Al Harrison Co. taps procurement director

Jose Gomez has been named procurement director at Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co.

“He was a seed salesman for many years with various companies, but most recently with Bayer CropScience,” said Brent Harrison, president.

Gomez took the position, which had been vacant for a few months, in October.


Andrew & Williamson berries to peak in March

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce expects to have more strawberries available for Valentine’s Day and Easter this year than last.

“Our acreage is up 30% in central Mexico and 20% in Baja,” said John King, vice president of sales. “That’s due to strong consumer demand for springtime strawberries.”

Quality was good and weather damage no greater than normal for this time of year, King said.

“We’re looking at an early Easter (March 31), and there will be promotable volumes,” he said Jan. 31.

Andrew & Williamson has also doubled its organic strawberry acreage in Mexico, he said.

Central Mexico strawberry harvesting is expected to go through March; January and February were the peak volume months. Baja typically peaks in March and April; it started in December and runs through May.


Ciruli Bros. buys into demand for specialty eggplant

They’re not the top priority in the fresh produce industry, but it hasn’t escaped the attention of grower-shippers that demand for niche eggplant varieties is rising.

That holds for both Indian eggplant — also known as Hindu eggplant — and Italian eggplant.

“These are items not a lot of people follow,” Chris Ciruli, partner in Nogales, Ariz.-based Ciruli Bros. LLC, said Jan. 28. “This is a market that a lot of times you’d see around $8 or $9, and now for the last 60 days you’re seeing strong double-digit markets.”

One bushel or 1-1/9 bushel cartons are common pack sizes for specialty eggplants.

“It’s an ethnic driver,” Ciruli said.

Last year, a Pew Research Center study found that Asians — a group that includes immigrants from India — have overtaken Hispanics as the biggest source of U.S. immigration.


Crown Jewels Produce adds growers, volume

Fresno, Calif.-based Crown Jewels Produce anticipates up to 30% more Mexican vegetable volume coming through its Nogales, Ariz., facilities this spring than last.

Crown Jewels was among the shippers able to move squash in modest volumes during recent high markets for those commodities.

“We’ve acquired new growers and a broader customer base,” said Luis Corella, director of Mexican produce. “Our vegetables remain the same, but it’s an increased package count and we’re providing customers with any special packs they may require — RPCs, euro boxes, whatever.”


Calavo Growers gives red bell peppers a trial

Calavo Growers Inc., whose Nogales, Ariz., operations focus on tomatoes, has begun a trial red bell pepper program, said J.J. Badillo, director of diversified products.

Supplies are limited.

“It’s a greenhouse program,” he said. “We pack them in 11-pound units as well as a 1-1/9 bushel (carton).”

“It’s a small program we just got started with,” Badillo said Jan. 30. “We’re always looking at new products or packaging. We’re just now starting to move into some retail and foodservice business.”