Organic produce business updates
Shredded organic kale for foodservice now is available from Oxnard, Calif.-based Boskovich Fresh Food Group, said Darrell Beyer, director of organic sales.
“We destem it in the field, run it through our line, it gets triple washed, and then it gets shredded,” he said.
Thickness of the shred can vary, and it’s packed in cartons of four 2.5-pound bags.
Foodservice customers use the product mostly for salads, he said.
Boskovich also has a 10-pound package of stemless collards, packed in a liner box and used for vegan wraps.
“People can make sandwiches out of it,” Beyer said.
Chelan Fresh Marketing, Chelan, Wash., will have more of its organic proprietary SugarBee apples this season, said Kevin Stennes, organic sales manager.
“This is the first year where we’ll have several loads of organic ones,” he said.
Substantial organic volume is just starting to come on, he said.
“It’s taken several years to get a new variety, and then get it certified organic.”
SugarBee is “an amazing apple,” he said, but it has a short season, which will end in December.
As volume picks up, availability should expand, he said.
“It stores real well, so as our volumes grow, we’ll have it more year-round.”
Organic Daisy Girl apples have been performing well for Wenatchee, Wash.-based CMI Orchards, said George Harter, vice president of marketing.
“Daisy Girl is the No. 1 organic brand in the U.S.,” he said.
“We were at $53 million (annually), and the next closest competitor was at $19 million,” according to recent data, he said.
He attributes the exceptional accomplishment to entering the category “early in the game,” offering high-quality fruit and partnering with retailers to help them be successful in the organic category.
“We have been working on organics for a long, long time,” Harter added.
The company also has a number of branded organic apples that he considers “main pillars” of the company — like Kanzi, Ambrosia Gold, Kiku and Envy.
The organic caramel/cinnamon-flavored Autumn Glory apple program is going strong at Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima, Wash., said Catherine Gipe-Stewart, communications manager.
About 15% to 20% of the company’s apples are organically grown.
Eventually an organic version of the Cosmic Crisp variety that will be released in December will be available, she said.
“The organic category is the shiny spot in apples,” Gipe-Stewart said.
Sales of conventional apples are flat, while organic sales continue to grow, she said,
“They’ve been up 8% year over year as of August.”
“People want more choices, and they’re saying organic is the thing that’s exciting and different,” she said.
The firm also is the largest organic pear grower in the Northwest, she said.
Lakeside Organic Gardens LLC, Watsonville, Calif., is expanding its organic acreage, said owner Brian Peixoto.
The company is transitioning 100 acres to organic in California’s Pajaro Valley, he said.
In all, Lakeside has 2,000 acres in the Watsonville area and 1,000 acres in Holtville in Southern California.
Lakeside ships up to 50 different crops and grows big-volume items like broccoli, celery and lettuce as well as specialty items like Romanesco, gold beets, rainbow carrots and watermelon radishes, offering a one-stop shop for organic produce buyers, he said.
The company also is working to refine its systems using beneficial insects to help keep down the pest population and reduce the need for spraying, which may not have a big effect on pests.
“All the sprays used are organic, so they’re not really effective,” Peixoto said.
The Little Potato Co., Edmonton, Alberta, has just released a variety pack of Limited Harvest yellow and red organic creamer potatoes in a 1.5-pound bag, said Christa Wagner, director of advertising and promotions.
They can be boiled, grilled, microwaved or roasted.
The thin-skinned proprietary varieties are fat- and cholesterol free, gluten free, a good source of potassium, and are prewashed.
They’re available from October to January, Wagner said, but eventually they should be in supermarkets year-round.
NatureFresh Farms Sales Inc., Leamington, Ontario, now offers organic red, yellow and orange bell peppers and mini sweet bell peppers, said Ray Wowryk, director of business development.
And over the winter, the company will complete the transition of additional acreage to organic tomatoes, cucumbers and snacking tomatoes on-the-vine.
“Our retail partners have encouraged us to produce some of those,” he said.
Sage Fruit Co. LLC, Yakima, Wash., was scheduled to launch the first rollout of its Apeel technology for retail customers on Nov. 1, said Chuck Sinks, president, sales and marketing.
The company has been testing Apeel, a plant-based coating designed to extend shelf life, for the past year and saw good results, he said.
Organic apples treated with Apeel can retain moisture as they sit on the supermarket shelf for up to 40 days, he said, giving retailers more weight per box.
Sinks said Apeel, developed by Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Apeel Sciences, will be applied on request to several mainline varieties of organic apples, including fuji, gala, Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, golden delicious, red delicious and granny smith. “A nominal added fee” will be charged for the Apeel treatment, but in the long run, customers will gain more than they pay for it, he said.
Shoppers will benefit, too.
“It will give the consumer a better piece of fruit that will last longer,” Sinks said.
Mill Valley, Calif.-based TerraFresh Organics, a new supplier of organic citrus, mangoes, stone fruit and grapes, will have its first rollout of organic citrus and mangoes under the Earth Greens Organic label, according to a news release.
The company’s citrus product line will include organic valencia oranges, navel oranges, lemons and grapefruit.
Terra Fresh Organics will source citrus from California, Mexico and Peru and mangoes from Ecuador, Peru and Mexico.
The company partners with growers who are committed to organic fruit, sustainable practices and quality produce, the release said, and has packing and loading operations in California; Nogales, Ariz.; McAllen, Texas; and Toughkenamon, Penn. — By Tom Burfield
The Packer’s Global Organic Produce Exposition & Conference (GOPEX) provides a forum to meet the rapidly changing needs of professionals who grow, distribute, pack and market organic produce. This international trade show and conference provides the ideal opportunity for organic produce professionals from around the world to network, exchange ideas, source new products and services, and do business with the industry's leading growers, distributors, packers, marketers and retailers.