Business updates: Florida Spring Produce - The Packer

Business updates: Florida Spring Produce

03/02/2012 10:21:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

“This is a great opportunity,” Starnes said. “I’ve pretty much worked the Florida deal and have been around the fruit industry for some time. 

“Ken (Wiles, general manager) is teaching me about potatoes very good.”

Pioneer Growers builds packing facility

Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, Fla., is constructing a hydrocooling facility.

It’s also building a large canopy to cover the receiving area where Pioneer plans to handle its corn.

Scheduled for completion in early April, the improvements are being constructed in two phases. 

The first phase is the receiving canopy, which includes the hydrocoolers feeding into the dock. 

The second phase involves demolition of an old building for construction of new refrigeration, said Bryan Biederman, assistant sales manager.

Pioneer plans to refrigerate its corn, beans, celery, radishes and cabbage in the new operation.

Southern Corporate enters Honduran deal 

In mid-February, Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, Fla., began importing Honduran watermelons.

Brian Arrigo, president, said the grower-shipper plans to import watermelon during the winter.

He said he plans to offer Honduran watermelon until Florida production begins in late March and early April. 

Additionally, Southern Corporate Packers is increasing volume of its personal-sized watermelons.

The firm expanded production by 25%. 

Arrigo said Southern Corporate Packers began offering the small watermelon several years ago and is receiving more customer requests.

Southern Corporate Packers grows the smaller watermelon in Immokalee and central and north Florida.

Utopia-Can-Am builds packinghouse

Utopia-Can-Am Pepper Co. LP, Madison, Wis., is making progress on construction of its packinghouse. 

A partnership between Palmetto, Fla.-based Utopia Farms and Can-Am Pepper, the bell pepper grower-shipper plans to relocate from Bradenton, Fla., to Myakka City, Fla., in mid-April when it opens the 50,000-square-foot facility.

The new operation is set to house packing lines handling bell pepper and pickling cucumbers.

Jim Monteith, head of U.S. and Canadian sales, said construction remains ahead of schedule and that the company plans to open the facility in time for the start of central Florida’s spring harvest.

The 40-acre site is adjacent to 2,200 acres of Utopia’s farmland.

In other news, Utopia–Can-Am Pepper is expanding into eggplant and pickling cucumbers and is increasing its bell pepper acreage.

Monteith declined to state the acreage but called it substantial. 

From its central Florida operations, Utopia–Can-Am Pepper plans to begin shipping the pickling cucumbers in early April and eggplant in mid-April.

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