Gina Nucci Discusses Mann Packing's 25th Anniversary of Broccoli Cole Slaw
SALINAS, CA - Tender hearts of broccoli, shredded carrots, and red cabbage are coming together this year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Mann Packing’s nutrition-packed Broccoli Cole Slaw. As Mann’s product innovation within fresh-cut and value-added offerings continues to evolve, the company is highlighting this time-tested favorite with a quarter-century of popularity under its Cole Slaw belt.
Where, may you ask, did this product take root? Gina Nucci, a.k.a Gina Broccolini, Director of Corporate Marketing, joined me to reflect on the product’s history, and how it helped to define the possibilities within the broccoli category.
“In 1990, my brother, Joe Nucci started working for Mann after graduating from college and was tasked to create a product using stalks of broccoli. At the time, Mann was one of the world’s largest shippers of fresh broccoli and fresh broccoli florettes. Once the florettes were cut, the stalks which are perfectly edible and some people’s favorite part of the broccoli plant, were being hauled off and fed to livestock. They were not necessarily going to waste—but the owners wanted to create a product they could sell.”
Enter Broccoli Cole Slaw, which utilized this delicious part of the broccoli plant and put it into a form that would appeal to consumers.
Joe began the feat by hiring chef consultants, and the “Hearts of Broccoli” line was born. As Gina tells me, some companies had tried marketing broccoli sticks and other forms before, but by calling the item “Hearts of Broccoli” versus “the stalk,” Mann Packing was able to alter the perception of the company’s product.
“Hearts of Broccoli could be marketed as a more appetizing item with more of an accurate description,” Gina says. “Lorri Koster started soon after the initial launch and helped market the new item to the industry. Food editor outreach, demos, food shows…lots and lots of food shows.”
Mann’s Broccoli Cole Slaw began to take off at retail with buyers like Bob DiPiazza, who was then with Dominick’s in Chicago and now with Sun Pacific, who was an early believer in the item.
“Now, 25 years later, Broccoli Cole Slaw is a staple within the produce department,” Gina adds. “On the heels of recent new products like our Power Blends and Rainbow Salad, this celebration not only recognizes the impact with have had in the industry, but recognizes the early innovations and the work of Joe Nucci.”
Widely regarded as the “Father or inventor of broccoli cole slaw,” the late Joe Nucci brought value and innovation by creating a value-added product from what was once a byproduct.
Mann Packing will be celebrating Broccoli Cole Slaw's 25th anniversary for the next couple of months with more to follow, so stay tuned for the latest!