( Photos courtesy Boskovich Farms/Dole Food Co./Fresh Express Inc./Stemilt Growers/CMI Orchards )

Berry People shipping fruit

A new organic berry distributor, Hollister, Calif.-based Berry People, will ship blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries from Mexico, Chile, California and the Pacific Northwest for a year-round supply.

The berries will be sold under the Berry People label.

The company was formed by two growers in Mexico, Francisco Ortiz and Gerardo Escalera, and U.S. produce industry veteran Jerald Downs, who most recently worked for San Juan Batista, Calif.-based Earthbound Farm as the global fruit manager.

Berry People began shipping in November.


Boskovich offers romaine hearts

Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., is venturing into its first season of romaine hearts in the B Organic label, said Darrell Beyer, organic sales manager. The company also will have new packaging for its green beans and squash.


Champ’s to open new facility

Champ’s Mushrooms Inc., Aldergrove, British Columbia, plans to open a 40-acre Dutch-style organic mushroom farm in Aldergrove during the second quarter of the year, said Michael Richmond, sales and marketing manager.

Called T&T Mushroom Farms, the new facility will be a “state-of-the-art model,” he said, and will produce 10 million pounds of white, brown and portabella mushrooms.

“It will allow a 30% increase in production for us,” he said.

The company will have a total of 11 farms.


CMI offers more club varieties

Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards LLC, which markets the Daisy Girl Organics brand, always has been big on club varieties for its conventionally grown fruit, but now the company packs organic club varieties as well, said Loren Foss, organic manager.

“We have three different organic club varieties,” he said.

“This is a big year for our organic Kanzi,” Foss said.

The company started shipping organic Kanzis two years ago, “but this is the first year that we have any sort of volume,” he said.

CMI Orchards also has growing volumes of organic Ambrosia apples.

“Our tonnage went up over 100% on organic Ambrosia this year,” Foss said.

Kiku is the third organic club variety that the company offers.

Daisy Girl Organics also includes a full line of more traditional organic apples and pears, he said.


Dole enjoys major organic growth

Dole Food Co., Westlake Village, Calif., has experienced explosive growth in its organic banana and organic pineapple categories, said Bil Goldfield, director of corporate communications.

The company continues to expand organic product offerings for whole vegetables as well as value-added offerings.

Dole introduced organic asparagus during 2017 and plans to introduce other whole organic vegetables in 2018, he said.

In February, Dole will “leverage its expertise in salad kits” and introduce a line of organic kits nationally, Goldfield said.

Dole’s organic kit lineup includes Organic Apple Dijon salad kit, Organic Caesar salad kit, Organic Sweet Citrus salad kit, and Organic Savory Balsamic.

Each will feature attributes important to organic and kit consumers: restaurant-quality experience, uniquely paired flavor combinations, nutritious baby lettuce and convenience, he said.


Fresh Express updates graphics

Packaging for the nearly two dozen organic kits and blends from Salinas, Calif.-based Fresh Express Inc. is undergoing a graphic refresh, said Michael Golderman, marketing brand leader.

Packages will have a “cleaner, more contemporary, bold design,” he said, that will emphasize the products’ premium positioning and enable consumers to see more of the product.

“It will very much make a statement about natural, premium and freshness,” Golderman said.

Some of the company’s organic blends in clamshell containers already are making their way into supermarkets, he said in late December. Salad kits should be available by the third or fourth week of January.

“That will complete an organic refresh across the entire line,” he said.


Homegrown has California blueberries

Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif., now is shipping high-quality coastal blueberries out of California, said CEO Scott Mabs.

The fall-winter deal out of Santa Maria is “unique, timing-wise,” he said.

The company had a small program last year but will have larger volume this season, Mabs said.

Homegrown also will have “substantial” new organic table grape production in the Bakersfield area this summer, which will significantly increase the size of its red and green grape programs, he said.

The company is also adding domestically grown strawberries to its freeze-dried fruit line that already includes blueberries, grapes and apples and will have additional volume of its high-flavor Dulce Vida nectarines later in the year.


Sage Organics offers new bin

Sage Fruit Co. LLC, Yakima, Wash., is offering a new Sage Organics bin, said Chuck Sinks, president of sales and marketing.

“Some of the smaller retailers don’t have a designated organic section,” he said. Sage Fruit bin

The new bin will allow them to highlight their organic offerings.

“It draws a lot of attention to organics,” he said.

Business is booming at Sage, Sinks added.

“We’ve increased our organic business 2,500% from last year to this year,” he said.

“We went from being a small player in the organic game to a very competitive major player in the organic apple and pear business,” Sinks said.

He attributed the sales boost to organic acreage completing its transition phase.

The company’s supply of organic fruit is expected to remain in a growth pattern for the next three years.


Stemilt expands organic bag line

Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash., continues to offer more branded organic bag items, including the launch of an Artisan Organic Apple Lover pouch bag in mid-January, said Brianna Shales, communications manager.

“With increased organic supplies, retailers are building up their categories and looking to convenient pouch bags to offer an item for busy shoppers to buy on impulse,” she said.

Stemilt also offers a full line of organic Lil Snappers 3-pound pouch bags that targets families.

“While many go into a smaller pouch bag for organic, we feel strongly that 3 pounds is a good fit for apples marketed to kids because it fits well with the family’s shopping frequency and allows parents to give two children an apple every day for a week,” she said.


Tanimura & Antle adds three items

Three products have been added to the organic line at Salinas, Calif.-based Tanimura & Antle, according to a news release.

The company now offers celery and celery hearts, broccoli and cauliflower in addition to its existing line of romaine hearts, Artisan Romaine and Artisan Sweet Italian Red Onions.

Tanimura & Antle is re-entering the organics market after an eight-year hiatus, the release said.


Wholesum Harvest promotes two

Steve LeFevre, a 17-year veteran with Nogales, Ariz.-based Wholesum Harvest, has been promoted from sales manager to vice president of business development, according to a news release. Kristina Luna, who has been with company for five years, has been named sales manager.


Viva Tierra touts specialties

Although Mount Vernon, Wash.-based Viva Tierra Organic Inc. grows a wide range of organic apples, pears, onions, stone fruit and kiwifruit, many consumers take a special interest in some of the lesser-known apple varieties and specialty heirlooms, said Addie Pobst, organic integrity and logistics coordinator.

These varieties have a “dedicated fan base in the organic consumer world,” she said, and include pink pearl, spitzenberg, Ambrosia, newton pippins and Cox’s orange pippins.

“Some large, conventional marketers won’t bother getting involved with those kinds of smaller-volume deals on the specialty varieties,” Pobst said.

“We like to do that. It’s fun. It adds a little variety to the mix.”

There’s some cachet to specialty varieties because they’re only available in limited numbers, she said.

“You get to eat a piece of fruit that not very many other people are going to get to enjoy that year.”

Specialty varieties of pears also are available, she said, but not as many as apples.