Fresh Innovations California Wins Coveted Joe Nucci Award in Industry Vote

Kelsey Gomes from Fresh Innovations California with Joe Nucci Award at the New York Produce Show.

In an industry-wide vote of its peers, Fresh Innovations California clinched the 2022 coveted Joe Nucci Award for Product Innovation in Service of Expanding Consumption of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables, announced at the 13th Annual New York Produce Show on Dec. 1 at the Jacob Javits Center.

PRODUCE BUSINESS readers evaluated 12 top-scoring entrants, whittled from a competitive field covering Product, Packaging and Process, which the magazine featured in the November issue’s Sixth Annual Innovation Awards cover story.

Ken Whitacre, publisher of PRODUCE BUSINESS, which organizes the New York Produce Show in partnership with the Eastern Produce Council, presented the prized trophy to the Stockton, CA-based company, in line with the overall Show imperative to increase produce consumption through synergistic industry approaches.

Fresh Innovations California upped the ante on the category of sweet snacking with its new Apple Nachos all-in-one fresh kits, with a base of tart, green apples and layers of fresh flavors and textures. While there are many fresh kitted products in savory flavors (i.e., salad kits), there are limited options for sweet, value-added fresh kits. Apple Nachos fill that void.  

Instead of tortilla chips, each kit contains crisp apple slices with delicious toppings from the included master pack. Instead of nacho cheese, the consumer can drizzle sauces like caramel or peanut butter, and replace jalapeno slices or black beans with a sprinkling of toffee bits, pretzel pieces and chocolate chips, among the options. This new snack is available in three varieties.

The 2022 PRODUCE BUSINESS Innovation Award winners included a range of inventive launches:  Apeel-Protected English Cucumbers by Topline Farms & Apeel, Leamington, Ontario & Goleta, CA; Paper Top Seal Resealable Package by Mucci Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada; Organic Earthbag by Peri & Sons Farms, Yerington, NV; Micro Spicy Mix by AeroFarms, Newark, NJ; Organic EZ Band by Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, WA; Perfectly Pickled Sweet Chile Beets, and also Purple Sweet Potato Chips by Offshoot Brands, Conshohocken, PA; Ramboos Tropical Rambutan by Goldenberry Farms, Miami, FL; Safe-T-Chef Hot Food Packaging by Inline Plastics Corp., Shelton, CT; Solara Mini Melons by Pure Flavor, Leamington, Ontario, Canada; and Sunny Bacon Crunch Kits by BrightFarms, Irvington, NY.


Joe Nucci, who died unexpectedly in July 2005 at age 40, left an indelible mark on the produce industry through his ingenuity, integrity, and passion for life.  Rising through the ranks to become President and CEO of Mann Packing Company, Salinas, CA, Nucci is widely regarded as the “father of broccoli coleslaw,” turning something that had previously been hauled away for livestock into a value-added product, in his quest to drive sales and increase produce consumption.  

Joe Nucci and his family were vacationing with Jim Prevor and his family on that tragic day in 2005. The industry now mourns the devastating loss on November 7, 2022, of revered industry icon Jim Prevor, as global leaders joined together to carry on his legacy at The New York Produce Show, which he founded.   

The 2023 New York Produce Show and Conference will continue the annual tradition started in 2011 by Jim Prevor of honoring Joe Nucci and his creative spirit, saluting the ideas that he held dear and that he expressed by promoting so many innovations.

Does your company have a product that represents the best in innovation that will lead to increased produce consumption? Do you know of a vendor or a customer that is on the forefront of such innovation? If so, nominations are now open here.