Van Solkema Produce buys Georgia packinghouse

12/27/2012 03:40:00 PM
Tom Karst

Van Solkema Produce has acquired a packinghouse in Glenville, Ga., and plans to use it to expand its offerings of Vidalia onions, carrots, cabbage and other commodities.

The Byron Center, Mich.-based company acquired the packinghouse of Four Corners Produce in November, said Todd Van Solkema, salesman for the company. He did not disclose the purchase price.

“Our plan is that we will be a packer of Vidalia onions there,” he said Dec. 27.

The firm plans to pack up to 450 acres of onions at the facility. Starting Jan. 25, the firm will pack 600 acres of carrots through the facility. Roughly about 300 acres of cabbage also will be packed there in 2013. Van Solkema said that mixed vegetables will be added to the mix later.

Van Solkema said the Four Corners is still in business but is no longer in the onion business.

Bob Rushing, owner of Four Corners Farms, could not be reached for comment.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website and information hotline revealed that the PACA license for Four Corners Farms in Glenville was suspended Dec. 21 for failure to pay reparations. No other information about the company was available from the USDA.

Van Solkema said his company plans to offer about 700,000 bags of carrots, about 320,000 bags of onions and perhaps 150 truckloads of cabbage from the Glenville facility.

The company has contracted with area growers for product, with the opportunity to add volume with other growers in the future.

“We’re excited to partner with growers of Vidalia onions and help diversify them so they have other vegetable programs that will give them the opportunity, if it is a bad onion year, to have something else to fall back on,” he said.

The former Four Corners facility has controlled atmosphere storage of 144,000 bushels, he said. Van Solkema Produce will also import Peruvian onions and repack them in the Glenville facility.

Packing of carrots at the Glenville facility will run from January through the month of June.

“That will make us year-round in the carrot program because we will follow that up with Michigan through December,” he said.

Georgia produce industry veteran Danny Bowen and his son Brandon Bowen have been hired to run the packing shed, Van Solkema said. Van Solkema will eventually have salesmen rotate in and out of the Glenville facility, Van Solkema said.

Van Solkema Produce has sold Vidalia onions for more than 35 years in Georgia and operates an office in Moultrie, representing J&R Baker Farms, Ellenton, Ga.

David Gaul remains sales manager in the Moultrie office for Van Solkema. The Moultrie office of Van Solkema Produce handles up to 600 acres of cabbage, about 300 acres of sweet corn, 100 to 150 acres of cucumbers, 75 acres of pepper and 75 acres of squash.

The company this year has started a program with cukes, peppers, squash and eggplant in Immokalee, Fla. For that deal, the company added salesman John Shriver this year, Van Solkema said.



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Ervin Sharpless    
Winter garden Fl.  |  February, 01, 2013 at 10:55 AM

David Gall, Best wishes on this coming year.

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