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Duda Farm Fresh Foods captures early season start

Sam Jones, Florida citrus operations manager for Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc., headquartered in Oviedo, FL, said that the company’s volumes are ahead of last season on all varieties.

“We were able to capture an early-season start from Southwest Florida in the Gulf growing district,” said Mr. Jones. “We are pleased with the steady movement and firm f.o.b., and we are seeing less volatility in the market this season.”

The Duda Farm Fresh lineup of Florida citrus kicked off with Fallglo tangerines, which run from late September through October. Sunburst tangerines follow from November to December, followed by Honey tangerines in January through mid-April.

“Red and dark-red grapefruit are available from October to May 15,” said Mr. Jones. “In the juice orange category, early Hamlin/Pineapple oranges run from October through January. Fresh Valencia oranges start in late February and run to May, and then we offer Valencias from storage in June and July. Navel oranges start in October and last through December.”

Mr. Jones said that this year is forecast 2 percent up on grapefruit and up 1 percent on tangerines over last season’s final volumes. Juice oranges are up 4 percent and Navel oranges are up 2 percent, while tangelos are forecast to be down by 4 percent.

Despite the problems the Florida citrus industry has had and continues to face with insects and diseases, Mr. Jones said that Duda Farm Fresh Foods is committed to the fresh citrus industry in Florida.

“Duda Farm Fresh continues to be an industry leader on research and development with a comprehensive disease-scouting program,” he said. “We have a long agricultural history of integrated pest management, and we always update and improve our best business practices. We are very vigilant of the canker and greening pressures, and our infestation rates are below most industry averages.”

Mr. Jones said that customers for the Duda Farm Fresh Foods Florida citrus program, which totals 1.2 million four-fifths cartons, is comprised of a range of retail chain stores and foodservice businesses, with retail business representing the majority of its business.

“We have seen growth in all segments of our business this season,” he said. “The majority of our fresh fruit is shipped throughout the southeast part of the country as well as up the Atlantic coastline and into portions of the central part of the United States. Our Florida citrus is also exported to Europe, Japan and Taiwan.”

The company’s “Dandy” brand three-pound tangerine packaging option continues to be very attractive to most retailers.

Mr. Jones said that Duda Farm Fresh Foods has seen increased promotional activity in this category with new opportunities for incremental volume. The company packs both Sunburst and Honey tangerines in the three-pound package.

“Duda Farm Fresh Foods and Peace River Packing recently completed two annual food-safety audits successfully,” said Mr. Jones. “They were [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and Primus audits. Peace River Packing is [Global Trade Item Numbers] compliant with full traceability and is in full compliance with the Produce Traceability Initiative. The recently constructed cooler facility continues to prove beneficial, and all fresh citrus is packed and taken immediately to the state-of-the-art cooler. All of Duda’s products are pre-cooled before shipment.”

Duda Farm Fresh Foods is nationwide grower-shipper-marketer of an extensive line of fresh fruits, fresh and fresh-cut vegetables.