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E. Armata completes renovation of Hunts Point facility

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E. Armata, a fourth-generation family-run fruit and vegetable wholesaler located in the Hunts Point terminal market in the Bronx, NY, has been in business for over 100 years. Today, it is a tenant of major significance on the market and for its retail, wholesale and foodservice customers throughout the tri-state region.

Chris Armata, president of the company, told The Produce News that the major renovation project the firm started last April was completed in November.image005E. Armata family members Michael Armata, sales representative, Chris Armata, president, Chelsea Armata, human resource manager, Paul Armata, vice president, and Nicholas Armata, sales representative.

"This was a major gutting and rebuilding from the ground up," said Armata. "And we started this project months before it was announced that Hunts Point had negotiated a seven-year lease extension with the city of New York. We undertook this project because we feel strongly that we need to supply our growers, shippers and customers with a facility that matches the quality of our produce and our service."

E. Armata has 21 units in rows A and C on the market, and a separate building adjacent to the market that is used for warehousing and tomato repacking. Its warehouse and refrigeration space alone accounts for over 60,000-square-feet.

Two years ago, E. Armata purchased the adjacent Albee Tomato Co. units 118, 119 and 120 on row A, increasing the company's unbroken chain from unit 111 to 120 on the row. E. Armata's four units on row C were renovated seven years ago.

"Like our previous units, the units on row A were very old, and so we decided to gut them completely and build a brand new facility from the ground up," said Armata. "We installed the most organized, efficient, temperature-controlled and spotless environment. The warehouses are sparkling clean and we feature a cold chain-compliant design to keep produce at the proper temperature."

He explained that the rear of the store has insulated and sealed doors, so when product is received it goes directly into the refrigerated facility.

The new warehouse features location markers and numbered doors and aisles to maintain total efficiency for its shippers and employees so that customers are serviced quickly and efficiently.

The multiple warehouses now feature state-of-the-art refrigeration and real-time inventory control.

"Our tomato repacking facility is impressive," Armata added. "It allows customers to pick the color and size of the specific tomato they desire. We are pleased and eager to present our expanded facilities to our customers as testament to our continued standard of excellence."

The company's new technology features traceability, truck routing and prompt delivery to ensure that produce is delivered fresh and in a timely manner from start to finish.

"We are also able to give our customers emailed bills as well as receive bills through our speedy accounting team," Armata noted.

Family owned and operated, E. Armata Inc. works directly with grower-shippers, and sells to smaller grocers, institutional and restaurant suppliers, wholesalers and larger retailers.

The Armata family is long established in the produce industry. It began in the late 1890s when Erasmo Armata operated at the fruit auction in lower Manhattan, eventually expanding it to the Washington Street Market. The company was among the early produce firms to move into the Hunts Point market when it opened in 1967.

In addition to Chris Armata, family members now working in the business include his brother, Paul Armata, vice president; Chris Armata's sons, Nicholas and Michael Armata, both sales representatives; and his daughter, Chelsea Armata, who handles human resources.

In the midst of this major renovation and rebuild project, E. Armata also paid special attention to bringing its website, www.earmata.com, up to date. The newly designed sight is easy to maneuver, and it provides a direct link to the company's YouTube video at http://youtu.be/xFP9uxTzwd8, which can also be linked to directly through the company's website.

The video features comments from the Armata family as well as some key staff members, and the enthusiasm shows through. But Armata said the enthusiasm is being expressed even by its customers when they see the newly built facility.

"Our customers' and other business associates' jaws drop when they see this newly renovated and rebuilt facility," said Armata. "It really speaks to who we are and how we feel about what we do. We handle the best fresh produce available in the world, and our facility reflects how precious it must be handled for the sake of growers, distributors, customers and end-users alike.

"In addition to our family staff members, we have an outstanding team who deserve a tremendous amount of credit for our success in the past and looking forward into our future," he added.

Limited supplies of Kanzi apples hit the market

kanzividWashington-grown "Kanzi" brand apples are hitting U.S. markets this week. Due to high demand for this premium apple — in combination with limited early production on young trees — supplies are limited.

An unfortunate hail event last season eliminated the crop of "Kanzi" brand apples, but this year’s crop looks spectacular. In 2014, growers are working on additional plantings to ensure increased production in the years ahead to meet strong market demand.

Tim-WelshKAZNITim Welsh“Over the next five years our Kanzi volumes will greatly increase each year," Tim Welsh, who oversees the North American plantings that produce "Kanzi" brand apples, said in a press release. "With the existing trees in the ground, and new plantings, we estimate that within five years our production will reach nearly 500,000 cartons of delicious "Kanzi" brand apples.”

Imported "Kanzi" brand apples will continue to complement the domestic program and will arrive later in the spring after the domestic program has been sold out. Due to the overwhelming feedback from consumers, worldwide production of "Kanzi" brand apples is increasing rapidly with expanded acreage being planted globally. As a result, imported volumes will continue to increase in an effort to complement the domestic crop and meet the growing demand.

Florida's wintertime strawberry production leads the nation

fgsaFlorida Strawberry Growers Association Executive Director Ted Campbell talks about Florida’s $400 million winter strawberry deal as the season ramps up to full volume this month.

The area within a 20-mile radius of FSGA headquarters in Plant City, FL, is home to 95 percent of domestic winter strawberry production.

Super Bowl spud challenge a win-win for food banks

potatovidDuring the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII, several challenges have been made by fans of the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks — including a major wager between the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee and the Washington State Potato Commission.

The two football teams reached this pinnacle of competition by defeating their respective opponents throughout the season, coming to the field in New Jersey with the best win-loss records of their divisions.cpac-superbowl-responseColorado Potato Administrative Committee Executive Director Jim Ehrlich answers the Super Bowl challenge of Washington State Potato Commission Executive Director Chris Voigt in a Facebook video. Ehrlich (center) is flanked by offensive linemen Sheldon Rockey, Keith Holland, David Tonso and Ron Crowther. (Photo courtesy of CPAC)

Both potato commodity groups likewise come armed, each boasting a winning record of quality potato production and insightful marketing.

The gauntlet, thrown by Chris (Sherman) Voigt, executive director of the WSPC, calls for 500 pounds of potatoes per point scored by the winning football team to be donated to a food bank in the winning team's state. Voigt's challenge video was posted on the WSPC's Facebook page.

Not to be outdone, CPAC Executive Director Jim "Peyton" Ehrlich, joined by Colorado growers and shippers in a video, responded to the Washington challenge on the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee's Facebook page.

Ehrlich noted that the game will be "embarrassing for the Seahawks," and he upped the ante by saying the losing executive director must travel to the capital city of the winning state, don a potato mascot costume of the opposing group and promote that state's potatoes.

The Challenge:

The Response:

Atlanta’s General Produce named Georgia Family Business of the Year

gavideo imageGeneral Produce Inc. of Atlanta began more than 50 years ago as a purveyor of bananas and has since grown to become one of the Southeast’s larger distributors of produce — from apples to zucchini — with its own fleet of more than 100 trucks providing overnight delivery to 11 Southeastern states.

The company’s hard work has already paid off, but the cherry on top came this November when General Produce was named the 2013 winner of the prestigious Georgia Family Business of the Year Award from the Cox Family Enterprise Center at Kennesaw State Cole College of Business and Georgia Trend magazine.