Business updates: Los Angeles Know Your Market - The Packer

Business updates: Los Angeles Know Your Market

06/29/2010 09:06:28 AM
Tom Burfield

Albert’s Organics promotes salesman

Curtis Steinbeck, who has worked for Bridgeport N.J.-based Albert’s Organics Inc. for seven years as a salesman and merchandiser, has been promoted to division sales manager in the company’s Vernon, Calif., office, said Simcha Weinstein, director of marketing.

AMS Exotic plans to expand Earth Exotics

AMS Exotic LLC, Los Angeles, is planning some line extensions for fall and has added the position of quality assurance supervisor, said Scott Lehman, director of sales and marketing.

The line extensions include new sizes of butternut squash, sweet potatoes and French beans.

Lehman said Nielsen data indicate the company’s Earth Exotic brand is the No. 1-selling baby vegetable brand in the in U.S.

“For a product that is just being developed, we think that’s a pretty big statement,” he said.

The company has hired Carlos Sunlara, a former chemical operations specialist in the U.S. Army, to fill the role of quality assurance supervisor. Sunlara’s discipline, training and education make him well qualified for the position, Lehman said.

Better Life has 9-month tomato program

Better Life Produce Inc., Los Angeles, is participating in a program from Cal-Organic Vegetable Co., Lamont, Calif., that offers California tomatoes during the spring and winter, said Nikki Nagel, Better Life sales manager.

The nine-month program, which features organic heirloom, baby heirloom, cherry, cluster and beefsteak tomatoes, kicks off in early spring, winds down in July and returns in October.

Cal-O begins new food safety program

Cal-O Vegetable Exchange Inc. in Los Angeles is in the process of implementing a new food safety and traceability program, said owner Tom Kunisaki.

Coast Produce Co. hires industry veteran

Don Walstad, previously with Supervalu Inc., has joined Coast Produce Co., Los Angeles, as intermountain West salesman focusing on the Albertsons account, said Emily Fragoso, marketing manager.

With the arrival of summer, the company also has reintroduced Coast Mini Snacking Sweetie Bells miniature sweet bell peppers to its line of six Coast Snacking items, Fragoso said.

Fruit Distributing Corp. moves to Commerce

For the first time in 52 years, Fruit Distributing Corp. of California has its own warehouse space after moving to a new location at 5270 E. Washington Blvd. in Commerce, Calif., said owner-president Jeff Weisfeld.

The company previously was in nearby Los Angeles.

“We needed to make a move,” Weisfeld said.

The new location includes 1,500 square feet of office space and 5,000 square feet of warehouse space and is an area that is easily accessible and more business conducive than the old location, he said.

Fruit Distributing Corp. handles about 3 million packages a year.

Harvest Sensations offers microwave retail trays

Los Angeles-based Harvest Sensations now offers a line of 18 8-ounce retail trays of organic and conventional vegetables and herbs, said Mike Henry, vice president.

Selections include hand-peeled, hand-sorted baby carrots, baby beets, rainbow carrots, asparagus spears and snow peas in sealed microwaveable trays, he said.

Although Harvest Sensations focuses on local business, the company is launching a program shipping product to Canada by air, Henry said.

Interfresh represents Naturipe Farms in SoCal

Interfresh Inc., Orange, Calif., now represents Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC in Southern California, said Chris Puentes, Interfresh president.

“They are the largest blueberry producer in the world, so we expect to be big in blueberries,” Puentes said.

The deal includes blackberries and a large strawberry program, as well.

Interfresh also has put renewed focus on its Costa Rica pineapple deal and offers new, double-layer packs “to provide reduced costs for value-conscious retailers,” Puentes said.

Perimeter hires VP, adds products to lineup

Alan Warburg, previously with Acosta Sales & Marketing Co., Brea, Calif., has joined Perimeter Sales & Merchandising, Los Alamitos, Calif., as vice president of brand management, said Pat McDowell, vice president of produce.

Warburg will serve as a go-between for the company’s principles and sales staff and will coordinate marketing and help fill clients’ needs, McDowell said.

Perimeter also has added a variety of items to its product line, including Jovy 100% natural fruit rolls, the eight-flavor Nasoya tofu line, fruit snacks from Homemade Harvey, Orange, Calif.; and seven flavors of acai berry-based juices from Sambazon Inc., San Clemente, Calif.

Pura Vida Farms adds westside melon program

Brea, Calif.-based Pura Vida Farms has expanded its melon program, said partner Wes Liefer.

The company plans to sell honeydews and mixed melons from Yuma, Ariz., and Blythe, Calif., through the second week of July, then switch to its new California westside program before sourcing from the desert, he said.

Thanks to the Yuma program, the company now can begin shipping around May 20, two weeks earlier than before.

The firm hopes to continue to ship melons through mid-November, weather permitting, he said. The new westside deal should add 1 million cartons of cantaloupes and honeydews to Pura Vida’s volume.

The company also has hired a participant in the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent program to work in its Arizona office, Liefer said. Yulia Kalina was a student at Arizona State University.

Produce Innovations launched as consultant

Dean Simon, previously president of Los Angeles-based Harvest Sensations, has launched a consulting venture — Produce Innovations, Villa Park, Calif.

The company will focus on two aspects of the industry. Simon is working with school districts and suppliers, including Adams Produce Co. Inc., Birmingham, Ala., to help them meet the criteria of the Healthier U.S. School Challenge initiative, primarily in the Southeast.

He also is working with local farmers primarily in the Southeast to enable them to sell their product more profitably through large produce distributors without having to deal with the increasing hassles of local farmers markets.

He said he will help growers get food safety certified and try to set up programs with local schools and chefs.

Progressive Produce hires safety manager

Progressive Produce Corp., Los Angeles, has hired a food safety manager, said Jack Gyben, vice president of marketing.

The company has named Sandra Castanon, previously with LoBue Bros. Inc., Lindsay, Calif., as food safety manager responsible for all four of Progressive’s operations.

Ready Pac Foods adds salads, fruit parfaits

Irwindale, Calif.-based Ready Pac Foods Inc. has added three Special Selections flavors for summer to its Bistro Bowl line of single-serve salads, said Ali Leon, senior director of strategic business development.

The new flavors include cherry almond crunch, smoky barbecue ranch and spinach dijon. Ready Pac also offers five flavors of Fresh Fruit Parfaits! — blueberry, apple, mango, apple mango and pineapple.

All are made with fresh fruit, low-fat vanilla yogurt and crunchy granola in a proprietary package designed to keep the components separate, Leon said.

Tavilla Sales Co. hires sales assistant

Chris de Lorimier, most recently with HOWS Markets LLC, Pasadena, Calif., has joined Tavilla Sales Co. of Los Angeles as a sales assistant to Nancy Betancourt, national sales manager, said president Bill Vogel.

De Lorimier will focus on developing the Hispanic category and the company’s pineapple program.

World Variety Produce expands product line

World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles, released several new Melissa’s brand products this spring, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations.

Among them:

  • Steamed six-bean medley, available in a 12.3-ounce, vacuum-sealed package that contains white kidney, cranberry, white navy, red kidney, black-eyed and black beans;
  • red kidney beans, also in a 12.3-ounce, vacuum-sealed package;
  • black-eyed peas in an 11-ounce vacuum-sealed package;
  • black garlic; and
  • Melissa’s dried bhut jolokia chili peppers.



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