Gabriel [Gabe] Nuñez, who since spring 2010 had been general manager of the newly formed Nogales, AZ-based Natural Flavor Produce LLC, along with three of the growers who were partners at Natural Flavor have joined with a fourth grower to form a new company, Golden Desert Produce LLC, also in Nogales.
“The owners [of Natural Flavor] split up,” Mr. Nuñez told The Produce News Nov. 28. Three of them, all growers from Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, “invited myself and another grower from Obregon to join them in opening Golden Desert Produce. We are going to handle pretty much the same items that we had [at Natural Flavor Produce]. We are very big on hard-shell squash” as well as on Euro cucumbers and also will have some Persian pickles and shadehouse cucumbers.
Additionally, “we have a really big Roma deal in the spring” out of Obregon, he said. That will start in March.
The three growers who were formerly with Natural Flavor are Luis Esquer, Ismael Esquer and Hector Dena. The new grower who was invited to partner with them in the new company is Victor Ochoa. “He ships the ‘Maria Luisa’ label, which is very popular in the cucumber world,” Mr. Nuñez said.
In addition to the products grown by the grower-owners, Golden Desert will be handling product from outside growers, he said.
“We are using grower labels,” he said. In addition to “Maria Luisa,” the other labels packed by the company’s owners are “Magata,” “Baroyeca,” and, for Persian pickles, “Apcaro.”
The fields in Mexico and the warehouse in Nogales are all third-party food-safety certified through Primus, Mr. Nuñez said. All of the products the company is currently handling are grown in Obregon except for the hard-shell squashes that are grown in Hermosillo, Sonora.
The squashes are grown open field. “Everything else is protected,” he said. Romas, cucumbers and Persian pickles are all grown in shadehouses, and the Euro cucumbers are grown in greenhouses.
Except for the Romas that are only a spring deal, the shipping season on most products for Golden Desert Produce had started about two months earlier and would continue right through the winter. “Crops look good so far, and production seems to be going OK,” Mr. Nuñez said.
“Right now, they are transplanting the tomato plants, and everything looks good” for those, he said.
“At Golden Desert Produce, we strive for excellent customer communication and focus on timely responses and responsible solutions to our customers’ needs,” he said. “The core of our job is to keep our customers competitive.”
The company’s grower-owners “are very adamant about getting contracts,” he added.
Mr. Nuñez has been in the produce business in Nogales for about 20 years. He previously worked at Sandia distributing. Prior to that, he worked at GreenPoint Distributing LLC and King Plus Inc.