Archive For The “News” Category

Research Indicates Financial Strength Closely Tied to Produce Purchases

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Consumers’ financial strength is closely related to how well U.S. retailers’ fresh produce departments perform, according to an IRI representative.

Jonna Parker, the company’s Team Lead for Fresh, said that IRI primary shopper research found that if Americas were to receive a second stimulus check from the U.S. government, they would be more likely to spend it on meat and produce than other food and beverages.

“In all, 21% of consumers said they would buy more meat, 20% more produce and 7% would purchase restaurant meals more often,” she said in a joint report by 210 Analytics, IRI and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA). “This shows the fresh produce department performance is closely tied to financial strength.”

Consumers were also asked how the loss of a weekly unemployment benefit of $600 might affect shopping behavior.

“The top answer among current beneficiaries of the benefit was ‘buy less meat’ at 35%, followed by ‘buy fewer fresh fruits and vegetables’ at 29%, ‘buy fewer premium products’ at 24%, ‘switch more purchases to store brands versus national brands’ at 19%, and ‘buy fewer convenient meals to instead cook from scratch’ at 18%,” Parker said.

The joint report noted that fresh produce sales at U.S. retail in the week ended August 9 were up 9.5% year-on-year – putting it below the 12-13% weekly growth seen during July. Year-to-date through August, fresh produce department sales are up 11.1% over the same time period in 2019.

Frozen fruit and vegetables increased the most, up 27.4%. Joe Watson, VP of Membership and Engagement for the PMA, said that economic pressure “tends to have big impacts on grocery shopping”, including channel choice, the type of items and quantity bought, and the importance of price and promotions.

“During the next few weeks and months, it will be important to highlight the great value of fresh produce and home cooking,” he said. “At the same time, consumers appreciate help with recipe ideas and meal planning as that is an increasing area of struggle. We will also keep an eye on back-to-school that will look very different this year, which will once more impact year-over-year trending.”

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Keeping It Fresh: Beyond COVID-19

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By Nora Trueblood

We have been inundated with information, some mostly correct, some not, specific to COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I am quite exhausted by it all. Every one of us is on a different journey because of the pandemic, and I personally continue to recognize that a person’s opinion is just that…their opinion. I do think it is safe to say, that we are all trying to manage and figure out our own journey through life as we deal with COVID-19.
Keeping it Fresh is distributed to many of our perishable/produce customers, and I wanted to take the opportunity in this issue to bring to your attention some of the great philanthropy that is taking place during this crazy time. Many of these growers/shippers work with the Allen Lund Company in everyday business, but many also donate food to Navidad en el Barrio, a project that has existed since 1972, and one that ALC has supported since 2004.
So, a hearty thank you from the Allen Lund Company and the recipients of these generous donations to:

We still have quite a road ahead, and we wish all of our industry friends the best as we maneuver through our current challenges.


Nora Trueblood is Director of Marketing and Communications, Allen Lund Company Corporate of La Canada, CA. She began her career with ALC in 2002 as Director of Marketing & Communications. Prior to joining the company, Trueblood worked as the event manager with the Montrose Arts Council and Alpine Dance in Montrose, CO, had her own production and event planning company and spent 7 years with Lorimar Television.

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South Mill Champs Acquires Loveday Mushroom Farms

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South Mill Champs of Kennett Square, PA., has acquired Loveday Mushroom Farms of Winnipeg, Manitoba, allowing it to ship product
to all major population areas in North America within 48 hours.

The company also has launched a number of new products including stuffed mushroom caps — and large crimini mushrooms stuffed with flavored cheese. They come in spinach and artichoke, Mediterranean and pizza flavors.

Minute Mushrooms, part of the growing value-added line of products offered by South Mill Champs, come in three varieties — Sautéed Portabella Mushrooms, Garlic Herb marinated mushrooms and Steak Sizzlers portabella mushrooms and onions — and provide a 60-second solution to mushroom side dishes and add-ons at home.

The company reports despite challenges presented by COVID-19, South Mill Champs will have an additional 15 million pounds of mushrooms in 2021 to support continued growth.

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California Lettuce Crop Virus Outbreak Could Lead to Quality Claims

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Caution is urged loading Salinas Valley lettuce, which could cost you money due to rejected loads, claims or deductions from your freight rate.

Below is an update from Markon Cooperative Inc. of Salinas, CA regarding the explosion of plant virus and disease issues heavily impacting lettuce crops over the last couple of weeks in California’s Salinas Valley. 

  • Green leaf has been the least affected, but yields are down 20 to 50 percent in some iceberg and romaine lettuce crops
  • Sclerotinia is not uncommon in late summer/early fall crops, but the Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus is typically not as widespread as it is currently being reported
  • Harvesting crews are heavily trimming heads to detect and cull defects, but may not be able to eliminate these issues 100%
  • Production crews are harvesting fields at a faster pace due to the increase in culled product; upcoming fields will have less time to fully mature
  • Expect light weights, intermittent quality and shelf-life issues, and elevated markets for lettuce items for the duration of the Salinas season

Salinas Valley vegetables – grossing about $8700 to New York City.

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California Kiwi, Persimmon Shipments Expected to be Down

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Both California kiwi and persimmon shipments are expected to be down this season.

Trinity Fruit Sales of Fresno, CA handles sales for Venida Packing Co. of Exeter, CA. Venida reports the 2020-21 California kiwifruit crop should be about 9 million tray pack equivalents compared to 10.5 million last year.

Kiwifruit is a storage crop, similar to apples, with packing being completed by the end of November, with shipments continuing out of storage until May. The company has seen a tremendous increase in loadings to retailers, but a huge drop in foodservice as more consumers are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for persimmons, fewer shipments are predicted this season.
Persimmons are an alternate-bearing crop, with a heavy-volume year usually followed by a lighter one.

There are two main kinds of California persimmons. The fuyu variety is squattier, and it is eaten when it’s hard, like an apple.

The hachiya variety is more the traditional cooking variety, or it can be eaten fresh once it’s soft.

Persimmons are shipped to major retail chains and club stores from October until mid-December.


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Naturipe Announces Major Plans for Columbian Avocado Production

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An expansion of of avocados in the global market has taken place at Naturipe with its first season distributing Colombia avocados in the U.S.

The company, a year-round grower-supplier of berries and avocados, says Colombia will contribute to the supply growth of avocados worldwide. Naturipe is also increasing the Colombian industry with “significant growing operations. In Colombia, we are executing a plan to have more than 2,500 acres of avocados farms in the next three years, mainly in the area of Caldas, Quindio and Antioquia to secure nearly year-round production of avocados from Colombia,” said Andres Carvallo, Board Chairman for Naturipe Avocado Farms.

“We have already planted 500 acres and have a global export business from Colombia of more than 6 million pounds. We expect our Colombian export business to grow to 45 million pounds annually in five years.”

Andrew Bruno, president of Naturipe Avocado Farms, says the company’s farms are located at various altitudes, ranging from 5,500 to 8,200 feet above sea level.

“This will give us a wider production window from October to March for our main harvest and from May to August for our secondary harvest,” he said.

“This allows us to provide our clients with quality, fresh fruit for 10 months of the year from Colombia.” Colombia gained access to the U.S. avocado market in August 2017. While volumes from the country in the U.S. market have been limited since then, it is expected to grow substantially as a supply origin over the coming years.

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U.S. Vegetable Imports Jump While Fruits Decline Slightly

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Vegetable imports notched a 10 percent increase, while ottal fruit imports to the U.S. fell by 2 percent in the first half of the year, recently released USDA data shows.

The drop in fruit imports to the US was driven by a 19 percent drop in fruit juices and a 1 percent dip in fresh deciduous imports to the U.S. Fresh citrus imports fell by 1 percent to the US. The predominant ‘other’ fresh fruit category – which includes avocados, bananas and berries – saw no change, holding steady from January through June.

Avocado imports fell by 3 percent during the period, while bananas rose by 1 percent and blueberries fell by 17 percent and strawberries declined by 6 percent. Table grape imports through mid-February were up 35 percent, following by a 9 percent rise through the end of March, and then a 17 percent drop in the next three months.

Apples were down 22 percent, while limes were down 13 percent, mandarins were up 42 percent and oranges were up 19 percent.

Meanwhile, the total vegetable category was up 10 percent, driven by a 10 percent increase in imports of fresh vegetables excluding potatoes. Frozen vegetables were up 8 percent, while prepared or preserved vegetables rose by 15 percent. Potatoes notched a 38 percent uptick.

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New Potato Variety, 12 Years to Develop, Debuts in Stores This Fall

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Bancroft, Wis. — Potato innovation doesn’t happen overnight or even in one growing season. Agronomists are long at work in test fields across the globe with the goal of growing better-tasting, better-looking, and better-growing potatoes.

These trials take years and the number of test candidates at the onset of testing might start out at 200 different varieties with eventually one or two reaching commercial production. This is the story of how new potato varieties are born.

RPE, Inc. — a full service grower, shipper, marketer of fresh potatoes – is delighted to bring a new, premium red potato variety to potato consumers this fall.

RPE Golden Red™ premium potatoes are the new gold standard in red potatoes,” says Tim Huffcutt, Vice President Sales & Marketing Operations for RPE. “Compared to common red potatoes, these superior stunners have a vibrant red skin with a rich yellow interior and a sweet creamy taste.”

This potato variety started out in the Netherlands where it showed early promise based on yield, internal and external quality as well as disease and insect resistance. Likewise, the variety performed well in growing regions of the U.S. and Canada. Sensory testing showed that not only does the Golden Red taste better than standard, mainstream red potatoes; its internal and external appearance outshines its commodity counterpart.

Beyond the appearance of the Golden Red is its performance in the kitchen and flavor. Research Chef Chris McAdams said of Golden Red, “I truly believe this potato was built for potato salad, it’s phenomenal in that application. Once it’s cooked, it holds its shape and texture much better than comparable potatoes. When you cut it after boiling it doesn’t break apart or get grainy, which is what makes it ideal for a potato salad.”

Chef Chris also recommends consumers prepare this potato either boiled, roasted or fried. “These methods,” he said, “highlight the creamy texture and sweet, mildly-earthy flavor.”

Custom-created recipes and more information about Golden Red can be found on RPE’s website,

Golden Red is an RPE exclusive varietal. RPE and parent company, Wysocki Family of Companies, since the 1950s have been potato industry innovation leaders. Innovation in storage longevity and crop management along with trial varietals are the bedrock of the company and remain a core value today.

Golden Red premium potatoes will be available this fall in a three-pound, poly light-blocker, bilingual bag.

About RPE

Category leader RPE is a grower/shipper of year-round potatoes and onions, providing category innovation and retail solutions. Varietal development is just one way we combine our progressive farming heritage and our visionary agronomy practices.

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The Nunes Co., Peri & Sons, Complete Nevada Expansion

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An expansion of the Walker River Cooling Facility in Yerington, NV has been completed by The Nunes Co. Inc. and Peri & Sons.

Onion company Peri & Sons, Yerington, and Nunes, Salinas, jointly opened the facility in 2017. The expansion added cooling and warehouse space and 6 more loading docks, according to a news release, and eliminates trips in and out of California, dropping 600 miles from truck routes.

“By tripling the size of our facility we can increase our forward distribution capacity to — not only be able to load more trucks directly to the eastern part of the U.S. — but to increase the distribution of our California-based crops in the summer months,” Tom M. Nunes, president, said in the release.

“Through the expansion of this facility we also set ourselves up to be in great shape for expanding our acreage for future growth,” he said in the release. “Having the ability to consolidate loads gives us the opportunity to offer a heightened level of quality and consistency while still giving our customers a diversity of produce options.”

The Nunes Co. and Peri & Sons have worked together since 2008, growing and selling organic vegetables in Lyon County, of which Yerington is the county seat. Starting with 16 acres, the companies now grow and ship more than 40 million pounds of organic baby greens and 50 million pounds of organic vegetable every year, according to the release.

“Seeing the impact of the Walker River Cooling Facility, not only on the customer level, but also at the community level to the people of Lyon County, goes to show that great accomplishments can be made when two product giants join teams and share a common vision,” David Peri, owner and founder of Peri & Sons, said in the release.

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Port Manatee Project Adds Space for Refrigerated Cargo

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Port Manatee, Palmetto, FL., has received approval for an $8.3 million project that will nearly double the size of its dockside container yard.

The project, through a construction contract approved by the Manatee County Port Authority on July 28, will add 9.3 acres to the 10-acre paved facility adjoining the port’s berth 12 and 14 docks, according to a news release.

“Expansion of the dockside container yard to encompass 19.3 acres not only will accommodate dynamic demand from such longtime users as Port Manatee-based World Direct Shipping and Del Monte Fresh Produce Co., but also will literally and figuratively pave the way for further global commerce opportunities at our flourishing seaport,” Carlos Buqueras, the port’s executive director, said in the release. “The expansion project is a cornerstone of the two-year, $38 million capital enhancement initiative under way at Port Manatee.”

World Direct Shipping has imported produce and other goods from Mexico since 2014, and Del Monte is in its fourth decade at the facility, importing bananaspineapples and avocados from Central and South America, according to the release.

The project includes installation of 150 electrical receptacles for plugging in refrigerated cargo containers, bringing the port’s total reefer plugs to 600.

“In these challenging times for our nation, Port Manatee continues to thrive as a vital economic engine for our region and beyond, serving as a preferred gateway for numerous key commodities,” Priscilla Whisenant Trace, chairwoman of the Manatee County Port Authority, said in the release. 

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