California/Arizona Citrus business updates

10/12/2012 03:01:00 PM
Tom Burfield

Aweta Americas moves to Fresno

After 26 years in Reedley, Calif., Aweta Americas, formerly Aweta Autoline, has moved to a facility in Fresno, Calif., said Kelvin Farris, sales manager.

The company needed additional space, since it must assemble increasingly larger packing line equipment, which it tests and breaks down before installing in growers’ packing sheds, Farris said.

The facility is 250 feet long, an increase of 100 feet from its former location. An adjacent lot also is available for expansion.

The company has a new phone number, 559-244-8340.

Aweta Americas, which sells sorting and packing equipment for citrus, stone fruit, tomatoes and other products, will have booth 852 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit in Anaheim Oct. 26-28.

Farris said five more packinghouses have installed its new Inscan device, which can be installed on existing sorting lines to measure interior fruit qualities such as brix level and moisture content.

Booth Ranches adds w. murcotts, lemons

In response to customer requests, Orange Cove, Calif.-based Booth Ranches has expanded its product offerings outside of navel and valencia oranges and is offering a limited amount of w. murcotts and lemons, said Neil Galone, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We’re still limited by the fact that the only fruit we pack and ship is fruit that we grow ourselves,” he said.

“We want to maintain that strategy where we are the grower — where the customers talk direct to the growers.”

The company expects to have w. murcotts for 10 weeks, from late January through the end of March, and lemons for a couple of weeks, mostly in January.

The Chuck Olsen Co. sells for DiMare/Indio

The Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif., is now exclusive sales agent for DiMare/Indio, Indio, Calif., said Jeff Olsen, vice president of The Chuck Olsen Co.

The program will include up to 700,000 cartons of lemons, now being shipped; up to 80,000 cartons of minneolas, to start in November through mid-January; some murcotts and 100,000 cartons of grapefruit, shipping through May or June.

Citrus Mutual program touts sustainability

Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual has launched a communications program to promote the industry’s effort to improve environmental quality and implement sustainable growing practices, said Alyssa Houtby, director of public affairs.

The program includes a booklet recently published by California Citrus Mutual entitled “California Citrus: Producing a Legacy” that describes how citrus growers support the environment and the economies of several communities, she said.

California Citrus Mutual also released a video called “Growing for Cleaner Air” in partnership with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District describing the industry’s effort to improve air quality in California’s San Joaquin Valley at the grower and shipper levels.

Homegrown Organic boosts lemon program

Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif., has acquired a number of ranches over the past year and has introduced a year-round organic lemon program, shipping from all three California districts, said Scott Mabs, sales and marketing director.

The company also has a relationship with a grower in Mexico and launched a year-round lime program from that country in early October.

The company, which also has a relationship with Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co., Lindsay, Calif., will ship organic Sumo Citrus mandarins later in the season and will start shipping Gold Nugget mandarins.

Also at Homegrown Organic Farms, Craig Morris, most recently with Pro Citrus Network, Visalia, Calif., and who spent 15 years at LoBue Bros. Inc., Lindsay, Calif., has been named citrus category manager.

Seth Tillery, who previously held that post, has moved into the grower relations and field operations for the company.

Limoneira now packing for Associated Citrus

Limoneira Co., Santa Paula, Calif., now is packing and selling fruit for Associated Citrus Packers, Yuma, Ariz., said Alex Teague, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Limoneira.

“It helps us complete our year-round supply,” he said.

Mark Spencer, secretary-treasurer and chief operating officer for Associated Citrus Packers, said it was no longer cost effective for that company to pack in its 70-year-old packinghouse.

Limoneira also has launched its Unleash the Power of Lemons consumer campaign, which uses a quick-response code to take consumers to a site that shows a variety of uses for lemons outside the kitchen.

LoBue Bros. undergoes packinghouse remodel

LoBue Bros. Inc., Lindsay, Calif., is undergoing a major packinghouse remodeling program, said Joe LoBue, vice president of export sales and marketing.

The firm’s Lindsay facility is being set up to pack all of the company’s navel and valencia oranges.

Its plant in Exeter, Calif., will become a specialty house packing blood oranges, cara caras, mandarins and probably lemons and grapefruit.

The Exeter site will operate four or five months of the year, and the Lindsay plant will run almost year-round, with double shifts operating from January to April or May.

The company will add equipment, including new electronic sizers and graders. LoBue Bros. will continue to offer one-stop consolidation for all of its citrus.

“You only have to come to one house to pick up your specialties and your navels,” LoBue said.

The company also had an outstanding export deal last year, LoBue said.

“We exported about 50% of our product — the highest we’ve ever been.”

LoBue Bros. exports navel and valencia oranges and 90% of its minneolas. The company exports navels mostly to Japan and South Korea as well as throughout Southeast Asia, Australia and South America. Minneolas go mostly to Japan.

Pacific Organic doubles navel volume

Organic navel orange volume from Pacific Organic Produce/Purity Organic, San Francisco, should double this year, said John Stair, domestic commodity manager.

Stair attributes the increase to a couple of its growers who ramped up their acreage and to the fact that “the trees appear to be more loaded this season,” in line with conventional volume increases.

The firm already has begun shipping lemons and grapefruit from the desert growing area and should see heavier volume in those commodities, as well.

Organic lemons should ship from the desert into February, and grapefruit should continue through April.

Paramount Citrus to open Cuties facility

Paramount Citrus Association Inc., Dinuba, Calif., will open a 625,000-square-foot packing facility for Cuties brand clementines in early November, said president David Krause.

The company also acquired Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, Texas, this summer, which will give Paramount Citrus thousands of acres of oranges and grapefruit in Texas and add Healds Valley red grapefruit to its product line.

“We are happy to have them in the fold,” Krause said. “We’re excited to add that product to our portfolio.”

New grading line for Seald Sweet product

Fresh Select LLC, Dinuba, Calif., the company that packs citrus for Dinuba-based Seald Sweet West International Inc., has installed a new grading and sorting line, said Rick Eastes, vice president and general manager for Seald Sweet West.

The system will include electronic eyes to accurately assess grade, color and size of fruit, he said.

It will be especially important for the company’s lemon crop, which should increase over the next year.

In all, Seald Sweet West’s navel, lemon and clementine volume should be up about 30% this year.

Sunkist Growers launches packaging

Sunkist Growers Inc., Sherman Oaks, Calif., is offering a number of new packages this season, said Claire Smith, director of corporate communications.

For the first time, lemons will be offered in a 2-pound pouch, and the company will expand its 10-pound carton offering by adding a special carton that focuses on Sunkist’s heritage as a cooperative of family-owned farms.

Sunkist also is revamping its Sunkist Smiles packaging and will continue to offer its four display units that can hold one to three cartons of fruit.

“These displays are perfect for secondary placement in sections such as seafood, baking, bottled water and pharmacy,” she said.

They contain varietal information for consumers and have a mobile marketing element that allows consumers to text in or scan a quick-response code to get recipes, videos and other information about nutrition and taste.

Suntreat rolls out Suntreat Reserve line

Suntreat Packing & Shipping Co., Lindsay, Calif., is introducing a line called Suntreat Reserve Citrus, said Al Imbimbo, vice president of sales. It will include oro blanco grapefruit, cara cara oranges, seedless lemons, Gold Nugget mandarins and perhaps navel oranges, Imbimbo said.

The company’s Sumo Citrus, a large mandarin-orange hybrid, also will be included. The citrus will be chosen for its outstanding flavor.

“It’s something the farmer himself would go pick out on his orchard and eat,” Imbimbo said.

Suntreat also has named Franco Bernardi, most recently with Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., Visalia, Calif., as general manager, and the company has redesigned its website — www.suntreat.com — “to make it more informative and easier to navigate,” Imbimbo said.

SunWest installs pallet-wrapping units

SunWest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier, Calif., has installed robotic pallet-wrapping machines that will eliminate corner boards, strapping and disposable trash for retailers, said marketing manager Doug Sankey.

Also, all of the company’s ranches are now GlobalGAP certified.

“We’re really making a push on sustainable and food safety pieces,” he said.

The company also is SQF certified for citrus.

SunWest sanitizes its fruit, floating it through a sodium bicarbonate bath before it reaches the packing line. Bins never enter the packinghouse.

The process helps extend the shelf life as it helps ensure the safety of the product, Sankey said.

The company has implemented Global Trade Item Numbers, and its products are traceable down to the consumer package level, he said.



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