Sunny Valley, Dixie Belle Peaches enjoy long partnership
Dixie Belle Peaches Inc. is a fourth-generation peach farm, located in Ridge Spring, SC. Its 3,000 acres of orchards are stretched over three counties and accounts for more than 30 varieties of peaches.
Dixie Belle is the peach-growing partner of Sunny Valley International, which has been a supplier of fresh fruits for more than three decades. The company started by sourcing Chilean peaches, grapes and blueberries, but over the years expanded to include other fruit from Peru, Argentina and several North American growing regions.
“The secret to our success is our dedicated people who are passionate about the produce industry,” said Robert Von Rohr, director of marketing at the Glassboro, NJ-based Sunny Valley Inc. “We are also aligned with growers throughout the United States Canada and South America who take pride in the operations.”
Dixie Belle is expecting a full crop this season, with excellent quality and great tasting peaches, and Sunny Valley expects to be celebrating a great crop of peaches from South Carolina all season long.
“This season we will have an imported lemon program that will run from May thru September,” Von Rohr said. “We’ll also have a new South Carolina strawberry program with Dixie Belle farms.”
Working in South Carolina has always been great for the company and Von Rohr credits the state’s people, pride and taste of the produce for being the reason.
As for working with Dixie Belle, he noted the company prioritizes technology and food safety in the competitive peach market and is one of only two peach growers east of the Mississippi River with new sorting and scanning technology in its packing house.
“Dixie Belle is proud to combine the latest technology in farming with their generations of knowledge and experience in the industry,” he said.
Dixie Belle is owned and operated by the Forrest family, led by company president, Jimmy Forrest, with his son Matt managing the orchards.
“The Forrest family not only strives for the success of Dixie Belle, but also of the entire South Carolina peach industry,” Von Rohr said. “Dixie Belle, during the peak of the season, is picking more than 25,000 pounds of peaches per day.”
Along with being a generation farm by ownership, Dixie Belle places great importance on having the same seasonal workers return season after season.
“This allows their work force to be efficient and experienced, which contributes to a high-quality product for our customers,” Von Rohr said. “Dixie Belle also participates in a third-party audit under Primus Labs, so they meet Global Food Safety Initiative standards. They are comfortable doing whatever they can to meet new and existing customer needs including packing in volume filled boxes, trays and 2-pound bags.”