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Melissa's continues to excite consumers with emerging trends and new products

NEW ORLEANS -- Melissa's/World Variety Produce Inc., a Los Angeles-based company that offers more than 1,000 exotic produce items, including organic produce, soy items and specialty food items, to retailers across the nation, hosted an exciting presentation about its emerging trends and new items Oct. 19 during the Produce Marketing Association's Fresh Summit Convention & Exposition, here.

"Convenience has been one of the hugest trends in the industry," said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa's. He noted that the company's peeled baby red beets have been its biggest packaged trend over the past few years.

Another convenient item offered by Melissa's is its new roasted Dutch potatoes, which are packaged in a 12-ounce microwaveable bowl that takes just three to five minutes to heat. The potatoes, seasoned with olive oil, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper, make a great side dish and can be eaten warm or cold.

As for other trends in the produce industry, Schueller predicted kale will continue to climb the consumer ladder.

"Everybody's 'krazy' (with a 'k') for kale!" he joked.

He noted that kale was the biggest trend in 2009-10, but added that there are a few new cutting-edge items that could give the leafy green a run for its money this year.

Leeks, he said, are a popular item in Europe and are starting to find their way in the U.S. marketplace. Melissa's is currently offering two different styles of leeks.

Melissa's Belgian-style leeks resemble giant green onions and are available in two different package sizes and options - a three-count with whole stalk leeks, greens attached, and a pack that contains two edible, trimmed leeks wrapped in a plastic bag. He said these leeks are a delicious and versatile vegetable that have a mild, sweet onion and garlic aroma.

Melissa's cleaned and sliced leeks are simple and convenient, coming in carefully sliced and ready-to-use pieces. This innovative product helps take the guesswork out of cooking leeks and is a great addition to soups, stews and even salads.

A few other new and popular items at Melissa's include shirataki noodles and the fan favorite spicy edamame.

"Education and convenience have always been the driving force at Melissa's," Schueller said, adding that the company is always on the look out for the newest, tastiest products and most convenient packaging.