V.H. Azhderian hires food safety consultant

V.H. Azhderian & Co., Los Banos, Calif., which offers conventional and organic cantaloupes and mixed melons, has hired Jose Ramirez as a third-party consultant for all food safety-related issues.

Ramirez will work with Keith Hansen, the company’s in-house employee dedicated to ensuring food safety compliance.

The pair will educate field workers about policy and oversee all safety practices, such as water sampling and other processes.

The company also slightly increased acreage this year and hired Jim Garcia, of Yuma, as the harvesting company for this season.

Dulcinea to focus on cross-promotions

Dulcinea Farms LLC, Ladera Ranch, Calif., has several promotions in the works for this year’s crop.

The company is partnering with the California Avocado Commission for a cross-promotion of Firecracker Guacamole.

The dish features a spicy guacamole recipe served inside a hollowed out PureHeart watermelon. It’s recommended to be served with a watermelon smoothie or watermelon margarita.

Dulcinea will also offer a yellow-flesh miniature watermelon in July, called SunnyGold.

“We’ve done a lot of trials and think it will be really well-received,” general manager John McGuigan said.

McGuigan says promotions are important.

“Data shows that melons get a higher lift when they go on promotion than most other products in the produce department, so it’s important to coordinate our production with retailers to have promotions all season,” he said.

Monique McLaws, new product and marketing director, said the push for locally grown is a key part of promotion.

“It’s a really big part of our marketing mix, whether by ad or in-store promotion,” McLaws said.