Fresh ideas in the fresh produce industry

New is the name of the game in the produce business. Growers and marketers are always looking for the next best thing to offer consumers, whether it’s innovation in taste, convenience or packaging.

FFVA member William G. Roe & Co. took its Noble brand on the road to the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in October to promote a new juice, Pummelo Paradise, a 100 percent juice blend made with pummelo. With a smooth, and mild taste, the company is marketing the juice as a great source of antioxidants and as an alternative to grapefruit juice. Pummelo Paradise is bottled in the Noble tradition using compostable materials. Learn more here.

Also under the Noble brand, Roe & Sons introduced its Sweet Clementines snack on the go – a three-pack of clementines in an environmentally friendly clamshell package. The company also is launching a new program. “Noble for Knowledge™” helps preschools and elementary schools raise money. The fundraising program offers a 50 cents-per-bottle label complete with instructions and fundraising tips.

Another FFVA member company, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, is rolling out its Celery Celebrations packaging in time for the holidays. The new design features seasonal graphics to get consumers in the holiday mood and encourage impulse buying.

“Celery Celebrations offers our clients a turnkey solution to drive sales without any effort other than getting the product on the shelf – particularly during celebratory times of the year when consumers seek to use celery the most,” said Nichole Towell, Duda Farm Fresh Foods marketing director. In addition to the holiday packaging, Duda Farm Fresh Foods is launching a promotion seeking to engage consumers and encourage them to buy and use the product.

Wish Farms, another innovative FFVA producer member, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year with a new website that offers dynamic features such as a recipe catalog, interactive map and a “How’s my Picking™?” feature that links consumers to growers. A new blog, the “Pixie Post,” is an upbeat, behind-the-scenes look at what’s new at Wish Farms. In addition to being a year-round strawberry grower, Wish Farms is also a year-round supplier of blueberries and market vegetables.

“The big news is that Wish Farms will be the meet-and-greet sponsor at the first annual Santa Blast Concert and Fireworks show Sunday, Dec. 2, hosted by Tampa radio station WQYK and CBS Radio,” said Amber Kosinski, Wish Farms’ marketing and events manager. “We are also launching a sweepstakes on Facebook giving away concert and VIP tickets as well as meet-and-greet passes,” she added. Learn more here or go to the WQYK website. Wish Farms also will have a booth at the concert where the company will host contests, games and other giveaways.

Wish Farms also will be the soundstage sponsor again at the Florida Strawberry Festival, Feb. 28-March 10.  Wish will be tying additional consumer promotions to the 11-day event.

Others are also offering world-class promotions. Dole plans a “Cheer in the New Year” Facebook sweepstakes. The winner and three friends or family members will be Dole’s guests at the 2013 Rose Bowl and Rose Parade.

Green Giant, like Wm. G. Roe & Sons, is big on supporting the school fundraising spirit. At Fresh Summit, it announced the launch of 15 new products, 11 of which offer retailers “Box Tops for Education” coupons. Since its inception, the Box Tops program has earned over $475 million for schools nationwide. In addition to offering the coupons on its new items, Green Giant has also added them to five existing products.

Also introduced at Fresh Summit were products geared to the gourmet, or “foodie,” market. One of those, from California producer Babe’ Farms, is a retail line of packaged gourmet veggies including topped and trimmed mini root vegetables, mixed color baby beets, gourmet radishes and rainbow carrots.

Another company, Mann Packing, has tossed out the familiar black tray normally found in cut vegetable platters. They’ve introduced a clear, environmentally friendly tray that Christine Keller, director of marketing and innovation, says has 38 percent less packaging than previous trays and up to 50 percent less packaging than other trays on the market. “You can also see 50 percent more of the product by removing the solid black packaging – which is important to consumers,” she told the “AndNowUKnow” produce blog.

The retail and transportation sectors also are introducing some fresh new innovations and ways of getting the word out about their offerings.

PCC Natural Markets features video on its website of farmers and farm tours. United Supermarkets keep customers engaged by sharing content on Pinterest and other social sites. Whole Foods’ website is bursting with recipes and tips on food preparation, and logistics company C.H. Robinson has introduced its Eco-Crate and CantaBella melon through Timco Worldwide, a subsidiary.

Learn more about the latest in food packaging, promotion and communication through the Fresh Summit website and check in often with the Fresh Summit’s social media page, to see what people are saying.

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