view current print edition



The Chilean Blueberry Committee has announced that fresh blueberry export volumes for the 2017-18 season will fall by 1.6 percent compared with the previous season, slightly exceeding 100,000 tonnes to an estimated shipping export total of 101,700 tonnes. However, in a report produced by iQonsulting together with the Blueberry Committee, the forecast for the season also anticipates a 3.9 percent increase in blueberry production volumes compared with the 2016-17 season to a projected 150,400 tonnes.ffc

In spite of the forecast drop in export volumes, the committee expected to have a better season than the last one, said Andrés Armstrong, executive director of the Chilean Blueberry Committee. “The previous season was very much affected by the earlier harvest, which led to us taking a lot of fruit to markets at a time when it was not expected. Although the forecast for 2017-18 is for similar exports to last season, the campaign is taking place within the normal harvesting period.”

Armstrong added that the Blueberry Committee “works hard to ensure our producers and exporters obtain the best fruit with a quality that distinguishes us from our competitors by employing new technologies that support this goal.”

Isabel Quiroz, executive director of iQonsulting, the consultancy that prepared the report for the committee, explained that the slight fall in expected blueberry exports was due to differences in the percentage of fruit exported as fresh and frozen.

“This season, stocks of frozen blueberries in the U.S. are 26 percent lower than last season, which is likely to lead to a renewal in Chilean frozen blueberry export levels; something that we did not see last season due to the high stock levels in that market,” she said.

One of the new developments that the Blueberry Committee will have for this season in it’s Weekly Crop Report on fresh blueberry exports is the monitoring of organic blueberry shipments; a product that has always been important for Chile and for which there is a need to improve the availability of information.

Organic blueberry production is equivalent to 9.6 percent of the total blueberry production area and 12.3 percent of exports — between fresh and frozen.

Last season, Chile exported 8,551 tonnes of fresh organic blueberries and 5,431 tonnes of frozen organic blueberries, doubling the total over the last five years, from 6 percent to 12.3 percent. As a first step, organic exports will be monitored every week for the 2017-18 season. This will enable a better understanding of the dynamic of product volumes and exports on a weekly basis.

Quiroz explained that this was “a response to increasing international demand for organic products,” for which organic blueberries are an important product for Chilean growers. “For this reason, it is important to monitor organic data independent of conventional,” she said. “For next season, we will try to publish organic estimates in the same way as conventional, with the objective of providing better information to companies.”

Mucci Farms has announced full-scale production of its Veggies To Go On-the-Go Snacks for Kids. "After several months of market research, in-store demos and engaging with current and potential retail partners to develop the product along with the innovative EZ Snap packaging, we are ready for full production," said Danny Mucci, vice president of sales and marketing for the Kingville, ON-based company. "We are confident that Veggies To Go will have a big impact on our industry as the snacking category continues to make big gains in the marketplace."Mucci Farms Mucci Farms is Powered by Veggies  and Ready To Go

Veggies To Go is a nine-ounce pack divided into three-ounce compartments with "EZ Snap" packaging, allowing each compartment to be snapped off. This pack is composed of a combination of Mucci Farms Sun Drops or Sun Bliss Grape Tomatoes, CuteCumbers and Sweet To The Point pointed mini peppers. A club pack version is also available as a three-tier 27-ounce package.

"Not only is this a convenient package for the consumer, it is also fully customizable for our retail partners based on their target demographics," said Joe Spano, vice president of sales and marketing. "We've got four great commodities, and our retail partners have the option to choose any combination of them to create their own version of the Veggies To Go package."

Mucci Farms Veggies To Go was a finalist for a PMA Impact Award at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Conference & Expo in 2016 when it first unveiled the concept. In addition, Veggies to Go won the "Freggie Approved" Award at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association's Convention & Trade Show recognizing the best kid-centric product and package.

The Kroger Co. announced the retirement of central division President Katie Wolfram effective Nov. 4. Pam Matthews, currently the QFC division president, succeeds Wolfram effective Oct. 23. Suzy Monford will join the company to serve as the president of the QFC division.krolog

"We are grateful for Katie's nearly 40 years of dedicated service to our associates and customers, and we are excited to have Pam and Suzy take on these indispensable leadership roles in our company," said Rodney McMullen, Kroger's chairman and chief executive officer. "Both leaders bring successful and distinguished retail experience to the roles and will help with the execution of the Restock Kroger Plan that will bring valuable changes to our customers, associates, communities and shareholders.

"Katie has accomplished much in her career with Kroger and has always been passionate about creating an inclusive and diverse work culture," said McMullen. "She has been a valued leadership partner across the company and central division. We truly appreciate the many contributions Katie has made to Kroger, and we wish her and her family the best in retirement."

Wolfram was named to her current role in 2016 and has been spearheading an aggressive growth strategy in the central division since joining the region as the vice president of merchandising in 2014. In the last two years, the company has invested nearly $329 million in the central Indiana market, adding five new Marketplace stores and 12 new gas stations, remodeling and/or expanding 14 existing stores, building a regional training center and adding more than 1,400 new jobs to the region. The central division operates 138 stores with more than 19,500 associates.

Wolfram began her career with Kroger in 1979 as an assistant store manager in the Cincinnati-Dayton division. She went on to serve in several leadership positions at Kroger's corporate office in Cincinnati and with Kroger's manufacturing division. In 2005, she moved to Denver to join the King Soopers division as vice president of merchandising, before joining the central division in 2014 to serve in the same role.

Wolfram was a leader for the first Cultural Council, a team development and culture-building group, started at the corporate office, and she started the Reach Higher initiative in Kroger Manufacturing. Additionally, Wolfram represented Kroger as a leader in the Network of Executive Women, Denver.

In retirement, she plans to move back to Denver to be near her daughter and grandson.

Matthews started with the company in 1980 in the Fred Meyer division. She has held a variety of leadership roles in her 25-year career with Fred Meyer, including store management, training, corporate brand development, and merchandising for deli-bakery, drug-general merchandise and grocery. Matthews also served as director of deli-bakery merchandising and director of floral merchandising and procurement at Kroger's corporate office in Cincinnati before being promoted to vice president of merchandising for the Central division in 2006. She moved to the Delta division as vice president of merchandising in 2014 and was named vice president of operations in 2015. She was named president of the QFC division in 2016.

 Monford joins the company to succeed Matthews as president of QFC, effective Oct. 23. Monford is the former CEO of Andronico's Community Markets, a chain acquired by Albertsons in early 2017.

Prior to Andronico's, Monford was the head of innovation for Woolworths Supermarkets in Australia, after spending 10 years as an executive for H-E-B Central Market and H-E-B Grocery Company in Texas.

Passionate about creating healthy communities, Monford is an internationally-certified group exercise instructor and health coach. Among other honors, she's been recognized as a Top Woman in Retail Tech by Retail Info Systems.

She will be based at the division office in Seattle and oversee QFC's 65 stores in Washington and Oregon.

Mother Nature has hit the southern United States with a number of hurricanes this season, including Hurricane Irma, which struck the Florida coast, leaving thousands without everyday essentials. Wisconsin’s potato and vegetable industry is answering the call for help.

The Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association announced a large truckload of potatoes and onions is on its way from Wisconsin to the Harry Chapin Food Bank in Fort Myers, FL.

“Wisconsin farmers have a history of being generous, especially to those in need or suffering through an emergency hardship,” said WPVGA Executive Director Tamas Houlihan. “Through a coordinated effort by WPVGA members, we are proud to be a part of delivering ‘Something Special from Wisconsin’ to our friends in the southern U.S.”

Hurricane Irma did considerable damage to crops in Florida, and the storms also affected people who work in the fields. Irma not only caused widespread and lengthy power outages but also destroyed housing in and around Immokalee, a community largely made up of agricultural field workers.

The following Wisconsin potato farms made generous donations of potatoes: Wysocki Produce Farm/RPE of Bancroft, Bushmans’ Inc. of Rosholt, Okray Family Farms of Plover, Alsum Farms of Friesland, and Worzella & Sons of Plover. All told, over 30,000 pounds of potatoes were donated.

In addition to the large quantity of potatoes, Dean Kincaid, Inc. of Palmyra donated 8,000 pounds of onions.

Bula-Gieringer Farms of Friendship contributed the generous donation of the freight, picking up product and delivering the load to Florida.

A number of organizations also made monetary donations, including Roberts Irrigation of Plover, JW Mattek & Sons of Antigo, Bula Potato Farms of Antigo, Brenda & Dennis Bula of Antigo, Coloma Farms of Coloma and Heartland Farms of Hancock.

“We are saddened by the devastating impacts of the hurricane, and we feel the pain suffered by the agricultural community in the Immokalee/Naples region,” said Houlihan. “We are hopeful that this gesture from the Wisconsin potato and vegetable industry lets those folks know that we care about them and at least shines a ray of hope on their future.”

Among the other donations made regularly by the WPVGA are the following: annual donation of time, money effort in packing over 100,000 meals to the charitable organization Feed My Starving Children; multiple salad bar donations to Wisconsin schools; thousands of pounds of potatoes annually to Feeding America food banks; annual donations to the Wellers Walk helping drill wells in Africa; and annual donations of potato chips to Boys & Girls Clubs and other organizations throughout Wisconsin, including shipments of potato chips to U.S. troops in Iraq.

The once-flat apple category is showing signs of life, with branded varieties like Jazz, Envy and Pacific Rose attracting new apple shoppers with their high color, robust flavor and satisfying crunch.Envy-on-Tree---Oct-2017-Wenatchee-WA

“Fresh off the trees in eastern Washington, this year’s Jazz crop is a beauty,” said Joe Barsi, president of T&G North America. T&G Global, the Auckland, New Zealand-based brand owner — along with Oppy and a host of supportive retailers — have propelled the tangy-sweet, super crunchy apple to its top three position in sales performance among premium apples.

“While Jazz is well-established at retail, it continues to create excitement thanks to a faithful following, as well as new fans we’re winning with integrated consumer and trade marketing initiatives,” Barsi said. “Jazz began shipping in early October, following a brief respite between the New Zealand and Washington seasons, and customers were eager to restock as the first fruit came off the trees.”

Barsi noted that this is the first season Washington-grown Jazz apples will appear in the refreshed brand, which debuted with the New Zealand crop earlier this year. Like many Washington varieties, Jazz is sizing slightly smaller than typical this season. Envy, which is peaking smaller as well, will be promoted in a highly visible retail roadshow in Texas next month, following appearances in Boston and San Francisco last summer, according to Barsi.

A $4.2 billion category in the U.S., apples have grown 1.3 percent in volume and 2.1 percent in sales between mid-year 2016 and mid-year 2017, driven by greater supplies and a consumer acceptance of a higher priced apple that delivers on taste, according to David Nelley, vice president, categories for Oppy.

“Sales of premium apples are up 48 percent since 2013,” he said. “That’s the segment of the apple market Oppy specializes in and has been known for, for years. Jazz, Envy and Pacific Rose deserve credit for rejuvenating the category. We’re welcoming the U.S.-grown ENZA varieties knowing that we’re progressing positive category results.”

Envy, already seated in fifth place in sales among premium apples, will be harvested in the third week in October, as will the sweet, crisp Pacific Rose.

“Envy sales increased over 60 percent during the New Zealand season,” Nelley said. “Our most significant growth has been in California and the U.S. Southeast, though other regions are not far behind. Meanwhile, Pacific Rose continues to carve out a niche with consumers who like a sweet alternative to a Fuji.”

During the Washington season, Jazz, Pacific Rose and Envy are offered by Oppy, Rainier Fruit Company and CMI Orchards.

Oppy, which is owned in part by T&G Global, exclusively markets these varieties grown organically.