Desert Produce business updates - The Packer

Desert Produce business updates

05/03/2013 10:39:00 AM
Tom Burfield

Anthony Vineyards hires safety manager

Bakersfield, Calif.-based Anthony Vineyards, which has a growing operation and cooling facility in
Coachella, Calif., has hired Marti Chavez, most recently with Kerry Inc., a food products company in Mecca, Calif., and previously with Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, as food safety manager, said co-owner Bob Bianco.

The company has always had good food safety practices, Bianco said, but the need for extensive documentation has necessitated hiring a full-time manager. The company also continues to expand its organic program.

Eventually, 40% of Anthony Vineyards’ table grapes should be organic, he said. The company grows red, green and black organic grapes.

Bagdasarian increases organic program

Richard Bagdasarian Inc., Mecca, Calif., continues to celebrate its 60th anniversary, which officially took place last year, said Nick Bozick, president.

The company developed a 60th anniversary logo and has been spreading the word about the company’s longevity among its customers, he said.

The company grows table grapes, bell peppers and dates as well as more than 2 million boxes annually of lemons, tangerines and minneolas, which are sold through Sunkist Growers Inc.

Also this year, Bagdasarian has stepped up its organic program for its nonproprietary and proprietary varieties.

Five Crowns Marketing opens cooling space

Five Crowns Marketing, Brawley, Calif., has added a 55,000-square-foot cooling facility, said Daren Van Dyke, director of sales and marketing.

About 30,000 square feet consists of a gravity-fed racking system.

Product is vacuum-cooled then goes into the racking system and eventually is gravity-fed into trucks.

“It enables us to cut our forklift use in half,” Van Dyke said.

“It also makes us much more efficient on the energy side because it’s a brand new, computer-driven cooling system.”

That operation combined with the company’s new solar operations should enable 90% of the firm’s energy needs at its corn and cantaloupe facilities to be supplied by in-house solar power.

Peter Rabbit Farms packs medjools

Peter Rabbit Farms, Coachella, Calif., has offered medjool dates for several years, but now the company has taken over production and packing of the dates, said John Burton, general manager of sales and cooler.

“Medjools has been a great crop for us,” he said.

Dates are picked in the fall and shipped year-round. The company started packing medjools last fall and plans to expand its date program every year, Burton said.

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