KANSAS CITY - Convenience-minded consumers continue to turn to fresh-cut fruits and vegetables with increasing frequency, and suppliers are meeting the surging demand with new products and marketing programs.

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Fresh Del Monte has tracked an increase in demand for fresh-cut by both consumers and retailers, and the company has increased its fresh-cut offerings accordingly, said Kirk Teske, vice president of product management and sales for the company’s North American fresh-cut division.

On the consumer side, Teske said, people are seeking new and innovative solutions to meet their everyday needs, whether that means getting the freshest produce in their hands through retailers or by direct delivery.

On the retail front, expansions in the fresh-cut produce space allow Fresh Del Monte to provide added retail convenience, as fruit and vegetables are cut to order prior to distribution.

For those retailers unable to cut fruits and vegetables efficiently instore, the process eliminates a hassle for retailers and will help them continue to incrementally grow retail sales, he said. Produce is cut-to-order at each Del Monte regional facility for direct, next day deliveries and pickups.

Del Monte began offering fresh-cut processing regionally more than two decades ago. One of the recent trends on the processing side has been an increase in capacity to create organic fresh-cut products, thanks to surging demand in that category, Teske said.

Fresh Del Monte has an extensive range of fresh cut fruits and vegetables year-round, cut locally for peak freshness and maximum shelf life. Through vertical integration and GAP-certified growers/vendors, the company’s fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are available in a variety of packaging options, are prepared to meet and exceed international food safety standards and arrive ready-to-eat, Teske said.

Top sellers include Del Monte-branded Gold Extra Sweet pineapple and melons. Grapes, citrus, apples, mango and kiwifruit are among some of the many other popular options at retail, Teske said.

Crunch Pak joins forces with The Produce Moms on branding

Sliced apple specialist Crunch Pak has launched a co-branding deal with The Produce Moms.

Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak is featuring the Produce Moms logo on its12 oz. bags (sweet, tart, mixed) and 10 oz. bags (peeled and organic) of sliced apples.

Future plans also include a 2 oz bag to be developed for foodservice. Awareness of the new co-branded product line is being supported through a campaign of targeted traditional and social media marketing.

Since Crunch Pak joined The Produce Moms’ family of partners in 2017, The Produce Moms has been a powerful source of consumer engagement for the Crunch Pak brand, according to Crunch Pak.

The opportunity to do a co-branded product line was discussed in 2018 and the brand partners worked on the concept and retail placement over the past year.

“Crunch Pak is a brand that is known for aligning with trusted brands of influence as a means to better connect with the shopper,” said executive vice president and co-founder Tony Freytag. “We identify with The Produce Moms as a brand that connects with women and moms interested in consuming more fruits and vegetables.”

New Mann facility adds fruit to fresh-cut lineup

Mann Packing, a subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh and one of the largest suppliers of packaged vegetables in North America. has opened a new facility in Gonzales, Calif., that will process not only vegetables but also fruits.

The Gonzales plant joins Mann Packing facilities in the California cities of Salinas, Chualar and Delhi and in Yuma, Ariz. It is the only facility in the region to process both vegetables and fruits, according to Mann Packing.

The new facility features 130,000 square feet of state-of-the-art production for fruit and vegetables with full-fledged automation, increased capacity and with the ability to continue expanding. In addition, the Gonzales facility holds a variety of features designed to strengthen Mann Packing’s focus on food safety and quality, including its full cold chain from reception of raw material to delivery of finished product to ensure freshness, its improved environmental monitoring program and its updated QMS technology for instant information sharing.

“Our commitment to our customers and consumers is to supply the freshest produce with optimum standards of food safety, quality and a never-ending improvement of our customer service,” said Parker Javid, vice president of sales for Mann. “We are humbled by the families across the country that choose our wholesome vegetables for their dinner tables and do not take that responsibility lightly. With the opening of this safe and innovative facility we are so excited to continue to share with our consumers both new and existing products and continue to build a bright future together with them.”

In addition, the Gonzales facility has a state-of-the-art sanitation and cleaning protocols. Beyond face masks, hair nets and constant hand sanitation, the new facility has separate processing and raw material areas. Additionally, the facility also boasts a 260-foot-tall wind turbine to help Mann continue its mission of sustainable processing. Wash water from the facility will also be reclaimed into industrial waste systems for use on local golf courses and city landscaping.

The Gonzales facility is important for Mann Packing as it continues to expand upon its innovation processing and will produce everything from Mann family-favorite slaws to gourmet vegetables and new veggie sides, including its award-winning lineup of Broccolini baby broccoli, Caulilini baby cauliflower and Nourish Bowl salads.