Value-added Products Cropping Up Everywhere

May 14, 2010

Fresh-cut at PMA

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Whether it is two or three apples packaged together in a tray and covered with cellophane or a growing array of every type of pre-cut fruit, vegetable or salad mix imaginable, more and more mainstream produce businesses are moving into value-added. That was clearly evident at this year’s Produce Marketing Association International Convention (PMA), held Oct. 15-19 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Hundreds of businesses with booths at the PMA Exposition were hocking value-added products of one kind or another. Their target: today’s on-the-go consumer with little time to cook or prepare. Studies suggest that Americans now eat up to 20 percent of their meals in their automobiles.

The following is a sample of the fresh-cut processors exhibiting at this year’s PMA Exposition and their latest offerings:

Ready Pac Offering New Cobb Salad, Broccoli Rabe, Bruschetta
A new Cobb Salad has been added to Ready Pac’s popular Bistro to Go salad line. It includes bacon, turkey, hardboiled egg and a blue cheese dressing over a base of iceburg and romaine. In Bistro to Go style, the ingredients are stored separately in an inset tray on top of the bed of lettuce. Packaging within packaging prevents content mixing and flavor migration.

A second healthy, new product, Broccoli Rabe, is being introduced to Ready Pac’s eastern U.S. customers. A longstanding traditional Italian favorite at home and in many exclusive restaurants, this leafy green has been limited to the raw produce section of grocery stores and, typically, was available only during certain periods of the year. In recent years, Broccoli Rabe has become increasingly popular due to its new found gourmet status in menus, culinary magazines, cooking shows and specialty grocery shelves. The fall introduction of this 12-ounce fresh-cut vegetable item is an extension of Ready Pac’s other successful microwaveable products. The Broccoli Rabe product enables retailers to leverage the line’s recognition and loyal consumer following while satisfying demand for innovative new produce choices.

Also new from Ready Pac is Bruschetta, a well-known Italian-style appetizer. Bruschetta leverages the popularity of Italian cuisine and the convenience of a ready-to-use topping to bring consumers to the fresh-cut shelf. Available in a convenient resealable 11.5-ounce container, Ready Pac Bruschetta is a hearty, flavorful medley of fresh diced tomatoes and red onions, garlic and spices in a light olive and canola oil blend. Consumers can top a piece of their favorite toasted bread with a spoonful of Bruschetta to create a gourmet Italian appetizer or snack. This versatile topping also goes perfectly with angel hair pasta for a quick main course, or as an addition to any Italian-style salad.

Mann Packing Introduces Sugar Snap Peas ‘Snack ‘n Pak’
Mann Packing Company has launched a new snack product, Sugar Snap Peas “Snack ‘n Pak.” The product contains two, 2-ounce bags of stringless sugar snap peas and a third, bonus, 3-ounce pack of baby whole peeled carrots. The bags come bundled in an overwrap, designed for easy merchandising and promotion opportunities.

“Our research indicates 2 ounces is the consumer-preferred snack size for kids and adults on-the-go,” says Vicky St. Geme, Mann’s director of retail marketing. “Sugar Snap Peas are the number one selling item in the fresh-cut vegetable category. Retailers can maximize profits by adding this exciting new product.”

Each bag within the bundle features animated packaging design with jokes and trivia to keep kids entertained. The product is ideal for school lunches, but Mann has received a great response from other market segments as well.

“Many of our foodservice customers are excited about this new snack offering,” says Gina Nucci, Mann’s director of foodservice marketing. “The product is ideal for lunch box takeouts often offered by resorts, cafeteria-style operations and grab-n-go venues, which you see a lot with on-campus dining operations.”

Mann’s new Snack n’ Pak features Garden Valley® Sugar Snap Peas, a proprietary seed variety with an enhanced stringless feature and sweet taste.

New Popeye Animation Inspires Americans to Eat Their Veggies
From home entertainment centers to supermarket produce sections, Popeye® the Sailor Man is celebrating his 75th birthday with a 21st century “toon-up.” And, in grocery stores across America, River Ranch Fresh Foods, LLC is capitalizing on Popeye’s enduring popularity with tie-in promotions and new products.

In October, Popeye® fresh spinach products began including an on-pack sweepstakes offer to tie in with a DVD. Consumers were given an opportunity to win one of two grand prize trips to Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.

While Popeye® has long been the strongest name in spinach, River Ranch is also launching a brand-new line of Popeye® family-pack salads and fresh-cut vegetables. The product line includes Parisian Salad Kit with creamy vinaigrette dressing (16 oz.), Caesar Salad Kit (16 oz.), Swee’Pea Snap Peas (32 oz.) Chopped Romaine (32 oz.), Shredded Lettuce (80 oz.), 2-Color Cole Slaw (48 oz.) and Garden Salad (48 oz.), Field Select Spinach (40 oz.), Broccoli Florets (48 oz.) and Vegetable Medley (48 oz.).

Fresh Express Launches ‘SuperFood’ and ‘Triple Hearts’ Promotions
Fresh Express has unveiled a new nationwide promotion identifying its popular spinach line as a “SuperFood.” The pioneer and category leader of fresh packaged salads has aligned its campaign with Dr. Steven Pratt, medical expert and co-author of SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life.

According to Dr. Pratt, “Spinach is at the pinnacle of the SuperFoods Rx powerhouse choices and has more demonstrated health benefits than almost any other food.

The Fresh Express SuperFoods promotion was launched in November with new packaging and roll out immediately to its customer base of supermarkets across the nation.

The integrated program features bold new packaging emblazoned with the SuperFoods logo to call consumer attention to Fresh Express Spinach, Spinach Plus Carrots and Baby Spinach as important SuperFoods for a healthy lifestyle. In addition, packages feature a variety of creative and convenient recipes for spinach salads, appetizers, side dishes and entrees.

Fresh Express also announced it has added “Triple Hearts” to its blockbuster lineup of salad blends. The new entrée brings together the top selling Hearts of Romaine with the perennial favorites Butter and Green Leaf lettuces and leave out carrots, cabbage and other components which many consumers often prefer not to include in their foundation salads.

“This lettuce blend is made up of high-quality greens and offers, for the first time, a milder and extremely appealing foundation salad option for consumers who like the variety of a blended salad but seek a change from the distinctive, highly pronounced flavors of our Spring Mix blend,” said Mark Drever, Fresh Express CEO.

Earthbound Farm Offering Organic Apple Slices
Earthbound Farm, the nation’s largest grower and shipper of organic produce and specialty salads, has partnered with leading apple processor, Crunch Pak, to add organic apple slices to its fast-expanding line of conveniently packaged “Healthy Snacks for Healthy People.”

Earthbound Farm’s organic apple slices, cut from Gala apples, are pre-washed and ready-to-eat. They are packaged in two sizes: a 12-ounce family size bag (suggested retail price of $2.99) and a bag of five individual 2-ounce mini-packs (suggested retail price of $3.49). A foodservice pack of 200 2-ounce mini-packs will also be available.

Crunch Pak’s proprietary technology assures that Earthbound Farm’s organic apple slices maintain their premium quality for a 17-day shelf life.

Earthbound Farm’s Healthy Snacks for Healthy People line combines the convenience of attractively packaged, pre-portioned snack-size foods with the nutritional benefits of fresh produce. Other Earthbound Farm organic products in the line include 5-count sleeves of organic apples and pears, organic raisins in 6-packs of 1.5-ounce snack boxes, organic carrot dippers with ranch dressing in a 3-pack of 2.25-ounce servings, and 10-count bags of 2-ounce mini-packs of organic mini-peeled carrots.

On the salad side, Earthbound Farm has two new additions-a baby lettuce salad (a spring mix with three types of lettuce and no radicchio or frisée) and a spinach salad. Both types are available in 5-ounce bags. The spinach salad combines two high growth, popular products for the company-baby spinach, which, as a segment, is growing between 35 and 40 percent per year and arugula, an emerging green proving popular with many consumers.

Another exploding growth area in fresh cut for Earthbound Farms is its clamshell salads. Consumers love the overall visual look and believe the salads remain fresh longer. The greens also don’t experience the damage commonly associated with bagged product. The company’s clamshell salad business has doubled over the past 12 months.

Emeril’s Label Big Hit for Pride of San Juan
High quality spring mix, packaged and sold under the Emeril’s™ Gourmet Produce label, is proving to be a big hit for Pride of San Juan, according to Joe Feldman, vice president of sales and marketing.

The company’s Sweet Spring Mix and Kicked-up Spring Mix products are doing exceptionally well in retail markets. There has been steady growth since the Emeril’s campaign kicked off in June.

Pride of San Juan also is seeing increased demand for its herb products, as Emeril’s TV show watchers come into produce departments in search of various herbs used in the popular chef’s recipes.

The Emeril’s label is adding excitement to the produce department, Feldman feels. Produce managers are able to feature higher-end produce products behind a well-known name. The label is definitely helping Pride of San Juan distinguish its products in the marketplace.

Del Monte Adds Overwraps to Its Growing List of Fresh-cut Products
Del Monte Fresh Produce officials report an acceleration in outsourcing pf fresh-cut fruits by retailers, a growth they describe as “phenomenal.”

With the national trends towards consumers seeking out more prepared foods and ingredients, Del Monte feels it is well positioned to be the supply partner of choice for retailers, with 11 facilities across the country that allow it to provide just in time cutting and delivery. Having a universally recognized and trusted brand like Del Monte® is helping consumers make the switch to convenience products like fresh cut.

The market growth in this segment is reflective of consumer trends and need to service “time-starved” consumers. As a response to this need, Del Monte provides products for the consumers for a variety of eating occasions. Some of these include grab n’ go products, deli ingredients, salad kits, soup bases, mixed vegetables, fruit for baking applications and a host of other products. Del Monte sells into the produce, deli, meat and bakery departments of many retailers.

One of the company’s latest introductions is an assortment of wrapped melon products. The melons and other pre-cut fruit and vegetables are delivered via a national network of local processing centers situated close to major markets. This helps Del Monte offer cut-to-order fruit and vegetables at their peak of taste and freshness, delivered to market within 24 hours of ordering.

Del Monte’s fresh-cut mix includes: fruit and vegetable party trays; Hawaiian pineapple; Del Monte Gold™ Extra Sweet pineapple; convenient packs of fresh-cut carrot and celery sticks, coleslaw and spring mix; and a variety of fruits-cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, multi-colored fruit medleys, tart citrus salad, sweet orange slices, grapefruit slices, mango chunks and kiwi slices.

On the deli side, Del Monte offers a complete line of high-quality fresh-cut products, including “Grab and Go” items like fruit cups, individual salads, and healthy snacks, salad kits to make portion-controlled fresh salads; catering trays with fresh vegetables and fresh fruit; ready-to-use ingredients like shredded lettuce, sliced or diced tomatoes and sliced onions; and green leaf crowns to garnish displays and trays.

Melissa’s Adds Baby Red Beets to Its Growing Value-added Product Line
Melissa’s/World Variety Produce Inc. is offering fresh-cut baby red beets in an 8-ounce package ready to go for busy homemakers. The packages are code dated and have a three-month shelf life.

The typical consumer has no idea of how to cut and prepare baby red beets, argues Robert S. Schueller, director of public relations. This new entry solves decision making and eliminates the mess.

Melissa’s also has a new fresh chopped onion product, available in both yellow and red varieties. These come in an 8-ounce bag and have an estimated shelf life of three weeks. The company is using a new technology for the fresh-cut industry and sees these products as solving a common problem with onion preparation-the tears associated with cutting this pungent vegetable. The sealed bag prevents odor leaks, and the product is ready for instant use.

Melissa’s is also offering peeled garlic in an 8-ounce container. Inside are approximately four garlic bulbs, individually packaged.
The company has launched a broad line of microwavable products, including 8 ounces of pearl onions inside a modified atmosphere package. Tray-shaped, the onions can easily be popped in a microwave and prepared in seconds. Butternut squash also is offered in similar, convenient packaging.

Other recent introductions include Asian produce such as Shanghai Baby Bok Choi and various types of stir fry. Melissa’s has an amazingly long list of pre-cut offerings.

A Rich Mâche and Pear Salad for the Fall Holiday Season
Epic Roots and the Pear Bureau Northwest announced a new fall salad promotion featuring the bounty of the season: Mâche, Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad with Port Vinaigrette. The recipe appeared in a promotional booklet on all retail bags and clamshells of Epic Roots Mâche and Mâche Blends shipped from Nov. 5-13, along with a 25 cent on pack coupon.

Mâche is a popular salad green in Europe where it is called lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, field salad and feldsalat. Today, Mâche is grown by Epic Roots from heirloom seed in the mineral-rich soil of California.

Grown in the Pacific Northwest, Fresh USA pears include Anjou (red and green), Bartlett (red and traditional), Bosc, Comice, Forelle and Seckel.

NewStar Offering Value-added Cilantro, Chopped Green Onions
NewStar is offering value-added cilantro and chopped green onions along with other pre-cut vegetable products. The cilantro is available in a 4-ounce bag, two bunches per bag, trimmed and ready to use. Suggested retail price is $1.99.

A second, recent release is NewStar’s chopped green onions, also available in a 4-ounce bag. The onions are available in a new, high tech, resealable bag. It complements NewStar’s regular 5 ½-ounce green onion product.

‘Et Tu’ Salad Kit Business Growing
The “Et Tu” salad kit continues to draw a growing list of customers, according to Kevin Kenny, vice president of marketing, for Lindsay Foods Ltd., Markham, Ontario, Canada. It is used to help today’s busy, on-the-go consumers put together their own salad combinations with a minimum amount of preparation.

The salad kits are available in five different varieties: Caesar, Caesar Light, Italian, Oriental, Greek and Spinach. Complimented by a bag of lettuce or romaine, the kit can be used to provide a healthy choice in a matter of a few seconds.

Inside the kits are various ingredients. The Caesar Kit, for example, contains the company’s Cream and Caesar Salad Dressing, multi-grain croutons, graded parmesan cheese and bacon-flavored bits.

“Our launch into the single-serve size of the salad kit business speaks to the development of the salad occasions at lunch time,” Kenny says. “With quick-serve restaurants carving out the category, their average salad purchase is in the $5 to $7 range. We’re able to sell our salad kits at the affordable price of $1.29 retail. When combined with basic fresh lettuce or whatever they choose, customers can make their own lunches at a considerable cost savings. They can bring the salad basics with them in a Tupperware™ or disposable container.”

Clamshell Fresh-cut Veggies from Walter P. Rawl & Sons
Walter P. Rawl & Sons’ has announced a new addition to its popular Versatile Veggies™, a line of clamshell vegetables. These range from sliced squash to pico de gallo, diced yellow and red onions, sliced green onions, a fajita mix, green bell peppers and a pepper medley. Its pico de gallo is packaged in both 16- and 7-ounce sizes. The company also markets pre-cut squash in a 20-ounce pack for club stores.

Crunch Pak Apples Products Finding New Customers
Working under agreements with both Earthbound Farms and Whole Foods, Crunch Pak, Wenatchee, Wash., has added organic sliced apples to its market offerings and is supplying both companies with product.

The company also has a marketing arrangement with Arby’s and other foodservice companies to supply them with 1-pound bags of apples cut into small chunks with a shelf life of 21 days. Arby’s is using the apple product in its Martha’s Vineyard salads and chicken salad sandwiches. Apple skins are left intact.

Several other quick-service restaurants are currently looking at the product, according to Tony Frytag, director of marketing.

Renaissance Food Group Adds Hard Squash to Overwrap Line
Jim Catchot, president/CEO of Renaissance Food Group, Rancho Cordova, Calif., says his company is having success with its new line of overwrap products-watermelon, muskmelon, cantaloupe, etc. The latest addition is hard squash.

“In its natural state, cutting and preparing hard squash can be a challenging experience,” Catchot points out. “We’ve now added a new level of convenience to eating this wonderfully nutritious product. Consumers can easily fix this product for themselves or for their families.”

Renaissance Food Group also is enjoying success with its Hamburger Fixin’s, Kabob Kits and Veggie Grillers, all designed to add convenience to grill cooking, Catchot says.

Grimmway Launches Baby Carrots Holiday Promotion and Healthy Benefits Package
Grimmway Farms has announced the launch of its Baby Carrots Holiday Package. The new, festive package includes easy-to-follow holiday recipes and is designed to appeal to consumers looking for easy ways to incorporate nutritious foods in their holiday menus.

“Today’s health-conscious consumers are always on the look-out for new ways to include healthy foods in their diet without missing out on taste, especially during the holidays,” says Phil Gruszka, Grimmway’s vice president of marketing. “For those consumers, Grimmway’s new Holiday Package offers a consistently high-quality product that can be enjoyed on its own or combined with other ingredients for new holiday and party dishes.”

The company’s Holiday Package offers consumers quick, easy suggestions for new ways to eat baby carrots. Recipes include carrots with ginger and carrots with sweet maple sauce.

Grimmway has also announced the launch of its Baby Carrots Healthy Benefits Package. The new consumer-friendly, informative package is designed especially for today’s health-conscious consumers looking for convenient, nutritious and consistently high-quality snacks.
The Healthy Benefits packaging provides consumers with a proven, high-quality product in a package that answers their nutritional questions at a glance, according to Gruszka.

Green Giant Fresh Offering Grapes, Mushrooms in Clamshells
Green Giant Fresh management is excited about its new mushroom offerings packaged in two-piece clamshells. The product comes in both whole and sliced. The clamshells permit the mushroom packages to be stacked in the stores without crushing the top layers. Mushroom users also are finding it easier to recover the container (due to the top part of the clamshell) once the product has been opened. Modern Mushroom Farms is supplying the mushrooms.

Also new from Green Giant Fresh are bi- and tri-colored packs of grapes. These come in red, green and black colors and are available in 2-, 3- and 4-pound clamshell containers. Supplying the grapes is King Fresh Produce.

Green Giant® Fresh Offering Mushrooms, Apples, Grapes
Green Giant Fresh is excited about its new mushroom offerings packaged in a two-piece dome container. The clamshell-like containers are re-closeable, stackable and provide a longer shelf life. They permit the mushroom packages to be shipped and stacked in the stores without crushing the top layers. Mushroom consumers really enjoy the re-closable feature of the container. Additionally, the structure provides a longer shelf life than overwrapped containers. The product currently comes in whole and sliced white mushrooms and will be expanded to more mushrooms soon. Modern Mushroom Farms is supplying the mushrooms.

Green Giant® Fresh has introduced what it describes as the “most informative apple bag in the industry.” The new line of variety-specific apple bags are color coated to provide for ease of selection by the consumer. The bags contain taste profiles, recipes, selection criteria, usage and fun facts. C.M.Holtzinger Fruit Company is supplying the apples. There will be five different 5-pounders and nine different 3-pounders. Additionally, the company plans to launch a 4-pound bag of mixed apples/oranges in early November.

Another recent introduction from Green Giant® Fresh is its consumer friendly grape clamshells. They come in both bi- and tri-colored packs. Red, green and black colors are available in 2-, 3- and 4-pound clamshell containers. Supplying the grapes is King Fresh Produce.

Salad Entrees from Dole
Several recent introductions were shown at the Dole booth, including Angel Hair Cole Slaw, Spinach, Baby Spinach, Baby Romaine and Spring Mix.

Dole® Angel Hair Cole Slaw consists of delicate strands of green cabbage packaged in a see-through, specially designed film to keep things fresh.

Dole® Spinach is made up of tender and flavorful spinach leaves in a convenient, specially designed film bag, while Dole® Baby Spinach consists of tender and flavorful baby spinach leaves is packaged in a convenient, reusable plastic container.

Dole® Baby Romaine consists of young green and red romaine leaves in a convenient reusable plastic container, while Dole® Spring Mix is composed of baby lettuces, greens, endive and radicchio in a convenient, reusable clear plastic container.


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