Stop & Shop Removes Calico Bean Salad After Recall
The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC, following a recall by Costa Fruit & Produce, has removed from sale Calico Bean Salad, sold on the salad bar, due to a possible health risk of listeria monocytogenes.
No illnesses have been reported to date. Customers who have purchased the product between July 18 and Jul 26 should discard any unused portions and bring their purchase receipt to Stop & Shop for a full refund.
Listeria is a common organism found in nature. Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract listeriosis. However, listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.
Consumers in Massachusetts looking for additional information on the recall may call Costa Fruit & Produce at 1-800-322-1374; all other consumers may call 1-800-343-0836 or visit Costa Fruit & Produce’s website at www.freshideas.com. Customers also can call Stop & Shop customer service at 1-800-767-7772 or visit the Stop & Shop website at www.stopandshop.com.
Lipman Acquires Ace Tomato Packing House
Florida-based Lipman Produce has acquired a packing house from Manteca, Calif.-based Ace Tomato Co., a tomato packer and fresh produce distributor. The newly acquired facility will join Lipman’s nationwide network of packing, repacking and processing companies after the 2012 growing season concludes.
“As a year-round supplier, it’s critical that we operate in geographically and seasonally diverse areas,” said Gerry Odell, chief farming officer for Lipman.
This acquisition is Lipman’s fourth in eight months and is a key component to the company’s nationwide expansion.
Lipman commands a significant percentage of the fresh tomato industry with 30 locations throughout the United States and Mexico.
California Communities Get Year-Round Access To Healthy Foods
Thousands of families across California will soon have easier access to essential foods for a healthy life as the result of grants awarded by The California FreshWorks Fund (CFWF), administered by NCB Capital Impact. The $105,100 in grants are designed to create new access to healthy foods, and are awarded to: The Community Development Foundation of Los Angeles County in North Long Beach; Heritage Education Group in Compton; and Mandela Marketplace in West Oakland.
“Kaiser Permanente is proud to be a founding member of the California FreshWorks Fund,” said Benjamin Chu, MD, MPH, MACP, group president for Kaiser Permanente Southern California and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. “This grant demonstrates our commitment to total health by supporting environmental changes that improve the health of the communities we serve, making the healthier choice an easier choice.”
The California FreshWorks Fund is a loan and grant fund that has raised $264 million to invest in bringing grocery stores and other healthy food retail to underserved communities. CFWF grants are funded with the support of Kaiser Permanente and The California Endowment.
“Today, more than one million California residents need to drive over 20 minutes from their homes to buy fresh produce, and most don’t or can’t do it,” said Scott Sporte, chief lending officer at NCB Capital Impact. “These investments build on innovative healthy eating initiatives and will help more families shop closer to home for foods that can help them live healthier, happier lives.”
The Community Development Foundation of Los Angeles County (CDF) was granted funds to support the planning and launch of a year-round, weekly farmer’s market that will serve thousands of residents of the Carmelitos Public Housing Project and the surrounding community of North Long Beach.
“The FreshWorks Fund grant will help make it possible for 2,000 residents of the Carmelitos community, and surrounding North Long Beach area, to walk just steps from their homes to purchase fresh tomatoes, squash and other locally grown produce,” said Jennifer N. Blackwell-Trotter, executive director of the Community Development Foundation. “Additionally, all farmers and the market manager will be hired locally.”
CDF will use the FreshWorks Fund grant to obtain expert feasibility analysis and consulting services for the initial launch scheduled for late summer 2012. Additionally, funds will be used to purchase supplies and complete training and marketing activities.
Based on farmer’s markets in low-income communities in East Los Angeles, Whittier and South Whittier, the proposed market will include cooking and nutrition programming, and accept non-traditional forms of payment, such as EBT, Farmers Market Nutrition Program WIC and senior vouchers.
The Heritage Education Group (HEG) received a grant to support a portion of start up costs for a year-round farmer’s market in Compton, Los Angeles County. The market will be held on the grounds of Davis Middle School. HEG has a proven track record running successful farmer’s markets in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in the Inland Empire, and has created a unique voucher program that increases the purchasing power of low-income families for local, fresh produce.
The Compton market will partner with the Compton Unified School District, which is working with HEG to make healthy foods more available to its students, families and the surrounding community.
“Funding and partnering with the FreshWorks Fund, provides small organizations such as the Heritage Education Group opportunities to do the greatest good for our communities in need. Simply put, it allows us to feed our people,” said Bing Turner, co-founder and board chairman of Heritage Education Group.
A third award was made to Mandela Marketplace to support a comprehensive business analysis of its operations and potential expansion for the Mandela Food Cooperative (MFC), a worker-owned fresh food store. MFC is the first retail outlet of any kind to focus on offering healthy food in West Oakland, and Mandela Marketplace is working to develop local wealth and alternative direct-from-farmer food supply chains.
Mandela Marketplace is one of two organizations focused on developing healthy food retail in West Oakland; the other is People’s Community Market. CFWF provided a grant to People’s Community Market to support its development of a 12,000-s.f., small-format fresh food store in February.
In the featured photo at top: Workers and owners outside their Mandela Food Cooperative, a worker-owned fresh food store.
Giumarra Asparagus Grower Becomes Fair Trade Certified
Giumarra Borquez has announced that its asparagus fields in Obregon, Mexico, are now Fair Trade Certified.
The partnership between the Giumarra Cos. and the Borquez family is a vertically-integrated operation that grows, packs and distributes asparagus grown in Mexico to the North American market.
The company has additional global alliances that, in conjunction with Mexico, provide a year-round supply for its customers. The asparagus is packed under the Nature’s Partner label.
Pablo Borquez of Campo Pablo Borquez recently was certified by Fair Trade USA and is currently the only asparagus grower in North America to be Fair Trade Certified.
“We are pleased to be working with Pablo Borquez, who recently became the first Fair Trade Certified asparagus grower in the world. American consumers want to make a difference with their purchases, and forward-thinking growers like Borquez are providing more delicious options to contribute toward a better world,” says Paul Rice, president and CEO of Fair Trade USA.
In 1994, Borquez and his family began developing projects to benefit the local community in the areas of housing, education and health.
“Pablo is highly regarded for all the work he does to enrich his community,” says Bruce Dowhan, general manager of Giumarra Borquez. “We are proud that Fair Trade USA has recognized his efforts as we continue to grow our asparagus program.”
The Borquez family created the Borquez Schwarzbeck Foundation in 2006. This philanthropic organization continues the family’s charitable efforts and supports rural communities adjacent to the fields where Campo Pablo Borquez operates. Some of the foundation’s projects include constructing two community centers and supplying potable water to approximately 15,000 local residents. “It is through our foundation that we have discovered how to operate in a professional, efficient manner that also improves the lives of our coworkers and their families,” says Borquez. “We look forward to working with Fair Trade USA to further our efforts.”
Campo Pablo Borquez is the second Giumarra grower to become Fair Trade Certified. Borquez is joined by the Salazar family, who grows grapes and watermelon in Sonora, Mexico.
The Giumarra Cos. is a leading international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers that encompasses a world of freshness. Since its inception in 1922, the Giumarra group of companies has taken pride in a longstanding commitment and tradition of quality, reliability and innovation to feed the world in a healthy way.
Campo Pablo Borquez S.A. de C.V. is a world-class company that distributes fresh, healthy, high-quality asparagus October through May. The company is a fourth generation grower and is based in Sonora, Mexico.
In the featured photo at top: Pablo Borquez of Campo Pablo Borquez recently was certified by Fair Trade USA and is currently the only asparagus grower in North America to be Fair Trade Certified.
PMA, United Fresh Will Not Merge
“Over the past 18 months, I have been privileged to serve PMA and the produce industry as the chair of the Produce Marketing Association task force exploring the opportunities to merge with the United Fresh Produce Association. I accepted that responsibility because of my personal belief that we are stronger together than working alone.
“I know I speak on behalf of the entire PMA Board when I say that we entered into the negotiations with UFPA with one goal in mind—to do what is best for our members and the produce industry. We never lost our focus on fulfilling that goal.
“We engaged leading experts in association mergers to ensure that we took every step possible to advance the interests of our members across the global supply chain while reducing duplication and costs. Those experts guided us through a disciplined legal due diligence process and comprehensive financial modeling to assess both the opportunities and challenges of a merger. Let me assure you that our duty to represent our members’ best interests was first and foremost in our minds at every stage of this process.
“I acknowledge with profound disappointment that despite our best efforts we were unable to agree on an acceptable joint association model that would meet both member and industry needs. Once again, let me state for the record that this was a decision made by PMA’s volunteer leaders on behalf of our members. PMA remains committed to building collaborative relationships with all our association partners in the U.S. and abroad.
“I have served the produce industry as a volunteer leader for over 12 years, chairing both PMA and the Produce for Better Health Foundation. PMA’s strength has always been its ability to unite our industry, and move forward together toward our common goal of increasing consumption. I know we can move past the recent events to continue to work together to ensure a future where our fresh fruits and vegetables are always at the center of the plate.”
Additionally, the United Fresh Board of Directors has issued a statement from David Krause, board chairman, and Ron Midyett, chairman-elect:
“Based on input from many of our members, the United Fresh Board of Directors formed a task force last year to meet with PMA representatives to evaluate the potential of a single, unified association to serve our members and the industry overall. From the very start, we’ve been steadfastly committed to acting only in the best interest of member companies and the entire produce industry, without predetermined constraints on programs, executive leadership or staff.
“We are disappointed that in the end, PMA’s current leadership did not agree with what we believe was a very fair, member-oriented plan that could have blended the goals and priorities of both associations. Without that commitment from our friends at PMA, the United Board could simply not abandon the principles that have guided our association for more than a century.
“We anticipate that both associations will now continue to pursue their own strategic vision, offering a clear contrast in value and program choices to the industry, while collaborating when in the best interests of their members.”
Shaw’s Celebrates Grand Re-Opening of Maine Stores with Trailer Donation
Shaw’s Supermarkets recently celebrated the grand re-opening of its stores in Auburn and Lewiston, Maine. The company commemorated the occasion by donating a trailer to the Good Shepherd Food-Bank as part of its commitment to supporting the organization’s critical mission to provide food to those in need.
The newly revamped stores were designed to offer customers an expanded variety of the freshest produce, top-quality meat and seafood and a large selection of local products. The new formats also provide a comfortable shopping experience with a focus on delivering premium customer service, according to a company news release.
“From the products and services to design layout, Shaw’s is committed to delivering a shopping experience that meets the needs of our local customers,” said Shaw’s President Mike Stigers. “The redesigned Auburn and Lewiston locations bring a greater selection and variety to our customers, while offering a fresh, new feel to their shopping experience. We look forward to continuing to provide our neighbors with quality products and outstanding service they expect from Shaw’s.”
Shaw’s commemorated the re-openings with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the stores July 13. Town officials and community members from Auburn and Lewiston joined Stigers as well as other Shaw’s executives and associates at the event. As part of the ceremony, Shaw’s made $2,000 donations to St. Mary’s Food Pantry in Auburn, and the Trinity Jubilee Center in Lewiston.
The highlight of the day came with the presentation of a trailer to the Good Shepherd Food-Bank. The donation was rooted in Shaw’s commitment to helping the organizations that support hunger relief.
“As a grocer, we understand the need for hunger relief is something that is constant year round,” added Stigers. “We have a great relationship with the Good Shepherd Food-Bank and support them year-round through programs such as Fresh Rescue, which provides the food bank with fresh items such as meat, dairy and produce. It is our hope this trailer will help to enhance the important work they do on a daily basis to help the people of Maine.”
“The support Good Shepherd Food-Bank receives from Shaw’s is critical to our efforts to eliminate hunger in Maine,” said Jim Dowe, interim president and CEO at the food bank. “In the past two years, Shaw’s has become one of our largest retail partners in the fight against hunger in Maine. The donation of this trailer will allow us to pick up and deliver millions of pounds of food each year to Mainers in need of our help.”
Fresh Rescue Food Donations play key a part in Shaw’s waste diversion efforts—last year, Shaw’s donated more than a half-million pounds of food in Maine that otherwise would have been wasted. In fact, the Auburn location was one of the first stores in the company to reach a major environmental milestone in the Shaw’s “zero waste” program by diverting more than 90 percent of all store waste from local landfills.
Georgia Peach Council Sweetens Peoples’ Days
Georgia Peach Council’s grassroots marketing campaign sweetened the day for stressful workers in the key markets of Tampa and Orlando, Fla. This year, Florida consumers have been greeted with updated public relations, advertising and social media campaigns featuring the catch phrase, “Georgia Peaches, All Kinds of Sweet.” To highlight the message, surprise “Sweet on the Street” deliveries of the flavorful fruit were made to people with the most stressful jobs and local consumers in Orlando and Tampa in an effort to sweeten their day.
Georgia Peach Council’s “Sweet on the Street” team first delivered fresh Georgia Peaches to Tampa-area residents at one of the city’s most popular summertime free music events, Rock the Park, held at Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa. Concert-goers were surprised by enthusiastic Sweet on the Street team members in orange shirts passing out fresh, juicy Georgia Peaches.
The Sweet on the Street team made three more sweet deliveries in Tampa at the end of June. Fire Station No. 1 and Fire Station No. 14 each received a surprise visit from the Sweet on the Street Team. Unsuspecting firefighters opened the bay doors of their firehouses to hear cheers of appreciation and several boxes of Georgia Peaches. The firemen and women were honored with these gifts for their contribution and dedication to the local community. The final location for the Sweet on the Street Team was Tampa’s Charles J. Fendig Public Library. Patrons busy on computers and reading books were taken aback by the sudden appearance of more than 20 orange-shirted team members giving away Georgia Peaches and bracelets emblazoned with the Georgia Peach Council’s website.
The Sweet on the Street Team also made two sweet deliveries in downtown Orlando. The first stop was at Orlando Fire Station No. 1 to sweeten the day for the stressful firefighters. Team members cheered for the firefighters and delivered several boxes of Georgia Peaches. The next Orlando delivery took place in the heart of downtown during a Friday lunch hour on Wall Street, a popular pedestrian area. Orlando workers walking to and from lunch were shocked to see a crowd of orange shirts, cheering and passing out Georgia Peaches to sweeten their day.
“We’ve targeted Tampa and Orlando because Florida is a key market for Georgia Peaches,” said Duke Lane III, chairman of the Georgia Peach Council. “Floridians love our sweet Georgia Peaches and we love their oranges.”
RPE Partners with West Coast Vegetable Co.
RPE Inc. has announced a vertically integrated partnership with Lodi, Calif.-based West Coast Vegetable Co. Inc. to grow, pack and market onions. The partnership with West Coast Vegetable Co. will allow RPE to serve its customers better by increasing its capacity with year-round supplies in all varieties of onions and by offering more packing locations to allow just-in-time inventory for its customers.
“Our partnership with West Coast Vegetable Co. is another example of our commitment to leading the onion category,” said Russell Wysocki, president and CEO at RPE Inc. “This new partnership, along with our recent alliance with Onion Boy Inc. gives RPE an even greater variety and supply of quality onions for our customers.”
A 30-plus-year produce industry veteran, West Coast Vegetable Co. is a full-service onion grower, shipper and packer that specializes in the exclusive Panoche™ sweet onion line. The family-owned company first introduced these onions to the marketplace in 1994 to compete with Georgia’s Vidalia onion program. Additional product lines include Sweetly Mild and Ruby Red onions.
West Coast Vegetable Co. offers a full line of onions, including Panoche™ sweet onions that are available June through December, and certify all sweets as well as nutri-clean the sweet onions in the field. West Coast Vegetable Co. controls the onion varieties they sell and offer cartons and bags of yellow onions, cartons of sweet onions, as well bags and cartons of red onions.
“We are committed to providing high-quality and innovative products to our customers,” said Michael Figone, CFO of West Coast Vegetable Co. “Forming a partnership with a company with similar values was important to us, and RPE’s marketing strength will be an asset to West Coast Vegetable Co.”
In addition to the marketing agreement between RPE and West Coast Vegetable Co., RPE will share ownership in West Side Packing LLC in Tranquility, Calif. The packing facility is third-party certified, while storage bins hold 100 percent hand-harvested forced-air dried onions, ensuring higher quality products for customers.
Just last month RPE announced a partnership with Ohio-based Onion Boy Inc. With the addition of the West Coast Vegetable Co. partnership, RPE will be rolling out a complete onion strategy to its customers focused on delivering category growth to include new packaging, category management and an extensive category marketing plan.