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Double-digit increases expected for U.S. imports of Chilean cherries

The Chilean Cherry Committee, an entity associated with the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association, expects total exports of fresh cherries from Chile to reach 100,000 tons this year. As the second-largest export market for Chile, North America anticipates a 45 percent increase in volume over the 2013/14 season.

To support this dramatic growth, the Chilean Cherry Committee is pursuing a targeted promotion campaign across the United States and Canada, with increased funding earmarked for retail promotions.

chileancherries "Thanks to an extraordinarily successful harvest, we're going to see increased volume and promotions in North America," Karen Brux, managing director of North America for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said in a press release. "The Chilean Cherry Committee is committed to expanding the North American market for Chilean cherries, and we have promotion funding available for retailers to make that happen. We're in the process of meeting with retailers to confirm holiday promotions."

This year's strong harvest is positive news for the Chilean cherry industry, which was hard hit in 2013 by a devastating freeze.

"The initial estimate for 2013-14 was 85,000 tons, but after the freeze this dropped to 68,000 tons," Brux said in the press release. "With Chile on track to export at least 100,000 tons during the 2014-15 season, this is a significant step for the industry. It's also great news for North American retailers, who want to offer their shoppers a beautiful, premium, great-tasting fruit over the holiday season."

Chile is the largest cherry exporter in the Southern Hemisphere and the second-largest exporter of cherries in the world. Fresh cherries from Chile are available in December and January, with export peaks expected from weeks 49-51.

The Chilean Cherry Committee is offering holiday-themed point-of-sale merchandising materials that encourage shoppers to "bring home the cherry best." Supporting recipes, images and other materials are available for both in-store and online marketing.

The Chilean Cherry Committee was formed under the auspices of ASOEX, which is based in Santiago, Chile. The Chilean Fresh Fruit Association is its North American counterpart and directs all marketing and promotional activities for fresh Chilean fruit in the United States and Canada.

Immigration reform debated at WGA meeting

LAS VEGAS -- The day before Republicans took charge of the U.S. Senate and strengthened their hold in the House of Representatives, a pair of journalists discussed the immigration reform inaction that has been part of the U.S. political scene for the past generation.

If the two debaters are accurate, the shift in power will not have a major impact on comprehensive immigration reform, at least in the short run.

Speaking at the Western Growers Political Action Committee luncheon during the WGA's 89th annual meeting, here, Michelle Malkin and Ruben Navarrette mostly articulated just how far apart the two sides are in the debate.

Malkin, who has been a Fox News commentator, and syndicated columnist Navarrette agreed that immigration reform is a very tough rode to hoe.

Malkin, mirroring the comments often heard by the far right, rejected the idea that there is a need for immigrants to work in such industries as agriculture or foodservice. She advocated for hiring U.S. citizens to do those jobs and said it is low wages creating the labor shortage.

"The reason we don't have workers is because we don't pay enough," she said and then repeated hat idea several times.

She added that the problem with a temporary guest worker program "is the 'temporary' and 'guest' part of it." It is Malkin's belief that any such program will result in more workers coming into the United States and staying.

It is for this same reason that she opposes any path to citizenship for falsely documented workers. She wants all foreigners seeking entry into the United States to go through proper channels and not be rewarded for illegally coming to the United States no matter how long ago that event occurred.

Malkin also took aim at the debaters that claim to want to secure the borders first and the tackle immigration reform. She argues that there should be no "first" and then "second" approach, instead believing that securing the border is an ongoing obligation that should not be followed by any program that gives priority status to any group of people wanting to come to the United States.

She claims to have many relatives from the Philippines that have been waiting in line for years to secure the right to move to the United States. She wants everyone else to get in the same line.

Navarrette took a much more practical view. He believes there are millions of falsely documented workers in the United States for the simple reason that U.S. employers need them. He said U.S. workers will not take those jobs and rejected the use of the word "invasion" to characterize the flow of hard workers looking for a better life in the United States.

He believes there should be a path to legalization for the 11 million or more workers who are already here earning a living, taking part in their communities and are otherwise law abiding.

Navarrette takes exception to anti-immigration types that point to their foreign backgrounds and claim their forefathers stood in line and came here legally generations ago. He said most of these people are talking about a time when there was no line and it was not illegal to immigrate to the United States. As a case in point, he said his ancestors came from Mexico legally several generations ago because that is the only way you could come here.

Navarrette did commend Malkin on her willingness to not pull any punches on the issue. He said one of the biggest stumbling blocks to comprehensive immigration reform are the politicos who are claiming to want to secure the borders first and then will vote for reform.

Completely securing the borders, Navarrette said, is an impossibility but the pursuit of it can give the anti-immigration reform forces cover for their lack of movement on the issue.

WGA President Tom Nassif, who moderated the question-and-answer session, did rebuke Malkin's assertion that the reason agriculture does not have enough workers is because of low pay. He said there were many employers in the room who could testify first hand about experiences when they were offering $30 or more per hour and still couldn't fill their harvesting crews.


Wonderful Halos entering second year of promotional campaign

"Wonderful Halos," the easy-peel variety of Mandarin oranges marketed by Paramount Citrus, is entering the second year of an unprecedented multi-million dollar promotional campaign and will feature new television spots and point-of-sale materials to drive consumption.

Delano, CA-based Paramount Citrus brought "Wonderful Halos" to the market last year after previously marketing easy-peel Mandarins under the "Cuties" brand in partnership with Sun Pacific Cos.

HalosRGB When announcing the launch of "Wonderful Halos" last year, Paramount backed its introduction with the announcement of a $100 million five-year promotional plan.

In year two of the promotional program, Paramount said another $20 million will be dedicated toward "Wonderful Halos." Highlighting the year two program are four new 15-second television spots that will air on early morning, prime, syndicated and cable television programs. The commercials, which began airing Nov. 10, showcase how "Wonderful Halos" are the perfect snack for the entire family to enjoy, and they capture the extent to which kids will go to get them.

Additionally, a Halos interactive mobile app, "Halos Fun," is available in the App Store and Google Play to promote healthy snacking with the popular fruit.

Paramount bolstered its supply of "Wonderful Halos" last month when it entered into a partnership with Mulholland Citrus, one of the top California-based Mandarin farming, packing and sales operations, under which Paramount is now the exclusive sales agent for Mulholland's Mandarins.

The partnership strengthens the ability of the Halos program to broaden the branded market and reach a wider set of consumers, according to a news release issued by Paramount.

Michigan-based Meijer shakes up retail scene in Wisconsin

Grand Rapids, MI-based Meijer, a retailer that operates 213 supercenters and grocery stores through Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, is now setting its sights on its next target — southeast Wisconsin.

As a pioneer in the "one-stop shopping" concept, Meijer will be taking its full-service stores into Wisconsin's highly competitive grocery market next summer by opening its first grocery/general merchandise supercenters in the region.

Plans for expansion into Wisconsin include opening stores in Wauwatosa, Oak Creek, Grafton and Kenosha in 2015, followed by locations in Waukesha, Greenfield and Sussex in 2016.

"It's a big deal for us," Hank Meijer, co-owner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of the retail chain, told the Journal Sentinel. "We've been in the five [states] for what, 20 years now. It's been a long time since we've opened up a new frontier for our company."

The company is investing $750 million and adding 7,000 jobs in order to establish itself in the state of Wisconsin, according to J.K. Symancyk, president of Meijer.

The supercenters include expanded fresh produce and meat departments; clothing for men, women and children; sporting goods; Meijer-branded products; and seasonal merchandise such as grills and landscape supplies. The stores will also have on-site pharmacies and gas stations.

Archie Manning to keynote Southern Exposure

The Southeast Produce Council has announced that legendary football star Archie Manning will be the keynote speaker at the council's 2015 conference and trade show, known as Southern Exposure.

Southern Exposure will take place Feb. 26-28, 2015, at the Caribe Royale All-Suite Hotel & Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Manning will deliver the keynote address Saturday, Feb. 28, during the luncheon and general session.

"We are very happy to have someone with his legacy," SEPC Executive Director David Sherrod told The Produce News Nov. 10. "The family he comes from is so well known to people in the South and around the country. He will be a very inspiring speaker, and we are really looking forward to listening to him."

Archie-ManningArchie ManningWhen people think of Archie Manning, they think football, but his appeal transcends his athletic achievements. He was selected Father of the Year by the National Father's Day Council, and he currently serves in public relations and consulting capacities for several local, regional and national companies.

His community activities include the Louisiana Special Olympics, the New Orleans Area Boy Scout Council, the Salvation Army, United Way Speakers Bureau, Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee and the New Orleans Sports Foundation.

Elisha Archibald Manning III was born May 19, 1949, in Drew, MS. He attended the University of Mississippi, where he was named an All-American quarterback and had his number retired. He was voted Mississippi's Greatest All-Time Athlete in 1992, and was named the state's Most Popular Athlete of the Century.

Manning was drafted four times by Major League Baseball, but he chose football for his professional livelihood.

In 1971 he was the second player chosen in the National Football League draft and was the No. 1 draft choice of the New Orleans Saints. He set Saints passing records, played in two Pro Bowls and was named the NFC Most Valuable Player in 1978. He played for the Saints from 1971 to 1982, then for the Houston Oilers and Minnesota Vikings.

Manning and his wife, Olivia, reside in New Orleans and have three sons. Cooper, the oldest, is a partner with Howard Weil, an energy investment banking firm in New Orleans. Their two other sons are perhaps just as well known to many football fans as Archie is. Peyton is currently the starting quarterback with the Denver Broncos, and Eli is currently the starting quarterback with the New York Giants. Archie and Olivia also have seven grandchildren.

For additional information about Southern Exposure or to register for the event, visit