Episode 196: Ryan Atwood and Ryan Lockman
In the latter part of 2021, you’ve probably experienced several delays in packages or going shopping for items that weren’t at your local retailer. It’s clear that we’re in a crisis with the supply chain and the issues we’re seeing, especially when we shop for groceries. There’s a rising cost of goods, inflation, lack of supply to meet demand, and a struggle to get U.S. grown products in front of consumers.
Lori joined Ryan Atwood, one of the owners of H&J Farms in Florida, a blueberry grower and packer, and Ryan Lockman, the Vice President of Sales and Procurement for North Bay Produce, a long-standing partner with The Produce Moms and marketer of fresh produce. Lockman manages relationships with large grocery retailers like Kroger, Aldi’s and Meyer, and also distributes Atwood’s blueberries under the North Bay brand.
Since Ryan Atwood is someone who’s on the front lines and starting point of the produce supply chain, he’s formed a strong opinion as to where the rising cost of goods originated from. Atwood thinks labor costs went up at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a result of people deciding to stay home and get out of their 9-5 workforce jobs. In order to attract employees and talent, companies have had to raise their wages (something H & J Farms has done).
“Growers haven’t received the proper returns for a long time. I wholeheartedly think that our growers have needed higher returns or larger profit margins since I started The Produce Moms.” – Lori Taylor (13:15-13:34)
Ryan Atwood has experienced a firsthand result of inflation with fertilizer. Every year there’s a fertilizer bid which, once the bid is received, it locks out the price for the entire year, however this year, Atwood was told fertilizer prices were only good for a mere 20 days. The fertilizer prices he was quoted in 2021 compared to 2020 completely doubled.
Ryan Lockwood also believes we’re running into some very tough times because “the cost of growing fruit is increasing, but also on a daily basis the amount of mobile money the average retail consumer has to use on purchasing groceries is decreasing because of the rising cost of goods in retail.”
Every item across the produce department is increasing in cost and the availability is decreasing for the consumer. Consumers still want to eat healthy and buy wisely, but farmers have no choice but to charge a higher price than what the produce item was in the field, which inevitably makes certain produce items unattractive to consumers, such as blueberries.
We aren’t sure just yet how retailers and the supply chain are going to respond to the fact that the cost of producing and growing blueberries is rising and the result that creates when trickling down to the point of sale. There’s a longer lead time for all things in the supply chain, from packaging, to cardboard, to the cost and availability of trucking, warehouse staff, and more. Ryan Lockman thinks lead times are higher than they’ve ever been in history.
This also affects our quality of food because when it finally hits the shelf it’s a week older than it should be and also creates a delay in marketing plans for promotions and sales. Both Ryan’s want consumers to understand this because it’s important to know why you have to pay more for a superior product versus putting a subpar item on the shelf for a lesser price.
If you want to play your part in helping decrease our supply chain issues, support U.S. grown produce as much as possible. Relying on produce exports is creating a food security issue for our country and our American farmers and growers need your help.
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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Previous episodes you may enjoy
- Episode 195: Michelle Huff
- Episode 194: Brittain Ladd
- Episode 193: Kelly Bristow and Jenny Maloney
- Episode 192: Audee Rios and Daniella Velazquez De Leon
- Episode 191: Ashley Hawk