Produce extends eggplant

After having limited supply last year, Apache Produce Co. Inc. plans to have eggplant for the full winter season out of Nogales, Ariz.

Apache Produce had the crop for just a few weeks last year, but has signed a Sinaloa grower for a steady supply from mid-November through April, sales manager Jose Pesqueira said.

The company’s main commodities are round tomatoes, European cucumbers and colored bell peppers. The tomatoes run mid-December through June; colored bells, Jan. 1 through May; and European cucumbers, early November to mid-February.


Bridges Produce organics on the rise

Organic supplier Bridges Produce added two salesmen to its staff this year, hiring Dan Musser and promoting Lisa Heeley, said Ben Johnson, president.

Portland, Ore.-based Bridges Produce has offices in Nogales, Ariz.; San Francisco; and Seattle. Organic sales continue to grow at a pace of 15% to 20% annually, Johnson said.

Ciruli Bros. expands pepper selection

Ciruli Bros. has added some open-field le rouge red bell peppers to its winter offerings, along with more hot peppers.

The elongated peppers should become available around Christmas and run through late April, partner Chris Ciruli said.

“We did jalapenos and tomatillos last year,” he said.

“This year we’ve added serranos and poblanos. The demand on hot peppers seems to be pretty good, so we added more varieties to create more of a mix and one-stop shopping for customers,” he said.

Ciruli Bros. started green beans, eggplant and bell peppers the first week of November.


Crown Jewels Produce adds salesman

Juan Medina has joined the Crown Jewels Produce staff as the third salesman in its Nogales, Ariz., office.

Medina came to Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels from J-C Distributing, where he spent six seasons, said Luis Corella, director of Mexican produce for Crown Jewels.


Eagle Eye boosts Mexico production

Potato grower-shipper Eagle Eye Produce is taking a quantum leap in its Mexico production this winter, when it expects to have 3 million packages.

“We’ve been down here 15 years as a broker, but we’ve dabbled in the growing for the last three, and this year we jumped in with both feet,” said Jake Jacobsen, general manager for the Nogales, Ariz., operation of Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Eagle Eye.

A broad lineup of offerings includes eggplants, red and green bell peppers; Italian, yellow and gray squash; green beans; honeydews; roma tomatoes; and cucumbers, among others. Much of it is grown in Sonora and Sinaloa.


Farmer’s Best adds tomatoes on the vine

Farmer’s Best International is returning European cucumbers to its lineup after a two-year hiatus and offering tomatoes on the vine for the first time, said Steve Yubeta, vice president of sales.

The cucumbers are expected to start in mid-December and the tomatoes soon after Jan. 1.

“Customers requested both items,” Yubeta said. “It’s not a lot of acreage on the vine tomatoes.”

Justin Lombardi, formerly with Kaliroy Produce, has joined Farmer’s Best at its Nogales office as a salesman. Mario Cardenas is in sales at the Edinburg, Texas, office.


L&M changes facility, names manager

L&M Cos. Inc. this winter will ship out of a Nogales, Ariz., site with 40,000 square feet of refrigerated space.

It’s at 30 Old Tucson Road.

“We have changed our facilities,” said Greg Cardamone, general manager of vegetables at Raleigh, N.C.-based L&M.

“This facility will give us a better product flow, better cross-docking and quicker loading and unloading of trucks,” he said. “We’ll be able to color sort our romas better because it’s a wide-open floor system.”

L&M’s Nogales’ business will be supervised by recently hired sales and operations manager Johnny McDaniel.


Meyer Tomatoes takes over own sales

Nogales, Ariz.-based Meyer Tomatoes LLC is back in sales.

“The last couple of years Lipman Produce handled that for us, but Meyer is taking back its own sales now,” said Butch LaVelle, sales director.

Billy Don Grant is the sales manager; Juan Mendoza is a salesman.

Meyer Tomatoes limits its Nogales operations to December through May. It sources mature green and roma tomatoes during that stretch. Cucumbers and jalapenos run December through February.

In Mexico, its tomatoes and cucumbers are grown in the Los Mochis and La Cruz areas.


Oppenheimer, United Produce partner

Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group is continuing its partnership with United Produce for tomatoes on the vine and long English cucumbers grown in Baja California, Mexico.

“We also plan to market greater volumes of greenhouse slicer cucumbers and tomatoes from the region this year,” Aaron Quon, greenhouse and vegetable category director, said in mid-October.

Oppenheimer also expects slight increases in conventional and organic red, yellow and orange bell pepper volume from Divemex in Etzatlan and Culiacan, thanks to good growing conditions.

The Divemex fair trade certified pepper program starts in December and runs through May.