Monday, October 25, 2010

Schools' healthful food effort bears fruit

Excerpts from an 10/25/10 article posted on Tampa Bay Online by Megan Hussey

DADE CITY - Students at Rodney B. Cox Elementary School in Dade City and 130 other schools in Florida are snacking every day in class. But instead of cookies or candy, the students are eating grapes, kiwi, cauliflower, carrots, celery and even more exotic varieties, such as star fruit.

Maybe even more surprising is that the students like the healthful eats.

It's USDA's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. The program, which started in 2008, targets schools where at least 50 percent of the student population gets free or low-cost meals.

The goal: Get kids snacking on fresh fruits and veggies three or five times during the school day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to win best in show

If you'll read the criteria that the judges used to decide 'best in show', the actual booth's appearance was only one criteria.

The second criteria focused on the booth's staffing, how engaged they were with visitors. I couldn't agree more with the judges. With 21 tradeshow years at AT&T, a tradeshow without a booth duty schedule (e.g. so and so must be in the booth between 9 and 11) is unheard of. Kudos to the sales department for giving their utmost priority to welcoming existing and new customers to our booth. Standing hours and hours on your feet with a smile on your face isn't all that easy.

The third criteria in booth judging centered on how well the booth delivered the overall marketing message. Some of you may recognize the eye-catching graphics that were pulled directly from our advertising program. For our customers, the booth delivers yet another reminder of our vertical integration from the field to their stores. It's our main differentiation and the graphics integrated with an open-air farmers' market theme delivers it well. The overall marketing campaign is one worked on by Craig Wheeling, Bill Brindle and myself with a shout out to our graphic artist, David Litwin.

It's the little things and not so little things that sets this booth apart. A big thank you to Jeff Crawford and Armando Monterroso for the papaya and avocados trees that graced the corners of the show.

What might seem inconsequential is how the fruit was displayed. Bill was adamant about wanting the papayas stacked on their sides. It's how they should be displayed in the stores. Numerous existing and potential customers made comments about how they should sell papayas like that in their stores.

One gentleman (whom Sandra had been calling for over 6 months) literally walked up to me while I was standing besides the papaya display and said "that's it, I want those papayas" and with that he handed me his card and told me to call him next week for an order. The papaya display was the final push to give us this new account.

A shout out to the Quality Control team back in Homestead. Johnny, Alex and their team made sure we had the best fruit to show and it paid off.

Thanks to everyone who made winning 'best in show' happen. And that includes IDDG who developed and built the booth.

Best in Show!

Excerpts from the Produce Marketing Association press release of 10/19/10

Orlando, Fla. — Produce Marketing Association (PMA) recognized four exhibitors Oct. 17 at PMA’s Fresh Summit International Convention & Exposition with “Best of Show” awards for their exhibits’ outstanding salesmanship and presentation excellence. The awards were sponsored by The Packer and were announced on the show floor on Sunday with presentations made on the last day of Fresh Summit, held Oct. 15-18 in Orlando, Fla., USA.

Brooks Tropicals, booth

3481, Homestead, Fla., and Del Monte Foods, booth 1165, San Francisco, were first and second place w

inners, respectively, in the Island Booth category.

Mooney Farms, booth 1359, Chico, Calif., and Frieda’s Specialty Produce, booth 3143, Los Angeles, were first and second place winners, respectively, in the In-Line Booth category.

“These companies all prepared so well, paid attention to detail and execution, and connected to their customers,” said Bryan Silbermann, PMA president & CEO. “Winning the “Best of Show” awards is recognition of their world-class professionalism. They should be very proud.”

Booths were judged by an anonymous team of industry professionals during show hours on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 16-17 based on the following criteria.

  • Booth presentation: Integration of company identity in booth design, design and graphic elements, clearly communicates message to attendee, and adherence to show rules/exhibitor guidelines.
  • Product presentation: Product displays and benefit messaging.
  • Exhibit personnel: Professional appearance/etiquette, engagement with visitors, and adequate staffing.

First-place winners receive a host of prizes, including: recognition on PMA’s Web site, including multiple photos and a press announcement; two seats at a VIP table and recognition including a digital photo of the booth during the Monday general session of the 2010 convention; a $250 credit towards their 2010 Fresh Summit bill with PMA's official general service contractor, GES; one complimentary full registration to next year’s Fresh Summit in Atlanta, Ga., and a commemorative plaque.

Second place winners receive recognition on PMA’s Web site; two seats at a VIP table during the day’s general session; one complimentary day pass for 2011 Fresh Summit; and a commemorative plaque.

About Produce Marketing Association (PMA)

Founded in 1949, Produce Marketing Association is the leading trade association representing nearly 3,000 companies from every segment of the global produce and floral supply chain. Members rely on PMA year round for the business solutions they need to increase sales and consumption, build strong professional relationshiops, and expand their business opportunities.

* An island booth means the booth stands by itself with no other booths right beside it.

** An inline booth means the booth can have another booth(s) right behind it and/or to its right and left.

PMA Fresh Summit Recap

Excerpts from a 10/20/10 article in The Packer written by Doug Ohlemeier

A record 3,938 retail and foodservice buyers walked the floors of the Orange County Convention Center in the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit 2010, up from 3,633 in 2009 and the 3,842 that visited the Orlando show in 2008.

Fresh Summit drew 18,284 participants, beating the previous East Coast record attendance of 17,503 in 2008, the last time the convention was held in the Sunshine State.

“There is a lot of energy and excitement on the floor,” said Garry Bergstrom, business development director of produce and floral for Publix Super Markets Inc., Lakeland. “People seem to be more upbeat. They’re not talking about the economy as much as they did two years ago. There’s more optimism.”

Last year’s confab in Anaheim, Calif., set the convention’s attendance record of 19,060.

From one end of the convention hall to the other, buyers from major retail chains and foodservice and wholesale operations visited produce suppliers and others in the show’s 950 exhibitors, up from last year’s more than 800 exhibitors.

Fresh Summit draws high East Coast attendance

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to pick a fresh coconut

Choosing a good coconut: Feel the weight of the coconut. It should feel heavy for its size. Shake vigorously. You should hear a pronounced sloshing sound. You are looking for the maximum amount of juice, it should feel like there is at least a cup of liquid inside moving around freely.

Coconuts have three eyes. Look at the 'soft eye'. The 'soft eye' is the eye that doesn't have the shell slightly raised round one side of it. You can also tell by finding the three "stripes" on the shell. These stripes come together between the three eyes. The angle between the two stripes closest to the soft eye is much wider than the other two angles. Once you find the 'soft eye' check it for any discoloration, it should look clean.

Overall the coconut should look brown without any gray overtone. Check the overall fruit for any signs of staining where there might have been a fracture allowing moisture to seep out. "

Opening the coconut: Using a hammer and a screwdriver, pierce one of the three soft eyes on the coconut shell. Drain off the juice. If saving the juice, strain it to remove any flecks of shell.
Wrap the coconut in a towel. If you've bought a Groovy Coconut, use the hammer and the screwdriver to open the shell. The shell should loosen and break into pieces. 

Pick out the white flesh. The dark skin can be taken off with a vegetable peeler. To make it easier to free the white flesh from its shell, toast the coconut in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Series of tropical storms tests endurance of Brooks' papaya crops

10/1/2010 Produce News article written by Christina DiMartino

The nearly continual daisy-chain of tropical weather systems that has moved across the Atlantic Ocean this summer has held Central American producers at full attention.

Tropical Storm Alex hit central Belize June 27, bringing severe thunderstorms and winds of 40-60 mph.

Tropical Storm Karl hit northern Belize Sept. 15, delivering severe thunderstorms and winds of 40-60 mph. Karl later turned into a Category 3 hurricane before hitting Veracruz, Mexico.

Most recently, Tropical Storm Mathew hit southern Belize Sept. 25, bringing severe thunderstorms and winds of 40-50 mph.

Brooks Tropicals LLC, headquartered in Homestead, FL, grows its papayas in Belize. The elegant papaya trees are long and lanky, with the heavy fruit growing at the tops of the thin trunks. A strong storm cannot only tear the fruit from the trees, it also can cause the tops of the trees to snap completely off.

"A direct hit from any of these storms would have set our papaya production back months," Bill Brindle, vice president of sales for Brooks Tropicals, told The Produce News. “Fortunately we were only partially hit, with the worst damage coming from Tropical Storm Karl. Karl knocked down several of our fields up near the Mexican border. Flooding and wind from all three storms caused tree losses throughout the entire Belize growing region.”

Officially, the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, but the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory points out that there is nothing magical in these dates. Hurricanes and tropical storms have occasionally occurred outside this six-month period, but the timeline was chosen because it is when over 97 percent of tropical storm activity has been recorded throughout storm-tracking history.

Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Brooks Tropicals, added, “We have definitely had our share of severe tropical weather. Now that it has passed, we can focus on getting production back to normal.

“We plant new papaya fields every month,” she continued. “And we are looking forward to some of those new fields coming on line to replace acreage lost to the tropical storms this year.”