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,”
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.