New produce cooler opens
A 40,000 square-foot fresh produce pre-cooler is the latest addition to a growing line-up of coolers and processing plants located in the southeast part of Yuma.
The new Dandy Cooling facility at 4102 S. Avenue 3 1/2 E was constructed and will operate through a partnership between Duda and Western Precooling Systems.
"The Yuma facility allows us to continue the same high level of customer service that we offer at our Dandy Cooling facilities in Salinas and Oxnard (Calif.)," said Bill Nunziati, general manager of Dandy Cooling.
"The advantage for our customers is greater efficiencies, especially in truck turnaround time," said Rick Alcocer, director of fresh vegetable sales for Duda. The pre-cooler has 12 loading bays and the capacity to store up to 50,000 cartons in a racking system to expand storage space.
State-of-the-art features were incorporated into the design and construction of the facility, including temperature monitoring, food safety and security features such as digital cameras that keep track of loading and handling, he said.
"It's a $2.5 million project," Bob Gray, corporate vice president for Duda, said of the new Yuma facility. "And we're still working on the project. We'll be adding racks and other improvements over time. Hopefully it will be an enhancement to the community. We pay property tax, state and federal tax and we provide employment."
Duda produces and supplies lettuce, mixed leaf, broccoli and cauliflower from its desert locations. The facility will also handle produce from Duda's Oxnard, Calif., location, which includes celery and mixed leaf.
In addition to handling Duda's product, Dandy Cooling provides cross-docking services for Duda customers at both the Yuma and Salinas locations.
Several competitors bring their product to the cooler, where mixed loads of product are prepared for particular buyers, Alcocer said. That saves trucks having to drive around town to various coolers to collect product and adding to traffic congestion.
Duda is a leading grower, shipper and marketer of fresh, fresh-cut and processed fruits and vegetables. Headquartered in Florida, the family-owned corporation has significant operations in California, Arizona, Texas and Georgia, with additional growing and shipping locations across the United States and in Mexico.
The company has had a presence in Yuma since 1991, although it did some experimental farming of celery here in the early 1980s. It had been using Advanced Cooling until building its own cooler.
The cooler will be operated throughout the desert growing season, from November through April. Pre-cooler operations will then shift to Salinas.