(March 20, 11:55 a.m.) A Chilean-based packaging industry supplier has some big plans for expanding into U.S. markets.

Integrity S.A., Santiago, Chile, is on an aggressive expansion plan for Southern Hemisphere blueberries packaging, logistics and Argentina berry growing and shipping.

Integrity, which began operations in 1994, has a goal to increase its U.S. sales and plans to open cold storage and distribution facilities in Miami and Southern California in the next year-and-a-half said Gabriel Fonzo, chief executive officer.

While it is beginning its U.S. sales, the company expects to have up to a third of its sales come from the region, he said.

Integrity doesn’t have any U.S. warehousing facilities yet, but is looking to leverage its strong market shares in Latin America and other countries for berry clamshell production, Fonzo said.

“We have been aggressive in expansion for two years,” he said. “We are buying lots of new machinery to expand our production capacities in order to serve in a better way the larger markets in the states. Also, quality is an issue, which has meant changing our molds and increasing our product lines.”

Some changes came after buyers requested larger packs for blueberries. Fonzo said there’s a demand for larger packs to serve club stores.

“The marketing (of Chilean product) in the states is growing so fast from products in Chile, they’re demanding larger packaging sizes,” he said. “We’re trying to make our job as much efficient as possible to give better prices to a very competitive market and achieve efficiencies in the industry in packaging and in services.”

Three years ago, club stores could only purchase 4.4-ounce blueberry clamshells from Chile. Integrity is helping the Chilean blueberry industry change by providing the bigger pack sizes, such as 18- and 24-ounce packs the club stores have been requesting, Fonzo said.

Integrity is developing clamshells to become more efficient in shipping to the U.S. so there’s more usable space in the containers to limit freight costs, Fonzo said.

“We have to make more efficient the usage of warehouses, the cold storage, the trucks and containers and sea freight for the fruit,” Fonzo said.

The logistics are more critical, Fonzo said, especially for berry growing countries such as Argentina that don’t have infrastructure for the massive volumes they will likely have in upcoming years.

Integrity was founded by Fonzo’s father, Gabriel Fonzo, who has long worked in Chile’s produce industry. The company has three divisions: packaging, cold storage for Chilean exporters and blueberry production in Argentina.

Gabriel Fonzo serves as president of the company’s board of directors.

In 2002, Integrity started production on 250 acres in the Argentinean Province of Concordia, Entre Ríos, exporting to North America and Europe.

Integrity’s Santiago plant has 23 cold-storage rooms with a 7,000 pallet storage capacity and provides controlled atmosphere storage, vacuum cooling and logistics consolidation.

Integrity’s customers include Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla., Driscoll Strawberry Associates Inc., Watsonville, Calif., SunnyRidge Farm Inc., Winter Haven, Fla., and Sun Belle Inc., Washington, D.C., Fonzo said.

Chilean company to expand further into U.S.
Chilean-based packaging industry supplier Integrity S.A., Santiago, plans a large expansion in the U.S. market. Integrity, which also has Argentina blueberry acreage, plans to increase its U.S. sales and open cold storage and distribution facilities in Miami and Southern California. Integrity has packaging, cold storage and blueberry production divisions.