COMPANY PROFILES

Whether it’s sourcing international produce or acting as a liaison for retailers that work directly with exporters and growers, the success of Miami-based Team Produce International Inc. is a direct result of group effort and maintaining lasting relationships. “Our philosophy is to develop long-term relationships, not look at the short-term sale or gain,” company President Mike Parr told The Produce News. Team Produce’s longstanding relationships with suppliers,... Read more
Well-Pict differentiates itself with proprietary varieties
For more than 30 years, Watsonville, CA-based Well-Pict Inc. has differentiated itself from the competition by selling only its own proprietary varieties. “Our emphasis is on flavor,” said Vice President of Sales Dan Crowley. “This isn’t a small deal. It’s a multi-million-dollar venture but we want to be the only ones selling our berries. No one else is selling the same strawberries that we are.” Crowley said the firm has a cadre of clients that very much appreciate... Read more
Heritage: Boskovich Farms traces history back to 1915 — and beyond
In 1915, Stephen Boskovich bought his first parcel of land in the Lankershim District near Los Angeles and began farming. One hundred years later, two of his grandchildren are running what became Boskovich Farms in nearby Oxnard, CA, and the fourth generation of the family is beginning to find its way in the family firm. It has been a legacy of success and family succession that few companies in the produce industry, or in any business, have duplicated.Phil Boskovich... Read more
It’s been nearly 50 years since Eclipse Berry Farms’ salesmen Rick Hearst and Stuart Gilfenbain became friends at Patrick Henry Junior High School in Los Angeles. Not only has that friendship endured more than a half-century, but these buddies have also worked together for a major part of that time. Hearst said, “I met Stuart in Spanish class in the 8th grade, and we’ve been friends ever since.” That friendship and Gilfenbain’s family business ties also led the... Read more
CBS Farms LLC, which is headquartered in Watsonville, CA, has increased its strawberry acreage in both California’s northern and southern districts this year. In doing so, the firm has added volume to both its conventional and organic programs. Speaking specifically of its organic production, Director of Sales Charlie Staka said demand continues to grow. The firm offers organic berries for the length of its season in both one- and two-pound clamshells. “More of... Read more
Del Rey exec: Opportunities abound for avocados this season
As the California avocado season was getting into full swing in March, Bob Lucy, co-owner of Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc. in Fallbrook, CA, was optimistic that a very good season would ensue. “Right now we have a very strong market and I expect that to continue. This should be a very good year,” he said. Del Rey began marketing California fruit to select customers in late January as some wanted to feature California avocados for their promotions timed to coincide... Read more
Ruiz Sales looks to make 2015 a year of excellence
Ruiz Sales, a McAllen, TX-based distributor of tropical items from Mexico, with an emphasis on limes, is looking to make 2015 its best year yet. “We are very excited to make 2015 the year of excellence,” said Richard Ruiz, owner and president of Ruiz Sales. “This year, part of our mission will be to introduce and promote our affordable lime bags.  Our Ruiz Sales premium-quality Mexico bagged lime packs in two-, three- and five-pound bags are the perfect-fit... Read more
Index continues promoting AvoBuddies
Launched last season, Index Fresh Inc. is finding continued success with its AvoBuddies offering, a kid- and family-friendly retail pack of avocados. Dana Thomas, president and chief executive officer of the Bloomington, CA-based avocado grower, packer and shipper, said the company got great traction with the pack last year and has expanded its purpose and use this year. “Originally it was designed to hold two pounds of small fruit as a way to add value to smaller-sized... Read more
HLB seeing challenging situation with papayas
For HLB Specialties, a tropical produce supplier based in Pompano Beach, FL, weather during the first two months of the year has presented challenges for its core item of papayas. Homero Levy de Barros, president of HLB Specialties, said his company ships both the large and small papaya varieties, which it sources from Brazil, Mexico and Guatemala. He said two recent hurricanes in Hawaii have wiped out up to 50 percent of the papaya production on that island state. HLB... Read more
“Brooks Tropicals grows the ‘who’s-who’ of tropical produce items,” said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for the Homestead, FL-based tropical produce grower-shipper. “Tropicals are growing at such a strong rate, and we closely watch for the next sky-rocketing fruit. The fun is that everyone knows more tropicals will go mainstream in the future.” Brooks Tropicals’ Caribbean Red papayas are available year round, as are the majority of its other tropical items. “Our... Read more
Caribbean Fruit Connection seeks diverse growing partners
Handlers for Caribbean Fruit Connection Corp. operate from a Primus Lab-certified facility. This gives the Medley, FL-based CFC the flexibility to focus on building its supply chain and expanding its customer base. “In 2013 we returned to our old model of receiving and distributing product with a third party doing our handling,” explained Brenda Leighton, vice president of CFC. “Forming a strategic arrangement with Gourmet Logistics, who was our immediate neighbor,... Read more
Jose Rossignoli, category manager at Robinson Fresh, said the company delivers on success with its pineapple program. “Robinson Fresh’s pineapple program focuses on dual-country supply that is key to delivering superior quality and taste, but also diversifies production and provides alternate supply chain solutions to customers,” he told The Produce News. “With production in Costa Rica and Mexico, Robinson Fresh supplies the MD2 Golden extra sweet pineapple variety... Read more
Ecoripe keeping pace with fast-growing tropicals category
Since opening its South Florida facility in 2004, Ecoripe Tropicals has quickly become a leader in setting the standards for high-quality Asian and Hispanic specialty items in North America. In order to keep pace with its fast growth and expansion, the company opened its new facility in Medley, FL, in 2010, complete with food-safety certification, cold storage, sales and administrative offices. “We are now receiving Chinese and Indian eggplants from our main farm... Read more
Southern Specialties’  Charlie Eagle says tropical produce on the rise
An executive at one of the leading tropical produce suppliers believes the tropical category is on an upswing, in large part due to the exposure consumers have via supermarkets, cooking shows and food publications. “American consumers continue to be exposed to the wide variety of tropical products, and much of this must be attributed to the willingness of retailers to incorporate them into their produce departments and to foodservice operators who offer them on... Read more
Promotion and representation are primary goals of NOA
The National Onion Association was launched over 100 years ago in 1913. Just as it was when it began, the primary purpose of the organization is to represent the industry, including growers, shippers and others along the supply chain. Kim Reddin, who is director of public and industry relations for the Greeley, CO-based organization, said promoting onion consumption and representing the grower-shipper community in legislative and regulatory channels are the two... Read more
How does one pronounce the word “Vidalia”? Is it Vy-dayl-yah? Vi-dahl-ya? Vi-day-lia? That’s a question the team at Shuman Produce in Reidsville, GA, wanted answered as they were preparing for the season that’s just around the corner. Along the way to solving that mystery (the answer is that there is no right answer) they came across many other pronunciation quirks particular to the Southeastern United States and soon realized that most of the rest of the world... Read more
NatureSweet Tomatoes announces roll-out of its tastiest Glorys ever
NatureSweet Tomatoes, headquartered in San Antonio, TX, is the nation’s leader in the small tomato category. NatureSweet relaunched its flagship “Glorys” brand in February with a unique new package and a great new taste. “This is our tastiest Glorys ever,” said Christina Winker, brand manager for Glorys. “The roll-out promises to provide the sweetest cherry tomato with superior flavor in the marketplace.” In regards to the new proprietary packaging, Winkler said,... Read more
Freska Produce to ship Disney-themed mangos by April
Last year, Freska Produce International LLC in Oxnard, CA, signed a two-year licensing agreement with the folks at Disney to use Disney characters on individual mangos and on some of its shipping cartons. But, in fact, no fruit was shipped bearing the iconic images of Mickey and Minnie or Donald and Pluto. “To be honest you have to jump through a lot of hoops to be able to use those characters and we weren’t quite ready last year,” said Gary Clevenger, managing... Read more
Mango consumption in the nation continues to increase, and consequently demand is stronger than ever. Ronnie Cohen, Vision Import Group’s vice president of sales, said mangos continue to be a growth phenomenon in produce aisles and on foodservice menus. “This positive trend will continue as consumers discover the versatility of the fruit,” said Cohen. “And the flavor profiles are fantastic. As new consumers experience mangos they will repeat purchases, hence increasing... Read more
Oppy named among Canada’s Best Managed for 14th year
In 2001, the Oppenheimer Group was named among Canada’s Best Managed companies, starting what is now Oppy's 14-year streak of consecutive recognition. The company was also the named to the Best Managed Platinum Club for the eighth time. Sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, National Post, Queen's School of Business and MacKay CEO Forums, the Canada’s Best Managed Companies program recognizes organizations that have implemented world-class business practices and created... Read more