ORLANDO, FL — In 1909, Andrew Duda left his native Slovakia for America
with $100 and a pocket full of celery seeds. Fifteen years later, he and his
three sons founded A. Duda & Sons in Oviedo, FL, and grew primarily celery.
A century later, Andrew Duda's descendants have done their forefather one
better: They have invented a new kind of celery — a blushing red variety —
that is the first in a coming line of proprietary "Celery Sensations" from Duda
Farm Fresh Foods Inc.
“It’s something new and different and exciting, and you can only get it from
Duda,” company President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Duda told The
Produce News following a news conference announcing the new product Oct.
16 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit convention at the
Orange County Convention Center, here.
While the celery is tinged red anywhere from halfway to three-quarters of the
way from the base up the stalk, the flavor and texture are the same as Duda’s
premium green celery.
The company is positioning the product as a potential holiday favorite,
though it will be grown year round. Duda’s red celery will become available in
most of the country Dec. 1 and will be available everywhere in the United
States by June 2011.
Mr. Duda also said that the company believes the coloring will entice more
children to try a vegetable not usually listed as a top kid favorite.
Duda horticulturist Larry Pierce, who developed the variety, was quick to note
that the red celery is 100 percent natural and was not genetically modified in
any way. “It had to be natural,” Dr. Pierce said. “There is no genetic
The variety was 19 years in the making. Dr. Pierce found traces of natural red
in some older celery varieties and spent most of the next two decades cross-
breeding those with Duda’s proprietary green celeries.
“Nineteen years. If you had a child 19 years ago, they would be graduating
high school now,” Dr. Pierce said. “I can still remember when this was just a
sparkle in my eye.”
Rick Alcocer, Duda sales manager, said, “It’s a dream come true for our sales
Americans consumed just over six pounds of fresh celery per person last year
compared with about eight pounds of fresh carrots, according to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture. The 2009 celery crop totaled 1.97 billion pounds,
with a total value of $364.8 million.
Duda is one of the world’s leading celery producers, and Dan Duda said that
he believes the new variety will lead to a spike in U.S. celery sales. The Fresh
Summit unveiling of the first entry in the “Celery Sensations” line “turned
heads and captured everyone’s attention, and we are confident its superior
quality, great taste and vibrant color will build incremental category sales.”
“Celery Sensations” packaging will include a Microsoft “smart tag,” a high-
capacity color barcode containing encoded information consumers can easily
access by scanning with a mobile device — primarily smart phones. Data
presented include product and nutritional information, storage and usage
tips, recipes and meal suggestions.
“We aim to continually explore and utilize packaging that maintains strict
sustainability guidelines and reduces transportation and handling costs
throughout the supply chain in addition to protecting the freshness, safety
and integrity of our natural products,” said Sammy Duda, vice president of
Western vegetable operations.
The company also introduced a new pre-packaged item, julienned radish
mini-sticks, at Fresh Summit.
Duda Farm Fresh Foods grows on 39,000 acres of produce in Florida, Georgia,
California, Arizona and Michigan.