US: Snacking produce popular at Fresh Summit

One of the trends at last this year's PMA Fresh Summit conference in Anaheim was the prevalence of conveniently packaged snacking produce. Whether focusing on health, convenience or taste, a number of exhibitors at this year's Fresh Summit focused on snack items, many of them targeted to kids.

Convenience was a major selling point for many exhibitors, and Erica Sommers, business development manager for Boskovich Farms, noted that pre-cut, packaged fruit is becoming popular exactly because it's convenient. She mentioned the Fruti Fruit line that Boskovich Farms promoted at this year's Fresh Summit as an example of the products that's making it more convenient to eat produce.

“We're trying to make it easier for everybody to eat healthy,” she said. The convenience of cutting and packaging fruit that's traditionally been hard to prepare by consumers makes it easier for consumers to lead a healthy diet, and in offering a product that makes it convenient to eat healthy, Sommers believes they're on the cusp of a larger trend.

“You can look at one of the newest trends, which is the appearance of healthy vending machines,” she said. “We're hoping to follow along with that.”

In addition to making eating healthy more convenient, exhibitors also put effort into dressing up their products; either through more compelling packaging, like Crunch Pak's Flavorz line of sliced apples that features Disney characters, or through added flavors, like Bolthouse Farms' Shakedowns line that incorporates pockets of flavorings that can be added to the baby carrots within.

Those healthy, convenient offerings were often targeted toward children. Mucci Farms displayed their Veggies-to-Go line of mini vegetables, and Emily Muraccas, marketing coordinator for Mucci, said that they focused on children with the easy-to-open packaging and temporary tattoos that were included with the vegetables. So far, she said those extras have made the line of snacking vegetables a hit with kids.

EuroFresh Farms also unveiled a line of snacking vegetables aimed at kids, and Mark Cassius, executive vice president of sales, said that the development of their Redi Bites line was prompted by a desire to give parents a healthy snacking option for their children.

“I have kids at home, and we're constantly trying to get them to eat something other than candy or carbs,” he said. “People are time-starved, so we wanted to give them great tasting tomatoes that are also kid-friendly.”

“It's been a popular move,” added Cassius, referring to the introduction of their line of snacking tomatoes. “It's been such a popular move that we'll introduce more varieties next year.”

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