(Jan. 14) TRAVER, Calif. — A longtime California stone fruit grower-packer-shipper has joined forces with a group of San Joaquin Valley produce veterans to create a marketing company, Scattaglia Growers & Shippers LLC.

With Littlerock-based Scattaglia Farms, the company adds the final element of a vertically integrated operation, said Louis Scattaglia, the marketing arm’s managing partner. Scattaglia’s other partners in the farming operation are Sam Perricone, Bob Witt and John Blalock.

Before joining Scattaglia Growers & Shippers, the bulk of the marketing staff had been with Fruit Patch Sales Co., Dinuba.

David Parker, who was the Dinuba firm’s director of marketing, has the same role in the new company. Including an anticipated 1 million cartons of stone fruit from Scattaglia Farms, projected volume for 2008 is 2.5 million cartons of stone fruit and 2.2 million cartons of table grapes.

Domestic supplies of stone fruit will be available from May through late October, while table grapes will be shipped from May through December, Parker said. Southern Hemisphere growers will ship stone fruit and grapes from December through April, he said.

200 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

The veteran marketing staff is viewed by the partners as a major asset.

“These guys are specialists who will deliver premium fruit to their customers and to the consumers,” Witt said.

Collectively, the marketing staff brings nearly 200 years of experience in production and sales to Scattaglia Growers & Shippers, Parker said.

The announcement of the marketing company’s creation was made Jan. 8, but the company quietly launched its sales operations Dec. 1.

“Some customers began approaching us before we opened the doors, which speaks volumes about this staff and our hands-on approach,” Scattaglia said.

Joining Parker on the sales staff are five former Fruit Patch salesmen:

  • Craig Calandra;


  • Bryan Large;


  • Anthony Martino;


  • Derald Rager; and


  • Steve Rusca.



Large, Calandra, Martino and Rager are also partners in the new venture. The company’s director of food safety is Gary Gerner.

FINAL CHAPTER

The creation of the SGS marketing staff appears to be the final chapter in an exodus from Fruit Patch. Dayka & Hackett LLC, Reedley, announced in December it had hired Julian Lipschitz and Mike Weaver. On Jan. 2, John Forry took over as director of marketing at Fruit Patch, bringing with him the entire D.J. Forry Co. Inc. staff. Novato-based D. J. Forry Co. will be dissolved, Forry said.

The sales office is based at New Leaf Packing and Cold Storage, Traver, which also serves as a growing and packing partner, Scattaglia said. The location is by design, he said.

Buyers of Scattaglia Farm’s late-season stone fruit were asking for year-round service. Responding to their requests dictated putting the marketing company in central California, the state’s largest fruit-growing region, and developing agreements with other growers.

“We were very selective in choosing the growers,” Scattaglia said. “We have partnership agreements with fewer than a dozen key growers who will deliver consistently high-quality fruit.”

In addition to California-grown table grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries and apricots, the SGS inventory includes pears and apples from California and the Pacific Northwest. The company is evaluating other commodities.

Scattaglia Farms growers and shippers have begun developing relationships with South American growers, Scattaglia said. Each domestic and offshore grower must have global good agricultural practices certification or higher, he said. The company is also pursuing agreements with growers in South Africa, Australia and Morocco.

The company is re-introducing two labels, Sun Disk and Sun Joy, which were industry fixtures used by Scattaglia Farms years ago. The Scattaglia Farms and Peak Value labels will continue to be used, too.

The company has retained field inspectors to make certain South American growers meet SGS standards, Scattaglia said. Gerner will oversee domestic food safety procedures, and he said the company has hired a counterpart to perform the same duties for imported fruit.

Seasoned stone fruit staff joins marketing venture