Brandt Farms achieves PTI milestone 6

Brandt Farms Inc., Reedley, Calif., went live with Produce Traceability Initiative milestones 4, 5 and 6 in October 2011 and plans to continue them into the 2012 season, said Michael Reimer, vice president of sales.

Milestones 4 and 5 involve labeling each case with global trade item numbers, or GTINs, and lot numbers. Milestone 6 involves retailers recording inbound cases.

By the start of this season, the firm also will have doubled cold storage, partly because of increased volumes and partly because of PTI issues.

“Probably the bigger addition that isn’t visible is our increased capacity for precooling fruit,” Reimer said.

Brandt Farms plans to launch an updated website — — May 1 that’s more consumer friendly and has more of a blog feel, Reimer said.

“It will help us develop a relationship with the consumer who wishes to learn more about us,” he said.

The site also will feature short videos that give a small virtual tour of the operation.

In addition, Brandt Farms plans to tie in social media, such as Facebook, to the site.

Cecelia Packing brings back Dimples

Cecelia Packing Corp. started its second commercial season of Dimples mandarins in the first week of April.

Shipments from the Orange Cove, Calif., company could last through May, sales manager Randy Jacobson said.

“It’s up 30% from last year, not a huge deal but it will be eventually,” Jacobson said. “You take baby steps when you start out. I can see our production tripling in the next five or six years. We’ve made a commitment to this program, and we’re looking forward.”

It ships after other California mandarins are pretty much done.

“It’s a lumpy, bumpy piece of fruit but the taste is amazing,” Jacobson said. “We got a good response from consumers via Facebook and Twitter, and retailers are warming up to the idea. Those who used it did quite well. For export, there seems to be a niche for a good late mandarin around the world.”

The fruit has been grown for four or five years, but Cecelia Packing didn’t brand it until 2011.

Crown Jewels adds two salesmen

Crown Jewels Marketing & Distribution LLC, Fresno, Calif., has added two employees to its staff.

Tim O’Brien, who previously had worked for Cal Fire and also played on a New York Yankees minor league baseball team, joined the sales department, said Atomic Torosian, co-owner.

Joining the sales team this winter was Wyatt Torosian, a recent University of California-Los Angeles graduate with a degree in political science and international relations.

Dan Andrews Farms consolidates packing

For the first time, Dan Andrews Farms, Bakersfield, Calif., will pack all melons at a single location this summer.

“I’m going to pack my watermelons at my own facility, rather than outsource them to another location,” owner Danny Andrews said.

In March the grower was building a watermelon packing line in an existing 10,000-square-foot facility. The line is expected to start operations June 20.

Flavor Tree builds Cherry Bomb program

The Flavor Tree Fruit Co. LLC, Hanford, Calif., plans to expand its Cherry Bomb program this season, said Mo Cameron, sales manager.

The stemless sequoia variety cherries are packed in 1-pound clamshells. Last year, the firm test-marketed the concept.

“We were kind of testing to see what kind of reaction we’d get from the trade with stemless cherries,” Cameron said. “They just happen to be stemless cherries. The selling point is they’re very high in brix, very dark in color and very crunchy.”

Giumarra Bros. beefs up sales desk

Giumarra Bros. Fruit Co. Inc., Reedley, Calif., has added to its sales department.

Jeannine Martin takes over as director of sales, said John Thiesen, division manager.

Martin has worked in the produce industry since 1977, most recently as a saleswoman with for Patch Sales LLC, Dinuba, Calif.

Bob Faulkner has joined the company’s sales staff in Reedley. Previously he was director of sales at Double D Farms, a Coalinga, Calif., grower-shipper of organic fruits and vegetables.

Glen Tomkiewicz was named special projects manager addressing sales, marketing, exports and import issues at The Giumarra Cos. in Vernon, Calif.

Kingsburg plans bags for three labels

Kingsburg Orchards Inc., Kingsburg, Calif., plans to roll out display-ready bags for its Dinosaur Brand, Flavor Farmer and Flying Saucer labels this season, said Dan Spain, vice president of sales and marketing.

The grower-shipper test-marketed the bags last year for pluots, plums, peaches and nectarines to rave reviews.

“It’s kind of like the Cuties, but not much had been done in stone fruit,” Spain said. “Retailers were very happy.”

In fact, the response was so good that Kingsburg Orchards invested in three bagging machines for this season.

Primavera Marketing hires marketer

Carolyn Becker has joined Primavera Marketing Inc., Linden, Calif., as a consultant to help with merchandising, said Rich Sambado, domestic sales manager.

Previously Becker was marketing and national accounts manager for the California Pear Advisory Board, Sacramento. As owner of Marketing and Merchandising Services, Denver, she provided domestic retail promotions and marketing support to the California Cherry Advisory Board, Stockton.

Sundale expands packing plant

Grape grower-shipper Sundale Sales, Tulare, Calif., is undertaking a $10 million expansion program, including the addition of two rooms and a custom-pack facility at its cold storage operation.

Sundale Sales is the marketing arm of Sundale Vineyards & Cold Storage.

“We have been forced to expand because the market place continues to grow,” Sean Stockton, chief executive officer.

Since Stockton joined the firm in 2006, he said Sundale has expanded essentially every year.

Western Fresh increases organic fig volume

Madera, Calif.-based Western Fresh Marketing is increasing its organic fig production.

“I have a new 40-acre block of organic figs with tiger stripes, sierras and black missions in Coachella,” George Kragie, president.

It’s a block of young plantings that’s just starting production, part of a 160-acre ranch in Coachella.

The Coachella deal typically starts in late May, but Kragie said figs could be harvested sooner in the desert region this year.