Dennis Holbrook (left), president of South Tex Organics LC, Mission, Texas, and Garrett Edwards, sales manager, show off the company’s new Fancy grade Royal Red and Choice grade Nature’s Pick labels for its organic grapefruit. The company will mark its 30th anniversary in January.
Dennis Holbrook (left), president of South Tex Organics LC, Mission, Texas, and Garrett Edwards, sales manager, show off the company’s new Fancy grade Royal Red and Choice grade Nature’s Pick labels for its organic grapefruit. The company will mark its 30th anniversary in January.

Bebo to expand by 20,000 square feet

Bebo Distributing Inc., Pharr, Texas, is expanding.

“We’re about to add 20,000 square feet,” director of operations Jimmy Garza said.

The expansion will include cold rooms and other facilities.

“We’re expanding to keep up with the demand we’re getting from retailers and growers out of Mexico,” he said.

Several months each year, space gets tight and the company has to turn to outside warehouses, which can slow the processing time for trucks waiting to be unloaded, he said.

Construction should begin early in 2014 and be completed by August.


Bland adds custom packaging services

Bland Distribution Services, Donna, Texas, has added custom packaging to the services it offers its customers, general manager Nick Sanchez said.

The service was added in response to customer requests and includes options such as packaging tomatoes in 2-pound bags, packing beefsteak tomatoes in clamshell containers or sliding bell peppers into a sleeve.

The company, which is Primus GFS-certified, also does repacking and recently finished an expansion project that gives the facility 100,000 square feet of space, 75,000 of which is refrigerated.

The facility has eight separate temperature zones, “which really gives us the flexibility to be able to handle the products appropriately and efficiently,” Sanchez said.

Those products include tomatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, papayas, avocados, broccoli, limes and pineapples.


Fresh Tex Produce starts roma program

Fresh Tex Produce LLC, Alamo, Texas, has kicked off its own year-round hothouse roma tomato program, manager Ray Wolverton said.

In the past, the company sourced romas from other suppliers, but customer demand pushed the company to partner with a grower in Mexico who has a strong roma program that meets strict food safety standards and other criteria, he said.

Fresh Tex also received a perfect score on its GFSI certification audit, Wolverton said.

Tex Star Distributing LLC, Alamo, partner company to Fresh Tex, is ramping up its exclusive Royal Star papaya program after a gap of a few months, Wolverton said.

All fields should be coming back on line in December. Tex Star is GFSI certified and expects to become GlobalG.A.P. certified by the end of the year, he said.


Kingdom Fresh adds ‘Farms’ to name

Kingdom Fresh Produce Inc., Donna, Texas, is now Kingdom Fresh Farms Inc., said Dan Edmeier, vice president of sales and marketing.

The change is in keeping with a trend by many greenhouse companies to use “farms” in their name, he said.

“Retailers say they want to deal directly with the growers,” Edmeier said.

“If you have land of your own, you want to try to connect yourself to that land, so a lot of Canadian, U.S. and Mexican companies are somehow incorporating ‘farms’ in to their titles.”


Loop Fresh Produce promotes manager

Kristi Salinas has been promoted to account manager at Loop Fresh Produce LLP, McAllen, Texas, said John McGuire, vice president of business development.

Salinas has been with the company for eight years, serving primarily as a customer service manager.

The company also has updated its website to reflect the expanded services it offers in McAllen.

“This summer, Loop expanded packaging services with additional bagging equipment for citrus, onions and greenhouse vegetable products,” McGuire said.

The company also has expanded its cooler services and less-than-truckload transportation program.


Plantation Produce enters organic deal

Plantation Produce Co., Mission, Texas, has entered the organics business, sales manager Kenneth Maples said.

The company has invested in an organic farm and organic packing facility in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, and plans to grow organic greens, roma tomatoes, tomatillos, beets, celery, carrots, onions, colored bell peppers, cilantro, parsley, herbs and broccoli.

The company made the move in response to many inquiries from customers over the years and in an effort to expand its market share, he said.

The company also grows conventional products in south Texas and is conducting two pilot programs this fall.

The firm expected to harvest cucumbers through the first week of December and plans to harvest roma tomatoes from mid-December through early spring.

Neither commodity had been grown in the area for many years, Maples said, but retail customers have requested locally grown product.

Plantation Produce also offers Texas-grown southern greens, kale, cilantro, herbs, parsley, squash, zucchini and onions as well as onions and broccoli from Mexico.

The company’s loading docks now are refrigerated, Maples said, and the firm can process product for other companies and offers bagged, fresh-cut or value-added products.


South Tex introduces labels, marks 30 years

South Tex Organics, Mission, Texas, will mark its 30th anniversary in January and has two new labels for its organic grapefruit this season, president Dennis Holbrook said.

The company plans to offer fancy-grade product under the Royal Red label, and the choice-grade Nature’s Pick label that was used on bags last year will be used for its 40-pound bulk cartons.


Sunny Produce adds eggplant program

After testing the waters last season, Sunny Produce and Brokerage LLC on the McAllen, Texas, terminal market is adding an eggplant program this year, vice president Victor Thomas Myers said.

The company will start with a load or two a week.

The company also has started bringing in its flagship Mr. Tomato tomatoes on the vine and round tomatoes.

Customers like the product so much they prebook their orders, Myers said.

Mr. Tomato tomatoes on the vine will be available until May, and round tomatoes will be available until February.

The tomatoes are grown to consistent high standards, he said.


TexaSweet receives specialty block grant

TexaSweet Citrus Marketing Inc., Mission, Texas, is looking to educate Texas children and residents about Texas citrus through a specialty block grant, executive director Eleisha Ensign said.

“The program is an educational program for children and families, empowering them with the nutritional benefits of Texas grapefruit and how to incorporate it into healthy dishes,” she said.

“Through an engaging, expanded classroom outreach program, TexaSweet will partner with teachers to share nutrition education, skills for selecting and preparing Texas grapefruit, and the grove-to-table story.”

TexaSweet will reinforce messages shared in schools with a blogger ambassador program and media outreach that includes hands-on cooking workshops, grapefruit deliveries and ongoing pitching, she said.