Several years ago, Pasha Marketing in Indio, CA, began to develop some organic acreage, and it has noted good growth in that arena.
“It’s definitely a niche market,” said Franz DeKlotz, vice president of marketing for the firm. “We are proceeding cautiously, trying to keep pace with our customers as we go.”
Though the company got into growing organic crops because of inquiries from existing customers, Mr. DeKlotz said, “By and large, we have a different group of customers for the organic crops. It’s a good niche.”
He added that about 15 percent of the company’s vegetable production is organic.
Pasha Marketing is the marketing arm for the crops grown on land controlled by Richard Bagdasarian Inc. That longtime Coachella Valley grower of table grapes and citrus branched into vegetables 11 years ago. “It gave us the opportunity to employ our resources on a year-round basis,” said Mr. DeKlotz.
At the time, the company transitioned some of its permanent crop acreage to the annual vegetable crops, though Mr. DeKlotz was quick to point out that Bagdasarian is still a major producer of those crops. “We are the largest lemon producer for Sunkist,” he said.
The firm has experimented with several different vegetable crops over the years, but it has settled on a production schedule that includes red, yellow and green peppers as well as eggplant. These are the same commodities in the firm’s organic and conventional offerings for its winter vegetable deal. In the spring, Mr. DeKlotz said there is typically a different mix with both Jalapeño peppers and watermelons usually part of the product line.
As far as this year’s pepper crop is concerned, Mr. DeKlotz was anxiously awaiting the start of production when he talked with The Produce News Nov. 10. “We should begin picking red peppers on November 17, which should be a perfect transition for the pepper crop.”
He explained that several California districts much farther north than his Coachella Valley location were the major suppliers of red peppers, but they should be out of the deal just as Coachella is getting started. Pasha’s Coachella Valley deal will be relatively short lived, as Mr. DeKlotz expects the yellow and green peppers to follow closely behind the red varieties. But he will be out of the deal by the end of December.