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A new partnership with Golden Maid Packers in Strathmore, CA, has added domestic citrus to items shipped by Vancouver, BC-based The Oppenheimer Group.

According to a press release from Oppenheimer, California-grown Valencia and Navel oranges and lemons will begin shipping in early May, marking the first time the "Oppenheimer" brand has appeared on domestically grown citrus.

John Anderson, president, chairman and chief executive officer of Oppenheimer, said in the press release, "The global citrus category is very dynamic right now. Adding domestic fruit to our repertoire enables us to market a wide range of citrus with an integrated approach, serving our customers with year-round access to preferred varieties."

Known for its groundwork on the Japanese Mandarin orange market in western Canada and the Pacific Northwest more than a century ago, Oppenheimer has also long been a source of Australian Navel oranges and other varieties grown Down Under. Today its volume and assortment includes fruit from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, Peru, Spain and California.

"About three years ago, we saw the U.S. becoming more accommodating to import citrus, just as plantings of popular varieties, like clementines and W. Murcotts, began to increase globally," James Milne, director of Oppenheimer's citrus category, added in the press release. "As we developed our import program, we have been seeking the right opportunity to complement it with domestic fruit."

Leading up to Oppenheimer's California citrus program was an earlier stone fruit relationship with Golden Maid announced this year. Golden Maid is the latest member of Oppenheimer's domestic stone fruit grower family, which also includes Bujulian Bros. Inc. and Wildwood Packing & Cooling, both located in Kingsburg, CA.

"Golden Maid's citrus volume is a logical accompaniment to our shared stone fruit program," Mr. Milne said. "In addition, the facility is located not far from our Central Valley grape growers, which could create shipping efficiencies for our customers. We are also considering taking advantage of this top-notch operation by consolidating our domestic and summer import citrus fruit there, and custom packing to order at Golden Maid. We're looking forward to nurturing our California citrus program together as the deal ramps back up in autumn and winter."

"Golden Maid Packers has a long family farming tradition that has been growing stone fruit, grapes, kiwis and citrus in the same locations for over 60 years," Golden Maid CEO Kerry Whitson added in the press release.

The farming business was started by Kenneth Myers in 1921. His son, Bruce Myers, who continues to be actively involved today, followed in his footsteps in 1950, incorporating Golden Maid Packing 16 years later.

Bruce Myers' daughter, Cindy Myers, serves as its president. Mr. Whitson is Mr. Myers' son-in-law, and Mr. Myers' grandson, Joshua Whitson, is the company's safety compliance coordinator and represents the family's fourth generation to farm, pack, ship and market fresh California fruits.