Recession not hurting every California ag business - The Packer

Recession not hurting every California ag business

01/30/2009 12:00:00 AM
Dawn Withers

(Jan. 30, 2:45 p.m.) SALINAS, Calif. — The recession isn’t hurting every agricultural business.

Some Salinas agricultural businesses are doing well and said they don’t expect to make layoffs or cuts in production.

Bruce Taylor, president of Taylor Farms Inc., said years of investment into its 10 nationwide processing facilities have helped the company efficiently manage customer needs and reduce costs through new equipment.

“Everyone is struggling with the recession, there’s no question, but we’ve been fortunate and picked up market share over the last six to 12 months,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the company processes 100 million bagged salads every week. Volume is the same so far this year, and Taylor said there’s been no drop in sales.

There have been some seasonal layoffs recently, Taylor said, as production shifted from Salinas to Yuma, Ariz., where 1,200 people work in a company processing plant, but nothing beyond the usual seasonal fluctuations.

A processing plant the company opened a year ago in Mexico is adding business, Taylor said, and last month the company consolidated plant operations between Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., into a new Nashville facility. The 120 workers in Atlanta were all relocated to Nashville, Taylor said, and no one was laid off.

At organic salad company Natural Selection Foods LLC, San Juan Bautista, sales haven’t fallen even has consumers cut back spending elsewhere.

“Salads have been really strong so far this year,” said Samantha Cabaluna, communications director for Natural Selection Foods.

Cabaluna said the company hasn’t made any cuts to its work force, acreage or product, and attributes strong sales of organic salad to prices falling more in line with conventional salads.

“I think there’s a strong interest in organic foods, certainly at the retail level,” Cabaluna said.

Tom Nunes Jr., president of The Nunes Co., said it will take some time before agricultural companies feel the effects of a recession because so many other variables are at play in determining price, demand and other factors influencing a company’s bottom line.

“I think it’s too early to tell,” Nunes said.



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