SNOWFLAKE — Oct. 2 will be a sad day for 60 employees of the Nature Sweet Tomatoes plant. The Snowflake facility will transfer its plantings to its facility in Willcox.
In a telephone interview Sept. 14, Mike Joergensen, vice president of marketing, said, “It was announced Friday, Sept. 11, that a decision was made to consolidate our operations into Willcox, which is five to six times larger than Snowflake.”
“We started 15 to 18 months ago trying to grow cucumbers in Snowflake. We did not know a lot about it, and it was a challenge for sure. When we purchased the Willcox Farm, they were already growing cucumbers as well as tomatoes. Willcox has the capacity to do both tomatoes and cucumbers, and Willcox is certified to grow organic produce.
“We will transfer some equipment and then close the facility. We plan to keep and maintain the plant. We are not going to abandon it,” he added.
Joergensen said employees will come to the Snowflake location from time to time to turn on the heavy equipment so it will be in optimal shape and ready to operate.
Just two months ago Bryant Ambelang, chief executive officer and president of Nature Sweet Tomatoes, and Armando C. Llanes, vice president and chief financial officer, visited Snowflake and passed out their organic cucumbers grown at the Snowflake facility at the Real AZ Corridor meeting. They shared the Nature Sweet success story, and, at that time, Ambelang said the company had finally seen progress with the cucumbers in Snowflake.
Nature Sweet, based out of San Antonio, Texas, is the leading producer of fresh tomatoes in North America. The company bought the the assets of Eurofresh Farms in 2013 after Eurofresh filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the second time. Eurofresh also had facilities in Snowflake and Willcox.
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