J. Marchini Farms in Le Grand, CA, a grower and shipper of figs for both the fresh and dried markets, is also involved in growing a wide assortment of other produce items, many of them specialty products.
Marchini is perhaps best known for its radicchio. It grows not only the “standard” variety which is deep red with white veins, but also the stronger-flavored Radicchio di Treviso and the more mild Castelfranco which is, according to the company’s web site, possibly the mildest of all radicchios.
Among the other specialty vegetables from Marchini, according to the company’s web site, are Tuscan cabbage, a long, tapered chicory called Puntarelle, a relative of the artichoke called Cardoon or Cardone, and Romanesco, a specialty cauliflower variety.
The company also grows a proprietary variety of almond called the Marchini almond. “We’ve got our processed almonds” in three flavors, said Marc Marchini, sales and marketing manager for the company’s figs. The company also sells natural raw almonds as well as organic pistachios.
Marchini offers, as well, a vine-ripened specialty Roma tomato called Marchini Marzano. “We are building our frozen Marzano business and will also have fresh Marzanos available in August,” he said.
A relatively new item for the company is organic sweet corn. “We doubled our acreage in that this year,” Mr. Marchini said May 9. “We are going to go to retailers and a couple of distributors” who deal exclusively with organic products.
In figs, the company grows the Black Mission and Kadota varieties. All of the production is in Madera County. The first crop on the Missions is expected to start around mid-June. Kadotas start in August and go through September. The second crop of Missions will also start in August and continue through into October, he said. The company has no change in acreage this year.
Clamshells are becoming increasingly popular for the figs, Mr. Marchini said. “More retail customers want to get into the clamshell packaging. Whether it be the loose pack or place pack, everything is going into a clamshell.” Marchini Farms packs both styles.
“I am not introducing any new packaging this year,” he said. “We are just perfecting the things that we do, working on getting a better packed product, working on quality, working to maximize our shipments and minimize our risk. We are not looking to expand this year but just to perfect what we are doing — get better at it.”
The company is “trying to find the most direct sales channel that benefits our customers and us,” Mr. Marchini continued. That means “finding more customers that want to buy directly from us, not through a middle man,” resulting in “better quality and quicker shipments” and “a better return on our pricing.”
Mr. Marchini said he sits on the California Fresh Fig Advisory Board, “and we definitely see a trend” toward fresh. More and more fig acreage is being devoted to growing figs for the fresh market, he said. “A lot of guys are puling out other unprofitable fig varieties and replacing them with Black Mission which could go fresh or dried,” but demand for dried has “flattened. The fresh fig is where all of the growth is happening right now.”
“We are also going to be revamping our web site” to include all of the company’s products and “all of the things we are doing” on “one massive site,” he said. He is also using Twitter to promote the company’s products.