( )

Index Fresh Inc., Riverside, Calif., has made some changes in its operations department, said Dana Thomas, president and CEO.

Manrique Palacios, who was running the company’s Texas facility, has moved to California and is now running its Bloomington location.

“He has responsibility for all our California packing and warehouse operations,” Thomas said.

Juan Valdez has been promoted to facility manager and now runs the firm’s Texas operation.

Index Fresh also is set for its second season offering the GEM avocado variety.

Shipments of GEM — from the initials of Gray E. Martin, a University of California technician who helped develop it — should start in April.    

“It will be a very contained program for about six weeks and marketed toward specific customers,” Thomas said.

GEM has been an extension of the avocado category, he said.

“It will not replace hass but will increase avocado sales overall,” Thomas said.

“It has some really wonderful attributes,” he added, including flavor, internal and external appearance and peelability.

“It has a place in the market in an era when consumers are looking for something different,” he said.

“Everybody loves hass and will continue to love hass, but we think they can also love GEM.”

Thomas said production of the variety will continue to increase.