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Each year in December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proclaims National Pear Month, a chance to celebrate the bounty of the Northwest. This month marks the time when all 10 varieties of pears grown in the United States are at their peak freshness and availability.usapears

This year, USA Pears has partnered with other foods to celebrate the many uses for pears and grow its network of pear enthusiasts. “Most consumers prefer to eat their pears fresh and whole, which is great,” Kathy Stephenson, director of marketing and communications for USA Pears, said in a press release. “But pears are so versatile. They’re excellent roasted with a little olive oil, complement rich meats and cheeses, and blend into hearty soups. So we invited some friends to showcase all the different ways they enjoy pears during National Pear Month.”

Throughout the month of December, partners will share recipes from USAPears.org on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest social media sites. USA Pears will share pear recipes from its partner sites on the same channels. “Hopefully, we inspire consumers and encourage them to try their own pairings,” Stephenson said in the release.

Pear Up for National Pear Month partners include Tajin, Tillamook Dairy, Oregon Food Bank, JEM Nut Butters, Pacific Northwest Canned Pears, Cabot Creamery Cooperative, The National Honey Board, Chateau Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, U.S. Cranberries, The National Peanut Board, Harry & David, U.S. Apple Association, Litehouse, Clear Creek Distillery and Produce for Better Health.

Juicy pear recipes include Tatin, croustades, quesadillas, pies, poaching, cocktails and mocktails.

To follow all the fun and ins-pear-ation or to join in by sharing your favorite pairings, follow @USAPears on social media and use the hashtags #PearUp #NationalPearMonth and #PerfectPearings.

Southeastern Grocers, parent company of BI-LO, Fresco y Más, Harveys and Winn-Dixie stores, unveiled five new Fresco y Más stores throughout Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County during a simultaneous ribbon-cutting ceremony at each location Dec. 7. The first Fresco y Más store concept was launched in Hialeah, FL, in June.fresco

The new Fresco y Más stores feature a refreshed produce department with a farmer’s market setting with a wider selection of tropical fruits. By listening to customers throughout its communities, the company has tailored each new Fresco y Más to provide an authentic Hispanic grocery store, with expanded product assortments, better value and a cleaner, more enjoyable shopping experience.

“The overwhelming positive response we received from our first Fresco y Más store in Hialeah gave us the motivation to open additional Fresco y Más stores to bring more savings to more communities,” Ian McLeod, president and chief executive officer of Southeastern Grocers, said in a press release. “We have been listening to our Fresco y Más customers in Hialeah and have tailored additional stores to reflect our customer’s personality, while providing great value, great prices and great service.

“Each Fresco y Más store features a wider array of Hispanic items our customers told us is important to them — an expanded product assortment, great low prices and new features, including a full-service Latin butcher shop and new Cocina,” McLeod said in the release.

In addition to the refreshed produce department, new Fresco y Más stores feature a full-service Latin butcher shop, a new “Cocina” (kitchen), a dollar zone, a renovated bakery department, an all-new café, an additional Wall of Value section, more than 500 new Hispanic items and a new custom façade and vibrant yellow colors with bi-lingual signage throughout the store.

A partnership between The Oppenheimer Group and the Hasegawa family of Camarillo, CA, ushers in a new era for the leading fresh produce marketer and distributor and the third-generation grower — and provides the trade with a fresh new year-round strawberry option.

“The joint venture creates a whole new level of integration both for Oppy and the Hasegawa family,” said Chad Ianneo, general manager of Rincon Fresh, the Hasegawa family’s berry label.Hasegawa-teamOppy sales representatives Dean Barbis and Cassandra Slavens, Rincon Fresh General Manager Chad Ianneo and owner Susan Josue, and Oppy sales representatives Araceli Lopez and Josh Barragan.

“It’s a new business model for the both of us,” he explained. “We’re evolving together in a very positive way, each gaining from the strengths of the other, to the ultimate benefit of our customers — and consumers everywhere who enjoy great tasting strawberries.”

Oppy will serve as the partnership’s sales and marketing arm, having started shipping strawberries grown by the Hasegawas earlier this month. To assure a smooth transition and continuing success of the program, four expert berry sales people, who formerly marketed the Hasegawas’ strawberries as Rincon Fresh, will operate from new Oppy sales offices in Oxnard and Santa Maria, CA.

“Together, we’re vertically integrated from the field to the market, resulting in a distinct advantage for our customers,” John Anderson, Oppy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “This unique connectivity across the growing and marketing processes enables us to deliver berries — and provide service — that consistently exceeds expectations.”

Anderson also noted that the partnership complements Oppy’s strawberry offerings from Salinas and Mexico. The company’s berry portfolio includes import and domestic blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries, as well as Ocean Spray fresh cranberries.

He also pointed to the quality of the Hasegawas’ berry program as another strategic reason for pursuing the joint venture.

“We are impressed by the Hasegawas’ commitment to growing the best possible berries,” he said. “Together, we’ll bring the market a beautiful strawberry that consistently delivers on flavor and quality, with an eye to future innovations in variety, pack styles and more.”

The joint venture brings about an evolution of the Hasegawas’ business as well.

“We’re excited by the strategic synergies we have with Oppy,” Ianneo said in the release. “Oppy’s technology and logistics expertise, along with a strong presence in the trade, integrate our berries with an established supply chain and proven marketing disciplines.”

Now poised to energize the berry category even further, Oppy and the Hasegawas are fine-tuning plans for some high-impact berry marketing and branding initiatives in early 2017.

 

Houweling’s Group, a leading vegetable grower, propagator and marketer, with operations in Delta, BC, Camarillo, CA, Mona, UT, and Loveland, CO, has settled its patent infringement lawsuit against Little Leaf Farms LLC in Devens, MA.hou

In the lawsuit, Houweling’s alleged that Little Leaf infringed Houweling’s U.S. Patent No. 8,707,617, titled “Greenhouse and Forced Greenhouse Climate Control System and Method.” Little Leaf farms admitted that the asserted Houweling’s patent is valid and has agreed to pay Houweling’s a royalty for Little Leaf’s use of Houweling’s patented greenhouse technology.

In a press release announcing the settlement, Houweling’s said it has developed many novel advancements in greenhouse technologies and has invested considerable time and resources into ensuring that Houweling’s remains on the forefront of greenhouse development and crop production. To this end, Houweling’s has obtained patent protection for its novel greenhouses and air/gas distribution systems.

Throughout the years, Houweling’s has continually enforced its patent rights against firms attempting to misappropriate or otherwise “piggyback” on Houweling’s protected technology.

“The development of these proprietary technologies comes with high risk and capital investment,” Casey Houweling, chairman of Houweling’s, said in the press release. “Upon securing the patents and believing these technological advancements are significant to our industry, we made them available through a reasonable royalty structure. This provides an avenue for others to gain access to the technology, while providing an opportunity to recover a portion of the development costs.”

Recognizing the economic clout wielded by the generation born between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee/USA Onions is reaching out to millennials in its #BIGONIONLOVE marketing campaign this year.

In the United States, the millennial population is estimated at 80 million, second to the 110 million Baby Boomers. With a buying power of $200 billion according to Forbes, millennials represent a bigger chunk of consumerism than the 50 million Gen Xers born between 1961 and 1981 as well as the 23 million Gen Zers born between 1995 and 2012.  

With those stats in mind, the overarching message being sent out is multigenerational, planting the “seed-to-table” story on several social media platforms to reach not only consumers but also industry customers.

“I have two sons who fit in the millennial demographic, and they use social media to communicate and to get their news rather than reading hard-copy newspapers," IEOOC Promotions Committee Chair Grant Kitamura said. "In fact, my sons don’t even watch the news on TV. We’ve seen the best way to reach that market segment is through social media.”

He added that consumers in general and millennials as shown by research “like to eat fresh food, and they’re more interested in where it comes from.” Kitamura said, “People like to buy local when they can, and eventually the term ‘local’ could mean buying domestic products, which is important to us.”

Finding fresh and local foods has become easier in recent years through electronic communication, and with #BIGONIONLOVE, the hashtag gives social media users the key to search for posts across the platforms. As part of the game plan to reach all market segments, USA Onions offers giveaways, information about food sourcing and notification of special events.

The campaign also includes recipes developed for various ages, with video demos and educational presentations along with a “fun factor” that features short videos and GIF animated images.

An americanpressinstitute.org story published in March 2016 stated that some 88 percent of millennials get their news from Facebook, with Pinterest, Twitter and Reddit, Instagram and Snapchat also seeing steady millennial traffic. YouTube is relied on for do-it-yourself and other videos.

According to a report from USA Onions, the effectiveness of the new social media campaign on Facebook to engage more millennials is working. The report said, “While the USA Onions Facebook ‘fan’ base calculates the percentage of millennials in third place behind Gen X and Boomers, since the launch of the new and creative social media campaign the percentage of millennials reached has seen the highest rate of growth — proof positive the campaign’s millennial target is on track.”