ATLANTA — Members of The Packer news staff gathered the following news items on the show floor at Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2011 from Oct. 14-17:
Davis, Calif.-based AgraQuest Inc., which makes biopesticides, recently introduced a fungicide called Serenade SOIL.
Serenade SOIL is designed to be sprayed into seed furrows for crops such as potatoes, tomatoes and cucurbits for protection of plant seedlings and root systems from pests, said chief executive officer Marcus Meadows-Smith.
Meadows-Smith said use of the product could result in yield increases of up to 15% in fields with normal soil.
The company recently announced research partnerships with companies including Bayer and Monsanto.
Jon Amdursky, media and governmental relations consultant, said AgraQuest has doubled the size of its research and development division in Davis.
Allen Lund Co.
La Canada, Calif.-based Allen Lund Co. has a new office in Savannah, Ga.
Chris Hutto manages the office.
Fresh produce coming into the port at Savannah includes onions from Peru, and the port is expected to increase 30% in size in the next five years, said David Lund, vice president of sales and branch operations.
Apio Inc., Guadalupe, Calif., showed its new organic butternut squash pack with a resealable lid, which won a PMA Impact packaging award.
Also, the company’s new party tray, Fresh Gatherings, began shipping to customers in mid-October. It is a 36-ounce tray containing apples, carrots, grapes, celery, colby jack cheese bites and caramel and ranch dipping sauces.
Cali Tanguay, director of technology and business development, said the pack combines sweet and savory flavors.
Santa Maria, Calif.-based Babé Farms displayed 2-pound clamshells of baby bok choy, which saleswoman Ande Manos said began shipping to Costco stores in mid-2011 and should be available year-round.
Bailey Farms Inc., Oxford, N.C., is rolling out new sweet and hot peppers.
In mid-October, the pepper grower-shipper introduced 12-ounce and 2-pound bags of hot peppers and miniature sweet peppers.
Bailey Farms markets the hot peppers in its Hotties label and sweet peppers in its Minisweets label, said Randy Bailey, president and owner.
He said Bailey Farms decided to pack the smaller peppers under its Minisweets label to prevent consumers from confusing those peppers with hot peppers.
B&W Quality Growers
B&W Quality Growers Inc., Fellsmere, Fla., has rebranded all of its packages.
The watercress and arugula grower-shipper redesigned its packaging to better show nutritional information and benefits of eating watercress, said Andy Brown, B&W’s vice president of marketing.
The double-washed leafy greens come in 4-ounce retail bags.
B&W also is introducing 1.5- and 2-pound foodservice bags, a mix of green watercress, red watercress, pea tendrils, wild rockette baby arugula and red spinach.
The new bags, which are scheduled for release in November, join B&W’s other specialty blends.
B&W ships conventional and organic arugula throughout the year.
Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers
To support its new Natural Delights brand, the Bard, Calif.-based Bard Valley Medjool Date Growers Association has new shippers for retail and a new campaign for consumers.
About 20,000 boxes of four sample dates will be given away in the Get A Date promotion on Facebook. Consumers who “like” the association and bring a friend to “like” as well both will receive a box in the mail.
“This is a cost-effective way to get dates in people’s hands,” said Dave Anderson, marketing director for the association.
Anderson said the association also has new shippers for retailers that make it easy to display Natural Delights dates in their departments.
The shippers can display 8-, 12-, 16- and 32-ounce containers of dates and date rolls. The shippers are customized for major holidays ideal for date promotions: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Ramadan.
BC Hot House Foods
Langley, British Columbia-based BC Hot House Foods Inc. added a new tomato this spring and plans to have a new baby graffiti eggplant by spring.
Blushers, a sweet pink cherry tomato on the vine, are available in 8-ounce clamshells and retail for around $3.99, said Jaime Wedholm, marketing coordinator.
Wedholm said the baby graffiti eggplants currently are in test marketing and should have larger production in spring 2012.
BC Hot House also plans to work with retailers on a cause-marketing rebate promotion to support breast cancer research.
The company is developing the “Care for Cancer” program and hopes to tie in specially labeled clamshells to a rebate.
Dewayne Harrell has joined the sales staff of Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
Lindsay Martinez, director of marketing, said Harrell has about nine years of experience in the produce industry and previously worked with L&M Cos. He started at Boskovich Farms in late September.
Boskovich Farms also is working on a four-count artichoke bag.
“We’re working on finding the right variety and hopefully will have it available for the broader market soon,” Martinez said.
Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals now has the capability to pack its Caribbean red papaya, star fruit and SlimCado brand avocados in Produce Traceability Initiative-compliant cases.
Marketing director Mary Ostlund also said the company is working with quick-response codes and point of sale materials to help retailers provide more information about tropical fruit for consumers.
The company developed mobile websites for its papayas, star fruit and SlimCado brand avocados specifically with QR codes in mind, Ostlund said.
The sites are optimized for viewing on mobile devices, she said.
“They’re a quick and easy way to look at a website on your phone,” Ostlund said.
Chief executive officer Lee Cole said his company is increasingly branching out from its core avocado marketing business.
“Tomatoes are a big deal for us,” Cole said on the exhibition floor Oct. 15. “We expect to double our volume next year.”
Calavo buys its tomatoes from hothouse and shade-house growers in Mexico.
Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo also expects to double its pineapple shipments next year, Cole said.
The company imports the fruit from Costa Rica.
Cole anticipates larger avocado supplies in 2012 because of stronger harvests in California, as well as Chile, Mexico and Peru.
The market, Cole said, has been “kind of starved” for product. Still, prices “will be good for growers,” he said, while demand “is really good.”
Central American Produce
Central American Produce Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla., is diversifying its product line.
Mike Shields, director of business development, said the company is growing more vegetables, including green onions, radicchio, leeks and radishes in Guatemala. It grows and imports the latter two throughout the year.
Central American also plans to increase watermelon production and slightly reduced cantaloupe production.
It also plans to enlarge its butternut squash offerings.
Shields said Central American expects to distribute larger volumes in the squash category. He declined to state acreage or production figures.
Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International has added a new whole head lettuce to its lineup.
The Fresh Express Harvest Originals are packed in two- and four-count clamshells. The two-pack features a head of red and a head of green baby butter lettuce, and the four-pack features a head apiece of green tango, red oak, sierra crisp and lolla rosa lettuces.
Katie Johnston, sales planner for Chiquita Brands, said the packs started shipping in October.