your-news image

Index Fresh Inc., which packs avocados in the “AvoTerra” brand, among others, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2014.

Although the company handles avocados from several growing regions, “we are a corporation owned by California growers,” said President Dana Thomas in an interview with The Produce News Feb. 20. “We have 100 years of representing California growers, so the California crop is incredibly important to us.”

The company will be “talking a lot” about its plans to celebrate its 100-year history “as we get ready to roll that out,” he said.

004-CalAvos-Index---Dana-ThDana Thomas, president of Index Fresh.California avocados are “a big part of our program from March until October,” Mr. Thomas said. “During that period of time, we will be handling [fruit from] both California and Mexico.” The California fruit is “a product that is really desired by our customers, something that they can make a good margin on as well as bringing a lot of customers into their stores.”

The 2013 California Hass crop “is somewhere around 500 million pounds, which is a little bit bigger than last year,” Mr. Thomas said. “What that means for Index and for the industry is we will have promotable volumes. We will be looking at getting started with promotable volumes in March, which is almost here.”

Sizing and quality “are real good this year,” he said, “and we anticipate having the season carry through September into October.”

At Index, “we are out currently offering programs and we will be transitioning people into California throughout the spring,” he said.

In its packing facility, the company has added “a couple more bagging machines” to its packing line, “so we have increased our bagging capacity and we are looking to grow that business,” Mr. Thomas said.

“We have also added a couple of sales people to our group,” he continued.

Tim Threadhill joined the company last September, right out of college. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. “He is a sales trainee, a salesman in the making,” Mr. Thomas said.

More recently, Index Fresh hired Joe Traver, “an experienced salesman” who comes from the citrus business and was most recently with Sun Pacific, Mr. Thomas said. “So we have increased our sales force dramatically and are looking to push California fruit” in the months ahead.

Also on sales are Todd Elder, vice president of sales and marketing, now in his 18th year with the company, as well as John Dmytriw, director of sales, Debbie Willman “who manages a lot of our larger accounts” and has been with the company for 23 years, and Brian Gomez, who has been with Index Fresh for about a year, he said.

Sofia Schlapkohl handles sales and marketing support, Sherrie Buller is sales coordinator, and Bell Yang handles transportation logistics.

Index Fresh will be offering this year, from California, “good quality, promotable volumes and sustainable and consistent supplies from March to October,” Mr. Thomas said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity this year for retailers” in the California avocado program, because of the crop size and the closeness to market.

“If I sound like a walking advertisement, I guess that’s my job, but I believe it,” he added.