California cherry grower builds packing facility

From Fresh Plaza | 23 January 2024

Overview of cherries from California in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on January 23, 2024.

In the heart of Merced County, California, Meena Farms has been dedicated to cherry cultivation for three decades. Established by the Iyer Family, the company’s cherry orchards, framed by the coastal mountain range, stand as a testament to their commitment to quality. The journey of cherry cultivation unfolds through Pacheco Pass, providing Meena Farms’ orchards with cooling nights and warming days, making their cherries among some of the first to be picked in California.

cherry volumes by histor 2

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

“After thirty years of growing cherries and seven years of custom packing and marketing, we are poised to embark on a new chapter with the introduction of Meena Packing,” shares Chris Medeiros of Meena Farms. This family-owned packing operation seamlessly integrates with the orchards and sets the stage focusing on gentle fruit handling and blending tradition with cutting-edge technology. Construction of the >100,000 sq. ft. facility and cold storage units began in July 2023, with Unitec and VanRoc as key partners for machinery and equipment.

The decision to establish this new facility aligns with reducing transportation distances, enhancing fruit quality, and prioritizing environmental sustainability. Medeiros emphasizes, “Bringing packing closer to home eliminates the need to transport cherries to facilities across multiple county lines.” Wastewater becomes a valuable resource, nurturing adjacent farming operations. Breathing life into the local habitat, a dedicated wetlands restoration project, will contribute to carbon sequestration initiatives for environmental well-being. The facility’s investment not only enhances fruit quality and sustainability but also provides economic benefits to the surrounding disadvantaged communities.

In addition to these benefits, the new facility provides Meena Farms with better control over their product through vertical integration. “After seven years of custom packing agreements, we are excited to open our state-of-the-art cherry packing facility, the only within Merced, Stanislaus, Fresno, and Madera counties,” Medeiros notes.

“Meena Farms symbolizes more than a farm; it represents a legacy of quality, a commitment to sustainability, and timeless values,” concluded Medeiros.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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