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Promoting healthy eating while raising awareness of the wholesome goodness of avocados, I Love Avocados kicked off an ongoing promotional campaign with the Send Avocado Love #YouGotAvos event.YouGotAvo-2017

For the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, a time when everyone deserves to receive a little extra love, I Love Avocados delighted its U.S.-based social community with the opportunity to send complimentary bags of I Love Avocados to someone special. The Send Avocado Love #YouGotAvos campaign kickoff realized instantaneous excitement by fans, bloggers and online influencers on Instagram, growing engagement by 258 percent in just a few hours. In a matter of days, the reach on social topped 140,000, proving that the love of this tasty superfood is as ripe as ever.

In the weeks that followed, complimentary bags of I Love Avocados emerged on the doorsteps of unsuspecting avocado fans across the country. The delivery included instructions for unlocking the identity of their secret admirers by posting on Instagram along with the hashtag #YouGotAvos. In addition, the goody bag gifters could repost an e-card from I Love Avocados’ Instagram to notify their recipient, #YouGotAvos.

Since Friday, March 17, I Love Avocados realized a combined reach of 89,000 (and growing) on Instagram from both mentions and hashtag posts by the brand's influencer family and community of avocado lovers.

This campaign, with its organic messaging to social, excited and enticed users to share Send Avocado Love from their social channels to their friends and followers. In turn, the efforts propelled a simple passion for avocados into a way of uniting a social community.

“We were genuinely thrilled with the response of the initial campaign, as it just proves the power of avocados and how people are so very passionate about them,” I Love Avocados Marketing Manager George Henderson said in a press release.

“I Love Avocados is planning to create more fun avocado freebies and giveaways throughout 2017 to spread avocado love everywhere," he said. "Fans can keep in touch through news, giveaway announcements, and coupons by signing up at iloveavos.com and following on social media.”

I Love Avocados was unveiled at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit Conference & Expo, which took place in Orlando, FL Oct. 14-16, 2016. The brand is currently distributed to restaurants, institutions and produce retailers throughout the United States.

Technical glitches have delayed the public opening of Amazon’s cashierless Amazon Go store, according to The Wall Street Journal. The company’s first brick-and-mortar grocery store, located in Seattle, was open to Amazon employees late last year and was expected to open to the public in early 2017.

The 1,800-square-foot location is supposed to offer the world’s most advanced shopping technology, allowing customers to walk into the store, grab whatever they want and walk out without waiting in line or paying at a register.

According to WSJ, the technology works with fewer than 20 customers in the store; however, when that number is exceeded Amazon Go has issues tracking people and products.

The WSJ article reported that the store’s opening date is now unclear as there is no clear timeline to resolve the technical problem.

"Four years ago we asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no checkout,” Amazon said when announcing the store concept. “Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?”

For now, the company can’t be too pleased with the limited answer to that question.

Salvatore Zacchia, a veteran of the New York produce scene and a member of the board of directors of the Eastern Produce Council, died March 26 at the age of 58.

Mr. Zacchia, a lifelong resident of Elizabeth, NJ, was the business manager of produce for RDD Associates, a Totowa, NJ-based firm that optimizes go-to-market sales and marketing strategies. His involvement with the Eastern Produce Council began in 1995, and he served on the board since 2002, serving as treasurer for the last five years. In addition to his involvement with the EPC, he was a longtime supporter of the Produce Marketing Association.Sal-ZacchiaSalvatore Zacchia

"Sal was one of the hardest working members of our EPC board," said EPC President Vic Savanello. "He loved being associated with the EPC, and had incredible enthusiasm for our events and our programs. He was chairman of our annual golf outing, and a huge supporter of our many charities. But most of all he was a beloved friend to all of us, and we are brokenhearted that he will no longer be working at our side."

Outside of produce, Mr. Zacchia was vice president of the Seton Hall Basketball Booster Club, where he was affectionately known as "Pirate Sal." He was also an avid fan of the New York Yankees.

Mr. Zacchia was predeceased by his father, Nicola Zacchia. He is survived by his mother, Maria (Senese) Zacchia; his sister, Madeline Brigantino; his nephew, Christopher; his niece, Nicole; his brother-in-law, Raymond Brigantino, and many aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and relatives in Ischia, Italy.

Visitation is March 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Petruccelli Funeral Home in Elizabeth. A funeral mass will be held March 30 at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, with entombment at Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, NJ.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Pl., Memphis, TN, 38105, or to the WSOU Radio Station Fund in support of the Seton Hall Basketball Booster Club in honor of Sal Zacchia, 26 Darby Rd., East Brunswick, NJ, 08816.

smurIn anticipation of the release of Sony Pictures Animation’s Smurfs: The Lost Village, set to open in theaters April 7, Gourmet Trading Co. is once again bringing back the iconic characters to their packages of fresh blueberries.

“We are delighted to be collaborating with Sony Pictures Animation to bring back Smurfberries,” Sana Kear, marketing manager, said in a press release.  “This has always been one of our most successful promotions, and we love any opportunity to get children excited about eating blueberries.”

The Smurfs label will be on six-ounce packages and each will feature one of four different Smurf characters. The packages will be distributed throughout the United States, and customers will have the opportunity to collect the different labels until the end of April.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited World Best Tropical LLC of Doral, FL, for failure to pay $341,917 to eight sellers for 45 lots of produce. 

As a result of this violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, World Best Tropical LLC cannot operate in the produce industry until March 17, 2019, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.

The company’s principal, Marcos R. Wood, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until March 17, 2018, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. Its experts also assisted more than 8,000 callers with issues valued at approximately $140 million.