Andrew & Williamson boosts acreage, organics

San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce has increased its strawberry acreage in Baja California and expanded its organic program, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing.

“We’ve taken a big jump this year,” he said, increasing Baja California acreage by 30%. “We feel there are a lot of opportunities for the early season market,” Munger said.

With 23 years experience in the region, the company has learned how to grow strawberries well and felt the time had come to make a major jump in production, he said.

On the organic side, Andrew & Williamson and its partner company, Sundance Berry Farms, Watsonville, Calif., expanded acreage in Watsonville last year and boosted production even more in Baja California.

“Now we have a fairly significant year-round organic strawberry program,” Munger said.

Boskovich Farms hires sales trainee

Santiago Pena, a recent business administration graduate from California Lutheran University, Thousands Oaks, has joined Boskovich Farms Inc., Oxnard, Calif., as a sales trainees, said Russ Widerburg, sales manager.

California Giant fills food safety position

California Giant Inc., Watsonville, has increased its strawberry acreage in Florida and Mexico, added new varieties in California and filled the newly created position of food safety manager, said Cindy Jewell, director of marketing.

This will be the second year the company will have a strawberry deal in Mexico, which comes in handy when temperatures hit the freezing level in Florida, and the Southern California crop “is not quite there yet,” she said. “It’s nice to have that fill-in volume at the beginning and the end of the year.”

The company also has hired Eric Valenzuela as food safety manager.

Previously with Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC, Valenzuela will focus on grower support, facility operations and third-party auditors to optimize the firm’s food safety operations, Jewell said.

Colorful Harvest boosts acreage, makes hires

Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., has increased its acreage by 24% this season and hired several more people, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner.

Jose Rossignoli, previously with Brooks Tropicals LLC, Homestead, Fla., has been hired as the company’s director of sales and sourcing strategies.

Casey Mills, previously with Mills Family Farms in Salinas, has joined the company as a business development manager.

Gina Diaz, most recently with Salinas-based D’Arrigo Bros., has been hired as accounting manager.

Deardorff Family Farms emphasizes early start

The focus at Deardorff Family Farms, a relatively small strawberry shipper in Oxnard, Calif., will continue to be on getting into the strawberry deal early in the season and avoiding head-to-head competition with major year-round shippers after Easter, said sales manager David Cook.

“We plant early varieties, plant as early as possible and work them as hard as possible to come off early,” he said. “That’s the whole strategy.”

Organic acreage up at Naturipe Farms

Organic strawberry acreage for Naples, Fla.-based Naturipe Farms LLC is up in Southern California this season, said Jim Roberts, senior director of sales.

The company, which ships 85% proprietary varieties out of Southern California, is especially proud of the variety it calls the 1975, Roberts said.

It comes on later than the university varieties that most growers use, but it’s worth the wait, he said, because, “It delivers what we believe is the best-eating piece of fruit in the marketplace.”

Red Blossom sources from central Mexico

For the first time, Red Blossom Farms, Santa Ynez, Calif., is sourcing strawberries from Central Mexico, said Craig Casca, director of sales.

The company has shipped festival and albion varieties grown on 150 acres there since Dec. 1.
The region complements volume from other areas, helping the company fill orders when product can be difficult to procure, Casca said.

“Central Mexico has become a more and more viable source for berries from December to February,” he said.

In Southern California, Red Blossom Farms sources from 300 acres in San Diego and 400 acres in Oxnard.

Success Valley moves organics to Oxnard

After shipping organic strawberries from Baja California for the past three seasons, Oxnard, Calif.-based Success Valley Produce LLC is moving its program to Oxnard, said owner Jim Nahas.

Nahas said the company should have more control over the berries grown in Oxnard, and they should get to market fresher than those grown south of the border.

The firm, which also grows conventional strawberries, will have 40 acres of organic product in Oxnard.

Sunrise Growers boosts acreage by 10%

Sunrise Growers Inc., Placentia, Calif., continues to expand and upgrade, said Christine Reker Herrera, vice president of marketing.

“We have a very successful (strawberry) program,” she said, “and we continue to add top-rated growers and expand our volume.”

The company, which has a year-round program, sources from Orange County, Oxnard, Santa Maria and Salinas/Watsonville.

Reker said she expects Sunrise Growers to increase its strawberry volume by 10% this year thanks to the addition of new growers.