Eastern Fresh adds asparagus grader
In May, Cedarville, N.J.-based Eastern Fresh Growers Inc., added a Strauss electronic packing machine to grade and pack asparagus. 
 
The company has used the new machine for a few weeks with good results, said Tom Sheppard, the company’s president.
 
“People are still getting used to it, but it’s going to be a good long-term investment,” he said. 
 
So far, the company only added one grader, but is considering the possibility of another.
 
“We had a couple guys who went to California to see this machine perform out there and liked it so we decided to try one. It isn’t enough for all our volume but we’re going to see if it makes  sense to purchase another one to increase capacity,” Sheppard said. 
 
Dan Graiff safety goes cloud-based
Dan Graiff Farms, Newfield, N.J., is finishing its first year in the new facility built in April of last year.
 
“Everything is now up and running smoothly, and it’s been good so far,” said Jamie Graiff, owner and manager.
 
The company is also now using a cloud-based food safety program, Safety Chain, to records all logs. The certification is the same as before.
 
“We’re still Primus GFSI-certified but we changed the system we use,” Graiff said. 
 
“We were using all manual logs. Now we’re audit-ready 365 days a year because we’re using tablets and cloud-based logs for everything,” he said.
 
In addition, the company has added a retail pack of 5-ounce clamshells for leafy greens.
 
R&R Flaim expands lettuce acreage
Ryan Flaim, owner, R&R Flaim Next Generation Produce LLC, Vineland, N.J., said the company has about 25% more acreage for lettuce this year. 
 
Flaim has seen the trend toward various greens and lettuce crops over the past few years continue to grow.
 
The company also has an increase in acreage for summer squash, tomatoes and eggplant.
 
Jersey Legacy to offer 'cherry berry'
Jersey Legacy Farms, Cedarville, N.J., will offer iceberg and cabbage in the spring and fall seasons starting this year. 
 
The lettuce program was set to begin in late May, said David Sheppard, owner.
 
Sheppard said the company is also growing a new cherry tomato variety this year, cherry berry, that looks like a strawberry.
 
“It has really good flavor and will be in markets in this summer,” he said. 
 
Nardelli Bros. adds packinghouse
Cedarville, N.J.-based Nardelli Bros. Inc., is opening a new packinghouse about a mile from its current facility. This will be the company’s third facility and will bring the total square footage of packing capabilities to around 100,000, said Bill Nardelli, president and owner.
 
“We’re in the final stages of getting the renovations complete, packing lines installed and all the bells and whistles ready for the fall season. This will allow us to be more effective and efficient because the competition is very keen,” Nardelli said. 
 
In addition, Nardelli’s son, Jimmy Nardelli was set to come on board as vice president of production after graduating in May from the University of Delaware with a plant and soil science and agriculture marketing degree.
 
“I’m excited to have him join us full time,” Bill Nardelli said.
 
Santa Sweets ups tomato acreage
Philadelphia-based Procacci Bros. Sales Corp., which markets under the Plant City, Fla.-based Santa Sweets Inc. company label, reports an increase in acreage for 2015 with tomatoes. The company grows and packs tomatoes in New Jersey and other locations. 
 
“Our acreage is up about 10% over last year to meet the growing demand from our customers,” said Frank Paone, director of marketing.
 
Paone said everything is on track for a good season.
 
Sunny Valley goes for sustainability
Glassboro, N.J.-based Sunny Valley International Inc., is stepping up its sustainability efforts this year, said Bob Von Rohr, director of marketing and customer relations.
 
The company is working with growers to push its integrated pest management system.
 
“We’re working with Rutgers University to implement a program for all our growers that finds the natural enemy to each pest we face,” Von Rohr said. 
 
The company has already had some sustainability efforts in place, including using environmentally friendly packaging and switching to drip irrigation, but is using a grant from the N.J.
 
Department of Agriculture to increase the focus on the program for 2015.
 
“There is no current certification from the government for a program like this, but it’s something we feel strongly about,” Von Rohr said.