(UPDATED COVERAGE, Oct. 13) ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Packer editorial staff gathered the following news items Oct. 3-5 on the show floor at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit 2009. This is the third of three parts.

Business updates from more booths have been added to this article.

Sunny Valley Organics

Nogales, Ariz.-based Sunny Valley Organics still grows organic produce in Mexico, but now the company has added locally grown produce in San Diego County and near Willcox, Ariz., said general manager Miguel Crisantes.

Sunny Valley grows such products as cantaloupes, watermelons, tomatoes, bell peppers, squash and cucumbers in Arizona and tomatoes and bell peppers in California. The company also distributes a variety of products from other farmers in Mexico.

SunRidge Farms

SunRidge Farms, Pajaro, Calif., showed off its new, organic Get Up & Go mix and Antioxidant mix. The 10-pound bulk containers of Get Up & Go mix include organic granola, yogurt-coated raisins, cranberries, bananas, almonds and raisins, said Mark Devencenzi, national sales director.

Eventually, the product will be packaged in 7.5-ounce bags, he said. The Antioxidant mix contains cherries, blueberries, cranberries, walnuts, almonds, peanuts and dark chocolate stars and comes in bulk cartons and 7.5-ounce bags.

The company also has revamped its packaging on Woman’s Vitality mix and Omega 3 Men’s Energy mix, available in 6.5-ounce bags and in bulk.

“We’re trying to provide a product that is good for you and tastes good at the same time,” Devencenzi said.

Sunrise Growers

Placentia, Calif.-based Sunrise Growers Inc. has been able to attract higher-caliber strawberry growers as a result of its new, frozen fruit smoothies program, said Christine Reeker, vice president of marketing.

That’s because growers are able to use every piece of fruit in the field, she said. The product comes in six flavors, four of which feature strawberries, and has been sold in Wal-Mart stores for six months.

“Now we’re launching the next wave,” Reeker said.

The four, easy-open packets per box now contain probiotics. Consumers just add water and blend in the mix. Sunrise Growers is cross-marketing the product through stickers on its clamshell containers of fresh strawberries, Reeker said.

Sun-Rype Product

Sun-Rype Product, Kelowna, British Columbia, has offered its 100% fruit strips, bars and bites in a couple of major U.S. chains for about a year, said Craig Graupe, U.S. sales manager. Now the company is ready to expand into several chains nationwide.

The snacks are made from strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and pomegranates and have no artificial ingredients, preservatives or added sugar.

Tanimura & Antle

Tanimura & Antle, Salinas, Calif., is offering its Living Lettuce in foodservice without the roots, said Rick Antle, chief executive officer.

The foodservice packs are available in clamshells and bags in packs of either 16 or 12 clamshells or 16 1-pound bags, Antle said. The company also is offering arugula and watercress in foodservice packs in the next three weeks, Antle said.

Taylor Farms

Taylor Farms, Salinas, Calif., is offering three new retail vegetable trays and three new vegetable steamers for national distribution, said CJ Given, sales manager.

Each new vegetable comes with an assortment of vegetables including broccoli, carrots and celery, with one 38-ounce tray available now featuring turkey bites, colby cheese, and Hidden Valley ranch dressing.

A 40-ounce tray with salami, cheese, Ritz crackers and Hidden Valley ranch dressing, is available in December.

The third tray features vegetables with red roasted pepper hummus, Given said, and is available now. The company’s 18-ounce vegetable steamers come with Garden Vegetable with broccoli, carrots and celery; Garden Stir Fry with broccoli, carrots and snow peas; and Garden Trio with carrots, broccoli and sugar snap peas.

Texas Department of Agriculture

The Texas Department of Agriculture’s Go Texan program challenged chefs from local hotels in Austin to an Iron-chef style battle featuring products that could be purchased at Austin-area farmers markets. The event, held in early October, capped off the program’s Chef Roundup foodservice promotion.

Restaurants that feature Go Texan products were eligible for the foodservice promotion, which was designed to help promote local producers of all types, including meat, produce and even broadline items like tableware, said Richard De Los Santos, director of marketing.

More than 400 restaurants statewide participated in the program, he said.

To-Jo Mushrooms

A bourbon barbeque pack of mushrooms is being rolled out in the next several months by To-Jo Fresh Mushrooms Inc., said Anthony D’Amico, president of the Avondale, Pa.-based company.

The all-mushroom line is an extension of its award winning On the Spot Gourmet line, he said, which is a value-added refrigerated pack for retail and foodservice customers.

The foodservice pack is expected to be 3-pound or 5-pounds and the retail pack will be 10 ounces,  D’Amico said.

U.S. Potato Board

Tim O’Connor, president of the Denver-based U.S. Potato Board, and David Fraser, vice president of industry communications and policy, shared their latest performance data with attendees of Fresh Summit through a business card-sized flash drive.

The board recently compiled data from scorecards it keeps from its five-year plan, which it’s four years into.

“We’re engaging the industry on our programs and we’re going to provide a lot more detail going forward,” O’Connor said of the new initiative to share the information. “We’re trying to meet with shippers and retailers to talk about the data, what we’ve accomplished, and to talk about category management, which is our core goal here.”

Van Solkema Produce

Byron Center, Mich.-based Van Solkema Produce Inc. has added 500 acres to its growing operation.

The company plans to grow cabbage, cucumbers and squash on the acres in Belle Glade, Fla., just north of Lake Okeechobee, said Tim Van Solkema, buyer and salesman.

The company also plans to import acorn, spaghetti and butternut squash from Costa Rica this winter, Van Solkema said.

Veg Pro International

Sherrington, Quebec-based Veg Pro International is working with Kraft Foods on new salad kits, said Bob Monzeglio, sales.

The new kits, which should be available in Canada by December, should include new dressings and cheeses, Monzeglio said. The products could make their way to the U.S. within a year or two, he said, under the Fresh Attitude brand.

The company also added a line to its plant in Sherrington, Quebec, this summer.

Village Farms

Village Farms, Eatontown, N.J., introduced its trade promotion plan called “Barefoot Plan.”

Douglas Kling, senior vice president, said the company now stresses five parts of its “Hydroperfect” method of hydroponic growing: water conservation, land preservation, integrated pest management, water recycling and food safety.

Kling said this plan is a more understandable way for retailers to explain to consumers the benefits of greenhouse growing methods.


Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Inc. is growing a new, numbered fall strawberry variety from Oxnard, Calif., said James Grabowski, merchandising manager.

Another variety also is in the testing phase, and if it performs as expected, the two varieties will account for 100% of the firm’s fall strawberries, he said.

Well-Pict also introduced a raspberry variety that will grow in Watsonville from May until November and in Oxnard during the fall and winter.

Acreage is being changed over for the new variety, which should account for all of Well-Pict’s raspberry acreage by the end of 2010, Grabowski said.

West Pak Avocado

A newly developed display rack for bagged avocados is boosting sales for Temecula, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc., said Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing.

The bags include a recipe for guacamole. The racks are able to display a variety of sizes of the mesh bags and the “Let’s Party” header card can be customized for individual retailers, he said.

Also new to West Pak Avocado this year is the company’s high-pressure gas rooms for ripening.

“The feedback has been great,” Meyer said.

Wishnatzki Farms

Wishnatzki Farms will unveil a consumer brand by the first of the year, said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer of the Plant City, Fla.-based company.

The new consumer label — called Wish Farms — will be rolled out by early January, he said.  The company also is implementing the FreshQC  traceability system that features Produce Traceability Initiative compliance with item-level traceability.

He said the system, developed by Wishnatzki Farms-controlled Virtual One Software, Plant City, will feature case labels matched with tear-off labels for clamshells.

UPDATED: Fresh Summit 2009: Expo notes part 3