Long-term partnerships with Mexican growers are coming to fruition this winter for Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce LLC.
“We’re up in volume between 30% and 40% over last year for our Mexican vegetables out of Nogales,” said Atomic Torosian, managing partner.
“We’ve partnered up with some of the better vegetable, melon and mango growers in Mexico. That’s been going on for 12 years, but it takes time to develop some of these programs.”
In the domestic U.S. market, Crown Jewels supplies grapes, citrus and a wide range of fruit and vegetable commodities.
It’s the second largest shipper of pomegranates, Torosian said.
Where some companies specialize, Crown Jewels goes for broad coverage. Mexico is no exception.
“Our Mexico program is heavily involved in all the squashes — also eggplant and red, green and yellow bell peppers,” Torosian said.
“We have slicer cucumbers, roma tomatoes, sweet corn, cantaloupe, honeydew and mini watermelons.”
Those and more are packed under the Crown Jewels, Sunset, Z Farms and Cachitos labels.
Crown Jewels planned to open an office in Yuma, Ariz., in the second week of November.
New label, line
A line of mixed vegetables bearing the new Don Juan label is expected to be sold out of Yuma, Nogales and Fresno.
It’s primarily green onions, spinach and radishes grown in the Mexicali and San Luis areas.
In Nogales, where the company operates out of Agri-Packing’s cooler, three salesmen — Luis Corella, Robbie Mathias and Tim O’Brien — have joined veteran Ernie Robles.
Crown Jewels president Rob Mathias, Torosian’s partner since 1999, plans to be in Nogales full-time this winter for the first time.
The asparagus crosses at San Luis, Ariz. It ships out of Caborca, Mexico, the largest asparagus-growing region. That deal runs January through March, sometimes into April.
In the spring Crown Jewels plans to source Mexican mangoes, another company first. They’ll be grown in Culiacan and Los Mochis, Mexico.
“It starts in late April and runs into July,” Torosian said.
“We’ll offer tommy atkins, keitts and most of the major varieties.”
The traditional Mexican grape deal also starts up in April.