April 2022 Produce Watch


David Nelley

Fresh Connection

The Fresh Connection, Lafayette, CA, has named David Nelley as chief commercial officer, a newly created role that forms a senior leadership team with CEO Hank Miller and president Will Mehrten. Nelley takes the position after serving as vice president retail sales at Apeel Sciences for the past three years, and prior to that, he was a vice president of categories and exports at The Oppenheimer Group. 

Fresh Express

Fresh Express Inc., Orlando, FL, has added two key managers to its Corporate Food Safety & Quality Team. Dr. Zhe (Harry) Hou has been named director of food safety and will be based in Streamwood, IL. Hou has more than 15 years’ experience working in academia on research projects funded through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture and holding various leadership roles in industry and food safety professional associations. Jacob Aguirre joins Fresh Express as corporate senior manager of sanitation, based in the Salinas, CA, facility. He will provide sanitation leadership and support to all U.S. Fresh Express facilities. Aguirre, a certified Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI), has more than 14 years’ plant sanitation and food safety experience. Previously, Aguirre held roles with Del Monte/Mann Packing, True Leaf Farms/Church Brothers, Earthbound Farms, Kellogg Co. and ConAgra Foods.

Dr. Zhe (Harry) Hou (L)
Jacob Aguirre (R)
Lloyd Ligier


PROACT, Monterey, CA, has announced Lloyd Ligier, affectionately known as “Pops” has retired from the company. Ligier, a 57-year industry veteran, stepped into the world of produce at age 8 when he began working at his father’s produce distribution company, G&G Produce, in Los Angeles. Ligier spent 30 years at G&G, becoming president in 1980. After G&G sold, Ligier joined the PROACT team from 1993 to 1997 as the director of business development. Lloyd returned to PROACT in 2002 as vice president of business development.

Allen Lund Co.

The Allen Lund Co., Downers Grove, IL, has promoted Lisa Towner to manager of the ALC Portland office. She joined the company in 2002 and gained experience in dry and reefer accounts for the Portland office.

Lisa Towner


Gotham Greens Plans Major Greenhouse Expansion

Gotham Greens, New York, plans to double the size of its greenhouse capacity, from 600,000 square feet to more than 1.2 million square feet in 2022. Development is currently underway for new state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities in Seagoville, TX; Monroe, GA; and Windsor, CO, as well as the expansion of its existing greenhouses in Chicago, IL, and Providence, RI. Upon completion, Gotham Greens will own and operate 12 high-tech, climate-controlled hydroponic greenhouses across eight states, joining its existing greenhouse network in New York, Rhode Island, Maryland, Illinois, Colorado and California.

Wish Farms’ Pink-A-Boo Pineberries Are ‘Taking TikTok By Storm’

Wish Farms, Plant City, FL, has announced its branded Pink-A-Boo Pineberries have achieved multiple viral moments across popular platforms and high-traffic websites, reaching millions of consumers across the United States and Canada. Most recently, these were featured on the popular sites Pop Sugar and Elite Daily. Elite Daily’s article declared that the trend is “taking TikTok by storm” and “the pineberry craze already has people thinking ahead to summer.” It explicitly features Wish Farms’ Instagram and viral posts from influencers. The article’s ‘Where to Buy’ section highlights Wish Farms’ retail partners Aldi, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Hannaford, Publix, The Fresh Market and Stew Leonard’s.

Gwillimdale Farms Introduces Conscious Consumption

Gwillimdale Farms, Bradford, Ontario, Canada, has debuted a fully automated potato grading system — equipped with artificial intelligence — to its one-stop shop. This new system has multiple parameters set to meet the required specifications of size, volume, shape, grade and deviation. This investment allows a big move toward sustainable agriculture and the production of reducing food waste for Gwillimdale and its customers. This new program diverts 20% of edible food waste from landfills and is an environmentally sustainable, completely compostable product with no plastics. The Conscious Consumption line comes in a smaller 5-pound package, further contributing to the elimination of food waste in homes.

Freska Produce Partners With Tallanes Packers S.A.C. On Peru Mangos

Freska Produce International, Oxnard, CA, will be entering into an equity partnership with Tallanes Packers SAC of Tambogrande, Piura, Peru for Peruvian mangos. This partnership will strengthen Freska’s Peruvian import program and help Tallanes strengthen its packing and sourcing operations in Peru. With Freska’s support, Tallanes will be the packing arm of Freska out of Peru and has a state-of-the-art plant built with growth in mind. This partnership will allow for better integration of farming, and control over supervision to make the plant more efficient and in line with food safety measures, social responsibility and overall packing operations.

Ever Tru Farms Ships First Strawberry Harvest

Ever Tru Farms, Kingsville, Ontario, Canada, announced its first shipment of strawberries to select stores in the United States and Canada. Ever Tru is unique in its approach due to the company’s vertical integration and hydroponic growing process. Ever Tru Farms has the entire operation under one team, allowing complete control of the growing process, from propagation to distribution. The Ever Tru team spent six years reconstructing and adapting the sustainable hydroponic growing process, and has developed a growth strategy for strawberries, committed to quality, consistency and transparency.

Mann Packing Partners With Mezete

Mann Packing Co. Inc., Coral Gables, FL, a subsidiary of Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. Inc., has partnered with Mezete, an innovative, premium quality, ready-to-eat food brand, to bring a line of hummus products to American shoppers nationwide. True to authentic Eastern Mediterranean flavors, Mezete products contain natural ingredients with no preservatives. Kasih Food Production Co., a pioneering Jordanian manufacturer of Eastern Mediterranean foods with nearly 100 years of industry expertise, launched the brand with freshness and quality in mind. Following two decades of extensive research and development, the Mezete brand successfully created a hummus with an 18-month shelf life without the use of preservatives.

Mexican Table Grape Growers Association Releases Estimate

The Mexican Table Grapes Growers Association (AALPUM), has released its first estimate for table grape exports from Mexico during the 2022 season. It is predicting Mexican growers will export about 25 million boxes, which reflects an increase of 19.5% in relation to the 2021 harvest and an increase of 15.7% with respect to the 2020 crop. The largest volume is red seedless varieties at 46.9%, followed by white seedless varieties at 41.08%, then black seedless at 5.97% and cotton candy at 4.7%.

West Pak Avocado Sees Strong Start To California Season

West Pak Avocado, Murrieta, CA, saw record volume in February. Early preseason forecasts by the California Avocado Commission (CAC) project a 15% increase in volume over 2021 with a 306-million-pound crop in 2022, with the Hass variety making up the majority of the harvest. Most of the California avocado season volume is expected to occur from mid-April through mid-July, with the season winding down during August, September and October.

Bobalu Shares New Promotional Content 

Bobalu Berries, Monterey, CA, is launching new video content that captures the essence of spring for shoppers. This year, Bobalu Berries added to its video storytelling with a peek into how stem berries are harvested, showing exactly why they are the perfect berry. The new video content is live on the company’s YouTube page and will live on various pages of the website and social media. 

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 [email protected].