Strawberry commission plans culinary workshop

The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission will host an invitation-only culinary workshop July 23-24 after the Produce Marketing Association’s foodservice conference in Monterey, Calif., said Chris Christian, vice president of marketing.

The workshops, designed primarily for chefs, will feature lectures, industry and research updates, field and cooler tours and hands-on culinary sessions.

“The idea is to inspire more creative uses of strawberries on menus on a more regular basis and to encourage (chefs) to think outside the box with strawberries and menu applications,” Christian said.

Colorful Harvest names sales vice president

Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., has hired Jeremy Burris as vice president for sales and sourcing for its Florida division. Burris previously was with Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla.

“The addition of someone with Jeremy’s experience and firsthand knowledge of the Florida strawberry and vegetable industry will help to add depth to our already successful year-round strawberry and Florida veg program,” said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner.

Colorful Harvest has strawberry operations and dedicated cooling facilities in Florida, California and Mexico.

Curry & Co. LLC hires berry saleswoman

Sandra White, most recently with Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals, has joined Curry & Co. LLC, Brooks, Ore., as a berry saleswoman, said Mike Klackle, vice president of berry sales.

The company also has increased its blueberry volume this season and has expanded a test program with blackberries.

California Giant videos say to keep berries cool

California Giant Inc., Watsonville, Calif., has created training videos encouraging retailers to keep berries cool this summer.

“Practicing proper cold chain management is critical to the profitability of our fresh strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries,” Anthony Gallino, vice president of sales, said in a news release.

The company also has added the message “Best if Kept Refrigerated” to its clamshells.

The videos are available on the company’s website,, and on its YouTube page.

Driscoll’s launches heart health campaign

Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., has launched a consumer campaign called “Raspberries ... Your Heart Will Love You Back,” said Frances Dillard, director of marketing.

The campaign, which has a dedicated website page — — focuses on the hearth health benefits of raspberries.

Driscoll’s raspberries are the first berries to be certified by the American Heart Association with the Heart Check Mark, Dillard said.

FormTex Plastics Corp. adds to Mexico facility

Houston-based FormTex Plastics Corp. has added warehouse space at its Guadalajara, Mexico, operation, said David Grice, produce packaging sales manager.

“Our Mexico berry business is jumping off the map,” he said.

The company produces rigid plastic clamshell containers for blueberries, blackberries and raspberries at the facility.

This makes the fourth year the company has operated in Mexico. The company has a fullservice operation, providing container manufacturing and distribution as well as labeling and padding.

HBF International moves headquarters

HBF International LLC, formerly Hurst’s Berry Farms, has moved its headquarters from Sheridan, Ore., to McMinnville, said Doug Perkins, managing director.

The accounting and sales departments have moved, but the packinghouse remains in Sheridan.

The location should be more convenient for customers and growers, he said, and will be a “good fit for our company as we go forward.”

HBF also has a new packing operation in Independence, Ore., and has hired McKenzie Rosenberry, who is new to the industry, as food safety manager.

Naturipe puts portable cooling plants in fields

Naturipe Berry Growers, an owner partner of Naturipe Farms LLC, Salinas, Calif., has implemented a new concept that streamlines the pick-to-cool time span, said Rich Amirsehhi, chief executive officer.

Strawberries are cooled to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in a self-contained, portable cooling plant at the entrance to the field, where customers’ trailers pull up to the temperature-controlled loading dock.

The program eliminates storage time, reduces handling and temperature variations and speeds up loading, he said.

Also at Naturipe, the company’s new website and social media platforms, which launched in April, have been a success, said marketing manager Kyla Garnett.

“Our Facebook page following has grown faster than our expectations, and Pinterest and Twitter pages also have a very strong following,” she said.  

Finally, Naturipe Farms has named Donna Lynn Johnson director of food safety and social responsibility.

She has worked in a variety of food safety and quality assurance positions and most recently has been an independent food safety consultant.

Berry groups schedule conference for January

The North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association, Pittsboro., N.C., is planning a joint conference with the North American Strawberry Growers Association in Portland, Ore., Jan. 27-30, said Debby Wechsler, executive secretary of the raspberry and blackberry group.

The conference will feature education sessions and a farm tour and run back-to-back with the Northwest Agricultural Show Jan. 29-31 and the North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association Feb. 1-7.

Wish Farms boosts California acreage

Wish Farms, Plant City, Fla., has added some strawberry acreage in Santa Maria to its previous Salinas deal in California, said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer.

The program began in early April. The company should have California fruit until November.

The Santa Maria deal offers Wish Farms a diversity of growing areas and will dovetail with the company’s Florida program, Wishnatzki said.

This is the second year the company has had a California program.

The deal is small compared with the company’s overall strawberry deal, up to 90% of which is in Florida.

The company’s blueberry program also continues to grow.

Wish Farms now offers blueberries and strawberries year-round, Wishnatzki said.