Mark Bassetti, senior vice president for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, headquartered in Ovieda, FL, said on Nov. 1 that the company had begun planting all of its fall and winter Florida crops, including celery, radishes, corn, iceberg and leaf lettuces, Asian vegetables, cilantro and parsley.
“Radishes will be our first item to move in Florida, with harvesting to begin the second week of November,” said Mr. Bassetti. “That movement will be followed by corn from our Belle Glade farms starting on November 15. By late November we will have the majority of our leaf items and Asian vegetable offerings in production, followed by iceberg lettuce and celery in December.”
Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ Florida corn production, Mr. Bassetti added, will transition from Belle Glade to the Homestead growing region at the first of the year with all of its corn still loading out of our Belle Glade facility. This method provides one stop loading of the company’s full line of products.
“We’ve had a relatively mild summer in regards to rain in Florida, but the last four weeks have been extremely wet,” said Mr. Bassetti. “This will have some effect on our crops due to missed plantings and some yield loss. Overall, however, we do not anticipate any major issues.”
The company has been test marketing its new “Dandy” “MiniStick” radishes over the past six months. The item is currently being processed and packed in Duda Farm Fresh Foods’ Oxnard, CA, fresh-cut operation.
“Our goal is to expand this production to our Belle Glade, Florida location in February 2012,” said Mr. Bassetti. “This will allow us to manage the Southeast and East Coast markets from Florida, and West Coast markets from California.”
Nichole Towell, director of marketing for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said that in keeping with its spirit of innovation in the field, the company also is on the leading edge of packaging developments.
“More of our product packaging will be introduced with a ‘Microsoft’ tag,” said Ms. Towell. “This is a high-capacity color barcode, commonly called HCCB, which is enriched with encoded information. Placed directly on packaging along with clear instructions, consumers can scan the URL tag with a mobile device like their phones. The encoded information, in this case Duda’s mobile web site with product information, recipes and information on Duda Farm Fresh Foods, becomes available on that mobile device. This gives consumers further product information, recipes, storage and usage tips in the grocery store, which acts as a mobile point of sale.”
Ms. Towell added that social media continues to prove to be a valuable way for Duda Farm Fresh Foods to connect with consumers and “tell its story.”
“We treat Facebook as our promotional anchor, meaning that we present a consumer-focused promotion surrounding ‘Dandy’ products that are currently in season,” she said. “We also offer consumers the chance to engage and win prizes.
“Our success with Facebook has led to over 2,000 percent growth in fans this year, with now 15,600 total Facebook fans,” Ms. Towell continued. “Twitter is a vehicle where we connect with primarily consumers and bloggers who are seeking inspiration or information about one of our products.”
Duda Farm Fresh Foods continues to strengthen its team of staff members as it grows its programs in the Southeast and Midwest. Most recently Scott Wilkins has joined the company as an account manager.
The company also continually makes updates and expansions to its numerous facilities across the country.
“We will be expanding our fresh cut processing capabilities to include the processing and packaging of our ‘Dandy’ ‘MiniStick’ radish offering,” said Ms. Towell. “We have added or are adding produce traceability initiative, or PTI capabilities, at all of our locations to meet the current deadlines in place.”
She added that Duda Farm Fresh Foods also continues to expand its offerings and volumes from its Florida farms and its eastern vegetable programs in order to provide local and regional solutions.
“We have also expanded our logistics platform to further enhance our products and provide delivered pricing and less-than-trailer-load, or LTL solutions,” Ms. Towell added.