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Kimberly Warren, Associate Publisher
QUESTION OF THE MONTH

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INDUSTRY NEWS
Crunch Pak is now a national strategic partner of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Nutrition Communicator's Network. As a partner...
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School meals will have to offer fruits and vegetables to students every day under standards issued by the United States Department of Agriculture...
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The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWG), representing produce transportation stakeholders...
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Heinzen
AquaPulse Systems
United Fresh
Palcon Systems
 
Maxwell Chase
Cantaloupe

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INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT
Industry addresses cantaloupe safety

Members of the cantaloupe industry met in mid-January with researchers, regulators and food safety professionals to discuss food safety as it relates to netted melons — both domestically produced and imported.

The group identified three “outcomes,” or areas to focus on to achieve the highest level of food safety for cantaloupes:

  • Identify key knowledge gaps that need immediate and long-term action

  • Re-examine and refine existing cantaloupe-specific food safety guidance

  • Conduct outreach and training in the industry

“While the Center for Produce Safety is swiftly responding to the need for research in its soon-to-be released request for proposals, industry trade associations were charged with the task of meeting the other critical objectives,” according to a letter from Bob Whitaker, Produce Marketing Association’s chief science and technology officer.

The letter stated that a group of trade associations, including Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Produce Marketing Association, Texas Produce Association, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers, came together to work on the areas of guidance and education. The organizations formed two steering committees and charged them with developing processes and timelines for deliverables in these areas that were constructed to ensure accessibility, inclusiveness, transparency and timeliness.

The steering committee for guidance will be working together on the development of commodity-specific guidance for netted melons. The committee is committed to delivering a final netted-melon-specific guidance document to the industry by the end of July, according to Whitaker’s letter.

A steering committee for extension, education and outreach also was organized to ensure the food safety effort involves as many stakeholders as possible. This committee will work with the guidance committee to maximize the reach of information.

Learn more about the industry’s efforts at http://cps.ucdavis.edu and www.pma.com.

Key Technology
 
MARKET REPORT
Private-label foods rising faster than national brands

Private-label products still cost an average of 29 percent less than their nationally branded counterparts. But they are rising faster in price, at a rate of 5.3 percent last year compared with the industry average of 1.9 percent, and can sometimes be the most expensive product in a category, according to market-research firm Symphony IRI.

Prices of private-label perishable foods are rising even faster, up 12 percent last year versus an 8 percent jump for national brands.

"It's much less about value and price than it used to be," said Clarkston Consulting analyst Steve Rosenstock, who conducted a two-month study last fall across major grocery and drugstore chains to examine why shoppers buy store brands. He said 28 percent of his survey respondents didn't cite price as a factor in choosing store brands over name brands; loyalty and positive experiences, instead, drove their purchasing decisions.

To read more about the private-label research findings, read the recent article from Wall Street Journal Business.

BioSafe
Dofra

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PRODUCT HIGHLIGHT
Heinzen Manufacturing International, Dofra Foodtec join forces

Heinzen Manufacturing International is demonstrating the Dofra OP-120, a patented onion peeling process, at its Gilroy, Calif., facility.

While existing peeling wheels are based on 30-year-old technology and contain a lot of moving parts, bearing, springs and friction drive belts, the new concept of the OP-120 uses super magnets, according to the company. By using magnetic fields instead of mechanical parts, the number of moving parts is reduced by 60 percent, which the company said has simplified set-up and maintenance.

Anyone interested in setting up a demonstration should call a Heinzen Manufacturing International sales representative to set up an appointment.

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