California lettuce and leaf business updates

07/20/2012 03:03:00 PM
Mike Hornick

Bonipak Produce streamlines warehouse

This summer, Bonipak Produce Co. reaped the benefits of a warehouse management system implemented earlier in the year.

“We’re seeing a significant improvement on the speed at which product flows through,” Don Klusendorf, director of sales and marketing at the Santa Maria, Calif.-based grower-shipper, said in early July. “It’s allowed us to load trucks more quickly and efficiently, and that’s really taken place in the last four to five weeks.”

It’s a software system developed in house to go with Bonipak’s Microsoft-based operating system. It was adopted in January.

“It keeps the cut-to-cool time as short as possible,” Klusendorf said. “It’s allowed us to be compliant with the Produce Traceability Initiative, so once that kicks in we’re ready to go. We’re not doing PTI yet, but when it starts we are compliant along all the stages.”

Coastline Produce adds organic celery

Coastline Produce planned to kick off an organic celery deal in mid-July. It’s the only commodity the Salinas, Calif.-based grower-shipper offers in organic.

“That’s a product expansion for us,” said Mark McBride, sales manager. “We expect to have organic celery, naked or sleeved, and organic celery hearts.”

“That’s our re-entry into the organic deal,” he said. “We tried it a few years back and are going about it in a more meticulous way now. Our clientele has asked us to grow that for them.”

Other organic commodities are under consideration.

Earthbound Farm expands zip clamshells

Organic grower-shipper Earthbound Farm, honored recently for eliminating a shrinkband on its salad clamshells and cutting virgin polyvinyl chloride use, plans to follow suit elsewhere in its packaging line.

A 5-ounce, zip-sided clamshell that eliminated PVC received a Responsible Packaging Award in May from the Portland, Ore.-based Sustainable Food Trade Association.

San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm was one of seven companies honored.

“We’ll be rolling out a version of that for our 11-ounce and 1-pound clamshells a little later this year,” said Craig Hope, chief customer officer. “Consumers have been very vocal about how much they prefer this package. They’ve been lighting up our Facebook page. And overall, we’re eliminating the use of more than 1 million pounds of virgin PVC from our operation.”

The company also won a silver Telly Award for “On the Farm,” a farm tour video showcasing the San Juan Bautista, Calif.-based organic grower-shipper.

The seven-minute video appears online (http://bit.ly/M3rC1w). The Telly Awards honor a range of film and video productions, including Web-based and television commercials.

“We use this video for our customers when they can’t fit in a live field tour, and for consumers,” Hope said.



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