California/Baja Tomatoes business update briefs

05/21/2012 02:49:00 PM
Jim Offner

Andrew & Williamson adds heirlooms

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce is launching an heirloom tomato program, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing.

“We’ve tried to improve the flavor profile, and heirlooms taste fantastic, so it’s a good fit for us,” he said.

Volume will be limited for the first year, Munger said.

“In Viscaino, we’re testing a lot of varieties, trying to get all the handling and logistics down,” he said.

Andrew & Williamson has been growing tomatoes in Baja California, Mexico, for 25 years, Munger added.

DiMare Newman boosts virus resistance

DiMare Newman, Newman, Calif., has increased its number of virus-resistant tomato varieties this year, said Jeff Dolan, field operations manager.

“With that, we anticipate not only better yields but better quality as a result,” he said.

Demand for such varieties is brisk, Dolan said.

“By putting in resistant varieties, you can eliminate chemicals and more achieve better consistency and quality for customers,” Dolan said.

Expo Fresh moves into protected plots

Expo Fresh LLC, San Diego, anticipates about the same tomato production volume this year out of Baja California, Mexico, but a company grower is moving some production into shade houses, according to Bob Schachtel, sales manager.

Production will include about 190 acres in shade houses this year for the first time, Schachtel said.

“The grower decided he wanted to try it,” he said. “It’s better fruit, a lot less No. 2s.”

Specialty Produce finds success with app

San Diego-based Specialty Produce says it is building on its smart phone app on a regular basis.

“Our app is getting very popular. It’s being used all over the produce industry,” said Bob Harrington, president.

The app can be downloaded to Android and iPhone units for free, he said.

“We had one chain store that downloaded 4,000 copies,” Harrington said.

The app provides information on an increasing range of fruits and vegetables, he added.

“The idea is that, if people understand fruits and vegetables, it will be top of mind,” he said.

The app includes thousands of recipes, with more coming online regularly, he added.

“If somebody has written a recipe or written about it on a blog, you can access that information from the app,” he said.

The app came out two years ago.

“It’s never going to be finished. We have a staff of six people that work on it,” he said.

“Any time they get some new information ... we research it and add it.”

Sun Pacific Shippers conducts tomato tests

Pasadena, Calif.-based Sun Pacific Shippers is testing a new tomato variety, said Louie Bigileri, Exeter, Calif.-based salesman.

“We are testing new variety for virus resistance and a firmer tomato to get it to where it really has good shelf life, even when it’s blood red,” Bigileri said.



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