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Uesugi Farms, a year-round supplier of a variety of peppers, including green, red and yellow Bells, mini sweets and hot peppers, is transitioning to harvesting premium-quality peppers from Northern California to Southern California.Uesugi Farms

With the Northern California pepper harvest coming to a close in the next few weeks, the next location for growing peppers on Uesugi Farms’ calendar is the Coachella Valley, where the plants are strong and the peppers are maturing nicely. Starting in November, Uesugi Farms moves its operations down to Mexico to grow green, red and yellow Bell peppers, mini sweets and hot peppers.

“Being a year-round pepper supplier, the cycle just comes naturally," Pete Aiello, general manager at Uesugi Farms, said in a press release. "Right now we’re getting ready to start the Coachella harvest, where we’ll grow bells and minis. In November, we head to Mexico to grow the full gamut of peppers, which includes all the Bells, minis and hot varieties. The Coachella harvest starts again from May through July where we’ll continue growing our Bells and minis. Some overlapping will happen, since we also grow all our varieties in Bakersfield and Oxnard in June, July and part of August. We then move to Hollister, Morgan Hill, Brentwood, Lodi and Gilroy for the Northern California harvest, which starts in July and could run all the way into November if the weather cooperates.”

Growing, harvesting and shipping peppers year-round is nothing new for Uesugi Farms, since they’ve been on a 365-day schedule since 1998. Thanks to adding more farms throughout the years to increase acreage and harvest new varieties, Uesugi Farms supplies a wide, annual variety of peppers, which includes green, red and yellow Bells, mini sweets, Anaheim, Caribe, Fresno, Ghost, Habanero, Hungarian, Jalapeño, Poblano, Serrano and Shishito.

Uesugi Farms expects another successful harvest in Southern California. Once Uesugi Farms completes its harvest in Coachella Valley, it’ll begin growing peppers again in Mexico.

In addition to peppers, Uesugi Farms grows and sells tomatillos, white and yellow sweet corn, Napa cabbage, strawberries, pumpkins, squash and beans.

During the International Blueberry Organization Summit in Argentina and Uruguay the group announced Peter McPherson would take the reigns as the new president, succeeding Chilean Blueberry Committee president Andres Armstrong in the role.

McPherson, who is general manager–berry international at Costa Group, one of Australia’s larger integrated fresh produce companies, said his election was unexpected but certainly an honor.IBOPres1Peter McPherson

“I am very proud to represent the Australian Blueberry Growers Association and now the global blueberry industry — that being said I have big shoes to fill following on from my good friend Mr. Andres Armstrong and we must maintain focus on delivering value to all our members,” he said in a press release.

“Given Mother Nature’s influence on our business every day presents new challenges, and given the generic nature of the IBO we will continue to add value to all growers as the industry continues to grow — after all that’s what the IBO stands for," he added. “Hence we will strive to raise the bar with greater quality of information flow via the various forms of social media to assist this growth.”

Armstrong said the enthusiasm seen around the world for blueberries was very special both from growers and consumers, and wished McPherson all the best as IBO president.

“I think renewal is very healthy for institutions. Peter has impressive experience and knows the industry very well throughout the world,” Armstrong said. “I am sure he will be a big help.”

Argentinean Blueberry Committee President Carlos Stabile will step into McPherson’s previous role of treasurer, while British and Polish industry representative Stephen Taylor will continue as IBO secretary.

Last year’s IBO Summit in Coffs Harbour, Australia, had more than 300 participants, but this year’s event in Concordia, Argentina, and Salto, Uruguay, built on that success with more than 400 people in attendance.

“As convener in Australia last year we were very proud of our event but let me say with some 400 hundred attendees this year it has continued on in lifting the bar,” McPherson said in the release. “Both the Argentine and Uruguayan committees must be congratulated particularly given that the past few seasons have not been overly kind to them — the presentations were of very high quality as was the hospitality.”

Blueberry Producers’ Association of Mesopotamia Argentina president Omar Chiarello said he was very happy with how the summit has developed.

“We have really been able to bring together the main actors, growers and influential businesspeople that decide and learn about the future of blueberry production,” Chiarello said.

“The organization is growing, reflecting the global nature of blueberries,” added Oregon-based Fall Creek Farm & Nursery President Dave Brazelton. “There was excellent attendance, I believe by 27 countries. As always it was an excellent opportunity to network with key players.”

The conference involved talks at the Concordia Convention Center, as well as farm visits in Concordia and Salto.

Blueberry industry discussion
Brazelton said there was a great deal of conversation at the event about continued growth in all regions.

“But new plantings are slowing in the U.S. and Canada as the market matures,” he said. “There are also labor issues in many countries. There is a need to have strong social and ethical responsibility programs.”

McPherson and Brazelton remarked on tremendous consumption growth in Europe and China.

“This raised the debate over how best to promote continued consumption and the message to consumers about how good blueberries are for you,” McPherson said. “Quality, taste and shelf life also came under attention as consumer research clearly shows that to sustain the per capita consumption the industry as a whole globally must deliver to consumer expectations 52 weeks of the year.

“Also the continued emergence of the new growing regions like Morocco and China made the spotlight. Market Access, logistics, cool chain, variety improvement and post-harvest also made for plenty of discussion.”

Armstrong highlighted two main issues during the event — the increase in supply that is closing certain windows in the year when supply is down, as well as the importance of differentiation for blueberries to avoid commoditization.

McPherson emphasized the importance of the “delight factor” that leads to repeat purchasing, underscoring a belief all industry players can grow profitably if best practices are maintained with the best varieties.

“There were learnings from the solutions that both Argentine and Uruguay are investing in to overcome the logistics nightmare of the past plus a major overhaul with replacement of newer, more consumer friendly tasting blueberry varieties,” he said. “There was certainly a positive outlook and belief from the Argentine and Uruguay growers."

"They have excellent fields and retooled varieties, but they will feel pressure from Peru,” Brazelton added.

McPherson said the next IBO Summit would take place in China but the timing was yet to be confirmed.

Whole Foods Market is looking for unique products from local growers and producers to feature in its relocating Lexington, PA, store as well as its new South Hills Pittsburgh store. Across the United States, Whole Foods Market stores source from more than 6,500 local suppliers.apps

Whole Foods Market defines local products as grown or produced within 100 miles of a store, or within the same state as a store. The new and relocated stores are seeking a variety of products, including specialty items and produce.

“Whole Foods Market is proud to partner with local producers to offer our customers exciting and innovative artisan products,” said Ben Rose, executive coordinator of purchasing for Whole Foods Market’s mid-Atlantic region. “All of our local producers adhere to the same Quality Standards that we apply throughout the store, which ensures these products are free from artificial colors, flavors, hydrogenated fats and preservatives.”  

The South Hills store is scheduled to open in early 2017, and the relocated Lexington store is scheduled to open in spring of 2017. Interested suppliers can submit information online at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/malocal. The submission deadline is Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The Cal Poly College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences will host an Alumni & Industry Friends Reception at this year's PMA Fresh Summit conference in Orlando, FL.

The reception, sponsored by Mission Produce and Urban Produce, will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 from 5-7 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Orlando’s Rock Springs banquet room, across the street from the Orange County Convention Center.

Join Dean Andrew Thulin and Assistant Dean Russ Kabaker for fun and networking with fellow Cal Poly alumni and leaders in the industry.

Cal Poly wine, beer and hors d'oeuvres will be served. For more information on the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences visit cafes.calpoly.edu.

Ocean Mist Farms will debut the newest member of its award-winning Season & Steam value-added fresh vegetable line at the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit in booth No. 642.SweetBabyBroccoli render front1

Ocean Mist Farms’ Season & Steam Sweet Baby Broccoli is packaged in an innovative Steamfast microwavable pack that gives users the option to open the bag, pre-season the contents to their flavor preference, reseal with the zip lock and steam by microwave — all within the same bag.

The SteamFast packaging is gusseted for a stand-up, face-forward shelf presentation and has a suggested retail price of $3.50 per bag depending on the region. The eight-ounce package is bilingual, in French and English, for export and includes cooking instructions and usage ideas on the bottom gusset.

Diana McClean, director of marketing, said with the line extension the company wants to experience the same success in the broccoli category as it did with the Brussels sprouts category.

“Our Season & Steam bag addresses multiple culinary and consumer trends,” McClean said. “We want to meet consumer demand and make Sweet Baby Broccoli easy and convenient to cook at home.”

Ocean Mist Farms’ Season & Steam Sweet Baby Broccoli is a finalist for PMA’s annual packaging innovation awards.

In addition to the full Season & Steam line, Ocean Mist Farms will showcase its organic line, Ocean Mist Organic, and the more than 30 other fresh vegetables the company grows at the show. And through the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the company will host retail registered dieticians for a portion of the show, demonstrating the fast and easiest ways to prepare a fresh artichoke.

“We are looking forward to educating this important group of influencers about artichokes so they in turn can educate their shoppers,” McClean said.