NatureSweet teams with Weber Grills for Glorys of Grilling contest

NatureSweet Ltd., a leading grower of premium branded fresh tomatoes based in San Antonio, TX, will join forces once again with Weber Grills to host a summer grilling sweepstakes.glor

Contestants are invited to visit NatureSweet Glorys of Grilling displays in participating retailers nationwide for money-saving coupons, great grilling ideas and instructions on how to enter for a chance to win weekly giveaways of Weber Q1200 Gas Grills or the Ultimate Weber Grill Prize Package, valued at $3,000.

Contestants can enter the Glorys of Grilling Sweepstakes by submitting a photo or video and description of their favorite grilled Glorys masterpiece on glorysofgrilling.com. Once photos or videos are submitted, entrants are encouraged to share their entries across social media.

Judging of all photo and video recipe submissions will be based on relevance (aligning with the contest theme “Glorys of Grilling”), creativity (how compelling the image and description are and portray the theme), and audience support (votes, views, reviews and attention across the Internet).

The Glorys of Grilling promotion kicked off May 18 and will run until July 5. For a complete set of contest rules, more information, and to enter, visit glorysofgrilling.com.

Northwest cherries up to two weeks early

For the most part, Mother Nature has cherry picked just the kind of conditions that growers in the Pacific Northwest need to produce the quality cherry crop the region is known for. In 2015, these conditions will translate to good volume, impressive size and high quality.

Some shift in the marketing window for Rainier cherries, whose popularity continues to surge among consumers, is expected.cherCropOVConditions during spring cherry pollination were favorable in 2015. (Photo courtesy of Northwest Cherry Growers)

James Michael, vice president of marketing-North America for the Washington State Fruit Commission/Northwest Cherry Growers, put it this way: “Blue skies and sunshine for the most part. We kept waiting for Mother Nature's other boot to drop, but the fair weather during bloom has continued ever since. We've had a bit of cool weather here and there, but for the most part that's only served to slow down the region. At one point after bloom, some districts were reporting being up to three weeks early. Now, for the most part, we're a week to 10 days ahead of schedule.”

Cherry producers in Oregon were affected by weather this season, however. “Oregon had some severe cold damage last winter and is expected to be down anywhere from 30 to 50 percent in production,” Michael continued. “Growers at this point are holding out to see if the trees themselves have survived.”

Michael said total acreage in cherry production in the Pacific Northwest has not increased significantly, though overall volume continues to push the production envelope. “But modern orchards aren't a set-and-forget enterprise,” he explained. “There are constant changes and improvements in orchard architecture and practices, along with new varieties and root stocks.”

Producers are anticipating moving approximately 20 million boxes of cherries this season, and Michael said more than half this volume will ship during the month of June. “The crop is earlier than any in the past decade, and with that, our entire production will likely slide up one to two weeks,” he stated.

Shipment is expected to start around May 23, with volume running through the middle of July. “Some late-season growers will have availability into August,” he added.

“We're also expecting a strong Rainier crop, including the early-ripening sub-variety Early Robin,” Michael continued. “They're running ahead of schedule, just like the dark sweet crop. So plan for a strong Rainier push in June. We'll have some into July, but by National Rainier Cherry Day on July 11, most of the crop will be just a happy memory for consumers.”

Large, lush cherries are a hallmark and accepted benchmark of annual Northwest production. “Granted, some years we all notice they taste a little better than others. But for the most part, about three out of every four cherries shipped from the Northwest is 10.5-row and larger, with dark red, sweet fruit being standard. And with our industry's investment into handling and sorting technology, one could argue that each season is a little better than the last,” he observed.

Michael said savvy shoppers continue purchase cherries as a means to achieve healthy lifestyles. “Cherries are a natural anti-inflammatory, and people are learning that,” he said. “Aside from the health benefits of an anti-inflammatory, they're also a low glycemic fruit that packs melatonin. Shoppers are increasingly looking for easy, convenient meal choices to go, and impulse spurred by the seasonality of cherries helps boost sales.”

Bi-Lo rebranded as Southeastern Grocers

Bi-Lo Holdings, parent company of Bi-Lo, Harveys and Winn-Dixie, has officially changed its name to Southeastern Grocers, effective May 18.selo

"This change symbolizes that regardless of whether we work for BI-LO, Harveys or Winn-Dixie, we are all part of a unified family with a common aim to do the best we can for all of our customers across the Southeast,” the company said in a statement.

In addition to launching a new website, www.segrocers.com, Southeastern Grocers unveiled its new logo. 

The company is the fifth-largest conventional supermarket chain in the United States and the second-largest conventional supermarket in the Southeast based on store count. The company employs nearly 72,000 associates who serve customers in 790 grocery stores and 527 in-sto​re pharmacies in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Kings Just Picked Promise produce returns for the summer

Kings Food Markets is bringing back its exclusive 24 Hour Just Picked Promise this summer, beginning May 22. The program is designed to bring Kings’ customers locally grown, farm-fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs within 24 hours of being picked — giving shoppers the benefits of a local farm stand in the convenience of their neighborhood food markets. The program will run Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.kings

“Each summer, we look forward to bringing the Just Picked Promise Program to our customers,” Judy Spires, president and chief executive officer of Kings Food Markets, said in a press release. “This exclusive program allows us to deliver the freshest produce available from our shoppers’ local community. As soon as customers see the Just Picked Promise seal, they know they are purchasing high-quality products just like what they find at their local produce stand.”

Kings works with a network of more than 25 regional farmers to deliver all of its Just Picked produce fresh to Kings stores within 24 hours of being hand-picked. Local farmers supplying the program select only the freshest, seasonal products in the morning, and through an expedited distribution process, they are delivered to Kings’ stores and prepared for sale the next day. The program is unique to Kings and was developed in partnership with Massachusetts-based Red Tomato, a non-profit organization committed to better connecting farmers and consumers.

“Freshness equals time,” Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce, meat, seafood and floral for Kings Food Markets, said in the release. “That’s why we are so proud to bring back our 24 Hour Just Picked Promise. Our growers are committed to bringing the freshest, highest quality local produce to our stores every delivery.”

Kings customers looking to support local farmers can look for the "24 Hour Just Picked Promise" seal in Kings stores. The items available at each store will vary daily; although customers can expect to find summer staples like arugula, basil, cilantro, lettuce, squash, mint, blueberries, cucumbers, kale and tomatoes with the Just Picked Promise.

The company will provide updates online — at www.kingsfoodmarkets.com, on Twitter or by liking Kings on Facebook — so consumers know which Just Picked products are available.

Potandon Produce and Johnny’s Fine Foods announce year four of trailer tour

The joint marketing partnership between Potandon Produce and Johnny’s Fine Foods has been renewed for the fourth consecutive year and the sampling team is gearing up to hit the road. MG 2658

Utilizing their custom made 1950s diner-style sampling trailer, the partners travel the winding roads of America, bringing food, fun and a host of incredible tastes to all types of consumers. With events ranging from corporate luncheons to county fairs to individual store samplings, the opportunities to share different preparation and taste combinations are endless. Fresh potatoes are broiled, grilled, or sautéed and served with many different spices, seasonings and sauces at the events. Coupons, household items, and literature are also shared with the attendees.    

The tour will kick off in June in Salt Lake City and will travel on a meandering route with stops in Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, Montana, Washington, North Dakota and Minnesota throughout the summer months. Late summer and fall dates will be in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The trailer will finish up the 2015 tour with an appearance at PMA Fresh Summit in Atlanta.

The marketing group at Potandon will be contacting retailers and wholesalers over the next few months to schedule sampling events when the trailer is in their area. Potandon will also be devoting a section of its website to chronicle this season’s events along with a master event calendar, photo gallery and social media support.