OPN Connect Newsletter 359 · February 22, 2024

Veg-Fresh Farms Celebrating 35 Years; Debuts New Organic Potato Packaging

Veg-Fresh Farms, a grower and national distributor of organic and conventional fruit and vegetables to foodservice and retailers under the Veg-Fresh Farms, Crystal Cove Berry Farms, and Good Life Organic brands, is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024. 

Mark Widder, Managing Partner, Veg-Fresh

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“As a strong, family-run business, Veg-Fresh remains dedicated to delivering quality produce and exceptional service to our customers,” said Mark Widder, a managing partner for the Corona, California-based company. 

In this historic year, Veg-Fresh Farms is excited about the introduction of its sustainable, biodegradable paper bags for organic potatoes.  

“These paper bags are designed to decompose with a 90 percent disintegration into pieces smaller than 2 mm within 12 weeks or less, aligning with our commitment to environmental responsibility,” said Jamie Simon, sales manager for the company. 

Vitalis April 2024

Jamie Simon, Sales Manager, Veg-Fresh

Veg-Fresh Farms originated as a tomato-repacking business approximately 35 years ago. Initially focused on repackaging tomatoes, the company gradually expanded its operations and diversified its product offerings. Over time, it evolved into a grower and shipper that supplies a variety of fruits and vegetables to both retail and foodservice sectors. 

“The genesis of Veg-Fresh Farms involved identifying opportunities within the produce industry and leveraging the founders’ knowledge and expertise to meet the evolving needs of customers,” Widder said. “As the company grew, Veg-Fresh invested in infrastructure, farming capabilities, distribution networks, and customer relationships to support its expansion into a broader range of produce items.” 

The transition from a tomato repacker to a grower-shipper program involved strategic decisions, analysis, and adaptation to changing customer preferences and industry trends.  

“By diversifying our product portfolio and expanding our services, Veg-Fresh Farms has positioned itself as a key player in the produce supply chain, serving both retail outlets and foodservice establishments,” Widder said.  

Dino Cancellieri, another managing partner, noted ensuring consistent, year-round availability across all commodities has been a persistent challenge for the organic category and one the company has worked hard to solve. 

Homegrown Organic Farms April 2024

Dino Cancellieri, Managing Partner, Veg-Fresh

“Over many years, we have dedicated ourselves to building a strong portfolio that encompasses a wide range of produce, including tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, citrus, melons, potatoes, cucumbers, hard squash, onions, and more,” he said. “We have made substantial investments in expanding our growing acreage and geographic regions, with a particular focus on organic grape and Roma tomatoes.” 

Cancellieri understands that due to economic pressures and rising food costs, consumers are faced with the challenge of stretching their dollars as much as possible.  

“Organics traditionally command a premium at retail, which has led consumers to reassess their purchasing decisions,” he said. “As a result, we are observing a decrease in both the frequency and volume of organic purchases.”  

“By diversifying our product portfolio and expanding our services, Veg-Fresh Farms has positioned itself as a key player in the produce supply chain, serving both retail outlets and foodservice establishments." - Mark Widder

Even so, the company recognizes significant opportunities within the organic category, particularly in consumer value packs.  

Creekside Organics April 2024

“Whether it’s offering sustainable packaging options, promoting locally grown programs, or introducing seasonal items, we aim to meet the evolving needs and preferences of our customers while contributing to a more sustainable future,” Cancellieri said.  

Veg Fresh's philosophy is simple—and one that has been at the forefront of the business since it started 35 years ago. “We believe in building a strong foundation rooted in integrity and reliability,” Widder said. “We are dedicated to providing excellent service, consistently striving to deliver the highest-quality products to our customers.” 

Veg-Fresh Farms’ strategy moving forward is to maintain its focus on expanding growing programs while working closely with retailers to offer the best organic solutions for consumers.  

“This includes optimizing packaging, SKU mix, and communication strategies to better meet the needs of our customers and enhance their overall experience with our products,” Cancellieri said.  

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