Organic salad leader launches fruit division

01/19/2012 01:29:00 PM
Mike Hornick

(UPDATED COVERAGE, 7:15 p.m.) Earthbound Farm, known for its organic bagged salads and vegetables, has a new fruit division and plans to expand fruit selection through imports.

The San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based organic brand started shipping tommy atkins and kent mangoes in mid-January.

The mangoes are from Peru and Mexico. Other additions to the Earthbound lineup include cherries from Chile and Argentina, avocados from Chile and Mexico, and pears from Argentina.

“We’re also greatly expanding the number of varieties of apples based on our farmers we’re sourcing from in South America,” said Ricardo Sardans, business development director for the company’s global fruit division.

SardansThe addition of Sardans, previously president of San Francisco-based Purity Organic Produce, was announced in November.

Earthbound aims to triple its organic fruit sales over last year with the changes.

“Our new fruit division allows us to be in a position to work directly with growers on significant volume while also increasing our sales force to fulfill retailers’ demands for year-round organic fruit,” he said.

Earthbound began selling red mangoes from Peru in December. Those are expected to sell through March. Out of Mexico, yellow ataulfo mangoes will begin to ship in mid-February, and red mangoes from that country follow in March.

Pears begin in mid-February and South American apples in early March.

The cherries shipped starting two weeks ago and are done.

“The idea is to create a continuum of organic fruit year-round,” Sardans said.

Earthbound is staffing field offices in the U.S., Mexico and Argentina. There are also four new loading centers in Long Beach, Calif.; Nogales, Ariz.; Laredo, Texas; and Vineland, N.J. Those were added to existing loading centers in San Juan Bautista and Yuma, Ariz.

Besides new commodities, volume is also being added throughout the line. For example, organic blueberry volume sourced from Chile is up fourfold over last year, Sardans said.

Earthbound also plans to source fruit from Brazil, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti and Europe.

Earthbound has been in the organic fruit business since 1999, but is best known for salads and vegetables. The expanded offerings and the formal launch of a fruit division based in Palo Alto, Calif., signal a big push into that market.

Ethan Abendroth and Eric Thurston, both retail sales managers, are recent additions to the fruit division, as is Liz Bourret, commodity manager.


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John Lafer    
Peshastin Wa.  |  January, 20, 2012 at 10:17 AM

What an amazing undertaking. Considering the number of recalls on domestic organics, one has to wonder about the potential for food safety issues on these imports.

fruitgal    
Visalia  |  January, 23, 2012 at 08:42 AM

John - please - your comments have no validity.. there are no "number of recalls" -

Citruskissed    
California  |  January, 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Good for them :)

Tom Wheeler    
SF Bay Area  |  January, 21, 2012 at 09:39 AM

This is a great boost for organic fruit imports to have such a significant company with their high standards and integrity getting involved. Avid and long standing supporter of Earthbound Farms.

ac    
Washington state  |  February, 03, 2012 at 02:13 PM

Why so much imports? we don't need no stickin' apples from Chile! Washington State has plenty - support US groweres not Gov't subsidized crops form S. America! I will not be buying imported produce, thank you!

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