(Oct. 14) OXNARD, Calif. — San Miguel Produce Inc./NuGreens LLC, has introduced two new blends -- Country Mix and European Blend — and has redesigned packaging for the entire Cut 'n Clean Greens line.

The new packaging will appear in stores starting in late October, said Roy Nishimori, president and chief executive officer of San Miguel Produce Inc./NuGreens LLC.

The new blends are now available, he said.

The new packaging includes a bright yellow banner and is easy to spot in the supermarket, Nishimori said.

The new blends join a line of cooking greens that includes collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale, green Swiss chard and rainbow chard. Each blend comes in 1-pound and 2-pound bags.

San Miguel Produce began rolling out its cooking greens in 1997. Since that time, sales of the product have gradually grown, Nishimori said.

Nishimori said he sees potential for continued growth both with black populations and with purchasers of mainstream fresh-cut products.

Country Mix is a combination of collard, mustard and turnip greens. European Blend combines Swiss chard, mustard, turnip greens and kale.

While the Country Mix is a traditional blend, Nishimori said, European Blend has a mellow taste that should attract users outside the South where stronger flavors are more the rule.

The two new cooking greens were featured at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit 2002 International Convention and Exposition that ran Oct. 11-15 in New Orleans.

Cut 'n Clean Greens also has a community outreach marketing program that includes partnerships with major grocery store chains. Activities include participation in events like black business expos in Los Angeles, Oakland and Dallas, and large scale music events such as the Old Pasadena Jazz Festival, the Encanto Street Fair in San Diego, and the Las Vegas City Lights Jazz Festival.

The current emphasis on marketing to the black community underscores the traditional importance of cooking greens to that community and helps stores to better connect to their surrounding cultural communities.

Nishimori said his company is also trying to attract mainstream produce buyers by providing more information about cooking greens. The redesigned Cut 'n Clean packaging includes two new recipes, one traditional and one contemporary, taste descriptions and nutrition and health information on each bag.

"The greens are loaded with vitamins and nutrients," Nishimori said.

The "breathable" film bags allow for a 14-day shelf life.

"We have worked hard to develop the best packaging possible for the freshest greens," Nishimori said. "We also realize it is important to provide consumers and retailers more information on greens, like taste, preparation and nutritional information."

Convenience was another important consideration in developing the Cut 'n Clean Greens line. The product is triple washed, trimmed and cut into thin strips. Each 1-pound bag contains the equivalent of about 2 1/2 bunches of greens.