Cindy Jewell, director of marketing for California Giant Berry Farms, a d/b/a of California Giant Inc., headquartered in Watsonville, CA, said July 7 that foodservice is a small portion of its annual volume, adding “But we definitely value our foodservice business and hope to grow that volume in the future. We enjoy a strong relationship with our foodservice distributors that work with the full line of end users in foodservice.”
Ms. Jewell said that the company has seen the foodservice segment strengthen over the last year on a growth track, but it is still not where it was before the economy suffered.
California Giant Berry Farms is currently focusing most of its growth in bush berries, and it has experienced significant increases in its blueberry program. The firm is a leading supplier of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
“We established a facility in Aurora, Oregon, last year, and this season we added square footage and new packing equipment to ensure the best quality for our customers and best returns for grower partners in that region,” said Ms. Jewell. “We are also meeting with our South American blueberry growers and employees in that region over the next two weeks to finalize our acreage and harvest plans for the fall and winter blueberry season.”
The company’s food-safety programs are based on U.S. Department of Agriculture Good Agricultural Practices and the California Department of Health Services’ guidance in developing an industry-wide food-safety program through the California Strawberry Commission.
California Giant Berry strictly adheres to guidance developed and certified by a third-party audit laboratory. The third-party guidance applies to each field operation, evaluating and certifying standards for worker safety and sanitation, cultural practices, and water and soil testing.
The company cools the majority of its fruit at company-owned cooling facilities. Procedures in place and third-party audits at all facilities ensure all operations are clean, safe and managed with the utmost professionalism in some of the more modern facilities in the industry.
Following harvest, the firm’s berries are packed and the fruit is delivered to state-of-the-art forced-air cooling facilities that are monitored and subjected to third-party audits.
In addition to the stringent food-safety program throughout its field and facility operations, traceability codes can be found on “California Giant” brand berry packaging. The round stickers on each clamshell help provide vital traceback information for every container shipped under the company’s brand.