your-news image

Tom Lange Co. to debut 'Actual Produce' at PMA Fresh Summit

TLang Actual OL RGBTom Lange Co. plans to introduce "Actual Produce," its new line of grab-and-go fruit cups, at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit in Anaheim, CA. The product will also be featured in the New Products Showcase.STRAWBERRY-KIWI

"Actual Produce" is a lead brand in Tom Lange Co.'s Foods with Benefits strategy, which was developed to help retailers respond to industry trends and meet consumer demand for fresher, healthier and more convenient products.

The "Actual Produce" fruit cups are single-serve containers that hold five ounces of washed, hand-cut product. Currently offering six cup varieties, all are processed regionally to ensure maximum freshness.

The cups are comprised of recycled resin and are adorned with a label resembling a smiling face. The "Actual Produce" branding is both intuitive and appealing, according to the Springfield, IL-based company. As consumers eat the produce, the reverse label reveals the tagline "EAT. SMILE. REPEAT." The cup is specifically designed to promote the product as a grab-and-go snack with its stackability and easy-open tab.

The full line of Actual Produce, which will be on display in booth No. 2232 at the Fresh Summit, is currently being sold in select Target stores throughout the United States.

Pear Bureau Northwest names Publix Pear Retailer of the Year

Pear Bureau Northwest, a nonprofit marketing organization that represents the 1,600 fresh pear growers of Oregon and Washington, has named Publix as the 2014 Pear Retailer of the Year for its outstanding pear merchandising activities.

Publix is being recognized with this award due to its successful implementation of pear merchandising tactics that resulted in substantial increases in pear sales and volume over the past year.  By implementing proven pear merchandising strategies, Publix has taken advantage of the profit opportunity that pears offer at retail.

According to Kevin D. Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of Pear Bureau Northwest, Publix achieved this level of success in the category by implementing several innovative pear merchandising tactics. “Offering shoppers two green pears simultaneously, Bartlett and Anjou, was one of the top tactics that Publix introduced over the past year to see their pear sales really soar,” he said in a press release. “Recent research that we conducted shows that retailers that carry these two varieties at the same time results in a 7 percent sales increase over stores that offer only one green pear.”

Moffitt also noted that Publix implemented other pear merchandising best practices, like offering ripe pears on display, maintaining large multi-variety pear displays positioned at the front of the produce department, and utilizing secondary displays to increase visibility for this high impulse purchase fruit. In addition, it offered bagged pears to attract savvy shoppers. “Publix has shown how good pear merchandising increases sales, and in their case that meant substantial increases in pear sales over the past year,” he said.

Garry Bergstrom, business development director of produce and floral at Publix, accepted this award on behalf of the company: “It is an honor to be the recipient of this award, and we look forward to continued growth and success in the pear category in the future.”

The Pear Retailer of the Year Award was established by Pear Bureau Northwest in 2011. Past honorees were Demoula’s Market Basket (2011), Meijer (2012) and Ingles (2013). The Pear Bureau’s team of regional marketing managers selects the annual recipient based on sales performance, creativity in pear merchandising, and overall excellence in supporting the pear category.

The Pear Bureau also celebrates “Top Performers” in the pear category, and honorees for 2014 are Ahold USA Inc., Big Y Supermarkets, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Dierbergs Markets, Hannaford Bros. Co., Hy-Vee Food Stores, The Kroger Co., Rouses Supermarkets, Sprouts Farmers Market, Wegmans Food Markets and WinCo Foods.

Pear Bureau Northwest partners with grocery retailers nationwide in an effort to increase overall success with the pear category. The organization provides marketing and merchandising expertise that is customized specifically for each retail organization, using its pear consumer research findings as well as individual store analysis using an in-house data system that measures pear category performance nationwide.

IFCO names industry leaders to sales team

IFCO, a leading global provider of reusable packaging solutions for fresh products, has appointed two industry veterans to its North American retail sales group. Greg Kurkjian is joining IFCO as vice president of retail sales and Tammy Gainey is joining as director-Walmart.

"Greg and Tammy are excellent additions to our retail sales team and will make an immediate impact for us in the marketplace,” Dan Walsh, president of IFCO RPCs North America, said in a press release. “Their experience, network of business relationships and understanding of the industry will ensure our present growth trajectory continues."

Kurkjian is responsible for building and strengthening IFCO's retail partnerships in order to execute IFCO's growth strategy. He brings more than 22 years of produce industry sales and management experience, most recently leading retail sales at Mann Packing Co. in Salinas, CA. He has also served in sales leadership roles at HealthPro Brands, Ready Pac, Club Chef and Fresh Express, is a graduate of United Fresh Leadership Class 7 and currently serves as chairman of the United Fresh Leadership Alumni Board. He received his MBA from Loyola University Chicago and a bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio.

Gainey is responsible for increasing RPC penetration at Walmart in line with the company's growth strategy. She brings more than 15 years of experience creating and leading teams in sales, logistics, supply chain and packaging, most recently as director of national accounts-Walmart at Ready Pac Foods. Prior to Ready Pac, Gainey spent two years with IFCO as director of Central and East region sales, where she was instrumental in development of the IFCO RPC program with Walmart. In addition, she served as CHEP's National Account Sales Manager early in her career.

Vidalia Onion Committee reaches younger audience with digital marketing efforts

The Vidalia Onion Committee reached a younger audience with successful results this past season when it launched the "V is for Vidalia" campaign. The campaign kicked off April 21 and focused on promoting the versatility and flavor of Vidalia onions with increased social and digital media outreach.

"The Vidalia onion brand has strong recognition among consumers nationwide," Susan Waters executive director of the VOC, said in a press release. "But our consumer research indicated that Baby Boomers have the highest percentage of usage while Millennial consumers have the lowest. In the past, we have spent the majority of our efforts on traditional [public relations] and we realized that we were not reaching this important younger audience."

As part of the campaign launch, the VOC hosted a field tour with food bloggers from around the country. Featured online with the hashtag #VisforVidalia, the weekend tour resulted in 324 social media posts from the food bloggers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest reaching 5.45 million total consumer impressions. In addition, 7,000 fans followed the tour on the VOC's Facebook page.

From May through August, the bloggers posted 31 articles on their sites reaching an audience of 1.5 million consumers.

"We provided each blogger with a $500 Visa gift card to post on their blog sites as an online give-a-way," Waters said in the press release. "This resulted in 146,000 entries, which is the largest consumer audience we have reached with an online give-a-way to date."

The VOC implemented a digital coupon, weekly trivia contest and food blogger recipe contest on their Facebook page.

"We increased our Facebook fan base by 62 percent to over 57,300 fans," Waters added. "In addition, we had a 30 percent increase in unique visitors to our web site during the campaign and the majority of these were consumers aged 18-34."

The VOC provided high-graphic bins, bags and point-of-sale materials for retailers.

"In an effort to provide more resources for retailers," Waters said in the press release. "We created a new retailer section on the VOC web site which includes onion category research highlights, downloadable campaign graphics, merchandising tips and retailers can sign up to receive our seasonal crop report."

The Vidalia Onion Committee will continue with same "V is for Vidalia" campaign theme for the 2015 season as part of a long-term promotional effort to build consumer awareness and increase usage.

BroccoLeaf: Could it be the next kale?

The Nunes Co., a long time leader in the California fresh vegetable industry, is touting a new product, BroccoLeaf, as the next kale.

Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing for the Salinas, CA-based firm, told The Produce News that the company has been marketing the item on a nationwide scale for about a month with great results from both retailers and consumers.

IMG 9729BroccoLeaf, which has a sweet flavor and pleasant taste."We started working on it earlier this summer and did our due diligence before we launched it nationwide," he said. "We discovered it has great flavor with a sweet taste and an excellent nutritional profile. Chefs love it because it is very versatile. You can juice it, sauté it, bake it, use it in smoothies, and of course as a salad item. It has numerous applications."

Seeley said its discovery as a potential commercial product was brought to the attention of the company by one of its longtime growers, who prefers to remain in the background.

Earlier this year, Nunes and its well-known "Foxy" brand of produce launched a juicing campaign as a great and nutritious way to use whole vegetables. The campaign included social media outreach and the development of numerous recipes, including some smoothie options using kale.

"While we were developing that campaign one of our growers told us about young broccoli leaves," said Seeley. "He said he uses them for juicing and smoothies because they work better than kale, which can clog up the machine."

Nunes decided the idea deserved further exploration, and so it sent some broccoli leaves for a nutritional analysis. The company also worked with some chefs and a registered dietitian to see how broccoli leaves could be utilized in the kitchen — both at home and in restaurants.

The results were surprisingly positive.

"It has a very sweet flavor and pleasant taste," said Seeley. "It doesn't have that bitter taste that is sometimes associated with other greens."

He explained that the broccoli leaves Nunes is now selling under the trademark-pending name of BroccoLeaf are the young leaves that surround a head of broccoli typically in the center of the plant. They are hand-harvested prior to the harvesting of the broccoli itself. And they are packed in the field just like other greens such as kale, chard and collard greens. They are also sold in a similar fashion.

"There are 10 leaves to a bunch and we are selling them in 12-count and 24-count cartons," said the Nunes executive.

He added that the product is being sold as part of The Nunes Co.'s organic lineup of greens. At this point, it is not offered as a conventional item as the greens category is trending toward the organic sector.

Seeley said Nunes did not launch the BroccoLeaf product until it had sufficient supplies to fill demand. "We are now offering it on a 24/7, 365 days of the year basis."

As far as a price point, it is being priced similarly to the other greens. Typically, the greens category has a fairly stable pricing structure though there can be times of short supply, high demand and a higher f.o.b. price.

In examining the nutritional content of this new vegetable item, Nunes worked with registered dietitian Ashley Koff, who is editorial director of The AKA List, a personal shopping tool to help consumers make healthier choices.

"I was not sure what to make of it when I received it," said Koff. "I sautéed it with coconut oil and loved it, then I added it to my smoothie and also made Greensadillas replacing the tortilla with organic BroccoLeaf so it was a naturally gluten-free quesadilla. Overall it surprised me that it didn't have raw broccoli's taste. I felt it tasted more like a sugar snap pea."

Koff said it is an extremely versatile vegetable. "I think it will be used in several ways -- certainly as a salad base, definitely in smoothies and juices, and likely in egg omelets and stir-frys."

Koff believes it has great utilization potential in the foodservice arena. "It has a lower price point than other 'super greens' and it could be added to a salad bar or pasta sauce or egg scramble."

Seeley said its nutritional profile show that it is an excellent source of antioxidants, calcium and vitamins A, K and C, as well as being a good source of folate.

In a company press release, Tom Nunes V, vice president of operations at The Nunes Co., said, "We are big advocates of full produce consumption, which is why we started experimenting with broccoli leaves. But, the health findings and taste even took us by surprise. We know how fantastic broccoli leaves are for the soil, but nobody considered it a viable produce item. Everyone in our industry's been trying to find the next kale, and BroccoLeaf has been staring all of us in the face for decades."

Typically, after broccoli is harvested, the nutritious leaves are tilled back into the ground as a way to replenish the soil.

In celebration of the new product launch, Foxy is debuting a number of original BroccoLeaf recipes with the help of BroccoLeaf spokesperson Koff to educate the public about the many ways it can be prepared and enjoyed. All recipes can be found on Foxy's website and on its social media channels.

Foxy will also launch a companion social media campaign encouraging the public to make and share their original BroccoLeaf creations on their personal social platforms as well as Nunes' social media pages. The best recipes will then be personally selected and incorporated into a forthcoming cookbook.

"It's incredibly rare, in this day and age, to be able to introduce a new non-GMO organic vegetable into the market," said Seeley. "We believe the potential for BroccoLeaf is massive and are very excited about consumers' and retailers' responses."