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Veggies Inc. expands quality-control department, adds refrigerated trucks

by Rand Green | December 06, 2010
NOGALES, AZ — Veggies Inc., here, a buying broker which handles all of the produce items available in the Nogales produce deal on a buy-sell basis and also does quality-control inspections, consolidation and repacking, has expanded the size of its quality-control department this year with the addition of "a couple of new inspectors," according to Marco Barreda, vice president.

In addition, “on the operations side, we added three new refrigerated trucks” to the company's fleet of bobtail trucks, he said.

The refrigerated trucks enable Veggies Inc. to pick up product for customers without breaking the cold chain, “in order to maintain the temperature from the packingshed all the way to the customer,” he said, noting that it is “a new way of doing business” in Nogales.

While the company handles a full line of produce, “we are very strong in the tomato area as well as the cucumbers” and also in zucchini, yellow and gray squash,” he said. “But we handle all of the bell peppers and everything.

At times in the past, the company has had some growing deals from Mexico, he said. But for the past five years, “we have dedicated ourselves to our [brokerage] business in order to better service the customers and provide better quality control to all our customers.”

Veggies Inc. has “all kinds of customers,” he said. “We go after every type of customer” and ship “coast to coast all over the country“ and also into Canada.

“We are very strict on quality control, to provide our customers with the best of the product available,” he said. “We really put a lot of effort into that.”

In addition to the quality-control inspection service, “we provide all types of service that our customers require,” he added. Consolidation and repacking are a big part of that, but the company also offers cross-docking and in-and-out services.

Although Veggies Inc. has done repacking since it was founded 13 years ago, and the company’s partners, Mike Vohland and Pablo Estrada, were doing repacking for years before that through their previous company, Wayne Vohland & Sons, last year the company expanded its repack business.

The repacking takes many forms and serves various purposes, from addressing quality issues to making container changes, Mr. Vohland told The Produce News in a November 2009 interview. “Whatever the customer wants, that is what we are going to give them.”

Sometimes a customer will “ask us for specific types of packages” or ask for product to be repacked “in their label, or in our label,” said Mr. Barreda.

When The Produce News talked to Mr. Barreda in late November, he said that the beginning of the 2010-11 Nogales season had been difficult because on several items, and particularly on zucchini squash, there was an abundance of product in the market due to local deals throughout the United States running later than usual. “Hopefully as we progress, [the market] will get a little better.”

With cucumbers, “there is not a whole lot out there” and demand is good, “but the market has been steady,” he said. “It hasn’t gone up like I would think it would.”

The firm was just “barely starting with eggplant” and “the market is hot right now,” he said. Green bell peppers were also starting. Tomatoes had not yet started, and customers were “anxious to start receiving tomato products.”