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The president of one of the worlds most recognized consumer fresh brands and a thought-provoking best-selling author have been confirmed as keynote presenters at Organic Produce Summit 2018, this coming July in Monterey, CA.

Ed Carolan, president of Campbell Fresh, and Dan Buettner, noted journalist, author and discoverer of Blue Zones, will be featured speakers at the third annual OPS July 11-12 at the Monterey Conference Center. Carolan and Buettner will headline an informative and insightful series of educational sessions and networking opportunities at OPS, the only event dedicated exclusivity to bringing together organic fresh produce growers, shippers and processors and retailer and buying organizations.ed greentieEd Carolan

Carolan, oversees Campbell Fresh, which includes the Bolthouse Farms brand of beverages, dressing and carrots; Plum Organics; Garden Fresh Gourmet brand of soup, salsa, hummus and other dips; and its recent acquisition of Pacific Foods, a leading producer of organic broth and soup. Campbell has approximately $1 billion in annual net sales from fresh products and its portfolio provides nearly 15 billion servings of vegetables annually. The company’s organic portfolio is in the top 10 in the industry and growing at double digits.Dan Buettner 119V-1Dan Buettner

Buettner is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. He discovered the five places in the world — dubbed Blue Zones — where people live the longest, healthiest lives. Buettner now works in partnership with municipal governments, large employers and health insurance companies to implement Blue Zones Projects, well-being initiatives that apply lessons from the Blue Zones to entire communities by focusing on changes to the local environment, public policy, and social networks.

“We’re thrilled to have two dynamic and engaging leaders in their fields providing OPS attendees with thought provoking and inspiring content which highlights the growth and opportunities related to organic fresh produce,” said Susan Canales, president of OPS. “Both Ed and Dan are very excited about the chance to speak to the producers and sellers of organic fresh produce emphasizing the importance of products that are truly impacting consumer’s lifestyles and eating habits.”

In addition to the pair’s presentations, a retailer roundtable featuring three of North America’s largest and most prominent retailers will be included in the Keynote Presentation program of OPS 2018. Additionally, a series of six educational sessions featuring informative and engaging topics and leaders from the organic fresh produce industry are being finalized and will be announced in the coming weeks.  

The third annual OPS features a sold-out exhibition that will showcase 130 of North America’s organic fresh produce growers, shippers and processors exhibiting their products to over 200 retailers and buyers. Field tours at several of the nation’s leading organic producers are also available for qualified retailers and wholesalers at OPS.

Retailer and general registration for OPS 2018 is available at www.organicproducesummit.com. Additional information about the event, including schedule, sponsors and a complete list of exhibiting companies is also available on the website.

Naturipe Farms is leveraging the social media craze of the Braspberry by encouraging berry fans to try the new Braspberry and enter into the Naturipe Braspberry Sweepstakes for daily prizes and to support hurricane relief efforts.

naturipe-braspberry-sweepstakes “We are excited to promote Braspberries! It is a new delicious treat you get when pressing a plump, fresh blueberry into a fresh raspberry” said CarrieAnn Arias, vice president of marketing. “We cannot think of a better way to start the new year than by supporting our consumers’ desire to be creative with healthy snacking and supporting the communities still reeling from the effects of the recent hurricanes."

To enter the sweepstakes, consumers are invited to share photos or videos on Facebook and Instagram that depict how they enjoy Braspberries by using the hashtags #Braspberry and #Entry. Naturipe will donate $1 to the Hand in Hand Hurricane Relief fund for every entry received up to $10,000. Entrants are automatically entered for a chance to win Naturipe’s daily drawing for a $10 iTunes gift card. Entrants can also upload a photo or video entry at http://www.naturipefarms.com/braspberry/.

The sweepstakes was designed to help communities throughout Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico that were left devastated in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Naturipe is calling on followers to try the new berry treat in an effort to donate up to $10,000 to help provide vital services to the victims in these communities. The sweepstakes will be promoted Jan. 15 – Feb. 16 and will include a total of 33 prize winners, announced daily. 

San Miguel Produce Inc. has resumed full operations following the devastating Thomas Fire that broke out in early December 2017. Recent winter rain to the Ventura County area caused flash flooding, resulting in mudslides to the recent burn areas.sanm

The Thomas Fire started in Santa Paula Dec. 4 and spread throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. This fire has become the largest in modern California history, burning over 280,000 acres and destroying 1,063 structures, with an additional 280 damaged. At it’s height, over 8,500 firefighters mobilized to fight the flames which forced over 104,000 residents to evacuate.

During the fire, San Miguel Produce’s main concern was the health and safety of its employees. With fields throughout Ventura County, weather conditions were closely monitored to insure employee safety. In addition, all employees, were provide N95 masks to protect from poor air quality.

While San Miguel Produce did not lose fields to the fire, the conditions caused some delays in harvesting and processing. Road closures prevented access to fields near the burn areas and the strong Santa Ana winds brought additional quality damage and ash to the crops. This resulted in earlier-than-expected harvests from new fields.

“Typically we see Santa Ana winds blow for two or three days, these strong winds lasted nearly 10 days,” Roy Nishimori, chief executive officer at San Miguel Produce stated. “I have been farming over 40 years in Ventura County and have not seen anything like this before.”

The heavy winds and fire near major power lines also caused intermittent power outages to the Oxnard offices and processing facility, resulting in minor additional delays.

On Jan. 9, heavy rainfall triggered severe mudslides in Montecito (Santa Barbara County), which was recently burned by the Thomas Fire. The local freeway remains closed, as mud and debris cover the roads. This closure has prevented a few San Miguel employees from coming to work, but has fortunately not affected any operations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families, pets, farms/orchards and livestock affected by the recent wildfires and mudslides,” said Jan Berk, chief operating officer at San Miguel Produce. “We want to thank all the first responders who have worked relentlessly to help keep our community safe. To all those affected across Southern California, our hearts are with you.”

Walmart Stores Inc. announced that Judith McKenna will be promoted to president and chief executive officer of Walmart International, the company’s second-largest operating segment. She will be succeeding David Cheesewright, who has been in role since 2014 and recently shared his desire to retire from a full-time role.walmemee

McKenna, currently serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S., will assume her new role on Feb. 1, 2018, and report to Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon.

“During his 19 years with the company, David has served in a number of key leadership roles in our company. He has built a reputation as an insightful strategic thinker with a track record of delivering consistent, profitable growth. He has been instrumental in strengthening our business across the globe. He’s a passionate advocate for our people, culture and purpose around the world,” McMillon said.

Cheesewright will remain with the company full time through March and then serve the company, on a limited basis, with specific projects for a longer period of time.

“I’ve had the pleasure to work with Judith for many years and have seen first-hand her ability to lead strategic change, build relationships with our associates and strengthen our business. It has been inspiring to see her personal growth and the results she’s driven over the years. Her integrity, high expectations and passion for the business and our associates will ensure our continued success in International,” said McMillon.

“Being chosen to lead Walmart International truly is an honor, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in this part of the business,” said McKenna. “I look forward to building upon our progress to improve the experience for our customers and associates around the world.”

McKenna’s career with Walmart began in 1996 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where she served as chief operating officer and chief financial officer. McKenna also served as executive vice president of strategy and international development for Walmart International. There, she led several areas, including international strategy, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, integration, global format development and purchase leverage.

Upon moving to the Walmart U.S. division in April 2014, McKenna served as the business unit’s chief development officer, where she led the strategy, development and growth of Walmart’s small format business and the partnership with Walmart.com to integrate digital commerce into the physical store presence. Several months later she was promoted to her expanded role as executive vice president and chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. with responsibilities for the company’s U.S. store operations, including more than 4,500 retail locations.

Walmart’s International division serves more than 100 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units, operating outside the United States with 55 banners in 27 countries.

Cold weather, fires and floods have impacted a number of crops this winter with transportation issues affecting virtually everything. However, one bright spot has been the winter citrus lineup. Various specialty citrus varieties as well as grapefruit, oranges and lemons are giving retailers options as they look for items to feature in their weekly ads.414-ORANGES-LANE-LATE

“The season is going very well,” said Trent Bishop of Lone Star Citrus, based in Edinburg, TX, talking both of Texas oranges and its celebrated sweet red grapefruit. “We had some unseasonably cold weather with cold bursts at Christmas and New Year’s. It got right to freezing but didn’t get any colder so there was no damage.”

Bishop characterized the market as “good” on grapefruit and “very good” for Texas oranges. The orange prices are reflective of California having a smaller navel crop than usual.

“The navel crop is smaller than last year, which was smaller than the previous year,” said Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Sun Pacific Marketing Cooperative Inc., based in Pasadena, CA. He called Sun Pacific the largest independent navel orange grower in California and noted that while this year’s crop is small in volume, the individual fruit is trending on the bigger side with the majority being 72s and larger. “And it is exceptional quality. We think there will be lots of opportunities for promotion January, February and March.”

Nager said there is a very strong export market gearing up for promotions centered around Chinese New Year on February 16. With a good portion of the top-notch fruit headed for export, Nager said there will be lots of opportunities for promotions with bagged oranges in the domestic market of many different sizes and quantities.

Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing for The Wonderful Co., based in Los Angeles, concurred with the message that citrus offers options. “Except for lighter crop availability of navels and lemons across the industry, overall supply for all varieties has been good this season,” he said.

“Key promotional windows for citrus in the upcoming months include Super Bowl, Cinco de Mayo and Easter,” he added. “These are great time periods to promote lemons and limes with secondary displays and compelling price points. We now offer lemon and lime pop-up displays; perfect for secondary placements that are designed to drive trial and incremental volume.  We are also merchandising these items in various areas throughout the store including beverage aisles, seafood departments and at checkout.”

Bishop said Texas oranges and grapefruits would be available and promotable through April. “We are about halfway through the season. The quality is good and we have a lot of availability in the larger sizes.”

Though California’s navel orange volume is down, the specialty citrus seems to be taking up the slack. “Wonderful Halos mandarins had their fastest start to the season ever, with shipments up 12 percent compared to last year in the first nine weeks of sales,” said Cooper. “When looking at retail sales, Wonderful Halos mandarins also had their biggest Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks ever.”

Nager had a similar report about Sun Pacific’s easy peel entry in the mandarin market — Cuties. He said from late January until the middle of May some of the best mandarin varieties are picked and packed, which will further boost sales. He added that three-pound bags and five-pound boxes tend to be the most popular promotional items but there are other options. “Some retailers, looking for a particular price point, like the two-pound bags as well,” said Nager.

While navels are still king in California, Nager said the specialty citrus are gaining favor. He noted the tremendous sales gains mandarins have garnered in a relatively short time. He said most of the volume increases have come in only the last 10-15 years and indicated growers are still learning how to grow the crop to its best advantage. Sun Pacific is aiding sales with consumer promotions including radio advertising, billboard promotions and a presence on social media.

Cooper touted the consumer appeal of the mandarin, “From our experience with Halos, we know that almost 60 percent of mandarin consumers buy on impulse and Halos sales velocity doubles when showcased in a marquee display.”

Nager said there are some other specialty citrus items also gaining favor and singled out both Cara Cara oranges and heirloom navel varieties. “Cara Cara oranges are new for us this year,” he said. “They are exceptionally sweet with a lower acidity than navels and a pink flesh color.” Sun Pacific is marketing them in bulk as well as three-pound, high-graphic bags.

He added that the heirloom navel varieties are being offered by several California shippers as a premium item. “We are offering a ‘Vintage Sweet’ navel from 100-year-old groves. It is the best tasting fruit you can get… picked by citrus sommeliers,” Nager quipped.

The fruit is available from January through April, packed in a six-count tray with an overwrap or in a three-pound bag with a handle. Nager said it is a new category for Sun Pacific and allows retailers an opportunity to expand their citrus SKUs. “Everybody is looking for something new and different to bring to their customers.”

Joan Wickham, director of communications for Sunkist Growers, based in Valencia, CA, told The Produce News on Friday, Jan. 12, that California is in the peak of its season for navels as well as a number of specialty items. “This is the sweet spot of our winter season,” she added.

While navel oranges are an important item and definitely drive consumers to the category, Wickham said the many specialty citrus varieties are creating excitement and upping sales. She singled out mandarins as a very important factor. “I really think the increase in mandarins have piqued the interest in the category as a whole.”

Consumers, she added, are coming to the department looking for mandarins and navels and being introduced to blood oranges, Cara Cara navels, minneolas, tangelos and Meyer lemons. “The Meyer lemon isn’t new to the trade but many consumers are being introduced to it.”

Because of the growth of the category, Sunkist recommends that retailers merchandise it as such rather than using the various citrus SKUs as color blocks, which was prevalent several years ago. When varieties are merchandised together — following the lead of the apple category — Wickham said consumers can see these various offerings side by side, note the differences and try something new.

For the next several months, she said there will be plenty of promotional opportunities in the citrus category for navels and the specialty varieties. “Supplies are down a little bit this year but we still have promotable volumes,” she added.