As a champion of the fresh produce industry, The Produce Moms has made it a top priority to cover the recent pandemic, and its effects on the produce industry, from the front lines.
We have so many friends and partnerships who have been directly affected by the recent events, and we have watched in awe as they have regrouped, pivoted, and continued to do their best to supply us with fresh, safe produce.
“Restaurants are not just good for business, but good for life.” – Lori Taylor (19:54)
Fresh Edge, a longtime friend of The Produce Moms, is a family of fresh food distributors. This includes Indianapolis Fruit, which wholesale distribution to retailers, Piazza Produce and Get Fresh, both of which supply restaurants and the food service sector (hotels, event centers, retirement homes, etc.).
Greg Corsaro, President and COO of Fresh Edge, and Michael Grinstead, General Manager of Get Fresh, gave some timely insight on how they are continually innovating and doing their best to keep the produce industry thriving during such uncertain times.
The United Fresh Produce Excellence in Food Service Award Program
This month Fresh Edge, in partnership with the United Fresh Produce Association, honored nine of the country’s most innovative chefs and food services professionals as part of the United Fresh Produce Excellence in Food Service Award Program.
The profession of a chef is, perhaps, one of the most taxing career choices. It is one that comes with 20 hour days, high-stress environments, and adapting to an environment that is always changing.
This year the category of Supermarkets and Retail Operators has been added to the award program. While most of the chefs honored work in a traditional environment, grocery store prepared food sections in certain stores rival those of restaurants.
Because of the current events, there will be no in person recognition for these chefs. However, they are being honored all summer long in a FREE virtual expo, United Fresh 2020. This is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the nominees and learn more about Fresh Edge.
Trucks Full of Produce with No Destination
The memory of the day life as we knew it came screeching to a halt is still fresh in the minds of most. Most of us quickly realize that with the closure of schools, restaurants, and hotels the produce industry was direly affected.
What most probably realize is the abrupt nature of these decisions were just as abrupt for the produce industry as they were for us.
Billions of dollars of perishable produce were sitting in warehouses or riding in trucks enroute to destinations. Trucks full of produce that no longer had a place to go.
As orders were cancelled and food banks were overwhelmed by produce suppliers across the nation trying to make the best of a horrendous situation, Greg shared that they tried to donate as much as possible, but the waste of so much produce was probably as devastating as the loss of revenue going forward.
One encouraging aspect of all of this for Fresh Edge has been to notice that in proper hygiene and sanitation measures, they haven’t had to alter their practices in food handling. They have been, and still are, an incredible source of safe fresh produce.
Now, as our economy begins to reopen, growers still aren’t sure what to plan for. The world is far from “business as usual,” and Greg joked that it feels much like the Jelly of the Month club from the cult classic Christmas film, National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation. It’s the “gift that keeps on giving.”
“Food security is national security… we have to keep food moving in this country.” – Lori Taylor. (6:54)
Amidst so much uncertainty, one thing remains. The produce industry must keep food moving.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
It has been amazing to see how different links of the supply chain have gotten creative to continue to provide produce to customers.
From the moment the crisis unfolded, Fresh Edge began working hard to find a home for their produce supply. In the days after businesses began shutting down, they donated to employees, food banks, agencies, and began seeking out alternative revenue sources.
One of the ways they have continued to supply produce is through their pop up markets in the Indianapolis area! Customers can pre-order from an array of boxes – fruit, vegetable, protein. Trucks are parked in a centralized location and customers can then simply drive up and pick up their order.
Are meal prep boxes, pop up markets, and simplified menus here to stay?
For Fresh Edge, it’s too difficult to tell right now what will stick around on the other side of present necessities. For some, the success of these new business strategies will become foundational pillars of a new business model to survive the new normal.
The produce industry is a resilient community who is fighting hard to remain strong, solvent, and able to provide YOU with fresh produce. They are depending on you.
How can you help?
The best way for you to do your part is to continue supporting the produce industry. Keep buying and eating your fruits and vegetables, and encourage friends and family to do the same.
We’ll get through this together.
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
- Gain FREE access to United Fresh 2020, a live expo bringing people together to learn, to create value, and build our future together.
- Learn more about the incredible Fresh Edge family.
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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 102: Mushrooms and the Pandemic with Bruce Knobeloch, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development, and Mike O’Brien, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Monterey Mushrooms
- Episode 101: Important Food Safety Information with Jennifer Pulcipher, Director of Food Safety and Compliance at North Bay Produce
- Episode 100: Celebrating the 100th Podcast Episode with The Produce Moms Team
- Episode 99: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Disrupted Agriculture with Seth Karm, CEO of Salad Savoy
- Episode 98: How to Snack Intentionally with Dr. Wendy Bazilian, Ambassador for California Walnuts