Eagle Eye offers solid year-round supply of watermelons
Eagle Eye Produce offers the best of both worlds: the benefits of a large company with a national logistics network paired with the customer experience of a small, multi-generational company with deep roots, according to the company’s director of melon sales, Joey Anticevich. “Our team of produce veterans has decades of experience in the melon industry, and we believe we offer the best service in the industry,” he said. “We can pack any size melon in any pack our customers are needing.”
Eagle Eye, based in Idaho Falls, ID, has strategically located growing locations and shipping locations to ensure it can provide a true year-round experience to its customers.
“We are shipping out of the Mexican state of Nayarit,” said John Gee, vice president of sales. “We are just breaking field there, and that production will take us into March. As we get into mid- to late-March, we will start up our production in Guaymas, Hermosillo and the La Costa area in Sonora, Mexico.
“We will get started in Arizona right around the first of June,” Gee continued, who is also outgoing president of the National Watermelon Association and a bord member of the National Watermelon Promotion Board. “We’ve got production in multiple areas in Arizona.”
Watermelon has been in tight supply during recent years for various reasons, and Eagle Eye has picked up additional acreage in Arizona so it doesn’t struggle to cover all the business opportunities that seem to come about in the month of June leading up to the Fourth of July.
The company also has production in several districts in California and has picked up more acreage in Central California this year. From Arizona, “we head up to
Bakersfield to get started right round the 15th of June,” he said. “From Bakersfield, we go up into our Central Valley deal, typically starting a week or so before the Fourth of July. We generally start our Hemet program right around the 15th of July, which takes us all the rest of the way through the domestic season.”
The company’s packing facility in Hemet, which is in the San Jacinto Valley about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, provides “most of our volume during the peak season,” Anticevich said. “Our California crop runs until mid-October.” Eagle Eye’s growers in Mexico start shipping in September and continue through June.
“We are anticipating a strong year,” he said.
Eagle Eye also has some small local domestic programs in New Mexico, Utah and Idaho, “Most of those programs are only three to four weeks long and they are basically to take care of customers in those specific areas who have customers nearby to help them be competitive in their markets,” said Gee.
COVID-19 restrictions brought a decline in foodservice demand for watermelons. “We, like everyone else, saw the impact on the foodservice industry, but retail demand increased as more people were eating at home,” said Anticevich. “We continue to work closely with our foodservice partners as they come back online and adapt to this new world. The industry as a whole has shown how resilient it is this past year, and we are proud to be a part of it.”
Eagle Eye focuses on conventional melons, both seeded and seedless and has seen a growing interest recently in seeded melons, “We have actually put in a few more seeded watermelons this year to try to account for that,” said Gee.
Going into 2021, “we tailored our planting program to somewhat mirror the demand that we saw in 2020,” he added. “We actually saw better sales on watermelon and good strong movement in 2020, and I attribute that partly to the effects of the virus and changes in people’s shopping and dining habits. Now we are just hoping that we continue to have the same demand in 2021.”
“Our watermelon program is fully integrated with our other year-round commodity programs — potatoes, onions and Nogales vegetables,” Anticevich said. “We often ship our Nogales vegetables along with watermelons on the same truck.”