Ratto Bros.: Nearly 50 years of specialty produce growing and shipping

06/22/2010 02:15:20 PM
Don Schrack

Ratto Bros. markets a limited number of Hispanic produce items, mostly cilantro and cactus leaves.

The company’s involvement in the fresh produce industry reaches outside growing, packing, shipping and marketing.

Another third-generation family member, Ron Ratto, president, was named an alternate to the advisory board of directors for the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement.

To keep up with the production from the company’s acreage and its grower-partners, Ratto Bros. built a 70,000-square-foot cooling and packinghouse in 2004. The facility, which includes hydro, vacuum and forced air cooling methods, is just minutes from the company’s farmland, Ratto said.

The company’s farmland also takes the high tech approach. Global positioning equipment guides planters. Computers monitor each crop, row by row, determine when to irrigate and fertilize and control the emitters.

Ratto Bros. also operates its own fleet of refrigerated trucks.

Sales to distributors that serve restaurants keep the company in the foodservice loop. Unlike Grandfather Ratto, who delivered his produce door to door, the customer base of Ratto Bros. is mostly retail, Ratto said, and an ongoing learning experience.

“It’s amazing how many of these veggies cross over between nationalities,” Ratto said.

Cilantro is widely identified with Hispanic cultures, but Indians are huge consumers of cilantro, he said.

“Retailers have told me their Indian shoppers often don’t want just a bunch of cilantro, they want to buy an entire carton,” Ratto said.


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