OPN Connect Newsletter 324 · June 15, 2023

Creekside Organics/Capay on Growth Curve

The merger of Creekside Organics and Capay Organic in 2022 created an organization that sold more than one million cases of organic produce last year, and the company aims to continue increasing its footprint.

Brenda Haught, who founded Bakersfield, California-based Creekside Organics in 2011, serves as the President/CEO of the merged companies, which combine decades of organic farming, sales, and marketing expertise under one management team. Capay Organic, located in the Northern California town of the same name, is a second-generation farm and one of the original organic farms in California. It started as a 20-acre farm in the 1970s and now grows organic produce on more than 500 acres.

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Brenda Haught, Founder, Creekside Organics

Each brand is continuing to produce under its own labels, with the sales and marketing of these products handled exclusively by Creekside Organics. Capay’s sales talent was added to the Creekside team at the time of the merger.

Recently, Ashley Berlinger, business development manager/sales representative for the company, discussed the organization’s operations and trajectory, noting that Creekside Organics began its journey more than a decade ago with bell peppers and a number of other dry vegetable crops.

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“As time went on, the company expanded into wet veg products,” she said. “And with the addition of Capay Organic, we’ve expanded our product line even further.”

Today, Creekside Organics represents dozens of organic vegetable and fruit SKUs, including heirloom tomatoes, a full lineup of wet and dry vegetables, organic citrus and melons, and even organic kumquats. “We are involved in many different growing regions, with our vegetable offerings almost year-round and our fruit on a seasonal basis,” said Berlinger. “Our organic heirloom tomato program is a 150,000-box program that will start the second week of July and run through October.”

“As time went on, the company expanded into wet veg products. And with the addition of Capay Organic, we’ve expanded our product line even further.” - Ashley Berlinger

Working with dozens of growers across the landscape promoting a polyculture environment—the planting of two or more crops in the same field at the same time—Creekside recently expanded into organic citrus with a ranch that produces organic lemons and oranges and has younger blood orange and Cara Cara navel trees that will be producing commercially within a couple of years.

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“We have become one of the largest polyculture produce operations in California,” Berlinger said. “We are growing at a fast pace.”

While Creekside does have a Bakersfield office, its sales team is spread out across the state and in an expansion mode. “We promote a healthy work-life balance with our sales team working virtually and meeting every day via the internet,” Berlinger added.

One of the sales department’s newest members, Berlinger is a veteran of the organic produce industry. She has been in the sector for more than a decade, with stints at Albert’s Organics, Legacy Produce, Charlie’s Produce, and Sun Pacific prior to joining Creekside. In her prior roles, she often worked with national chains, and that is one of her targets in her new business development role.

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“We have become one of the largest polyculture produce operations in California. We are growing at a fast pace.” - Ashley Berlinger

The other Creekside sales team members are Oscar Vargas, Sophie Calhoun, and Kianna Small.

Berlinger noted that Creekside Organics has made its mark focusing on organic wholesalers as well as regional food stores that prefer natural foods and organic produce. But with the company’s expansion into more produce items and increased volume, it is looking to expand its customer base as well.

The company remains very bullish on the organic sector. “We believe organic and healthy options are still very important and trending upward,” she said. “We see more and more land transitioning to organic farming, and we are optimistic about the future.”

Berlinger added that younger generations are very concerned about healthy eating and very aware about the purchases they are making. “They value polyculture and local production,” she said.

Creekside Organics will be participating in the 2023 Organic Produce Summit in July in Monterey, California. “Come see us,” she said inviting the many buyers who will be at the show. “We will be in booth 321!”

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