view current print edition



Uesugi Farms’ 2016 Northern California pepper harvest, which includes green, red and yellow Bell peppers as well as mini-sweets and several varieties of hot peppers, started strong in early July. While green Bell peppers and hot peppers were on time, mini-sweets, red Bell peppers and yellow Bell peppers were about a week late.Uesugi Farms

Heat ended the harvest early in Bakersfield, while at the same time unseasonably cool weather in Northern California pushed back the harvesting of reds, yellows and mini-sweets there by a week, resulting in a short-term gap.

“Even though the cooler weather last week slowed us down a bit, we’re expecting pepper production to speed up thanks to a warmer forecast this week,” said Pete Aiello, general manager at Uesugi Farms.

Not only is Northern California an important location for Uesugi Farms, since it is headquartered in Gilroy, it’s also ideal because of the moderate climate and long growing season.

Uesugi has the most crop acreage, volume and variety supporting its year-round supply of peppers coming out of Northern California. Some of the northern locations in which Uesugi grows and harvests include Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Hollister, Brentwood and Lodi.

“It’s one thing to manage your production from various locations in and out of state, but when it’s right in your own backyard, you’ve got better control of the growing and harvest, and that’s one of the things we look forward to during the northern California season,” said Aiello.

Uesugi Farms also expects increased pepper production compared to last year due to expanded acreage.

The Northern California pepper harvest is expected to last through October or early November, at which time Uesugi Farms will move its operations down to the Coachella Valley to continue production there.

Uesugi Farms is a year-round supplier of a variety of peppers, sweet corn and Napa cabbage. It also produces pumpkins and beans on a seasonal basis.

The Aug. 8 edition of The Produce News reported that Immokalee, FL-based Oakes Farms had recently achieved its goal of becoming a year-round supplier of Eastern produce when it partnered with Chill C Farms in Moultrie, GA. Now the company has announced another new growing partner that will provide the company with its first line of hard squashes.

On Aug. 17, Steve Veneziano, vice president of sales and operations for Oakes Farms, told The Produce News that the company has partnered with Bar 4J Ranch, formerly SA Flint Farms, in Arcadia, FL.ockOakes Farms’ new growing partner, Bar 4J Ranch in Florida, is providing the company with its first hard squash line.

“This partnership will add 180 acres of hard squashes to our already extensive line of fresh produce,” said Veneziano. “Beginning in the fall, we will have Acorn, Butternut, Spaghetti and Buttercup squash. We are planting now, and will start harvesting in mid-November.”

The hard squash program will run through the end of January. Bar 4 JS Ranch will then produce cabbage for Oakes Farms in a program that will run from early February through around mid-April

“The Chill C Farms program is now 100 percent planted,” Veneziano noted. “The plants are growing well and are very healthy. We are looking forward to an on-schedule harvest of around September 25, which is exactly as planned. We’re extremely happy to be working with this partner, and we expect to be every bit as happy with Bar 4J Ranch.”    

Chill C Farms is currently producing about 30 commodities for Oakes Farms, including green Bell peppers, eggplant, squashes, cabbage, tomatoes and chile peppers. It ultimately plans to have nearly 60 commodities in this partnership. It will provide Oakes Farms with both a spring and fall crop. This year it will start movement in Georgia beginning in early October, running through late November.

The company partners with M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc., located on the Vineland Produce Auction, for its New Jersey program. And it plans to begin a new partnership in North Carolina next year. The company services wholesalers, retailers and foodservice operators.

Oakes Farms label, Seed to Table, illustrates the company’s innovative agribusiness model.

“We are committed to our values, including quality service unparalleled in the industry,” said Veneziano. “Our repack center in Immokalee enables us to better service our customers. And we have our own trucking fleet numbering into the multi-dozens of units.”

Garden-Fresh Foods, a leading manufacturers of fresh and wholesome deli salads, dips, desserts and salad kits, announced a new distribution partnership with Midwest-based Carlin Group, a leading regional retail merchandising company.garden12

"This is an exciting time for us," Tom Hughes, Garden-Fresh Foods co-founder, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "Garden-Fresh Foods is looking to expand into new markets, and partnerships like this one with the Carlin Group will help us achieve that goal."

Hughes said the partnership will give more people access to the Garden-Fresh Foods line of products, including its new fall flavors: Moroccan Chick Pea Salad, Pasta Robusto, European Carrot and Cranberry Slaw, Cheesy Au Gratin Potato Salad with Bacon, Coconut Cream Pie Dessert Kit, Banana Apple Salted Caramel Crunch and Korean Kimchi.

Ray Peuler, executive vice president of the Carlin Group, said the company is pleased to partner with Garden-Fresh Foods because it delivers quality products made with family values.

"The Garden-Fresh brand and family culture, along with their Midwest roots, fit perfectly into our portfolio of clients that service the perimeter of the grocery store, which is one our largest growing segments," Peuler said in the press release. "As a sales agency, it is always our goal to represent clients that manufacture the highest quality of products, and our sales team is excited about the products we tasted at a recent visit to their corporate headquarters."

Headquartered in the Chicago area, with offices in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio, the Carlin Group has more than 300 employees serving the Midwest region handling manufacturers' brands in multiple categories, including perishable, non-perishable and non-food divisions of supermarkets, drug chains, mass marketers, limited assortment retailers, convenience retailers, national wholesalers and distributors.

Garden-Fresh Foods is one of the country's leading manufacturers of fresh and wholesome deli salads, dips, desserts and salad kits, serving grocery, convenience, private label, foodservice and mass-market industries.

The Mexican avocado industry, overseen by the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Mexico, more commonly known by the acronym APEAM, announced it has expanded environmental efforts to support the long-term sustainability and strength of the industry.apeam

Recent news reports have discussed deforestation issues facing Michoacán, Mexico, related to increased avocado production. While the avocado industry has expanded significantly to meet the growing demand, APEAM has been a supporter of environmental initiatives and has led an extensive reforestation program, planting over 500,000 pine trees throughout Michoacán over the past several years.

The reforestation program continues to expand with 280,000 trees planned for 2017 and 320,000 for 2018 with trees already being grown in the nursery.

To protect against illegal deforestation, APEAM has called on government authorities to enforce the law on this issue. On Aug. 17, APEAM and the Michoacán government set forth an action plan to establish agricultural and environmental limits to future expansion of the avocado area, as determined by academic institutions such as Michoacán State University and the National School of Agriculture Chapingo, among other respected organizations.

A formal environmental board also will be established to study the impact of avocado production on the region and provide recommended action to further protect the natural environment. The environmental board also will establish certification guidelines to recognize avocados that are produced under the highest environmental standards.

As representatives of the largest Hass avocado production area in the world, APEAM’s goal is to achieve proper balance between the growing worldwide demand for avocados, important environmental needs and the livelihood of thousands of small farm-holders and farm workers.

Tops Friendly Markets will be opening six new stores this week, four of which were previously Stop & Shop locations while the other two were Hannaford stores. Five of the stores will open in New York (Rhinebeck, New Paltz, Wappingers Falls, LaGrangeville, and Carmel) and one will open in Gardner, MA. tops

Customers will find locally grown produce from up to 200 local growers and thousands of certified organic products. Over the next few months, the company will be remodeling these stores and continuing to enhance offerings.

“As a local New York-owned company, we are already receiving a warm welcome from associates, customers and members of the community which is exciting,” Frank Curci, Tops Markets’ chairman and chief executive officer, said in a press release. “We are looking forward to providing the friendly service, outstanding quality products, and great value that our customers have come to expect from us."

Williamsville, NY-based Tops is a leading full-service grocery retailer in New York, northern Pennsylvania, western Vermont, and north central Massachusetts. The company employs more than 16,000 associates and operates 172 full-service supermarkets, with five additional by franchisees under the Tops banner.