Business updates: Florida Fall Produce - The Packer

Business updates: Florida Fall Produce

11/04/2011 11:32:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Duda boosts organic celery production
Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., is expanding its south Florida organic celery production.
Organic celery is in its fourth year of production and sees high demand, said Jason Bedsole, sales manager of Eastern vegetables and citrus. 
He said south Florida produces high quality celery and Duda increased acreage because of customer requests.
Bedsole declined to state acreage or volume, but said the grower-shipper doubled the size of its organic program.
J&J expands squash plantings, adds land
J&J Produce Inc., Loxahatchee, Fla., has increased its squash plantings by 33% and also added a large tract of land adjacent to its packinghouse.  
“We definitely will have a good amount of squash in Florida this season,” said Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing. 
“We are planting much more squash than we have in the past. We have done well with squash. We are known for our squash and our customers expect us to have squash in our label.”
J&J added a 100-acre farm directly adjacent to its packing operations and headquarters. 
Rayfield said the acreage should provide improved logistics and less handling from field to packinghouse. 
He said that should help improve shelf life.
L&M moves into new packinghouse
Needing more capacity, Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc. relocated into new operations in Immokalee, Fla.
L&M is leasing a packinghouse formerly used by Pacific Collier Fresh Co. to pack bell peppers and squash.
The Pacific Collier location provides 70,000 square feet of capacity, up from the 40,000-square-foot building L&M used before.
While L&M plans to pack in the Pacific Collier building, it is revamping an older 70,000-square-foot citrus packing operation north of Immokalee and south of LaBelle, Fla., that L&M purchased from Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc. in 2010.
Adam Lytch, L&M’s operations manager, said L&M isn’t sure what it may do with its two Immokalee operations.
“We are growing more and more items on more acres and need more room to be able to do that and help consolidate product. We have needed that room for a long time and the opportunity came up for us to be there. It seems to be a good fit.” 
Brian Arrigo, president of Immokalee-based Southern Corporate Packers Inc., bought the older L&M operation in September. 
Southern Corporate Packers hires salesman
Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, Fla., has added Cam Bulloch as salesman.
Bulloch, who sold life insurance, joined the vegetable and watermelon grower-shipper in April.
Brian Arrigo, president, said Bulloch’s addition should help diversify Southern Corporate Packers’ customer base. He said Bulloch plans to focus on Northeastern sales.
Bulloch started with the operation by running its transportation during the summer and advanced to sales during the fall.
Southern Corporate sells cucumbers, squash, bell peppers, eggplant and watermelon.
Weis-Buy Farms Inc. enters tropical sales
Weis-Buy Farms Inc., Fort Myers, Fla., has launched a tropical division. 
Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer, said he and his brother Mark Weisinger, the company’s assistant general manager, decided to start marketing tropical fruits and vegetables to help expand the company’s sales.
Chuck Weisinger said Weis-Buy started the division over the summer and markets tropicals such as pineapples, yucca, plantains, malanga and hot peppers. 
Weis-Buy hired Terry Slobodzian to head the division’s sales. 
Slobodzian previously worked as a branch manager of European American Bank in New York. 

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