10 umina brothers
Amy Sowder

UMINA BROTHERS: While Los Angeles-based Umina Brothers has been ripening bananas for at least 25 years, now the company is ripening avocados, which are shipped throughout the West Coast. The company is also a grower, packer and marketer of citrus. The company, which is about 100 years old, sells the produce it grows, but also other labels too, say Mark Golden, Jim Clark and Matt Golden.

11 america berry farms
Amy Sowder

AMERICA BERRY FARMS: Based in Fillmore, Calif., America Berry Farms grows on about 120 acres in Oxnard, Salinas, Santa Maria and Watsonville in California, as well as on about 100 acres in Irapuato, Mexico, say Adrian Mendez (left), Hector Velazquez and Freddy Jimenez. The company has the capacity to produce 10 to 12 loads a week, which equates to 35,000 boxes. California prices for berries have been down, says Velazquez. The company also grows about 10 acres of organic berries.

12 green herbs international
Amy Sowder

GREEN HERBS INTERNATIONAL: This Vernon, Calif., company just earned its organic certification and has a goal to kick off its organic herbs line this summer, says Joe Quiroz, general manager of Green Herbs International. “Everybody keeps asking us for it. We tried unsuccessfully 10 years ago, but the demand is higher now. Everyone is more informed and willing to pay more,” Quiroz says.

13 cleveland kraut
Amy Sowder

CLEVELAND KRAUT: No longer just an item to go with meat in delis, Cleveland-based Cleveland Kraut is marketing its spiced sauerkraut varieties as a vegetable side dish and topping for tacos and eggs, says Mac Anderson, co-founder and chief marketing officer. All the Whole Foods salad bars on the East Coast have Cleveland Kraut as a selection, he says as while offering samples of original, beet, garlic, dill and spicy flavors.  “It’s our passion,” Anderson says.

14 gold coast packing
Amy Sowder

GOLD COAST PACKING: A Brussels sprouts program is in the works, and “we’re chugging along with cauliflower and broccoli,” says Crystal Chavez (left), with Terry Kunel at their booth for Gold Coast Packing, Santa Maria, Calif. Rain has caused some setbacks from last year, but the quality is good. It’s “peaks and valleys,” Chavez says. Also: “There’s a lot of interest in our small packs,” she continues, referring to the expo attendees who stop by their booth.

15 western fresh marketing
Amy Sowder

WESTERN FRESH MARKETING: This family company of three generations packs, ships and imports fruit, onions and ginger from its home base in Madera, Calif. “This is our first year to have Mexican figs. We’re big in California, so it extends our fig season,” says George Kragie (left), with son Chris Kragie and grandson Peyton Kraigie.  By next year, Western Fresh Marketing could increase its volume to have a year-round fig program.

16 pure fresh
Amy Sowder

PURE FRESH: Selma, Calif.-based Pure Fresh offers organic and conventional stone fruit and has acquired new apricot varieties that extend the company’s season from late April into mid-July, say Urbano Magana (left), Bill Purewal and Eric Cole. Pure Fresh has a lot more black plum with red flesh varieties that extend the season from June through September. “There is an abundance of fruit on trees, and we had good dormancy and a good amount of rain during winter,” Purewal says.

17 one. the better banana co
Amy Sowder

ONE. THE BETTER BANANA CO.: Ron Granzella (left) and Blake Harwell promote the company’s sustainable mission to the attendees who stop by their booth for One. The Better Banana Co., New York, N.Y. The company’s plantations are in Central and South America, where they also build schools and hospitals, Granzella says. “It’s all about taking care of environment, people and quality,” Granzella says. The company is a division of Agro America, which is more than 60 years old.

18 altar produce
Amy Sowder

ALTAR PRODUCE: There’s been a changing of the guard at Altar Produce, San Diego, says Dino Iacovino, domestic salesman. Donald Alford, asparagus sales manager, left the company, and Juan Carillo moved into his position. Meanwhile, that left an opening in the wet vegetable commodity program, which Michael Stewart and Luis Lopez have filled, Iacovino says. As far as product, “we’re getting ready to start importing from Irapuato, Mexico,” he says.

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