IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Florida Specialties Inc. is expanding its fresh-cut green bean business by constructing a larger fresh-cut processing facility.

Florida Specialties expands value added line

Doug Ohlemeier

Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, is expanding its fresh-cut green beans packing. The grower-shipper is building a 23,000 square foot fresh-cut operation in a large building adjacent to its packinghouse.
Florida Specialties plans to begin operations in the new facility early next year,

Florida Specialties began construction of a 23,000-square-foot fresh-cut operation for the grower-shipper’s green bean packing line over the summer.

Scheduled to open early next year, the facility will supersede a 4,500-square-foot facility the company is using inside its green bean packinghouse. Florida Specialties has been washing, cutting and trimming green bean packs since spring.

Florida Specialties’ fresh-cut division, Blue Ribbon LLC, trims and cleans the beans it packs in 12-count 12-ounce retail packs and in 2.5-pound foodservice bags.

The additional space will allow the company to introduce more stock-keeping units, going beyond beans and adding different mixes of carrots and green beans and waxed beans, said Christian Tordonato, sales manager.

Florida Specialties plans to pack five-count 2-ounce packs as well as bags of untrimmed beans, Tordonato said.

Florida Specialties expands value added line

Doug Ohlemeier

Christian “Chris” Tordonato, sales manager for Florida Specialties Inc., Immokalee, in one of Florida Specialties’ fresh-cut facilities before the green bean cutting season begins.
The grower-shipper is upgrading its fresh-cut green beans operation.

“We are drawing a lot of interest from a lot of major companies,” Tordonato said. “A lot of it has to do with that fact that as we are the grower, we are able to package a fresher product. As we are 30 minutes away from the fields, we can bring that product in, process it and get it loaded on the truck the same day, which will allow for longer shelf life and fresher product.”

While Florida Specialties grows and packs its own beans from Georgia and Florida October through June, it plans to fill the summertime gap and operate the facility throughout the year by procuring other Eastern-grown beans from Tennessee, New York and Michigan, he said.

Tordonato said the operation has a capacity of 45 million pounds of beans.

Selling to retailers, wholesalers and foodservice distributors, Florida Specialties packs and markets its hand-selected, triple-washed and ready-to-eat beans through its Blue Ribbon label alongside its Florida Specialties-labeled bulk beans cartons.

Florida Specialties also grows and packs bell peppers and eggplant.

Started in 1986 as the sales and packing arm of Joiner & Sons Farms, software industry veteran Myles Strohl last fall bought the growing, shipping and sales operation.