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Giumarra increases organic production

by Tim Linden | December 06, 2010
The Los Angeles based Giumarra Cos., which has had a presence in Nogales, AZ, for four decades, is expecting an increase in its organic volume this year, and will debut a couple of other new products.

"We have steadily been increasing our organic product offering," said Ben Reilly, the firm's Midwest business development manager, who is based in the Arizona office. “We now offer U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic melons, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, strawberries and papaya to complement our conventional product line.”

This season, the Giumarra Cos.’ Nogales division is also introducing a wrapped slicer cucumber as well as a free-standing, sealable bag of green beans with a grab handle. Mr. Reilly said the benefits of the new cucumber package include a longer shelf life with superior slicer flavor. In trials, he said the product retained fresh eating qualities well after it made it into the consumer’s home.

He said the green bean bags will ship unsealed in trays of 15 weighing 20 pounds each. “We felt the bag allowed consumers to more clearly view the product compared to a clamshell,” he said. “Because it stands upright on its own, the bag keeps retail displays looking tidy, and the ventilation benefits of the bag allow it to be displayed in both refrigerated and non-refrigerated environments.”

Giumarra Nogales was formed in 1971 to centralize its marketing operations for Mexican produce. “The division’s first grower partnership was with the Podesta family in the Culiacan Valley from which Santa Teresa label tomatoes were imported,” said Nogales Division Manager Nick Rendon. “Four decades later, we maintain a fortified partnership with the Podesta family and have developed successful relationships with numerous other multi-generational farming families from Mexico. These growers not only farm throughout many of the diverse growing regions of Mexico, but they have also pioneered production in new regions to develop additional program abilities.”

He added that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Giumarra recognized the importance of food safety and began working with its Mexican growing partners to enhance their food safety efforts. It has been an ongoing effort and today the company believes it is a leader in the food-safety arena.

Though the company has worked with its original Mexican growing partner for 40 years, it is not adverse to change. “Change is common with Giumarra Nogales, as we constantly look to stay ahead of the industry, identifying new needs or trends and ensuring we satisfy these,” said Mr. Rendon. “Examples range from developing new packaging to partnering with growers who are exceptionally aware of their corporate responsibilities to the environment and communities in which they operate.”

One example is the addition of a Texas port of entry for the firm’s Mexican product. “Over the years, Giumarra Nogales has grown into a substantial operation, shipping product out of two locations, Nogales, and McAllen, Texas. Our operations and logistics infrastructure allows us to ship product to our customers anywhere in the U.S. and Canada,” he said.

Among those customers are most major retailers, as well as wholesale and foodservice customers. “We work together with our other regional sales divisions to offer our customers a full line of fresh produce year round,” Mr. Reilly. said, adding that Giumarra’s Nogales programs draw on the extensive experience the company has in the marketplace to offer sustainable and competitive business opportunities. With regard to those three distinct customers, he said the firm’s foodservice business is steadily growing. “Successful foodservice items for us include tomatoes sold by Giumarra Nogales, as well as avocados and asparagus sold by our Giumarra Agricom and Giumarra Borquez partnerships, respectively.”

As the company promotes its products with its customer base, it creates individual promotion programs for each segment. “We work with customers individually on promotions and programs that work best for their marketing strategy and consumer demographic,” said Mr. Reilly. “We also offer category management capabilities, and assist customers with merchandising and point-of-sale materials.”