Business updates: Texas Citrus - The Packer

Business updates: Texas Citrus

11/11/2011 10:55:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Edinburg Citrus group adds salesman
Jeff Husfeld, who previously operated his own turf-farming business, has joined the sales staff at Edinburg Citrus Association, Edinburg, Texas, said Ruben Shives, sales manager. Husfeld is selling all of the company’s commodities.
The firm is picking some young acreage this season and should see a small increase in grapefruit volume Shives said. The company expects to ship about 1.2 million cartons of grapefruit and oranges this season.
Healds Valley Farms emphasizes food safety
The focus is on traceability and food safety at Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, Texas, said Richard Walsh, marketing director. The company held safety meetings over the summer and is developing its own food safety software designed specifically for the company’s operation, he said.
The firm not only has to be able to track what it’s doing in its own groves, but it must be familiar with what its growers are doing in fields that the company doesn’t directly manage in order to respond to inquiries from customers about its food safety protocols.
“(Customers) have a direct interest in our food safety and traceability,” Walsh said, adding, “When you handle a product from field to fork, you must have traceback ability and make it’s sure safe.”
Citrus growers group to launch website
Lone Star Citrus Growers, Mission, Texas, plans to launch a new website, lonestarcitrus.com, by mid-December, said Trent Bishop, vice president of sales. 
The site will include crop updates, current prices, personnel information and company background. 
The company, which is completing its fifth year in business, continues to emphasize food safety and is “staying on the front end” of the Produce Traceability Initiative, Bishop said. 
Besides Bishop, partners in the firm are president Jud Flowers and his son, T.J. Flowers, who is involved in sales and operations.
South Tex Organics adds carton, label
South Tex Organics LC, Mission, Texas, has introduced a new, display-ready carton and a new label — Nature’s Pick — for organic oranges and grapefruit and has spent the summer revamping its packing line, said president Dennis Holbrook.
The 40-pound cartons contain eight 5-pound bags of grapefruit or 10 4-pound bags of oranges. The containers will save labor at retail, because produce employees won’t have to restack the bags on a table, and they produce less cardboard waste than conventional boxes, Holbrook said.
The company had food safety in mind during the off season when it reconfigured the packing line to eliminate nearly all human contact with the fruit. 
The new configuration has a pregrading system that removes stems, leaves and damaged product. The fruit then moves on to a high-pressure wash system where it’s washed and sanitized. 
Fruit is graded, dried, waxed and sized automatically, Holbrook said. 
“There’s minimal contact with the product from the time it’s been sanitized and waxed before it gets put into a carton,” he said.


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