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COMPANY PROFILES

Western Fresh waits for ‘proper sugars’ to ensure great-tasting kiwifruit
As with many commodities, the California kiwifruit season is running early this year. But Chris Kragie, deciduous fruit manager at Western Fresh Marketing in Madera, CA, is of the opinion that some shippers are pushing to get the fruit off the vines and in the market before it is really ready. “We are still running Chilean product” and will continue to do so through the month of September, Kragie told The Produce News Sept. 3. “We will start packing California... Read more
Atlanta’s Nickey Gregory Co. heading into SEPC Fall Conference with momentum
More is changing at Atlanta’s Nickey Gregory Co. than the season. Heading into the Southeast Produce Council Fall Conference Sept. 25-28, the company is leveraging a decade of continuous growth for a next-level leap in the region’s produce industry. “Nickey has done extraordinary things in the last decade to build this company and position it for next-level greatness,” said Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Andrew Scott, who recently joined the... Read more
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo in the process of completing major renovation of L.A. facility
“We will soon be completing a major renovation of our Los Angeles distribution and repacking warehouse to provide better customer service, cold chain management and space utilization,” said Scott Albertson, senior director of sales and marketing for Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, headquartered in Pescadero, CA. Jacobs Farm was a successful organic farming operation in 1985, when longtime organic farmers and owners of the company, Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin, were confident... Read more
Demand continues on an upward climb  for organics from Phillips Mushroom Farms
Kevin Donovan, national sales manager for Phillips Mushroom Farms in Kennett Square, PA, told The Produce News that the company’s organic line of mushrooms is really gaining ground in demand and that customers are looking for more organic products on retail shelves at their grocery stores. “Consumers are really helping to push this growth,” said Donovan. “In years past — since organics really became better known — retailers felt that the category had to have a... Read more
Wholesum Family Farms Fair Trade products enjoying strong demand
Fair Trade-certified products have become a very positive “hot issue” for Wholesum Family Farms, according to Anthony Totta, a consultant for the firm. “The retailers interested in product like this are accelerating,” he said. “This is very good for us, our farm workers and our customers who are offering this to consumers.” Wholesum Family Farms, which is owned by the Crisantes family, has for many years carried an interest in the environment and its workers.... Read more
Christopher Ranch grateful for good 2014 garlic crop
Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, CA, was founded over 50 years ago. The company introduced its organic line in 1997. Patsy Ross, vice president of marketing for the company, said that its line of organic products has grown consistently since then. “Today our organic line includes numerous options in fresh, peeled and jarred categories,” said Ross. “And we offer organic shallots, also in fresh, peeled and jarred options, organic elephant garlic, organic ginger, organic... Read more
A love of food and desire to be exploratory lead Noah Robbins to create his new company, Ark Foods, one year ago. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Ark Foods is focusing its energy on growing the shishito pepper, which has garnered a strong reputation in eateries around the country. “I am always looking for different vegetables and discovered them at a restaurant in New York,” Robbins, the company’s chief executive officer, told The Produce News. Ark Foods is currently growing... Read more
Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties, headquartered in Pompano Beach, FL, told The Produce News that the company has become a licensed grower of “Kalettes,” a brand new vegetable, blooming with the best flavors of kale and brussels sprouts. “This is the most recent kale-related sensation,” said Eagle. “This cross between kale and brussels sprouts results in a vegetable that is loaded with nutrients and has a wonderful nutty... Read more
“With over 600 SKU’s and growing, Babé Farms is one of the busiest specialty vegetable farming operations on the West Coast,” said Ande Manos, marketing and new business development director for the Santa Maria, CA-based grower and shipper. “Our year-round growing season means harvest never ends for us — it’s always fast paced.” Manos noted that Jason Gamble, Babé Farms general manager of production, is constantly planning ahead to accommodate its customers’ year-round... Read more
The specialty produce category is difficult to define because its interpretation is based on the product’s uniqueness, difficulty in sourcing, newness to the market, short growing season, limited growing regions and other factors. The category includes the odd, peculiar, particularly interesting in shape, size, color or texture, and of course, uniqueness in the marketplace. Specialty produce, particularly items that are newly introduced, are typically more expensive... Read more
Fiesta Farms teams with Eagle Eye Produce for sales and marketing
A new chapter is being written in the story of Nyssa, OR-based Fiesta Farms; the company has recently formed an alliance with Eagle Eye Produce for sales and marketing of Spanish Sweet onions from the Treasure Valley. Marc Bybee, Fiesta’s vice president and third generation of a farming-shipping family, said Sept. 5 that the operation had partnered with Eagle Eye, which will “market the majority of onions from Fiesta Farms.” Bybee said his father, Garry Bybee,... Read more
The National Mango Board hosted a free webinar about a month ago in an effort to familiarize importers of processed mangos with the group. The webinar was designed to give a closer look at the NMB programs and show these importers how they may join the NMB. The NMB has been working extensively since 2005 to increase awareness and consumption of fresh mangos in the United States, and efforts have paid off with consumption of fresh mangos increasing 53 percent.... Read more
Ronnie Cohen, vice president of sales for Vision Import Group, headquartered in River Edge, NJ, explained to The Produce News about how the company’s mango program is organized so that it has year-round supplies of high-quality mangos. The company sources from Central American and South American countries as well as Mexico. “We are currently transitioning from northern Mexico, which is wrapping up with the Keitt variety,” said Cohen. “Brazil started about a month... Read more
Though there is a gap in mango supplies headed to the United States in September, Pompano Beach, FL-based Southern Specialties expects its fall volume to be up as much as 20-30 percent this year. “If you stop growing, you start dying,” quipped Martin Maldonado, a tropical fruit specialist for the firm. Repeating what everyone else in the industry is saying, Maldonado said low volume and poor quality at the end of the Mexican deal has combined with a slow start... Read more
Albert Perez, managing partner of Continental Fresh LLC, based in Coconut Grove, FL, said he has built the firm’s business by putting together several niche deals from various South American and Central American suppliers. One such deal is with the “Suemi” brand of mangos from Brazil, while another involves cucumbers, watermelons and hard squashes from Honduras. “We tend to have niche seasonal deals with different growers,” said Perez. “We’d like to have more... Read more
Splendid Products LLC of Burlingame, CA, is one of the leaders in the late-season Mexican mango crop, and then it plays a relatively minor role as production shifts to Brazilian product. It isn’t until Ecuador starts to ship that the company gets back in the deal in a major way. With this year’s Mexican deal ending early, Splendid is going to have a larger gap than usual in its mango supplies. In fact, in early September, Larry Nienkerk could be found on the road... Read more
With a new structure in place, the last year saw a change of the Quebec Produce Marketing Association’s mission, stepping away from a focus on building the business network — as its strength has become apparent — and moving toward issues management and particularly government and public relations. The association implemented changes to ensure that top-priority issues are tabled appropriately. “I am proud to say the executive is dynamic and young, and Marie [Gosselin,... Read more
The theme ‘People at the Heart of the Industry’ aptly captures the intentions to highlight the great relationships that make our industry so unique as set out by outgoing QPMA President Marie Gosselin of Les Serres du St-Laurent (Savoura). Accompanied by her husband, Marc Boutet, and alongside co-hosts Convention Chair Enrico Charest of Sobeys Quebec Inc. and his partner, Marie-Pierre Daigneault, Gosselin capped an eventful year with a successful closing banquet. “My... Read more
More than 150 potato producers turned out to participate in the inaugural “Day of Varieties” Aug. 15. Quebec Parmentier organized the event in collaboration with its partners. A first in Quebec, the day’s events were primarily dedicated to celebrating the multitude of potato varieties, 112 of which were on display — ranging from rose fingerling potatoes, creamy purples and running the gamut of white, yellow and red potato varieties. In the morning, buyers were... Read more
The QPMA Pillar of the Industry for 2014, Bernadette Hamel, was welcomed onstage with a thundering standing ovation during the closing banquet at the annual QPMA Convention. A dynamic woman whose commitment to the industry is evident, Hamel made her mark at QPMA by being elected its first female president in 2007-08. “Her contribution to the industry and her career path make her an example and a source of inspiration for everyone in the business, as well as a Pillar... Read more