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Green Tree expands citrus program for third season

Two years ago, Green Tree International Inc. in Visalia, CA, began a joint venture marketing program with Brandt Farms in Reedley, CA, marketing a portion of Brandt’s citrus production. That program expanded during the second season and is now in its third year. Once again, “we will be helping to market oranges packed out of Brandt Farms,” said Cary Crum, Green Tree vice president.

In addition to the Brandt program, for the 2011-12 citrus season, “we have made arrangements to do custom packing with two other sheds now ... so we will be offering our labels out of three locations this year instead of just Brandt.”

Crum-Cary-2011
Cary Crum

Green Tree’s citrus offerings will consist of Navels, lemons and “a few easy-peel Mandarins and clementines.” Additionally, “we are doing grapefruit in the summer with a grower we have had the last several years,” Mr. Crum said. “We are doing co-packing, and we have direct relationships with growers as well.” With additional volume coming from the two new co-packers, the company’s citrus volume is expected to be up about 40 percent over last year.

“We offer regular cartons” as well as bags in various sizes, he said.

Last year, Green Tree “did a fairly good-sized export program into Korea,” Mr. Crum said. This year, “we are expanding that program by about 20 percent. In addition to that, we’ve got programs set up for New Zealand and Australia this year for the first time.”

“Everything we are marketing” at Green Tree this year, “both export and domestic,” will be under the “Green Tree” label. Using the “Green Tree” label for export is new this year, he said.

A sister company, Fruit Exchange, now is in its second year of packing citrus under the “Green Giant” label, he said.

The company is hoping to put together some citrus import programs over the coming year. “We were working on that” for 2011, but so much time and attention went into getting a new wholesale produce division in Dallas set up and running that that the import programs were deferred, he said. But “we will be refocusing our efforts” to put together a year-round Green Tree citrus program “this coming season.”

Green Tree, which also handles stone fruit, grapes and other assorted produce commodities, has focused primarily on servicing small to medium-sized foodservice wholesalers. With its expanded citrus program, “we are able to start to expand now ... into smaller regional chain stores,” Mr. Crum said. “Fred Van Zandt will be heading up our marketing efforts there as the sales manager in charge of citrus.”