Archive For The “News” Category

NatureFresh Farms Builds New Distribution Center, Expands Organic Offering

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GreenhouseLeamington, ON  – Increased demand for premium greenhouse grown products across the NatureFresh™ Farms product line has prompted one of Canada’s largest independent growers to break ground on a new 106,000 sq.ft Distribution Center in Leamington, ON. Construction is to be completed by mid-summer.

“The continued expansion of our operations & launch of new products is a direct result of the growth of the NatureFresh™ Farms brand”, said Peter Quiring, President. “Over the last few years, we have increased our production capacity to meet the demands of our retail partners. Our commitment to quality, regardless of season, is enabling NatureFresh™ Farms to be an integrated supplier 12 months a year. Expanding our production capabilities in Leamington shows our commitment to growing our business in Canada”, commented Quiring. Family owned & operated, NatureFresh™ employs more than 500 people across all of its greenhouses & distribution centers in both Canada & USA.

The state of the art distribution center will enable NatureFresh™ to increase production and specialty packaging on site. The addition of the new facility will compliment the existing 5 distribution centers that are currently operational across the company’s 130 acres in Leamington, ON. NatureFresh™ also opened a 60,000 sq.ft facility in Toledo, OH in Fall 2016 to service the new 45 acres of greenhouse tomato production in Delta, OH.  Due to the success of its Ohio tomato program, the company has already outgrown the Toledo facility 6 months after opening the doors and will be expanding in the months to come.

After doubling its Organic Bell Pepper acreage in 2016, NatureFresh™ recently launched their new USDA Certified Organic TOV’s and Organic Red Grape Tomatoes.

“The increasing demand for organics prompted our team to bring two new items to market this year, both are being grown in Leamington, ON”, said Ray Wowryk, Director of Business Development. The Organic TOV’s are available in bulk format whereas the Organic Red Grape Tomatoes are available in Dry Pint formats.

Lastly, the company also unveiled its new Canadian grown TOMZ™ Snacking Tomatoes in March that are being packed in new top seal formats. NatureFresh™ grows its proprietary TOMZ™ brand snacking tomatoes in Delta, OH (winter production) and Leamington, ON (summer production).

About NatureFresh Farms

NatureFresh Farms™ has grown to become one of the largest independent, vertically integrated greenhouse vegetable growers in North America  with growing operations in Leamington, ON and Delta, OH.

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Port of Philadelphia Buys Former Site of Philadelphia Produce Market

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phillymktphotoPhilaPort announced the acquisition of a 29-acre parcel of land, locally known as the former Philadelphia Produce & Seafood Terminal, located at Third Street and Pattison Avenue. With this purchase PhilaPort now owns 1,016 acres of land.

This purchase from Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, PIDC, will allow PhilaPort to develop warehousing to support the growth in container operations at Packer Avenue Marine Terminal.

“As we densify and increase container capacity at PAMT, we needed more land to grow,” Jeff Theobald, chief executive officer of PhilaPort, said in a press release. “This land, located less than a half mile from [Packer Avenue Marine Terminal], allows us to enact a major component in our plan.  It enables us to relocate warehousing adjacent to our main container operations.”

PhilaPort has enacted an aggressive timetable to grow Port cargo volumes. This new land will play a critical role and directly augment the $300 million port development plan set by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, the board and the CEO of PhilaPort.

“We are excited to support the continued expansion of PhilaPort with the sale of this strategic parcel,” John Grady, president of PIDC, added in the press release. “For more than 60 years, this site has played an important role in the movement of goods and services throughout the region, supporting business growth and thousands of family-sustaining jobs. With its strategic location, growing port, deep pool of skilled labor, and direct access to a large customer base in the northeast United States, Philadelphia is poised for even greater investment, development and job growth as a center for logistics, transportation, and distribution.”

The port is an economic engine in southeastern Pennsylvania; this purchase exemplifies the important role public and private warehousing plays in the Port achieving its full potential.

“The cooperation between the port, the city of Philadelphia and PIDC has been outstanding,” Deputy Mayor Richard Lazer said in the press release. “Mayor Kenney has placed a high priority on moving the port forward. In the weeks and months ahead, the city of Philadelphia will continue to move in lockstep with Governor Wolf’s goal of generating family sustaining jobs.”

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Black Gold Farms’ Fresh Red Potato Shipments Coming Out of Missouri

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Keith Groven, Black Gold+1By Black Gold Farms

Grand Forks, ND – Black Gold Farms will soon be harvesting fresh red potatoes in the boot heel of Missouri. With ideal planting and growing conditions and plenty of moisture, this year’s crop looks to be one of the best yet.

“We’ve been growing red potatoes on the boarder of Missouri and Arkansas for about 10 years, and every year we get a little better. This year is no different.” commented John Halverson, COO of Black Gold Farms. “We’ve been able to learn a lot about growing potatoes in the summertime heat from over 30 years of chip potato experience in warmer climates. We’re able to transfer those leanings to the fresh market. While there are many differences, the principles are the same: use the right variety, get the timing correct, push them through the wash line and into the cooler as quickly as possible, and then, ship to our customers while they are still at their freshest” Halverson concluded.

Keith Groven, Fresh Sales Manager of Black Gold Farms states, “Our customers really find value pulling fresh reds out of Arbyrd, MO as the quality is consistent, and we are geographically central to many of the major cities which provides locally grown opportunities. Customers recognize that Black Gold Farms is the red potato expert, especially this time of year, in this geography.”

Keith Groven                                 Black Gold Farms will be harvesting, packing and shipping their own crop of red potatoes out of their Arbyrd, MO farm and packing facility until the middle of July.  After that, the Black Gold Farms Indiana crop will be ready. This allows for Black Gold Farms-grown product to be supplied to customers year-round.

“Each of our farms has their own unique characteristics, but what’s really valuable is that our customers know that the red potatoes they’re getting and the service they’ve come to expect is all Black Gold Farms” remarked Groven.

Black Gold Farms is offering up redventurous recipes like Red Potato and Chorizo Paella, as well as digital/social promotions geared towards bringing awareness to the adventurous side of red potatoes.

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Mastronardi Aquires Backyard Farms; Volume Grows from Port of Oakland

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DSCN2858+1Canadian greenhouse growing operation Mastronardi Produce and purchased another greenhouse growing facility in the state of Maine.

Family owned and operated fourth generation business Mastronardi Produce of Kingsville, ON has acquired New England year-round greenhouse tomato grower Backyard Farms of Madison, ME.  Mastronardi The leading grower and shipper of specialty and commodity greenhouse produce in North America,  Backyard was launched 10 years ago and ships primarily throughout the Northeastern United States.

Together, Mastronardi Produce and Backyard Farms will grow and ship non-GMO verified tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers to the top food retailers in North America.  Backyard Farms operates two greenhouses totaling 42-acres

About Mastronardi Produce

Ours span over 60 years to the pioneering of the North American greenhouse industry. Before Grandpa Umberto Mastronardi came along, there were no commercial greenhouses in North America. His vision was to provide consumers with fresh greenhouse grown vegetables all year long. After four generations, the Mastronardi family still owns and manages what is now the leading greenhouse vegetable company on the continent, growing and selling world-class tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.

Port of Oakland Cargo Handling Update

California’s Port of Oakland saw import cargo increase 19 percent in March compared with a year ago.
Total loaded container volume for both imports and exports, were up 9.3 percent. The increase contrasted with a 9.2 percent decline in February, according to a news release.
“This is a nice rebound,” maritime director John Driscoll, said in the release. “We’re watching now to find out if it signals stronger trade growth for the rest of the year.”
Port figures indicated 402 ships called in Oakland during the first three months of 2017, down about 5.6 percent from a year ago.  At the same time, those ships carried an average of 8.4 percent more containers in and out of Oakland.  The conflicting trends point to greater volume on fewer ships, according to the release.
That trend will result in several positive trends, according to the release, including reduced vessel operating expenses for shipping lines, less demand for berthing space at marine terminals and a reduction in diesel emissions at port because of fewer vessel calls.

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Imported Mexican Produce to U.S. Continues to Increase

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IMG_6550+1There is a definite trend of increased imports and rising value to the economic conditions in the Southwest, according to a report issued by the Center for North American Studies at Texas A&M University.  The annul report is requested by the Texas International Produce Association.

“The economic impacts of U.S. produce imports from Mexico on southwestern land ports of entry are substantial, expected to total $1.62 billion by 2025 as these imports continue to grow over the next five to seven years,” the study surmised.  “Additional employment will occur as 13,241 jobs will be required to support this increase in economic activity.”

About 98 percent of these imports entered the United States by land ports of entry on the southern border in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.  The report determined about 90 percent of these imports are fresh fruits and vegetables, representing a total of $10.67 billion of value.

Using 40,000-pound equivalents as the average weight of a truckload, it was estimated that these shipments represent more than 463,000 truckloads.  Texas has been the leading port of entry for the past six years and is expected to maintain the No. 1 slot through the furthest projection year of 2025.  In fact, each year it is solidifying its hold on first place.

When the survey began in 2007, a total of about 261,000 truckloads of product came from Mexico into the United States through those four states.  Arizona accounted for around 112,000 loads while Texas chipped in with about 101,000.  California added 43,000 loads and New Mexico contributed 4,378 truckloads.  Arizona’s market share was 43 percent followed by Texas’ 39 percent.

In 2016, 222,000 loads came in to the United States through a Texas port representing about 48 percent of the shipments. A rizona’s 161,000 loads represented another 35 percent. California accounted for 68,000 truckloads, representing 15 percent. New Mexico, of course, lags behind but its 18,500 loads in 2016 represented a 400 percent increase in a decade.

Projecting forward, the researchers predicted that in 2025, 688,000 loads would come through the four states with Texas’ share approaching 350,000 loads, which would be more than 50 percent of the total.

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JAZZ Offers $3000 Grand Prize, Other Items to Instagram Contest Winners

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By Oppy

AjazzAs consumers across North America pack their bags for summer vacations in the weeks ahead, the savviest among them will tuck in a little something extra—a freshly rebranded New Zealand JAZZ  apple—with an aim to refresh their palates and their pocketbooks.

A $3,000 grand prize awaits the winner of JAZZ apples’ Summer Vacation Sensation Instagram Contest.  It encourages participants to post “sensational” photos of the fruit taken during their summer adventures.  Additional memory-making prizes, like Yeti coolers, GoPro cameras, and other outdoor-fun gear, will reward runners-up. bThe contest begins June 19 and spans the next eight weeks.

“As part of the JAZZ  brand refresh, we’re reminding everyone of the apple’s amazing portability,” said Joe Barsi, president of T&G Global, North America, owner of the JAZZ  apple brand. “With a dense texture and crisp crunch, not to mention an always-refreshing eating experience, a JAZZ  apple is truly the ideal travel companion.”

The contest asks participants to post images of JAZZ  apples at any destination or vacation setting.  It has to create a “brand buzz” while conveying the upbeat personality and versatility of the apple.


In the development of the refreshed JAZZ  brand, research revealed that the apple resonates with well-travelled and socially-connected taste seekers—consumers.  They are always looking for the latest and the new, and who enjoy sharing their discoveries.

“We believe the contest will appeal to the precise audience the brand aims to reach, and are excited to present this high-profile, fun opportunity to attract and engage that audience this summer and beyond,” said Brock Nemecek, regional marketing manager for T&G Global, North America. “This initiative will not only keep JAZZ  apples top-of-mind and in shoppers’ carts over the next couple months, but will also establish consumer connections that the brand will foster year-round.”

T&G Global and marketing partner Oppy will work closely with retailers to generate support for the contest.  At the same time amplifying it on various social platforms through mid-August.

“This is a great opportunity for our retail partners to promote fresh-crop New Zealand JAZZ  apples, said David Nelley, vice president of categories for Oppy. “The fruit is excellent in quality, and excitement is already gathering around the refreshed brand at the store level and on social media. It’s going to be a great season, with numerous initiatives driving people to the JAZZ  display.”

Join the fun and post your most sensational travel photos, starring a fresh crop JAZZ  apple, following and tagging @jazzappleus, and using #jazzsensation on Instagram.

JAZZ  apples are available year-round via domestic and import crops and are offered exclusively by CMI Orchards, Oppy, and Rainier Fruit Company.

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Organics in More Than 80% of U.S. Homes; Logistics Co. is Expanding

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DSCN9169Over 80 percent of U.S. homes contain organic foods, according to a new Nielsen study.

A study of 100,000 households in 2015 and 2016 reported more households than ever bought organic food in 2016, which surpassed 2015 numbers by 3.4 percent.

“These new findings show how important organic has become to millions and millions of American families everywhere – to more than 80% of our nation’s 117 million households,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association. in a news release. “The organic community is looking forward to working with the new leadership at (the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

Alaska and Hawaii were excluded from the study.  However, the findings found  in some states, households with organic produce and other foods topped 90 percent.

The five states which saw the biggest increases in households reporting organic purchases were:

  • North Dakota, where 85.6 percent
  • Rhode Island, with 88.3 percent
  • Percent buying organic, up 12.3 percent from 2015;
  • Wyoming, where 90 percent of participating households bought organic in 2016, up 10.8 percent;
  • South Dakota, which had the lowest percentage of any state at 68.9 percent, but still recorded a 10 percent increase;
  • Wisconsin, where 77.6 percent of participating households bought organic, up 9.1 percent from 2015.

Organic food sales in the U.S. is close to $40 billion a year, accounting for 5 percent of total food sales in the country, according to the Organic Trade Association.

Households that participated in the study scanned Universal Product Codes to track purchases, a practice Nielsen has used since 2002.

NFI Expanding U.S. Produce Business

NFI Industries  of Cherry Hill, NJ is bringing fresh produce capabilities to the U.S.

Active in numerous industries,  the logistics company made more than 185,000 shipments in 2016, including 10,000 shipments of produce.

The move to expand further into produce was prompted by interest from existing customers and the hiring of more staff members with experience in produce.

NFI has been hauling produce to Canada with a dedicated fleet for several large customers there, and those companies also have business in the U.S.,

Main shipping points for NFI’s U.S. produce business will be Northern California, Yuma, Ariz., Nogales, Ariz., McAllen, Texas, Florida and regional ports.

NFI operates more than 31 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space throughout the U.S., particularly in the eastern half of the country and in Texas, and owns more than 2,400 tractors and more than 8,300 trailers, according to the company website.


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Honeybear’s Largest Chilean Honeycrisp Crop Returns

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HoneycrispBy Honeybear Marketing

Elgin, Minnesota – A record shipment of Chilean Honeycrisp from Honeybear Brands’ southern hemisphere orchards arrives at major retail stores across the country this week.  The 2017 Chilean Honeycrisp is the largest in Honeybear’s 10-year program and brings just picked freshness, color and taste domestic Honeycrisp inventory, harvested last fall, is in low supply and flavor waning from months of cold storage.

The volume increase in Chilean Honeycrisp is due in part to several factors: the natural maturation of Honeybear’s Chilean orchards, excellent growing conditions and the company working with exceptional local growing partners who understand the many nuances of growing and optimizing premium apple production in their local micro climates.

Leading retailers featuring the Honeybear Chilean Honeycrisp include Hy-Vee, Publix, Loblaws, United Supermarkets, Cub Foods, SuperValu, Central Market, Coborns and Sam’s Club in more than 100 markets across the country.

Honeybear Brands and parent Wescott Agri Products were granted exclusive production and commercialization rights for the Chilean Honeycrisp by the University of Minnesota, developer and owner of the original variety. The company was one of the first to grow Honeycrisp in Washington state and Chile, and is widely recognized as the premier Honeycrisp label in the United States.
For more information visit or contact Honeybear at 952-746-1315

About the Honeycrisp Variety

The Honeycrisp variety was first designated in 1960, patented in 1988 and made available to customers in 1991.  In recent years, thanks to its unique blend of crunch, crisp flesh and a mixed sweet/tart flavor profile, the Honeycrisp variety has become an in-demand favorite of consumers, cooks, apple-lovers.  A challenging variety to grow, Honeycrisp requires the right microclimate to maximize production, yield quality and flavor.

About Honeybear Brands

Honeybear Marketing is the marketing arm for, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wescott Agri Products. Honeybear is a leading grower and developer of premium apple varieties. The company started as Wescott Agri Products, a family run apple orchard in the early 1970s.  From that early start several generations ago, today Honeybear still employs the same hands-on, personal attention to each and every apple variety produced through the Honeybear Apple Varietal Development Program. Honeybear is the leading provider of Honeycrisp apples in the Northwest region and offers complete domestic and global supply integration from varietal development to growing, packing, shipping and retailer support.

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Port of Oakland Expanding; Port of Los Angeles Sets a Record

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OaklandPort1Expanding to handle more containerized cargo by investing $600 million has been announced by the  Port of Oakland.

Speaking to a maritime audience at the American Association of Port Authorities Conference recently in Tampa, Fla., Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll outlined a partnership designed to increase trade volume by investing in new facilities and better infrastructure.

“We’re building for growth in a shipping industry that is becoming more and more competitive,” Driscoll said in a news release. “By investing with partners who share our vision, we can deliver services that will be of great value to the global supply chain.”

Driscoll noted the port would work with private developers and public agencies to modernize its infrastructure and outlined three proposed investment projects:

  • $244 million, mostly from government grants, to separate railroad tracks from major port roadways;
  • $90 million for a privately built refrigerated warehouse called “Cool Port;” and
  • $50 million to expand the port’s second-largest marine terminal, with private funds.

Driscoll noted that the port recently completed a $100-million railyard near marine terminals and a proposed logistics complex, both of which should be a drawing card for shippers, enabling cargo to be quickly shifted between rail, road and ocean transport.

The Port of Oakland agricultural tonnage grew 233% over the past five years and now represents 53% of the port’s total export tonnage. Fruits and nuts are the leading agricultural commodities shipped from the port. The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland Seaport, Oakland International Airport, and 20 miles of waterfront.

The Port of Los Angeles

January 2017 was the busiest January and second busiest month in the Port of Los Angeles’ 110-year history

“Coming off our best year ever in 2016, it’s very encouraging to keep the momentum going into 2017,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said in a news release. “The port remains diligent, along with our partners, in making the San Pedro Bay supply chain even more efficient through world-class infrastructure, innovative technology solutions and strategic use of resources.”

January 2017 imports increased 13.1% compared to January 2016. Exports increased 28.7% compared to the previous year. Empty containers increased 17.9%. Combined, January 2017 saw a 17.4% increase compared to last year.

Fruit and vegetable imports for January 2017 were 4,885 TEU (20-foot equivalent units), according to Phillip Sanfield, Port of Los Angeles director of media relations. Those imports accounted for 1.1% of the total 415,423 TEUs imported that month. Fruit and vegetable export numbers were not available.


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Jazz Variety Strengthens Premium Apple Position

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JazzApplesby T&G Global / Oppy

Fresh crop New Zealand JAZZ™ apples are arriving now — decked out with a sharp new look and attitude geared to drive even stronger sales of the top-10 apple.

Built around the powerful positioning of “The JAZZ Sensation,” the new brand elevates the always refreshing eating experience delivered by the tangy-sweet, intensely crunchy favorite. Complete with a fresh new logo, and supported by a full suite of nimble visual components, JAZZ™ is primed to stand out in the category with contemporary colors, eye-catching graphics and a compelling brand message.

JAZZ™ apples originated in New Zealand, following a natural union of Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties. Sixteen years later, it’s become a global sensation, growing in 10 counties under a closely controlled quality program, managed by trademark owner and one of New Zealand’s largest horticulture exporters, T&G Global (originally Turners and Growers).

T&G Global introduced the new brand at Fruit Logistica in February, and has subsequently rolled it out market-by-market to great enthusiasm.

Darren Drury, T&G Global’s executive general manager – pipfruit, said the refresh of JAZZTMrepresents a major investment by T&G that extends across all touch-points from packaging to promotions and sampling to digital platforms.

“Our consumer research identified an opportunity to reinvigorate our JAZZTM brand to reinforce its premium position,” he explained. “We operate in a highly competitive category, so it’s vital to remain relevant while appealing to new consumers. Having discussed it with our growers, sales agents and customers we felt the time was right for a global refresh.”

Importantly, the esteemed ENZA quality mark will appear alongside the new JAZZ™ label, providing assurance that the long-standing quality and eating experience of JAZZ™ has not changed.

“The new JAZZ™ brand will engage consumers with an exciting new website and relevant social content aimed at creating a deeper relationship between JAZZ™ and its global fan base,” said Drury. “Our research guided us to focus JAZZ™ marketing efforts on well-travelled and socially connected taste seekers; consumers who are always looking for the latest and the new, and who enjoy sharing their discoveries. A durable, versatile, great-tasting apple like JAZZ™ is a perfect fit for this spirit and lifestyle, and our refreshed approach will place more JAZZ™ into their sphere.”

Available soon from Oppy, fresh crop New Zealand JAZZ™ apples will be supported by high-impact custom promotions arranged in partnership with retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“JAZZ™ ranks third in the list of premium apples for dollar contribution in the produce department,” said David Nelley, vice president of categories at Oppy. “Its growth has been steady over the last decade and a half. The refreshed brand will renew existing connections with JAZZ™ apples as well as build new ones across North America.”

JAZZ™ apples are also available from CMI Orchards and Rainier Fruit Company primarily during the domestic season.

Drury says T&G is pleased with consistent growth and demand for JAZZTM across the company’s traditional markets including Germany, the UK and USA alongside newer markets such as Thailand, China, Vietnam and Japan.

“We’ve built up a stronger presence in our key markets and our people are better placed to further support our customers and work alongside growers on our year-round growing program,” he said. “We are also looking for new growth opportunities. It’s an exciting time for JAZZTM and we’re looking forward to sharing our new-look journey with customers, growers and consumers.”


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