Katie Tossie is organic commodity account manager for Ocean Mist Farms, a conventional and organic vegetable grower headquartered in Castroville, California. OPN recently caught up with Katie to talk about Ocean Mist’s organic produce offerings, the impact of inflation on the company's operations, and more.
Katie Tossie, Organic Commodity Account Manager, Ocean Mist Farms
What is your background in the produce industry?
I began working in the produce industry in my early 20s, and I quickly realized that I wanted to be involved in the sales side of the business. I was intrigued by the fast pace of it all—be it selling, market changes, or supply chain issues. I started at the entry-level position of Sales Coordinator and over the years have worked my way up to my current position of Organic Commodity Account Manager.
Can you give an overview of Ocean Mist’s organic commodities, where they’re grown, and when they’re available?
Ocean Mist Farms started growing organic artichokes in 2000. As organics became more in demand, the company looked to expand our organic presence, and the Ocean Mist Organic brand and product line were introduced. Our current list of organic commodities are available year-round and all grown within California, with the exception of our organic asparagus program out of Mexico, which is available from January through March. Our California-grown organic commodities include artichokes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cilantro, fennel, iceberg lettuce, Italian parsley, leeks, romaine lettuce, spinach, and sweet baby broccoli.
Ocean Mist Organic family of products
“I began working in the produce industry in my early 20s, and I quickly realized that I wanted to be involved in the sales side of the business. I was intrigued by the fast pace of it all—be it selling, market changes, or supply chain issues.” -Katie Tossie
What is Ocean Mist’s total organic acreage?
Our organic acreage has grown to roughly 4,000 acres total. Our California organic acreage is in Castroville, Coachella, and Oxnard, and our Mexican organic acreage is in Baja. These growing regions have prime soil and microclimates that enable us to farm a wide variety of premium fresh organic vegetables.
Ocean Mist artichoke field in Coachella, CA
What are your most popular organic items?
Organic artichokes remain one of our most popular items. In fact, we are the largest fresh organic artichoke grower in the US! We offer our organic artichokes in bulk with hang tags and also in 2 ct. corrugated clamshells and 2 ct. post-consumer material plastic bags.
Demand for our organic celery program continues to grow. We offer that commodity naked, sleeved, and in an 18 ct. celery heart pack.
Ocean Mist Organic bulk celery
Why is it important to Ocean Mist to offer organics, and what led the company to create the Ocean Mist Organic brand?
In response to an increased demand for organics, the Ocean Mist Organic brand was launched in 2015, and that is when the company added a broad line of organic commodities to the organic artichoke program. Our product line continues to evolve as growing efficiencies are achieved and retailer demand is identified.
“Organic artichokes remain one of our most popular items. In fact, we are the largest fresh organic artichoke grower in the US!” -Katie Tossie
Has Ocean Mist debuted any new organic products recently?
Our most recent organic item introduction is the 2 ct. organic artichoke in a recyclable corrugated clamshell. This pack style gives us brand presence on the shelf in the organic category. The corrugated clamshell is composed of 100 percent recyclable cardboard materials, making it a unique statement in the produce aisle for both our brand and the retailers that carry it.
Ocean Mist Organic artichokes in a recyclable corrugated clamshell
How has the current inflationary environment been affecting your organic operation?
Rising costs in all aspects of our operation (e.g., fertilizer, packaging, and freight) seem to be our biggest challenge currently. We continue to look at ways to help mitigate these costs.
What will you be highlighting in your booth at OPS this year?
We will be showcasing our complete line of organic produce, with emphasis on our organic artichoke program.