Blueberry Distribution Center Adding Service for Growers

[Alma, GA / Damon Jones – Reporting]
While Georgia might be known as the Peach State, it’s actually blueberries that have
dominated fruit production in recent years. And no community in the state is more synonymous
with blueberries than Alma. Where one facility is owned and operated by
the farmers themselves. [Leon Allen – President, Alma Pak]
Alma Pak, you know, started with the idea that the shareholders that are involved with
Alma Pak and own Alma Pak are blueberry growers. So, that is how it started and why it still
exists today, because you know, the shareholders that own this company actually are blueberry
growers as well. [Damon]
So, they know the importance of keeping their fruit viable year-round, which is the main
reason for this operation at the facility. [Ben Swain – Production Manager, Alma
Pak] We package retail frozen fruits. Walmart is our primary customer, Great Value
brand. And we just, we take bulk frozen fruits and
package them into small, retail packages. [Damon]
However, getting them from the field to package ready is not as simple as it sounds, as each
blueberry is individually cleaned and frozen before they can hit the shelves. [Leon]
The process of freezing the blueberries is very extensive. It’s a lot of equipment, a lot of cleaning,
you know, to get the blueberries to a finished end where they’re frozen, clean, and ready
for a retail setting. [Damon]
And consumers can rest assured they will be getting the safest, highest quality produce
on the market. [Ben]
Food safety is our highest priority. The polybag production is considered a ready
to eat product. So, we have to make sure there’s no contaminations,
no foreign materials. We want to insure we are delivering the high
quality, very safe product for the consumers. [Rebecca Arrington – Compliance Coordinator,
Alma Pak] In addition to the regulatory agencies, we
have third party audits that we have to comply with per customer requirements and customer
audits as well. So, it’s fairly extensive and very extensive,
the requirement we meet just to get the blueberries out to the consumers. [Damon]
Not only does this facility provide the growers with everything they need post-harvest, it
also has the added benefit of being right in their back yard. [Leon]
Number one, we’re local and we’re, you know, able to freeze and pack the blueberries and
market whether it be fresh or frozen, you know, without having to ship them to other
locations outside the state which is very expensive to do. [Damon]
Reporting from Bacon County, I’m Damon Jones for the Farm Monitor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *