Curry & Co. and the Ensign Family recently announced a partnership that adds key management personnel, a strategic plan and financial resources to continue to grow the Curry & Co. operation at its Brooks, OR, headquarters along with growing partners and packers-shippers in Washington, California, Georgia, Chile and Mexico.
“We are very honored to be part of Curry & Company,” said Aaron Ensign, chief operating officer of the Ensign operation. “Both families are multi-generational and share the same passion and values for agriculture that make this alignment a perfect fit. Our partnership provides even greater stability for our growers, customers and employees, and we look forward to expanding our markets domestically and internationally.”
The Ensign family farms over 1,000 acres of land in Oregon and Arizona. Holly Ensign, who will be Curry & Co.’s chief financial officer, brings financial and operational talent as well as hands-on agricultural experience growing up on her family’s Wasco County, OR, farm.
Aaron Ensign brings extensive global business management experience, as well as worldwide production, procurement and sales skills.
“Curry & Company was the exact opportunity we were looking for,” Aaron Ensign added. “We wanted a company with a diverse product background that had strong relationships and sales both domestically and internationally.”
“Our partnership with the Ensign family enables us to continue to pursue our goals,” said Matt Curry, president of Curry & Co. “They bring a strong management team to the fold, and the financial resources for us to accomplish our strategic growth plans. I greatly respect Aaron and Holly and the passion and energy they have, I’m excited to be working with them.”
Curry & Co. was founded in 1967 and will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017. It is a 52-week supplier of fresh blueberries, and also has year-round sweet onion and onion deals, as well as a seasonal Vidalia sweet carrot program and a seasonal West coast blackberry program.
The Vision Cos. announced that distribution will start in late April for its La Visiõn label conventional and organic honeydews, squash, cantaloupe, mangos, jicama and conventional cucumbers.
"We're excited to add additional items to our La Visiõn brand and it has been extremely well received by our customer base," John Caldwell, vice president of sales Arizona, said in a press release. "We feel that the La Visiõn brand is representative of quality, value and consistently consistence. Our strategic plan is continue to grow our market share as we increase our grower direct deals in Mexico."
"We are excited about the growth of our direct grower deals," Allan Acosta, vice president of operations Arizona, said in the release. "Our windows are expanding and we continue adding new items, both conventional and organic to our portfolio of La Visiõn products. Our enhanced grower programs represent a sustainable long-term benefit for both our U.S. and Canadian customers and our growers as well."
"On our recent trip to the Guaymas, MX, area we were really impressed with our grower sophistication regarding farming methods, food-safety adherence and overcoming infestation challenges," Bill Vogel, president and chief executive officer of The Vision Cos., said in the release. "Even in this region, there are a number of labor issues needing creative resolution."
Ocean Mist Farms named Chris Drew as the company’s vice president of operations. He will report to Joe Pezzini, company chief executive officer.
In his new role, his duties will include directing activities associated with the post harvest of Ocean Mist Farms products; managing the cooling and shipping facilities; overseeing food safety and quality assurance, sustainability and value-added operations; and directing new product and service innovation.
Drew has been with the company since 2004; his previous title was production manager for Sea Mist Farms, an Ocean Mist Farms-owned entity.
“Chris has a keen understanding of the supply chain,” Pezzini said in a press release. “He has a team approach to solving complex problems; has leadership and intellectual acumen and he is a product expert with the proficiency to interact with our customer base. Chris is a strong addition to our senior management team.”
Drew holds a bachelor's degree in crop science from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an MBA. He has more than 16 years of experience in nursery crops and vegetable production. He resides in Hollister, CA, with his wife and two daughters.
Farm Fresh Direct, a partnership of multi-generational family potato farms located around the United States, with offices in Denver and Atlanta, has named Jamey Higham president, effective immediately.
Higham was most recently vice president of sales for Potandon Produce in Idaho Falls, ID. Previously, he held several other senior management positions at Potandon, including vice president of foodservice sales and director of new business development.He started his produce career with Walker Produce as a logistics manager, then became a sales person for the Pillsbury Co. for Green Giant Fresh. He then took a leap into the automotive world and held several management roles with the Ford Division of the Ford Motor Co., “But my heart was in produce, and I came back to potatoes,” said Higham.
“Jim Knutzon has been president and CEO since Farm Fresh began, and strategically led us through great growth,” said Virgil Esperanza, a Farm Fresh grower and current chairman of the board. “When he announced he planned to retire, we knew we had a hard job in front of us to find his replacement. After many interviews we found Jamey, and we believe he brings the perfect balance of experience, strategic thinking and people skills needed to continue the growth that Farm Fresh and our members have come to expect. We’re excited to have Jamey join our team.”
“I had a great experience at Potandon, they are a strong company with very good people,” said Higham. “But when the opportunity came up with Farm Fresh, it represented a new chapter in my career, certainly with new challenges but also real opportunities. Jim Knutzon has laid a strong foundation, one which I hope to build upon.”
Jim Knutzon will remain at Farm Fresh as CEO until his planned retirement in November to aid in the transition, however he said, “During this transition I might be doing a little more fishing, but seriously I’m excited to have Jamey join Farm Fresh, he’ll be a valuable asset.”
Once the transition is completed, Higham will take over the balance of the CEO responsibilities.
Higham currently sits on the United Fresh Government Relations Council and was also a member of United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership class 13. He and his family plan to relocate to Colorado.
Whole Foods Market has revealed the winners of its annual Supplier Awards, the company’s highest honor for producer partners that embody its mission and values. Out of thousands of Whole Foods Market suppliers nationwide, Grimmway Farms earned the grocer’s top “Supplier of the Year” award for outstanding all-around performance in the perishables category.
Grimmway was honored for its longstanding partnership to serve customers with the highest quality organic vegetables. The retailer said Grimmway is a leader in organic farming, quality standards and product innovation and continues to be a model partner for Whole Foods Market on topics ranging from new models of growth forecasting, to new product development and deep transparency on growing practices.
Whole Foods Market also recognized its top supplier partners in 16 categories that highlight areas of achievement, including product innovation, environmental stewardship, ethical sourcing, and excellence in quality standards and assurance.
“Each one of our supplier partners advances the character, flavor, and integrity of our stores, whether they’re committed to land conservation, sustainable farming methods or simply creating the best-tasting product on our shelves,” Edmund LaMacchia, Whole Foods Market’s global vice president of procurement, perishables, said in a press release. “We’re grateful for their drive, commitment and partnership in growing their business with Whole Foods Market.”
The retailer revealed its Supplier Award winners at a reception in Austin, TX, at the Stephen F. Austin Hotel. Additional honorees included:
Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, for many years of partnership, most recently evident in the success of a line of co-branded Whole Trade Guarantee cherry tomatoes from hundreds of farmers in the Baja California and Baja California Sur states of Mexico. The Del Cabo cooperative was formed in 1985 and continues to offer training to members on organic growing, harvesting and handling, as well as startup funds, farming technology, administrative training, and consistent distribution channels — all with the goal of ensuring the best return for small-scale farms.
Presence Marketing and Natural Specialty Sales, for their collective representation of hundreds of Whole Foods Market’s supplier partners. The growth in suppliers committed to Whole Foods Market’s quality standards is, in large part, due to the effort of these two organizations. Together, they have built a transparent, collaborative process to track and audit our partnerships to truly create win-win relationships.
Excellence in Standards
Sunripe Certified Brands, for its leadership in the grower community on the important topic of farmworker welfare. Sunripe Certified Brands was the first Florida tomato grower to adopt the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Program across all of its Florida operations. Jon Esformes, chief executive officer, and his team continue transforming the organization to ensure health and safety for the men and women who work on Sunripe Certified Brands farms.
Global V.P. Integrity Award
Red Tomato, for its work on behalf of small farmers in the northeastern United States and being a voice in supporting a more sustainable, ethical food system. In addition to distributing great local produce from small growers, Red Tomato is also a leader the movement to communicate more deeply about how food is grown.
Stevens Transport, for more than 16 years of anchor cold carrier business partnership for Whole Foods Market’s West Coast produce transportation efforts. Transporting produce is a challenging task to master — it requires pinpoint communication, committed business partners and a flexible, dynamic business process. Stevens Transport has provided all of these and more through both high-and low-growth years, and is a truly distinguished service partner.
Small Planet Foods, for going above and beyond in supporting pollinator health, and for its contributions to organizations that protect wildlife through conservation efforts. The company is also actively and increasingly sourcing almonds from suppliers that are using more bee-friendly production methods.