(Oct. 23) Rounding out its citrus supply and selling base, Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. has bought new groves, consolidated its Florida packing operations, increased production of new products and promoted and added new personnel.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods, the fresh division of Oviedo, Fla.-based A. Duda & Sons Inc., also has entered into an exclusive sales and marketing agreement with a major central Florida fresh citrus growing and packing operation.

The changes, many of which took place in December and during the summer, were announced Oct. 16.

Duda in July agreed to market fresh citrus for Peace River Packing Co., Fort Meade, Fla.

Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International had been Peace River’s longtime marketer.

The deal will provide steadier supplies of tangerines and bolster Duda’s ability to regularly supply oranges, said Tommy Duda, Duda’s division vice president of fresh citrus operations.

Duda has consolidated its Florida grapefruit packing in its LaBelle facility. The change came after the Aug. 1 closing of the closing of the Vero Beach packinghouse of Gracewood Fruit Co. LLC, which Duda co-owned.

In south Texas, Duda in December bought 369 acres of grapefruit groves near Mission, Texas, from grower Lynn Jones, who had been marketing his Rio Star grapefruit through Healds Valley Farms Inc., Edinburg, Texas, and Rio Queen Citrus Inc., Mission.

The acquisition will provide Duda access to the popular Rio Star variety, Duda said.

“At the time we entered into those negotiations, we weren’t quite sure where the canker eradication initiative was to end,” he said. “We still don’t know as an industry of how successful we will be on battling the disease. We’re in the grapefruit business and we wanted to continue with it. It was a supply hedge for us at the time.”

STAFF CHANGES

Supporting Duda’s citrus sales expansion, Duda in July promoted two of its citrus sales managers to new positions and added a fresh citrus sales manager:

  • Les Crocker, a 12-year Duda sales veteran who had been general sales manager of Duda’s Vero Beach office, was promoted to the new position of export sales manager. Crocker will handle citrus as well as Duda’s vegetable export sales to Japan, China, Korea, Europe and other international markets, said Mark Bassetti, Duda Farm Fresh’s division vice president of fresh citrus sales in the Visalia, Calif., office.


  • Alberto Cuellar, who had been selling offshore citrus for Duda since 2002, was promoted from manager of global business development to director of global business development.


  • Jorge Echave July 1 joined Duda as Florida fresh citrus sales manager. Echave, who has more than 15 years experience working in citrus processing sales, manages Duda’s Vero Beach office sales.