|Family Owned and Operated
Hinkle Produce is a family owned and operated business. It maintains hands-on control of every aspect on their 2000 acre vegetable farm. Today, over 150 employees work for Hinkle Produce during a fourteen week season harvesting and packing 1000 acres of sweet corn and 1000 acres of pumpkins. The packing is done in a 23,000 sq. ft. building that includes two specially designed hydro-coolers, a cold storage room and an ice-maker that generates 35 tons per day. In 2004 and 2008, new 23,000 sq. ft. and 18,000 sq. ft. buildings were built to handle the increase in pumpkin production, allowing us to ship 20 – 30 semi loads of palletized bin pumpkins and 6 – 8 semi loads of sweet corn daily.
Over the past 30 years, the equipment and facilities at Hinkle Produce may have changed but its philosophy has not. Hinkle Produce has built its reputation on quality, reliability, honesty and giving to the needy, along with providing many jobs in their community.
Dan and Mary Hinkle
Exceeding Industry Standards
In the year 2000, a Standard Operating Procedures and Good Agriculture Practices manual and program was initiated with the help of Primus Labs, in order to comply with and exceed industry and government standards in response to food quality and safety.
A privately funded Research & Development Program ensures cutting edge techniques are used in production, resulting in increased quality -- our #1 objective. Working with seed and chemical companies to test new products gives Hinkle Produce the edge on new developments not available to other growers. Using these special techniques, Hinkle Produce is able to produce higher quality, disease free products, with longer shelf life. Hinkle Produce spends over $100,000 annually on sweet corn & pumpkin research.
Planting and Harvesting
During planting, precision planters are used for a controlled depth planting and track caterpillars reduce soil compaction. Our fleet of 27 tractors, 3 harvesters, 14 trucks, 3 sprayers and other support equipment, along with experienced local workers, insure that every operation is done in a timely fashion. The end result is a more uniform crop development and size, along with increased production, timely deliveries, and satisfied customers.
During harvest, the corn is picked early in the morning with a corn harvester designed to eliminate mechanical damage and leave the flag leaves for a hand pulled look of quality and freshness. It is then brought to the packing-house where it is hand sorted for quality. Only US Fancy ears are put into a specially designed corrugated or plastic box and only new containers are used to eliminate contamination problems. The next step is to cool the boxed corn with water of 34 degrees. The coolers recycle 13,000 gallons per minute of water that is purified by a new ionizer system, which kills bacteria better than the old chlorine method. This process extends shelf life and adds to the quality of the product.
From there the cartons are each iced, banded, palletized and stacked in a cold room at 35 degrees. This process, although costly, slows the process that converts sugar to starch and keeps it fresh. The corn is shipped on new or #1 pallets the same day.
Fresh Market Pumpkins and Watermelon
A few years ago Hinkle Produce expanded its operation to include fresh market pumpkins. This developed into a Valu-Added Pumpkin Program with a high graphic Kid Magnet bin, available to all growers nationwide. The Pumpkin Patch bin graphics were created to mirror children's books and toys with characters based on Halloween. While stores move more product with Hinkle's unique bins, the Hinkle Community Program supplies them with cuddly stuffed animals and coloring books to donate to local needy children. This program was conceived as a merchandising tool to attract more customers and increase store profits while contributing to the community. What's better than bringing a smile to a needy child's face?
Following the success of pumpkins, a Valu-Added Watermelon Program was introduced in the Spring of 2002. Bins are available to all growers nationwide. A week-long test was conducted prior to Easter at three locations. The results showed that twice as many melons were sold out of the children friendly Watermelon Patch bins as compared to others. With Hinkle's Community Program, retailers are not just moving more produce, they are moving the hearts of the less fortunate by donating books and toys to local needy children. This gesture brightens the lives of underprivileged children and reaffirms Hinkle Produce's community status as a good neighbor.
Targeting the Shoppers of Tomorrow
Hinkle Produce has proven that by targeting children in sales promotion, you will increase sales. In 2007, Hinkle Produce secured the rights to the PEANUTS brand, launching a nationwide branding program for fresh fruits and vegetables. Packaging will be manufactured by International Paper and is available to all growers and retailers nationwide, targeting our children, the future shoppers of tomorrow.
Hinkle Produce endeavors to provide a quality product at a fair price. The owners believe in giving back to the community through annual donations in excess of 3/4 million lbs. to many food banks and local organizations. Dan and Mary Hinkle have committed $500,000 worth of books and toys to be given away through their Community Program over the next several years.