As it has done previously, Ippolito International LP has increased the acreage of a good number of its winter vegetable crops as it continues to grow its business.
Butch Corda, general manager in the firm’s Salinas, CA, headquarters, said, “We have pretty much the same program this year as last, though we are slightly up in most items to keep up with customer demand.”
The company has acreage in Yuma, AZ, and also grows south of the border near Mexicali and farther south in Baja California. While these are distinct growing areas, as far as Ippolito is concerned, they constitute the company’s winter vegetable program and are marketed as such.
Though many items are showing incremental growth, one that Mr. Corda singled out was Brussels sprouts. He said that Ippolito is the largest North American shipper of Brussels sprouts, an item that has been enjoying immense popularity recently.
“Number one is its vitamin content,” said the Ippolito executive. “It is very nutritious. But its popularity may be due to all the exposure on the cooking shows. I’d have to say this isn’t the Brussels sprout of the old days when you boiled it and served it with a little butter. Everyone is getting very creative and coming up with these great recipes. It’s a great product for us at both retail and foodservice.”
Because of its increasing popularity, Mr. Corda said that Brussels sprouts lend themselves to some innovative packaging concepts as well. “Of course it’s available in the 25-pound carton,” which is the traditional loose pack, he said. “But we are also selling them in one-pound Vexar bags and a one-pound microwavable bag. And we are doing some two-pound packs for the clubstores.”
While Ippolito has not yet created a value-added processed pack for its Brussels sprouts, Mr. Corda said other companies have and that has also increased consumption. He said that some processors are halving or quartering the product and selling it in clamshells mixed with seasonings.
Although it is not entirely new, Mr. Corda said that the firm is currently entering its second season of having its own harvesting company. Coast King Packing is harvesting Ippolito’s product, which he said gives the company a better handle on its food-safety efforts and more control over what is in its packs.
Ippolito International, which is headquartered in Salinas, CA, is a full-service vegetable suppler. The company has multiple growing areas located in Central California, the Imperial Valley, Arizona and Mexico. It is the California growing and sales operation, affiliated with Ippolito Fruit & Produce in Toronto.