January 26, 2021

Oppy invests in enhancing California cherry deal

By combining the strengths of two leading cherry brands, Oppy will reap benefits of vertical integration

As Oppy continues to look for increased efficiencies and powerful partnerships across its operations, the leading grower has brought together two top cherry brands, Katicich Ranch and Brookside, to form Katco Packing.

Katco Packing, located in Stockton, California, will realize numerous operational efficiencies, particularly in packing, with state-of-the-art Unitec optical sorting machinery bringing increased accuracy and speed to their boutique brands. As a leading grower, marketer and distributor of fresh produce from around the world, Oppy will take on a strategic role in the new venture, where it is deeply involved with both partners.

“Oppy has a long history in the California cherry deal and through this move looks to streamline operations even further to grow our comprehensive offerings in line with demand,” Oppy’s Senior Vice President, Categories and Marketing James Milne said. “The move ultimately enables greater transparency, a deeper understanding of how the fruit is going to be looked after, as well as 360-degree logistical support backed by Oppy’s expect the world from us promise.”

Katco Packing will primarily offer high-grade Bing and Coral cherries from Katicich Ranch and the Brookside label, with the latter slated for domestic and international markets whereas the Katicich brand will target exports. Combined with Oppy’s Pacific Northwest cherry program under the well-known Orchard View Cherry brand, the grower now offers the popular stone fruit from May through to the end of August, supplying retailers nine months of the year thanks to their robust import program as well.

“We’re incredibly excited with this new step forward as we look to realizing the many advantages of aligning even more closely with partners such as Oppy,” Katicich Ranch’s General Manager Matt P. Katicich III said. “As the cherry category continues to grow every year, there remains many more opportunities to tap into, which is what we hope to achieve with Katco Packing.”

Oppy’s investment in the deal will mean earlier involvement on a key operational level, which in turn will provide retailers with timely and comprehensive support for the well-known labels. As family businesses at heart, the two brands will benefit from increased precision thanks to the high-tech sorting lines, offering one another a multitude of benefits such as reducing production costs, while simultaneously managing any logistical challenges.

“We are already working incredibly closely with Oppy and Katicich Farms so this was the next logical step to grow our business,” Greg Costa, partner at Felix Costa & Sons said. “The Brookside label is known for its premium, high-quality cherries at home and abroad, and by combining our strengths we can offer this great fruit to a wider range of customers while still maintaining the quality that we’re known for.”

Oppy’s move comes to further augment its transition to the Pacific Northwest deal, which had an incredibly strong season in 2020. Katco Packing is also currently looking to add other qualified grower partners to its growing program.

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