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Outside the Limits: A Q&A with Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ocean Mist® Farms

Outside the Limits: A Q&A with Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ocean Mist® Farms

I think the value in life is found in the learning.

And not just learning something new, but grappling with the fundamentals of ourselves, the pathways we’ve taken, the stumbling blocks we’ve overcome. Only through this level of introspection do we find a certain kind of peace.

But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

There are those of us throughout this industry—companies and individuals alike—who learn our strengths immediately. For Ocean Mist® Farms, this strength came in the form of a formidable artichoke program nearly 100 years strong.

In crafting one exceptional program, Ocean Mist has learned what it takes to craft other programs like it, spanning multiple categories and growing regions. As I myself meander into this newfound knowledge, I find a guide in Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, whose expertise spans years and whose own thirst for learning crosses miles.

After all, that’s how I manage to find the words to pen this piece.

Anne Allen: Ocean Mist Farms has built a name for itself with its flagship category, the artichoke. How has the team taken its expertise in this category and extended it to a variety of other vegetables?

Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ocean Mist® Farms: Ocean Mist Farms has been growing artichokes for nearly a century and, over those years, our product line has grown to include several other commodities, including Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, Iceberg, Romaine Hearts, and spinach, to name a few. We invest significant time and resources into developing our proprietary seed varieties and world-class growing practices. That commitment has made Ocean Mist Farms the Gold Standard in variety selection, cultivation, harvesting, cooling, consumer engagement, and eating experience.

Many may not realize that we are one of the largest bunch spinach growers and have a unique wire-bound wooden crate product offering that continues to be in significant demand.

AA: Essentially then, artichokes were just the beginning. What expansion plans do you have in mind for these specific programs?

RB: While our core items are artichokes, Iceberg, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, and Romaine Hearts, we have invested resources into expanding our award-winning value-added Season & Steam product line. Five new top-selling value-added vegetables were added to this line in fall 2020 to respond to consumers’ demand for convenience and personalization.

AA: As the company has expanded and used its expertise to expand into additional categories, it also saw opportunities in the value-added sector. You’ve become a pioneer in this space as well, so how has the team responded to such seismic shifts in consumer demand?

RB: As with any company, innovation can be challenging—especially when it comes to product innovation. As trends come and go, it is important to not lose sight of your core competencies, but also find a way to be relevant on the store shelf. Our Season & Steam line is a great example of offering shoppers convenient meal solutions while not limiting them to trendy flavor profiles. Season & Steam is one of the only steam-in-a-bag products on the market that lets shoppers open the bag, season to their liking, reseal, and microwave for a personalized dish that’s ready in 5–7 minutes.

AA: We’ve already touched on the Gold Standard belief, but how does this idea and other growing practices help Ocean Mist’s vegetables stand out on the shelf?

RB: We remain committed first and foremost to investing significant time and resources into developing our world-class growing practices. That commitment has made Ocean Mist Farms the Gold Standard in cultivation, harvesting, and cooling across all products available in our line. We emphasize telling the story of our growing regions to demonstrate our Gold Standard in artichoke production.

AA: Your commitment to quality is found beyond your handling of the products, in your dedication to a number of growing regions across California and Mexico. Can you tell me about the strategic value of these regions?

RB: Our spring Castroville, California-grown artichokes are the cornerstone of our artichoke program, and Castroville is, in fact, where our very first artichokes were planted over nine decades ago.

The Mediterranean-like climate in this Central California area is ideal because of its similarity to this Italian vegetable’s native home across the Atlantic. Castroville’s mild, coastal temperatures are perfect for growing the Gold Standard artichoke! During the colder winter months, our farming experts have worked tirelessly to replicate the same quality, flavor, and eating experience of our Castroville artichokes in the warmer desert climate of Coachella, California, where our premier winter artichokes call home.

Ocean Mist Farms is unique in the fact that our growing locations are almost exclusive to California, with a few commodities grown in Mexico and Arizona. Location and soil quality are the driving factors for growing where we do and maintaining our commitment to producing only the very best quality and eating experience.

If there’s anything I take away from my conversation with Rick, it’s that learning shouldn’t be stagnant. It should foster growth, push us to our limits, and, ultimately, make us the best version of ourselves.

For Ocean Mist Farms, that best version is honed to be even better.