JMB Distributing Inc. in Nogales, AZ, specializes in beans. This year, “we still have the same bean program” as in the past, said Harry Spragia, the company’s president. “That is all we do. We specialize in them. We think we have either the top or one of the very top beans in North America on a consistent basis. Our label speaks for itself.”
The beans are being grown in Guasave in northern Sinaloa, Mexico, by a grower JMB has been working with for more than a decade. They are packed in one of two JMB house labels, either “Top Seven” or “Royal Gem.”
Price-wise, “we are normally somewhat higher than some of the competition,” Mr. Sbragia told The Produce News. “But we found that people will tend to pay a little extra premium for the quality,” and they find that “value-wise,” they are paying less for JMB’s beans than for “some of the other so-called cheaper ones.”
The company’s acreage tends to be quite consistent from one year to the next. However, this year JMB did make a change in the shape of the production curve over the course of the season. “Our program is basically the same size” as in the past, he said. But “we’ve got good volume early. We planted for that.” The start date is the same and the total volume harvested will be about the same, but as planned, the season is starting off with heavier volume.
“We have always tried to achieve that pre-Thanksgiving business, and we were more successful this year than in most years,” Mr. Sbragia said. “We’ve got good volume early.” The harvest had “just started” on Nov. 10, and already “we’ve had sizeable volume.”
JMB tries always to “key in on” the holidays, particularly Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, “and we try to work with the chains as much as we can,” he said. “More and more of the chains are looking for prices that we need a crystal ball to project.” Some marketers are reluctant to give out advanced pricing because growers may not like the prices they get, he continued. But “I do what I think needs to be done for the good of everyone concerned. It has worked out.”
This year’s crop was looking “very nice, very strong,” he said. “We will have beans continually from now till about April 15th.”
The company’s warehouse facility in Nogales has moisture-controlled cold rooms to maintain the crispness and freshness of the products. “We maintain our temperatures at 40 to 42 degrees.” In fact, the products are maintained at the appropriate cool temperatures all the way from the production area, according to Mr. Sbragia
Mr. Sbragia’s son continues on sales at the company along with his father, as does Abel Garcia. “All of our numbers are the same. Our location is the same. We are just a year older,” he said.