Booth Ranches puts codes on boxes

Orange Cove, Calif.-based Booth Ranches is placing a scannable bar code on every box of citrus packed this season.

Since boxes are now entered in inventory when they’re packed, rather than waiting until the entire pallet is built, inventory lags are spotted earlier and adjustments can be made more quickly, said Neil Galone, vice president of sales and marketing.

Retailers continue to use the small pop-up bins Booth introduced last year, Galone said.

The bin fits over empty cartons and holds the equivalent of two boxes of oranges. It can be used to build a small display or an auxiliary display.

“Bins help give the produce department a farmer’s market feel and make the consumer feel like they’re getting closer to the fresh product,” he said.

Booth is also expanding its cara cara groves, he said, and should have enough volume within three years to start packing its own pink navels.

“It’s something new and different with a really good flavor, which is a strong driver now in the produce department,” he said.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods hires two managers

Nichole Towell, director of marketing for Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Oviedo, Fla., said the grower-shipper’s citrus coming from California this season is attractive with excellent eating quality.

Duda’s mandarins and minneolas, which started in January, should be available through April, Towell said, with navel oranges and lemons through July.

In people news, Towell said Phillip Giannetto has joined Duda’s Visalia, Calif., branch as field operations manager, and Brent Young has joined the sales team as account manager.

“Both gentlemen bring a wealth of experience to the company,” she said.

Florida Classic Growers starts off with temples

Al Finch, vice president of sales and marketing for Florida Classic Growers, Lake Hamilton, Fla., said packing began the first week of January for temple oranges, and they should be available to early February.

“The fruit is smaller than normal, but there’s good promotable volume, so we’ve been promoting the 3-pound bags,” Finch said.

Florida Classic’s midseason orange varieties should transition to valencias sometime in mid-February, he said, and be available well into the summer in 4-pound bags.

Honey tangerines should be available to the first week of March, he said.

Florida Classic is the marketing arm of the Dundee Citrus Growers Association.

Johnston Farms introduces mesh bag

Dennis Johnston, partner in Edison, Calif.-based Johnston Farms, said two nephews, Cameron and Derek Vaughn, have joined the sales force to promote the grower-shipper’s navels and mandarins.

Johnston has also introduced a new mesh and poly bag from Fox Packaging in McAllen, Texas, for its Blue Jay brand navels.

“It breathes better than an all-poly bag, it’s not as expensive as an all-mesh bag, and it’s attractive with the printed logo on it,” Johnston said.

His satsuma mandarin harvest ended just before the mid-January freeze, and he expected minimum damage to his murcotts and other mandarin varieties, including Tahoe Gold.

Johnston harvested about 100 acres of satsumas with stems and leaves this year, an Asian tradition that’s becoming more popular, he said.

“Satsumas are pretty delicate, and with stems and leaves they have to move through the supply chain pretty fast before the leaves dry up and fall off,” he said.

“It’s a good way to keep good fresh mandarins moving through the system.”

In export markets, Johnston said Australia and New Zealand have been strong, but South Korea has been slow starting.

“I think they have their own heavy mandarin crop left so they’re not buying a lot yet from us,” he said.

Paramount Citrus buys Texas operations

California’s largest independent grower-shipper-marketer of fresh citrus has begun merging its Texas acquisitions into Paramount Citrus Texas.

Delano-based Paramount Citrus Association acquired Texas-based Healds Valley Farms last July. Healds Valley represents nearly 50% of the state’s citrus farms.

In mid-December, it purchased the citrus assets of Mission-based Rio Queen Citrus to become the main supplier of Texas citrus, particularly red grapefruit.

“Merging the two companies will create efficiencies for customers and growers alike,” said Scott Owens, Paramount’s vice president sales and marketing.

“We believe Paramount is well-positioned with its marketing activities to increase the demand for Texas grapefruit to a whole new level,” Owens said.

New distribution centers in the McAllen, Texas, area will give Paramount customers greater variety and one stop shopping, he said.

After buying 9,500 acres of lime groves in the southern Mexico state of Tabasco last year, the company also plans to become the largest vertically integrated lime grower in Mexico.

“We are now just getting into the 2013 crop and our new properties are starting to really produce volumes,” Owens said.

“Over the next five years we will see double-digit production growth year on year.”

Seald Sweet installs cooler in Lakeland

Dave Brocksmith, Florida citrus manager for Vero Beach, Fla.-based Seald Sweet International, said the company has installed a new cooler in its Lakeland packing plant.

The equipment has a capacity of 50 loads of fruit, Brocksmith said, and the company expects to have a strong Valencia deal in May and June.

Sunwest Fruit’s Zeal enjoys overseas success

After four years of offering its eco-friendly citrus under the Zeal brand to overseas buyers, Sunwest Fruit says the program has taken off, particularly in Japan.

Doug Sankey, marketing manager for the Parlier, Calif.-based grower-shipper, said the program is also attracting U.S. retailers.

Sankey said the Japanese like the fact that Sunwest’s ranches are GlobalGAP-certified, its packing facilities are Safe Quality Food-certified and stringent criteria are in place for air, water and chemical use.

Zeal fruit is certified by Protected Harvest, a nonprofit organization based in Soquel, Calif.

“Some of the standards may be even more stringent than organic,” he said.