Newswatch

Sobeys Inc. opened eight FreshCo. Discount stores here and in Brampton, Ontario, last week. The new format offers seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, AAA meats, locally produced products and customized assortments for individual stores. Company officials said that FreshCo. is designed to ensure families who need to buy affordable groceries can

LOCAL FOODS STAR AT FRESHCO.

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario — Sobeys Inc. opened eight FreshCo. Discount stores here and in Brampton, Ontario, last week. The new format offers seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, AAA meats, locally produced products and customized assortments for individual stores. Company officials said that FreshCo. is designed to ensure families who need to buy affordable groceries can also get the best selection of fresh fruits and vegetables so they eat more healthy foods. “FreshCo. devotes more space than traditional discounters to fresh product, including local produce, baked goods, cheeses and a two-tier selection of Ontario meats. We understand that today's discount shopper wants a great selection of fresh, and we are pleased to work with growers and suppliers to bring quality products to market,” Rob Adams, general manager of FreshCo., said in a release.

LETTUCE RECALL EXPANDED

WASHINGTON — Andrew Smith Co. last week voluntarily recalled lettuce it had sold to Vaughan Foods of Moore, Okla., as well as an unnamed distributor in Massachusetts, since the lettuce had been grown on the same Yuma, Ariz., farm that is currently under investigation as a possible source of the E. coli outbreak in Michigan, Ohio and New York that has hospitalized 12 people. Ohio-based Freshway Foods had earlier recalled romaine lettuce with “best if used by” dates of May 12 or earlier, as well as grab-and-go salads sold by Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh, according to wire reports. The recall did not include bulk and prepackaged salad mixes sold at retail.

VIEWS MIXED ON CAGE-FREE EGGS

WASHINGTON — Scanner data indicate American consumers buy conventional eggs over cage-free eggs by a margin of 40 to 1, according to Chicago-based SymphonyIRI Group, but surveys indicate that they prefer roomier housing for laying hens. The information, gleaned from scanner data from 34,000 grocery, drug and mass merchandiser stores across the country, was presented at a meeting of the United Egg Producers, a farmer cooperative and trade association that represents America's egg producers. In other research reported at the meeting, a nationwide survey of Americans showed that while consumers still overwhelmingly buy “regular” eggs over cage-free or organic eggs, they also support the use of “enriched colony housing” systems that are being phased in by many European egg farmers. In general, Americans pay three times less for eggs than Europeans do, so cost could be a factor in their purchase of regular eggs from hens in traditional housing.

PMA PARTNERS WITH NRA SHOW

NEWARK, Del. — The Produce Marketing Association here has teamed up with the National Restaurant Association to provide produce-specific education for restaurateurs at the 2010 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show scheduled May 22-25 at Chicago's McCormick Place. As a part of the associations' joint initiative to increase produce use in foodservice by 2020, the show will feature two produce-focused education sessions on consumer trends and food safety, and a cooking demonstration at the show's World Culinary Showcase that will highlight produce as a cost-saving, customer-pleasing meal solution. Bryan Silbermann, PMA president and chief executive officer, and Bob Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for PMA, will moderate the sessions on produce titled, “Innovating with Fresh Produce: Taste, Profit and Healthy Living” and “Enhancing the Safety of Fresh Produce,” respectively.