Archive For The “News” Category

New York’s BrightFarms and Ontario’s Metro Distribute Announce Expansion Plans

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DSCN0023Expansion plans have been announced by BrightFarms and Metro Distribution.

BrightFarms has broke ground October 16th on its fourth greenhouse, this one in Wilmington, OH.

The facility will be 120,000 square feet and supply salad greens and herbs to retailers in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus metro areas, according to a news release.

Based in New York City, BrightFarms envisions building greenhouses around the U.S. to provide local product.

“There is a large opportunity for the supermarket produce department to grow if they can source locally,  CEO Paul Lightfoot said in the release.   “BrightFarms sees a clear opportunity in the market to expand our model for local produce across the country.”

BrightFarms continues to report increasing interest in its product, as it did earlier this year when an early finish for leafy greens in Yuma, Ariz., and a late start in Salinas, Calif., resulted in gaps in supply.

“We have seen demand for our local greens climb sharply as retailers have come to rely on the stability and consistency of our product,”  Lightfoot said. 

According to its website, Bright Farms has been working in urban agriculture since 2006. Since 2011, the company has been on a quest to bring commercial scale urban agriculture to the market, take our farms and the industry to the next level, and change the way we eat as a society.


Metro Inc. announced a projected $400 million investment over six years in its Ontario distribution network.  The firm will modernize its operations in Toronto between 2018 and 2023 by building a new fresh distribution facility and a new frozen distribution facility, both of which will leverage technological improvements like automation.

The company’s distribution network in Toronto was built mostly over 50 years ago and no longer meets the evolving needs of the business.

Metro currently operates six distribution centers in Ontario. Four centers are located in Toronto and two in Ottawa. Together, they provide employment to over 1,500 employees. Metro’s

decision to modernize and automate a part of its distribution network will result in an anticipated loss of approximately 180 full-time and 100 part-time positions starting in 2021.

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Port of LA Sets Record for Container Volume; New Pharr Distribution Center is Coming Soon

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More container volume is being handled at the Port of Los Angeles, and a California company is expanding its presence in South Texas.

Container volumes increased over 16 percent from over the previous year at the Port of Los Angeles, which had its busiest July ever.  This took place as U.S. ports continue to post record traffic numbers, including the major West Coast entry point for many Central and South American fruits and vegetables.

L.A. had almost 797,000 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) came through the port, the most in any July since it opened 110 years ago, according to a news release.

The port also set a 12-month shipping record for a Western Hemisphere port during the most recent fiscal years.

Port officials expect the calendar year to break records as well.   Container volumes are 9.5 percent over 2016 volume to date, a year that also saw records fall.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union recently extended their contracts with the terminal operators at the port until 2022.


Index Fresh of Bloomington, CA broke ground earlier this year on a new distribution center in South Texas that should be ready to receive fruit sometime in November.  The company is anticipating continued growth with the U.S. consumption of avocados.

Index Fresh has used a commercial warehouse facility in the Rio Grande Valley for several years at Crosspoint Cold Storage, but decided it was time to expand and build its own facility.

Located in Pharr, The Index Fresh distribution center is being built a stone’s throw from the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which is a major entry point for Mexican avocados and other fruits and vegetables originating south of the border.  The facility will be used to pre-cool and condition the fruit.

It will have the capacity to handle 2,600 pallets of avocados, with 10 separate ripening rooms.  Mexico exports more avocados to the U.S. than any country, with South Texas being the most popular port of entry.


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Mission Produce’s New Organic Avocado Box.; Side Delights has Duo Potatoes Offering

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avocadoboxA new box for organic avocados has been introduced, while another company has come out with Duo Potatoes.

Mission Produce of Oxnard, CA. has introduced a new box for organic avocados so it will be distinctive to employees in the back room and consumers in a supermarket.

The box, with a purple stripe on white background, comes in a single-layer flat and double-layer box.

The company continues to use purple mesh bags for some organic avocados and purple price look-up stickers to distinguish the organic avocados.

“This box will call out organic avocados in the back room as well as on the sales floor,” Megan Berenbach, organic category manager for Mission Produce, said in a news release. “It helps to highlight the organic fruit for backroom staff and will help them identify inventory as they pull Mission organic avocados for display.

“As the organic category grows, we made it a priority to support our customer’s needs with updated packaging,” she said.

“Based on the popularity and growth of the avocado category — and especially organic avocados — we feel strongly that we need to do more to highlight organic for retailers and consumers alike,” said vice president of marketing Robb Bertels. “According to the Hass Avocado Board, over 50 percent heavy avocado users consider organic to be an important attribute when they are on the path to purchase. We don’t expect that to slow down, and anything we can do to highlight organic will benefit the category.”


DuoPotatoes-web Triple-washed red and yellow potatoes in the pack can be cooked in the bag in eight minutes and is being launched as Duo Potatoes, according to a news release.

“Colorful potatoes scream ‘healthy’ and Side Delights Steamables provide that extra pop of color to dinner plates in eight minutes or less,” Kathleen Triou, president and CEO of Fresh Solutions Network said. “We are researching and listening to what our customer wants and continue to provide variety and excitement to our popular product line, helping our retailers’ bottom line.”

The Steamables lineup also includes Russet Potatoes, Medley Potatoes, Golden Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Fingerling Potatoes, Purple Potatoes and Petite Sweet Potatoes.

Fresh Solutions Network reports the microwaveable/steamable fresh potato segment is growing, citing Nielsen data.

The category is up 12.6 percent in volume sales and up 28.4 percent in dollar sales from last year.

Fresh Solutions Network, a group of growers and shippers, is the exclusive supplier of Side Delights items.

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Yellow Potatoes Continue to Gain Market Share

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DSCN0239By Ted Kreis
Yellow potatoes continue to gain market share and the gain is mostly at the expense of russets and whites, two potato types shippers in the Red River Valley haven’t grown for the fresh market in years.
Red River Valley red production has been up and down in recent years but one trend is clear, the valley is growing more yellows. In 2010 the valley produced just over 200,000 hundredweight (cwt.) of yellow potatoes.  Just five years later in 2015 the valley produced 607,000 cwt., a three-fold increase. In 2016 the number increased even more despite some yellow losses in the northern valley.  On a percentage basis, yellow potatoes made up just six percent of the Red River Valley fresh crop in 2010; the past two years they have averaged 14.5 percent.
Heimbuch Potato located south of Oaks in southeast North Dakota is geographically separated a bit from other Red River Valley shippers but they have close business ties with the valley.  They are also included with the Red River Valley for USDA  production and shipment numbers.  Not too long ago Heimbuchs grew three types of potatoes for the fresh market; reds, yellows and russets.  But brothers Chad and Josh Heimbuch picked up on the popular yellow trend early and in 2013 they switched to all yellow potato production.
Other Color Trends 
Nationwide white potatoes for the fresh market have been the big losers.  Since the 2008 crop year white potato shipments have decreased 43.3 percent, according to numbers compiled by the North American Potato Market News.
Russet shipments so far this season mimics closely 2008 although russets are down 7.7 percent from 2009 when they hit a 10 year peak.
U.S. red shipments had increased about 14% between 2009 and 2015 crop years but have regressed this year because of short supplies here in the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red producer..
(Ted Kreis is the Marketing & Communications Director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, MN)

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USApple Asks: How Do You Do #AppleADay?

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DSCN0192By USApple

Falls Church, VA — How do you like your daily apple? Do you slice a crisp Fuji at lunchtime and dip it in a side of nut butter?  Perhaps you end your day on a sweet note with a warm piece of apple crumble?  This apple season, USApple wants to know how consumers enjoy their #AppleADay.

During National Apple Month (Oct.) and through Nov. 3,  USApple is taking to social media encouraging individuals to share comments, posts, pictures and videos answering how they take their #AppleADay.  Each person who shares how they #AppleADay on the website through an online form, or on social media with the #AppleADay hashtag enters to win gift cards or industry prizes.

From sliced to sauced, from blended to baked, as a morning meal or mid-night snack, USApple seeks to create the world’s longest list of ways to enjoy an #AppleADay.  Individuals can submit their reasons a

Responses to date include:

  • “I make crockpot baked apples.”
  • “Straight from the tree.”
  • “Every day with some cheese and crackers.”
  • “Apple slices, almond butter, cinnamon and oats.”
  • “I use it in my smoothies with avocados.”
  • “I always eat a fresh apple at lunch every day and apple crisp at least once a week. Apples are a staple in our house no matter which way we fix it.”

Read other responses at:

“Our industry and the broader wellness community are always encouraging people to eat an apple a day, and an apple a day can look different for everyone,” said Korenna Wilson, Director of Consumer Health and Media Relations, USApple.  “We want to spend peak harvest season engaging with consumers online to see just how people enjoy their favorite apples and show that it’s far from boring, or the same.  Our growing list will give all of us new ideas to fit in that apple a day.”

About USApple

U.S. Apple Association is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry.  Members include 40 state and regional associations representing the 7,500 apple growers throughout the country, as well as more than 400 individual firms involved in the apple business. More information on the organization is available at

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FL Citrus Acquisitions; OR Cold Storage Opens; WA Distribution Center Opens

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DSCN0052Produce related company acquisitions seem to pick up as the economy improves and here are just three examples of moves by operations on both coasts of the U.S.  From Premier Citrus in Florida, to the Cold Storage Co. in Oregon and Volm Cos. in Washington state, expansions have occurred either through buy-outs are building new facilities.

Premier Citrus of Vero Beach, FL has acquired Greene River Marketing, also based in Vero Beach.

The acquisition allows Premier Citrus to expand its fruit volume and return marketing of its domestic fruit back in-house.

DNE World Fruit, of Ft. Pierce, FL  was acquired in February by Wonderful Citrus, previously marketed Premier’s domestic fruit the past three seasons.  Greene River will continue operating under the same name this season, but will eventually transition into part of Premier Citrus Marketing.

The purchase means Premier will be the largest domestic marketer in the Indian River growing region.

Oregon Cold Storage Opens

Cold Storage Co. of Salem, OR has opened its second facility in Salem., with 6 million cubic feet of new cold storage capacity. The 94-year-old, family-owned refrigerated warehousing company’s newest facility is in the Mill Creek Corporate Center in Salem.  The cold storage is 176,000-square-feet.  The 34-acre, 26,000-pallet operation will serve as a hub for food processors

With the second facility in Salem coming online, Henningsen now offers over 60 million total cubic feet of temperature controlled space in 11 facilities across the United States.

Washington Distribution Center Opens

Volm Cos. Inc., based in Antigo, WI, has opened a new 90,000-square-foot facility  Pasco, WA.   The new distribution facility is located less than two miles from the former location.  The facility houses warehouse space for inventory, LENO manufacturing equipment, equipment and parts area as well as increased office space for the growing business.  Volm came to the Tri-Cities area in 2007 through an acquisition.


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Mann Packing Breaks Ground on New Processing Facility

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Mannby Mann Packing Company

SALINAS, Calif. – Mann Packing,  an industry leading supplier of premium fresh vegetables, broke ground in August on its new processing facility in Gonzales, California. The groundbreaking ceremony featured company representatives, local government officials and business leaders.

Headquartered in Salinas, California, Mann’s selected the City of Gonzales for its 130,000 square foot expansion project because of its convenient location and zoned industrial area.  The company has a further land base at the same location to accommodate future expansions. 250 people will be employed at the new facility.

Sixty-five percent of the company’s manufacturing volume will relocate from Salinas to the Gonzales facility. Mann’s location at 1250 Hansen Street in Salinas will continue to process fresh-cut vegetables, but will mainly serve as the company’s central warehouse, cooling and shipping facility.

Construction of the facility is targeted for completion in early 2018, with production beginning in spring. The facility was designed with the goal of achieving electric sustainability and will utilize a windmill turbine to supply energy for heating and cooling.

“We are proud to announce our new home in Gonzales and excited to be part of this thriving business community,” said Lorri Koster, chairman & CEO at Mann’s. “This project represents the beginning of a partnership and a culmination of years of planning to create a facility which will serve as an anchor for the company’s fresh processing needs,” she added.

About Mann Packing Company

Founded in 1939, Mann Packing is an industry leading, third-generation supplier of premium fresh vegetables. Headquartered in Salinas, Mann’s is one of the largest suppliers of western vegetables, Broccolini® and sugar snap peas in North America. The firm holds the distinguished Women’s Owned Business Certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council – the most widely recognized and respected certification in the United States for women’s business enterprises. Leading the way in product innovation, environmental sustainability and green supply chain management practices, Mann Packing is consistently vigilant in food safety, employee wellness and quality assurance, making for one of the most trusted brands in the industry.


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Produce Consumption is Up in New Report; South Carolina Peach Disaster is Recounted

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DSCN0045In a  new report consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables has risen significantly since November 2008 compared with processed fruits and vegetables.  Meanwhile, a look back is taken of the disastrous season in South Carolina for peach shipments.

Wells Fargo reports consumption of fresh fruits has grown 16.2 percent and consumption of fresh vegetables has grown 20.6 percent, compared to processed fruits and vegetables, which grew 9.9 percent during the same time period. The report said processed fruits and vegetables are sold in the freezer aisle and as canned goods, according to the report by Eugenio J. Aleman, senior economist for company.

Consumers have “rationally reacted to much higher prices on the processed side in relation to the fresh side,” Aleman said in a story published recently by the Wall Street Journal. “In relative terms, fresh fruits and vegetables are cheaper today than processed fruits and vegetables are.”

Fresh fruit and vegetable prices were trending upward leading into the 2008 recession and have remained relatively static since.  However, prices for processed fruits and vegetables are higher now than at any time before the recession.

Acknowledging it is difficult to know whether price-consciousness or health-consciousness is driving the increase in consumption, the study notes younger consumers especially have shifted more toward fresh food consumption.  For those under 40 years old, fresh vegetable consumption has increased by 52 percent over the last 10 years.

However, a decrease in price for processed produce could have consumers looking more toward their pocketbooks than their health.

Titan Peach Shipments

Titan Farms in Ridge Spring, SC, the largest peach grower on the East Coast, suffered a $30 million loss when temperatures dropped to 17 and 22 degrees March 15 and 16, according to Daryl Johnston, vice president for sales and marketing.  He said Titan lost 80 to 85 percent of its peach crop to the freeze.

This includes 6,100 acres of peaches in production stretching over 100 square miles in three counties.  Titan normally grows more peaches than the entire state of Georgia, “the Peach State.”

Looking back, Titan was loading 12 truckloads of peaches in mid July, when it would normally pack 100 to 150 truckloads at the height of the season.  The peach shipper lost all but 10 to 15 percent of its crop.

Since 2001, Titan has increased peach acreage by 400 percent.

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Carrier Transicold of Detroit Reaches 50-Year Milestone

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CT of Detroit 50 Anniversary Logo (2)LINCOLN PARK, MI. — Carrier Transicold of Detroit is commemorating 50 years of serving eastern Michigan’s transport refrigeration providers, those vital links of the “cold-chain” that safely deliver food and other refrigerated essentials to supermarkets, restaurants, food service operations and more.
On Septrmber 16, the dealership celebrated its golden anniversary with customers
and employees at an open house at its facility located at 1180 John A Papalas Drive in
Lincoln Park.  Carrier Transicold of Detroit is part of the North American dealer network
of Carrier Transicold, a leading provider of equipment and services for refrigerated
transport and cold chain visibility.
“Our dealership was built on the principles of respecting customers and providing
them exceptional service at a fair price,” said Mark Sparkman, president and owner of
the Carrier Transicold of Detroit, which was founded in 1967 by his father, Earl
Sparkman, and uncle, John Sparkman.
“We are incredibly proud that this formula has sustained us and helped us grow over five decades.  Our founders, our loyal employees and our great customers deserve the credit for our continued success.”
Established as Transport Refrigeration Service by the now-retired Sparkman
brothers, the operation was among the earliest to join the Carrier Transicold North
America dealer network in the 1970s.

“Carrier Transicold of Detroit is an important member of the Carrier Transicold
family and we are delighted they’ve achieved this half-century milestone,” said Tom
Ondo, vice president and general manager, Truck, Trailer, Rail Americas, Carrier
Transicold. “Mark Sparkman has been with the company for 37 of those 50 years, giving
him an exceptional understanding of all facets of the business, while establishing
outstanding relationships with his customers and team.”
Since 2006 Carrier Transicold of Detroit has operated out of its current 30,000
square-foot facility, where it sells, installs and services truck, trailer and shipping
container refrigeration units that help to preserve and protect perishable goods as they
move from farm to fork. The dealership has 28 employees, including 14 service
technicians, and it operates six mobile units enabling 24/7 emergency service.
Carrier Transicold of Detroit has been consistently recognized for outstanding
performance by Carrier Transicold, having been named Dealer of the Year five times and achieving Carrier Transicold’s NextLevel2 Platinum Award for customer satisfaction,
business investment, service proficiency, sales performance and growth every year
since the award was established.
As part of its community support initiatives, Carrier Transicold of Detroit is a participant in Carrier Transicold’s national program in support of the Feeding America® network, funded by a $150,000 grant from United Technologies Corporation.  Through this program, Carrier Transicold of Detroit is installing transport refrigeration units on vehicles used by qualifying food bank operations serving the Detroit metropolitan area

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Bay Baby Produce Breaks Ground On New Facility; SweeTango Apple Shipments are Going Well

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A new production, storage and shipping for produce is coming to Burlington, WA.  Meanwhile, shipments of the popular SweeTango apples are well under way.

by Bay Baby Produce Inc.

Burlington, WA – Bay Baby Produce Inc., a North American grower and leader in painted pumpkins, long stem ornamentals, and winter organic squash, has broken ground on their new state of the art facility.

After a long process of approvals, Bay Baby Produce Inc. broke ground on their new, state of the art, facility mid June. The new 55,000 square foot facility will offer expansive production, storage and shipping capabilities, as well as be home to their corporate office. The expanded space will allow for increased production capacity and will make it possible to meet the increased demand for Bay Baby Produce’s products in current and expanded markets. Their new facility is expected to be operational for their 2018 season.

About Bay Baby Produce Inc.

Bay Baby Produce, a woman-owned business for over 3o years, is located in the Skagit Valley, Burlington,WA. This area is one of the most fertile growing regions in North America. Our mission is to be a consistently reliable source for high quality painted pumpkins, long stem ornamentals, organic squash and value-added products grown on our farm. This new expansion will allow Bay Baby Produce to continue to grow well into the future.

SweeTango Apple Shipments

by Next Big Thing, A Growers’ Cooperative

WENATCHEE, WA  –  Harvest has begun for the 2017 crop of SweeTango apples.  With orchards spread across prime apple-growing regions in Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and Nova Scotia, Canada, timing of harvest varies by region, typically beginning in the West and concluding a few weeks later in Nova Scotia.  The anticipated total crop is slightly larger than last season’s.

The West and Midwestern regions began picking on August 21, and the Eastern region will begin next week followed by Nova Scotia later in September.

The SweeTango season officially began as the apples first reach markets near Labor Day.


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