Dole's new celery available in time for Thanksgiving

Dole is making its exclusive, consumer-preferred variety of celery hearts available nationwide to give fresh vegetable fans from coast to coast the opportunity to experience the variety’s milder flavor, snappier crunch and less-stringy texture.dole

Grown from proprietary seed variety, Dole Premium Celery Hearts is being launched nationally in November to ensure all retailers have ample product in stock for Thanksgiving, the holidays and other upcoming prime celery recipe occasions.

Shannon Yamada, senior manager of product innovation for Dole Fresh Vegetables, said Dole’s Premium Celery Hearts were created specifically to deliver the three benefits that research shows are most important to celery consumers: mild flavor, satisfying crunch and a less-stringy texture. According to a July 2015 In-Home Use Consumer Guidance Panel, Dole out-performs the competition on all three of these attributes.

“We know what celery lovers want, and we’re happy to be able to bring our preferred variety to our retail partners nationwide," Yamada said in a press release. "Whether paired with peanut butter as a healthy kid-friendly snack, chopped in a fresh salad or soup, or cooked in a festive holiday stuffing, Dole has every celery use covered.”

Dole Premium Celery Hearts will be available in early November 2015 in the refrigerated produce section at supermarkets nationwide. It replaces Dole’s existing celery offering and features distinctive new packaging emphasizing the premium nature of the variety.

RPE now the exclusive marketing partner of Discovery Garden’s

RPE Inc. has entered into a partnership with Discovery Garden’s LLC to become the exclusive marketing partner for the Discovery Garden’s brand of gourmet potatoes.Discovery-Gardens 1

According to a press release, RPE and Discovery Garden’s share the same goal: to provide consumers with a better looking and better tasting potato. Grown and packaged in Colorado, Oregon and Washington, Sierra Gold and Sierra Rose are two key varieties from Discovery Garden’s.

The Sierra Gold potato combines the creamy texture of a golden potato with the hearty skin of a russet. Unlike other yellow potatoes, Sierra Gold was named the 2012 Gold Medal Winner for yellow potato varieties by the Oregon Potato Commission.

The Sierra Rose potato was named the 2014 Gold Medal Winner for red potato varieties. First offered in 2008, Sierra Rose has an intense deep red skin, golden center and a creamy texture.

“We are more than thrilled about the opportunity to work with Discovery Garden’s and promote their exceptional brand, “Russell Wysocki, president and chief executive officer of Bancroft, WI-based RPE, said in the press release. “We look forward to working with their talented and dedicated team and we’ll do our best to represent the high quality potatoes they grow.”

Discovery Garden’s is a subsidiary company of Cal-Ore Seed Inc. and was established to provide a marketing division for its innovative potato varieties. The two companies work in conjunction and continue to sustain the solid business integrity that Cal-Ore Seed was founded upon in 1965.

The full flavored Sierra Gold and Sierra Rose potatoes are offered in five- and 10-pound poly bags, and 50-pound cartons.

RPE, a second-generation family farm, is a category leader and key grower-shipper of year-round potatoes and onions.

Van Groningen & Sons completes solar energy installation

Van Groningen & Sons Inc., a family-owned-and-operated grower and distributor of melons, pumpkins, sweet corn and nuts, has just completed construction of a 1 megawatt solar energy system at its packing, cooling and processing facility located at the company headquarters in of Manteca, CA.DJI 0030-Rev-2

Designed and installed by Renewable Technologies Inc. in Stockton, CA, the solar system is one of the first to take advantage of the net meter aggregation policy recently approved by the California Public Utility Commission, allowing for multiple meters to be offset by the production of a single PV solar production system.

RTI worked closely with Paul Hiemstra, warehouse manager at the facility, to aggregate 26 electric meters, satisfying the electrical demand of the facility and numerous irrigation pumps across several hundreds of acres of farmland.

The system will generate over 1.4 million kilowatt hours of clean, reliable energy annually and sits atop two large processing buildings.

The solar kilowatt hour production will offset approximately 1,034 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent greenhouse gas emissions produced by 218 passenger cars, the electricity usage of 142 homes or the carbon sequestered by 848 acres of U.S. forest in one year. This project marks yet another step forward in Van Groningen’s efforts toward sustainability, helping to ensure the continuance of the family farming tradition for many years to come.

IPC's 25th annual retail display contest to launch with new partners and double the prizes

The Idaho Potato Commission's Potato Lover’s Month Retail Display Contest will be twice as nice for 2016 with double the number of award levels, double the number of spud-friendly partner products and the largest amount of prize money ever.spud

Running for nine weeks from mid-January to mid-March 2016, the display contest is expected to attract a record-breaking 5,000-plus retailers competing for the new $2,000 top award, along with nine other award levels. Also new for this year, Country Crock Original buttery spread will join HORMEL Real Bacon Bits as partners in the IPC promotion, offering retailers even more options for getting potato lovers fired up during a traditionally slower time of year.

“By featuring Idaho potatoes enhanced by both Country Crock Original buttery spread and HORMEL Real Bacon Bits, retailers can cater to their shoppers’ taste buds and their need for fast, convenient ‘comfort food’ dishes that their families will love,” Jamie Bowen, IPC marketing manager, said in a press release. “Every year our retailers come up with incredibly imaginative ways to display Idaho potatoes for the contest, so this will give them more ingredients to add to the mix and help heat up winter potato sales.”

Retailers who create original in-store displays using IPC’s special point-of-sale materials will vie for increased cash awards in 2016, honoring the first through 10th place winners in three different store categories. Everyone who enters the contest will also receive a free Hamilton Beach Personal Cup one-cup pod brewer, compatible with coffee grounds, K-Cups and soft pods.

Each in-store display should incorporate clearly marked fresh Idaho potatoes (bag, bulk or both), Idaho dehydrated potato products, HORMEL Real Bacon Bits and Country Crock Original buttery spread — Country Crock® 45-ounce Original can be placed outside of refrigerated retail space for secondary placement and cross-merchandising promotions for 14 days. Displays should also feature the IPC 2016 contest point-of-sale materials: two double-sided Potato Lover’s Month logo display signs, one large and two small double-sided signs with appetizing photos, and two inflatable Mylar Spuddy Buddies. In addition, the IPC website offers clip art and recipes at

Retailers will compete with other same-size stores in one of three categories: one to five cash registers, six to nine cash registers, or 10-plus cash registers. Within each store category, entrants are eligible to win these prizes:

  • First place: $2,000
  • Second place: $1,500
  • Third place: $1,000
  • Fourth place: $800
  • Fifth place: $700
  • Sixth place: $600
  • Seventh place: $500
  • Eighth place: $400
  • Ninth place: $300
  • 10th place: $200
  • Honorable Mention: $100 (100 selected from remaining entries)

In addition, the Category Manager Match Program will award equivalent cash prizes to category managers at stores that qualify for a first through 10th place prize.

For more information on how to enter the IPC Potato Lover’s Month 2016 Retail Display Contest, visit

Associated Food Stores gains organic certification at Utah distribution center

Associated Food Stores recently received organic certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Certified Organic Farmers for its Farr West Distribution Center in Utah.associated

The certification recognizes AFS’ efforts in maintaining the standards and regulations for properly handling and labeling organic products and meat. Part of these regulations include ensuring all organic and conventional products are not comingled or misrepresented and all sanitation and pest-control procedures are compliant with USDA practices.

“The organic certification from CCOF and USDA verifies our distribution center complies with the USDA organic regulations and allows us to sell, label and represent our products as organic,” Darin Larkin, organic buyer for Associated Food Stores, which is based in Salt Lake City, said in a press release. “Our shoppers are increasingly interested in organic products and this certification allows us to spotlight those products through labeling and other merchandising efforts.”

To become organic certified, AFS submitted an Organic System Plan to the USDA’s National Organic Program. The plan details the substances used to produce or handle organic products to the USDA’s National Organic Program. AFS also verified that each of its vendors are organically certified.

Once all the information was submitted, the Farr West Distribution Center was inspected to verify the system plans complied with NOP regulations.

Becoming organic certified allows the distribution center to use the official USDA organic seal on products at Associated Food Stores locations.

Shoppers have come to recognize the seal as a guarantee that the products they are purchasing are actually organic. The certification also makes it easier for any of AFS’ nearly 500 independent retailers to become an organic certified store.