Calavo Growers Inc. completes expansion

Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc. has completed the expansion of a fresh avocado packing operation at its Uruapan, Michoacán, facility, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing.

The facility now has the capacity to pack at least 6 million pounds of fruit per week — a 200% increase over its prior output. The expansion increased the facility’s total square footage by nearly 75% and also includes larger, faster equipment for grading, sizing and packing. Larger coolers also were installed to keep pace with the added production.

“We basically tripled our cooler capacity,” Wedin said.

Del Rey Avocado plans new box for organics

For three years, Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., has had an organic avocado program out of Mexico.

This year, for the first time, the company will market Mexican organic avocados in a Del Rey Farms box instead of the generic box it has shipped in the past, said partner Bob Lucy.

The new box comes at a time when the company hopes to quadruple its organic output from Mexico. The company works with two organic grower-packers in Mexico.

James Paul joins Giumarra Agricom

James Paul, most recently with Altar Produce LLC, Calexico, Calif., has joined the sales staff at Escondido, Calif.-based Giumarra Agricom International LLC, a division of The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles, said Bruce Dowhan, general manager.

Paul is based in Stockton, Calif., and will sell avocados and asparagus for Giumarra.

The company ships avocados year-round, sourcing from California, Mexico, Chile and Peru. The firm will increase its volume out of Mexico this season, Dowhan said.

Gahl Crane selling for Green Earth Produce

Gahl Crane has been named director of avocado sales for Green Earth Produce, Vernon, Calif. Crane has nearly a decade’s worth of experience in the industry and most recently was with Borg Produce Sales Inc. in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles-area Green Earth Produce location opened in March.

Green Earth Produce in Gloucester City, N.J., has been in business about six years and has a product line that includes grapes, pears, apples, lemons and citrus.

Hass Avocado Board awaits study’s release

The first of seven clinical studies that the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board is sponsoring is on the verge of release, said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director.

The research, called the better burger study, was conducted by David Heber of UCLA.

Heber and his research team investigated whether adding half an avocado to a hamburger reduces elevations of a substance that may contribute to poor blood circulation and inflammation compared to a burger without the avocado, Escobedo said.

The study has been submitted to a peer review journal. Once the study is published, the avocado board will activate “a robust public relations and digital media outreach campaign” that will feature respected registered dietitians and involve national and regional TV, radio and other media that target the trade, health professionals, registered dietitians and consumers, he said.

The board is sponsoring research in four strategic areas: heart health, weight management, diabetes and healthy living.

Henry Avocado Corp. adds ripening rooms

In anticipation of increased demand for avocados from Mexico, Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., completed five more forced-air ripening rooms at the company’s San Antonio facility, said Phil Henry, president.

That brings the total to 12 rooms in San Antonio with a capacity of 130 pallets. Companywide, Henry Avocado has 54 ripening rooms.

The San Antonio location distributes daily to Dallas, Houston and Austin as well as San Antonio and sells to customers throughout the Midwest, East and Southeast.

Jon Ullrich is manager, and Billie Jo Dziewit is assistant manager.

Index Fresh hires two in sales department

Brian Gomez, most recently with West Pak Avocado Inc., Temecula, Calif., has joined the sales staff at Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif., said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations at Fresh Pak. Gomez will focus on export sales.

Also, Tim Threadgill, a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, has accepted a sales support role at the company.

The firm’s volume out of Mexico will be up by at least 20% this year, Cavaletto said, and Index Fresh plans to participate in Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association promotions. The company continues to ripen avocados at several locations throughout the U.S. and also offers bagged options and special packs.

Index Fresh has had a Mexican avocado deal for about 20 years, said Cavaletto, who recently returned from Mexico, where he said he found the crop to be of high quality.

West Pak Avocado Inc. expands infrastructure

Over the past year, Temecula, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc. has made a major reinvestment within the company and expanded infrastructure at all of its U.S. locations, said Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing.

Capacity at all of the company’s ripening and distribution centers has increased, and the sales staff has been expanded “to continue meeting and exceeding our customer demand,” he said.

West Pak owns and operates a packinghouse in Mexico and has its own field-sourcing team, production crew and staff to handle the Mexican crop that comes to the U.S.

“Very few companies do,” Meyer said.

West Pak’s crop should be about 25% larger this year than last as a result of the larger Mexican crop and because the company continues to grow, he said.