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This spring, retailers can look to Oppy for top-quality, B.C.-grown sweet Bell peppers in abundance thanks to a unique new alliance. But they won't have to wait for a first taste of this new greenhouse partnership, which also adds year-round volumes of long English cucumbers to the marketer's offerings.

With the addition of a new grower, Randhawa Farms of Abbotsford, BC, and through the support of long-term grower-partner Sun Select Produce of nearby Aldergrove, the Oppenheimer Group will become one of the industry's highest-volume marketers of B.C.-grown sweet Bell peppers with well over 2 million boxes in the plans.

But first, Oppy is delivering long English cucumbers earlier than ever, thanks to Randhawa's four acres dedicated to producing the thin-skinned, crunchy favorites under lights.

"We started shipping cucumbers the first week in January, which is earlier than we ever have," Aaron Quon, Oppy's greenhouse and vegetable category director, said in a press release. "Now we can develop more cucumber programs with our customers on a larger scale than in the past due to increased volume and longer availability."

While Randhawa brings the product volume into the partnership, SunSelect's contribution comes in the form of expertise and the quality reputation of its brand.

SunSelect, a leading BC greenhouse pepper grower, is lending its knowledge and applying its standards to virtually all aspects of production at Randhawa. The cucumbers — and later the peppers — will be marketed in the "SunSelect" brand, alongside SunSelect's own peppers, which are grown on 70 greenhouse acres about a dozen miles away.

"Our partnership with Randhawa is all-inclusive," Len Krahn, managing partner at SunSelect, added in the press release. "We are working together right from the start of production, integrating the SunSelect approach into the Randhawa operation. High quality starts first of all in the greenhouses."

A SunSelect manager is overseeing grading operations, while others from SunSelect, in tandem with the team at Randhawa Farms, coordinate all product movement — scheduling, picking, delivery and storage — to safeguard the quality from the plant to the customer, an uncompromising standard for which SunSelect is known.

Among the practices that set SunSelect apart is its "24 Hour Rule," which strives to place every pepper or cucumber on a customer-bound truck in less than 24 hours from the moment it is picked.

"We are pleased to be working alongside SunSelect and Oppy," Kan Randhawa, Randhawa Farms' owner, added in the press release. "SunSelect is a proven, top-quality grower with a brand that has a great reputation in the trade. They have also had a very successful partnership with Oppy for almost a decade. Oppy has a grower mentality — we view them as an extension of ourselves."

Randhawa Farms grows peppers on 44 acres under glass and will begin shipping them in March.

"The partnership expands brand awareness for SunSelect and enables us as a group to service our current customer base completely because we will have the ability to supply retailers of all sizes in full, even at times when production is lighter," Mr. Krahn added in the press release.