Episode 163: Seth Karm
Jun 09, 2021, Updated Jul 01, 2021
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Salad Savoy, a one-of-a-kind vegetable that grows in beautiful white and violet heads, is the namesake of the company behind some of the healthiest, nutrient-dense vegetables around. The company was hit hard during the pandemic, but is thankfully bouncing back with the help of the USDA and consumers like you looking to cook highly nutritional, delicious, colorful meals at home.
Famous with chefs, but not as well known to the public, Salad Savoy is well-known for their colorful chards, kale and cauliflower, which have been the company focus since 1984. With the mantra of “color, taste, nutrition”, Salad Savoy has aimed to break up the wall of green we see in the produce section with items like their gold, orange, pink, red and white Bright Lights® leafy greens, Red Ruby Swiss Chard™, Carnival® Multi-Color Cauliflower and more. They were the first company to bring Lollipops®, a fork-sized vegetable that is a cross between Red Kale and Brussels sprouts, to North America in 2012, which, unlike Brussel sprouts, have to be hand-harvested off the plant… something even the most discerning chef can appreciate.
When the pandemic hit last year, Salad Savoy had plenty of beautiful crops they were ready to harvest and provide the supply chain with, especially getting ready for Easter. In a blink of an eye those crops were all going to be unused. “We leaned on a lot of folks like The Produce Moms with great industry contacts and it was so difficult because at that point in time, people were not going to order any extra items and just going to ‘stick with the staples’,” says Seth.
As we know, during that time, retail was king since restaurants and other parts of the food industry supply chain shut down. Within two weeks of the pandemic hitting, the company was down to 30% of normal business, in part because of the toll 2020 took on fine dining, an arena where Salad Savoy’s products are usually high in demand. So much of the fine dining appeal is the experience it offers — being catered to, having a beautiful presentation on your plate and table, having a long, relaxing meal with a bottle of wine… that experience doesn’t transfer to a to-go container. Fine dining is just now barely creeping back for us in America and Seth says “it’s still an awkward situation. It just feels awkward,” which we can all probably agree on.
Plus, Salad Savoy provides a lot of their produce to Universities, hospitals, caterers and conventions… all suppliers that weren’t in need of produce. Getting creative, Salad Savoy instead was able to provide produce to many of the meal kit companies, like Hello Fresh, and the Farmers to Families food boxes from the USDA. Thankfully, since the beginning of February, business has been back to about 90% of what it was for Salad Savoy. Seth is grateful for the USDA’s assistance which they received financially last November. “Without that, we would not have survived,” Seth says.
“Chard, kale and cauliflower… it does not get better than that. You’ve got more Vitamin C, more calcium than in broccoli, polyphenols with colored vegetables, beta carotene on the orange cauliflower, resveratrol in the red tail and purple cauliflower…” – Seth Karm (22:08-22:31)
Even though they have less staff, Salad Savoy has learned how to become more efficient with their operations, minimize their input at the field level, and minimize field labor. Potentially, automation might come into place for harvesting crops or analyzing the color of heads of salad. Seth and his team are continuing to look at solutions that save money, like auto-tuning, which is a machine that goes over the plants with a treatment after seeding in a matter of hours, when it takes days using human labor. Even Seth has had to juggle multiple hats, from CEO to sales coordinator to social media manager and food safety expert!
What does Seth have to say for you, the consumer? Remember that, with the pandemic, you need to keep your immune system strong and one of the best ways to do that is to eat Salad Savoy’s dark, leafy greens which offer peak nutrition for consumers. If you’ve been cooking at home, you’ve been learning more about the food you prepare and what foods, like dark, leafy greens, are nutritionally dense.
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.
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