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Murakami adds consumer pack and new codes for 2013

A new consumer pack machine and updated codes for traceability are among the changes at Murakami Produce in Ontario, OR, for the 2013-14 onion shipping season.

Grant Kitamura, general manager of the operation, said in early September the consumer pack machine is “faster and better.”

He continued, “We’re going with new codes this year, GTIN among them. We’ve had positive lot ID for a long time, and we know the grower, field, lot, date of pack and shipment date of all our onions.”

murakami-ieooc-2013Grant KitamuraThe new season kicked off on Aug. 12 when Murakami began packing, and Kitamura said leading up to the clean-up of California and New Mexico onions, the Ontario shed would be “going 2/3 speed.”

The large Ontario facility has 250,000 square feet insulated on-site storage 75,000 bins, each with capacity for 1,500 pounds of field-run onions.

Murakami’s Spanish Sweet onions were expected to start going into storage mid-September, and Kitamura said shipments will run through March or April of 2014.

As with his counterparts in the Treasure Valley, Kitamura witnessed the effects of record heat during the summer months.

He said, “Yields are off a little in the area due to the heat, but quality is very good. The heat curtailed some of the growth, but we had enough water to finish all our irrigation. We do need a lot of precipitation this winter, though.”

Harvest in early September was seeing mostly good weather, and the warm temps were providing good field curing conditions.

“We have good quality because of it,” he said.

Murakami, in a marketing partnership with Potandon Produce of Idaho Falls, ID, continues to produce 90 percent yellow Spanish Sweets, with 5-6 percent reds and a few whites. Kitamura said the retail and foodservice markets remain strong, although retail has increased slightly as “people are eating more at home.”

Exports also make up a portion of Murakami onion sales, and Kitamura said, “We are getting more inquiries from Japan. We’ve been going to the Pacific Rim for a long time, and that part of the world likes large onions with the Spanish Sweet flavor.”