California strawberries business update briefs

03/28/2012 02:10:00 PM
Mike Hornick

CBS Farms increases organic volume

Watsonville, Calif.-based Beach Street Farms and Colleen Strawberries expected to see some fruit picked by the first week of April.

As volume picks up in coming months, buyers can expect to see more organic strawberries on offer this year from CBS Farms, the sales company that represents both growers.

“We didn’t have a whole lot of organic to start with, but we’ve tripled the acreage this year in Watsonville over last,” said Charlie Staka, director of sales.

The companies also have strawberry deals in central Mexico, which finished in February, and in Oxnard.

Main Street Produce adds salesman

Santa Maria, Calif.-based Main Street Produce named Lou Chenault to its sales staff with a planned start date of March 15.

Chenault previously worked as a salesman for Sunrise Growers Inc., Placentia, Calif.

“It’s a new position,” said Paul Allen, owner of Main Street Produce.

“Between the increased acreage and phone traffic I felt we could use extra help.”

Top 10 Produce adds Blanco Black data

A year after the introduction of the Locale label, which links Salinas Valley shoppers to local farmers via smartphone-scannable codes, traceability features are expanding beyond strawberries.

“Fresh Roots LLC will have Locale traceability across its whole product line grown in the Salinas Valley using the same principles as the Locale strawberry brand, coupled with a certification mark called Blanco Black,” said John Bailey, executive director of Salinas-based Top 10 Produce.

Top 10 Produce rolled out Locale in 2011, and Fresh Roots is now its exclusive marketer.

“The Blanco Black data is communicated from farm to fork via GS1 numbers encoded in a Datamatrix code, QR code, UPC or Databar at any point in the supply chain,” Bailey said.

Blanco Black certifies an item was grown in the Salinas Valley, and pinpoints the location using an assessor’s parcel number.

Well-Pict Berries promotion ongoing

Well-Pict Berries’ contest, Well Pictures, will continue until a final prize is awarded in October at the Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit.

Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict is asking consumers to submit photos of their best berry experiences on Facebook, www.facebook.com/wellpictberries, or by e-mail to julie@wellpict.com.

The promotion launched in February.

“Well Pictures is in full swing,” Julie Lucido, chief executive officer of Marketing Plus, said Feb. 28.

“Future photo-focused grand prizes include a waterproof digital camera, 3D camcorder, and a surfer’s dream waterproof camera mountable to the end of your surfboard,” she said.

Well-Pict grows in California, Florida and Mexico. The company plans to launch an organic raspberry variety, 2933, in May.

Wish Farms starts berry deal in Santa Maria

For its second California strawberry deal, Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms has shifted most production from Salinas to Santa Maria.

Acreage is up from 116 in its startup year, all in Salinas, to 138. Of those, 85 are in Santa Maria.

Picking was expected to start in Santa Maria the week of March 12, said Darwin Reich, director of California operations for Wish Farms.

“That will put us in good shape for April,” Reich said.

“Florida will go through April typically, but by April 1 everyone wants to come to California. Most buyers at that stage prefer California fruit.”

Santa Maria offers the company a natural transition.

“We had a gap between Florida’s season winding down and California starting up, so this gives us the ability to go straight through,” Reich said.

“We still plan to expand, it’s just a matter of finding the right people and the right timing,” he said.

Most growers expected Salinas and Watsonville production to start by the second week of April.



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