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As Sure as the Sunrise: A Q&A with Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, LIV Organic Produce

As Sure as the Sunrise: A Q&A with Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, LIV Organic Produce

The day is July 1.

Sunlight radiates across Southern California as the earthy aroma of freshly harvested produce wafts around a grocery store at 7 a.m.

An unsuspecting shopper walks through the doors and is immediately pulled to a bountiful display placed front and center. They are met with a fantastic showcase of LIV Organic Produce’s newly harvested supply of onions and potatoes, practically begging the consumer to indulge. It is not by chance occurrence that this happens, but, rather, by careful intention.

I am not a fortune teller. But, as I begin penning this story in mid-April, I can see no other version of reality coming to fruition. Perhaps it is due to the nearly two years I’ve spent in this industry, which have been jam-packed with immeasurable produce insights. However, I would argue that my certainty primarily comes from the unwavering confidence I hear in Anthony Innocenti’s voice.

The Co-Founder and Managing Partner greets me with a zest I can only assume is powered by true enthusiasm for his role at the helm of this team. We begin our conversation with sights set on LIV Organic’s new crop organic onions and potatoes. But, as I’ve learned is characteristic of our industry, the discussion winds up revealing so much more.

CJ: LIV Organic Produce has most definitely earned its name as a leading organic supplier, and I’m sure consistency of supply contributes significantly to this. As your new crop onions and potatoes hit the market, what can your retail partners expect?

AI: We rolled out our new crop onions in April and will continue to push the program in the coming months. As of June, we are full steam ahead on our new crop potatoes and will soon have premium supplies available to buyers. This season, we added a very experienced team member to help oversee all growth across these crops.

Quantity and quality control are central to our process, allowing us to bring unrivaled consistency and value to our partnerships. Despite the historic unpredictability of spring and summer, we currently anticipate a strong season. Acreage for both categories is up, which will likely lead to larger volumes for our partners.

For our onions, we offer bulk 40 lb boxes with PLU stickers, as well as product in 3 lb and 2 lb bags. Our potatoes are available in bulk 50 lb cartons as well as in 2 lb, 3 lb, and
5 lb bags.

“...we have managed to create a program that both maintains efficiency across our operations and maximizes ROI for buyers.”

Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, LIV Organic Produce

CJ: There is always demand for the onion and potato categories, as they have long been considered produce aisle staples. Even so, we can always do more in order to capture consumers’ attention. What suggestions do you have for retailers when it comes to merchandising your products?

AI: I think the key is to ensure you do not oversaturate the department with too many SKUs. Retailers should look for quality selections over the quantity of options. When there are too many varieties on the shelf, it can start to look a bit unorganized and overwhelming to the consumer. And, on top of this, it often leads to greater overall shrink and higher labor costs in the stores.

Committing to full displays is also absolutely essential. If displays are too small, they can be easily overlooked. From my experience, this also shows a lack of commitment to the consumer, which, in turn, can create a lack of freshness and visibility for the products.

CJ: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was LIV Organic’s expertise. How has the company continued to evolve in order to stay at the forefront of industry competition?

AI: We are a year-round supplier that moves from region to region, providing our buy-side partners with consistency of supply not just from season to season, but every month of the year. Sustainable growth with our farmer partners has allowed us to maintain this position. We have the right personnel in place, which has led to exponential acreage expansion.

CJ: As you know, creating the consistency you speak of is dependent upon a myriad of supply chain factors. Between Mother Nature, shifts in the market, and consumer buying trends, it is nearly impossible to make predictions. Yet, LIV Organic seems to be doing so for its partners. What makes this possible?

AI: One of the biggest challenges in fresh produce is making sure everyone in the supply chain understands the variables in growing depending on the region and time of year. Knowing this, we have managed to create a program that both maintains efficiency across our operations and maximizes ROI for buyers.

Not only do we have expertise in the fields, but across other supply chain operations as well. We are very nimble in shipping, distribution, and consistent ad planning; updates such as these are key to driving units.

CJ: LIV Organic’s relationship with buyers is a unique one. I see a sense of trust in your partnerships that is not always apparent throughout the supply chain. How has this played an integral role in LIV’s success, and why do you believe retail relationships should be at the center of supplier strategies?

AI: First of all, as organics continue to evolve at a steady rate, we could not have achieved the current market visibility of organics without the assistance of retail programs. The further we educate the consumers, the more emphasis this sector will have, and retailers are essential to that process.

We need each other to achieve maximum success, and our buy-side partners know this as well as we do. I believe that excellent buyers are those who look at you as a partner for success as a whole and vice versa.

CJ: It seems as though there is some other magic at work behind the scenes of LIV Organic’s successful operations. At the end of the day, what does it mean to truly commit to the craft of bringing fresh produce to market?

AI: It is imperative that you really believe in what you are representing and truly have passion for what you do. In fresh produce, you can’t look at our products as just another commodity to sell. You must truly believe in the power of produce in order to make the world believe in it, too.

I have been involved in produce and farming my whole life. Fortunately, I have had many unique opportunities for growth and continue to have great mentors. You always learn something new on this journey we call fresh produce!

Does it feel like July yet?

As someone living in the 100-degree heat of Sacramento, California, I can assure you that, yes, it certainly does. I may have taken an early venture onto the page, but buyers should absolutely be planning ahead to take advantage of these seasonal opportunities.

Because, as sure as the sunrise, you can bet that LIV Organic produce will be basking in summer’s glory soon enough. 

As Sure as the Sunrise: A Q&A with Anthony Innocenti, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, LIV Organic Produce