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Ringer & Son adds organic Vidalias to line

COMMERCE CITY, CO — Ringer & Son brokerage, a longtime fruit and vegetable operation in the metropolitan Denver and Rocky Mountain region, has added organic Vidalia onions to its product lineup this season.

“We just ordered our first-ever load of organic Vidalias for Door to Door Organics, a home-delivery service in this area,” Ringer & Son President Joshua Johnson said in mid-May.

Mr. Johnson said that the Vidalias are part of the company’s onion program that also includes storage onions which are currently being shipped out of Washington and Texas.

Along with sales agents Deb Pate, Dayn Borgman and Gene Schneider, Mr. Johnson sources product from multiple regions across the United States as well as within Colorado.

He said that after 2010’s freezes and late crops, the new season has been better. “Hopefully this is the sign of things to come,” Mr. Johnson said.

The company was moving tomatoes out of Florida and Nogales and citrus from Texas, and Mr. Johnson said that crops had loosened up as the season progressed.

“We are also handling apples and potatoes out of the Northwest,” he commented.

Ms. Pate was handling limes, cabbage, onions and mixed chilis out of Texas, and she said that movement was good at three to five loads weekly. Most of the product was coming out of Mexico, and Ms. Pate said that weather had been a factor, affecting field tomatoes and tomatillos from that country.

Mr. Schneider was also working Nogales, specializing in tomatoes. He said that Mexico’s greenhouse network saved the tomato deal, which saw the “biggest freeze in 60 years” and lost upwards of 80-90 percent of its open field crop. The greenhouses, widespread throughout Mexico, are producing beefsteak, cherry, grape and Roma tomatoes.

While Mexican and Texas product was moving well for Ms. Pate and Mr. Schneider, Mr. Borgman was handling California peppers, field greens, green onions and citrus.

“We’re gearing up for stone fruit,” he said. “Cherries are just getting started out of California.”

Colorado’s season was also getting underway in mid-May, with some Front Range grower-shippers offering greens. Mr. Johnson said that he will be working the Western Slope sweet corn sales this season. Grower Mike Ahlberg & Sons will again produce the mostly yellow sweet corn, and Mr. Johnson said that there will also be white and bi-colored grown.

Cantaloupe and watermelon from the Arkansas Valley will be handled by Mr. Schneider, and the team will provide customers with Western Slope peaches as well when the crops mature later in the season.

The sales team concurred that year-round commodities remain fairly consistent and that like organic Vidalias this season, new items are added as they become available. Sales are primarily to the foodservice market segment, with retail also in the mix.

The new year has not been without its challenges, the group agreed. California, which saw considerable consolidation among producers in 2010, has been hurt by weather this year. The Northwest is experiencing later-than-normal crops as well.

And one factor in Mexican sourcing has nothing to do with the weather but rather the drug cartel. “Some drivers are refusing to go down into Mexico because of the cartel,” Ms. Pate said.