Bolthouse Farms offers organic fresh-cut line

Kern County spring vegetable business updatesResponding to increasing consumer demand for organic options, Bolthouse Farms Inc. launched the beginning of an organic line of value-added carrot products for retail this spring.

Scott LaPorta, chief operating officer for the Bakersfield, Calif., company, said the new organic carrot chips and matchsticks are initially being marketed under the Earthbound Farm brand. A full rollout with the products available in the Bolthouse brand is planned in the coming months.

The fresh-cut carrot chips and matchsticks are available in 12-ounce and 16-ounce bags for retailers.

Another new product from Bolthouse this spring is the latest addition to the company’s fresh juice line. Mango Ginger Plus Carrot is available in 15.2-ounce bottles.

LaPorta said the Bolthouse ShakeDowns — baby carrots that come with seasoning packets — have completed trials in target markets and are being phased in across the country by regions. Bolthouse unveiled the product in the fall of 2012.

The first region for the ShakeDowns is Texas. Other areas should begin seeing supplies later this year, LaPorta said.

Kern Ridge introduces shredded carrots

In response to increasing demand for fresh-cut produce, this spring Arvin, Calif.-based Kern Ridge Growers began offering shredded carrots.

For foodservice and institutional operators, the shredded carrots are available in 5-pound bags. For retailers, Kern Ridge shredded carrots are available in 10-ounce bags.

Salesman Anthony Bianchi said response to the new ready-to-use product has been positive since it was introduced this spring.

Spud grower Lehr Bros. joins onion deal

Although Lehr Bros. Inc. is known for potatoes, vice president of farming Pete Belluomini likes to mix it up a little in the fields. This year the Edison, Calif.-based grower is trying organic yellow onions.

Belluomini said he didn’t put in too many acres for the first season in the deal.

“I want to see how they do before we go too big,” he said.

Lehr Bros., which grows organic carrots for Kern Ridge Growers, has had an organic branch since 1997, Belluomini said.

Thomson International revises onion label

Kern County spring vegetable business updatesNew onion labels are in the works for the 2013 crop from Thomson International Inc., Bakersfield, Calif.

Jack Thomson, president, said the goal of the new onion labels is to bring that commodity in line with the company’s other commodities, which include bell peppers and watermelons.

“It’s a new premium label and should have a lot of appeal for customers,” Thomson said.

Also new this year for Thomson is an agreement with Uesugi Farms, Gilroy, Calif., to pack bell peppers. Thomson said his company has been packing its own peppers for several years, but he wants to refocus attention on growing and therefore made the deal with Uesugi to pack the bells this season.

Green bells will likely be ready June 1, Thomson said, with reds and yellows coming in around July 4. He said everything is looking good and is on schedule for a high-quality harvest.

Kern County spring vegetable business updatesTop Brass adds Volm bagger

To speed operations on its potato packing line, Top Brass Marketing, Shafter, Calif., added a bagging machine for the 2013 season.

The machine from Volm Cos. Inc., Pasco, Wash., will help Top Brass meet customer demands that are trending more toward smaller sizes, said president Brett Dixon.

Dixon said he is receiving fewer requests for 100-pound sacks and more requests for consumer-friendly 3-, 5-, 10- and 15-pound bags.

Top Brass continues to offer the 100-pound bags, though, and 50-pound cartons.

By staff writer Coral Beach