Katiana Valdes Details Crystal Valley Foods’ Berry and Asparagus Programs
- by Maggie Mead
MIAMI, FL - With a portfolio of offerings that runs the gamut from berries to asparagus—and everything in between—Crystal Valley Foods has its work cut out for it when it comes to growing and delivering quality produce to market. Luckily, the company has a full range of growing regions that are as diverse as the fruits and vegetables it produces. Consistent quality and year-round availability is tough to achieve, but Crystal Valley’s carefully thought out global growing programs are designed to provide its customers and consumers the best of the best through every season.
“In order to ensure that we have consistent supply of blueberries for our customers year-round, we source from a variety of countries,” Marketing Manager Katiana Valdes, told me. “Starting in the fall and through the spring months, we have Peruvian, Argentinian, and Chilean fruit. In the last few years, we began sourcing product from the U.S. including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and North Carolina.”
Crystal Valley continues to grow its blueberry and blackberry programs to keep up with consumer demand for the berry category. The grower currently sources blackberries from Guatemala year-round and from Mexico, a region that grows and packs berries from October through May. As Crystal Valley expands its berry programs, it formed a new partnership with Georgia-based Superior Berries Company and doubled down on its existing growing regions, according to Katiana.
“This year, we are partnering with Superior Berries to provide premium, Georgia-grown blueberries to our customers. Additionally, we have a good supply of blackberries from Mexico and Guatemala throughout the year,” she said.
The marketing maven assured me that as long as the weather cooperates, good-quality and high-volume blueberries are anticipated over the next several months from Peru and Chile, and we can expect the same for its blackberries from Guatemala and Mexico.
Asparagus is another cherished crop that Crystal Valley produces year-round, with growing operations in Peru and Mexico as well. Peru is a year-round source of asparagus, which is essential for Crystal Valley to ensure a consistently good supply and quality throughout the year. But Peru isn’t the grower’s sole focus. Crystal Valley also sources its asparagus from Mexico, where it supplies product throughout the year, from the Central Mexico season during the summer, as well as Baja California, Mexico, in the fall and Caborca in the spring months.
“Peru is year-round, and it is our goal to always keep at least some production coming from Peru during the Mexican harvest windows, in case there are weather related events in Mexico that interrupt their normal supply,” Katiana commented.
According to Katiana, promotable volume of asparagus from the Caborca, Mexico, region is expected for February through April, with 11- and 28-pound boxes available. In the industry, Mexico is a prized growing region—one that Crystal Valley intends to cultivate.
“Over the last several years, we have increased our volume from the region year over year, and we are once again looking forward to incremental volume this year,” said Katiana. “We have strong, long-term partnerships with growers in Mexico, and we are constantly adding to our list of high-quality growing partners in order to make sure we meet the needs of our customers.”
As Crystal Valley evolves and diversifies its growing programs, the company is exploring several other avenues of growth. In December, Crystal Valley acquired Joco Produce, a company specializing in the import and marketing of fresh, Asian, tropical, and specialty fruits and vegetables, which will position the grower as a one-stop-shop for customers who like to think outside the box. Crystal Valley has also taken a long hard look at its own infrastructure, identifying every possible opportunity for improvement.
“We have recently finished remodeling our Miami warehouse. We have added additional cooler space, increased receiving and loading capacity by adding dock doors, and we have a completely new repack room with added capacity to make more value-added items. We have also added an additional precooling area for faster turnaround time on outbound shipments,” Katiana informed me. “The extra space will allow us to take on more handling and cross docking as needed for our customers.”
With such robust and comprehensive category programs, Crystal Valley has clearly positioned itself as a valuable partner for retailers looking to ensure a year-round supply of exceptional fruits and vegetables.
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