Wish Farms plans to expand strawberry acreage

12/23/2011 10:36:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Entering its 90th season, Wish Farms is expanding its acreage, grower base and sales staff.

In August, Wishnatzki Farms changed its name to Wish Farms to better identify itself with its new label of the same name and to help remove consumer confusion between its name and branding.

It’s also adding new growers, including Wayne Moss, a former partner and co-owner of Gulf Coast Produce Inc., Dover.

Wish Farms plans to harvest from more than 2,000 acres, up from 1,500 acres last year.

That new acreage should produce 5 million flats, larger than the 3 million flats Wish Farms produced last season.

Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer, said much of the increased volume follows more growers requesting that Wish Farms market their berries.

Wishnatzki convinced his son-in-law, James Peterson, to return from California to Florida to work in sales.

Wishnatzki’s daughter and Peterson’s wife, Elizabeth Peterson, returns as well and is working as Wish Farms’ social media and public relations manager under director of marketing Amber Kosinsky.

The Petersons joined Wish Farms in early October.

Wishnatzki said Peterson worked in sales for Rose Bowl suites, a part of Legends, a marketing arm of the Dallas Cowboys’ operation.

“He has the qualifications and has the right personality,” Wishnatzki said.

“He’s process-oriented, too, which is what we put a lot of value on. As we grow, it’s important to be process-oriented and do things in certain ways.”

Peterson joins Wish Farms’ five other salesmen.

This season, Wish Farms also added 50 acres to its 100 acres of organic strawberry production on new ground in Duette, more than 20 miles south of Plant City in eastern Manatee County.

Though a small part of the overall Florida strawberry deal, organic demand remains strong and is increasing, Wishnatzki said. He said organic production costs are substantially higher and organic produces lower-yielding crops.

Wishnatzki attributes part of the company’s success to treating growers fairly and not billing them for hidden charges.

“Being in business since 1922, you don’t stay in business that long without having some integrity,” Wishnatzki said.

Another benefit is Wish Farms’ involvement in the processing deal. At the end of the season, Wish Farms sells to processed buyers.

That market can sometimes become a strong option for subpar fruit and allows Wish Farms to market only the best-looking fruit to its retail customers, Wishnatzki said.



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December, 25, 2011 at 03:01 PM

Cool. He sounds like a great addition

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