California Giant berries a summer salad star

Strawberries from California Giant Berry Farms are making their way into new places this summer at one of the nation’s largest fast-food chains. 

Wendy’s is featuring fresh strawberries on its summer Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad, resulting in a lot of positive consumer attention along the way. 

The fast food chain website has dedicated significant space to the new menu item along with beautiful video stories of where those fresh strawberries came from.

wendys On May 6, Wendy’s and its media crew spent an entire day on a California Giant Berry Farms ranch in Watsonville to film the story of its 2015 Strawberry Fields Chicken Salad and how those fresh berries made it from the field to the plate.

The company produced two You Tube videos — a long and short version — that tell the story of the strawberries originating at the field harvest. Staff worked with the video crew to ensure they were able to capture the essence of a day in the life on a strawberry ranch and how berries get to market.

The videos went live on the first of June and at this point they have had 3 million views combined. 

“We are extremely pleased to be working with the Wendy’s team on this campaign providing fresh alternatives for consumers this summer,” Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales for California Giant, said in a press release. “It has been a great experience for us and we look forward to hearing about the final sales results of summer salad campaign when completed.” 

The menu item is positioned as a seasonal meal option for summer season only featuring hand-sliced strawberries, honey-roasted sunflower seeds and blue cheese crumbles, topped with freshly cooked smoked bacon and grilled chicken breast that is served warm.

Wendy’s is the world's third-largest quick-service hamburger restaurant chain, with more than 6,500 restaurants in 29 countries and U.S. territories.

California Avocado Commission promotes sandwich campaign

The California Avocado Commission is sandwiching its summer outreach with a sandwich-themed program that encompasses consumer advertising, social media, retail and foodservice activity, public relations and influencer outreach.

“The Distinctly Californian consumer advertising campaign links classic California menu items with California avocados, and ‘California’ sandwiches are a big part of that,” Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for CAC, said in a press release. “Whether it’s a California Club, the California Tuna Salad or a California Veggie Wrap, the ingredient that makes them a ‘California’ sandwich is California avocados.”

Calif-Lobster-Roll-17775-FINAL-2-5-15 One of the recipes featured in CAC’s advertising this year is the California Club sandwich. The ads show the ingredients for the sandwich with a California avocado at center stage. That one sandwich is just the beginning. As part of California Avocado Month in June, the commission featured 30 days of sandwiches on its blog, The Scoop. Each day CAC posted a new California sandwich featuring California avocados. Some of the recipes were developed by chefs, some by dietitians, others by bloggers and even California avocado growers.

“Our Distinctly Californian approach is new this year, but CAC has been working to increase usage of California avocados on sandwiches for many years,” DeLyser added. “The most remarkable results have been in the foodservice arena with myriad California avocado sandwich menu items and limited time offers that add excitement for operators.”

California avocado foodservice sandwich and burger promotions in this year include Del Taco, Denny’s, Habit Burger, Johnny Rockets and Togo’s. For retailers CAC developed a recipe booklet with 16 California avocado sandwiches. Nearly 25,000 booklets have been distributed to retailers who are using the booklets on California avocado displays and for in-store activity.

The nutrition comparison between avocados and other popular sandwich ingredients is enlightening, and CAC shares this information with dietitians, retailers, supermarket registered dietitians and other influencers. Many SRDs in the commission’s marketing area are participating in a CAC-sponsored California avocado sandwich recipe contest.

CAC also sponsored activity by the Produce for Better Health Foundation. The organization developed a produce-rich recipe, California Avocado Super Summer Wrap, which it promoted via email and social media.

On the public relations front, the commission tapped chef Trey Foshee of George’s at the Cove in San Diego, CA, to create two simple, delicious sandwiches made even better with California avocados.

The chef’s, Achiote Grilled Fish Sandwich with California Avocado and Roasted Pineapple-Jalapeño Spread is inspired by the classic flavors of San Diego’s popular fish tacos. Chipotle, Lettuce, Tomato and California Avocado Sandwich is a vegetarian alternative to a California BLT sandwich, using a California avocado and smoky chipotle spread in place of bacon.

CAC is promoting Foshee’s sandwich recipes, along with ideas for using California avocados as a sandwich spread, dipping sauce, slaw or relish ingredient or main attraction in sandwich recipes. Public relations outreach includes a press release and mat release, artisan chef partnerships, and outreach to dietitians, bloggers and other influencers.

On June 4 Megan Roosevelt, the Hungry Grocery Girl, published a CAC-sponsored YouTube video highlighting California avocados and including three recipes she developed for CAC including a California Avocado Chickpea Spread. The Hungry Grocery Girl cross-promoted the recipes and the video on her blog and across her social networks.

Ambrosia and KIKU brand apples lead top 15 apples nationally in volume and growth

Ambrosia and KIKU brand apples continue to be bright spots in the apple category according to the latest retail scan data available from Nielsen Perishables Group.

Data released this week shows that for the four weeks ending May 23, 2015, total U.S. sales of Ambrosia had the strongest growth rate (up 157 percent) among the top 10 apple varieties. Ambrosia was one of only two apples — the other being Honeycrisp — in the top 10 to show an increase in dollar volume performance.

Ambrosia-and-KIKU-apple-sales-soar-Graph The larger Ambrosia crop has provided savvy retailers with an opportunity to continue to sell this great apple longer into the season, says Steve Lutz, vice president of marketing at CMI. “The story is, consumers continue to seek out and buy Ambrosia as long as retailers carry it,” said Lutz. “When you look at the entire apple category and see that only two apples in the top 10 are showing sales increases, it really shows the emerging following Ambrosia has with consumers. This is exactly the type of growth we saw with Honeycrisp a few years back.”

The May scan data also revealed a second consecutive record sales month for KIKU brand apples. Boosted by imports from New Zealand, KIKU jumped into the top 15 powered by a 305 percent increase in sales, with volume increasing by 420 percent.

“Imported KIKU are clearly generating fresh sales for the apple category,” said Robb Myers, Director of Sales at CMI. “Of the top 15 apples nationally, KIKU’s performance increase was far and away the strongest in the category,” said Myers. He added, “This is great news because it shows how branded apples like KIKU can generate incremental sales for retailers even during the heart of the summer fruit season.”

Myers added that supplies of New Zealand KIKU will be available through the summer months into August. “We anticipated that the strong sales success of KIKU would continue, and we’ve been regularly receiving fresh imports to supply our customers in the U.S. market.” Total apple category volume moved up slightly by 2.3 percent during the month of May. However, declining retail prices offset the volume increase leading to an overall decline in apple category dollars of 6 percent.  

Kroger expresses financial confidence with stock split

For the first time since 1999 and just the fifth time in company history, Kroger announced a two-for-one stock split June 25 at its annual shareholders meeting in Cincinnati.

Shareholders of record on July 6 will receive an additional share of Kroger stock, bringing the total of outstanding shares to 962 million from 481 million.

Rodney McMullen, chief executive officer of Kroger Inc., said the move reflects the company’s confidence in its future financial performance, and that the split will make the stock more affordable to small investors, including the company’s own associates.

“The stock split will increase the accessibility of our shares and liquidity in the trading of our shares,” he told shareholders.

Following the announcement, shares rose $1.38 to $74.32, but closed up one cent at $72.95.

“By all measures, 2014 was a blockbuster year,” McMullen said.

Kroger, the largest U.S. supermarket chain, operates more than 2,600 stores in 34 states under two dozen banners and has annual sales of more than $108.5 billion.

Industry applauds passage of trade legislation

The produce industry is celebrating the passage of trade legislation that will support the growing globalization of fruits and vegetables.

By a vote of 60 to 38, the U.S. Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority, which will allow the president to send a completed trade agreement to Congress for an up-or-down vote and no amendments.

Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, every president has had authority from Congress to negotiate trade agreements that open up new market opportunities for the United States. Congress last enacted TPA legislation in 2002, and it lapsed in 2007.

“United Fresh applauds the Senate for renewing Trade Promotion Authorization,” said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh. “Trade deals that break down market access barriers and create new economic opportunities benefit the industry at home and abroad, expanding consumption of America’s abundant supply of fruits and vegetables in rapidly developing regions of the world. We look forward to the president signing this legislation and working with his administration to finalize the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.”

“We’re pleased that a bipartisan Congress has shown strong resolve to pass TPA and to see this transformative bill through to the desk of President Obama,” Richard Owen, vice president of global business development for the Produce Marketing Association, said in a statement. “The buying and selling of fresh produce occurs in a global environment, and that’s becoming more evident each day. Our ability as an industry to compete in the international market is tied to the ability of the United States to eliminate barriers to facilitate free and fair trade. TPA provides a framework that builds confidence with our international partners and foreign governments that a deal negotiated will make it through the political process for approval.”

With TPA being sent to the president, the administration can now focus on finalizing trade negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which the U.S. is looking to enter with 11 other Asia-Pacific countries. It would be the largest trade deal in history, opening markets and expanding access to U.S. agriculture exports to more than 800 million people.

“News of this Trade Promotion Authority passage is fantastic news for the port, for the region and for the state,” Paul Anderson, president and chief executive of the Port of Tampa, said in a statement. “Here in Florida, trade supports 2.4 million jobs, and TPA ensures that trade agreements will have the clearest opportunities to be successfully negotiated. The port firmly supports passage of this legislation, and we are extremely grateful to our leaders in Washington, the American Association of Port Authorities, and our fellow ports nationwide for their support. It’s important that we continue to recognize the value of our ports and the nexus of trade activity to our country, our economy and to our citizens. The positive impacts of TPA passage will be with us for generations.”