The following items were assembled by staff writer Ashley Bentley at the National Restaurant Association’s annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show May 22-25 in Chicago.


Alejandrina Avocado 

Diversified Avocado Products Corp., marketer of the Alejandrina Avocados brand, developed an avocado hummus, made with avocados and garbanzo beans.

The product is available packed and sealed with ultra high pressure technology in eight 2-pound bags or four 4-pound bags, said Alberto Castro, general manager.

“It could go to foodservice,” Castro said. “It’s an option. It’s not out yet, but everybody seems to be interested in that combination of two cultures.”

The Coto De Caza, Calif.-based company also sells hass avocados and fresh guacamole, from Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico.


Boskovich Farms 

A new packaging of fresh cilantro, parsley and Italian parsley makes the herbs easier for foodservice prep, according to Boskovich Farms.

The Oxnard, Calif.-based company introduced bags of the herbs in bunches, so they are already aligned for chopping. Bags come with three bunches each, pre-washed and iceless, four to a case.

The bagged herbs have a 16-day shelf life, and the bags help protect from potential cross-contamination, according to the company.


Bushmans' Inc.  

  After buying half of Oakdale, Calif.-based Discovery Garden’s LLC last fall, Bushmans’ Inc. is making strides with the company’s proprietary Sierra Gold potato variety.

Foodservice distributor Sysco Inc. just added a stock-keeping unit for the variety, allowing the company to sell into all of Sysco’s distribution centers, said Mike Gatz, director of business development for Rosholt, Wis.-based Bushmans’.

The company made its debut at the show, featuring the yellow-flesh Sierra Gold with russet-like skin.

“It’s been in retail for years, but we’re just now pushing it into foodservice,” Gatz said.


Chiquita 

Chiquita Brands International has a new line of petite-sized single bananas.

“We’d like to see them in QSR (quick-service restaurant) segments,” said Laura McCrea, national account manager in the Louisville, Ky.-office.

The bananas are packed as singles, and hand-selected for uniform size, McCrea said.

The company also featured its Fresh & Ready avocados, which won an award from the United Fresh Produce Association for best new product, said Delma Heileman, business development manager for Chiquita Brands North America.


Church Bros. 

Salinas, Calif.-based Church Bros. launched Teen Green, a sandwich-size green leaf lettuce, to the foodservice industry after debuting the product in April at the United Fresh Produce Association’s annual convention in Las Vegas.

Teen Green is a green leaf variety the company has been working on for three years, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development.

“It’s a sandwich or burger leaf, so it fits perfectly on a bun and it’s 100% usable,” Van Eeghen said. “The difference with a (green leaf) filet, for instance, is that people who use it for a sandwich have to snap the ends off.”

The leaves are triple-washed and dried and are shipped in 2-pound bags. Van Eeghen said the company tested the product with a large quick-service chain, and it was extremely successful.


Fresh Horizons 

Fresh Horizons Procurement launched a Web site and is expecting to take online orders by the end of May through its upcoming Fresh Cart tool.

The Huntersville, N.C.-based company is a consulting group that connects foodservice buyers to growers, said Matt Murphy, regional consultant. Murphy joined the company his father Joe Murphy operates in February. He was a senior audit assistant with Deloitte & Touche prior to moving into produce, he said.

Fresh Horizons works with 10 growers, Murphy said.


Fresh Origins

Fresh Origins Farm is offering fresh stevia leaves, the processed version of which is becoming a popular alternative to sugar.

“The fresh form, nobody else is growing out here,” said David Sasuga, president.

The San Marcos, Calif.-based company is growing the leaves in the San Diego area.

“For foodservice its use is for fine dining chefs,” Sasuga said. “A lot of mixologists are using it now.”

The company offers the leaves in 4-ounce and 8-ounce clamshells, and they have a shelf life of 5-7 days.


HerbThyme 

Compton, Calif.-based HerbThyme Farms is expanding its distribution network for foodservice.

The company is now shipping from Lakeland, Fla., and Rockhill, S.C., said Andy Siegel, president of Fresh Connection, a sales and marketing agency that represents HerbThyme.

The company reopened a facility in Wauconda, Ill., which it had closed after its acquisition of Herbal Gardens in 2008.
“The company has been through a lot of change, but is really focused on doing a good job,” Siegel said. “It is really positioned well for growth.”


Idaho Potato Commission 

The Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, showcased a six-episode video series that stars Stunt Tater, a russet potato that manages to injure himself in ways that turn him into potato dishes.

Each episode features a different dish made with Idaho potatoes, including Idaho parmesan fried potatoes, baked Idaho potatoes with herbs and Idaho potato pancakes.

Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice, said the commission plans to establish a Facebook page and Twitter account for Stunt Tater.

The mini series is online at www.spudtacular.com


Koppert Cress 

Koppert Cress USA, a Lake Success, N.Y.-based microgreen and minivegetable supplier, launched a new popcorn shoot and its Atsina cress.

The popcorn shoot, a microgreen that comes fresh-cut and packed in a clamshell, tastes just like sweet corn, said Michaela Lozza, manager’s assistant.

Atsina cress, a minivegetable, is available in flats that contain the tiny plants growing in a biodegradable natural fiber,
was named after a North American tribe Lozza said.

“They would put it into teas to soothe a sore throat,” Lozza said.

Atsina has a minty taste, she said.


Michigan Apple Committee

The DeWitt-based Michigan Apple Committee used funds from a specialty crop block grant to represent its growers at the show. The committee brought guest chefs, and even a mixologist, to do demonstrations at the booth.


NatureSeal 

NatureSeal was awarded a Gold Metal for Taste from The American Masters of Taste, a culinary endorsement program that recognizes products recommended by chefs for chefs and cooks.

NatureSeal’s anti-oxidizing treatment was recognized not for its taste — but its lack of flavor — said A.J. Martinich, director of sales for the Westport, Conn., company.

The company submitted its product for the taste test, Martinich said. NatureSeal representatives also attended the 9th annual Corporate Chefs’ Taste Summit May 20-21, right before the show.

“It gave me the opportunity to sit one-on-one with them for a while,” Martinich said. “We got a tremendous amount of interest.”


Pro*Act 

Fresh produce distribution network Pro*Act LLC’s goal at the National Restaurant Association show was to reach out to more schools and to push produce as a focus of the meal, said Mary Wright-Rana, director of marketing.

“We’re really focusing on the fresh experience, and getting more of the center of the plate,” Wright-Rana said. “A lot of people think salad is only for dinner, but we did some Mann (Packing Co.) sweet potatoes in a salad today, and it was amazing.”

Wright-Rana said the company is supporting recent salad bar initiatives and is also pushing salad bars in schools.

“We need to make sure we’re starting when they’re younger,” Wright-Rana said.

Wright-Rana sits on the convention planning committee for the National Restaurant Association and on the Produce Marketing Association’s convention committees for both Fresh Summit and PMA Foodservice.


Sid Wainer & Son 

Sid Wainer & Son, New Bedford, Mass., was recognized as the first grower operation to be good agricultural practice-certified through the state’s department of agriculture, said Henry Wainer, president.

The produce and specialty foods company also expanded its distribution range, and now has its own trucks down in the Washington, D.C. area everyday.

“So we’re in 10-12 states everyday now,” Wainer said.