Duda Farm Fresh adds salesman

Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., has hired a foodservice sales veteran.

Brian Tipple, who previously worked eight years for Houston-based Sysco Corp. in Vancouver, British Columbia, and at Sysco’s BSCC Produce operations in south Florida, is now an account manager for Duda’s Wellington, Fla., sales office.

After taking a hiatus to work as an assistant cruise director of Holland America and as a seafood broker in Whistler, British Columbia, Tipple rejoined Sysco at its Pompano Beach, Fla., office as senior merchandiser before moving to Sysco’s Jacksonville, Fla., operation.

He also worked as eastern sales representative for Custom Produce Sales in Parlier, Calif.

Tipple, who started with Duda on Sept. 24, is responsible for daily sales activities as well as managing Duda’s Florida and imported citrus.

Hearne Produce secures case GTINs

Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, Fla., has secured Global Trade Identification Numbers for all its cases.

For the first time, the grower-shipper this season can track every package it ships, said Jeff Williams, president.

Hearne previously shipped its strawberries and tomatoes with the GTINs, he said.

J&J Produce boosts acreage

J&J Produce Inc. has increased its Florida acreage to 1,000 acres, up 20% from last year.

The Loxahatchee, Fla.-based grower-shipper is taking on additional land and forming relationships with more outside growers, said Brian Rayfield, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We have multiple growing partners in a very geographically diverse outfit so we have acreage as far north as Palmetto-Ruskin down to Fort Myers and the Immokalee area for our fall and winter crops,” he said.

Rayfield said J&J is also expanding its acreage and farming ventures close to its eastern Palm Beach County packinghouse.

L&M Cos. increases Florida production

Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M Cos. Inc. has expanded its Florida vegetable acreage.

Adam Lytch, operations manager, said the grower-shipper increased acreage across the board for its cucumbers, squash and eggplant to match its bell peppers, L&M’s principal Florida product.

During recent years, L&M wasn’t growing fall cucumbers, but is now adding that crop to its fall production and is growing squash later in the winter at one of its warmer south Florida farms, Lytch said.

“It’s not necessarily that we’ve increased our amounts, but that we have solidified our supply,” he said. “Some items we haven’t had before, so it makes our whole mix or manifest of mixer items. We’re looking to have them as steady as we do our bell pepper.”

L&M plans to harvest from 6,500 total Florida acres, which include north Florida cabbage and potatoes.

Pioneer Growers expands packing area

Pioneer Growers Co-op, Belle Glade, Fla., has completed construction of an unloading area and hydrocooling operations.

Loxahatchee, Fla.-based Hundley Farms Inc., Pioneer’s biggest grower, constructed a 22,000-square-foot packing area with a canopy to receive product.

The new facility should help Pioneer pack higher-quality corn and a more consistent pack, said Gene Duff, Pioneer’s executive vice president and general manager.

The large area will also allow Pioneer to run crates and reusable plastic containers, he said.

Growers harvest much of their corn on mule trains.

“With having this facility like we have, we will be giving our customers a better quality pack,” Duff said. “It will be a more consistent pack day in and day out. We will have better quality control over it.”

The new unloading and hydrocooling facilities, which include new stainless steel tunnel and ammonia cooling machinery, occupy 45,000 square feet, Duff said.

Pioneer members also grow and ship beans, celery, radishes and cabbage.