The Produce News – 2020

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Henry’s CustomRipe program has product available under its Bravocado and Green Goddess brands. They are ripened to order and distributed from all seven of Henry’s modern distribution centers.

Henry’s New and Upgraded Centers Increase Customer Experience

By Rob Bryant
January 6, 2020

If the fickle pendulum of supply swings back to the robust levels industry insiders predict for 2020, Henry Avocado is positioned to help its customers reach their sales potential. 

“As we all recognize in the fresh avocado business, consumption parallels supply,” Phil Henry noted. “So the recent expansion of our operations was designed to aid in the delivery of quality fruit whenever the supply increases. Our new facilities in three select market areas, plus the four other centers we operate,” he continued, “will enable us to respond more efficiently and effectively to whatever pent-up demand occurs from our customer base.”

Earlier this year, Henry moved its original headquarters, which housed the business since its founding in 1925, to a modern new site also in Escondido. The 50,000- foot building includes new processing machinery and additional personnel, as well as 20 forced-air ripening rooms and five loading docks. 

As it stands, Henry’s new plant can custom-ripen more than two million cartons of avocados annually, with ample room to expand. For the past two years, the Escondido-based grower/shipper, with year- round distribution since 1990, has been gearing up for the eventual reversal of supply fortunes by upgrading and expansion of facilities across the country.

A state-of-the-art ripening and distribution center opened in Charlotte, NC in 2017, to serve the growing mid-Atlantic region. This 25,000-foot site is capable of custom-ripening and distributing more than one million cartons each year. To fulfill current demand and expanded growth of the market, it’s designed with thousands of feet of refrigeration rooms, loading docks and nine ripening rooms. 

In addition, Henry’s operation in Phoenix moved to new quarters in 2019. The larger facility features eight upgraded forced-air ripening rooms, increased refrigerated storage space and modern processing machinery.

Henry’s CustomRipe program continues to expand as the company now has more than 100 ripening rooms at its seven full-service distribution centers. They are all expandable to meet the growing demand for precise ripeness options.

A one-page CustomRipe Ordering Guide, a marketing aid and fixture in the industry for almost two decades, is available from any of Henry’s marketing and sales offices listed on its web site. It has helped inform almost a generation of avocado buyers of the five separate and distinct stages of ripening that can be ordered from Henry’s distribution centers. The publication is part of Henry Avocado’s efforts to consistently provide unsurpassed quality with great service. 

“We consider the supply chain to be the key element to quality and that is what motivates our decisions to modernize and open centers as required,” Henry added. “Each of our centers are strategically located, designed and managed to ensure quality, food safety and fresh delivery to our customers in select markets.”

Headed by the new Escondido building, all of Henry’s Primus Labs-certified distribution centers meet or exceed the federal, state and Industry Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) guidelines. Two are located in Escondido and there are one each in Phoenix, AZ; Milpitas, CA; San Antonio and Houston, TX and Charlotte, NC. All are freeway close with a modern fleet of refrigerated trucks.

In the three decades since Henry transitioned from a grower/shipper to year-round distributor, it has established growing relationships with the leading shippers in Mexico, Peru and Chile; all who are in compliance with Henry’s rigid freshness and cold chain requirements.

Always a pioneer in the industry, Henry was among the first to commit to growing and promoting the Hass variety of avocados. Subsequently, Henry developed the first forced-air ripening rooms in 1983; and by adding import contacts and capabilities south of the border, became one of the earliest year-round suppliers of fresh avocados in 1990.

Regardless of high or low production from any particular growing region the past decade, the fresh avocado industry has grown at nearly 10% per year, with Henry’s numbers slightly higher. 

Looking forward Henry cites many positives for the industry in general and Henry Avocado in particular. “Each year more groves on both sides of the border are completing the certification process for organic production,” Henry said. 

Currently 20% of the groves Henry owns or manages are organic and are marketed through its Bravocado brand. The increase in organic consumption, which corresponds with the growing consumer awareness of the fruit’s health benefits, has also given impetus to Henry’s expansions. 

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