ANAHEIM, Calif. — Packer staffers Greg Johnson, Pamela Riemenschneider, Amelia Freidline, Vicky Boyd, Mike Hornick, Tom Burfield, Coral Beach and Tom Karst collected these news items Oct. 27-28 on the Fresh Summit exposition floor.

Bonipak Produce

Bonipak, Santa Maria, Calif., has launched an online Knowledge Center, which features four different educational modules geared toward wholesale and retail customers’ employees.

After watching a 2.5- to 3.5-minute session, viewers take a test and receive a certificate of completion if they pass, said Don Klusendort, director of sales and marketing.

The first four are on broccoli, celery, cauliflower and romaine lettuce, with future topics to be suggested by customers.

California Cantaloupe Advisory Board

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is working with the state’s cantaloupe growers and the Cantaloupe Advisory Board to turn data from audits this year into good agricultural practices for the industry next year, said John Gilstrap, advisory board manager.

Gilstrap said the California GAPs will be ready for next year.

He said he anticipates national GAPs for the cantaloupe industry will also be ready for growers in 2013.

California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement

During an Oct. 27 general session breakfast, the Sacramento-based California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement honored several commodity boards and organizations for their commitment to food safety.

“It’s really become a priority for a lot of different commodities,” said April Ward, communications director for LGMA.

After a short video about LGMA’s food safety initiatives, Ryan Talley, LGMA board chairman, was joined onstage by representatives from commodity groups and thanked them for their food safety focus.

The honorees:

  • Arizona Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement;
  • California Cantaloupe Advisory Board;

  • California Tomato Farmers;
  • California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement;
  • Florida Tomato Exchange;
  • Rocky Ford Growers Association;
  • California Department of Food and Agriculture;
  • United States Department of Food and Agriculture;
  • Center for Food Safety;
  • Western Growers; and
  • Produce Marketing Association.

Central American Produce

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Central American Produce Inc. is opening a West Coast office led by John Meert, said president Michael Warren.

The office will carry Central American’s full product line, and opened for business the week of Oct. 29 with imports of mangoes and pineapples, he said.

“I’ve been working with him directly and indirectly for the past 15 years,” Warren said. “He’s well-connected with everyone in the industry.”

Meert said he’s been in the produce business for about 25 years.

Coast Tropical

Coast Tropical, part of San Diego-based Coast Citrus Distributors Inc., plans to open an 80,000-square-foot cold storage and distribution facility in Union City, Calif., southeast of San Francisco, said vice president and chief executive officer Isabel Freeland.

The facility has four acres of adjoining land for future expansion, Freeland said, and the new space will handle the company’s complete line of tropicals.

Coast Tropical is also increasing its mango volume and now has a complete root line from Coast Rica, Freeland said.

Dave’s Specialty Imports

Coral Springs, Fla.-based Dave’s Specialty Imports has added strawberries from Mexico to its product lineup and hopes to expand to year-round strawberry supplies from Mexico and Florida, said vice president Mike Bowe.

“Strawberries are a great complement to our other berries,” marketing manager Leslie Simmons said.

The company is also looking at adding Chilean grapes from one of its blueberry growers, pears from Argentina and cherries from Chile, Bowe said.

Dispute Resolution Corp.

Members of the Fruit & Vegetable Dispute Resolution Corp., Ottawa, Ontario, were among other industry leaders who presented final recommendations to Canadian and U.S. government representatives on a Canadian trust similar to the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

Luc Mougeot, vice president of DRC, said the meeting was in the Los Angeles area before Fresh Summit and was the latest step in establishing in Canada a system that would protect produce sellers there against losses in dealings with insolvent buyers.

He said the group gave specific steps to Canadian officials to follow in establishing such a program.

The Canadian government promised to have an answer by March, Mougeot said.

Farmer’s Best International

In response to customer requests, Farmer’s Best International LLC plans to add tomatoes-on-the vine and European cucumbers to its product line in December, said Jerry Wagner, director of sales and marketing.

“They will be a great mix with the commodities we have,” he said.

Idaho Potato Commission

The Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission’s Big Idaho Potato Truck promotion and 75th anniversary celebration kept rolling along, right into the parking lot near the Anaheim, Calif., Convention Center.

The 70-foot-long semi truck and trailer carrying a 28-foot-long likeness of an Idaho russet potato took a nationwide tour for seven months this year.

The 2012 tour ended at Fresh Summit but will resume next spring, said Seth Pemsler, vice president, retail and international.

The commission also brought the theme inside with Race to Win potato truck races. The events drew a crowd of spectators and at times resembled a demolition derby. Winners received Spuddy Buddy stuffed toys or other prizes.

L&M Cos.

Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M is marketing Idaho russet potatoes from grower-shipper High Country Potato, Rexburg, Idaho, said Adam Lytch, L&M operations manager.

“Partnering with an Idaho grower that big really helped secure our supply and allow us to provide pretty much year-round,” he said.

High Country, which ships about 1.5 million 50-pound sacks annually, plans to pack under its own Oven King label as well as L&M’s Nature’s Delight and Family Farms labels.

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University’s AgCenter, Baton Rouge, has introduced Orleans, a new sweet potato variety that resembles the beauregard variety.

Both varieties have smooth, light skin and deep orange flesh as well as similar sugars and flavor, according to a news release.

Orleans produces more consistent root quality and a higher percentage of U.S. No. 1’s for the fresh market, compared to beauregard.


Nonpareil Corp., Blackfoot, Idaho, has a new co-packing arrangement with Washington Lettuce & Vegetable Co., Mount Vernon, Wash., to offer expanded yellow, red and white potato options for the Betty Crocker line, said Dean Cunningham, vice president of Washington Lettuce & Vegetable Co.

North Bay Produce

North Bay Produce Inc., Traverse City, Mich., has opened a warehouse in Mascoutah, Ill., said Jan VanDriesseche, national marketing representative.

VanDriesseche said the new warehouse will handle East and Midwest berry business for the shipper.

Near an airport, the warehouse will receive berry shipments from charter flights from Mexico and possibly Chile and other areas, he said. The warehouse is 36,000 square feet, and VanDriesseche said the company plans to double that capacity within 2 1/2 years.

Organics Unlimited

Expanding her work to boost the quality of life in banana-growing regions, Mayra Velazquez de Leon, president of Organics Unlimited, San Diego, recently launched a website at

She said the “GROW” in the Web address is short for Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers. Point-of-sale materials for retailers encourage consumers to visit the site to learn how their purchases of Organics Unlimited fruit helps families in other countries.

SCS Global Services

SCS Global Services, Emeryville, Calif., offers a program to certify foods as antioxidant superfoods.

Not all foods contain enough antioxidants to be considered superfoods, marketing specialist Chip Wood said.

Grower management, variety selection and the environment also can affect antioxidant levels in produce.

To qualify, an item must supply at least 20% of the recommended daily intake of at least one antioxidant and meet or exceed average levels reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture or comparable research.

More than 50 varieties of herbs, fruits and vegetables are likely to qualify.

The program involves sampling and testing following USDA-approved protocols to ensure the items deliver as advertised, Wood said.


New flavors, pack sizes, labeling and packaging are in the works for fresh-cut fruits in 2013 from Sundia Corp., Hudson, N.J.

Vice president of sales Mark Sherburne said he was using the show floor as a sounding board for some possible designs but that no decisions had been made as of late October about how the final versions would look.

He said he does know for sure that three new label options are on the way in 2013, as well as some new flavor combinations, but he declined to reveal specifics.

Wahluke Produce Inc./Columbia Onion

The onion side of Mattawa, Wash.-based Wahluke Produce Inc. recently added whole, peeled onions to its list of products.

Wahluke sales manager Scott Nesbit said the new peeled onions are available in 20- and 30-pound boxes as well as large bulk order sizes.

The red, yellow and white onions are grown by Wahluke and peeled and packed by Columbia Onion, a sister company also in Mattawa.

Nesbit said the main customers for the new peeled whole onions are foodservice operators and food processors.

Wahluke continues to offer potatoes under five different labels.

Washington Potato Commission

Ryan Holterhoff, director of marketing and industry affairs, said the Washington State Potato Commission planned to launch a revamped website immediately after the show.

The website was to feature social networking tools and details about the commission’s growers’ charitable work.

West Pak

Temecula, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc. has moved into a new, 115,000-square-foot facility, said Dave Culpepper, import/export director who also handles national and international sales.

The new location has four more ripening rooms than the old one, bringing the total to eight.

The company recently bought a new Compac sizing and grading machine that also does color grading.

West Pak also has facilities in Chicago, Philadelphia and Texas and owns and operates a packinghouse in Mexico. The company handles about 17 items from Mexico, including cucumbers, vine-ripe and roma tomatoes, bell peppers and squash.

Wilcox Fresh

Wilcox Fresh, Rexburg, Idaho, is expanding its Mother Earth Fresh brand to more than 70 organic fruits and vegetables this fall.

Executive vice president of sales and marketing Jim Richter said the company plans to offer organic vegetables from Goodyear, Ariz., this fall and winter. From April to November, the company plans to ship organic fruits and vegetables from Cuyama and Santa Maria, Calif., through a grower partnership.

Richter said Wilcox hired Rusty Justus as national sales director for organic in June. Justus most recently owned a freeze-dried fruit company but has also worked for retailer Tom Thumb and specialties grower-shipper Melissa’s.

Wilcox Fresh also opened its fourth distribution center in Portland, Maine, in mid-October, Richter said, The center will receive mostly potatoes and onions.

Wisconsin Potato

Retailers and consumers can expect a major promotional push in 2013 from the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, including efforts from new promotions director Dana Rady and visits from the Spud Mobile.

Executive Diretor Duane Maatz said association members recently decided they needed a larger presence in the market. Rady, who joined the staff this fall, will help coordinate efforts that are expected to include ramping up the buy local campaign.

Maatz said the Spud Mobile has taken a bit longer to design than anticipated. It will include areas for food preparation and cooking demonstrations in retailers’ parking lots. It should be on the road in the first half of 2013.

The association’s celebrity spokeswoman, Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton, also plans to step up her work spreading the nutritional news about potatoes.