COMPANY PROFILES

Imported Honeycrisp adds dazzle for Oneonta
Springtime is one of active promotion for Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers. “Cherries takes up a lot of energies and efforts in the spring and summer,” said National Marketing Representative Dan Wohlford. “However, we have a couple of apple varieties that we are pretty excited about. For the second year in a row now, Oneonta Starr Ranch is importing Honeycrisp from New Zealand. We have a partnership with a big grower there that brings us some very good Honeycrisp apples... Read more
Delta Packing, based in Lodi, CA, announced the completion of its new cherry packingline just in time for the 2015 season.   The redesign and installation started just after the 2014 season ended and includes the latest in sorting and packing machinery. Delta utilized the expertise of Van Doren Sales Inc., headquartered in Wenatchee WA, which has a reputation for designing and manufacturing the highest quality machinery in cherry packinglines to construct... Read more
Christopher Ranch ranks at the top of the garlic and specialty produce list
Gilroy, CA-based Christopher Ranch stands by its motto that “All garlic is not created equal,” and is known for the high-quality and flavorful item. But its extensive line also includes numerous other high-quality specialty products, such as elephant garlic, shallots, Cipolline onions, pearl onions, boiler onions, sun dried tomatoes, ginger and more. The company’s value-added processed line is also extensive, and ranges from chopped garlic in oil to fresh-peeled... Read more
“We’re hoping for a good year — unlike last year” in the watermelon business, said Mike Meyer, a salesman for Keith Connell Inc., based in Stillwell, KS. “No one can afford a year like last year, when all of the growing areas had a late start.” In early April, he added, “Texas already has a late start this year.” As the West and South come into watermelon production, volumes may again “stack up on the East Coast. We need some time slots” for orderly watermelon... Read more
King Fresh touting new electronic sorter
It is a big investment for a crop that has only a seven-week season, but the electronic sorter that King Fresh Produce LLC installed this season on its cherry packingline is worth its seven-figure price tag, according to Keith Wilson, president of the company. King Fresh offers a bulk box as well as other packs.The Dinuba, CA, firm is expected to begin using the equipment when the first cherries come out of the orchard in late April. By mid-June the season will... Read more
Oppy expects good grape availability for Memorial Day, July 4
The Mexican component of The Oppenheimer Group’s year-round grape program will see an early start again this year, with red seedless loading out of Nogales the third week of May, according to Marc Serpa, director of domestic grapes. Serpa told The Produce News in late March that fruit was coming out of Chile at that time, and he said the transition from Chile to Mexico is expected to proceed smoothly, and the Mexican grape volume will be 15 to 20 percent higher... Read more
Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., headquartered in Cheriton, VA, is well on its way on its seasonal crop transition from Florida to Georgia. Northampton President Calvert Cullen told The Produce News April 22 that Georgia cabbage, the only exception, was running a little late. “Cabbage normally comes on first in Georgia, as it does in all our growing regions, but the harsh winter set the crop back a little this year,” said Cullen. “It normally starts around... Read more
Frieda’s Inc. celebrates  53 years of excellence
Frieda’s Inc., which markets approximately 600 specialty items during the course of a year, reached a milestone on April 2. “We just celebrated our 53rd company anniversary today, which makes us the first specialty produce company in the U.S.,” said Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer. “Actually, some people say our founder, Frieda Caplan, invented the category,” she continued. On April 2, Frieda’s Inc. celebrated its 53rd anniversary bringing... Read more
Steve Root, president of East West Unlimited LLC in Coachella, CA, has a simple strategy for success in the California grape deal: one of the first shippers in, get a good price for his grapes and get out of the deal as soon as he can. He told The Produce News on April 17 that he would begin his harvest during the week of April 27, which is about the same timing as last year but much earlier than normal. “Last year I started as early I have ever started and this... Read more
Operating under one roof in Mecca, CA, the sister companies of Richard Bagdasarian Inc. and Pasha Marketing LLC thrive offering both fruits and vegetables, all grown in California’s Coachella Valley. While it is a valley, it is also fully entrenched in the California desert, which creates a fairly short harvest season. Bagdasarian is the fruit side of the family with grapes being its number one crop at this time of the year. Nick Bosick, president of Bagdasarian... Read more
A couple of proprietary plum varieties helped The Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC make quite a splash in the California stone fruit deal last year, according to Maurice Cameron, who is in charge of global sales for the Hanford, CA, company. He noted that the firm’s Emerald Beaut and Berry Cherry plums “flew off the shelf” with their similar high Brix profiles. “These aren’t just regular plums,” he noted. “They need to be merchandised as specialty plums. They are both... Read more
Since moving into the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market when it first opened four years ago this June, M. Levin & Co., a full line produce distributor, has welcomed the opportunity to diversify. Mark Levin, chief executive officer, told The Produce News, that this is especially true in the company’s delivery abilities. Five years ago the company had six straight trucks and 10 trailers. Three years ago it dropped to two trucks and 10 trailers. Today it’s... Read more
Diversity,  category  management drive  Robinson Fresh sales
Robinson Fresh has developed a formula for success when it comes to distribution of watermelons. “Robinson Fresh sources melons grown throughout North, Central, and South America as well as Europe, making this a truly global category for the company as we strive toward global year-round production on all continents,” Category General Manager Josh Knox told The Produce News. Robinson Fresh continues to support cause marketing through its MelonUp! Pink Ribbon watermelon... Read more
Pioneering O-G Packing continues its innovative ways with cherries
In 1954 Al Gotelli invented and patented the first in-line mechanical cluster cutter to separate the stems of cherries. Though it has been improved incrementally over the years, the basic concept is still used today, 60 years later. “We revolutionized the industry then with assembly line packing and we did it again when we first introduced the optical sorting system,” said Daniel Moznett, who is director of marketing at Grower Direct Marketing LLC, the Stockton,... Read more
Positive outlook  for MAS’ melons
With a start on the early side, the Mexican grape deal will enjoy a relatively long season, according to Miguel (Miky) Suarez, a partner in MAS Melons & Grapes, LLC, based in Rio Rico, AZ. In MAS’ conference room, Miguel (Miky) Suarez, a partner in the firm, stands with an honorary piece given to him by Japanese clients. MAS will start shipping green grapes from Hermosillo, Sonora, about May 5 and will end the deal in Caborca in the last week of June. Depending... Read more
Southern Selects specialty produce exceeding consumer trends
There are categories in the specialty fresh produce industry that are showing real strength today. And Pompano Beach-headquartered Southern Specialties is on top of them. Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for the Pompano Beach-based company, told The Produce News that the trends continue to evolve in several different directions. “We’re seeing an ongoing increase in the demand for convenience, nutrition and flavor,” explained Eagle. Southern... Read more
Hapco Farms ready for start of domestic watermelon program
Hapco Farms is looking forward to the start of its domestic watermelon deal, with product from south Florida expected to begin shipping late April. Raquel Mello, who is in watermelon sales for the Riverhead, NY-based company, said that Florida melons have gotten off to a slow start this year due to colder-than-normal temperatures. Hapco is currently shipping Mexican and offshore melons. “Our domestic melon program will run from late April through Labor Day, and... Read more
Southern Specialties, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, is moving blueberries steadily this season. Geno Valdes, vice president of sales and marketing for the company, said that the Florida movement marks the start of the domestic season. “The Florida movement will continue as we transition to North Carolina over the next month,” Valdes said on March 25. “We’re staying predominantly with six-ounce clamshells until the end of April. Then we expect to move into... Read more
Freshway Foods launches its new website
Freshway Foods has launched a redesigned website. The new website features more in-depth information about the company’s products and services, as well as useful reference information about fresh produce. The URL of the site — www.freshwayfoods.com — has not changed. “The new website better represents the full line of products and services we offer to foodservice and retail operators, from menu ideation through delivery of the product to our customers’ facilities,”... Read more
Northampton Growers anticipating strong bump in business
The short cold snap that swept across Florida in February did have some negative effect on field crops, but according to Calvert Cullen, president of Northampton Growers Produce Sales Inc., headquartered in Cheriton, VA, by April 1 the new crop will be shipping and is expected to be high quality and with good volumes. “Squash had some issues because the cold shortens — or weakens — the shelf life,” said Cullen. “Peppers had some bloom effect. We were somewhat limited... Read more