Fortune.com Talks Produce and Quotes PA: Your Salad Is About to Get a Lot More Expensive

Fortune.com Talks Produce and Quotes PA: Your Salad Is About to Get a Lot More Expensive

Fortune.com Talks Produce and Quotes PA: Your Salad Is About to Get a Lot More Expensive

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Read the Article and Watch the Video Here! 

Brace yourself for a more expensive salad this spring.

Heavy rain in California has led to “stratospheric prices” on iceberg and romaine lettuce produced in the state, according to the Sacramento Bee. Broccoli prices are going up too.

After five years of drought, the state experienced an unusually warm winter, followed by a series of heavy rains. The Salinas Valley, known as the “Salad Bowl of the World,” has become somewhat of a “soggy agricultural mess,” the Beesaid.

As a result, supplies of greens are lighter than usual this time of year and not keeping up with demand. Some crops like iceberg lettuce are behind schedule.

“This month has been very unstable for the industry,” industry group the Produce Alliance noted in its weekly agricultural report on Thursday, describing the markets for all lettuce and broccoli as “extreme.”

The wholesale price of iceberg has risen sixfold since January, while broccoli prices have quadrupled, the Sacramento Bee reported, citing figures from the United States Department of Agriculture. Wholesale cartons of romaine now cost $49 and iceberg about $37, up from around $6 a carton in early January.

California produces 76% of the nation’s lettuce and 94% of its broccoli, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

Agriculture prices are notoriously volatile because they’re prone to seasonal swings related to weather, and not all of the increases will be passed on to shoppers. Grocers often eat some of the costs to keep product moving.

According to the Produce Alliance, greens are not the only groceries affected by a supply shock this season.

“We are also experiencing extreme markets with avocados, blueberries, celery, cilantro, garlic, lemons, and now certain sizes of asparagus,” it said. “It is forecasted that May will be better for many commodities.”

See the article on Fortune.com here


Produce Alliance specializes in providing fresh produce category management services including procurement, national distribution, information services, and food safety assurance to food service clients across North America, the Caribbean and beyond. We manage an alliance of 50+ independently owned specialty distributors of fresh products, with combined produce sales of over $4 billion annually. 

Produce Alliance hosts first Pop-Up Dinner

Produce Alliance hosts first Pop-Up Dinner

Produce Alliance hosts first Pop-Up Dinner

November 11, 2016

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The PA Pop-Up Dinner Series is a gathering of distributors and professional chefs to share ideas and create unique dishes through a five-course menu tasting. 

“The PA Pop-Up Dinner series is something we have wanted to do for some time now and it has been extremely exciting to see the launch of this initiative for Produce Alliance,” David Kraus, senior director of business development at Produce Alliance, said in a news release.  “Our network is made up of the most innovative growers, highest quality distributors and some of the fastest growing restaurant concepts with unbelievable culinary teams. It was a natural fit to tap into our network and harness all of the progressive ideas to put together the first Pop-Up Dinner event.”

The event featured Mann Packing products and was coordinated by Produce Alliance’s executive chef, Stephanie Golfarb, along with chef Nariba Shepard and mixologist Yolondra Yarborough. 

Produce Alliance Innovative Pop-Up Dinner Features Mann Packing Products

Produce Alliance Innovative Pop-Up Dinner Features Mann Packing Products

Produce Alliance Innovative Pop-Up Dinner Features Mann Packing Products

November 15, 2016

Chicago, IL – Produce Alliance began its Pop-Up Dinner Series last month to showcase its innovative approach to fresh produce in an event featuring Mann Packing products.

PA Corporate Chef Stephanie Goldfarb (Right) & Chef Nariba Shepard (Left)

PA Corporate Chef Stephanie Goldfarb (Right) & Chef Nariba Shepard (Left)

“The PA Pop-Up Dinner series is something we have wanted to do for some time now and it has been extremely exciting to see the launch of this initiative for Produce Alliance,” Senior Director of Business Development for Produce Alliance, David Kraus, stated in a release. “Our network is made up of the most innovative growers, highest quality distributors, and some of the fastest growing restaurant concepts with unbelievable culinary teams. It was a natural fit to tap into our network and harness all of the progressive ideas to put together the first Pop-Up Dinner event.”

Kraus continued, “This gathering was held in conjunction with our *Next Gen board meeting, an organization of next generation leaders in our network that focus on shaping the future trends of fresh produce within the Food Service Industry. The first event featured dishes and cocktails from a few of Chicago’s top Chefs and Mixologists; we plan to continue the series into 2017 by collaborating with many of the leading Chefs across the U.S. as well as our grower partners to continue leading the industry in innovation.”

The goal of the PA Pop-Up Dinner Series, according to the company, is to reimagine culinary boundaries, showcase an array of innovative dishes, bring together Chefs and Growers in a celebration of fresh produce, and raise the bar for those in the culinary and fresh produce industries.

The five-course Pop-Up Dinner featured a number of Mann Packing products including the company’s Tenderbite® Green Beans and RomaCrunch® lettuce.

Article featured in And Know U Know

Avocado Shortage Plagues Nation’s Restaurants

Avocado Shortage Plagues Nation’s Restaurants

Avocado Shortage Plagues Nation’s Restaurants

November 1, 2016

Is the avocado toast-Instagram industrial complex on the verge of collapse? In recent months a number of restaurants across the country have hiked menu prices for avocado dishes — or worse, stopped serving them altogether — thanks to the one-two punch of a rough growing season in California and a worker’s strike in Mexico.

Murmurs of an avocado shortage have been circulating since this summer, when it was blamed mainly on El Niño — but now the issue’s been compounded by avocado growers in Mexico striking for higher pay. According to data from the Hass Avocado Board cited by Business Insider, the volume of avocado imports from Mexico are down approximately 80 percent in recent weeks.

In its most recent weekly ordering guide that’s distributed to chefs and kitchen managers across the country, leading restaurant produce supplier FreshPoint included an avocado alert: “We will not be able to fill orders, and for those that we can, it will be extremely expensive for the next 7 to 10 days.”

Hans Peter Muller, the owner of a popular restaurant and bakery in Fort Worth, Texas, called Swiss Pastry Shop, says the price he pays for avocados has doubled compared to this time last year. Though he has a few sandwiches on his menu that include them, he’s not intending to hike prices — mainly because he expects avocado prices will return to more reasonable levels in the near future, and printing and re-printing new menus is a pain. In the meantime, he’s increased the price of a side of avocado to discourage people from ordering it — and temporarily barred employees from having avocado on their own sandwiches to ensure there’s enough for customers.

Other restaurants have stopped serving them altogether: LA bakery and cafe Lodge Bread has temporarily removed its beloved avocado toast from the menu in the wake of the shortage. Co-owner Alex Phaneuf says it’ll return in a few months when the new season’s crop of avocados becomes available, and also says the worker’s strike in Mexico has caused him to reevaluate his avocado sourcing: “The shortage was quite the wake-up call for the industry and for [restaurants] selling foods with avocado,” Phaneuf says. “Avocado farming in Mexico and other countries south of our border do not pay living wages and do not support sustainable agriculture in ways that we think are positive to farmers and or patrons.” Looking ahead, Lodge Bread will be sourcing its avocados from an orchard in nearby Ojai, California instead.

At least one major restaurant chain won’t be nixing avocados anytime soon, though: Chipotle. The company revealed on its earnings call earlier this week that the price it pays for avocados has soared from $30 a case to $80, but says it won’t affect the price of its guacamole. (As the beleaguered burrito chain attempts to come back from last year’s food safety disasters, surely executives recognize that raising the price of guac — AKA the best thing on the menu — could further alienate customers.)

And things do look brighter for avocado lovers going forward: “There was a shortage but it is much better,” says Stephanie Blanton, vice president of procurement for Produce Alliance, a national collective of produce buyers. “Prices are still higher...but it has improved and will continue to do so every week.”

Market Shifts Spur Local Company’s Relocation for Willie Itule Produce Inc.

Market Shifts Spur Local Company’s Relocation for Willie Itule Produce Inc.

Market Shifts Spur Local Company’s Relocation for Willie Itule Produce Inc. 

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September 21, 2016

Willie Itule Produce, Inc., a local family-owned and operated wholesale produce distributor, moved from the location it has known in Downtown Phoenix since 1979 for a bigger, better industrial space to facilitate its continued growth.

The company’s original location on Jackson Street is situated in the heart of the historic Warehouse District. Once the hotspot for industrial developments in the Valley, the area is now experiencing a high amount of adaptive reuse activity in which older, functionally obsolete industrial buildings are being repurposed into trendy offices for companies like WebPT and Gould Evans. Thus, growing businesses like Willie Itule Produce must find new facilities that meet evolving state-of-the-art standards for industrial developments, with greater ceiling clear heights, more square footage and optimized technology features for improved operating efficiency.

“We had been in Downtown Phoenix on Jackson Street for roughly 36 years,” says Willie Itule, the company’s CEO. “Over the course of those years, we grew from one truck and one warehouse operation to almost 40 trucks and six warehouses.”

In the early 2000’s, the couple seized the opportunity to purchase warehouses once owned by Willie’s father (also named Willie Itule) from 1962 until his retirement in 1972. However, geographic constriction, growing technological demands and changing food service regulations spurred the company’s move in August to a new location at 301 N. 45th Avenue near 43rd Avenue and Van Buren Street. 

Aerial photo of Willie Itule Produce’s new warehouse on 301 N. 45th Avenue in Phoenix. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Willie and Lynn felt Downtown Phoenix was becoming too congested, especially for the business’s truck drivers. The new location is still centrally located and provides drivers with easier access to the warehouse, which is right off of Interstate 10.

When the business first moved to the new facility, Willie says it was “basically four walls.” Since then, all of the lights have been changed to LED and solar panels are being added to the roof.

Willie Itule Produce’s original location on 926 E. Jackson Street in Downtown Phoenix’s historical Warehouse District. (Courtesy of Willie Itule Produce)

The new location also provides more space: the warehouse consists of 79,000 square feet including 36,000 square feet of rackable refrigeration (effectively doubling it to approximately 60,000 square feet), 28-foot clear ceiling heights and a continuous cold chain that keeps all produce coming into and going out of the facility at 36-degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, the business’s previous facilities (six warehouses in total) consisted of 55,000 square feet of warehouse space with 21,000 square feet for refrigeration.

Willie says technology was another major factor contributing to the decision to relocate.  “Fiber optics for the building is something that we determined we needed for the future growth, and that was a big part of the decision also to relocate,” he explains. For businesses that are trying to expand and keep up with the latest standards like Willie Itule Produce, more efficient technology better suited for modern operations is vital and in growing demand.

Other factors include trends in the food service industry such as more stringent health regulations outlined in the U. S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Code, which is a model that assists food control jurisdictions at all levels of government by providing them with a scientifically sound technical and legal basis for regulating the retail and food service segment of the industry. 

Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, executive vice president of sales at Produce Alliance, a produce management company, says Willie Itule Produce, Inc. is one of the businesses that has been excelling at meeting food safety standards.

“Produce Alliance three years ago challenged our distributors to all be certified under the GFSI scheme,” Melshenker says. “Everyone was working toward [meeting these changes], and Willie Itule took the ultimate measure by moving into a new facility.”

GFSI, or the Global Food Safety Initiative, is an international measure to improve food safety management systems via collaboration between leading experts in the foodservice industry.

Melshenker stated that Produce Alliance chooses its partners based on who are the best businesses in a region at being ahead of the curve in terms of food safety, and added that Willie Itule Produce was one of the best not only for its ability to stay ahead of the curve, but also for its history as a family-focused business.

“Change is good,” Willie says, “and we always want to keep moving forward and getting better. We have three children, adults now, that are in the business. And we wanted to have the opportunity for future growth for them. That’s one of the reasons we looked at this. No matter what, hard work usually equals success.”

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13 WLOX - Gulf Coast Produce Organizes Louisiana Flood Help

13 WLOX - Gulf Coast Produce Organizes Louisiana Flood Help

13 WLOX - Gulf Coast Produce Organizes Louisiana Flood Help

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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Biloxi business owners with a close connection to Louisiana are reaching out to help flood victims.

Mike and Christi Alise, with Gulf Coast Produce, helped collect a large monetary donation and organized a shipment of fresh food.

As she presented a $10,000 check to Yes I Can Ministries, Alise recalled her family's personal connection to Louisiana.

“It is close. We have families and friends in Louisiana that's also lost everything. Again, we couldn't just sit back and not do anything. We just wanted to help the people that's truly in need,” said Alise.

Yes I Can Ministries will direct the donation to those still suffering.

“It's a tragedy. Actually, it looks like it's worse than Katrina. I've never seen anything like it. All the debris in the streets, and it's really sad. I mean, a lot of people are crying and hurting. So,  it's just an honor to be able to help,” said Art Moore, who directs the ministry along with his wife, Gail.

“It is sad. The debris is everywhere. Families are hurting. They literally lost everything,” said Gail.

Along with the $10,000 check, pallets of produce and dog food are also headed west to help those in need.

“So many people out there. Our phones at the office, literally, are ringing. People wanting and asking for help. So, we are more than happy to help and do what these guys have allowed us to do,” said Gail.

Along with their own company's donations, the Alises, also called on their business connections to pitch in, and they responded.

“With Katrina, I mean, the community stepped up and they helped us. This is the least we could do to help our neighbors in Louisiana. We contacted our distributors across the United States. They helped with contributions,” said Alise. “It's just, it's a great feeling to be able to give back with the communities.”

Chiquita and Produce Alliance also helped with the donations for Louisiana.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Produce Alliance and Gulf Coast Produce help flooding victims

Produce Alliance and Gulf Coast Produce help flooding victims

The Packer: Produce Alliance and Gulf Coast Produce help flooding victims

 

August 16, 2016

Produce Alliance LLC is working with one of its members to help victims of massive Gulf Coast flooding.

Nashville, Tenn.-based Produce Alliance is helping Biloxi, Miss.-based Gulf Coast Produce Distributors Inc. donate truckloads of fresh produce to flooding victims, their families, first responders and others in Louisiana and Texas.  Read full article here. 


Perishable News: Produce Alliance & Gulf Coast Produce Come Together To Help Disaster In Gulf Coast

 

August 17, 2016

Produce Alliance report regarding the disaster on Gulf Coast reaches media outlet Perishable News.  Read full article here. 


 

People can contribute to the PA Foundation, which is helping flood victims, by visiting http://bit.ly/2b70IIX.

Produce Alliance Makes Two Strategic Hires

Produce Alliance Makes Two Strategic Hires

Produce Alliance Makes Two Strategic Hires

 

 

July 21st

Produce Alliance LLC has hired Kirk Massey senior business development director and Dan Baker, who will focus on national foodservice business, specializing in processed items.

Massey has more than 20 years of experience in the fresh produce industry, particularly in foodservice produce management. He worked for Ben E. Keith Foods in multiple roles including produce marketing manager and head of produce before accepting a position with Shamrock Foods Co. as a produce business manager. He later worked for Pro*Act, a foodservice distributor, as director of client services.

Baker was previously at Freshway Foods and Foodsource/CH Robinson, where he worked in customer acquisitions and organic growth.

“Dan will be able to bring his processing skills to Produce Alliance,” George Melshenker, president of Produce Alliance, said in the release.

“His knowledge of local versus California processing will help our entire team.”

(The Pack Article

Produce Alliance Hires Director of Food Safety & Quality Assurance

Produce Alliance Hires Director of Food Safety & Quality Assurance

Produce Alliance hires Director of Food Safety & Quality Assurance

 

 

July 1, 2016

Barbara Hulick has been hired as Produce Alliance LLC's senior director of food safety. Hulick brings two decades of experience in innovating and implementing food safety policies, according to a news release.

Melissa Melshenker Ackerman, executive vice president of sales at Produce Alliance, said Hulick’s “in depth experience along the supply chain coupled with her high-level education in (the Food Safety Modernization Act) will give Produce Alliance the firepower it needs to continue to be an industry leader.”

Hulick started food safety consulting company The Albury Group LLC after working from plant manager to the director of foodservice and product improvement at Country Fresh LLC, according to a news release. She has a master's in global food law and policy and a master's in food safety, both from Michigan State University.

"Produce Alliance stands apart from the competition because of its steadfast commitment to the food safety values in the fresh produce industry,” Hulick said in the release.

(The Packer Article

Fresh, Unique Produce Is Taking Over Millennial's Plates

Fresh, Unique Produce Is Taking Over Millennial's Plates

Progressive Grocer and a Mintel market report states: “Millennials are more likely to buy a variety of vegetable types than any other demographic. Millennials are a key driver for sales, because they are now the largest population group in the U.S. and also tend to be leading consumer trends in fresh, healthy foods.”

Produce Alliance Releases Second Recipe Video

Produce Alliance Releases Second Recipe Video

The Nashville, Tennessee based buying group recently premiered the second video in its Ask The Chef video series. The new video features products from the organization’s 2015 Conference title sponsor, Yuma, Ariz.-based GreenGate Fresh LLLP, a foodservice salad, slaw and leafy greens provider.