Bridges Produce’s Mexican Season Starts Strong with Extra Safety Precautions
- by Lilian Diep
MEXICO - Mexico's growing regions are ripe with fresh produce as Bridges Organic Produce has announced an impressive outlook on its fall 2020 season. The company has begun with new crop organic items shipping out of Nogales, Arizona, with strong volumes of its robust lineup expected and start dates on schedule.
Slicer cucumbers are going strong, shipping from two grower partners with English cucumbers now available as well. Rico Farms label zucchini and yellow squash will start the week of September 21 with increasing volumes and multiple plantings throughout the fall and winter. Eggplants, hard squash, hot peppers, bell peppers, and melons will also be available during the season.
“One thing that feels different this season is increased customer demand for locked-in program volumes and pricing,” said Oscar Trujillo, Category Manager for Bridges Mexican program. “With the challenges of COVID-19 both on the demand and supply side, people are feeling a little bit more fragile and are looking for ways to secure supplies. These commitments feel like a good thing, providing stability for both ends of the supply chain. Due to this shift, open market buys might not be as prevalent or frequent as other seasons. We are looking forward to providing even better quality and stronger volumes overall, with fair pricing from reputable growers, as we have been doing for many years.”
To ensure the continuity necessary to satisfy customers, Bridges grower partner Rico Farms has further developed its already diligent safety plans to mitigate the COVID-19 risks as much as possible. With up to 600 individuals living and working onsite during peak season, keeping its staff healthy is paramount to keeping the farm and packing shed running smoothly.
The company’s top priority with these new protocols is to keep its staff safe. Rico Farms has onsite COVID-19 testing and workers are tested both before leaving their home communities to head to the farm as well as after arrival. While on location, workers are grouped into pods who work, live, and eat together to limit exposure. According to a press release, it has even adjusted the cafeteria and work schedules to allow this safe distancing. Other precautionary measures include vehicle sanitizers, COVID-19 and health education, and a 24-hour mobile health clinic. This is all part of the labor management strategy designed to keep workers safe and healthy.
Rico Farms is Fair Trade Certified, which has helped provide additional resources to the workers during this challenging time. Preventative care kits which included vitamins and thermometers were provided for the workers and their families to keep them healthy while they were away from the farm and all employees from last season were given food vouchers to be used for groceries in their home communities. During the summer months, as they prepared for the upcoming season, Rico Farms continued to make advancements at its new onsite bioFactory.
“We are continuously improving our Biofertilizer, by reinforcing our microbiology and adding more variety, so we can have stronger organisms in the soil,” said Francisco Tapia, Owner of Rico Farms. “Traditional organic and conventional practices use separated microorganisms when the reality in nature is that they all live together. We are imitating the way they live in nature to create our CONSORCIO (MICROORGANISMS CONSORTIUM). We are very excited about the new bioFactory projects in 2021 which include expansion to produce more microorganisms and biofertilizer, creating our own worm compost, producing a second biofertilizer that is high in nitrogen, and we will be running extensive on farm trials.”
Even with so much uncertainty in the world Rico Farms and Bridges Produce continue to be leaders in the organic sector.
“During these unprecedented times, when we are all struggling with the effects of a global pandemic plus massive wildfires and hurricanes, Bridges Produce has gone to great lengths to maintain a solid, stable, and reliable supply of high quality, nutritious fresh produce,” said Bridges Produce President, Ben Johnson. “When so much else is unpredictable and chaotic right now, our team is working tirelessly to maintain ample supply of great organic produce.”
Bridges Produce has an impressive supply of fresh produce in the pipeline, so get in touch with the grower as soon as possible!