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COMPANY PROFILES

Rainier extends its organic apple season
By better matching growing location, varieties and the timing of sales, Rainier Fruit Company has been able to lengthen the storage capabilities of some of its organic apple varieties and offer the fruit on a year-round basis. “The biggest change for us on the organic front is that we used to run out (of organics) in late spring or early summer,” said Andy Tudor, vice president of business development for the firm. “This season we are going to be able to go year-round... Read more
New MountainKing merchandising program focuses on baby potatoes
As sales of baby Golds, Reds and Medley potatoes continue to climb, MountainKing is embarking on an aggressive program to provide its retail partners with turnkey, display-ready options aimed at driving sales of the smaller, pre-sized variety. “Small potatoes are under-promoted and under-merchandised,” said John Pope, vice president of sales and marketing.  “We’re working to change that narrative in a big way.” MountainKing’s new merchandising package for... Read more
World Fresh Produce proceeding at a fast pace, with enthusiasm
World Fresh Produce was created in 2018. The Cherry Hill, NJ-based company may be a new guy on the fresh produce block, but it’s jam-packed with decades and even generations of experience. Founded by President Michel Matouk, citrus is currently the company’s primarily focus, and it also specializes in kiwi, persimmons, pears and other items. Its citrus fruits are shipped under the PureFect Fruit label. Matouk, who is originally from Montreal, began working for... Read more
Good rains set the stage for strong California citrus season
With citrus roots dating back more than a century, the Visalia, CA-based Chuck Olsen Co. continues to thrive in California’s San Joaquin Valley, providing many services to both its growers and its customers. President Jeff Olsen is the fourth generation of the family to make his living in California agriculture and the second CEO of the Chuck Olsen Co., founded by his father in the mid-1990s. He shares the workload with brother-in-law Tom Salisbury. In the citrus... Read more
Homegrown Organics ramping up citrus production
The citrus category is one of the major sectors for Porterville, CA-based Homegrown Organic Farms. As such, it is a solid growth crop for the San Joaquin Valley grower-packer-shipper Craig Morris, grape and citrus category director for the company, explained the firm’s philosophy to The Produce News in early January. “We have been strategic about planning growth to meet demand,” he said. “We are adding acreage at the rate of about 10 percent per year and we are... Read more
Prime Time Produce ready for the big game
Prime Time Produce, based in Coachella, CA, has been a leader in growing, packing and shipping quality colored peppers in the U.S. for more than 25 years. But that’s just some of what the company does, as it also works with sweet mini peppers, asparagus, vine-ripened tomatoes, watermelon and sweet corn. In late-January and early-February, Prime Time will be just reaching peak volume of colored peppers, mini peppers and asparagus out of multiple growing locations... Read more
Tough competition, customers keep Rocky Produce sharp
As a fourth-generation family-owned wholesale distributor, doing business on the Detroit Produce Terminal for more than 50 years, Rocky Produce knows what it takes to be a success in the ever-changing produce world. “It’s staying united together. It’s hard work and that fundamental will never change, but we all have a common goal and an enthusiasm for this business, and I think that’s a winning formula,” said Dominic Russo, sales manager for Rocky Produce.... Read more
Ruiz Sales looks forward to answering call for quality in 2020
Ruiz Sales, an Edinburg, TX-based importer and distributor of tropical fruits from Mexico, with an emphasis on Persian limes, is looking forward to meeting the demand for top-quality produce in 2020. Citing data that show consumers are more educated and discerning than ever, Richard Ruiz, president of Ruiz Sales, said it is more important than ever to provide the best quality produce possible, while also ensuring full traceability back to the source. A shopper... Read more
Budding new assets add to GR Fresh staple strengths
GR Fresh’s business backbone is core fresh Mexican commodities. Foremost among these are grape, Roma and round tomatoes, which are making their seasonal arrival into the marketplace this month. Tony Incaviglia, vice president of sales and marketing for the McAllen, TX-based grower-shipper, said green and red Bell peppers are other staple items for GR Fresh. Cucumbers and eggplant are key commodities as well. Tony Incaviglia holds a box of GR Fresh green Bell... Read more
Eagle Eye welcomes Joe Ange as director of business development
Idaho Falls, ID-based Eagle Eye Produce, a top tier grower and shipper of potatoes, onions, watermelons and Nogales vegetables has hired Joe Ange to take on a role as director of business development. Ange, former purchasing director of Markon Cooperative Inc., is stepping into a new role for Eagle Eye Produce. After 18 years in the produce industry, he is eager to help build upon Eagle Eye Produce’s commodity programs. Ange earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture... Read more
New Year brings Ben B. 20/20 vision
The vision of Ben B. Schwartz & Sons has always been crystal clear — to keep its sight set on people and produce. And even in the midst of a new, technology-driven era, Nate Stone, special projects for the Detroit-based wholesaler, still believes personal relationships are key to a thriving company. Drew, Chris and Jake Billmeyer.“The thing about the produce business is that it will always need live, human beings,” Stone said. “I see this new technology assisting... Read more
Borquez’ accountability wins for all
Maintaining a high level of accountability for all aspects of a vertically-integrated produce business is not limited as an ideal for Borquez Exports LLC. The values carried by the family business are meaningful to customers and their customers, according to Pablo Borquez. “It is very important to our customers,” he noted. Borquez’ family started farming in Sonora’s Yaqui valley 100 years ago. Pablo Borquez started his own business, Campos Borquez, 33 years ago.... Read more
Epic Produce positive about future trade with Mexico
Within a couple days after positive indications emanated regarding U.S. legislative approval of the USMCA — the renewed treaty agreement of North America — Art Miller couldn’t know the details of a potential impact on his business. Art MillerBut Miller, who owns and operates Epic Produce Sales LLC in Phoenix, philosophically noted on Dec. 11 that “any agreement with the U.S. and Mexico has got to help both move ahead with trade.” Epic Produce “is always selling... Read more
Riggio Distribution Co. remains a fixture on Detroit Terminal
Situated on the Detroit Produce Terminal, Riggio Distribution Co. is an experienced full-service, fresh produce distributor and wholesaler, servicing the entire Midwest from its home base. An anchor tenant on the terminal, the company’s clients come from both retail and food service, as it offers a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables that are shipped and received seven days a week to both corporate and independent customers of all sizes. “There’s no secret... Read more
While R.A.M. Produce Distributors LLC has earned its reputation as a leader on the Detroit Terminal Market for more than three decades by distributing the finest fruits and vegetables, including peppers, zucchini, broccoli, Romaine lettuce, berries, kiwi and more, it’s best known for providing customers with the finest tomatoes available. According to Jim Bommarito of R.A.M.’s sales department, the company is seeing success through tomatoes imported from Mexico... Read more
Applewood aggressively promoting and sourcing new apple varieties
High-value apple varieties are being spotlighted in 2020 by Applewood Fresh Growers LLC. The Michigan grower-packer-shipper is particularly educating consumers to understand the many strengths of its KIKU and Kanzi varieties. producing its own specialty apples, Applewood is increasingly involved in global sourcing to provide its customers with great supplies of new, exceptional types of apples. Nick Mascari, Applewood’s president. is testing apple varieties in... Read more
Riveridge experiencing strong season
“We’re where we need to be this year; exactly when we want to be there,” said Don Armock. The owner of Riveridge Produce Marketing Inc. added “We will ship until early- to mid-summer with our core apple varieties, except for Honeycrisp. Honeycrisp will end much sooner” with a short 2019 Honeycrisp crop limiting controlled atmosphere storage holdings. Honeycrisp supplies for Riveridge will last through mid-winter at the latest, Armock said. Don Armock in a young... Read more
United With Earth teams up with Olympian
United With Earth has made great strides this decade by gearing Its Super Fruit branding efforts to mainstream demographics, the health conscious, foodies and on-the-go families. The Berkeley, CA-based company will be starting 2020 off with a huge sponsorship. Starting in January, the company will introduce its new label and begin a celebrity sponsorship with 2012 Olympic athlete and middle-distance runner Alysia Montaño, a seven-time United States champion, who... Read more
Tastyfrutti International’s Economou entering 34th Chilean season
Andreas Economou, known in the industry as “Andy” and as a Chilean grape expert, is entering his 34th year selling those grapes to his U.S. customer base. For the 2019/2020 winter season (summer in Chile), Economou is anticipating a crop slightly smaller than last year but he does not expect it to sell any differently in the marketplace. Economou is chief operating officer of Philadelphia-based Tastyfrutti International Inc., which was formerly called Unifrutti... Read more
Stemilt remains a leader in organic apples
The Mathison family, owners of Stemilt Growers, have been farming apples for more than a century. The apple variety mix has grown and changed greatly over the past decade, with new flavors arriving all the time. “We strive to be on the cutting edge of that innovation by bringing up our own ‘club’ apples and also by growing more of the varieties that consumers are seeking,” said Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager for the Wenatchee, WA-based company. “Honeycrisp... Read more