(March 2) SELMA, Calif. — The five California shippers that pack stone fruit for the Ripe ‘N Ready marketing group, plus another San Joaquin Valley fruit grower-shipper, have formed a new company, FreshSense, to be led by former California Tree Fruit Agreement president Blair Richardson.

The companies will continue packing under the Ripe ‘N Ready label.

Although he didn’t say what will separate FreshSense from Ripe ‘N Ready, Richardson said the new company will involve more than stone fruit and among the group’s goals is “to leverage shelf space for stone fruit to market other commodities.”

Richardson met with representatives from the six fruit shippers at a Selma restaurant March 1 to discuss the new company. Details of the arrangement were unknown, and Richardson said many specifics are still in the air. He is FreshSense’s president and chief executive officer.

“We shall be building on what Ripe ‘N Ready proved years ago, that cooperation among competing growers was possible,” Richardson said. “Our task would be much more difficult if not for the foundation Ripe ‘N Ready built.”

Ripe ‘N Ready members in the new group are:

  • Ballantine Produce Co. Inc., Reedley;

  • Corrin Farming, Reedley;

  • Fowler Packing Co. Inc., Fowler;

  • The HMC Marketing Group Inc., Kingsburg; and

  • Sunwest Fruit Co. Inc., Parlier

Kingsburg Orchards, Kingsburg, joins the five in Fresh Sense.

Richardson said he hopes to establish a marketing staff in time for the California stone fruit harvest this summer.

While Richardson declined to discuss the differences between Ripe ‘N Ready and FreshSense, he said packaging and value-added traits will play a role. The group has not yet established an office. But Richardson said it will be headquartered in the Reedley-Sanger area.

Steve Kenfield left as president of Ripe ‘N Ready last fall and joined Rio Rico, Ariz.-based SunFed.

California shippers form new company
The Ripe 'N Ready label will continue to be used for California stone fruit in the program, despite the creation of FreshSense, a new firm comprised of five shippers who pack for Ripe 'N Ready and another grower-shipper based in Kingsburg.