Feb 28 AM Live Ag Report

FRESNO, Calif.

A Chigaco based Nielsen Perishables Group says last year berries became the largest produce category, gaining more than seven percent in sales and nearly four percent in volume.

Peppers also recorded a good 2011, with sales up nearly six percent and volume up nearly four percent. The melon category suffered a predictable decline in retail sales and volume because of a listeria outbreak.

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The marketing of cantaloupe will be the subject of two public hearings next month in California, including one right here in Fresno.

The California Department Of Food And Agriculture wants to discuss possible changes to the California cantaloupe program. The hearings are open to all cantaloupe handlers. Some of the proposed changes include establishing and enforcing the best growing practices for cantaloupes and setting up procedures for mandatory food safety audits.

In 2011, a listeria outbreak hit cantaloupes shipped from a farm in Colorado, killing 32 and sickening at least 146 people in 28 states.

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