Organic Produce business update briefs

04/26/2012 01:42:00 PM
Jim Offner

CF Fresh ships pears in smaller box size

Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based organic produce distributor CF Fresh plans to ship, for the first time, a 10-kilogram carton of specialty variety pears under its Viva Tierra Organic label, said Addie Pobst, import coordinator.

The first shipments in the new half box went out in early April, she said.

In all, the company expects to ship about 15,000 10-kilogram boxes this year, she added.

CF Fresh imports apples and pears from Chile and Argentina and ships Washington crop, as well, Pobst said.

Deardorff Family Farms adds greens to lineup

Deardorff Family Farms, an organic grower-shipper based in Oxnard, Calif., marks its 75th anniversary this year, said Tom Deardorff, president.

The company, which also anticipates moving into a 115,000 square-foot office/cold-storage/warehouse complex in Oxnard by June 1, also is adding some items to its product lineup, Deardorff said.

“This year, we’re adding a lot (of) bunching items — things like collards and kale and parsley,” he said.

“It’s smaller, mixed load-type of volume that complements our celery, cabbage and leaf lettuce volumes.”

The company anticipates a total organic volume increase of 20% this year, Deardorff said, declining to disclose any specific figures.

Earl’s Organic increases mushroom line

San Francisco-based Earl’s Organic Produce has expanded its mushroom category this year, said Earl Herrick, owner.

The new varieties are king trumpet oyster; the buna shimeji, a brown variety; and bunapi, a white, Herrick said.

“We’re marketing those in 3.5- to 9-ounce containers, in addition to a full line of shiitakes, oysters and portabellas,” he said, adding that the additions represent about 20% growth in the commodity at Earl’s.

“We’re seeing more and more people ask for it,” Herrick said.

Earl’s also has hired a number of new employees since August, Herrick said.

“It’s been in the areas of social media and operations and sales,” he said.

Among the new employees are Susan Simitz, as social media manager and marketing director; Ben Block, customer service representative; Antony Smith, filling a middle management role; and Hartley Moore, a manager who “will support customer service and internal operations,” Herrick said.

Four Seasons Produce sees sales boost

Ephrata, Pa.-based Four Seasons Produce Inc. says its organic sales, year on year, increased from 44.8% of total volume to 45.9%, as of March 31, said Ron Karkoski, chief executive officer.

“We continue to enjoy success with the category,” he said.

Driving the growth is the company’s ability to source organic products for chains that are looking to build the category, Karkoski said.

“That has become a niche, as has working with independents and health food stores and organic buying co-ops,” he said.

The company has added some new items in the past year, which has brought its organic product roster to about 350 stock-keeping units, Karkoski said.

Harvest Sensations expands kale products

Los Angeles-based Harvest Sensations reported sales growth in its organic kale salad and also has introduced a grab-and-go organic kale salad selection in four flavors, said Gwen Kavavli Gulliksen, sales and marketing director.

The original organic kale salad also now is offered with an organic sesame vinaigrette in one bag, Gulliksen said said.

Harvest Sensations also launched a 1-pound Organic Diced Veggie Blend, with sweet potato, butternut squash and red beets “that is taking off,” Gulliksen said.

Organic trade group sponsors events

The Brattleboro, Vt.-based Organic Trade Association plans to host its annual All Things Organic and OTA Member Days as part of Natural Products Expo East Sept. 19-22 in Baltimore.

The program includes a “comprehensive organic conference track,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s executive director and chief executive officer.

The OTA also is providing input for the 2012 farm bill, and, in April, hosted its annual Policy Conference & Hill Visit Days in Washington, D.C., Bushway said.

The Washington conference was designed to “address the most pressing issues of the day and to visit congressional offices to share messages that are vital to the organic sector,” Bushway said.

“This proved to be OTA’s largest ever policy conference, and, as a result, OTA held the conference portion in a larger venue, the popular Newseum, to accommodate participants.”

Stemilt Growers Inc. strengthens stone fruit

Wenatchee, Wash.-based fruit grower-shipper Stemilt Growers Inc. is focusing on its organic peach and nectarine program this year, said Roger Pepperl, marketing director.

“What I like is they have some scale to them. It’s definitely volume — not a specialty — around 1 million cartons,” Pepperl said.

Last year, Stemilt saw decreases in volumes in both crops, Pepperl said.

“We had a bit of a crop failure last year and lost a lot of apricots and had diminished crops of peaches and nectarines,” he said.



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