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OPN Connect Newsletter 256 · February 17, 2022

Berry People Touts “Together, We Grow” Philosophy


Berry People, a year-round shipper of branded organic and conventional berries, was born in 2017 out of a convergence of interests and opportunity in the Mexican organic berry space. 

“The founding shareholders and key grower partner from Baja California saw an opportunity to meet the market’s demand for a year-round, full-line branded organic berry program,” said Jerald Downs, President of the Hollister, CA-based company. “The company’s genesis came at the natural confluence of shared interests, relationships, resources, and abilities to bring together the Berry People platform.”

Organics Unlimited July 2022

Jerald Downs, President, Berry People

Berry People's founders also had a shared philosophy of inclusive community, complementarity, empathy, and stewardship, which is is demonstrated in the company's logo—the dots in the strawberry represent the diverse people who make up a unified whole. That same philosophy also inspired Berry People's tagline of "Together, We Grow."

“Our strong vision on the fundamentals of our brand promise to provide continuity, quality, and consistency across our entire berry offering are what drive our co-investments with key growing partners in order to complement our important existing grower supply, moving us closer to the long-term vision of a year-round, full-line branded organic program,” Downs said. “This takes foresight, intentionality, commitment, and follow through.”

Chelan Fresh July 2022

“The founding shareholders and key grower partner from Baja California saw an opportunity to meet the market’s demand for a year-round, full-line branded organic berry program.” – Jerald Downs

The company is intentionally named “Berry People” as opposed to “The Berry People" in order to communicate an inclusive community that extends to its trading partners and competitors. 

Berry People is also CCOF certified, subject to a high degree of rigor with respect to assuring the integrity of all organic products that it ships. 

Duncan Family Farms July 2022

After four years of strong growth and profitability, the company has moved from being a startup to a growth company.

“We are now layering in a custom-configured Microsoft ERP, a SOX light management structure, and are closing deals with genetic, CEA, irrigation tech, and investor partners for the development of captive production together with select grower partners in regions and varieties strategic to Berry People,” Downs said. “The company is also developing [a] proprietary compliance management system as part of its enterprise resource planning—platform design and development—which we expect to have live in 2022.”

After four years of strong growth and profitability, the company has moved from being a startup to a growth company.

The leadership at Berry People believe the organic berry category as a whole has a chance to displace higher-end conventional sales because customers of higher-end produce are likely to opt for organic options whenever they're available.

Cal-Organic July 2022

“Each commodity has its own set of opportunities organically. … I would say organic strawberries for Q4 and organic blueberries for Q1 are both opportunities to provide higher volumes and better quality and more retail-friendly pricing,” Downs said.

Supply chain issues, which the market foresaw in March of 2020, put pressure on organic integrity where supply chain participants scrambled to keep shipments moving and orders covered in tandem with certifications and timely support documentation. 

The leadership at Berry People believe the organic berry category as a whole has a chance to displace higher-end conventional sales because customers of higher-end produce are likely to opt for organic options whenever they're available.

NatureSafe July 2022

Berry People was able to overcome the challenges and are planning more growth in the year ahead.

In 2022, the company’s growth strategy will be supported by increasing regular business with a diversified base of existing retailer and grower clients by a continued improvement of its product and service offering supported by new partnerships in underlying farm operations, genetic club memberships, and ag tech joint ventures, which simultaneously improve yield, quality, and environmental sustainability. 

“The company is more strategic and fundamental, as opposed to opportunistic, in its approach to business,” Downs said. “There is a time and place for opportunity in our overall strategy, but we find it important to maintain—and refine—a clear vision supported by strong business fundamentals, including corporate governance, management succession, risk management practices and a general rigor in continuous improvement of our administration, operations, and sales functions.”

Misionero July 2022

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