AgroFresh Accelerates Growth Plan with New Facility in Central California
AgroFresh Solutions, Inc.—a global leader in produce freshness solutions— has opened its Innovation Center in Fresno.
In addition to advancing its core post-harvest technologies, AgroFresh’s R&D and Technical Service & Development Center in Fresno will drive innovation in coating and packaging solutions, antimicrobial products, and furthering AgroFresh’s data-driven FreshCloud™ platform.
The Innovation Center will be led by a highly skilled team of post-harvest physiologists with a strong focus on developing solutions and servicing specialized crops such as citrus, table grapes, kiwifruit, avocado, berries, and broccoli.
“Innovation and crop diversification is central to our success, which is why we continue to invest in our innovation centers,” says Ann Beaulieu, vice president of R&D and regulatory at AgroFresh. “We strategically chose to open this office in Central California because this location enables us to expand our services to a broader range of crops while positioning our company for long-term growth.”
The newly-opened center is divided between a conventional office space and laboratories with capabilities to solve challenges, partner with customers, and break new ground across post-harvest biology, plant pathology, and analytical chemistry. The center will also accommodate growing commercial and operational teams.
Learn more about AgroFresh’s current job openings by visiting their career portal.
The Mariani Packing Company is one of the largest specialty crop growers and handlers in the state, packing many different types of fruit on a massive scale. California Ag Today recently spoke with Mark Mariani, executive chairman of the Mariani packing company in Vacaville and the outgoing chairman of the Safe Food Alliance (SFA), an organization specializing in food safety among growers, packers, and processers to maintain high standards of food safety and prevent consumer illness.
“Our four major specialty crops areas is that we’re the second largest cranberry growers (with operations back east) and packers, (with operations back east), and we also grow and pack mangoes out of Mexico, Mariani said. “And we are probably the third-largest raisin grower/packer in California. We also repack prunes for the world market.”
Mariani said that the products that they bring in from Mexico are held to the same standard as produce grown inside the United States. Consumers always look back at the supplier when it comes to food safety, so they ensure that standards meet or exceed the U.S. standards.
Mariani reflected on his part in the Safe Food Alliance organization.
“It’s an exciting time for DFA (which still stands as an entity as it’s being morphed into the Safe Food Alliance) because of the growth and the fact that it is offering so many more services to our members. We recognize that for us to move forward as an industry, we have to be better than anyone else and especially foreign competition,” he said. “And you do that because you can create trust, and I think there’s a solid brand with SFA ,if you’ve been approved and a member … that you are operating within the SFA conditions.”
As the former chairman of SFA, Mariani enjoyed working with passionate people.
“The individuals in the DFA and SFA are passionate people that want to do and exceed the expectations or their members. And most importantly, you want to provide safe food for consumers,” Mariani said.
The new Chair of Safe Food Alliance is Dane Lance, President and CEO of Sunsweet Growers, the world’s largest and most famous brand of dried tree fruits including prunes, apricots, and mangos.
California Wines Win Packaging Design Awards for Innovation
By Laurie Greene, Editor
Some interesting smaller California wineries won special awards during the third annual Wines & Vines Packaging Conference last month in Yountville, California, but not for the quality of their wine. It was all about what contained the wine—the packaging.
Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines magazine that sponsored the awards, said, “One of the most interesting developments these days is the proliferation of different wine packaging types and designs. We decided to get a handle on that by starting the Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards a couple of years ago.”
Out of 135 vintner and supplier entries from North American wineries, five wine packaging designs convinced a panel of five experts that they have what it takes to sway consumers to stop in the wine aisle to give the product a closer look. Packages were judged on their creativity, visual appeal, design functionality, appropriateness for the price segment and the package’s ability to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Each package entered contained wine, was filled between Aug. 1, 2014, and July 31, 2016, and is currently available or was available to the general public between those dates. Submissions included wine boxes, wine bottles, wine bags or cans.
The winners of the 2016 Wines & Vines Packaging Design Awards are:
Most Outstanding Package–Supplier
Stranger & Stranger’s design of Run Riot Pinot Noir
Run Riot, a Treasury Wine Estates brand created by Stranger & Stranger, an international design firm, is a “critter” brand with a purpose and a story about a wild boar that rampages through the vineyard. The wine label includes a fascinating die-cut and graphic.
Most Innovative Package–Supplier
Quest Industries’ “masked spray” on a bottle of Reed Wine Cellars’ 2011 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon
The bottle exterior is spray-coated in a unique process on the upper half in dark red.
People’s Choice Most Innovative Package
One87 Wine & Cocktails’ single-serving plastic wine “glass” and “stem”
Designed by OGW/France, this single-serve container is a PET plastic, BPA-free vessel, 100% recyclable with a smooth glass-like rim and a guaranteed shelf life of 12 or more months.
Most Innovative Package–Winery
Rubin Wines’ Q&A brand packaging
A traditional bottle as well as a box wine was recognized for its large graphics. Each bottle of this new brand, known as “Q & A,” included sets of questions and answers that differed from bottle to bottle.
People’s Choice Most Outstanding Package
Wooden Bottle Wine Co.’s 2009 Pinot Noir
This wine was actually in a lathe wooden bottle designed and patented by owner Marcos Oliver crafted entirely of wood from the Thai rubber trees, lined with an FDA-approved, non-toxic product that protects the wine from wood and oxygen infusion.
Featured Photo: Wooden Bottle Wine Co.’s 2009 Pinot Noir, courtesy of Wines & Vines magazine.
Monterey County 2015 Crop Report Shows Ag Value Up 7.75 Percent
By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director
Monterey County Ag Commissioner Eric Lauritzen announced TODAY the production value by farmers in Monterey County for 2015 is $4.84 billion, an increase of 7.75% or $348 million over the previous year. According to the the 2015 Monterey County Crop Report released TODAY, the Monterey is again the fourth highest Ag producing county in California, following Tulare, Kern, and Fresno Counties.
“Crop values vary from year to year based on production, market and weather conditions,” said Lauritzen. “As often the case, there was much fluctuation in the 2015 values, with 22 commodities down and 29 commodities increasing in value.
Notable results include:
head values increased 12% on better pricing.
Head lettuce showed a decline of 2% with fewer acres planted but higher prices.
Spring mix and salad products also declined in overall value.
Strawberry values increased by 21% on increased acreage and higher production.
Cauliflower and celery each saw values increase by approximately 25%. Celery showed a decrease in production with stronger pricing and cauliflower posted increases in both production and pricing.
Winegrapes declined 25% in 2015, after above-average production in previous years. This followed the statewide trend, with lower production and slightly higher prices.
Despite reduced acreage related to the drought, the value of nursery products increased by 11% on stronger pricing for many products.
“It is always important to note that the figures provided here are gross values and do not represent or reflect net profit or loss experienced by individual growers or by the industry as a whole,” Lauritzen clarified. “The numbers are big and only tell part of the story. It’s really about diversity and the ability to withstand changes, whether it is commodity change or Mother Nature,” said Lauritzen.
“Growers do not have control over increased input costs such as fuel, fertilizers and packaging, or drought and labor shortage conditions,” Lauritzen explained, “nor can they significantly affect market prices. The fact that the gross value of agriculture increased reflects positively on the diversity and strength of our agriculture industry and its ability to respond to the many challenges,” he noted.
“The mainstays in Monterey County are the cool season vegetables,” said Lauritzen. “County growers are able modify planting programs even within the same year depending on market strengths or changes in consumer needs. When the cable food shows or restaurants decide to feature certain vegetable there is suddenly increase demand so Monterey County growers are often flexible in their planting schedules to meet demand.
“The Salinas Valley floor is very tight on acreage and available land planted out on the bench lands,” he said. “And growers are being asked to produce more with the same amount or even less ground and we are seeing that it increases prices,” he noted.
“Each year we like to highlight a component of the industry in our report,” Lauritzen elaborated, “and this year we chose Certified Farmers Markets. We include a short piece on some of the people who produce and sell their own products directly to consumers at the 14 markets in Monterey County and elsewhere,” he said. “This important segment of our industry lets consumers meet farmers face-to-face and to become more directly connected with the food they eat.”
“Monterey County is proud to produce the crops that are healthy for the nation,” Lauritzen said, “and if consumer demand really matched what we need for a healthy diet, there would not be enough vegetables produced. We produce the food that consumers need to eat and it’s not just an economic driver for our region, but for the health of our nation,” he added.
“This 2015 Crop Report is our yearly opportunity to recognize the growers, shippers, ranchers, and other businesses ancillary to and supportive of agriculture, which is the largest driver of Monterey County’s economy,” Lauritzen summarized. “Special recognition for the production of the report goes to Christina McGinnis, Graham Hunting, Shayla Neufeld, and all of the staff who assisted in compiling this information and improving the quality of the report.”