ANAHEIM, Calif. — In true World Variety Produce form, the Los Angeles-based marketer of Melissa’s brand specialty produce items launched several new products at PMA’s Fresh Summit.

A value-added pomegranate arils pack ranks as one the company is especially excited about, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations.

“The pomegranate has been one of the most talked about fruits in America for a long time, but up until a few months ago, the arils were only available seasonally,” Schueller said.

The company officially launched its 5-ounce pack of pomegranate arils at the show. The Indian pomegranate arils have a two-week shelf life, and need to be refrigerated.

“We originally introduced a pack in November 2008, but this is a new pack with a two-week shelf life,” Schueller said.

Schueller said Indian pomegranates’ arils contain more juice and pulp than fruit from other areas, so the seed inside the aril can be eaten along with it.

On the spicier side, Melissa’s now offers dried bhut jolokia chili peppers, which were named the Guinness Book of World Records’ hottest pepper in 2007.

“We really try to communicate how hot it is,” Schueller said. “And there’s a novelty aspect as well.”

The dried peppers are packed in extra-thick plastic and have a warning on the package.

Manzano chilies are also new for Melissa’s, and are measured on the Scoville Heat Unit Scale at only a percentage of the one million units contained in the bhut jolokia chilies.

“They’re available year round this coming week, and should be in distribution very soon,” Schueller said.

Manzanos come in a variety of colors, each of which has similar flavors. The chilies are popular in Mexican cuisine, have a thinner wall than bell peppers and black seeds inside.

Keeping with the trend for seedless fruits, World Variety Produce also offers seedless lemons.

“In America we love our produce seedless,” Schueller said. “You’re going to see a lot more seedless fruits coming up.”

The company is also working toward year-round production of goose berries, which are available only in the fall right now.

Melissa's launches new products, discusses trends

Ashley Bentley

World Variety Produce is selling the bhut jolokia pepper, which the Guinness Book of World Records identified as the hottest pepper in the world in 2007.

Melissa's launches new products, discusses trends

Ashley Bentley

Robert Schueller, director of public relations for World Variety Produce, spoke to a group of invitation-only local foodservice industry members and media Oct. 5 before the Fresh Summit expo flor opened.

Schueller gave a presentation to almost 30 members of the local foodservice industry and media Oct. 5 before the expo floor opened, during which he spoke on Melissa’s new products, as well as the trends he sees in the industry.

The company’s Dutch yellow potato, a nongreening creamer potato, was one of the featured products. Schueller said baby potatoes like these, which can be cooked and served whole as bite-sized potatoes, are going to increase in popularity.

“You’re going to start seeing these in a big way this year, especially this fall as new varieties come out,” Schueller said.

Baby potatoes won’t be alone. There’s a huge surge of baby vegetables building, and Melissa’s is keeping up with other small-sized items, like baby heirloom tomatoes.

“Lots of other baby varieties are making their way into markets,” Schueller said. “They’re more tender, more delicious, and there’s less labor needed for them.”

Green keitt mangoes should also gain more fans over the next few years, as Americans become more affluent to mangoes and develop their taste for green mangoes, as opposed to the classic red tommy atkins.

“It’s an obstacle, because Americans think a mango should be red, orange and yellow,” Schueller said.

White-fleshed pineapples are also becoming a bigger hit as time goes on. Schueller served samples of the core of these pineapples to the audience, only informing them afterward that they’d eaten the center of the pineapple.

“It has a soft core and it’s completely edible,” Schueller said. “It saves the consumer time, but it really comes down to flavor.”

Melissa's launches new products, discusses trends

Ashley Bentley

If baby vegetables are about ready to surge, as Melissa's director of public relations Robert Schueller predicts, World Variety Produce is up with the trend with its baby pineapple, baby apples and baby potatoes, to name a few.

Black garlic should also be featured in more recipes and meals, Schueller said. Black garlic is produced by aging fresh garlic in a high-heat fermentation process. The garlic is softer and sweeter, and is a finishing garlic, as opposed to a cooking garlic.

Hatch chilies have been boosting consumers’ appreciation for chilies, Schueller said.

“This has been the most exciting chili variety in getting people to eat chilies,” Schueller said.

Unlike Anaheim peppers, hatch chilies have thick walls and hold up to being stuffed, said Ida Rodriguez, a corporate chef with Melissa’s.

Purple snow peas are also gaining popularity, although some of the color does cook out of the pea pods when they’re cooked.

“This is one thing Melissa’s is known for — taking foodservice ideas and implementing them into retail,” Schueller said.