line of the food group,” said Stenderup, noting they are in the trenches doing the work, day in and day out

In keeping with the produce focus of the transportation program, the food drive event encouraged growers to donate to Feeding America — either through product or monetary donations.

Stenderup said donations came from many parts of the country including Texas, Arizona and Idaho, with the bulk of the produce originating in California during the height of its summer harvest. C.H. Robinson donated the transportation needed to get the produce to its destinations. The donations went to Feeding America locations across the country. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, providing food to 46 million low-income Americans every year.

Back in his Monterey, CA, office on Aug. 26, Stenderup said the monetary donations were still coming in.

McInerney said the Western Growers Transportation Program was formed a decade ago in an effort to find a solution that would enable shippers to integrate the transportation piece into their program sales efforts. Rather than have transportation be an afterthought, it could be a strategic part of any shipper’s program and allow for delivered sales. By aggregating the volume of product shipped by members of WGA, each shipper, whether they have five loads or 5,000, could avail themselves of CHR services.

Over the past decade, the scope of the program has been expanded to include members of many other associations with seven other fresh produce groups now involved: California Fresh Fruit Association, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Fresh Produce Association of Americas, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Association, Idaho Grower-Shipper Association, National Onion Association and the Texas International Produce Association. Stenderup said the geographic and product diversity allows seasonal and smaller shippers all over the country to participate.

McInerney said the program has also evolved to include many additional services, such as just-in-time deliveries, cross-border services, load consolidation, forward distribution and consultation services for transportation needs. He reiterated that transportation no longer has to be just a transactional element of a sale but can be a strategic piece of a shipper’s value proposition.

Stenderup said the program gives shippers a turnkey solution to transportation that allows them to focus their attention on their core competencies of growing, harvesting, and packaging nutritious, fresh produce.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has imposed sanctions on Premier Fresh Wholesale and B Food Inc. 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:

  • B Food Inc., operating out of Merritt Island, FL, for failing to pay a $25,463 award in favor of a Florida seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Broderick E. Bolton was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business.

  • Humberto Baez, doing business as Premier Fresh Wholesale, operating out of Jersey City, NJ, for failing to pay a $71,193 award in favor of a New York seller. As of the issuance date of the reparation order, Humberto Baez was listed as the sole proprietor 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.