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Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes March 14, 2017

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Winter Veg Hit Hard by Winter Storms

The California desert and Arizona growing regions have been hit hard by storms and temperatures are now warming up. As a result we are seeing a lot of aphids and mildew and this will continue until we see an unusual very early end to the season historically. We expect these challenges to continue through late March. These fields will not “cleanup” at this point. The damage is done, the pests and diseases are liking the warmth, and they are there to stay.

Downloaded greens photo

All of the leafy greens and brassicas are highly susceptible to aphid pressure. On broccoli we can expect to see unevenness in color, texture and shape of the crown, the occasional opened buds, possible small brown spots and other damage caused by a myriad of viral and fungal diseases. Lettuce might have some aphids but most likely will show signs of mildew on the outside leaves leading to breakdown and discoloration on the top side of the leaf. Butter lettuces are less mildew tolerant as they grow closer to the ground. Bunched spinach is generally unavailable.  On both loose and clam salad mixes we will see reduced shelf life due to the fragility of leaves growing under low light conditions because of the lack of sun.  The breakdown of leaves, mildew, discoloration/yellowing are all being observed.

Concurrently the Salinas Valley and most agricultural regions in California that traditionally should follow right behind the desert deal will also come in late. Brutal storms and gaps in planting opportunities due to muddy fields and rain will lead to both disease problems and gaps in product down the road in mid-April into the month of May. Retail ads will be hard to come by on cool season vegetables.

The uncertainty involved, plus the gaps to come, combined with decreased production due to disease/insect pressure will invariably lead to higher and volatile pricing. We will continue to work with our grower partners to provide the highest quality product available and to keep everyone informed.

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes March 2, 2017

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Hiring for Outbound PM Warehouse Support

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Earl’s Organic Produce, Inc., a leading distributor of organic produce throughout Northern California, seeks a skilled and safe Outbound PM Warehouse Support for our San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market headquarters.

Under the direction of the Outbound Operations Manager, the Product Selector fills customers’ orders from stored merchandise in accordance with specifications on sales slips or order forms.  Duties include completing order receipts, keeping records of out-going orders, requisitioning additional materials, supplies, cleaning work area and equipment.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Read orders to ascertain quantities of merchandise
  • Obtain merchandise from bins, shelves, and coolers
  • Check order receipts
  • Examine products to verify quality standards
  • Count finished products to determine if product orders are complete
  • Keep records of out-going orders
  • Place merchandise on conveyors leading to wrapping areas
  • Wrap the palletized merchandise
  • Mark or tag identification on palletized merchandise
  • Operate machinery used in the process, or assist machine operators
  • Observe equipment operations so that malfunctions can be detected, and notify Management as necessary

 Position requirements include:

  • Forklift, End-Rider pallet jack, and electric pallet jack experience is required
  • Ability to read and understand information presented in writing
  • Ability to arrange things in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules
  • Ability to lift a minimum of 50 lbs. on a regular basis
  • Requires being reliable, responsible, dependable, and fulfilling obligations
  • Requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks
  • Requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-nature
  • Requires supporting other team members and provide service to others
  • Requires knowledge of conducting inspections of products

This position requires four (4) ten hour shifts, 4pm-2am, Sunday through Friday.

Earl’s Organic Produce provides a highly competitive compensation package, including medical, dental, vision, LTD and voluntary life, plus a company-sponsored retirement program.

Earl’s Organic Produce works to embrace diversity in all its forms; it strives to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment.
Interested candidates are encouraged to submit a cover letter, resume, and three references via email to HR@earlsorganic.com or come directly to:

Earls Organic Produce
2101 Jerrold Ave.
San Francisco, CA  94124

 

Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes February 17, 2017

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Earl’s Produce Buyer’s Notes Week of February 6, 2017

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California Winter Citrus Update

The recent California rains were brought on by an atmospheric river weather pattern consisting of large amounts of humidity. They are usually over a 1,000 miles long and over a 100 miles wide, and can carry a greater flux of water than the Amazon, the largest river on earth.

The rain has halted most of the citrus harvesting in the three main growing regions except for in small sporadic amounts.  There may be some small pockets that are dry enough to pick and pack but for the most part we don’t expect volume to be back to normal until the end of next week. Any fruit being picked is a tedious process because of the difficulty of bringing a ladder into a muddy orchard.

Growers will try and pick as much fruit as they can before the rains start. Once it rains the fruit needs a few days to dry before they can begin picking again. If they are picked and packed before they are dry they will have a higher incidence of developing the post-harvest disease called clear rot. Clear rot is not immediately evident but will show up as softening of the tissue with possible mold. Although this rain will be very beneficial in the long term it is disrupting supply in the short term. The citrus varieties affected include navels, all mandarins, blood oranges, lemons, cara cara’s, minneola’s and grapefruits. Stay tuned for updates.

Citrus Districts

California Winter Produce Supply Affected

Heavy rain in California over the last week has completely shut down all local growing regions tightening the supply of many fruits and vegetables.  There were some rains down in the desert but not as intense. The rain not only makes it difficult for workers and tractors to get out on the muddy ground to harvest but it can delay the planting of the next crop. We could see a shortage of some items down the road when they would have been ready to harvest.

As we mentioned in our last blog we are currently sourcing most of our winter season veg out of the Coachella Valley, down into the Imperial Valley and Yuma, Arizona. This is the time of year where it can be quite cold in the desert and winter veg can be susceptible to frost, limiting supply. The weather has been surprisingly warm but we are still seeing very limited supply on some items such as lettuces and kales. Though it is difficult to determine all factors of supply challenges, these are ones that are most obvious. One of the biggest reasons is that the whole country is pulling from California and there is just not enough product to go around. We can also look to shorter daylight hours during winter, limiting the number of harvest hours and a two day ride from the desert up to the Bay Area. Expect prices to increase on some items as supply stays low and demand is high.

Rancho Don Antonio Berry Update:

Tony Chavez, owner of Rancho Don Antonio, sent us pictures yesterday of his farm in Nipomo, an hour north of Santa Barbara, flooded by the recent rains. There will be limited supply of raspberries and blueberries over the next month. The blackberry hoop houses have been pulled out so the land can soak up the rain, making supply very limited over the next few months. Stay tuned for updates.

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Hass Avocado January Update

Avocados will be in the spotlight as we ramp up for Super Bowl as well as the transition out of Mexican fruit and into Californian fruit. The California crop is expected to start up in early February with volume about half of what it was in 2016. Fruit and nut trees are alternate bearing,  with one year producing a greater than average crop, and a lower than average crop the next year. More on this and other reasons for the lower volume in our next blog.

Avocado supply update: Earlier this week there were blockades all over Mexico protesting a gasoline tax and the devaluation of the peso. The protests shut down roads affecting the supply chain to the United States. It is possible that this will result in a tightened supply and price increase.

Photo courtesy of Equal Exchange

Photo courtesy of Equal Exchange

Earl’s Organic Looks Back at 2016

2016 was a year of changes and growth at Earl’s Organic Produce. Our staff has grown 15% over the year to 91 people and we created 2 brand new positions- Director of Sales and Marketing and a dedicated Food Safety Manager as we continue to focus on serving our customers and staying ahead of the evolving food safety regulations.  We have partnered with more growers and fostered new relationships with young farmers—the future of our food system! Each year brings new customers and we value each and every one of you. Thank you for your support in 2016 and we look forward to a prosperous and healthy 2017.  Here are a few highlights from the past year.

Emphasis and Growth:

  • Earl’s is carrying more fair trade offerings than ever– Equal Exchange avocados, Covilli Mixed Veg and year round Coliman Bananas- now Rainforest Alliance Certified.
  • We have expanded our biodynamic apple, pear and berry offerings.
  • Our partnership with Hodo Soy continues to grow and we offer a full line of retail and food service organic tofu products.
  • We have expanded our equipment fleet in 2016 with the latest in equipment technology by Raymond Material Handling Concepts. New additions include forklifts and walk behind pallet jacks.
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Capay Satsuma- Orland, CA

 

Earl’s in the field: 

  • More farm tours and grower visits– Employees visit Rancho Don Antonio Nipomo, CA, Johnston Family Organics in Woodland, Las Hermanas in Hollister, Ellwood Canyon Farms in Goleta, Coastal View Produce in Gonzales, Central West Produce in Santa Maria, Sanchez Brothers in Carpinteria and Covilli in Guyamas, Mexico!
  • An Organic Conversation – Earl’s employees spoke on 8 separate editions of this nationally broadcasted radio show! Download the podcasts.

 

Building Relationships with Grower Partners: 
Ellwood Canyon : Mixed veg- Goleta, CA
Spade and Plow: Artichokes and nantes carrots- San Martin, CA
Johnston Family Farm: Winter squash- Woodland, CA
Rancho Don Antonio: California blueberries, berries- Nipomo,CA
Peri & Sons: Onions Yerington, NV and El Centro, CA
Progressive Produce: Russet Potatoes- Edison, CA

New Items in 2016:
I love Pom: Pomegranate Arils- Reedley, CA
Maristone: HerbsWatsonville, CA
Natural Trading Company: Sprouts and Wheatgrass- Newcastle,CA
Mt. Hood: Biodynamic apples and pears-Mt. Hood, Oregon
Greenbelle: Biodynamic blueberries-Chile
Twin Girls: Jujubes- Reedley, CA
Rainbow Valley Orchards: Variegated pink lemons- Rainbow, CA
Super Fresh: Autumn Glory Apples- Yakima, WA(with hints of cinnamon and subtle notes of caramel)

Earl’s in the News:

Earl LIVE on Good Day Sacramento

Earl LIVE on Good Day Sacramento

Earl’s Employee Happenings  

Sampling Maywood Farm Figs at the Academy of Sciences

Sampling Maywood Farm Figs at the Academy of Sciences

  • Earl’s crew sampled seasonal produce at the Academy of Sciences Nightlife 21+ events.
  • Earl’s celebrates our second year partnering with America Scores, a local organization with a mission to promote good health. Volunteers from Earl’s engaged with community members in our backyard and spread our love of wholesome organic food by handing out organic fruit to kids and their families at local soccer games.
  • Earl’s Employees showed off their talents at the annual guacamole and pumpkin carving contests.
  • Earl’s gives away awesome organic turkeys(and vegan options) with the fixings to all employees for Thanksgiving.
  • Earl’s brings the largest group yet of employees down to the 36th annual EcoFarm conference, the largest annual organic agricultural gathering on the west coast. We hope to see a bunch of you at EcoFarm in 2017.

 

Happy New Year from all of us at Earl’s Organic Produce!!

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