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Keystone aims to leave nothing to chance for consumers

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Keystone Fruit Marketing Co.’s ‘New York Bold’ hybrid onions.

Keystone Fruit Marketing Co. Inc. in Greencastle, PA, is vertically integrated, which Marty Kamer, sales manager for the company, said leaves nothing to chance.

“From growing and marketing our own fresh produce to research and development and logistics, Keystone and Key Farms is a totally integrated company,” said Mr. Kamer. “This infrastructure allows us to leave nothing to chance when it comes to pleasing the consumer. In fact, Keystone certifies its sweet flavor to meet consumers’ high expectations.”

Keystone Fruit Marketing will be exhibiting Nov. 7-9 at the New York Produce Show & Conference at Booth 1107. The company exhibited at the first show in 2010, and Mr. Kamer said the traffic was extremely good.

“We like the smaller show format because people have more time to spend at the booth without the pressure to make it through a big show,” he said. “We are able to open up dialogues with people that we otherwise would not be able. It’s a little rushed so soon after [the Produce Marketing Association’s] Fresh Summit, but the timing is good for Keystone as well as for retailers.”

Keystone Fruit Marketing will be featuring its two-pound consumer bags of “Mayan Sweets” onions and its “New York Bold” hybrid onions at the show. The company’s “Chef Dave” will be preparing recipes with both the sweet and the bold onions to educate retailers about the different taste profiles the two onions offer.

“Mayan Sweets” run from September through February, and “New York Bold” sweet onions are available from mid-September through April.

The company also has a year-round Peruvian asparagus program in both green and white varieties.

It additionally represents Virginia and Pennsylvania apples, which it packs under the “Blue Ridge” and “Turkey Knob” labels. Its spring peach program from Georgia carries the “Georgia Fruit Co.” label, and peaches from South Carolina are branded with the “Watsonia” name.

Its Pennsylvania peach program carries the “Chambersburg” label. Its peaches from West Virginia are branded with the “Lewis Brothers” label.

As the company moves into the spring, it will begin its “Vidalia” sweet onion program. It markets the onions under its “Vidalia Sugar Sweet” brand. In the summer, it begins its “Walla Walla River” sweet onion program.

The company spends considerable time, energy and resources to ensure a consistent taste profile while retaining the uniqueness of the individual varieties and growing districts associated with sweet onions. Keystone employs a certification program conducted by National Onion Labs titled “Pungency Plus.” Through it, samples are collected by an independent third-party in the fields in each exporting country so growers can learn and improve.

Several years ago, the company earned its Rainforest Alliance certification through its commitment to the protection of the environment, sustainable farming practices and socially responsible working conditions. Its “Mayan Sweets” have been certified by the Rain Forest Alliance as meeting its stringent requirements for sustainable land use and morally responsible working conditions.

“As leaders in the sweet onion industry, we’ve worked hard over the years to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible wherever we grow,” said Mr. Kamer. “We take great pride in our operations in Peru and the Rainforest Alliance’s certification. Our mission in Peru has always been to ensure consistent and sustainable supplies of premium-quality sweet onions.”