Fresh Quest expands watermelon, specialties

Fresh Quest Inc., Plantation, Fla., one of the biggest shippers of imported melons, has recently acquired new areas in Central America, and the fields are being prepared for next season.

The company expects to plant watermelons, cantaloupes and honeydews. Lou Kertesz, vice president of sales and marketing for Fresh Quest, said Fresh Quest does about 300,000 boxes a week.

As one of the largest importers of melons from Central America, Kertesz said the company plans to significantly increase its seedless watermelon and miniature watermelon crops. He sees a growth in the watermelon retail market.

“It is a big commodity item, a big mover in retail, so it’s a good move (for us).”

The company also plans to produce more specialty melons.

Jackson Farming earns GlobalGAP certification

Jackson Farming Co., Autryville, N.C., recently made the switch from crenshaw melons to canary melons. The company also increased its seedless yellow-flesh watermelons by 40 acres.

“We saw an increase in demand here on the East Coast, so we put it back into production this year,” said Matt Solana, vice president of operations.

Additionally, he said the company just achieved GlobalGAP certification on all fresh produce items.

Pappas & Co. plans Web upgrades

Pappas & Co., Mendota, Calif., plans to revamp its website, according to Rodney Van Bebber, sales manager.

He said anyone who visits the site will be able to get current information on different commodities, find out what’s in season and learn about food safety. There will also be a section for consumer comments.

Additionally, Pappas Produce plans to apply for GlobalGAP certification.

Southern Corporate Packers adds shed

Brian Arrigo, president of Southern Corporate Packers Inc., Immokalee, Fla., said the company has added a packing shed for watermelons.

Cam Bulloch, who moved from transportation, will handle Eastern U.S. sales, and Austin Hatton, who’s been with the company for seven years, will handle Midwest sales.

This year the company received GFSI certification at its farms and packinghouses in Immokalee and expects to be certified by the end of the summer at its other packing facilities.

Southern Corporate Packers also hired a full-time employee to handle its food safety program.