OPN Connect Newsletter 119 · June 13, 2019

Bonduelle Fresh Americas Believes Nature is the Future

Bonduelle Fresh Americas was founded in the summer of 1969 as Ready Pac Foods, and for 50 years has been a leader in offering the most innovative fresh food products to consumers in the Americas.

“At the start, we were a produce company, supplying fresh vegetables to local restaurants in Southern California,” says Alan Hilowitz, a spokesman for the Irwindale, CA-based company. “A few years later, our founder was faced with a challenge from an existing customer to provide all of their restaurants with pre-cut salads starting in three days. With a cutting board, a few sharp knives and a bathtub, Ready Pac Foods started providing pre-cut salads to this and other foodservice customers.”

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Alan Hilowitz, spokesman, Bonduelle Fresh Americas

Realizing that the demand for pre-cut produce was growing, the business expanded to include retailers. In 2017, Ready Pac Foods became Bonduelle Fresh Americas, when the company was acquired by Bonduelle, a 165-year old international company based in France and the leader in plant-based foods.  

As a producer of fresh prepared meal solutions, salad kits, salad blends and value-added produce for retail and foodservice, the company works with a wide variety of produce. This includes leafy greens, baby greens, spinach, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, tomatoes, onions and more.  

Bonduelle Fresh Americas, and its Ready Pac Foods brand, have offered organic options with its salad kits, salad blends and ready-to-eat single-serve salads for many years as consumers increasingly looked for more organic options.

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“We strategically partner with our retail customers to deliver new and irresistible product innovation in organic varieties and product lines that extend our reach into fresh meal solutions for their consumers,” Hilowitz says. “We believe that nature is our future. This belief and passion is reflected in our passion for preserving the health of our planet. This passion inspires us to continually enhance our sustainability practices.”

The parent company Bonduelle announced its aspiration to become a B Corp certified company—an undertaking that Hilowitz notes truly reflects the identity and commitment to creating a better future through plant-based food.

“To get us there, we are developing a comprehensive 2025 corporate social responsibility (CSR) roadmap,” he says. “These strategic planning efforts will allow us to formalize our environmental and social goals; and enable us to right-size future projects and initiatives to create shared value for our employees, investors, customers, consumers and society more broadly.”

The company expects the strategy, targets and subsequent activities to cover the full gamut of sustainability (i.e. carbon reduction, greener packaging, responsible sourcing, sustainable agronomy, employee engagement, corporate citizenship, etc.).

Working in organics, there are challenges, including the availability of organic greens and other plant-based foods; cost of organic raw materials; and consumers’ willingness to pay a premium for organic products.

“The challenge lies in helping define organic for our customers and to continue to provide them choices when reaching for one of our products,” Hilowitz says. “We don't just want to be part of a ‘mainstream’ trend, but rather be organic as part of our commitment to our customers and the environment. For us, organic farming reflects a concern for the environment, refraining from the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.”

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With that in mind, its organic salads are created in accordance with the strict standards set by the USDA Standard Organic Program, and are certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI), a leading independent organic certification group. 

“We want to create a better future through plant-based foods and we will continue to innovate and bring solutions that fit into this mission and also fits into the desires of our consumers who want to live this type of lifestyle,” Hilowitz says. “People are living increasingly busy lives, and we feel it’s important for consumers to have products available that are delicious, healthier, convenient and filling, all while helping to protect our natural resources and the planet.”

In the year ahead, the company will continue to be focused on the consumer and developing new, innovative products that feature produce and plant-based foods to help them incorporate more veggies into their diet.

“We will also continue to work on understanding consumer’s desire to eat healthier without having to sacrifice taste or satiety and providing options to fulfill this need,” Hilowitz says.

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