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Morada Produce continues to grow cherry program

By
Keith Loria

Nestled in the rich lands of San Joaquin County, Morada Produce stands as a family-owned enterprise specializing in packing and shipping cherries, onions, walnuts and bell peppers. Rooted in the farming heritage of the Foppiano family, the company’s traditions trace back to the California Gold Rush of 1849.

moradaMorada Produce offers California cherries from the beginning of California’s harvest season to the end, procuring and growing premium quality cherries in the South, Central, North and Coastal valleys.

“Cherries are huge for us, as we’re one of the major players in the California cherry deal,” said Mike Jamieson, director of marketing for the Stockton-based company, who has been involved in the cherry industry since the late ’80s. “They are an important part of our program and an integral part of what we do.”

The company has been working with cherries since 2003, starting with minimal volume of about 38,000 cartons, and increasing production over the last two decades to around 2 million.

“We kept developing every single year, whether it was the facility or the production area, buying and planting new orchards; we’re the only packer who has good supply in every major growing region in California,” Jamieson said. “We have continuity of supply from Day 1, all the way through the end.”

The company does about 30 percent of all of California’s early varieties, Coral, Brooks, Royal Hazels, Royal Lynns and roughly 22 percent of the overall California season. It also does about 30 percent of the overall California Rainier crop.

This year, with a more normal start date than what the cherry season experienced last year, Morada Produce is expecting a great season ahead.

“I think we’ll start scratching on the early varieties around April 25, with limited supply the last week of April and first few days of May, and we’ll start to see volume increase around May 5, and get into peak volume around May 10,” Jamieson said. “That peak will last until about May 25, and we will have Bings starting up around May 20, and that will go until around June 5.”

As of the end of March, the early projection is a solid crop.

“The early districts look to have good sets, so there will be plenty of cherries of those early varieties,” Jamieson said. “The middle district in Fresno is looking really good and we’re really excited about that. For the late varieties, it’s a little too early to tell. Some orchards are just starting to bloom.”

Of course, Mother Nature controls everything, but there are things that help make Morada Produce a success in the category.

“One is you have to have the crop, a continuity of supply, and when you’re dealing with customers domestically and around the world, you want to make sure you have good volume in every major growing district of all varieties,” Jamieson said. “We have that business plan in place. We are well established volume-wise, grower-wise and have good supplies in every major growing district of California.”

He also feels it’s important to have the right technology, such as the high-end optical sorters and the newest software on the market for grading and sorting cherries.“Of course, it all comes down to service, making sure you are getting their trucks in and out quickly at a price that works at retail, so they can move the crop through the system smoothly,” Jamieson said. “Efficiency in packing is a strong focus.”

The company has some new acres coming into production in 2024, so will have plenty of supply for the year ahead.

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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