Hearty Fresh adds space to packing facility

Byron Center, Mich.-based Hearty Fresh continues to add on to its facility. The company is adding space for packing, including a new onion room, said Talbert Nething, general manager.

The company has added on four times in seven years, Nething said. Last year Hearty Fresh built a new garage for its Destin Transportation Inc. trucks and converted the old garage into an additional cooler. 

Nething said the company is also looking in to more environmentally sustainable packaging, such as palm fiber, for future use.

“I see this earth friendly material coming down in price,” Nething said. “What used to be 13 cents a tray is now more reasonable at 3 cents or 5 cents a tray.”

The company has not used any yet, but is considering it as it becomes more affordable, he said.

Celery Cooperative researches new products

Under new leadership this year, the Michigan Celery Promotion Cooperative is focused on growing the Michigan celery market, but not on the fresh side.

Gary Wruble, who took over as general manager of the Hudsonville, Mich.-based cooperative in January, said the group is focused on growing the processing side of its business and maintaining the fresh side.

The cooperative is looking at some new product innovations, Wruble said.

“We’re looking at a couple of value-added initiatives,” Wruble said. “We hope that we would be done from a feasibility standpoint by the end of this growing season, and be ready next year with some tests and introductions.”

Miedema Produce considers soup pack

Hudsonville, Mich.-based Miedema Produce Inc. is working on new product research and development.

“We’re looking at doing some custom packing and a value-added item, like a soup pack,” said Todd Miedema, director of marketing.

The soup pack could have fresh onions, tomatoes, parsley, radishes and other vegetables, he said. As of late May the product wasn’t ready for this season, but Miedema said a soup pack, along with some other new product ideas, could be around in the near future.

Next generation vested in Russell Costanza Farms

The next generation is now financially committed to Russell Costanza Farms, said owner Russell Costanza.

Costanza’s children, Todd Costanza, Ronnie Costanza and Lisa Hauch, rented a farm and are operating it as their own.  The farm is 218 acres, four of which were added on after they redesigned the fields and took out a driveway for an airplane.

The new generation is operating under the name TRL Farms.

For estate planning purposes, the farm belongs to Russell Costanza’s children, he said, but eventually the farms will be owned under principals, but business will still be done as Russell Costanza Farms.

All three work for Russell Costanza Farms, Sodus, Mich.

Superior Sales ships new zucchini, lettuce

Hudsonville, Mich.-based Superior Sales Inc. is shipping a yellow zucchini this year.

“It’s not yellow squash; it’s zucchini that’s yellow,” said Randy Vande Guchte, president.

Vande Guchte said he’s hoping it replaces yellow squash for some customers because it actually holds up better.

Superior Sales is also packaging green leaf, red leaf and romaine lettuces out of California in sleeves, so the packages are open at both ends.

The company also plans to ship its products in new boxes this year. The company is going to back to a brown kraft box, Vande Guchte said.

“We’re making everything totally uniform,” Vande Guchte said.

The company continues to look for alternatives to waxed boxes, said Todd DeWaard, sales manager.

Celery and celery hearts will be shipped in unwaxed boxes this year, along with cabbage if it’s field-packed, Vande Guchte said.