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New SunSelect greenhouse grows California peppers year-round

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SunSelect, a leading Canadian greenhouse grower, will ship its first-ever California-grown tomatoes this week. This historic shipment marks the beginning of a new era for the British Columbia-based grower, as the doors to its brand new 32-acre greenhouse officially open to fresh opportunities.

Along with cocktail and traditional tomatoes-on-the-vine, SunSelect’s high tech, state-of-the-art facility, located in Tehachapi, CA, will produce sweet Bell peppers year-round. Notably, this makes SunSelect one of the only large-scale greenhouse growers in the Golden State to produce peppers in the winter, enabling attractive programs for retailers seeking California sweet Bells during the colder months of the year and beyond.

SunSelect’s expansion into California has also deepened its long-term partnership with The Oppenheimer Group, an investor in the new facility. And even as SunSelect prepares to ship its first product from the new greenhouse, construction of a second facility is already under way in Tehachapi.

“We have started building an additional 32 acres, which will double our current size and significantly increase our year-round pepper volume,” Len Krahn, SunSelect co-owner, said in a press release. Peppers grown in this second phase will be available in late 2015.

“We chose Tehachapi for a few reasons, including the high light levels to promote uniform plant growth, the plentiful water and low humidity,” said Len’s brother and SunSelect co-owner Victor Krahn. “And because the temperature in this valley is lower than surrounding areas, it is naturally free of many pests.”

Inside the fully sealed greenhouse, SunSelect has employed the latest technology to assure an optimal growing environment where sustainable practices are undertaken. From water recycling to re-introduction of waste CO2 as fertilizer to natural air heating, cooling and re-circulation systems, SunSelect extends the commitment to sustainable growing it pioneered in British Columbia to its new California greenhouse.

“We are serious about growing the best tomatoes and peppers in the most sustainable manner we can,” Victor Krahn said.

SunSelect tomatoes-on-the vine will be available at the end of October, and peppers will follow about a week later. While product will ship throughout the U.S., part of the sustainability strategy includes a focus on the local California market.

“We are launching a new series of packaging that emphasizes the California origin of our new items,” he said, noting that the iconic California bear is featured on the packs. “We anticipate that a considerable amount of our early product will be sold here, and we are eager to build a local following.”

Aaron Quon, greenhouse and vegetable category director for The Oppenheimer Group ― SunSelect’s marketing partner ― points to the significant impact the new facility could have: “This is an important step in the evolution of the North American greenhouse category,” he said. “With SunSelect, we will be the first to offer U.S.-grown greenhouse sweet Bell peppers year round. And with the addition of TOVs and cocktail tomatoes―combined with SunSelect’s BC production of peppers and cucumbers―we can deliver a full basket of high-demand items to our customers from SunSelect any day of the year.”

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Minnesota company taps Chile to feed year-round hunger for Honeycrisp apples

Minnesota company taps Chile to feed year-round hunger for Honeycrisp apples

Spring usually represents a time when Honeycrisp apple fans must go without their coveted fruit, but a Minnesota company is about to change that. A Honeycrisp crop is en route this week to U.S. grocery stores from Chile, where growers have spent the past decade perfecting the insanely in-demand apple variety.

Westcott Agri Products Inc. of Elgin, Minn., has exclusive rights for the Chilean production of the Honeycrisp, and is working with local contract growers to bring the apples north. “Honeycrisp is the No. 1 desired apple in America,” said Don Roper, vice president of sales and marketing for Westcott Agri Products. “We will be the first company that provides a year-round Honeycrisp supply to our retail partners.”

The reward for Honeycrisp apples is lucrative. They can fetch $ 100 a case for wholesale, compared to $ 30 for Gala apples and $ 20 for Braeburn, Roper said.

The University of Minnesota developed the Honeycrisp apple. Its patent from 1988 has expired, but it still has rights over international production. The breeder of the Honeycrisp apple is U of M research scientist David Bedford. Bedford recently traveled to Chile to see the farms and try the apples.

Bedford is concerned that some domestic and international growers aren’t properly caring for the variety and may harm public perception of the apple. They’re difficult to grow, but Bedford said Chilean growers have done a good job so far.  “The Chilean growers are a sharp group that has faced the challenges so far,” Bedford said. “The ones I tried down there are good. Slightly different than ours, but still in the good category.”

Apple orchards are in a mad dash all over the world to plant Honeycrisp trees, both Roper and Bedford said. The U.S. crop has reached 7 to 8 million bushels a year and it’s continuing to grow at a rabbit’s pace.

In the southern hemisphere, only Chile and New Zealand have produced apples for U.S. consumption, but in very small shipments that are gone before anyone even knew they were here. This year’s Chilean crop is much larger at 200,000 bushels, but still a drop in the bucket compared to the millions grown in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

As production in the U.S. increases, apple companies are loading them into climate-controlled rooms to preserve them until the late winter months. But southern hemisphere apples would give American apple consumers fresh Honeycrisp all year round.

Wescott plans to ramp up production in Chile. The company already has orchards in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington. The company owns packing sheds and markets its own apples and fruit from other orchards through its Honeybear Marketing division. Roper said Wescott is one of the top three or four Honeycrisp growers in the United States.

Locally grown Wescott apples are labeled as Mississippi Valley Fruit Co. Its non-Midwest and international apples are labeled Honeybear.

Source: bizjournals.com

Publication date: 4/24/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Minnesota company taps Chile to feed year-round hunger for Honeycrisp apples

Minnesota company taps Chile to feed year-round hunger for Honeycrisp apples

Spring usually represents a time when Honeycrisp apple fans must go without their coveted fruit, but a Minnesota company is about to change that. A Honeycrisp crop is en route this week to U.S. grocery stores from Chile, where growers have spent the past decade perfecting the insanely in-demand apple variety.

Westcott Agri Products Inc. of Elgin, Minn., has exclusive rights for the Chilean production of the Honeycrisp, and is working with local contract growers to bring the apples north. “Honeycrisp is the No. 1 desired apple in America,” said Don Roper, vice president of sales and marketing for Westcott Agri Products. “We will be the first company that provides a year-round Honeycrisp supply to our retail partners.”

The reward for Honeycrisp apples is lucrative. They can fetch $ 100 a case for wholesale, compared to $ 30 for Gala apples and $ 20 for Braeburn, Roper said.

The University of Minnesota developed the Honeycrisp apple. Its patent from 1988 has expired, but it still has rights over international production. The breeder of the Honeycrisp apple is U of M research scientist David Bedford. Bedford recently traveled to Chile to see the farms and try the apples.

Bedford is concerned that some domestic and international growers aren’t properly caring for the variety and may harm public perception of the apple. They’re difficult to grow, but Bedford said Chilean growers have done a good job so far.  “The Chilean growers are a sharp group that has faced the challenges so far,” Bedford said. “The ones I tried down there are good. Slightly different than ours, but still in the good category.”

Apple orchards are in a mad dash all over the world to plant Honeycrisp trees, both Roper and Bedford said. The U.S. crop has reached 7 to 8 million bushels a year and it’s continuing to grow at a rabbit’s pace.

In the southern hemisphere, only Chile and New Zealand have produced apples for U.S. consumption, but in very small shipments that are gone before anyone even knew they were here. This year’s Chilean crop is much larger at 200,000 bushels, but still a drop in the bucket compared to the millions grown in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Washington, Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

As production in the U.S. increases, apple companies are loading them into climate-controlled rooms to preserve them until the late winter months. But southern hemisphere apples would give American apple consumers fresh Honeycrisp all year round.

Wescott plans to ramp up production in Chile. The company already has orchards in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Washington. The company owns packing sheds and markets its own apples and fruit from other orchards through its Honeybear Marketing division. Roper said Wescott is one of the top three or four Honeycrisp growers in the United States.

Locally grown Wescott apples are labeled as Mississippi Valley Fruit Co. Its non-Midwest and international apples are labeled Honeybear.

Source: bizjournals.com

Publication date: 4/24/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Pandol Bros. to kick off year-round blueberry program with the Chilean season

Pandol Bros. Inc., a leading marketer of table grapes based in Delano, CA, has added blueberries to its product line and will kick off its year-round blueberry program in November with fruit from Chile.

“Pandol is excited to begin the blueberry program this coming Chilean season,” Greg Caveng, blueberry sales manager for Pandol Bros., said in a press release. “We feel there is an opportunity to build a strong year-round program.”

Caveng will manage the blueberry product line out of Pandol’s East Coast sales office in Gloucester, NJ.

“Greg has worked with blueberries for over 15 years, and he will be one of the key drivers of our blueberry program,” Scott Reade, vice president of sales and marketing for Pandol, added in the press release.

“We’re totally jazzed to deploy our logistics, foreign trade and marketing expertise in blueberries,” John Pandol, director of special projects, said in the press release.

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Duda announces year-round Meyer lemon program

Duda Farm Fresh Foods will now offer Meyer lemons year-round in an effort to meet the growing demand of the popular citrus item amongst consumers.

Since 2008, Meyer lemons have become a widely known and popular ingredient amongst professional chefs and home cooks across the United States. As a result, Duda Farm Fresh Foods has Bassetti mediakitMark Bassettiprocured a relationship with growers in New Zealand to supplement the company’s domestic crop in promotable volumes from May to September, just before the company’s California product becomes available from October to March. The highlight of the New Zealand season this year will be slightly larger fruit than in past years.

“When demand is driving consumption of your product, you find a way to get the product when it is out of season,” Mark Bassetti, senior vice president of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said in a press release.  “Consumers are excited about Meyer lemons and seek to find them in stores, even when they are out of season. This presents our company with a great opportunity to deliver and provide our retail partners with a solution from a company that they know and trust. It is truly a win-win-win for everyone involved!”

Originally from China, the Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. The fruit has a thin skin with a bright yellow rind that darkens to orange-yellow as it ripens. Its aromatic juice is much sweeter than a conventional lemon and is a favorite of gourmet cooks and dessert chefs.

Duda is supporting sales of Meyer lemons with category data and an online sales kit that includes recipes for consumers as well as point-of-sale material.  In tandem with this, Duda Farm Fresh Foods reiterates the company’s commitment to providing its customers and consumers with a year-round supply of other citrus products as well.

Duda Farm Fresh Foods is expanding the year-round citrus category by importing clementines and oranges from Chile and Minneolas from Peru to create a fresh new summer citrus category.  

As an additional highlight, the Peruvian Minneolas will have an outstanding eating quality and come packed in special Minneola bags this year.

This summer the Chilean citrus season quality has been very good and is showing high Brix with excellent taste for the summer clementine crop. The slight drought conditions in the growing region have helped with higher sugars in the early fruit.

In light of approval for import of citrus from Uruguay, Duda Farm Fresh Foods will provide customers with citrus products from March to October, including clementines, Navels, Valencia, Satsuma and other varieties of oranges as well as lemons.

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines