Wish Farms of Plant City, FL, is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. But the company is not sitting on its laurels. One of the state’s larger grower-shippers of strawberries, blueberries and vegetables, Wish Farms continues to blaze new trails in produce.
The company began in New York City 90 years ago as Wishnatzki & Nathel, a partnership that lasted decades. After an amicable split, what is now Wish Farms continued as Wishnatzki Farms until a rebranding effort launched the new image.
As part of that branding effort, the company has placed a new focus on social media and public visibility.
“We just recently relaunched our website — added some material, freshened it up a little bit and also added a great catalog of new recipes to help engage consumers,” said third-generation owner Gary Wishnatzki. “We continue building our Facebook following and are connecting all that through Pinterest and other social media, and we’re getting some good traction from consumers.”
The company is also sponsoring major events in Florida, including an upcoming supershow headlined by country star Alan Jackson at the Tampa Amphitheater and the musical performances at the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, which in the past has seen headliners like Willie Nelson and George Jones among legions of others.
“We’re promoting our anniversary via social media — we’re very proud — and featured it in our booth at PMA in Anaheim,” Mr. Wishnatzki said. “We’ve got some local things going on we’re promoting to let the public know the strawberry season is underway.”
Wish Farms controls about 1,500 acres of Florida strawberries, including about 120 acres of organic berries.
“We’ve got a really good nucleus of high-quality growers and we’re really excited about the prospects for this coming season,” he said.
Already one of the state’s larger producers of organic strawberries, this year Wish Farms increased its organic acreage by about 20 percent, “and it looks really good,” Mr. Wishnatzki said.
Not only that, “this strawberry crop is off to the best start we’ve ever had, especially the organics. The crop looks really good. We should have some outstanding production,” Mr. Wishnatzki said.
The company continues to increase its blueberry acreage every year and “we’ve added quite a bit of production this season,” not only in Florida but also abroad.
“In addition to our blueberries in the U.S. and in South America, we also have organic blueberries — which we did last year but we’ve added acreage there — and it’s a very nice complement for our Florida strawberry organic program. They coincide nicely so we’ll be able to offer organic strawberries and blueberries on the same shipment coming out of our Florida cooler here.”
Organics are still a small part of the Wish Farms program, but that percentage is growing annually despite the additional growing challenges.
Mr. Wishnatzki said, “Organic market prices are good, but there are many risks to growing them as well as higher costs and lower yields. We certainly had enough years we failed at it, but I think we’ve figured it out.”