October 2022 Produce Watch


Eric Schwartz

Braga Fresh

Braga Fresh, Soledad, CA, appointed Eric Schwartz to the company’s board of directors. Schwartz is currently the chief executive of Eckert Frozen Foods LLC. Prior past positions include CEO of United Vegetable Growers Cooperative; CEO of Patterson Vegetable Co., LLC; and president of Dole Worldwide Fresh Vegetables. Schwartz is a longtime contributor to the fresh produce industry, having served as past co-chairman for the startup of the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) and a past member of the board of directors of the former International Fresh-Cut Produce Association.

CMI Orchards

CMI Orchards, Wenatchee, WA, has advanced several positions within the company. Robb Myers has been promoted to vice president of business development from his former position as director of sales, as he takes a more active role in retail strategy and overall business growth. CMI’s vice president of marketing, George Harter, is shifting to a strategic role with the company, helping to advance new projects as the newly appointed vice president of special projects. CMI’s brand manager, Rochelle Bohm, has taken the reins from Harter as the new vice president of marketing. CMI’s marketing specialist, Danelle Huber, has been named senior marketing manager.

Robb Myers, George Harter, Rochelle Bohm, Danelle Huber
Mike Stephan

Baloian Farms

Monterey Mushrooms, Watsonville, CA, expanded its executive team, and appointed Mike Stephan to senior director of business development, a role that spans the entire U.S. sales team. Stephan previously held the role of western region sales director and prior to that, he was the eastern region sales director.


Onions 52 Kicks Off Fall Season

Onions 52, Syracuse, UT, officially kicked off its fall onion season in Washington state and Utah. With high demand for new crop onions, it has been a busy start. The Onions 52 farms will supply customers across the country with red, yellow, white, sweet, USDA-certified organic onions, and tearless Sunions, through early June.

Fyffes Releases Honduras Melon Team Results

Fyffes, Coral Gables, FL, and its subsidiary Sol Group published the initial results of its melon business transformation in Honduras, led by new local management. The first step was the appointment of a new general manager for Sol Group, Genivaldo Pereira, in October 2021. This was followed by the incorporation of a new operations manager in Honduras, Reginaldo de Lima, as well as new managers of compliance, human resources, sustainability, labor and farm relations. With the support of Fyffes executive leadership, the new management team has made major changes and improvements to Fyffes’ melon operations in Honduras, including working conditions, risk assessments, analysis and standardization of procedures and tasks to ensure the safety and fairness of workers, as well as performance.

California Giant Berry Farms Names Chef Invitational Winner

California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, CA, has named the winner of the 2022 Chef Invitational, Derek Seigfried from Gordon Food Service. Seigfried won the title of California Giant Berry Farms’ Top Chef with his Blackberry Lamb Kofta recipe. Judged against the criteria of best overall appearance, flavor and taste appeal, creativity, use of ingredients and utilization of berries, the judges agreed Chef Derek’s dish used berries in a unique way that packed a flavorful punch.

Derek Seigfried

Lipman Family Farms Increases Vegetable Production in Florida

Lipman Family Farms, Immokalee, FL, will be increasing production of its winter vegetable supply in Immokalee, FL, with an additional 1,400 acres. The expansion exemplifies the company’s ongoing commitment and focus on being one of the largest vertically integrated tomato and vegetable suppliers in North America. This additional volume of winter vegetable production will complement Lipman’s existing relationships with local growers across the East Coast, which include the largest bell pepper and cucumber growers in North Carolina, as well as one of the largest dry vegetable growers in New Jersey. Lipman will focus on harvesting peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, and chili peppers, among other items, beginning in late October. Additionally, Lipman continues to upgrade its packing facilities to fit growing volume and continued customization with quick turnaround and shortened shipping time.

SweeTango Crop Started Shipping

SweeTango, Swedesboro, NJ, is urging retailers to place orders now to take advantage of the brand’s marketing plans. Fruit started shipping right after Labor Day. This year, Next Big Thing, A Growers’ Cooperative (NBT) is coordinating a hub-and-spoke marketing strategy with its regional sales desks that will deploy both “push” and “pull” strategies to motivate consumers to purchase.

Monterey Mushrooms Hosts Award Ceremony

Monterey Mushrooms, Watsonville, CA, presented 73 children of its teammates with $207,000 in scholarship awards for the 2022-23 academic year. On Aug. 4, Shah Kazemi, chief executive, presented 10 of those recipients with their awards in person at the company’s corporate office in Watsonville. Twelve families were in attendance. Daniel Vargas, a Business Administration major and a freshman at California State University Monterey Bay, attended the in-person award ceremony to receive the Carl Victor Fields Scholarship. Monterey Mushrooms celebrated 50 years in business in 2021 and believes the company’s scholarship program is one way to live out its company purpose.

Side Delights Emphasizes Flexible Retail Options

Side Delights is spotlighting its “any-size solution” to shoppers and retailers. Shoppers can find an affordable menu of ideas and ingredients that can be prepared quickly and easily for an entire family or a smaller table.

Side Delights favorites range from a simple microwaved potato with salsa and ranch dressing or a cheesy quick healthy potato casserole, to a hearty main course like coconut red curry stewed potatoes that can be prepared in 15 minutes or less.
Side Delights also offers a variety of choices of nutritious, economical products, including potato kits, convenience potatoes, gourmet potatoes, fresh-cut potatoes, and organic potatoes.


Five Varieties of Organic Squash

Morning Kiss Organic, Chelsea, MA, is ready to ship organic squash. While squash is offered year-round, this vegetable is popular during the late summer and fall harvest season. Varieties offered will include butternut, acorn, spaghetti, buttercup and delicata. Working with suppliers on the East Coast including New England farms, Morning Kiss expects an excellent crop.

Dole Introduces a Trio of Salads

Dole Food Co. Inc., Charlotte, NC, is expanding its Dole Chopped! Salad Kit line with three new flavors this fall that showcase the latest global and regional flavor trends. The three kits — Dole Chopped! Tropical Thai Salad Kit, Dole Chopped! Maple Pecan Salad Kit and Dole Chopped! Double Dill Salad Kit — contain no artificial colors or flavors and continue the Dole Chopped! tradition of combining fresh chopped lettuces and vegetables with toppings and original dressings.

Single-Serve Salads Elevated

FiveStar Gourmet Foods, Ontario, CA, accelerated its substantial growth trajectory by partnering with Kroger to offer top-selling, premium Simply Fresh Salads across the U.S. Fresh Salads by FiveStar Gourmet Foods are available at Kroger stores in several key markets, including Ralphs stores on the West Coast. The six flavors include Santa Fe Style Salad with Chicken; Deluxe Caesar Salad with Chicken; Gourmet Caprese Salad with Fresh Mozzarella; Ultimate BLT Salad with Chicken; Antipasto Salad with Salami; and Blueberry Walnut Salad with Grilled Chicken.

Dressing Flavors Expand

Litehouse Inc., Sandpoint, ID, has added two flavors to its line of 20-ounce, family-size dressing and dip: new Garlic Ranch and its Caesar. The new flavors join the growing line that includes Homestyle Ranch, Jalapeno Ranch, Chunky Blue Cheese, Thousand Island and more. Litehouse Garlic Ranch Dressing & Dip has a creamy ranch flavor with a garlic twist. Litehouse Caesar Dressing & Dip contains a blend of garlic, parmesan and anchovy. The products are packaged in a refrigerated, easy-to-use squeeze bottle.

Purple Potatoes Are a Game Changer

Frieda’s, Los Alamitos, CA, now offers Stokes Purple sweet potatoes, which provide a twist of color and flavor to avocado toast, where connoisseurs are trading up from bread to vitamin-packed purple sweet potatoes as the base. Create an avocado toast destination in your produce department by cross-merchandising Stokes Purple near avocados, watermelon radish, sprouts and other toppings.

Produce & Floral Watch are regular features of Produce Business. Please send information on new products, personnel changes, industry, corporate and personal milestones and available literature, along with a high resolution image to: Managing Editor, Produce Business, P.O. Box 810425, Boca Raton, FL 33481-0425 or email us at info@producebusiness.com.