Clear Springs adds commodities, sets growth plan - The Packer

Clear Springs adds commodities, sets growth plan

04/01/2009 12:00:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Kenny Nova, general manager of Clear Springs Packing LLC, Bartow, Fla., inspects blueberries in late March. Clear Springs is expanding its Florida blueberry acreage, moving into selling other U.S. berry production and planting and shipping additional commodities such as strawberries, grape tomatoes, melons and squash.

Doug Ohlemeier

(April 1, 9:45 a.m.) BARTOW, Fla. — Clear Springs Packing LLC is expanding its Florida blueberry acreage, moving into other U.S. production areas and is starting to ship other commodities.

The grower-shipper, which began growing blueberries in central Florida on former phosphate mining land in 2006, plans to use its Winter Haven-area warehouse to consolidate and repack imported produce.

In late March, the company was planting 100 acres, adding to its current 220 acres, and with production from other growers, it plans to market blueberries from 500 acres next season, said Kenny Nova, general manager.

This fall, Clear Springs also plans to plant 80 acres of strawberries and 40 acres of grape tomatoes. The company also plans to sell Mexican blackberries, Florida and Georgia watermelon and hard squash.

“We are a company that will be on the radar here very shortly,” Nova said. “My vision is to make this a produce operation, not just a berry operation. We plan to be a 12-month supplier. We really see some big things on the horizon, like bringing in Mexican products.”

U.S. berry growth

In late March, the company announced a partnership with Boerne, Texas-based Progreso Produce Ltd., expanding Clear Springs’ blueberry program to year-round.

Mississippi will also be a source of blueberries, Nova said.

Progreso sources blueberries from the Southeastern U.S. and Michigan and is working on sources in South America for a year-round deal. The berries will be packed under Clear Springs label and Progreso has sales staff at Clear Springs’ office. The deal also helps Progreso Produce with its year-round sourcing by providing a base for Florida-grown watermelons, strawberries and cantaloupe.

While southeast Mississippi should provide Clear Springs product mid-May to July, Nova said the company is working on developing grower relationships in Georgia, the principal East Coast blueberry production region that follows Florida’s spring deal which ends in May, as well as in North Carolina, British Columbia and Chile.

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