In the universe that is our fruit and vegetable industry, there’s fresh, and then there is greenhouse fresh. This innovative indoor growing method sets its products apart in the produce aisle by bringing a premium edge to already in-demand offerings. Greenhouse may be small in acreage, but it is huge in dollars, and industry frontrunners who’ve dipped their toes in these waters have found themselves not only afloat, but swimming.
Pete’s is one such waterbug, having built a leafy greens empire out of its greenhouse-grown lettuce lines. From Living Lettuce to Butter Stuffers, consumers have begun to see the lettuce category in a new light—one which brings versatility to the forefront.
Having opened the doors for unprecedented category expansion, Pete’s has now ventured to bring an even fresher version of its lettuce to market by evolving its strong hydroponic vision.
“Pete’s Greenhouse Fresh™ is a new line of hydroponically greenhouse-grown packaged salad varieties that are rooted in sustainability,” Corrie Hutchens, Marketing and Innovation Lead, explained to me as she pulled back the curtain on this exciting launch. “Pete’s Greenhouse Fresh comes in four varieties: Hydro Spring Mix, Indoor Romaine, Nice & Crunchy, and Benevolent Butter.”
As Corrie mentioned, sustainability is a cornerstone of Pete’s new Greenhouse Fresh line. Being well-versed in greenhouse and hydroponics from the get-go, the grower is fully immersed in all aspects of both methods. Some would go so far as to say that giving back to Mother Earth is the driving force behind greenhouse and hydroponic growing, an argument I believe Pete’s is wholeheartedly committed to.
“These greens use 90 percent less land and water than field-grown packaged salad offerings,” Corrie told me. “Another benefit of being hydroponically greenhouse grown is avoiding a harsh triple washing process that often includes a chlorine bath. A simple rinse at home by consumers is all that is needed, which also saves a lot of water.”
Pete’s is one of the only packaged salad lines on the market with a give-back aspect tied into the product. And I’m not just talking about an advantageous promotion to bring more attention to the line. Giving back is central to Pete’s being. The employee-owned and operated company’s team members have a stake in the game with sustainability being a central personal value.
Collectively, everything Pete’s does, it does as a team for the greater good of people, the planet, and leafy greens.
“Further solidifying the line’s sustainability, we have partnered with 1% for the Planet and will pledge one percent of our Greenhouse Fresh sales to The Recycling Partnership. Through these partnerships, we can work toward a circular economy and put an end to wish-cycling,” Corrie said. “Another central goal of ours is to make more packaging types 100 percent recyclable.”
Not only is the Greenhouse Fresh line a champion of sustainability because it is hydroponically greenhouse grown, but its tub is made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled material and is 100 percent recyclable. In addition, the flexible, resealable closure uses less plastic and emits less CO2 than other rigid plastic offerings. As we should all know by now, recyclability is at the top of the list when it comes to consumer demands, giving Pete’s shoppers one more reason to add lettuce to their carts.
"In the event of future variety recalls, our hydroponically grown items would be exempt given that they are not field-grown."
Corrie Hutchens, Marketing and Innovation Lead, Pete's
While sustainability may be what initially draws shoppers to certain retail sets, food safety is what will keep them coming back. Pete’s Greenhouse Fresh line helps to drive category sales by offering consumers an alternative choice to field-grown packaged salad products. Given that these products are grown hydroponically indoors, there is an added element of cleanliness and safety that separates these offerings from field-grown lettuce.
“We have seen multiple leafy greens outbreaks shake the industry in recent years, and informed shoppers will find solace in knowing that they have another option where their greens are grown in a different type of controlled environment. In the event of future variety recalls, our hydroponically grown items would be exempt given that they are not field-grown,” Corrie explained. “Additionally, our packaging follows guidelines set forth by the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) to indicate where our greens are grown and clearly call out that they are grown indoors. This will translate to having continual product on-shelf and consistent revenue from a retailer perspective.”
Cleanliness is key in the consumer’s mind, and the pandemic has only furthered the expectation for advanced sanitation. New regulations and practices put forth by the industry are driving forces in making fresh produce a trusted source for consumption. Though it may seem tedious to some, Pete’s is seeing an overwhelming trend toward consumers doubling down on their values. Corrie told me that shoppers increasingly search for and purchase brands rooted in environmental and social causes. And by those points of measurement, Pete’s is far ahead of the pack.
The company isn’t resting on its laurels, though, as Pete’s is also rolling out new messaging to accompany the Greenhouse Fresh line. So, not only does the line bring truly one-of-a-kind products to the retail shelf, but it provides buyers with new opportunities to drive foot traffic to the fresh produce department.
“In order to help generate demand among consumers, we will be developing messaging and leverage touchpoints across POS to disrupt and capture consumers,” Corrie continued. “We utilize bold and vibrant colors on the packs to draw consumers in, and will also be leveraging POS signage highlighting some of the key features and benefits of this new line. This promotional signage will include a QR code that consumers can scan to learn more about our products. We will also be leveraging shopping cart signage, coupons, targeted social media ads, as well as highly targeted digital commercials.”
All that’s left is to lure shoppers in and see what they have to say for themselves about the Greenhouse Fresh line. Early evaluations of how the products resonate showed that retailers are eager to get their hands on these offerings. Fresh, safe, sustainable, and rooted in giving back, Pete’s line of Greenhouse Fresh packaged salads are exactly what the buy-side has been waiting for.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Greenhouse-grown packaged salad had yet to be a U.S. West Coast offering—until now! All of the retailers who have previewed the products are very excited about them and appreciate that the positioning is in line with many of their own corporate initiatives around sustainability and waste,” Corrie concluded.
Fresh is a fierce competitor on grocery shelves. Every leading retailer knows what sits at the top of that infamous list of consumer demands—health, cleanliness, and convenience.
So, why not give it to them?
With Pete’s as a part of your fresh produce arsenal, you just might be the pacemaker for a new retail race.