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Farmer’s Best continues to grow in all its commodities

NOGALES, AZ — Farmer’s Best International LLC, here, will have an increased acreage in nearly all commodities for the 2011-12 season, according to Steve Yubeta, vice president of sales.

“Across the board, our acreage is up,” he said Nov. 10. “It is not a big percentage ... but we continue to grow.”

One of the more significant areas of growth for the company is in Ataulfo mangos. Those will start in February out of Michoacan, Mexico, and will come from several states over the course of the season. It will be “a bigger program than what we had in years past,” Mr. Yubeta said.

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Steve Yubeta in a Farmer’s Best warehouse with a box of cucumbers.

New for the coming season will be a green bean program. Farmer’s Best has handled green beans before, but “we have been out of that for five or six years now,” he said. “We are going to start carrying that again. One of our growers in the Los Mochis area has decided he wanted to plant some, and we encouraged him because it would be a good mix for the rest of our product line.”

Much of company’s increase this year is with product being grown in protected structures. “We are growing more product utilizing more of the protected environment,” Mr. Yubeta said.

The company expects to see an increase in the amount of product distributed through its Texas facility. That is becoming “a big thing,” Mr. Yubeta said. “We see that there is more demand for us to cross product there.” It was true two years ago, and it was true last year up until the freeze. “

We had good momentum going in that direction when the freeze happened, and it kind of threw a wrench into that. But we are continuing with our plans to shift more of our production from Sinaloa” to cross through McAllen, TX, rather than through Nogales.

In Nogales, Farmers’ Best expanded its warehouse facilities in anticipation of larger volumes. The expansion was completed in February. “We were utilizing it last spring, and we are starting to utilize it this year,” he said.

“We got plenty of good use out of it last year” in spite of the losses in volume mid-season from the freeze, he continued. The late season saw a heavy volume, so “we ended up coming in with a decent amount of product.” In addition, “we utilized it for our table grape program” in the spring.

Farmer’s Best, which is owned by the Tarriba family in Culiacan, Sinaloa, Mexico, primarily markets produce grown by the family-owned farming entity Agricola Tarriba, whose main ranch is in the La Cruz Valley, a coastal area south of Culiacan.

The company handles an assortment of tomato products and vegetable items as well as grapes, mangos and watermelons, with production not only in La Cruz but in Culiacan, Los Mochis, Hermosillo and other areas. Tomatoes, Bell peppers and squash are big core commodities, followed by watermelons, grapes and eggplant.

Continuing on sales at Farmer’s Best, along with Mr. Yubeta, are Ernie Valencia, Bert Chamberlain Jr., Sasha Lewton and the company’s director of sales and marketing, Jerry Wagner.

Back on the team this year, after a one-year hiatus, is Elena Navaro, who is “head sales coordinator amongst plenty of other responsibilities,” Mr. Yubeta said. “She does a great job for us.”