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USApple encouraging consumers to branch out in apple purchases

New personality quiz and variety videos help consumers find ideal apple varieties and perfect food pairings

Are you a trendsetter? Cool, your apple is Honeycrisp. Fitness Fanatic? You should get even healthier with Fuji apples. Or are you a Type A Planner? According to a new campaign from U.S. Apple Association, the Golden Delicious apple must be at the top of your list.

appetizemeUSApple is re-introducing its award-winning AppletizeMe social, digital and public relations program aimed at inspiring increased apple consumption by matching consumers' personality traits with their ideal apple varieties, perfect food pairings, and recipe ideas.

Now in its second year, AppletizeMe continues throughout the fall and once again partners with T. Marzetti Co. and California Walnut Commission, along with new partners Johnsonville Sausage and Roth Cheese. USApple will promote the campaign through a variety of social/digital initiatives, Facebook ads, Twitter engagements and national PR.

Individuals who visit will find an engaging, nine-step quiz that peels back the many layers of our psyches with questions such as, "What's your dream job?," "How do you like to spend your evenings?," and "What's the first thing you do every morning?"

After responding, individuals are matched to one of 18 personalities (up from last year's 12), such as Introvert, Intellectual, Girly Girl and Manly Man. And, each personality reveals their ideal apple variety, which among the 18 include McIntosh (for the Geek Chic), Cortland (for Charmers), and Gala (for Social Butterflies) - all brought to life with fun graphics customized for individuals to share on their social channels.

The personality quiz also recommends which foods pair best with their apples. For example, the Adventurer personality is a Crispin apple, which pairs best with walnut butter and granola. The Charmer personality is a Paula Red apple, sliced well with Johnsonville summer sausage, Roth cheese and crackers. The Old School personality is Red Delicious, combined classically with Marzetti caramel dip.

And, new for this year's AppletizeMe and National Apple Month, USApple has produced 18 short videos for each variety for viewing on the site that feature health, storage, and usage tips.

"We launched AppletizeMe in 2013 as a health and nutrition initiative to inspire consumers to learn more about apple varieties, apple pairing and apples' many health benefits in a fun, engaging and social environment," Wendy Brannen, USApple's director of consumer health and public relations, said in a press release. "Response was tremendous - and the American Agricultural Editors' Association named it the year's top digital program. We are grateful for the support of our partners to enable us to bring back a bigger and brighter AppletizeMe this harvest season with a customized personality quiz, more featured apple varieties, and highly informative and fun variety videos sure to connect even deeper with apple lovers."

The website also is packed with helpful product information and research about apples' health benefits, as well as surprising details and simple preparation tips on select apple varieties.

Individuals who share their apple personalities on social networks through Nov. 20, 2014 can enter for weekly drawings to win Apple Gift Cards, valued at $400.

The U.S. Apple Association is comprised of 40 state and regional associations representing the 7,500 apple growers throughout the country, as well as more than 400 individual firms involved in the apple business.

Retail View: Los Angeles market registers strong produce sales growth

The Los Angeles marketplace had very strong volume and dollar growth in fresh produce at retail over the last year, according to the latest Fresh Produce & Floral Council Market Report.

In the 12-month period ending July 1, retailers in the Los Angeles area (which includes Orange County and the Inland Empire) had an 8 percent gain in retail dollars and 3 percent gain in volume over the previous year's numbers. While retailers in California as a whole also had strong dollar growth (7 percent), the state registered only a 1 percent gain in sales. Los Angeles exhibited the greatest increase in volume and dollars of the four markets (San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento) compared in the report.

The FPFC Market Report is a member benefit produced each quarter by Fusion Marketing in Chatsworth, CA, and is designed to give retailers, wholesalers and shippers both a snapshot and comparison look at the California fresh produce retail scene.

The data presented come from many stores in each market. The Los Angeles information comes from four counties and includes 2,825 stores. More than 1,000 stores are surveyed in the San Francisco Bay Area, while over 500 stores provide information for both the San Diego and San Francisco markets.

The comparison data for California as a whole includes all of the stores in each of these individual markets as well as many stores in outlying areas. For the California data, 8,701 stores provide the scan data that is utilized in preparing the report.

FPFC members can look at the data and note growth or declines in many different commodities and the four markets to gauge against their own sales data.

For example, the report shows that pineapple dollar sales have grown for nine straight quarters. While this can partially be explained by a consistent increase in market price, volume growth is also on an upward trend.

The numbers show that for the 12-month period, fresh fruit in Los Angeles accounted for 52 percent of total produce sales while vegetables added 45 percent and the "other" category chipped in 3 percent. These percentages were fairly consistent across all four markets, though in Sacramento vegetable sales outpaced fruit by 49 to 48 percent.

Sales of organic produce in California continue to grow. The numbers for the state show an increase in dollar sales for fruit from 4.7 percent to 6.1 percent during the 12 months ending with the first day of July. Vegetables were even more impressive, jumping from a market share of 7.5 percent to 9.6 percent. Los Angeles trails the state a bit in this category, as organic vegetable dollar sales check in at 5.1 percent with fruit dollar sales being noted at 8.6 percent.

Not surprisingly, San Francisco is the most organic-friendly market in the state. Organic fruit sales account for 11.9 percent of that category while vegetables top 9 percent.

According to data in this latest FPFC Market Report, pineapple has seen a significant increase in volume sales in all four California markets despite higher prices.

Among some of the interesting data that surfaced while perusing the Los Angeles data is that bagged salads, though one of the more expensive vegetable items at an average of almost $4.40 per item, continue to show strong growth.

During the quarter that ended June 30, bagged salads accounted for 10 percent of fresh vegetable sales and about 3.5 percent of volume, reflecting the higher per-ounce cost of this value-added item. Those numbers represented a 16 percent increase in volume and a 23 percent increase in dollars over the previous year.

Sweet corn volume also grew in that quarter for the first time in two years. Corn sales are predictably on a roller coaster ride over the course of the year depending upon the season. But in quarter two of 2014, volume sales increased 5 percent over the previous year.

On the fruit side, grapes, melons, peaches, nectarines and pineapples also showed significant gains in quarter two of 2014 in the Los Angeles over the same period a year earlier.

According to the report, the Top 10 retail produce items for Q2 (quarter two) in the Los Angeles market, as determined by a combination of dollar sales, volume, sales, growth and seasonality, were grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pineapples, bagged salads, corn, cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes.

These items were fairly consistent across the four markets surveyed, though there were a few differences. For example, in San Diego and Sacramento onions made the top 10 instead of lettuce. The San Francisco Top 10 included berries, melons, greens and kale.

As one can imagine the Top 10 lists are not just based on sales but a combination of all of the aforementioned factors.

Kale's inclusion in San Francisco is not just a bid to be trendy. Sales of this item continue to impress. In the 52-week period ending in late June, the volume of kale sales in San Francisco increased 72 percent while the dollar increase was 64 percent. As one might expect, the tremendous increase in kale volume has led to a small decline in the sales price. On average, the retail price shrunk 4.6 percent in those 12 months.

Kale's popularity was evident in each of the four markets with both dollar sales and volume up at least 59 percent in each market.

Sales data also confirmed that several other trendy items deserve their elevated spots in food magazines. In Los Angeles, both dollar sales and volume of beets were up close to 30 percent in the past year, while Brussels sprouts enjoyed a 22 percent increase in dollars and more than a 10 percent climb in volume.

California continues to be a market dominated by bulk sales, as exhibited by a closer look at the Los Angeles numbers.

Random weight (RW) made up the majority of fruit category sales, contributing more than two-thirds of dollars and 80 percent of volume. Fixed weight (FW) and RW dollars each grew at 7 percent, but RW volume growth of 3 percent outpaced FW by 2 points. RW vegetables contributed just over half of vegetable category dollars and 62 percent of volume. FW volume declined 1 percent, but dollars increased by 9 percent. RW vegetables exhibited growth in both dollars and volume, up 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

In terms of market share of dollars, the traditional items remain the most popular. During the 12 months ending June 30, bananas topped dollar sales in the fruit category, followed by melons, apples, nectarines, berries and grapes. The vegetable side was led by potatoes, tomatoes, onions and lettuce.

The detailed report is available through the FPFC website to members only.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods to have innovation on display at PMA Fresh Summit

Duda Farm Fresh Foods is planning multiple activities at PMA Fresh Summit this year including launching a new line of ready-to-eat radishes.

"Duda is all about innovation and doing things differently and we want to bring that fresh approach to everything we do at PMA," Nichole Towell, director of marketing for the Oviedo, FL-based company, said in a press release.Duda-Radish-Group "Our theme this is year is 'Dandy Delivers -- quality, safety, service and innovation.'"

At the show, Duda will introduce Ready to Eat Radishes, a line of three fresh-cut radish products, and will feature the items as ingredients in award-winning original recipes in booth No. 2430.

"We saw an opportunity to innovate in the radish category - offering new forms with compelling product benefits. After exploring billions of potential combinations for new radish products we chose the top three, as items consumers would purchase with the most amount of frequency," Towell said in the press release. "We built our program around Ready Radishes, which are cut, trimmed and ready to eat, along with Radish Coins and Radish MiniSticks. Our research shows these products will entice the radish lover and the younger non-radish user who may be discouraged from using the item due to prep and unfamiliarity."

On Oct. 18, Chef Todd Fisher will be serving Ciabatta and Burrata with Dandy Radish Mini Sticks & Celery Crudo, his award-winning Lemon Grass Steamed Chicken Bahn Mi with Celery and Radish Mini Stick Quickles, and Dandy Citrus Tartlets with Burnt Meringue.

On Oct. 19, the chef will serve Grilled Tombo Tuna Tacos with a Dandy Radish Mini Stick and Black Garlic Slaw, Lemon Grass Steamed Chicken Bahn Mi with Celery and Radish Mini Stick Quickles, and Dandy Meyer Lemon Panna Cota with Clementine Conserva.

Duda is part of #TeamFreshSummit, a social street team project that invited 16 food bloggers to blog live from the PMA show floor. Duda is paired with Carly Morgan from Ever Clever Mom and Megan Myers from Stetted, who will each blog for two hours on Saturday and Sunday.

"We look forward to the new eyes and experience the bloggers will bring to the show," Towell added in the press release. "We understand and appreciate the power of bloggers and we are excited to have these bloggers act as 'Dandy' brand ambassadors and create a positive association for the whole fresh produce industry."

Kiwifruit prices expected to decline as imports hit the market

Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager at Stellar Distributing Inc. in Madera, CA, said marketplace dynamics will be changing by the end of October as kiwifruit imports from Italy continue to arrive in the United States.

"The glut is two weeks away," he told The Produce News Oct. 13.

Stellar Distributing was established in the 1990s by parent company Catania Worldwide, which began operations in Toronto in 1929. Today, the third generation of the Catania family moves an extensive array of fresh produce to the global marketplace. The company is now headquartered in Mississauga, ON.

Stellar Distributing grows and markets kiwifruit and figs. The company also markets chestnuts, limes, apricots, pomegranates and persimmons. As a company, Stellar is vertically integrated, working with an extensive network of growers and suppliers in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

"Kiwi consumption continues to grow," Paul Catania Jr., owner of Catania Worldwide, told The Produce News. "More and more people are growing the Gold variety." Globally, he said Italy is the second-largest producer of kiwifruit. "U.S. kiwi will always have a home," he added.

Cappelluti said the 2014 kiwifruit season has been a good one, and California production ramped up in early October. He said Stellar has been moving 25 loads of quality kiwifruit per week. Sales of California kiwifruit will continue through the end of April.

"The kiwi deal has been strong," he stated. "But I see the deal crashing in the next two to three weeks."

California and Italy are both Northern Hemisphere producers, and Cappelluti said Italian producers expect overall volume will be up approximately 15 percent this season. As a result, he said the United States will surely see increased competition from exports for shelf space at retail. Pricing, he added, is expected to decline as Italian exports are received in the United States.

"We want to be fair to all global growers," he said, adding that Stellar also imports kiwifruit from Chile, New Zealand, France and Greece. "I don't want to see a severe crash in the United States."

As prices begin to fall, Cappelluti said it will be important for retailers to work with companies that can deliver promised volume.

"Choose wisely," he said. "It's important to go to companies that specialize in kiwi."

Intergrow Greenhouses expansion ready for winter production

Intergrow Greenhouses Inc., based in Albion, NY, has nearly completed its recent expansion and addition of growing lights in the greenhouse for winter production. The expansion will increase Intergrow's total acreage to approximately 80 acres of greenhouse under glass in the Northeast region.intelog

Intergrow installed approximately 9,000 light fixtures in the greenhouse for its winter production. The addition of lights will enable Intergrow to supply its customers with locally grown tomatoes 12 months of the year without the need to source from other regions or countries.

A new Cogeneration-CHP generator will be added to assist in the electrical demand for the growing lights. The packinghouse facilities are also upgraded with new automated systems to handle the increased production.

"The demand for year-round locally grown produce justified the substantial investment needed to grow tomatoes during the winter months in New York," Kris Gibson, vice president of sales and marketing for Intergrow, said in a press release. "Warm weather and sunlight are in limited supply during the Northeast winters, but with the addition of lights we can now create optimal growing conditions year-round. Our customers will be able to have locally grown tomatoes on the vine and beefsteak tomatoes delivered within 24 hours of harvest providing the freshest tomatoes possible, even in the middle of winter."

Intergrow Greenhouses Inc. is one of the larger greenhouse tomato producers in the Northeast, located in New York state along the shores of Lake Ontario. Founded in 1998, Intergrow ships across the Northeast and Midwest with its own fleet of reefer trailers, reducing food miles for retailers and distributors.