Mazzei-Franconi's Tom Franconi Talks Upcoming Potato and Grape Seasons
BAKERSFIELD, CA - As soon as the weather hits 80 degrees, barbecue tongs and a picnic blanket never leave my side. And some of my personal must-haves at all outdoor spring and summer gatherings are potatoes—you can’t go wrong with a crisp potato salad—and grapes—for snacking while the main dishes cook on the grill. Since 1972, Mazzei-Franconi has been working with some of the finest growers in the San Joaquin Valley to keep us barbecue-enthusiasts well-stocked with produce staples, potatoes and grapes, and this season is no exception.
I caught up with Tom Franconi to get the inside scoop on Mazzei-Franconi’s upcoming potato and grape seasons.
“We are getting ready to start our new crop for California white, red, and yellow potatoes in Kern County, California,” Tom tells me. “We had a freeze in late February that affected some of our early planted potatoes, but since then, the potatoes have bounced back nicely. Despite starting a little later than usual, we are anticipating a good quality from start to finish.”
Gearing up to kick off the first week of May, Tom is already anticipating leaning into the colored potato market as the company recently increased acreage as a means to grow volumes.
“We are expecting a good market for the upcoming potato season. As the storage states’ supplies start to dry up, we begin to offer new crop to consumers,” Tom explains. “This time of the year, markets are looking for new, fresh potatoes, and we provide that.”
And potatoes aren’t the only Mazzei-Franconi crop with increased acreage. Starting the last week of June in Arvin and Delano, California, the company’s grape crops will have new acreage coming into production now.
“We are able to provide our customers with grapes from start to finish out of California. With some of the earliest grapes in Arvin, we find customers are ready to make the switch to Arvin grapes as soon as we are ready to start,” Tom says. “We are excited about some of our newer varieties, including Ivory, Kryssy, Magenta, and Allison, in good production for the upcoming season.”
Under the Get Fresh and Fresh Pak labels, Mazzei-Franconi packs grapes in a stand-up high graphic bag, in 19 lb cartons and RPCs as well as clamshells. And the company offers potatoes in 50 lb cartons, 10/5lb bags, 16/3lb bags, and bulk totes under the Get Fresh El Diablo Rojo and Bluejay labels.
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