Malena Produce Inc., which is located in the Rio Rico Industrial Park just north of Nogales, AZ, has added 15,000 square feet of cold-storage space to the company’s warehouse, according to Gonzalo Avila, vice president and general manager. Racking has been installed in 10,000 square feet of the new addition.
The forced-air precooling unit, which is used when produce comes in from Mexico at the wrong temperature, has been moved into the new area. This enables the company to cool the product down to the proper temperature upon its arrival in Nogales, which may be necessary when loads get inspected at the border or at checkpoints in Mexico.
Malena also has installed an automatic humidity-control system in about half of its warehouse. “We put in a humidification system that keeps the humidity levels up to a certain point where we want them,” he said.
Additionally, the company has installed Miatech Bio-Turbo technology, he said. The technology is designed to remove airborne bacteria and mold spores from the air in the room. Ozone is used in the process, but it is contained within the system and not emitted into the room, he explained.
With the approaching 2011-12 season, Malena also has brought a new member of the sales team on board. Rod Everette, who was previously with Sunfed, has been in the industry over 30 years, Mr. Avila said.
“We also added a new quality-control manager, Pablo Olson,” he said. Mr. Olsen previously “worked with the Arizona Department of Agriculture doing inspections here locally for, I believe, approximately 11 years.”
New in Malena’s product offerings this fall and winter will be a pickle program, with pickles for jarring and fresh consumption. The pickles will be coming from the Culiacan area in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico. The grower has been growing pickles for about 15 years and is very experienced, although he has not been involved in exporting until now. “He put up his own packingshed and his own operation this year, and we have a nice program set up for that,” Mr. Avila said.
The pickles are the only new commodity for Malena this year, but “we have a little bit more of [some of] the same commodities we have been handling in the past,” he said. “We have ... a little bit more of colored peppers, a little bit more of eggplant, a little bit more of squash in the wintertime.” In both zucchini and yellow squash, the company should have a bigger winter program this year.”
It also will have “a full supply of everything we have been having in the past,” he said. In addition to the colored Bell peppers, eggplant and squash, that will include regular open-field Bell peppers and cucumbers, and “we will have a spring watermelon deal,” he said.
Product coming up from the state of Sonora “has been pretty good,” Mr. Avila said Nov. 23. The company had started receiving product from Culiacan. Eggplant and chili peppers had already arrived, and “next week we should start with Roma tomatoes,” he said. The rest of the items “will come from December onward.”