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Wish Farms, grower-shipper and year-round supplier of strawberries and blueberries, has made a commitment to donate $100,000 to the Center for Produce Safety. wish

The CPS research campaign focuses on prevention of foodborne illnesses and disease outbreaks in the produce industry. The goal is to narrow and potentially close the knowledge gap in order to prevent future devastating events.

As a longtime member of the agricultural industry, Wish Farms owner Gary Wishnatzki understands that ongoing food-safety research is crucial.

“Foodborne illnesses not only pose a threat to the masses, but to the entire marketplace," Wishnatzki said in a press release. "When a product is recalled, it causes a ripple effect costing the farmer all the way to the grocery store. It is imperative consumers are kept safe. The Center for Produce Safety facilitates important research benefitting the entire produce industry. By supporting the effort it solidifies Wish Farms’ commitment to food safety.”

Wish Farms will donate $20,000 annually over the next five years. Money will fund various research projects, including soil amendments, water irrigation, animal intrusion, wash water sanitation, pathogen transfer from food contact surfaces as well as many other areas. These topics will assist produce companies, and others along the supply chain, to better understand and control cross-contamination risks and protect public health. In addition, the Center for Produce Safety plans to help young, rising scientists work closely with senior investigators and scientists to inspire them to continue specializing in produce safety research.

"We thank Wish Farms for this generous leadership contribution to the Campaign for Produce Safety, especially after the success of CPS's annual Research Symposium," Tim York, chair of CPS board of directors and president of Markon Cooperative, said in the release. "By investing in safeguarding and improving the safety of fresh produce, Wish Farms and other campaign donors are also investing in consumers' confidence that we have their best interests at heart."

Understanding the primary needs of the avocado shopper is essential for sustained avocado category growth. The Hass Avocado Board’s study Shopper Purchase Decisions and Influences — Driving Hass Avocado Sales at Retail and its companion piece, Path-to-Purchase Action Guide, found that the majority of shoppers ranked three factors as most important when considering the purchase of avocados. Shoppers placed quality, pricing and selection at the top of the list, while secondary features like size and organic generally played a lesser role in the purchase decision.HAB---Path-to-Purchase-Post-Card

“This study helps retailers understand which factors and perceptions at shelf shoppers rank as most influential in their decision to purchase avocados,” Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board, said in a press release. “Understanding how shoppers make the decision to purchase avocados is essential to optimizing shopper satisfaction and driving sales of Hass avocados in produce departments.”

Quality, pricing and selection are the three top-rated factors by shoppers regardless of their avocado usage level. Both heavier buyers (purchase 37 or more avocados per year) and lighter buyers (purchase one to 36 avocados per year) rated ripeness, firmness, unblemished/unbruised as very important or somewhat important attributes. Approximately 43 percent of shoppers prefer to purchase avocados that are perfectly ripe, with somewhat smaller percentages of shoppers selecting under ripe or mixed as their preferred degree of ripeness, depending on the need.

Pricing ranks as a top concern for all buyers and can spur incremental purchases. For example, heavier buyers selected “they were the right price” or “they were on sale” as reasons for adding more avocados to their basket than planned.

Selection is also a top concern. Nearly all avocado shoppers buy bulk avocados. However, heavier buyers are more likely than lighter buyers to purchase bagged avocados. Eighteen percent of heavier buyers purchased bagged avocados during their last shopping trip, while 5 percent of lighter buyers purchased avocados in bags.

The study also helps marketers and retailers target specific shoppers by revealing the demographic differeneces between heavier and lighter buyers. For example, heavier buyers are more likely than lighter buyers to be younger, male, Hispanic and have higher incomes.

An Action Guide and the full report are available at

Dollar General has completed the purchase of 41 former Walmart Express locations across 11 states. The stores will feature produce among other expanded offerings. dollargeneral

Earlier this year Walmart dropped the Walmart Express banner, the company's small format, which had been in pilot since 2011. At the time Walmart announced plans to close 154 locations in the United States, 102 of which were Walmart Express stores.

Dollar General anticipates relocating 40 existing Dollar General stores into the purchased sites by October 2016 and entering one new market as part of the purchase.

"Dollar General is excited to add these locations to our existing store base," Todd Vasos, Dollar General's chief executive officer, said in a press release. "We look forward to the opportunity to better serve our customers in these communities by continuing to provide the convenience and value they expect from Dollar General."

Communities served by the newly relocated stores will enjoy a fresh DG16 layout with additional sales floor square feet, complete with expanded offerings such as fresh produce and meat, all designed to make shopping easier for customers.

Dollar General also intends to operate the fueling stations in 37 of these locations. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

At Duda Farm Fresh Foods, generations of celery expertise has led to generations of innovations that can diversify the stalk and kitchen. The company will feature its new fresh-cut snacking line and the latest on-trend recipes from Chef Todd Fisher at the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo in booth No. 100.DUDA-1086-Snack-Images Group-Shot-500x500

Dandy Celery Snackers available now for foodservice customers, include several items designed to fuel busy lifestyles such as the following:

  • Ready to Snack Celery Sticks: The 1.6-ounce package of fresh-cut celery sticks is portioned for an individual serving size.  

  • Dandy Celery & Peanut Butter Packs: Available in 2.3-ounce and 4.15-ounce packs; great for lunchboxes, after-school and weekend activities.

  • Crunch Cups: Duda partnered with top brands to create a line of snack items with a variety of flavor and high-quality ingredients. The convenient cups are designed for on-the-go snacking. Available in ranch, lite ranch, Sriracha ranch and smooth peanut butter, with more varieties planned in the near future.

“For 90 years, Duda has been the category leader in our various lines of business and we are continuing that legacy with Dandy Celery Snackers,” Dan Duda, president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said in a press release. “Food and nutrition experts tell us how important healthy snacking is; we want to provide the best quality, most delicious heathy snacks in the market.  Dandy Celery Snackers are perfect for college campuses, Grab n Go operators, convenience stores, employee cafeterias — anywhere that people want a convenient healthy snack.”

Chef Fisher will participate in a recipe demonstration during the Strolling Chefs event on Saturday featuring his unique take on a Greek Salad. Fisher, a Monterey peninsula resident, has more than 20 years of experience as a culinary veteran, restaurateur and food consultant.  He has collaborated with Duda for more than 10 years and specializes in culinary education and entertainment. On Sunday, Fisher will be in the Duda booth serving Radish Ricotta Bruschetta.

The company’s full line of foodservice items will be on display during the PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo, including radishes and citrus.

The Grant J. Hunt Co., an 82-year-old, third-generation company, announced the Aug. 1 opening of Grant J. Hunt Company-South with offices in Scotts Valley, CA, and Rio Rico, AZ. The new company is uniting with many former employees of Bay Area Produce Inc., whose principal owners are retiring in 2016.jarme

The Grant J. Hunt Co. is a fresh fruit and vegetable distributor and shipper’s agent for a wide range of products, including apples, pears, berries, potatoes, onions, kiwifruit, citrus, stone fruit, cranberries, cherries and several more seasonal items. The new arrangement greatly expands the overall Grant J. Hunt product portfolio by adding tomatoes, beans, squash, chili peppers, avocadoes, Bell peppers, corn, cucumbers and eggplant to the mix. The majority of these products are imported from Mexico.

The Rio Rico, AZ, distribution center and sales office is responsible for all products imported into the United States and helps distribute products throughout North America. The warehouse has state-of-the-art food-safety practices and is certified by a leading third-party audit company. The sales focus of this office is East of both the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.

The Scotts Valley, CA office focuses on West Coast sales. Bay Area Produce was known for its vast array of product expertise in West Mexico and many other growing regions, and customers will continue to enjoy the seamless quality control and logistical support they had come to know over the last 30 years.

“We are excited to launch the Grant J. Hunt Company South offices,” said Grant M. Hunt, president. “Over the years, we’ve kept our eyes and ears open for a strong veggie program, and we’ve always respected and admired the business and reputation of Bay Area Produce. As soon as we started discussing this proposal, we knew it was a great fit for both companies. Having an office and distribution center in the Rio Rico and Nogales region is what is needed to provide North American customers the quality they are looking for when it comes to imports. The team has an outstanding reputation of premium quality across all products.”

“I’m pleased we are now under the Grant J. Hunt Company umbrella, a category leader with impeccable integrity,” said Bob Loyst, general manager of Grant J. Hunt Company South. “We’ve brought a team with nearly 500 years of combined experience to add to the company’s vast offerings and we look forward to continued business growth. Whether it was their national and international cherry programs, their involvement with Tajin seasonings, or the fact that Grant and his father, Jim Hunt, are one of only two father-and-sons to ever be chairmen of PMA, are a few examples that set them apart.”

The Grant J. Hunt Co. is headquartered in Oakland, CA (along with Oakport Transportation Services Inc., its logistical services provider) and has offices in Yakima, WA, and Kirkland, WA, in addition to the new offices in Scotts Valley, CA and Rio Rico, AZ. A dedicated website for Grant J. Hunt Company South is now under construction.