Altar Produce moves toward organic product

Calexico, Calif.-based Altar Produce LLC is getting closer to organic asparagus production, said Don Alford, sales manager.

"There"s more people out there asking for organic than they are asking for the (purple and white varieties), as far as we"re concerned," he said.

Altar currently has acreage in transition from conventional to organic production, Alford said.

"We have acreage planted and it will be about a year away from having it in production," he said, declining to disclose the number of acres.


Ayco Farms hires marketing V.P.

Dale Chase joined Pompano Beach, Fla.-based Ayco Farms Inc. as executive vice president of sales and marketing in early February, the company announced.

The company"s goal in bringing in Chase is to diversify its retail sales programs and products.

Chase focuses particularly on value-added and packaging areas, Ayco said.

"Ayco provides the perfect platform for launching unique future programs," Chase said.

Chase also is tasked with helping to direct the growth of the sales department, especially in relation to direct retail programs and category management support.

"We"ll be moving the sales team into more specific relationships with our retail partner customers and helping them even further develop unique programs to serve our customers" needs," Chase said.

Chase formerly was vice president of national sales with Pero Family Farms in Delray Beach, Fla. He also has worked as national sales manager for retail with GreenLine Foods. Chase also worked at Freshway Foods in product development and sales.


CarbAmericas switches sales office to Salinas

Pompano Beach, Fla.-based CarbAmericas Inc. closed its Los Angeles sales office and moved it to Salinas, Calif.

West Coast sales manager Pat Ramirez, who had directed the office in Los Angeles for 10 years, moved it to Salinas at the beginning of 2014, he said.

"We wanted to get back to the hub of produce, in terms of being next to other grower-shippers," Ramirez said, noting that the decision to move was his.

"There was no real company strategy behind it, but to be located in the hub of the Salinas Valley was certainly a strong draw," he said.


Double D Farms

Organic asparagus grower-shipper Double D Farms, based in Coalinga, Calif., added about 90 new acres to its production, said Sal Pacheco, salesman.

The expansion upped the company"s total acreage to about 300, Pacheco said.


Gourmet Trading Co.

Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co. is working on building its company label, said Brian Miller, president.

"After in depth strategic planning Gourmet Trading Co. has made the decision to re-energize our focus on the promotion and distribution our own ‘Gourmet" brand for our fresh asparagus and blueberries," he said.

The company also has new packaging that includes photos that illustrate serving suggestions, said Julia Inestroza, marketing director.


Progressive Produce

Cruz Carrera joined Los Angeles-based Progressive Produce as a result of its October acquisition of Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce"s asparagus business, Mission Asparagus LLC.

"We had a plan to increase our acres every year in order to have a viable year-round program in this commodity when we began," Jim Leimkuhler, president of Progressive Produce, said in a news release. "The addition of Mission"s excellent growers along with Carrera"s five years of experience on the category will accelerate that plan."

Carrera joined a sales staff that includes Gary Meadows and Cory Stahl, plus general manager Don Hessel. He works with Meadows and Stahl on key account sales of the Americas brand year-round asparagus program.

Progressive Produce also has locations in Quincy, Wash., and Bakersfield, Calif.


Todd Greiner Farms

Hart, Mich.-based asparagus grower-shipper Todd Greiner Farms recently made two hires to lead its sales and logistics efforts, CEO Todd Greiner said.

Pittsburgh native Darren Gilbert became the company"s sales manager in early February, Greiner said.

"He has a long history of working in horticulture and a lot of sales experience and knows a lot of people," Greiner said of Gilbert, who is a newcomer to the produce industry.

Aaron Fletcher has joined the company as assistant sales/logistics manager. He officially started with the company March 5.

It also is Fletcher"s first produce industry position.

"Most of the last six years, I"ve been working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska," said Fletcher, a native of Walkerville, Mich., about 5 miles from Greiner Farms.

Fletcher holds a general management degree from Central Michigan University, which he finished in 2012.

Fletcher said he and Gilbert will focus on different areas.

"He"s going to concentrate on sales and help with logistics and I"m going to concentrate on logistics and help with the sales," Fletcher said.