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Bernardi’s inspection services and volume buying add value to products

Bernardi & Associates Inc., which is headquartered in Nogales, AZ, and has branch offices in Fort Meyer, FL; McAllen, TX; Turlock, CA; and San Diego, is in the business of brokering tomatoes, mixed vegetables, melons and some other commodities from growing districts both in the United States and Mexico.

Everything is the same with the company as it was a year ago, said President Joe Bernardi, who was in the Turlock office, wrapping up the California tomato deal when The Produce News talked to him by phone Nov.16.

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Joe Bernardi

“We have our salespeople and our quality-control people spread out around our different offices,” Mr. Bernardi said. “We just finished loading our last loads out of California this week. We are loading product out of Florida. We are loading out of South Texas. We are still loading out of San Diego, and we are loading fairly heavy out of Nogales as well.”

Volume will steadily pick up in Nogales, he said.

The office in Nogales is staffed again this year by the same sales team and quality-control inspectors as last year, he said. “We continue to add value to the product” by inspecting it and by “making the volume buys that we are able to do.”

Manny Gerardo and Alex Leon are on sales in Nogales with Mariana Celeya as office manager and four full-time quality-control inspectors. Mr. Bernardi will be in the Nogales office after Jan. 1.

The company was loading melons, squash, cucumbers and vine-ripe tomatoes, Romas and grape tomatoes in Nogales. “By the first week of December, we will be loading mature green tomatoes,” Mr. Bernardi said. “Bell peppers aren’t in yet, but will be shortly.”

Bernardi already was receiving hothouse tomatoes in Nogales “from a couple of different areas in Mexico,” one close to Nogales, Sonora, [Mexico] which is just across the border from Nogales, and the other down close to Culiacan, Sinaloa [Mexico] he said.

Growing conditions in Mexico have been good, he said. The biggest weather threat was from a hurricane that actually did its damage south of Culiacan, the main growing area in Mexico for vegetables bound for the United States. “As far as I have been told, it didn’t affect any of the crops in Nogales other than some melons that were grown south of Culiacan.”

Mr. Bernardi said that he expects the company’s core commodities in Nogales — “the tomatoes, the cucumbers, the Bell peppers” — to have good quality and good availability in December, with volume picking up into January and February.

“We will have a good mix” of products, he said. “Nogales seems to start with some vegetables a little bit earlier every year,” and every year, weather permitting, it “goes a little bit longer.” The season now starts in September and goes well into June.