America Trades conference scheduled

The second annual America Trades Produce Conference is set for March 21-23 in Nogales, Ariz. The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas and the Texas Produce Association offer the event.

Experts from industry and government from both sides of the Mexico border are scheduled to address topics such as food safety, traceability, truck security, protected agriculture, production and shipping practices, port congestion, infrastructure investment and more.

Additional information is available here.

Farmer’s Best hires salesman for fruit

Mario Cardenas has joined Farmer’s Best International, Nogales, Ariz., as a salesman.

He comes to the company from McAllen, Texas-based RCF Produce.

A McAllen native, Cardenas has 12 years of produce experience, including stints at L&M Cos. and Coast Tropical.

“He’ll be concentrating on the fruit side but he’s already sold a lot of veg,” said Jerry Wagner, director of sales and marketing.

Cardenas joins Farmer’s Best as it plans to launch its mango season, with shipments expected to start Feb. 15.

The company distributes from warehouses in McAllen and Nogales. Farmer’s Best announced Cardenas’ hiring Jan. 18.

Oppenheimer adds orange organic bells

Vancouver, British Columbia-based produce marketer The Oppenheimer Group is offering organic bell peppers from Divemex in orange for the first time, greenhouse category director Aaron Quon said Jan. 31.

Oppenheimer and Guadalajara-based Divemex have long sourced conventional and organic bells in red, yellow and green.

Orange was previously available only in conventional.

Divemex provides a Fair Trade-certified label on its peppers, sending a portion of proceeds on each 11-pound box to a fund controlled by employees. Green pepper volume is expected to surpass last year’s, Quon said.

Through May, Oppenheimer’s Mexico-sourced lineup also includes tomatoes on the vine, romas and slicer cucumbers. Beefsteak tomatoes and long English cucumbers go through June.

Produce Exchange expands in Nogales

Livermore, Calif.-based The Produce Exchange is adding 25,000 square feet of cold rooms to its 50,000-square-foot facility in Nogales, Ariz.

Company founder Marty Mazzanti planned to join a staff celebration of its completion Feb. 29.

“We’ve been doing business all through construction, and I want to thank them for all they’ve put up with,” he said.

Mazzanti expected the site to be fully operational by March 1.

“When you count the number of Nogales shippers we do business with plus our own stuff coming up from Mexico and multiply that by commodities and sizes, it takes a lot to accommodate the business coming in,” he said.