Florida Spring Produce business updates - The Packer

Florida Spring Produce business updates

03/11/2014 02:44:00 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Branch adds lettuce items

Hugh H. Branch Inc., is marketing kale and red bibb lettuce.

The kale and red bibb lettuce joins the South Bay, Fla.-based grower-shipper’s offerings of green leaf lettuce, romaine, boston bibb lettuce, curly and plain parsley and Chinese cabbage.

Customer interest spurred the addition, Dan Shiver, co-owner, said.

Bibb lettuce requires 24 heads to fill a box, he said.

Kale acreage is relatively small but enjoys strong customer demand, Shiver said.

The items are grown and packed from South Florida from early to mid-December through early May.

Florida Sweet Corn Exchange changes name

The Florida Sweet Corn Exchange has changed its name.

The Maitland-based growers organization now calls itself Sunshine Sweet Corn Farmers of Florida.

The success of the industry’s Sunshine Sweet-branded corn prompted the change, said Jason Stemm, vice president of the New York-based Padilla CRT, which does the exchange’s marketing and public relations.

“The growers really wanted to build the Sunshine Sweet brand into their identity,” Stemm said. “They are producing good varieties under that brand, and the sweet corn is selling well. They do a good job handling them once the corn is harvested and getting it to the market quickly so retailers can merchandise it as fresh as possible.”

The group made the change in December.

Duda adds romaine hearts

Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., has started shipping romaine hearts.

For the past several years, the grower-shipper had been growing romaine hearts in trial plots and recently narrowed production to the best-performing varieties, said Jason Bedsole, sales manager of eastern vegetables and citrus.

Duda introduced the product during the fall and this season marks the first year of commercial production, he said.

“Demand is very good and has exceeded our expectations,” Bedsole said. “It’s a solid program we’re looking to expand.”

Hearne ships more cabbage in new box

Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC in Wimauma, Fla., plans to increase movement of cabbage in a new bin.

The 24-inch display-ready bin for promoting St. Patrick’s Day cabbage is a heavy-duty bin for easier produce placement, said Jeff Williams, president.

Though the grower-shipper of cabbage and other vegetables has shipped in the bin since 2011, it has seen increased customer interest, and Hearne plans to place more bins in stores, Williams said.


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