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In accordance with the Apr. 20 start date announced by the Vidalia Onion Committee, Giumarra will begin shipping both organic and conventional Vidalia onions the third week of April. Giumarra Southeast is pleased to offer promotable volumes of Nature’s Partner-brand Vidalia onions in bulk and bagged pack styles.vida

“This year, we will have increased volume available throughout the season,” said Stu Monaghan, division manager of Giumarra Southeast. “Quality is looking excellent and we have been discussing marketing opportunities with our customers who consider Vidalia’s a cornerstone of their onion category. Consumers ask for them by name.”

Now in the third year of its onion program, Giumarra is continuing to offer Vidalia and sweet onions in partnership with G&R Farms of Glennville, GA.

“We know that organics are of growing importance to consumers, and we are excited to offer our customers an organic option for this summer favorite,” said Kristina Lorusso, regional business development director for Giumarra.

Giumarra’s domestic Vidalia onion season is complemented by Peruvian sweet onions to round out a 12-month sweet onion supply, all loading from the same location in Glennville.

Exhibitor booth registration is now open for the Organic Grower Summit, slated for Dec. 12-13 in Monterey, CA. Organic supply chain partners and service providers are encouraged to sign up for a booth at the second annual OGS, which features two days of information, education, and networking opportunities with organic growers.ogs

Produced by California Certified Organic Farmers and the Organic Produce Network, OGS will include targeted educational sessions on various aspects of organic production from leading authorities. Additional keynote presentations from influential and preeminent speakers on a variety of issues and opportunities in organic produce, meat, dairy, and processed organic items are also on the two-day agenda.

“There is a strong appetite for information and networking opportunities that bring together the various sectors of the organic community. OGS is an outstanding opportunity to exchange ideas and information that help us to advance organic for a healthy world,” said Cathy Calfo, executive director and chief executive officer of CCOF.

With 27 sponsors already committed to participating at OGS, exhibitors will include seed, packaging, soil amendment, food safety, ag technology and equipment manufacturers connecting with organic field production staff, supply chain managers, pest management advisors and food-safety experts.

“The organic community truly sees the benefit of an event connecting organic growers and farmers with those in the supply and service chain. As organic continues to grow, the need for expanded education and information throughout the farming community is paramount to its continued success,” said Tonya Antle, co-founder of the Organic Produce Network. “Working together with CCOF, OGS is the right event to bring all components of our community together to exchange ideas and information.”

OGS will be held at the Monterey Conference Center. General registration is slated to open in July, with components of the educational program, including session topics and speakers, to be released in the coming months.

To date 27 companies have signed on as sponsors of the event: AGCO, Valent, Driscoll, Moxxy Marketing, California Organic Fertilizer, Vitalis Organic Seeds, STK U.S.A., Seed Dynamics (Pulse Organics), Marrone Bio, Bank of America, Rabobank, Catalyst Product Group, American Ag Credit, IFCO, Andreini & Co., Bejo Seeds, 3 Star Lettuce, True Organics, Rijk Zwaan, Terramera, SunWorks USA, Suboneyo USA, Volm Cos. Inc, Ferti-Organic, Crop Production Services, K.Coe Isom and Creative AG Products Inc.

Warm weather is the norm when you grow crops for spring production in California’s Coachella Valley, but fluctuations are commonplace and crops react to those anomalies. Except when there aren’t any.Coachella-Pepper-Harvest

Area grower-shippers interviewed by The Produce News about this year’s spring deal sang the same song: a mild winter led to average growing conditions and average production. As producers of grapes, peppers, watermelons and sweet corn watched their crops mature in the April sunshine, they all spoke of predictable output this year, which might be a tad on the boring side but it’s great for promotion planning. In the cases of all four of those crops, there should be supplies that will allow for some May/June promotions by retailers.

Tony Bianco of Desert Fresh Inc., located in the city of Coachella, echoed the sentiments, if not the exact words, of everyone who was contacted. He noted that there were no extremely cold days nor were there any very hot days for growers to contend with in the January through March time period when the annual crops were taking root and the grape vines were sprouting leaves and fruit buds. He apologized for the “boring” report, but noted that grape shipments should start on time during the first week of May, start to hit their stride in mid-May and offer promotional opportunities for the Memorial Day weekend and throughout June.

The grape season typically lasts into July with predictably high temperatures marking an end to the season. As he spoke in mid-April, 80-90 degree temperatures were predicted for the following two weeks. But Bianco knows well enough that come July the mercury will rise into the 100s on a daily basis. When it starts inching pass 110 degrees it will signal the end of the grape season. It typically tops out in the 115 range but it has been known to climb to as high as 123, which is not a good temperature for the living, be they human or plant.

Chance Kirk of Vincent B. Zaninovich & Sons Inc., which is headquartered in the San Joaquin Valley city of Delano but also has a grape deal in the Coachella Valley, said reports have been of good growing conditions this year. He said the result is a grape crop that is expected to be a little light with the earliest fruit harvested, but should return to normal before mid-season. He predicted promotable supplies throughout June leading to an almost seamless transition to the San Joaquin Valley crop in July.

Andy Economou of Tastyfrutti International Inc. in Philadelphia heads to Coachella Valley every May to help sell the Tudor Ranch deal. He said this year’s crop looks good and on-time. He noted that the Flame Seedless that Tudor has will start on May 7 with good volume. Economou said it appears as if the season will start off with a strong market. He said prices on Chilean grapes were declining a bit in mid-April causing shipments from that South American country to decrease or cease. When new fresh grapes from California are available in early May, he believes the market will start off strong and retailer action will be brisk. “I think we will start in the high $20s on the Flames,” he said April 18, adding that the red grapes currently on the market were trading much lower than that.

Mike Way of Prime Time International, which is also headquartered in Coachella, said May and June should bring good supplies of colored peppers as well as watermelons and sweet corn. Each of those crops is perfectly suited for the warm desert temperatures that will be commonplace for their approximately eight-week long seasons. He was especially boastful of the watermelon crop noting that it appeared to be particularly heavy this year.

Both sweet corn and watermelon are seasonal crops for Prime Time, which is well known as a year-round pepper specialist. Way said the corn and melons will be sold closer to home while Prime Time will ship the peppers throughout the United States.

Whole Foods Market celebrated the winners of its sixth annual Supplier Awards last night, spotlighting producers that exemplify the grocer’s mission and core values through their commitment to quality, environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing, and culinary innovation.wholefoods

“Our shoppers look to Whole Foods Market for new and delicious products, and we are honored to recognize our top supplier partners who demonstrate industry-leading innovation and impactful work,” said A.C. Gallo, president and chief operating officer at Whole Foods Market. “These national and local suppliers were selected from thousands of driven, passionate, mission-based brands at Whole Foods Market and represent the best in class in sourcing, and commitment to the highest quality standards.”  

Whole Foods Market revealed its Supplier Award winners at a reception held in Austin, TX. Honorees included the following:

Rainier Fruit Co. for the rigorous standards applied to both organic and conventional cherries, apples, pears and blueberries provided to Whole Foods Market throughout the year. From orchard to pack house, Rainier develops and uses the latest innovations to ensure an excellent quality experience in each box they deliver. Rainier has previously been recognized by the Whole Foods Market perishables team as Supplier of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.

Coke Farm for its organic commitment, representing a diverse group of local fruit and vegetable growers across the U.S. and Canada. Coke Farm works with organic growers to develop growing plans and supports receiving, cooling, selling and shipping of their produce. A longstanding partner of Whole Foods Market, Coke Farm is a thriving organic produce aggregation company committed to offering consistently high quality and specialty produce to stores and customers.

Ela Family Farms was named Supplier of the Year for the Rocky Mountain region for its commitment to sustainable farming methods, investment in renewable energy and advocating for national adoption of responsible production methods — all while providing high-quality fresh and dried fruit, apple butters and ciders. The Ela Family Farms team uses sustainable pest control techniques like legume ground cover, beneficial insect habitat creation, soil fertility, and drip irrigation to grow delicious fruit while protecting the environment, and owner Steve Ela initiated and organized three National Organic Tree Fruit Research Symposiums.

Eastern Carolina Organics was named Supplier of the Year for the South region for efficiently expanding production of both popular and specialty produce items to meet Whole Foods Market customer demands. Since 2004, Eastern Carolina Organics has received two Local Producer Loan Program loans from Whole Foods Market. The brand continues to collaborate with the grocer’s South region to expand in-store offerings like hot peppers and varietal squashes.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op was named Supplier of the Year for the Mid-Atlantic region for their focus on creating healthy, high-quality foods from highly maintained and enriched soils on small-scale family farms. The nonprofit organic farmers cooperative is made up of over 100 family farmers committed to quality, heirloom varietals and superior customer service. Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-op enthusiastically participates in annual meetings and new store openings for Whole Foods Market’s Mid-Atlantic region.

With the Organic Produce Network citing an 11 percent increase in organic apple sales volume last year, Oppy is poised to meet the demand with fresh new crop Southern Hemisphere fruit right now.

First up are organic Royal Galas from Argentina, welcoming spring with their refreshingly sweet crunch and building in available volume as fruit from Chile arrives in the weeks ahead. Granny Smiths and Red Delicious are next, followed by New Zealand Royal Galas, Fujis and Braeburns in May, and JAZZ and Pacific Rose in June — when Cripps Pinks and Fujis from Argentina and Chile will also arrive.IMG 2384Chilean organic Royal Gala apples.

“We’ve had a great response to the new crop, which is following the demand curve for high quality organic apples,” said Chris Ford, organic category manager at Oppy. “We have premium sizes available, providing a favorable alternative to the smaller size domestic apples coming out of controlled atmosphere now.”

Ford said Oppy’s Southern Hemisphere apple program complements the marketer’s signature Washington organic apple program — which features the popular JAZZ, Pacific Rose and Envy, the recently announced two-time winner of the U.S. Apple Association’s Munch Madness competition.

“We appreciate the opportunity to present import fruit produced by organic growers who are just as intent on delivering the highest quality eating experience as our domestic growers do,” he said.

In addition to bulk fruit, Oppy is offering apples from Chile and Argentina into two- and three-pound Oppy organic branded bags for the first time this season.

“Oppy’s organic programs are growing as a whole, so we’ve developed packaging with a cohesive look,” Ford said. “Our new packs make it easy for shoppers to recognize that the fruit inside is organic by sporting the widely recognized yellow tone associated with organics as well as the USDA Organic logo, while calling out the variety each pack contains.”

Ford notes that Oppy’s Southern Hemisphere apple program was preceded by arrivals of Argentine pears in early March.

“We believe there’s a great opportunity for retailers to build their pear category by offering high-quality import organics,” Ford said. “Our program is well-timed, as domestic stocks of popular varieties are winding down or have finished. We’re focused on familiar pears that drive the category, including Bosc, D’anjou and several types of Bartletts.”

Oppy’s organic pear program extends through June.