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Market Fresh Produce has made a capital investment in Scott Street Tomato House in Memphis, TN. Scott Street will now become the strategic supply partner for the Midwestern region.

This strategic alliance between the two companies will take this relationship from vendor partner to capital investment partner, allowing both companies to combine resources and improve logistics to more effectively serve their customer base.

Scott Street has been a selected co-packer of the premium Market Fresh brand for over 12 years. It has built a strong reputation for quality produce for customers such as foodservice and retail and along with warehouses, restaurants and other suppliers.

"We are excited for this opportunity to work with Scott Street and thank you everyone for their support of one of the fastest growing produce brands in the industry," Market Fresh said in a press release.

Market Fresh offers commodities such as avocados, peppers, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.

RIO RICO, AZ — In a preliminary January interview regarding the impact of Donald Trump on trade relations with Mexico, Lance Jungmeyer noted, “We still don’t know what direction he’ll take.” Jungmeyer is the president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

Regarding recent reports about entering a 90-day consultation on NAFTA, he said, “We don’t know what direction this will go, and how consumers may react.”Lance-FPAALance Jungmeyer

In a related matter, Jungmeyer said the U.S. government has approved a due-diligence phase on a new refrigeration facility within U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities at Nogales’ Mariposa port.

Nogales’ produce industry, led by the Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association, is paying for the construction of refrigerated warehousing within Mariposa. This will solve a problem of fresh Mexican produce being exposed to ambient temperatures when a load is inspected. Users will pay a fee for the refrigeration service to cover the costs, Jungmeyer said.

The study approval “means we can start to price out the construction cost and conduct a true cost-benefit analysis. We are bullish on importing avocados and berries, which respectively have a $2 billion and $1 billion Mexican export value to the U.S. Very small amounts of these items come through Nogales, so we see that as an opportunity to increase the product mix in Nogales.”

Lidl, one of world’s largest retailers, will launch its expansion into the United States ahead of schedule and will open its first 20 U.S. stores in the summer of 2017. The first wave of stores will be located in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Within one year of opening, Lidl plans to establish up to 100 stores across the East Coast and will create approximately 4,000 new jobs in store over the same

“Thanks to the efficient work of our team, we are excited to announce that Lidl will open its first stores in the United States ahead of schedule," Brendan Proctor, president and chief executive officer of Lidl U.S., said in a press release. "We are thrilled to introduce residents across the East Coast to a unique shopping experience.”

Lidl first established its U.S. headquarters in Arlington Country, VA, in June 2015. Since then, it has announced regional headquarters and distribution centers in Spotsylvania County, VA; Alamance County, NC, and Cecil County, MD.

“Grocery shopping involves too much compromise," Proctor said in the release. "Customers are being forced to choose between quality, price and convenience, and this is a compromise they shouldn’t have to make. At Lidl, we are committed to delivering outstanding quality goods to our customers at market leading prices. We are carefully curating our selection to ensure every choice in our stores is a great choice for our customers.”

Lidl operates about 10,000 stores in 27 countries throughout Europe, offering customers high-quality fresh produce, meat, bakery items and a wide array of household products at the lowest possible prices.

NOGALES, AZ — Regarding field labor availability in Mexico this year, “if anything, there will be a lot more labor if President Trump ships back 11 million illegal immigrants,” joked Miguel (Miky) Suarez, a partner and sales manager of MAS Melons & Grapes LLC.

While his jest carried a grain of truth, he expects Mexico will not have labor supply problems, except in Guanajuato, “where there may be a little problem because there is so much going to the auto and shoe manufacturing industries.”GreenPoint-Guaymas-ValleyField workers in Mexico are mostly paid by the piece rate, so rarely do they sit still. But these workers politely paused for a portrait. This yellow squash field is in the Guaymas Valley, near Guaymas and Empalme, Sonora. This farm is operated by GreenPoint Distributing LLC, based in Rio Rico, AZ.

Jorge Quintero Jr., managing partner of Grower Alliance LLC, said that labor shortages in Mexico “are more of an issue, growers tell us.” This is especially true for labor-intensive crops, such as green beans. Between 150 and 200 people are needed to harvest and pack a field of green beans.

“A lot of growers have always said they have a good supply of labor. But they have struggled here and there," Quintero said. "They bid for labor. There is a wage war. You normally believe there is labor in Mexico; that is true but there is not enough to suffice for all growers. With high yields and harvest volumes you need more labor.”

Quintero added that the increased use of shadehouses — and greater subsequent volumes — in Mexico has heightened the need for labor. “More yields and more supplies every year as growers increase their level of technology, with better infrastructure, you get better yields.”

Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing for Fresh Farms LLC, expects that Mexican labor increasingly will grow short as the country's economy expands and better jobs become available.

Jaime (James) Hernandez, sales manager of Rene Produce LLC, said, “We have heard nothing” about labor shortages for Mexican growers this spring. He added that “normally that is more of an issue after Easter.” Rene is focused on Culiacan production.

NewStar Fresh Foods, a leading shipper of iceless green onions based in Salinas, CA, announced the introduction of the company’s new line of culinary herbs under the NewStar Pick Me brand. NS-1490-Herbs7939-Group

Grown for quality and peak flavor to meet the demands of the growing number of home chefs, the Pick Me line of products includes a wide variety of herbs packed in clamshells that include clear, easy-to-follow preparation instructions. When merchandised as a line, the result is an eye-catching Flavor Station that helps set produce departments apart.

“Given that we are already the category leader in providing value-added fresh products, it was a natural evolution for NewStar to extend the Pick Me line into the herb category,” Anthony Vasquez, owner of NewStar, said in a press release. “We are always looking for new ways to help our retail partners meet consumer demand, and this line fits perfectly with evolving trends.”

NewStar also offers its customers flexibility in terms of shipping options, with all Pick Me herbs available either via airfreight or truck (except basil, which is limited to two-day rides).

“Many of our customers have been asking for more consumer-friendly herb displays as more and more consumers get creative with home cooking,” NewStar Vice President of Sales John Killeen added in the press release. “And our customers that have put in an herb Flavor Station using our new, brightly colored Pick Me sleeves have seen an up to 7 percent lift in cilantro and parsley sales. Thanks to the success of these innovations, we have several new products in development that will continue to address consumer demands.”