FRESNO, CA — Crown Jewels Produce, which is headquartered here and has a branch office in Nogales, AZ, expects an expanded program out of Nogales this year with an increase of 30-40 percent over last year, according to Atomic Torosian, a partner in the company.
There have been some changes in the sales team in Nogales, he said. Rob Mathias, also a partner in Crown Jewels and the company’s president, “is down there pretty much full time now.” His son, Robbie Mathias Jr., also is on sales in Nogales, as is Ernie Robles, who has been with the company for a few years.
New this year are Luis Corella and Tim O’Brien. Mr. Corella had been with Crown Jewels once before, “then went to Chamberlain, and now he is back again,” Mr. Torosian said. “He’s got quite a few years of experience. He is also a Dartmouth graduate” and is “a pretty sharp young man.”
Mr. O’Brien is new to the produce business, he said.
The company’s main labels out of Nogales this year are “Crown Jewels,” “Cochitos,” which is a grower label, and “Z Farms,” another grower label, which is new for the company.
With additional product coming out of the Culiacan and Los Mochis areas of Sinaloa, Mexico, Crown Jewels expects to do a combined total of several-million boxes of product for the fall, winter and spring seasons.
“We’ve been running in Nogales since about the first week of October,” Mr. Torosian said Nov. 22. Volume had been picking up, and “we are rapidly reaching pretty good numbers,” he said. “We have been packing the zucchini, yellow straight neck and gray squash since day one, and now we are packing eggplant, green Bell peppers and cucumbers.”
The company also had been packing cantaloupes, honeydew melons and seedless watermelons, but those were rapidly coming to an end for the fall season. They will start up again in the spring, Mr. Torosian said.
Also in the spring, “we have our grape program. That keeps growing little by little every year” and will be larger again in 2012, he said.
Crown Jewels will have mangos in the spring as well. “We have shipped them in the past,” he said. “We weren’t in them last year, but we were the year before, so mangos will be back in again.”
New this year for the company will be a sweet corn deal. “We will start that in about a week,” Mr. Torosian said.
Crown Jewels will see increases for the 2011-12 season in Bell peppers, cucumbers and squash, he said.
In addition to the Nogales products, Crown Jewels has expanded upon its Yuma-San Luis deal for the winter, Mr. Torosian said. That consists of products grown in the San Luis area of northern Sonora, just south of Yuma, AZ, which are distributed out of Yuma.
The company has a big asparagus deal there that has been running the last few years, starting in late December and continuing into March. Now, “along with that, we’ve picked up a big wet vegetable deal” consisting of such items as green onions, radishes, spinach, red and green chard, kale, parsley, cilantro and Brussels Sprouts, all of which were already in production, he said. “It’s a nice addition to the company” and provides synergies with the Nogales deal, he added. “We ship two labels out of San Luis: ‘Don Juan’ and ‘Crown Jewels.’“