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Calavo, Agrícola Belher celebrate partnership with co-branded tomato program

Juan Carlos Beltrán, Antonio Beltrán and Antonio Beltrán Ochoa
Juan Carlos Beltrán, Antonio Beltrán and Antonio Beltrán Ochoa

Seventeen years into their successful partnership, Calavo Growers and Agrícola Belher are celebrating their alliance by co-branding their high-quality tomatoes. The program, which includes vine-ripened rounds, Romas and mature greens, are produced year-round in two regions in Mexico — Culiacan, Sinaloa during winter and spring, and in Jalisco year-round.

The collaboration goes back to 2007, when Calavo, a worldwide leader in the procurement and marketing of fresh and processed avocados, and Agrícola Belher, a well-established, innovative and respected quality producer of fresh tomatoes and other vegetables, first joined forces to add tomatoes to the Calavo product lineup on a seasonal basis from the Sinaloa region of Mexico. In 2015, in joint partnership, a state-of-the-art campus of greenhouses in Jalisco, Agrícola Don Memo, was built for year-round production and continuous supply to customers.

Agrícola Belher was founded by Rosario Beltrán in 1988 and today is well known as a premier tomato grower, driven by sustainability, science and a technological approach to growing. The company is also recognized as one of the top 50 socially responsible companies in Mexico.

“We are committed to quality, the latest technology and highest food-safety standards. Calavo shares that commitment, allowing us to offer the finest tomatoes to our customers to North America,” said Beltrán, whose sons later joined the business, with Antonio Beltrán serving as CEO of the company, and Juan Carlos Beltrán Ochoa handling marketing and business development.

Studying new techniques for growing tomatoes in protected environments, which has included travel to other countries such as Holland, Spain and South Africa, to learn and implement those practices into their operations, the Beltran family are respected as science-driven growers and industry leaders in Mexico, with the techniques of Rosario and his sons often followed by other Mexican tomato growers. Rosario credits his education at UC Davis as especially significant, where he received his Masters degree, as the professors were generous with their knowledge and life experiences.

High-tech growing pays off for Agrícola Belher and Calavo, not just from a sustainability standpoint, but it makes sense economically. Benefits include enhanced yields on significantly less land, less energy consumption, less water input and an integrated pest management system that allows a friendly growing environment with regard to pests. IPM is critically important since bumblebees deployed for pollination of the plants with indoor growing would be at risk from chemical pesticides. Growing practices and enhanced infrastructure assures the crop is less susceptible to outside factors and weather, allowing for a longer growing season, and consistent supply throughout the season.

As committed as Agrícola Belher is to its crops, it is equally passionate about transforming the lives of employees and their families — offering free housing, food and educational services for more than 2,500 workers and childcare for more than 600 children. Its Community Development Centers incorporate a comprehensive social and intellectual development program, including education from preschool through high school, nutrition and healthy meals, medical/dental clinic, sports and addiction prevention.

For Calavo, the tomato program is highly synergistic in many ways. As a founding avocado marketer in the U.S., Calavo is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. "Tomatoes are a strong complementary product to Calavo’s avocado business both in the produce department, where they are most often merchandised side by side, and in forever growing foodservice menu offerings," said Mike Browne, executive vice president of sales and operations for Calavo. "Nutritionally, the duo of products create what is often referred to as ‘food synergy,’ a term that identifies combining specific foods together to maximize their nutritional and health benefits.”

The alliance has been a win all around for Calavo and Agrícola Belher, hence co-branding allows the trusted brand association synonymous with quality and leadership in the tomato category. In addition to the cobranding update, Calavo’s tomato sales team has been restructured. Kurt Kistler, vice president of tomato sales joined the company in November 2023 with over 25 years fresh produce industry experience. Kistler manages Calavo’s impressive team of tomato sales professionals: Irene Amezaga, Jonathan Barbarine and Alexa Stone.

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