Tag Archives: produce

Produce groups seek 2-year wait on electronic logging

A coalition of industry associations has asked the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a two-year exemption on electronic logging device mandate for trucks carrying agricultural commodities.

A current ELD mandate waiver which postponed the measure for trucks carrying produce and other ag products ends March 18.

In a letter submitted Feb. 20, the United Fresh Produce Association, Western Growers, the National Potato Council, the U.S Apple Association and more than 20 other produce groups said a combination of factors have driven up transportation costs.

“With the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, driver shortages, and other issues, there have been considerable increases in transportation costs for fresh produce causing devastating effects on our industry,” the letter said. “We are hearing from many of our members across multiple commodities and sectors throughout the country that shippers are having to pay two or three times, occasionally more, the normal rate for transporting their product.”

ELD concerns

The letter said feedback from producers and trucking operations indicates many ELDs on the market are not able to accommodate the agricultural exemption that is provided under the hours-of-service regulations. Under the agricultural exemption, hours-of-service regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating within a 150-air mile radius of a pick-up.

“We believe that this extension would provide a reasonable period of time for FMCSA to work with the technology providers in developing a program to verify that the ELDs on the market can perform the tasks that the rule mandates and allow trucks hauling agricultural commodities to fully utilize the 150-mile exemption,” according to the letter.

The coalition is asking the agency to consider hours-of-service modifications to accommodate the realities of loading and unloading fresh produce.

“The unpredictability of loading and unloading times as it relates to fresh fruits and vegetables can significantly detract from the on-duty hours drivers are allowed in a day,” according to the letter, which notes that two-to four-hour delays at loading are not uncommon.

“We encourage FMCSA to consider flexibility under either the ELD rule or the hours-of-service rule for truck drivers who are idling, waiting or traveling small distances reflective of negotiating a congested terminal to be considered in an exempt status,” according to the letter. “We do not believe that this type of activity is as demanding as over-the-road driving and therefore should not contribute to maximum driving times.”

The letter also asks the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to:

  • Allow packing facilities, cold storages and other locations to be considered as a “source” location under the hours-of-service regulation.
  • Allow the agricultural exemption’s 150-air-mile radius to begin at the final pick up point for multi-point pickups. Drivers make multiple pick-ups from small packinghouses or cold storage facilities to fill their load before continuing to final destinations. “We would encourage the 150 air-mile radius to begin at the location of the last pick-up point so as not to disrupt current supply chains and accommodate the operational efficiencies organically created by the marketplace over the last 100-plus years,” according to the letter.
  •  Clearly define that empty trucks are covered under the agricultural exemption. According to the letter, agricultural exemptions should be clearly defined to include unladen trucks as eligible if they are traveling to a facility exclusively to pick up an order.

Story by Tom Karst @thepacker

Del Monte to purchase Mann Packing

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to purchase Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing for $361 million.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of this year, according to a news release.

“Mann Packing’s strength in the vegetable category, one of the fastest-growing fresh food segments, will provide us with synergies, enhancing our ability to better serve our combined customers and address consumers’ needs for healthier products,” Mohammad Abu-Ghazaleh, Del Monte chairman and CEO, said in the release. “This acquisition is a significant step toward our goal to be the world’s leading supplier of healthful, wholesome and nutritious fresh and prepared food and beverages for consumers.”

Mann Packing sales in 2017 were $535 million.

“Everyone at Mann is excited with this development,” Lorri Koster, chairman and CEO of Mann Packing, said in the release. “We share Del Monte’s values and commitment of providing fresh, high-quality produce based foods that are nutritious and delicious. Both our companies have been successful in their own right with their superior quality, service and value to our customers and consumers in all channels throughout North America. This will only be enhanced by combining the business expertise and skills of two of the industry’s premiere organizations.”

Story by Ashley Nickle at Thepacker.com

Walmart could give online shoppers final OK on produce

A system patented by Walmart aims to address one of the top drawbacks for would-be online shoppers: the desire to pick their own produce.

The “Fresh Online Experience,” a process Walmart outlined in a patent published Dec. 28, would allow consumers to remotely approve or reject specific produce items prepared for online orders. The service could be used for other fresh items as well.

When placing an order, consumers could select which items to confirm. Once two-dimensional or three-dimensional photos of the produce have been sent, the consumer has a set amount of time to approve or reject the items.

Walmart explained its rationale for the system — for which fulfillment could be manual or automated — in the background section of patent.

“A customer when visiting a retail store can inspect and choose produce that seems to look like the highest quality,” the company stated in the document. “However, a customer who orders the same item from a retail store website for grocery pickup and/or delivery has to rely on the store associate to choose the actual item to be delivered. They may be dissatisfied with the result.

“It is desirable for the customer to be able to request images of the item in the retail store, so that the customer can be satisfied with their online purchase,” Walmart stated.

The company has patented numerous other ideas over the years that have not been deployed. E-commerce, however, has been a major area of growth for Walmart, and inability to inspect produce and other fresh item is one of the most cited reasons people give for not grocery shopping online.

Story by Ashley Nickle at Thepacker.com

Organic sales inch upward for some foodservice suppliers

Organic produce generally isn’t as popular among foodservice operators as it is at retail, largely because of its price.

Still, several suppliers offer a number of organic products for their foodservice customers, and many report at least a small uptick in sales.

Church Brothers Farms, Salinas, Calif., launched its organic salad offerings about a year ago, said Kori Tuggle, vice president of marketing and business development.

“We’ve started and have kept it simple with three ‘staple’ organic salad items: wild arugula, spinach and spring mix,” she said.

The company’s organic demand is increasing “modestly” among foodservice customers, Tuggle said.

“I believe operators are still looking to offer organic items. However it has to meet their food cost limitations,” she said.

Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., offers a full line of organic vegetables “with sustained growth projected for 2017,” said Mike O’Leary, vice president of sales and marketing for the fresh-cut division.

Sales of organic baby spinach have held steady, and it continues to be popular at foodservice, he said.

Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., continues to expand its product offerings to meet the demands of consumers who prefer organic produce, including avocados and bananas, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.

“We supply different offerings to different segments or venues,” he said. “For instance, organic avocados are sold to two of the casual dining chains we supply.”

Demand for Arcadian Harvest Organic from Mann Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif., continues to grow, said Gina Nucci, director of corporate marketing.

The product is particularly popular at universities and organic-focused restaurants as well as retailers, like Whole Foods salad bars, she said.

Arcadian Harvest Organic, available year-round, combines four lettuce varieties, like green leaf, red leaf, tangos, lollo rosa, batavia and oak leaf, according to the company’s website.

In the avocado category, Robb Bertels, vice president of marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said there currently is a “little bit of demand” for organic product at foodservice, especially from specialty restaurants. But he said demand seems to be growing.

“Millennials have a certain passion for organic,” he said, so he expects that trend to result in increased organic sales.

Mission Produce ships organic avocados in white boxes with purple accents so that the product stands out in distribution centers or storage areas, he said, distinguishing it from boxes of conventional fruit.

D’Arrigo Bros. Co., Salinas, Calif., offers organic versions of its Andy Boy romaine hearts and Andy Boy broccoli rabe, said Claudia Pizarro-Villalobos, director of marketing and culinary.

Andy Boy organic romaine hearts come in cartons of 12 three-count packs and seven six-count packs, and Andy Boy organic broccoli rabe comes in 1-pound bunches.

Story by Tom Burfield

Fourth of July avocado consumption expected to top 100 million pounds

Spring and summer are key times for California avocado availability and the California Avocado Commission is offering back-to-back programs in support. The commission kicked off its programming in April with season opening activities followed by its American Summer Holidays program in May, California Avocado Month activities in June and programs for the Fourth of July.CAC-Mass-Fried-Oysters

CAC’s June California Avocado Month activities this year included a sponsorship of the venerated Grand Central Market in Los Angeles. The food hall, in the heart of the city, turns 100 years old this year, and is a popular spot for foodies and tourists alike with more than 90,000 visitors each month. For the entire month of June, 11 market vendors featured California avocado dishes at their restaurants. CAC hosted a media preview at the venue in late May. Bloggers and other media shared information about the event and California Avocado Month, including outreach by LAist, DineLA and FoodBeast.

“Magic can happen when you get bloggers and the media to try the California avocado dishes created by talented chefs,” Jan DeLyser, vice president marketing of the California Avocado Commission, said in a press release. “We have been blown away by the media coverage of CAC’s Grand Central Market sponsorship, which has exceeded 82 million impressions so far.”

The commission’s California Avocado Month advertising incorporated print and in-store radio as well as Pandora audio targeted to where California Avocados are in distribution. It was supported by social media that has generated 8.2 million impressions to date. Retail support for California Avocado Month has run the gamut with one chain featuring store-wide programs involving multiple departments, a display and sales contest, a featured recipe in their service deli and Father’s Day activities. Another retailer created a BBQ theme event supporting California avocados that included an online social media recipe contest and a team member wellness challenge.CAC-Maine-Lobster-Roll-FB

On the heels of its June marketing support, CAC supports a push for Fourth of July. “After five years of promoting California avocados for Fourth of July, the holiday has become one of the biggest avocado consumption events of the year,” DeLyser said in the press release. “This year the commission is continuing to market California avocados and California avocado recipes for the American Summer Holidays, from barbecue to salads to baking.”

CAC’s United Plates of America promotion, which launched prior to Memorial Day, features recipes that combine California avocados with American regional specialties. For the Fourth of July, the commission partnered with Chef Ryan (Peaches) Lamon, the executive chef and co-owner of Peaches’ Smokehouse and Southern Kitchen, who is perhaps best known as the winner of the Cooking Channel’s “Food Truck Race Off” in 2014. Chef Lamon created and promoted new recipes that highlight how easily California avocados can elevate one of America’s favorite regional cuisines — Southern barbecue.

Extending the United Plates of America program, CAC’s social media will feature a Route 66 theme, including a blog post, a carousel on Facebook and supporting Twitter polls about select Route 66 stops. Print advertising continues in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento, along with in-store radio and Pandora audio.

Digital advertising has played a big role in California avocado marketing this year, and CAC’s American Summer Holidays creative will be running on Food52, Tasting Table, Nativo and PureWow. Nativo also will feature two custom articles: Four Ways to Celebrate Fourth of July with California Avocado and 5 All-American Ways to Celebrate With California Avocado.

Additionally, customized retail support — including demos, point-of-sale materials and display bins — will run in support of the United Plates of America program. Retailers are using CAC’s United Plates of America recipe booklet showcasing 18 recipes and tips pairing California avocados with “plates” from the U.S., particularly California and the West.

The avocado industry forecasts that avocado consumption for Fourth of July festivities will be 100.8 million pounds, which is about on par with Fourth of July 2016.

Story by Producenews.com

Supreme Court Wants Quick Response On Citrus Veto

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday gave Gov. Rick Scott’s administration until noon Monday to respond to a lawsuit challenging the governor’s veto of $37.4 million intended to go to residents whose healthy citrus trees were cut down as the state tried to eradicate citrus-canker disease.

The Supreme Court set the deadline after the lawsuit was filed Tuesday on behalf of homeowners in Broward and Lee counties and their attorneys. Lawmakers included the money in the 2017-2018 budget after years of litigation about the state’s removal of trees in those counties and other parts of the state.

The money would satisfy judgments against the state, which destroyed healthy trees from 2000 to 2006 as officials fought citrus canker.

The filing Tuesday at the Supreme Court contended that Scott’s veto of the money was unconstitutional and asked justices to address the issue before the July 1 start of the fiscal year. In vetoing the money June 2, Scott cited “ongoing litigation” as the reason.

Story by Health News Florida.