Florida Strawberries Business Updates:

Colorful Harvest adds salesman,expands coolers

Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., added Rick Michels, a retail and produce sales veteran, as its business development manager for its Florida division in Plant City, Fla.

Florida Strawberries Business UpdatesMichels has been in produce sales for more than 20 years. He previously worked at William Manis Co. Produce Marketing in Plant City for nine years and was a produce buyer for Meijer Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich.; Winn-Dixie Stores Inc., Jacksonville, Fla.; and Dominick’s Finer Foods Inc., Oak Brook, Ill.

He also worked in sales for The Tobi Co. Inc., Tampa, Fla.

“The value Rick brings to us is being on the retail buying desk for years,” said Jeremy Burris, Colorful Harvest’s Florida division vice president of sales and sourcing.

“Before, he was buying and selling the product, but he now has direct access to the product. The customer base he sends us will be good for us as growers.”

In other news, Colorful Harvest remodeled its Florida refrigeration and expanded its Florida acreage.

Although Burris declined to disclose cooler capacity or acreage, he said the facility improvements double the company’s cooling capacity, and the grower-shipper expanded its acreage by up to 20%.


Driscoll’s increases acreage to boost Florida supply

Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., has expanded its Florida strawberry production.

This season, the Watsonville, Calif.-based Driscoll’s, which packs from its Dover, Fla., operation, increased acreage by 10%.

Mark Greeff, vice president and general manager of Driscoll’s Eastern region, declined to state the amount of acres the grower-shipper grows and packs from through its own acreage or growers’ acreage.

“We see Florida as an important window of supply for our fruit,” he said. “Florida has great potential for the future and the ability to produce good quality fruit in the U.S. that can fit into our supply plans for the Eastern Seaboard.”


Gulf Coast Produce installs pair of precoolers

Gulf Coast Produce Inc., has added two precoolers.

The precoolers join the Dover, Fla.-based grower-shipper’s five other coolers and each of the two coolers allow it to handle 16 pallets, providing a total capacity of 92 pallets, said Steve Machell, sales manager.

The additions should help reduce pressure on Gulf Coast during heavy volume days as well as help retailers eliminate shrink, he said.

“These improvements will show in extended shelf life for the retailer,” Machell said. “It will remove the field heat quicker. The quicker the berries are cooled, the longer the length of product on the other end as it will give another day or two of shelf life.”


Wish Farms wins award, continues retail promos

Wish Farms is expanding its retail clamshell promotions.

Florida Strawberries Business UpdatesThe Plant City, Fla.-based Wish Farms plans to co-merchandise its fruit with General Mills cereals for a second year, but this year it plans to add Dove Promises chocolates and Fig Newtons cookies to the promotion.

In the on-pack promotions, coupons affixed to the 1-pound clamshells allow shopper savings via displays set up throughout the stores.

Consumers can receive $1 off Wish Farms strawberries when they buy two bags of the chocolates, a package of Fig Newtons or any box of General Mills cereals.

More grocery chains are wanting to partner in the merchandising, especially with General Mills as that company’s big push promotes breakfast at home, which is cheaper and can be healthier than eating out, said Amber Kosinsky, Wish Farms’ director of marketing.

In other news, Wish Farms recently received community recognition through an award presented by Farm Credit of Central Florida and the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce.

Naming Wish Farms its Agri-Business of the Year, the award is one of three Salute to Agriculture awards that recognize the region’s agriculture professionals and educators.

The organizations cited Wish Farms for leading in ensuring the freshness of its fruit, product traceability, its focus on consumers and its support of migrant farm workers.

“It’s very nice and humbling for the community to recognize that we have a special place here,” said Gary Wishnatzki, president and chief executive officer. “It’s our team here that really deserves the credit for winning this award.”

By Eastern Editor Doug Ohlemeier