I have long been a fan of sunrises. In my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, the start and end of each day are marked by the most exquisite fusion of red, orange, pink, purple, and yellow hues. This could be why I often find my eyes to the sky, scanning for whatever may be waiting on the horizon.
There is something extremely promising about always looking toward the future, even if you don’t know what the universe is gearing up to send your way. In the fresh produce segment, there is an added level of excitement when gazing ahead. If we consider the passion and dedication of those within our industry, the only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will bring more innovation, development, and overall growth.
Among the joys of being a trade news writer in the fresh arena is the chance to sit on the precipice of industry advancements, joining supply-side aficionados to explore the produce world’s next phase of progression—one product, program, or strategy at a time.
If not made obvious over multiple paragraphs boasting my affinity for seeing into the future, this writer has been let in on a little secret. A conversation with Ocean Mist® Farms’ Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, revealed a trio of additions to the Castroville, California-based grower’s product selection, and Rick was feeling generous enough to divulge some of the details.
Join me in, once again, looking to the horizon. You just may discover the next greatest sales boon.
Rick Bravo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Ocean Mist® Farms: We are gearing up to launch our new 32 oz value-added packages of broccoli florets, vegetable medley, and Brussels sprouts. The main benefit of these fresh-cut items is the larger pack size they come in. These products are more conducive to larger-portion recipes that are better suited for special occasions, bigger households, and families who typically consume a lot of vegetables. During key selling seasons when we know shoppers are feeding large crowds, these items also provide a fantastic home-meal-prep solution.
This is perfect as we expect our first cases to be shipping out in November 2022, just in time for the holiday cooking rush. We will also be highlighting these new items during the International Fresh Produce Association’s Global Produce & Floral Show, giving attendees a closer look at what they have to offer.
RB: Ocean Mist Farms has been working with our retail partners over the last year to determine what value-added solutions would bring the most benefit to them and, ultimately, their shoppers. As we are all aware, the pandemic created additional challenges for bringing new products to market as retailers’ attention turned to current inventory management and overarching supply chain concerns. Through it all, we’ve remained focused on learning what innovative solutions can benefit our customers and working to bring those solutions to life.
RB: As with all industries, the tightening of the labor force required many of our customers to seek alternative solutions in their stores. Our larger, value-added pack sizes are a huge benefit to families where convenient, on-the-go meal solutions are top of mind and meet trending shopper needs.
These newly added items are also Ocean Mist Farms’ way of further tapping into the opportunity of the value-added sector. It’s no secret that the value-added category continues to see growth.
One data point that comes to mind is from Future Market Insights’ recently released Power of Produce 2022 report, which found that 45 percent of shoppers frequently purchase convenient vegetable solutions. With our new 32 oz broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, and vegetable medley, we are able to meet this rising demand, appeal to more shoppers, and expand our consumer base.
RB: There are so many different opportunities for merchandising Ocean Mist Farms’ versatile, value-added products. The broccoli florets, Brussels sprouts, and vegetable medley can all be merchandised alongside complementary vegetable seasonings or sauces to offer up a full side dish option.
To make the purchase even easier on shoppers, we also encourage cross-merchandising these items with various proteins that can help consumers find a complete meal solution. With these products, retailers have a great opportunity to seize more sales across multiple departments, further maximizing the potential of the fresh produce department.
RB: Ocean Mist Farms is deeply rooted in artichoke production; that’s how we got our start almost 100 years ago. By the early 1930s, we had started growing broccoli, and during the 1950s and ’60s, we expanded our farming to include fava beans, English peas, Cardone, cabbage, and fennel. By the ’80s, our portfolio had already grown to include asparagus, cauliflower, celery, green onions, leeks, Iceberg lettuce, mixed lettuce, and rapini.
Over the years, we have continued to add new offerings for our customers such as organic products, fresh-cut vegetables, and even our award-winning microwavable Season & Steam packaging technology that allows shoppers to season their vegetables and reseal the package prior to cooking for a completely customized meal solution.
Today, Ocean Mist Farms’ product line includes over 30 fresh vegetable items. We remain the largest grower of fresh artichokes in North America, and one of the largest growers of Brussels sprouts and spinach in the United States.
RB: As shoppers continue to seek more time-saving solutions both outside and inside the kitchen, Ocean Mist Farms wants to be a brand that supports that need. We are always exploring new value-added vegetable concepts as well as fresh meal products. It’s important that we work with our retail partners to identify what their most relevant needs are at the time, and we focus our attention on those aspects so our resources remain invested in developing the most timely solutions.
Though we can never be too sure about what each day may bring until it arrives, our industry’s constant elevation is dependent upon fresh produce trailblazers’ willingness to always look toward the future.
Ocean Mist Farms is thinking about the demands of today, tomorrow, and beyond to guarantee not only its success, but that of its partners. Just as the sun rises every single day to give the Earth exactly what it needs, so, too, does Ocean Mist Farms, continuously planting the seeds for the next era of industry evolution.