Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Western Fresh Marketing / Fenceline Media Group
Western Fresh Marketing opens Chilean office

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In the coming year, the new partnership will increase import volume for Western Fresh by about 25%, and the volume will continue to grow in the coming years, he said.

Among the commodities Western Fresh will bring to the U.S. from Chile is kiwifruit, a product with which the company is well acquainted. Western Fresh already markets U.S., Italian and South American kiwifruit. It is the largest marketer of the commodity in the U.S., Kragie said, with sales of 2.4 million trays last season. It also imports Asian pears and quince and is a major marketer of California figs.

“Overall, we’ll ship about 4.2 million cartons of fruit this year,” he said.

Carrasco has years of fresh produce history in Chile. In addition to operating his own company, he was affiliated with Ballantine Produce Co. Inc. for many years until the Sanger firm suddenly closed its doors in May, Kragie said.

Carrasco has assembled a quality control staff to inspect the Chilean fruit in the fields and throughout the packing operation, Kragie said. Staff members also will accompany shipments to the docks to make certain the loading meets with the standards Western Fresh and Freshripe International have established, he said.

In addition to kiwifruit, Western Fresh will source Asian pears, packham pears, persimmons, quince and pomegranates from Chile in 2010. Coupled with domestic production, the larger deals from the Southern Hemisphere — Asian pears and pomegranates — will permit Western Fresh to supply the commodities year round, Kragie said.

There also are plans to expand the inventory of South American imports in the coming years, he said, and the expansions could include categories the company has not marketed in the past.

“We’re going to try to make significant inroads into programs with year-round pricing and other options,” Kragie said.

A logical addition to the import inventory could be table grapes. Western Fresh has had success importing Italian table grapes to Canada.

Chris Kragie, vice president of Western Fresh, plans to travel to Chile in January to meet growers. He and Carrasco also plan to meet with some Argentine growers as part of the company’s expansion, George Kragie said.

Article courtesy of The Packer Copyright 2010 Vance Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.