SALINAS, Calif. — The start of the new growing season brings new products hitting retail shelves in coming weeks.

Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc., Monterey, will offer a new, easier-to-open seal on its fresh-cut salads. In the works for the past year, the new seal makes it easier to open the bag without ruining the salad or needing scissors.

It is also part of an aggressive consumer research effort by the company, said Ronda Reed, vice president of marketing.

Reed said Dole’s consumer research shows that half of consumers surveyed complain about the difficulty in opening Dole’s salads, and, while it may seem like a small change, it is the most common problem consumers have with Dole’s salads.

“They have ongoing issues with this all the time,” Reed said.

The new seal will be available on all blends and kits starting in July, but not on Dole’s iceberg salad, Reed said.

Reed said Dole is going to continue with its research efforts as it launches more products and product redesign throughout the year.

Mann Packing Co. added to its seasonal vegetable platter product lineup with one for Cinco de Mayo called the Fiesta Platter, featuring ranch dressing mixed with salsa, with snap peas, celery, carrots and broccoli, in 37-ounce trays. The suggested retail price is $9.99.

Lorri Koster, vice president of marketing, said the company offers seasonal platters to help boost volume throughout the year and keep consumers interested with new offerings timed to seasonal holidays.

Koster said Mann also is economizing the sizes of some of its food packs and offering 24-ounce broccoli and sweet potato packs that are lower in price.

“We’re trying to keep people at retail away from frozen foods,” Koster said.

Monterey Mushroom, Royal Oaks, Calf., is expanding its Sun Bella line this summer to cover nearly all its mushroom varieties, including portabello caps, white mushrooms and some organics.

John Kidder, vice president, said the mushrooms are exposed for just a few seconds to ultraviolet light that boosts the vitamin D content in the mushrooms without altering its appearance or composition.

People generally are deficient in vitamin D, Kidder said.

The product line is expanding after the original Sun Bella mushrooms were introduced last year, and Kidder said the company wants to boost the vitamin D content in all its mushrooms.
The timing of that will depend on how well the company’s consumer education efforts about the benefits of vitamin D in mushrooms reach people, said Mike Reed, director of sales for the western region.

“People are time-starved,” Reed said.

Reed said up to 20% of the company’s retail mushrooms have boosted vitamin D content and the company wants to reach 100% within a year.

Monterey Mushroom also is rolling out new recyclable tills in May nationwide, Reed said, to replace Styrofoam.