( Courtesy Duda )

Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla., is expanding its Oxnard, Calif., cooling and fresh-cut facility, allowing the company to double fresh-cut celery production.

Increased demand for celery from foodservice and retailers has led to the expansion. Demand for celery sticks has increased 18% in the past year, according to a news release, citing IRI data from the 52 weeks ending Sept. 8.

“With the strong growth in the celery snacking segment, we saw an opportunity to get ahead of demand and amplify our capabilities,” Dan Duda, president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said in the release. “The expansion of the Oxnard facility allows us to not only continue preparing for tomorrow, but also to grow the Duda family legacy and ultimately the next generation of celery growers.”

The expansion is scheduled to be completed this fall, and provides “the brand with a footprint for continued growth over the years and enhanced customer service with higher volume efficiencies,” according to the release.

The $5 million expansion increases square footage by 35%, giving Duda the capacity to increase supply during peak demand times.

The company will be discussing the expansion at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit expo Oct. 18-19 in Anaheim, Calif., at booth No. 1537. Company representatives Dan Duda, Sammy Duda and Mark Bassetti will be in attendance, as well as Duda Farms Fresh Foods’ Culinary Ambassador, Chef Todd Fisher.

Fisher will be preparing food throughout the expo hours, focusing on dishes that reflect the Southern California culture, according to the release. Dandy brand celery, corn and radishes will be used in the dishes, from Korean short ribs, vegan grapefruit cupcakes, and chicken and sweet corn waffles, according to the release.

“We’re excited to showcase Anaheim’s food scene by serving dishes that represent the unique background and culture fusion of the city,” Nichole Towell, senior director of marketing, said in the release.

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