When Fresno-Calif.-based Fruit Dynamics Inc. set to clear the hurdles to bringing fresh-cut stone fruit products to store shelves, chief operating officer Kim Gaarde continued to hear that it was an impossible task.
At one industry convention five years ago, Gaarde received condescending admonitions when she questioned why the stone fruit industry had not developed fresh-cut peaches and nectarines.
“If we could put man on the moon, I figured there must be a way,” she said.
After researching everything from fruit varieties to processing and packaging methods, Fruit Dynamics thinks it has hit on a process that produces fresh-cut stone fruit with the shelf life and quality needed to attract consumers.
Still to be determined at Fruit Dynamics, which doesn’t grow or process fruit, is what role the company will play. The options include the company’s packing, shipping and marketing the fresh-cut fruit, licensing the process to established brands or selling the intellectual property.
“I think it’s going to be very, very interesting,” said Jeffrey Brandenburg, president of the JSB Group LLC, Greenfield, Mass., who consulted with Fruit Dynamics on the project
“It’s going to give peaches and nectarines much more exposure than they ever had before,” he said.
Years of research
As Eric Gaarde, Kim’s husband and chief executive officer of Fruit Dynamics, continued to focus on the company’s tasks of fruit quality analysis and laboratory evaluation, Kim and laboratory manager Corey Uyeda began the challenge of finding peach and nectarine varieties that offered promise for the fresh-cut market.
“She was extremely instrumental in determining why things worked and why they failed,” Kim Gaarde said.
They also relied on Fruit Dynamics’ FruitSpan database, which details flavor profiles and other characteristics of a vast array of stone fruit varieties.
The effort gained a third supporter when Brittnie Hammack joined the company as cultivar manager and specialist. As she met with breeders, Hammack identified new varieties that might lend themselves to the project.