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Produce Growers: The Key to Steady Produce Supply
grower program robinson fresh peppers

Produce Growers: The Key to Steady Produce Supply

March 30, 2017

When it comes to fresh produce—like any commodity, food or otherwise—consumers want what they want, when they want it. When they head into your store or restaurant, customers aren’t thinking about the current growing season or nature’s impact on yields. They want the specific ingredients that are on their shopping lists, or the menu items that highlight their favorite vegetables, every day of the year.

We all know how important year round availability is to consumers. We also know that certain products can ebb and flow in popularity. To help you meet consumer demand—whether you’re a retailer, wholesaler, or in the foodservice or restaurant business—a number of grower programs on the backend of production are important to help ensure a steady supply of the products consumers want. That’s good for your business, because the flip side—being out of stock of certain fruits or vegetables—can mean missed sales for you and losing your customers’ confidence.

Collaboratively planned grower programs can positively impact your business, and they are also beneficial to farmers. I’m lucky enough to work directly with our growers, developing programs together that help them:

  • Better strategize and plan crops to make the farm sustainable
  • Help mitigate the uncertainties that exist in agriculture
  • Trial latest varieties to find the right one for their farm that maximizes yields
  • Understand the marketplace and what categories are growing

Personally, one of my favorite aspects of our grower programs is working with multi-generational farms and those families. These folks pour their lives into their work to make the farm sustainable for their children and their children’s children.

Here is a video of some the growers I get to work with:

Grower Program Expands Due to Consumer and Retail Interest

We also keep an eye on consumer trends that matter to growers, providing accurate reports on what’s happening in the market so they can create realistic plans as each growing season ramps up.

Case in point: We have a grower program in place for Green Giant® Fresh 1-pound bags of mini sweet peppers program. Grown in Mexico, the peppers are available from January through June. Retailers provided great feedback, with just one suggestion: make it a year round program. To be sure, that’s the kind of reaction we love to hear, but it did present a challenge.

We needed to identify a geographic location that provided the right growing conditions for mini sweet peppers, in the right growing season to provide that year round supply. Of course, the quality of the pepper would need to mirror the quality of product our customers have come accustomed to.

The solution: In addition to tapping into supply from our growers in Mexico, the program now includes peppers from a grower in the Baja California Peninsula. With farmland in both northern and southern growing regions, our grower has the ability to stagger crop to align with the growing season that we needed to fill.

It’s an exciting thing to be able to work so closely with growers and create solutions that positively impact their businesses. If you have questions about grower programs, please connect with us!

Sean Callahan

Sean Callahan - Category General Manager for Dry Vegetables, Robinson Fresh

Sean has over 20 years of experience in the produce industry. Sean began his career at C.H. Robinson in 1992 and has worked in a variety of roles, including transportation sales and sourcing sales. Since January 2015, he has been the Category General Manager for Dry Vegetables. Sean graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
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