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Frank Donio Inc. has decades of success with N.J. blueberries

By
Keith Loria

Blueberries are a key item at Frank Donio Inc., backed by nine decades of family-owned experience.

“Being headquartered in Hammonton, NJ, blueberries have been a focal point of our company for 90 years,” said Alec Arena, sales specialist for Frank Donio Inc. “We handle conventional, organic and frozen blueberries.”

This summer, the company is celebrating its 90th anniversary and blueberries have been a key part of Frank Donio’s portfolio the entire way. In a typical year, the New Jersey season will yield, on average, around 12 to 14 million pounds of fresh and frozen blueberries.

“One major thing that has changed along the way is the increasing demand for organic product,” Arena said. “Due to this increased demand, we continue to add more to organic certified production. Implementing more sustainable and regenerative farming practices benefits the environment, which in turn benefits the customer.”  

Last year, the overall volume of blueberries was down due to poor pollination, but the company is expecting a rebound for the 2023 season.

“We anticipate this year’s crop to be much better than last year,” Arena said. “We should begin harvest a bit earlier than normal, hopefully within the first full week of June. The crop should be finished sometime in July.”

A major factor for being successful in the blueberry industry is having the proper infrastructure in place and that’s something that Frank Donio has always been on top of.

“Pre-cooling facilities and temperature-controlled warehouses are essential to maintain the quality of the fruit from field to customer,” Arena said, noting that’s a hallmark of the operations. “The closer you are to the end user, the fresher the fruit will be.” 

Consumers flock to New Jersey blueberries as the state’s fruit have a unique advantage because of the region they grow in. The soil is perfect for blueberries and the company has the parameters in place to ensure that its customers are getting the very best.

“Our expertise in every step of the produce value chain sets us apart in selection, service and solutions,” Arena said. “As the cornerstone of our customers’ success, we aim to maintain our roots while leading the advancement of the produce industry. We combine established traditions, safe and sustainable methods, and an innovative approach to achieve our overall mission of harmony between people, planet and profit.”

To ensure that it remains a leader in the segment, the company works closely with the New Jersey Blueberry Commission, The United States High Bush Blueberry Council, and The North American Blueberry Council.

“These organizations help us connect with others in the industry and communicate ways we can all work together and improve,” Arena said. 

Over 25 years ago, Frank Donio created its Top Crop brand to highlight its network of family-owned farms.

That’s helped the company increase business through the years, and the growth is not slowing down.

“Our biggest opportunity for expansion is to continue our organic offerings and offer a multitude of pack sizes to our customers,” Arena said.

Photo: Aleca Arena

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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