Baloian Farms updates operations

Baloian Farms expects to complete enclosure of its Fresno, Calif., headquarters packing line by the time the San Joaquin Valley pepper starts in mid-June.

The construction includes the addition of food-grade wall insulation and installation of a new cooling system, said Jeremy Lane, sales manager.

Not only will this be more comfortable for workers, but it also will help with food safety and machinery.

In addition, the grower-packer is transitioning to the Baloian Farms label and away from its Pam Pak label on value-added products, such as miniature peppers and BellaFina baby bells. Baloian Farms will keep the Pam Pak label for bulk peppers.

To help handle growth at Baloian Farms, the grower-packer hired Marcel Corella as sales coordinator in its Nogales, Ariz., office. When the season ends there, he will move to the Fresno office to cross train in the quality control department.

Sheila Davidson, who had previously worked for Baloian Farms before spending about eight years at Otis Spunkmeyer Inc. in the San Francisco Bay Area, returns as sales coordinator in the Fresno office.


Nature Fresh Farms adds organic bells

Nature Fresh Farms, which has grown greenhouse peppers for several years, added organic peppers to this season’s production after conducting numerous tests.

Last season, the Leamington, Ontario-based grower-shipper had two tests involving more than two dozen combinations of nutrients, soil substrates and pepper varieties to find the ideal one that produces high yields of high-quality peppers.

“We collected all the data, and, of course, learned a lot,” said Peter Quiring, president.

This year, Nature Fresh Farms is commercially growing about 5 acres of certified organic peppers under glass.

Production involves mostly red bells, with some yellow and orange.

If a customer wants green bells, Quiring said the colored peppers are harvested green.

One of the challenges with organic production has been the dearth of products, whether nutrients or soil substrates, that can be used, Quiring said.


Prime Time boosts acreage

Coachella, Calif.-based Prime Time International has doubled its acreage of miniature sweet peppers during the past couple of years, prompting the company to rethink its packing line.

This is the first season that the grower-packer has used a new line in its Coachella Valley operation designed specifically for pint-sized peppers, said Mike Aiton, director of marketing.

The packing equipment was used last season in Oxnard.

“It will make us more economical and efficient in the packing,” he said. “It gives us a very nice, uniform pack with a good mix of color and a great finished product.”

When the season ends in the Coachella Valley at the end of June, Prime Time International will move the packing line back to Oxnard, hardly missing a beat, Aiton said.

“The transition will be virtually seamless for Prime Time,” he said.


SunSelect certified for Fair Trade

SunSelect Produce Inc., an Aldergrove, British Columbia, greenhouse vegetable grower, has received certification from Fair Trade USA for its program that enables people from Guatemala to work in its facilities.

The production will enable Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group to offer Fair Trade-certified sweet bell peppers year-round. It already marketed Fair Trade peppers from Mexico grown by Divemex.

“SunSelect has proven their commitment to environmental and social responsibility over the years, but Fair Trade certification elevates their efforts to an even higher level,” John Anderson, chairman, president and chief executive officer of The Oppenheimer Group, said in a news release.

The program also may be expanded to reach workers in other regions, according to the release.

“We are taking this new and exciting step forward to see how Fair Trade can benefit our workers and also to offer our customers the chance to differentiate in a meaningful way,” Len Krahn, executive manager of SunSelect, said in the release.