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Catania Worldwide offers year-round supply of figs

By
Keith Loria

Catania Worldwide’s business model is to not be “all things to all people.”

That means the company is the fig people, lime people, kiwi people, cactus pear people and so on.

“We have worked to specialize and develop in a select number of commodities, 10 to 12 at any time of year,” said Paul Catania, president of Catania Worldwide Cos. “This way we can dedicate much of our time and focus on crop planning, crop projections, inventory organization, weather effects, etc. Our attention throughout the organization is devoted to extensive research on the limited commodities that we deal with.”

figHaving specialization on specific commodities allows Catania Worldwide, as an organization, to be better prepared to plan and deliver products at the best quality and prices.

“Vertical integration has given us full control of our products and puts us ahead of the game,” Catania said. “We grow, pack, ship and sell our own figs, from both Mexico and the United States, hence we are the fig people. We are able to supply and distribute figs all year round.”

The company’s Mexican fig season is from October to May while its California fig season is from June to November.

“We are the main supplier of fresh figs to many major retailers in Canada and the U.S.,” Catania said. “A decade ago, when I was able to begin shipping Mexican figs into Canada and the U.S., it really allowed us to become year-round suppliers. They need to be irradiated into the U.S., then cross through my facility in McAllen, TX, for distribution. Canadian figs from Mexico are shipped ‘in bond’ through Laredo, TX.”

It was about 30 years ago when Catania began shipping and distributing figs and eventually growing his own.

“My goal was to supply eastern Canada with its diverse population and demand,” Catania said. “Kurt Cappelluti, who runs the California operation, developed an extensive network of U.S. sales, which grew our supply, demand, and sales numbers. This has been further expanded by Matt Catania in Texas, who has further enhanced our sales range, for our Mexican and U.S. figs.”

Catania Worldwide offers three main varieties of California figs — Black Mission, Brown Turkey and the green variety, Sierra and Tina.

“Every year we have increased our growing numbers and added more growers to our farming to create a larger volume and supply,” Catania said.

There are many avenues to being a success in the fig category, and it all starts with patience, Catania said.

There’s also daily attention to growing and farming; having facilities to pack, cool, and distribute from; offering a year-round supply; having a good reputation and relationship with outside growers; and possessing a dedicated and knowledgeable team to market the product.

“These are some of the main ingredients that go into creating a successful program,” Catania said. Stressing the patience portion of the equation.

Looking ahead, the company will be increasing its production and supply in California despite water issues that have affected other suppliers.

“Figs have always drawn much attention to our booths at various trade shows, yet my hope is that there will always be more promotion and awareness of the fruit,” Catania said. “The fresh fig was primarily an attraction to a niche of people and over the years have become more diversified. There has been an increase in consumption with cooking and restaurant usage which has grown the demand.”

Catania Worldwide will also continue to grow its markets.

“The next frontier is Western Canada; this is one of our goals for the upcoming years,” Catania said. “We have begun distribution through Calgary. Our figs will be a big part of that growth, along with direct shipments from Texas of our limes and cactus pears.”

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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