From the farmers in the field planting and harvesting to the research and development done behind the scenes, to the care that goes into packing and shipping to the marketing team on the forefront—a lot more goes into getting that cucumber on the shelf than meets the eye.
Each year, Grocery Headquarters recognizes the hard work, vision and commitment put in by the country’s most notable growers, packers and distributors of fresh produce.
Winners of Grocery Headquarters’ 2016 Produce Trailblazer Awards have flourished both at the farm and on the shelves. In the end, the winners are companies that consumers can purchase from with confidence, and retailers should feel proud to work with.
This year’s award was handed out in five prestigious categories: Beverages, Dips and Dressings; Fresh Fruits; Fresh Vegetables; Value-added; and Organic. Grocery Headquarters is proud to present its 2016 Produce Trailblazer Award winners:
Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A.
Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A. is a distributor of fresh and fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Products are marketed under the Del Monte brand, which has been seen as a symbol of product innovation, quality, freshness and reliability for more than 120 years, says Dionysios Christou, vice president, marketing.
Del Monte follows consumer trends and desires to best cater to their needs. This year, a main focus for the Coral Gables, Fla.-based company is on Hass avocado consumers. Del Monte offers programs for both conventional and organic Hass avocados in different packs.
“Growth of avocado consumption over the past few years has been phenomenal. The nationwide focus on health and wellness has lead consumers to demand and expect healthier options wherever they shop or dine, and avocados are ideally positioned to address today’s consumer needs,” Christou says. “This product has become a staple for many consumers’ diets, particularly Millennials, who have more than $200 billion in annual buying power and the highest consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to the Hass Avocado Board 2015 Trend Report.”
In addition to monitoring trend activity, Del Monte looks toward the future with an eye for sustainable practices. It has established environmental and social policies that promote the well-being of employees and the communities in which it operates. These programs are regularly audited against internationally accepted standards.
In the last year, Del Monte’s pineapple farms and canning operations in Kenya, banana farms in Guatemala and Costa Rica, and pineapple farm in Costa Rica all achieved Sustainably Grown certification by SCS Global Services.
Peri & Sons Farms
More than 100 years ago, Italian immigrants crossed the Atlantic with the promise of opportunity on the opposing shores. David Peri, Peri & Sons’ president, says his grandfather and his great uncles came to the U.S. to farm a land of their own. Today, Peri & Sons Farms works to maintain the lasting legacy they left behind—one that is still growing—packing and shipping premium onions from its farm based in Yerington, Nev.
In 2016, the company became the first domestic onion farming operation to achieve the Sustainably Grown certification from SCS Global Services, say company officials, adding that the Sustainably Grown standards meet some of the world’s highest environmental, social and economic criteria. From the company’s inception, it has understood the importance of the health and well-being of the environment as it relates to business longevity.
“We sell more than 350 million pounds each year, supplying the U.S. and many international markets year-round with onions shipped directly from our family farms in Yerington, Nev., and Firebaugh, Calif.,” says Teri Gibson, director, marketing and customer relations. “All of the onions we grow are either certified USDA organic or certified Pesticide Residue Free.”
Peri & Sons cares about its employees just as much as it does the environment. In 2013, the company added a family-friendly employee benefit by opening the “Little Bulbs” childcare center. It is located a few miles from its headquarters and provides high-quality, no-cost care for full-time employees’ pre-school aged children.
“It’s been a rewarding experience, and providing this service is another way we can make our employees feel valued and appreciated,” says Gibson. “When people feel good about the place they work, their work reflects it. We are convinced that providing a trusted child-care environment for our employees reduces turnover and absenteeism, and increases productivity among workers. Helping workers raise their families instead of putting roadblocks in their way is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
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