Organic Produce business updates - The Packer

Organic Produce business updates

05/05/2014 03:16:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Albert’s Organics makes Smart Signs

A Smart Sign Program consisting of more than 250 organic produce point-of-sale signs, each which a specific quick-response code for information about product selection, flavor profile, nutrition and recipes, has been introduced by Albert’s Organics, Bridgeport, N.J., said Simcha Weinstein, marketing director. Shoppers with a smart phone can scan the QR code on the sign to connect to information about the products. Signs can be downloaded at albertsorganics.com.

Auerbach now has garlic in vac-pack

Secaucus, N.J.-based Maurice A. Auerbach offers vacuum-packed organic peeled garlic, said Bruce Klein, director of marketing. A 6-ounce package contains six individual packs, allowing consumers to use as much or as little as they want. “The product will last longer because of the vacuum packing,” Klein said. The company offers several kinds of organic garlic and shallots in a variety of packaging options, he said.

Better Life moving to larger facility

Better Life Produce Inc., Los Angeles, is building a 65,000-square-foot facility in nearby Commerce, said owner Bill McCoy. The facility will have a “completely cooled dock,” he said, as well as a banana room, and it will be Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point certified. It will be just off a freeway in “one of the best spots for trucking,” McCoy said. The new location, which should be finished in about 15 months, will be more than twice the size of the company’s existing facility.

Braga Fresh offers new sleeved items

Soledad, Calif.-based Braga Fresh Family Farms offers sleeved celery and celery hearts under the Josie’s Organics label. The company previously offered unbranded celery. The Josie’s Organics line includes broccoli, sweet baby broccoli, chard, collards, kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, beets, radishes, romaine hearts, green leaf and red leaf lettuce.

CCOF plans food safety workshops

Santa Cruz-based California Certified Organic Farmers is planning a food safety course designed for growers and handlers who are new to the Global Food Safety Initiative, staff members who need training in food safety and organic professionals needing to update and improve their food safety program and documentation. Two-day workshops are set for Sacramento June 2-3 and Fresno June 24-25. Topics include key elements in a food safety plan, how to create the documents necessary for an operation’s food safety plan and how to successfully host a food safety audit. For information, visit ccof.org.

Earl’s moves into larger facility

Earl’s Organic Produce has moved from a 20,000-square-foot facility to a 33,000-square-foot location, complete with banana ripening rooms, on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market. That enables the company to better control inventory and improve quality control, said Earl Herrick, owner, president and founder. The company continues to expand social media presence on Facebook, Pinterest and other sites and has introduced an educational program to introduce new products.

Global Organic to take online orders

Global Organic Specialty Source Inc., Sarasota, Fla., planned to offer online ordering 24/7 starting May 1 through a client portal on its new website (globalorganics.ws), said Kevin Weaver, director of sales and new business development. The site will be geared toward small retailers, restaurants and farmers markets, he said. Order also can be placed by phone or e-mail. Consumers can connect with Global Organic through social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, and the company plans to use YouTube to inform consumers.

Lakeside product line tops 45 items

Lakeside Organic Gardens LLC, Watsonville, Calif., is planting and harvesting more than 45 commodities, said Lindsey Roberts, who handles marketing communications for the company. Lakeside is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, where fans can get recipes, tips on buying produce, growing tips from organic farmer Dick Peixoto and an “insider scoop on the new things we’re trying in the fields,” she said. The company also is running a marketing campaign that shows how the company is different from large, corporate organic farms. Lakeside also is adding cucumbers and eggplant this year.

LSU opens organic research project

The Louisiana State University AgCenter and the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate LSU AgCenter’s organic fertility research project. For the next two years, research on bella rosa tomatoes will be conducted on the quarter-acre plot to evaluate the effectiveness and economics of organic fertilizer versus conventional fertilizer used in vegetable gardening, to monitor disease and to study the microbial qualities of irrigation water over the growing season, according to a news release. The tomatoes will be harvested in June, and a preliminary report of the findings will be presented at the ­Farm to Table International Symposium at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Aug. 2-4.

Still time to take part In NMI study

There’s still time for companies and brands to participate in the Harleysville, Pa.-based Natural Marketing Institute’s 2014 consumer research study: The Next Wave Within Organic, said Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner. The study is a follow-up to the institute’s 2011 organic food and beverage study. Results will be published in 2015, but sponsors will be able to use the findings as they’re revealed at a workshop in September. For more information, visit nmisolutions.com.

Nunes adds organic leeks, beets

The Nunes Co., Salinas, Calif., is adding organic leeks and beets to its product line, said Matt Seeley, vice president of marketing. “We continue to add items as we deem them appropriate to complement our line,” Seeley said. Broccoli, celery and romaine hearts are the company’s top movers, he said, and have been so for several years. The firm’s three kinds of kale are “super hot” and a growing category, he added, and its red, green and rainbow chards also are a growing category.

Only Organic aims to define ‘organic’

Only Organic, supported by Annie’s Inc., Earthbound Farm, Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farm Inc. and others, has produced a series of videos that explain the standards organic products must stand up to, according to a news release. The videos also point out that natural foods are not the same as organic foods, and that just about any company can say its food is natural, the release said. Videos are at­ onlyorganic.org/pretenders.

Organic Center raises $500,000

The Organic Center, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research and education organization, raised more than $500,000 at its annual VIP Dinner March 7, in conjunction with Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif., according to a news release. Also at the dinner, the center’s first award of excellence was presented to Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.

Organics Unlimited adds banana acres

San Diego-based Organics Unlimited has added 370 acres of certified organic banana production in Michoacan, Mexico, which means the company will import six or seven additional loads of bananas per week in the summer and about four additional weekly loads during the winter, according to a news release. Having farms near the U.S.-Mexican border also should help the firm reduce its carbon footprint and speed distribution, according to the release.

Pacific to market pomegranate arils

Pacific Organic Produce, San Francisco, plans to offer organic pomegranate arils from Peru starting in May and continuing through September, said John Stair, domestic commodity manager. Then, from September to January or February, the company plans to start shipping domestic pomegranate arils. The product is sold under the Purity Organic label and packed in 12 3.5-ounce punnets per carton. This will be program’s second season.

PIM adds organic acreage in desert

Salinas, Calif.-based Pacific International Marketing, parent company of Pure Pacific Organics, is adding about 450 organic acres, mostly in the winter desert growing regions of Yuma and Phoenix, Ariz.; Coachella, Calif.; and in Mexico for the 2014-15 season, said Tom Russell, president. The company also is transitioning about 500 acres from conventional to organic for the 2015-16 season. The firm sells mostly vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, dry onions and melons. PIM bought the property next to its Gonzales, Calif., facility. “We have the potential to double the size of our (processing) facility,” Russell said.

That could happen in a couple of years, when maximum capacity is reached at its current facility. About 35% of the company’s volume is organic, he estimated.

Stemilt Growers Inc.Courtesy Stemilt Growers Inc.For the sixth season, all of the peaches and nectarines and 60% of the apricots marketed by Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., will be organically grown, says Brianna Shales, communications manager. They're sold under the Artisan Organics label.Stemilt website is mobile responsive

Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., has updated its website to make it “mobile responsive” so that visitors can access the site using mobile phones or tablets, said Brianna Shales, communications manager. The company offers organic apples, pears and some cherries, and for the sixth season, all of its peaches and nectarines and 60% of its apricots will be organically grown, she said. They’re marketed under the Artisan Organics label. “The idea behind the peach and nectarine program is (to offer) a differentiation point for retailers during the busy summer months,” she said. “The quality of the fruit is fantastic from Washington.”

Viva Tierra offers Alex Lucas pears

Once again, Sedro-Woolley, Wash.-based Viva Tierra Organic Inc. is offering organic Alexander Lucas pears — often called Alex Lucas pears — for a limited time, said Addie Pobst, organic integrity and logistics coordinator. The little-known heirloom variety has a dedicated following among pear connoisseurs, she said, and should be available until Memorial Day. The company will have fewer than 45 pallets of the pears, which are grown in the Rio Negro River valley of Argentina. They have a dense, juicy and buttery-smooth white flesh, she said.

Wholesum adding greenhouse acreage

Wholesum Family Farms, Nogales, Ariz., is adding more than 10 acres of greenhouses for miniature cucumbers, seedless cucumbers and tomatoes, said sales manager Steve Le Fevre. “This year we are seeing a huge response to our tray pack line to conventional retailers who are expanding their organic offerings,” Le Fevre said. The firm also is launching an upgraded website in May that will feature recipes, kitchen tips and nutritional facts. “We have also developed grilling squash packs that link the consumer back to our recipes, cooking instructions, and healthy eating tips,” he said. Also at Wholesum Family Farms, Julio Lopez, formerly senior account manager, has been promoted to assistant sales manager.

Wish Farms grows berry programs

Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms now offers conventional and organic strawberries and blueberries year-round, said Amber Kosinsky, director of marketing. With the Florida strawberry season winding down, focus has turned to the California strawberry deal and Florida blueberry season, she said. Wish Farms grows strawberries in Salinas and Santa Maria, Calif. This will be the first year of growing organic strawberries in California.

The company’s organic and conventional Florida blueberries will continue through mid- to late May, when the firm will source from Georgia. With the expansion of its Florida blueberry program, Wish Farms has put resources into increasing its packing capability by adding an additional blueberry line in Plant City, Kosinsky said.



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