Bay Area Produce enters 40th year

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Bay Area Produce is about to start its 40th year, said Bob Loyst, executive vice president.

The company was established in 1974 in San Jose, Calif., moved to Los Gatos two years later and established a branch in Nogales, Ariz., in 1989, where it imports produce from Mexico, has a 50,000-square-foot warehouse and offers one-stop shop and consolidation services.

The company serves customers nationwide with a product line that includes cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, Italian squash and some melons.

Bay Area Herbs doubles cooler space

Bay Area Herbs & Specialties on Golden Gate Produce Terminal in South San Francisco, Calif., is growing rapidly, expanding selling space by about 30% and nearly doubling refrigeration space.

In addition, the wholesaler of culinary herbs and other specialty produce items recently passed a third-party food safety audit with a 98% rating, said owner and president Steve Hurwitz.

The expansion was prompted by increasing demand for fresh produce items within the region, which is also part of a national trend, he said.

“The statistics are now out about obesity in young children, and they’re showing that the trend is starting to reverse itself in a positive way,” Hurwitz said. “They’re eating healthier, and fruits and vegetables are being consumed more.”

FPFC reaches out to Northern California

It’s been more than a decade since the La Mirada, Calif.-based Fresh Produce & Floral Council began expanding its reach to provide business and social networking opportunities in the Northern California market, said president Carissa Mace.

Starting with two membership luncheons per year, the FPFC has since added an annual golf tournament, the Northern California Fresh Produce & Floral Expo and most recently a bocce ball tournament.

Through the Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools initiative, the FPFC has provided salad bars to schools in seven Northern California communities, she said.

Northern California-based companies now make up about 25% of the council’s membership, and the region is represented by six directors on the FPFC board.

Fresh Green launches Asian organic veggies

Fresh Green Inc. on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market has launched an organic Asian vegetable program, said owner Steve Chen.

At first, the program will offer selected Asian organic items like gai lon, yu choi, baby bok choi and shanghai bok choy.

The company is pursuing Whole Foods Market and other chains as well as small, independent markets.

The company added the organic program to support a local grower, Benito Farm, Gilroy, Calif., where 100 acres of land recently were certified organic.

Greenleaf meets need for new produce items

Greenleaf Produce on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market conducts most of it business with independent restaurants where chefs always are looking for innovative products, said president Frank Ballentine.

That’s why the company has added items like organic shelling beans, king solomon, melrose and rome beauty apple varieties and cinderella — or rouge vif d’etampes — pumpkins, which chefs use in soups, purees and pies.

The company sources from local growers when possible, Ballentine said.

Golden Gate Terminal Market assistant becomes manager

Mario Caimotto, who served as assistant to Primo Repetto, market manager at the Golden Gate Terminal Market in South San Francisco, Calif., since 1982, has taken over the manager’s position since Repetto’s July 7 death. Caimotto, who started at the market in 1974 as a toll collector, said he feels comfortable in the manager’s position.

“It’s second nature to me,” he said, adding that he is familiar with all physical aspects of the market, including plumbing, the electrical system and roofing.

The market is run by an eight-member board of directors, most of whom lease space on the 17-acre, privately owned market.

Grant J. Hunt Co. adds salesman

Grant J. Hunt Co., Oakland, Calif., has hired Rob Tocchini as a salesman, said Eric Patrick, director of marketing.

Tocchini most recently was with Tocchini & Tocchini Inc., Brisbane, Calif.

The firm also is introducing 4-pound bags of oranges that include two packets of Tajin seasoning, made with chili peppers, lime and salt.

After a year’s absence, the company again will market product for Blue Mountain Growers Inc., Milton Freewater, Ore.

Grant J. Hunt Co. also has two locations in Washington and lists potatoes, onions, apples, pears, berries, cherries and citrus among its main commodities.

Interfresh tropicals now include papayas

Orange, Calif.-based Interfresh Inc. has expanded its Hawaiian tropical offerings by adding a papaya program, said Cory Puentes, director of Northern California.

The company flies in papayas twice a week, he said.

The firm started its Hawaiian program shipping Dole pineapples. The papaya program was established to complement the pineapple program.

Salesman Brian Petratuona heads up the program. Interfresh also has hired industry veteran Frank Bonaparte to handle Bay Area sales, but he will be based in Dallas.

“He has helped us expand our reach, not only in the Bay Area but in California in tomato distribution, and he has helped us establish a presence in Dallas,” Puentes said.

The company has Northern California locations in San Bruno and Walnut Creek.

Jacobs, Malcolm, Burtt moves to San Ramon

Jacobs, Malcolm & Burtt Inc., which previously had space on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, has moved to new offices in San Ramon, Calif., and is concentrating on its brokerage and shipping operations rather than wholesale business, said Craig Rolandelli, vice president. Asparagus and melons are among the company’s main commodities.

Pacific Organic grows under UNFI umbrella

San Francisco-based Pacific Organic Produce, which markets the Purity Organic brand, has completed its first year as part of the Providence, R.I.-based United Natural Foods Inc. organization, said Pacific Organic’s founder Greg Holzman.

Pacific Organic operates under the Albert’s Organics umbrella. The company is growing and hopes to benefit as a result of the relationship with Albert’s with the addition of items like pineapples and bananas, he said.

“The door has never been more open for us to expand our footprint,” he said.

The company already offers shelf-stable juice and is looking to add dried snacks like coconut chips and apple chips along with “other expressions of the brand.”

Holzman said the company has been experiencing up to 25% growth year over year.

Stanley Produce Co. plans to expand soon

Stanley Produce Co. Inc., which has been on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market since it was built in 1963, plans to move to a more spacious and more centralized spot on the market within six months, said president Stanley Corriea Jr.

The move is part of a re-tenanting plan under which a number of tenants will be expanding and adding more employees, he said.

The company was established in 1941 as a mushroom house and continues to offer a wide range of mushrooms, Belgian endive, radicchio, shallots and a variety of specialty items.

Veritable Vegetable adds new staffers

Veritable Vegetable Inc., San Francisco, has reorganized and expanded its sales and purchasing departments, said Karen Salinger, director of sales.

The expansion includes the hiring of Diane Singer, most recently with the San Diego location of US Foods Inc., as sales manager; Evan E. Miller, most recently with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, Leola, Pa., who will handle sales business development; and Tina Cosentino, most recently with California Certified Organic, Santa Cruz, as purchasing manager.

Also, Bianca Kaprielian has been promoted from purchaser and will handle purchasing business development.

Twin Peaks becomes Salanova distributor

Twin Peaks Distributing Inc. on the Golden Gate Produce Terminal in South San Francisco, Calif., has become the exclusive Northern California distributor of organic Salanova lettuce from Bella Fresh Inc., Goodyear, Ariz., said Guy Davidoff, Twin Peaks’ chief financial officer.

Salanova is a mature head of lettuce that has “a real crunch” along with more nutritional value and better texture, sweetness and color than baby lettuces, he said.

It also has a 30% longer shelf life under proper refrigeration.

“It’s a great item for foodservice because it’s so fluffy that, when chefs put it on the plate, they can use less of it and the plate looks full,” he said.

Twin Peaks also continues its 20-year relationship with Prime Time International, Coachella, Calif., offering a full line of peppers, mini peppers and other items.

Yuet Cheong increases warehouse capacity

Yuet Cheong & Co. Inc., San Francisco, has increased its warehouse operation by renovating its existing facility and installing more coolers and racks that will allow the company to store inventory for longer periods, such as over extended weekends, and rotate product more efficiently, said partner Robert Lee.

The remodel increases the building’s capacity by up to 20% — up to 40 pallets of product. The company continues to add new items to its product line, he said, including rambutan and longan.