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Fruit importer, exporter and distributor since 1937, William H. Kopke Jr. Inc. has acquired a majority position in Modena, NY-based Stanley Orchards Sales LLC, an industry leader in the apple and pear import-export business.

The multi-generational, family-owned-and-operated businesses bring a combined 164 years of produce expertise, knowledge and experience to customers and suppliers. Through this expanded, consistent and reliable supply of products, Kopke and Stanley Orchards will raise the bar on the already high level of individualized customer service on which they have built their reputations as industry leaders.Kopke-Signing-IMG 4089-LCPeter Kopke Sr. (seated) with Jordan Cohn, Ron Cohn, William Kopke and Peter Kopke Jr. While remaining focused on their customers’ preferences and requirements, they will continue to innovate by simplifying procurement, coordinating communications and streamlining logistics.

Ron Cohn will retain an ownership position at Stanley Orchards and his general management responsibilities.  He is joined by his son, Jordan Cohn, the fourth generation of Cohns at Stanley Orchards.

"We are pleased to become partners in Stanley Orchard Sales," William Kopke said in a press release. "We are both family companies, and we hope to build on the existing business with new and exciting strategies, while still focusing on the traditional values that brought us both here today."

"“We welcome this opportunity to partner with the Kopke team," Ron Cohn said in the release. "Kopke is a leader and innovator in fruit imports. Our expanded business will not only offer more product and service to our customers, but provide our suppliers with greater sales and distribution opportunities. As apple specialists, we project growth and expansion in all areas of operations, domestic, export and imports. We are pleased to be a fourth-generation company and look forward to the growth we can achieve with the Kopke family."

Three additional major produce growers have started shipping to Walmart in wood grain reusable plastic containers from Polymer Logistics.

Agroexport LLC/Villita Avocados, Moonlight Cos. and Wawona Packing Co. join Grimmway Farms, Calavo Growers, Pure Hothouse Foods, Gerawan Farming and Bee Sweet Citrus in using Polymer RPCs to support Walmart’s new produce merchandising program.Agro-export-1

Wood grain RPCs from Polymer Logistics are highlighted in the newly redesigned produce departments at Walmart stores across the United States. The retailer is converting many of its produce departments by November 2016 to look like traditional country farmers markets. The ongoing deployment of the wood grain RPCs is providing a uniform merchandising look in stores and has been a core focus for Polymer since trials in Walmart Supercenters in early 2015.

“We are pleased to be working with such a great group of growers to back Walmart’s innovative new produce merchandising effort,” Gideon Feiner, chief executive officer of Polymer Logistics, said in a press release. “We see wood grain RPCs expanding very quickly within the Walmart supply chain and beyond to other retail customers.”

“Customers are signing up for the wood grain RPC program at a rapid pace and our operations group is working hard to keep up with the demand,” Tony Mosco, vice president of sales at Polymer Logistics, added in the press release. “The feedback we’ve been receiving is that the quality of our containers and our comprehensive customer service offering is attracting new growers across the country.”

“We’ve been collaborating with Walmart and Polymer Logistics on the launch of the new wood grain RPCs,” Ben Vived, sales manager at Wawona Packing Co., added in the press release. “The process has been very smooth and the service from Polymer Logistics has been outstanding. Custom packaging is a specialty of Wawona’s, and joining forces with Polymer Logistics was a natural fit.”

Ahold USA announced that its Giant Landover retail division now carries locally grown produce, year-round from BrightFarms Capitol Greenhouse, a 150,000-square-foot greenhouse farm located in Culpeper County, VA. In addition to Giant Landover locations, the BrightFarms greenhouse will soon supply select Martin’s Food Markets and Peapod within the Giant Landover market.BrightFarms-AUSA

BrightFarms will provide Giant Landover an assortment of the freshest salad mixes such as baby arugula, Asian greens, baby spinach, spring mix, spinach blend, baby kale, as well as basil and a variety of tomatoes. The produce supplied will total nearly 1 million pounds per year.

“Ahold USA and our retail divisions are on a mission to transform our produce departments from good to great — that means more local produce, better prices and better quality for our customers,” David Lessard, vice president of fresh produce for Ahold USA, said in a press release. “BrightFarms is a key partner in this ongoing strategy and takes our long heritage of supporting local growers to the next level offering select ‘in-season’ local produce year-round.”

BrightFarms’ state-of-the-art greenhouse farms are specifically designed to conserve land and water and help the environment by locating the farms close to markets to reduce greenhouse gas emission from transportation. Its produce can go from “seed to shelf” in as little as 26 days, and will be delivered to stores within 24 hours of harvest, ensuring the produce is as fresh as possible.  Additionally, BrightFarms creates green-collar jobs for local farmers, allowing more money to stay within the community that it serves.

"The BrightFarms Capitol Greenhouse allows us, in partnership with Ahold USA, to provide consumers with the tastiest, freshest and most sustainable local produce possible, no matter the season,” Paul Lightfoot, chief executive officer of BrightFarms, said in the release. “It's a huge win for both Ahold USA retail consumers and the environment."

Ahold USA partners with more than 270 local farms.  “Ahold USA embraces the responsibility to support local economies by offering the widest selection of locally grown products possible,” said Lessard.

LOS ANGELES — It’s a 12-day journey for Chilean fruit to make it to the Port of Los Angeles from South America, and Steve Hattendorf, western U.S. merchandiser for the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, recently invited a group of retailers to San Pedro, CA, to take a first-hand look at the unloading process.

On a beautiful and clear Southern California morning, Nathan Nueske, Mike Takeuchi, John Fujii and Ted Fujii of Gelson’s Markets met Hattendorf near the Los Angeles Maritime Museum to take a one-hour tour of the port on the vessel Triumphant.  That journey included a quick look at Chilean grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries and pears being off-loaded at the docks.P1060025Nathan Nueske, Mike Takeuchi, John Fujii and Ted Fujii of Gelson’s Markets with Steve Hattendorf of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association on board Triumphant.

A few minutes after passing by the famed battleship USS Iowa, the Triumphant detoured and soon the Brazilian Reefer filled with Chilean fruit loomed ahead. One ship similar to this one carries roughly 6,000 pallets of Chilean fruit to the Port of Los Angeles each week; major Eastern distribution is serviced by Port Wilmington, Delaware.

The Brazilian Reefer is a break-bulk vessel, so the pallets are carefully unloaded and then, at about 3 a.m., for the next few days, 2,000 pallets a day are picked up by 100 trucks and sent to distribution centers and retailers in the western United States.  

According to Greg Augustine, who was also on the tour and is quite familiar with the process, “It’s controlled pandemonium, but the process works well and within four hours all the fruit has been picked up and it’s on its way.”

Hattendorf naturally brought an ample amount of Chilean grapes on board the Triumphant, which the Gelson’s group and other passengers enjoyed during the harbor tour.

After disembarking, Hattendorf, Augustine, Nueske and John Fujii were afforded the opportunity to make their way to the docks to get a closer view of the fruit being off-loaded.  

Chilean fruit started hitting West Coast and East Coast ports (mostly from the ports of Valparaíso and San Antonio, Chile) in late December, and these once-a-week shipments will continue into April.

Valparaíso is the main container port in Chile, transferring 10 million tons annually. The port of San Antonio is the largest in terms of freight handled and is the busiest on the western coast of South America.  

Grapes constitute about 50 percent of the fruit from Chile this season, and they come in green, red and black varieties.  

Hattendorf said, “Currently we have an abundance of green grapes,” a fact for which the passengers of the Triumphant were quite thankful.

Mastronardi Holdings Ltd. has entered into three agreements, under which it will acquire ownership and control of slightly less than 20 percent of all the issued and outstanding common shares of Village Farms International Inc.

Mastronardi will acquire the common shares for an aggregate purchase price of $9.625 million plus an aggregate amount of $462,000 in respect of a break fee payable by the sellers, which amounts equate to $1.25 and $0.06 per share, respectively.

Prior to this deal Mastronardi had beneficial ownership and control over 33,000 common shares of Village Farms, representing approximately 0.09 percent of the issued and outstanding common shares. Following the acquisition, Mastronardi will have beneficial ownership and control over 7.733 million common shares of Village Farms, representing approximately 19.98 percent of all the issued and outstanding common shares.

Mastronardi said it will acquire the common shares for investment purposes. The company said that, depending on market conditions and other factors, it may from time to time acquire and/or dispose of securities of Village Farms or continue to hold its current position.