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Giumarra expands organic and Fair Trade certified offerings

The Nogales, AZ, division of The Giumarra Cos., which markets an assortment of Mexico-grown fruits and vegetables under the “Nature’s Partner” brand and various other labels, will have production increases on essentially all products for the 2013-14 season, according to Gill Muguia, division manager.

“Our acreage is up overall on pretty much all items,” Munguia said Nov. 18. That includes conventional, organic and Fair Trade certified products.

“We have expanded our organic line, and we have also increased our Fair Trade fruit and vegetable offerings,” Munguia said.

In the organic category, “we’ve got the full line,” he said. Everything that the company handles in conventionally grown products “we’ve got planted in organics as well. We’ve just increased our volume this year across the board.”

The “most notable” increase is in seedless watermelons and mini-melons, which are up significantly in all three categories, he noted.

Other products Giumarra handles out of Mexico include colored bell peppers, European cucumbers, standard slicer cucumbers, mini-cucumbers, hard shell squash, mature green tomatoes, vine ripe Romas, grape tomatoes, pear or teardrop tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cantaloupes, grapes and a full line of hot peppers, according to Munguia.

In the Fair Trade category, this year Giumarra has expanded its acreage considerably and also added winter squash to the program. Fair Trade products, certified by Fair Trade USA, have become “a big piece of our program,” Munguia said.

A Giumarra press release stated that the added winter squash items are USDA-certified organic and conventional Acorn, Butternut and Spaghetti squash.

“We are expecting retailers to continue to take a closer look at Fair Trade,” Munguia said in the press release. “Consumers are becoming increasingly more familiar with this certification, and our new squash selection nicely rounds out an important category for winter produce.”

Other Fair Trade certified items that will again be offered by Giumarra through the fall and winter season will be USDA-certified organic and conventional bell peppers, cucumbers, seedless and mini seedless watermelons, cantaloupes, Roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes as well as conventional asparagus. During spring and summer 2014, Giumarra will offer cantaloupes, watermelons, grapes tomatoes and asparagus under the Fair Trade program, according to the release. “Currently, all of Giumarra’s Fair Trade certified products are grown in Mexico.”

Munguia told The Produce News that Giumarra has “made some improvements to our packing facilities” in Sonora, Mexico, to handle the expected volume increases. “We have four locations where we had substantial upgrades,” including doubling the square footage of one packingshed and adding new packinglines in the others. In addition, the company has made “some food-safety upgrades, just to stay ahead of the curve on food safety,” he added.

“We have also done quite a bit of work as far as conservation goes,” he said. That includes soil conservation, water conservation and energy conservation.

In Sonora, for example, “on our melon and grape crops we’ve got a new water distribution system” that will reduce water use, reduce fertilizer use and reduce the amount of electricity required to pump the water because of pumping efficiencies. “So the conservation is threefold on that,” he said. “It is really great to see that project take hold and go into service.”