West Pak also has facilities in Chicago, Philadelphia and Texas and owns and operates a packinghouse in Mexico. The company handles about 17 items from Mexico, including cucumbers, vine-ripe and roma tomatoes, bell peppers and squash.
Wilcox Fresh, Rexburg, Idaho, is expanding its Mother Earth Fresh brand to more than 70 organic fruits and vegetables this fall.
Executive vice president of sales and marketing Jim Richter said the company plans to offer organic vegetables from Goodyear, Ariz., this fall and winter. From April to November, the company plans to ship organic fruits and vegetables from Cuyama and Santa Maria, Calif., through a grower partnership.
Richter said Wilcox hired Rusty Justus as national sales director for organic in June. Justus most recently owned a freeze-dried fruit company but has also worked for retailer Tom Thumb and specialties grower-shipper Melissa’s.
Wilcox Fresh also opened its fourth distribution center in Portland, Maine, in mid-October, Richter said, The center will receive mostly potatoes and onions.
Retailers and consumers can expect a major promotional push in 2013 from the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association, including efforts from new promotions director Dana Rady and visits from the Spud Mobile.
Executive Diretor Duane Maatz said association members recently decided they needed a larger presence in the market. Rady, who joined the staff this fall, will help coordinate efforts that are expected to include ramping up the buy local campaign.
Maatz said the Spud Mobile has taken a bit longer to design than anticipated. It will include areas for food preparation and cooking demonstrations in retailers’ parking lots. It should be on the road in the first half of 2013.
The association’s celebrity spokeswoman, Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton, also plans to step up her work spreading the nutritional news about potatoes.