Business venture shines for D’Ottavio, Oakes Farms
With more than a year of collaboration under its collective corporate belts, M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc., headquartered in Vineland, NJ, and Immokalee, FL-based Oakes Farms are looking forward to future business development.
“The venture between D’Ottavio Produce and Oakes Farms has been very successful, and it’s truly in the infancy stages of where it is heading,” said Mike D’Ottavio, president of D’Ottavio Produce. “Being able to conjoin customer lists and service all customers annually is a significant opportunity for both parties.”
Operational efficiencies have also been enhanced. Cold storage capacity has been added, and the former Pacific Collier Fresh Packinghouse, acquired by Oakes Farms, has been substantially renovated and remodeled. “The offices are completely renovated. We’ve added a full kitchen and gym to the facility for our employees to utilize. In addition to the offices, we have overhauled all of the refrigeration units, re-engineered the bell pepper packingline, and completely painted and rehabbed the entire facility. With all facilities in Florida put together, we have enough cold storage room for almost 250 trailer loads of product,” said Steve Veneziano, vice president of Oakes Farms.
Commodities currently being packed are Gold Bar squash, zucchini, yellow straight neck squash, grey squash and cucumbers as well as jalapeno, Shishito, Serrano and Hungarian wax peppers. “The quality has been outstanding,” Veneziano told The Produce News. “Pepper sizing has been strong, and the squash has had very minimal shrinkage at field level. We are currently shipping across Canada, New England, Ohio, Chicago, and further south. We will begin our export business with Cubanelle pepper and other varieties on the tail end of November.”
Customer requests can be filled with full trailer loads of product as well as smaller, less-than-truckload volumes.
Key employees have been added to both packinghouse and farming operations as well as in the sales office. “On the Oakes Farms division, Shane Barnett and Joseph Rossi have been added to the sales office team, and Billy Morgan is our new packinghouse director. Billy Morgan ran this facility for over 20 years previously working for Pacific Collier. This fits in very well for us, and we are very excited to have many new members in addition to these added for this season,” said Veneziano.
John Salvati of D’Ottavio is located in the same sales office along with Steve Shane and Joseph of Oakes Farms.
“We now have PTI labeling in place 100 percent between all of our packing facilities,” D’Ottavio stated. “Our products are branded and labeled at our packing facilities prior to arriving at retail level. We recently launched our new Bagged Variety Pepper Program which features mini sweet peppers in 8-ounce, one-pound and two-pound bags.”
Shishito peppers, jalapeno and Hungarian wax peppers are marketed in 10-ounce bags.
D’Ottavio said the Cubanelle pepper and mixed chile peppers are each available in 16-ounce bags. Habanero peppers are available in four-ounce bags, and a two-pound value bag for bell peppers is marketed under both the D’Ottavio and the Oakes Farms labels.