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New Nogales firm, Natural Flavor, offers tomatoes, veg from Obregon

by Rand Green | December 06, 2010
Natural Flavor Produce LLC in Nogales, AZ, is a new business on the scene in the West Mexico deal, but the general manager, Gabriel (Gabe) Nuñez, who handles sales for the company, has 18 years of experience on the sales desk.

Natural Flavor is "owned by a group of growers from Obregon, Mexico," Mr. Nuñez told The Produce News Nov. 26. Two of the company's partners are growers that Mr. Nuñez used to sell for when he worked for GreenPoint Distributing LLC, “and we kept in contact through the years. They came to me and offered me the opportunity to open up this new business here, and I went ahead and took it.”

The company opened its doors in March 2010, and from mid-March through June moved about 700,000 packages of Roma tomatoes, both greenhouse and shadehouse grown. For the 2011 season, “we expect it to go to a million,” he said.

Natural Flavor also represents other growers in addition to the owners, and although the spring Roma deal constitutes the biggest volume, the company also handles other commodities.

“For example, right now we are selling Euro cucumbers and we just started today with some Persian pickles,” he said. “We have yellow squash, gray squash and zucchini. We also started with some hard shell [squash] this week,” specifically Butternut. “I will have some Spaghetti next week.”

The company also handles shadehouse-grown conventional cucumbers.

Except for the Romas, which are strictly a spring deal, all of the other items go right through the winter, he said.

Additionally, “we expect some sweet corn from the Los Mochis area” beginning in late December, Mr. Nuñez said. With that exception, all of the growers Natural Flavor is currently working with are in the Obregon area.

The products are shipped in “various grower labels,” he said.

The company sells to customers of all types throughout the United States and into Canada as well, he said. “A lot of our Euro cukes are going to Canada.”

A focus on quality and Mr. Nuñez’ 18 years on the sales desk are among the company’s greatest strengths, he said.

Regarding the crop outlook for the 2010-11 season, the early crop of European cucumbers has been light, with “much less volume than we expected,” he said. But “we have a new crop starting in a couple of weeks that looks good.” All of the other items look healthy, he added.