Organic produce business updates

11/06/2013 03:09:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Courtesy Frieda's Specialty ProduceFrieda's Specialty Produce introduced Stoke's organic purple sweet potatoes and organic finger limes this year. The potatoes are known for their high antioxidant value and low glycemic index.Frieda’s adds organic limes, sweet spuds

Frieda’s Specialty Produce, Los Alamitos, Calif., launched Stokes organic purple sweet potatoes and organic finger limes this year, said Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer.

The purple sweet potatoes have a high antioxidant value and low glycemic index.

Caplan said the potatoes have been very well received.

The finger limes launched in July. The organic Stokes purple sweet potatoes were released in late October.

These products fall in line with the company’s efforts to increase their organic options.

“We are in the process of expanding our organic offerings,” Caplan said.

Homegrown Organics offers mandarin bags

Porterville, Calif.-based Homegrown Organic Farms has added a 2-pound mandarin pouch-style bag this year.

“It is a new bag design for us, with new artwork,” chief executive officer Scott Mabs said.

The company also released a wrap-around PLU sticker for large items such as pomegranates.

“It’s for specific items that are often retailed in bulk but that tend to have a difficult time getting the proper ring-through at the checkout stand,” Mabs said.

Also new: a packing shed in Kingsburg, Calif.

“We ran it during the stone fruit season and will be starting the citrus line there in the next few weeks. The company also has a new lemon line in its Riverside location,” he said.

“We’ve seen continued expansion as programs are growing. We’re setting ourselves up for the growth coming at us over the next several years due to new acreage and developments,” he said.

The company expects to offer pomelos in its organic citrus line for the first time this year, Mabs said.

Lakeside Organics teaches kids farming

Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, Calif., participated in Monterey County Farm Day on Oct. 24.

Gary Waugaman, food safety manager, brought draft horses to the event and taught students about farming methods before trucks and other modern equipment were used, spokeswoman Lindsey Roberts said.

“The main focus is about teaching children about where their food comes from. Children loved the horses and were shocked to learn that tractors have not always been used to prepare fields,” Roberts said.

The event is held three times a year, and 1,800 students were present for the October event day, according to Roberts. About 6,000 Monterey County students attend each year.

“We’re proud to participate year after year and plan to continue this type of outreach for years to come,” she said.

Nature Fresh to offer organic bell peppers

Nature Fresh Farms Inc., Leamington, Ontario, is prepared to offer organic bell peppers next year, according to Ray Wowryk, director of business development.

“This season we went through a phase of trials and tests to determine the best method to grow organic bell peppers,” Wowryk said.

As a result of these efforts, the company is pre-certified for organic production, which means it will be ready for certification when production officially begins next year.

“We’re looking at putting in just under five acres of organic pepper production, primarily red and yellow varieties,” he said.

Wowryk said organic peppers are one of the more difficult organic items to grow in a greenhouse, and there seems to be a lot of demand for the product.

They’ve put a lot of research and expertise into the effort, he said.

“We feel quite confident we’ve come up with the right combination of nutrients and growing medium to successfully produce bell peppers in a greenhouse in Canada,” he said.

The Nunes Co. adds chard, kale, herbs

Salinas, Calif.-based vegetable grower-shipper, The Nunes Co., has introduced a new line of organic items, according to Doug Classen, sales manager.

The company released several varieties of organic chard, kale, parsley, collard greens and sweet baby broccoli throughout the summer months.

Most recently, the company launched organic leeks in late October.

“We’ve seen an excellent response. Our clients are very happy to see these additions made to the items we were already shipping,” Classen said.

Classen said the company thinks these products are a good complement to the other organic items they offer.

“With the higher volume items like broccoli, cauliflower and celery, this really enhances the program overall,” he said.

Oneonta Starr Ranch offers display bin

Wenatchee, Wash.-based Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers developed an organic display bin for retail.

The bin was designed to provide more point-of-sale support.

“We had a request for additional p.o.s. material from one of our high-end organic apple users,” said Paul Newman, organic sales.

Newman said the bin would help support retail sales.

“Display merchandisers have been a great tool,” he said.

The bins were shown at PMA’s Fresh Summit and are available now, Newman said.

Stemilt sees success with organic piñatas

Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., launched organic piñata apples in 2007, and they are now a favorite item.

Marketing director Roger Pepperl said the product is a very popular item for the company.

“It’s a big thing, and we’re trying to expand the program,” he said.

The apples should be available nationwide by January.

Pepperl said the company also has focused on its supply of organic pears.

“It’s a tough thing to grow organically, and it’s a spotlight item at Stemilt because a lot of people want organic pears,” he said.

Viva Tierra renames, marks 20th year

The Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based Viva Tierra Organic Inc., is enjoying its 20th anniversary.

The company was known as CF Fresh Inc. before changing its name to reflect its main brand earlier this year as part of the anniversary celebration.

In addition to the name change, Viva Tierra has hosted several farm tours in various areas.

“We took customers to Chile in the spring to tour production areas there, see the plant and met growers,” said Addie Pobst, coordinator of imports, sustainability, organic integrity and food safety.

The company also has offered tours in Washington and California.

“We’ve been in business for 20 years because of our relationships with growers, so we’ve focused on shining the spotlight on our growers as part of the anniversary year,” Pobst said.

Most recently, the company hosted a visit in late September in Washington. Additional tours are in the works.



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