Bamford Produce has purchased 200 acres of apple orchards in Ontario’s Georgian Bay area, and acquired a major stake in Bay Growers, one of the province’s five major apple packing plants.
The farm will be called Bamford Family Farms, said co-owner Anthony Pitoscia, who is also a partner in fresh cut processor Freshline Foods and import/wholesaler Fresh Advancements at the Ontario Food Terminal.
Dominion Citrus names sales manager
Ted Cira, who’s worked in produce for 30 years and joined Dominion Citrus Ltd. at the Ontario Food Terminal in 2010, is now general manager of sales and procurement.
Cira succeeds vice president Susan Bricks, who worked at Dominion for 21 years. She’s now the North American representative for Fresh Fruit
Cira said Dominion’s Country Fresh Packaging division, which packs everything from its own locally grown onions, carrots, beets and parsnips to Florida corn, has achieved the British Retail Consortium’s highest food safety rating.
Country Fresh plans to offer its packaging services to more chains and larger independents this year, he said.
Ippolito Fruit & Produceadds mushrooms
Ippolito Fruit & Produce Ltd., based at the Ontario food terminal, is dabbling in mushrooms for the first time, said operations manager Jim Gordon.
“Some of our customers asked us to get into it so they wouldn’t have to go to two or three places,” Gordon said.
While whites and buttons are always a draw, he said local restaurants prefer portabellas and shiitakes.
Koornneef Produce expands packing lines
Koornneef Produce Ltd. has added a complete packing line to its existing facility in Grimsby.
President Fred Koornneef plans to package peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers under the Koornneef brand and private-label brands.
“The new line will triple our capacity and offer retailers increased food safety, convenience and easy merchandising,” Koornneef said.
The line should be up and running by March 1, he said.
Koornneef also plans to bring in new specialty items from his Ontario greenhouse partners over the next few months.
This year’s Ontario greenhouse cucumber harvest began in mid-January, he said, and peppers should be available by mid-March.
Ontario greenhouse tomatoes should arrive at the family’s food terminal stall by the end of March, he said.
North American ditches pineapples
North American Produce Buyers Ltd. has dropped pineapple, a longtime staple, and replaced it with Washington apples.
“We were just trading dollars every day on pineapple,” said vice president Steve Davidson.
North American now deals strictly with Northern Fruit based in Wenatchee, Wash.
Meanwhile, the company’s Chilean deal gets stronger every year, vice president Larry Davidson said.
He said North American is now the second largest direct importer of Chilean cherries, grapes, stone fruit and citrus into Canada.
Last year, North American hired four employees and launched Summit Produce Inc. in Fresno, Calif.
Russell Produce expands organic line
Berry specialist J.E. Russell Produce Ltd. has expanded its line of organic vegetables from several suppliers.
The move comes after conversations with shippers and retail customers eager to expand their organic offerings, said president John Russell, who works out of the Ontario Food Terminal.
“They’re not high volume items,” Russell said, “but customers want to be in touch with what’s new out there.”
.Russell is also looking to expand his offering of Ontario-grown organic vegetables.
Ryan & Associates adds produce buyers
Brokers and distributor Richard E. Ryan & Associates Ltd., based at the Ontario Food Terminal, is training the next generation of produce buyers.
Sacha Lisse and Barry Lexchin, both industry newcomers, are learning the ropes from brothers Barry and Steven Green.
The company is preparing to move down the hall in March, trading its current 960-square-foot facility for 1,920-square-foot quarters.
Lisse, who joined the company last March, has six years of experience in food marketing and sales and is fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and German. He’s found his niche expanding international deals in papayas and mangos.
Lexchin left the accounting field to join the produce industry last fall. He’s marketing dry onions, another new commodity for the company.
Streef Produce growing asparagus
After representing asparagus growers for years, Streef Produce Ltd. has planted 55 acres at its own farm in Princeton, west of Toronto.
Owner Peter Streef, who sells local and imported produce from the family’s wholesale operation at the Ontario food terminal, said his crew already has already spent several years tending the asparagus crop of a 75-year-old grower in Prince Edward County who’s set to retire.
“This is a project for my nephew, Nathan,” Streef said. “He’s in charge of everything from planting to assembling our packing line and organizing the whole crop to bring it to market for me.”
The first crop is expected in four years.
TexaSweet Citrus hires merchandiser
TexaSweet Citrus Marketing Inc. has hired Toronto-based produce pro Ken Berger as its new Canadian merchandiser.
Berger, son of a Montreal produce merchant, worked his way up through Steinberg Inc., once Quebec’s largest retailer, while studying linguistics.
Since 1991, Berger has worked in trade relations and merchandising for boards and commissions representing such commodities as California pears and walnuts, U.S. apples and Bard Valley medjool dates.
His new task is selling the sweet attributes of Texas grapefruit to Ontario retailers more attuned to Florida product.
In the off-season, TexaSweet plans a research study to learn more about the Canadian consumers for next year’s campaign and figure out how to make grapefruit more appealing to kids.
Tomato King working on food safety
Tomato King’s 45,000-
square-foot warehouse near the airport is about three months away from completing requirements for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point accreditation.
“We’ve spent a lot of money and put a lot of procedures in place, so hopefully we’ll meet all the requirements,” said president Vince Carpino.
The wholesale company has been packaging broccoli, corn and citrus for independent retailers and some chains, and plans to further develop its TK brand in the next year.
Tomato King is already able to trace every box that goes through its door to its end-user, Carpino said.