Organic Produce business updates - The Packer

Organic Produce business updates

11/02/2012 02:14:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

CF Fresh goes with 2-pound apple bag

CF Fresh Inc., Sedro-Woolley, Wash., has developed a 2-pound retail apple bag.

“It’s more common in the industry to use a 3-pound bag, but we had some interest in the smaller size at the beginning of the season, so we started using a plain bag to gauge the reaction, and it was very positive,” organic integrity and sustainability lead Addie Pobst said.

The company now has a fully designed bag for its Viva Terra brand. Packing using the new bags began in mid October.

“There is definitely an interest in retailers having organic apples in the 2-pound size in addition to the 3-pound,” Pobst said.

The company will still be using the 3-pound bags as well.

“We’re just adding an additional option for customers who may want to look for a slightly smaller package.”

Charlie’s Produce hires organic sales specialist

Charlie’s Produce, Seattle, has continued to expand its organic department, hiring Scott Schultz as a retail salesman specializing in organics.

Schultz was hired from outside the company in midsummer to work with local growers to expand the local growers base and the Farmer’s Own brand in Oregon, according to Diane Dempster, manager of the Farmer’s Own program and local organic procurement.

This staff addition follows Rob Billow’s promotion from organic buyer to manager of the organic department in Seattle, which occurred less than two years ago.

Deardorff Family Farms settles into new plant

Oxnard, Calif.-based Deardorff Family Farms is now shipping all product out of its new facility.

The company has been transitioning to the new location for several months.

“We’re happy to be settled into our new home,” president Tom Deardorff said.

Deardorff reported that the company began shipping organics from the new location in July with the warm season products.

“We’re now starting with winter vegetables, kale, collards and leaf lettuce,” he said.

Another new aspect of the facility is the addition of a flow pack machine and the ability to implement film packaging for tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers and other products and packaging styles.

Earl’s Organic offers salsa as private label

Earl’s Organic Produce, San Francisco, which released its first private-label product this fall with its limited edition heirloom tomato fresh salsa, looks to expand production.

“We have been educating ourselves using a core group of customers to enter that fresh salsa realm,” president and founder Earl Herrick said.

The company is looking into sourcing the product out of Mexico for the summer, which would provide supplies from July through December.

“We’re going to refine the recipe and distribution,” Herrick said.

Herrick also said each store handled the marketing differently, but that he sees great possibility to have the salsa displayed on ice in the produce department, perhaps in a cross-promotion with avocados and chips.

Homegrown Organic bumps up clementines

Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif., is implementing a larger clementine program for this season.

Director of sales and marketing Scott Mabs said the company did a small amount of clementines last year.

“Organic clementines are not something readily available in the market,” he said. “We’re going to have a ranch coming into production this year and we’ll be harvesting quite a bit in mid to late November.”

Mabs also reported that Homegrown Organic Farms is about a month into its year-round lemon program.

“We acquired two new ranches in different growing regions which will allow us to fill organic lemons pretty much year-round,” he said.

The company’s organic blueberry also program has expanded. With supply from Oregon, berries will be available from the beginning of May through September.

Palm fiber trays help Natruripe trim plastic

Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC is nearly ready to roll out organic packaging made from palm fiber.

“We’ve been testing for the past few months, and it has required a few tweaks to the cover that is on top of the products,” vice president of sales Jim Roberts said.

“It depends on the refrigeration,” he said. “We’re basically making a tray out of cardboard.”

The trays eliminate 50% of the plastic needed for packaging and is able to be composted,” according to Roberts.

For now, the company only has plans to use the trays for their organic offerings because the sustainable, environmentally friendly tray tends to align well with the lifestyle of organic consumers.

“We’re only testing it in organics for now. We’ll have to see how it makes sense to go beyond that down the road,” Roberts said.

Nunes Co. expands organic lineup

The Nunes Co., Salinas, Calif., is increasing organic offerings to include lower volume items.

“These items are lower volume but are growing in popularity from an organic standpoint,” vice president of marketing Matt Seeley said.

Some of those items include sweet baby broccoli, kale, cilantro and parsley, according to Seeley.

“These offerings complement and supplement our current organic offerings,” Seeley said.

The company looks to have these items available starting this fall and winter, and plans to begin bringing them on in November.

Organics Unlimited finds a groove in Texas

Organics Unlimited, San Diego, is enjoying growth in Texas, according to chief executive officer Mayra Velazquez de Leon.

“We’ve been getting stronger in the Texas area of the U.S. for the past six to eight months, so that is kind of a new market for us,” she said.

Velazquez de Leon said the growth is gradual but still exciting for the company.

In addition, the company used point-of-purchase materials to promote the sustainability of its products this year. The theme for the 2012 campaign was famous quotes.

Quotes from Aristotle, Leigh Hunt and Seneca were featured earlier in the year, with the fourth quarter quote from Wendell Berry, an activist and writer, who said, “The only possible guarantee for the future is responsible behavior in the present.”

The company also updates a blog with weekly merchandising ideas related to the campaign. The blog can be found at www.organicodes.com.

Velazquez de Leon said the company has seen positive results from the campaign.

“2012 has been a very good year, with increases in both sales and the number of retailers buying our bananas,” she said.



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