Nearly two centuries after the first apple seeds were planted at Fort Vancouver, Washington state's rich volcanic soil and optimum climate have helped it become a top supplier of the fruit. Growers in Washington supply about 60% of all the apples eaten in the US, and researchers at Washington State University developed the new Cosmic Crisp variety.
Third-quarter sales of organic fresh produce has continued an upward climb, with figures from the Q3 2021 Organic Produce Performance Report by Organic Produce Network and Category Partners showing a 3% year-over-year jump. The report, which used Nielsen retail scan data, revealed berries to be among the top choices for customers and, combined with apples and packaged salads, made up 85% of the comparable dollar growth.
Growing demand for local produce is a boon for Oregon-based Cal Farms as it seeks to compete with growers in other areas including Mexico and California, said Ambrose Calcagno, whose family has operated the company for 40 years. The company specializes in crops suited to the Oregon climate including carrots, brussels sprouts, beets and cabbage, and creates efficiencies using automated machinery.
The pandemic-era drop in tourism took a toll on Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market and, while the spot was once again bustling this summer, many flower sellers and other vendors have either cut down their time there or exited altogether. Scott Chang's family floral business has sold its blooms at the market since the 1980s and it will continue to, but Chang and other vendors say the pandemic was a lesson in the need to diversify.
Artichoke supplier Ocean Mist Farms has named Christopher Drew as its new president and CEO, elevating him from his current post of chief operating officer. Drew has worked for the company for nearly 20 years, and he's active in groups including the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Advisory Board and the Cal Poly - SLO Horticulture and Crop Science Advisory Council.
Fast-casual chain Freshii will invest $4.6 million to take a 60% stake in Natura Market Ecommerce, in a deal that includes the rights to acquire the remaining shares of the online health and wellness retailer by early 2025. Freshii operates restaurants in 14 countries and now sells nutritional supplements in stores and online, and plans to grow its online efforts with the Natura acquisition.
The Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration has issued a 14-page analysis of foodborne illnesses in 2019, including outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, listeria and campylobacter. Among other conclusions, the report found that 75% of E. coli cases were linked to leafy greens and other row crops as well as beef.
The FDA will host a summit this week titled "New Era of Smarter Food Safety" with the goal of exploring ways to use technology and other tools to create a safer food supply. The four-pronged approach includes: using tech for traceability; improving tools and methods for preventing and responding to outbreaks; developing new business models and modernizing retail; and creating a "Food Safety Culture."
Executives who say they need offices and pre-pandemic work structures to spark innovation are actually doing the opposite: "[W]hat they're fighting for is protecting the status quo in terms of their status and control, instead of championing creative and innovative thinking by being open to the possibility of 'what if,' " writes Tanveer Naseer. Listening to what employees are seeing, what they want, what motivates them is a better path to fostering innovation in multiple ways, Naseer argues.
Psychological safety for employees should be seen as a resource for "experimentation, risk-taking, and vulnerability" instead of an end state that prioritizes "being nice" and stifles dissent and honesty, writes Ed Batista. Leaders must be clear about what "safety" means and leave room for emotional responses while also encouraging emotion regulation.
Amy Sung is the director of content for food and travel at SmartBrief, where she manages both editorial content and content marketing spanning the foodservice, food retail and consumer packaged goods industries, as well as the travel and hospitality industries. If you like Produce SmartBrief, hate Produce SmartBrief or want to submit a story, shoot me an email.
Sharing Produce Industry SmartBrief with your network keeps the quality of content high and these newsletters free.