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King Farms continues to expand its portfolio

Spring is right on schedule over at King Farms, with Bell peppers, squash, cabbage and other popular Florida spring vegetables being sourced for retailers and wholesalers throughout the Northeast and Midwest.

2011-08-11 09-38-50 688Christina Fleischer, sales and officer manager and Steve Oldock’s daughter, represented King Farms at a recent trade show.“Florida started its spring crop in late March with a normal transition from the fall and winter harvests,” said Steve Oldock, owner and president of King Farms, based in Naples, FL. “The preceding weather may have limited some acreage, but it seems like optimum conditions exist now. We get a sense of decreased acreage throughout the state. Since January we’ve had cold snaps, wind and some rain, but that is normal for Florida at that time of year.”

King Farms specializes in Bell peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and cabbage marketed under the King Farms label, and this year the firm will be placing a greater emphasis on two produce items that have found renewed popularity: watermelon and cauliflower.

“We’ve had watermelon and cauliflower before, but this year we are offering our customers a much enhanced supply,” Oldock said. “We are expanding our sourcing of each, and that includes acreage from Florida through South Georgia.”

As the current “it” vegetable, cauliflower is skyrocketing in popularity and consumer demand. A serving of raw cauliflower contains only 25 calories, is low in fat and carbohydrates, high in dietary fiber and vitamin C, several B vitamins and vitamin K. The plant also contains several beneficial phytochemicals that are found in members of the cabbage family.

As a result, it has become a darling of the supermarket, especially the frozen food case, where it is sold in a wide variety of forms, including riced and mashed, being touted as a healthier alternative to starches like rice and potatoes.

One of the biggest current crazes is cauliflower crust pizza, which contains fewer carbohydrates and calories than traditional 100 percent wheat crusts.

“Going forward we may explore selling cauliflower to some of those food processors,” Oldock said. “Processors can be good business. They will take some of the larger stocks or things that aren’t perfect.”

Oldock said that King Farms offers several advantages to retailers, wholesalers and foodservice providers.

“Our on-site inspection and timely shipping are our priorities,” he said. “Our arrival rate is excellent. To monitor each truckload with state-of-the-art temperature recorders is the norm. We have what we think is one of the best grower/shipper relationships in the business. We deal with some of the best growers in Florida.”

King Farms is renown for the quality of its produce, and Oldock attributed much of that to his chief inspector, San Juan Garcia, whom Oldock refers to as “the elder statesman” of Florida and national inspectors.

“Everybody kind of follows his lead. Whatever he picks out, other inspectors tend to follow,” Oldock said.

“Working with our customers for over 25 years, we know each receiver’s specs and standards,” Oldock said, “and it is important to remember that Mother Nature swings the bat last.”