view current print edition




Vantaggio will have early cucumber and squash deals in Nogales

by Rand Green | September 15, 2010
Vantaggio Farming Corp., which is headquartered in San Diego and also has a branch office in Nogales, AZ, will have an early cucumber and squash deal in Nogales that starts about two weeks earlier than most other shippers, according to Ross Keefer, a partner in the company.

"We grow in Caborca, which is in the northern part of Sonora [Mexico]," Mr. Keefer told The Produce News Sept. 13. "It seems like we have a little earlier window than some of the guys in Hermosillo," which is the other major growing district in the state of Sonora.

By growing in Caborca, "we figured we could get an earlier start" by a couple of weeks and be in good volume by the time most other shippers started, he said.

The company expected to start with cucumbers around Sept. 20 and hard squash and yellow squash around the first of October, he said. Those will continue through about mid-December.

The hard squash varieties offered this year by Vantaggio are acorn, spaghetti and kabocha.

"We usually have butternut, too, but this year we didn't," Mr. Keefer said.

With production in California as well as several districts in Mexico, Vantaggio has product year-round, Mr. Keefer said. But "our biggest deal is out of Nogales, the one that is going to start right now."

Vantaggio will have red and yellow Bell peppers out of Culiacan in Sinaloa, Mexico, starting around mid-November and continuing through the winter, and that product, too, will come through Nogales. Then in the spring, the company will again have a sizable hard squash deal in Sonora, he said.

"We also grow California bells," which are shipped from San Diego, Mr. Keefer said. Between those and the winter bells in Nogales, the company has bell peppers 12 months of the year. In addition, Vantaggio ships cucumbers out of San Diego "spring, summer and fall months." Those are grown in San Quentin in northern Baja California, Mexico. "We have been involved in that since the inception of the company," he said.

The Baja product is grown in shadehouses, whereas the Sonora product is field-grown, he said.

Vantaggio was started in 2007 by Mr. Keefer and his brother, Brent Keefer, the company's president. Brent Keefer's main focus is the farming operations, which involves spending a lot of time in Mexico during the Nogales deal, he said. "I mainly stay inside the office, and I handle sales and marketing."

The company's products are packed in the "Vantaggio" label. "Everything is basically standard cartons right now," Mr. Keefer said. Special packs are "something we are looking toward in the future."

Vantaggio Farming Corp. is still a fairly small operation, he said. "We want to grow. But we want to take it kind of slow and do it the right way."