Throughout his lifelong career as a vegetable grower, Ryan Flaim has not seen anything like the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic.
“We saw a big drop off in our foodservice business,” said Flaim, a member of the fourth generation of the family-owned R&R Flaim Farms Next Generation Produce. “But at the same time, we saw an uptick in our retail business, and we have been able to hold steady with our business as a result. Still, it’s been a big challenge and we’re trying our best.”
Flaim said the first priority is maintaining the health and safety of the company’s dedicated workers. “We tip our hats to them, and the many frontline workers throughout the supply chain who put themselves at risk in order to keep food moving through the supply chain,” he said. “For our own workers, we’re just making sure they wear masks and follow safety precautions to keep themselves and others safe.”
Without the pandemic, Flaim said 2020 was shaping up to be another outstanding year for produce from the Garden State.
A mild winter set up an early start to the spring deal, with a minor setback with the weather in late-April.
“We got off to a great start after the mild winter,” he said. “Quality was very high on the early items, and that has continued as we approach the summer. We expect the quality and volume to remain high throughout the summer.”
Flaim said little has changed with the farm’s product line this year, with the exception of a switch to Global GAP as its food-safety auditor.
“We want to be sure that we are offering only the highest quality and safest product possible to our customers,” he said. “With Global GAP, we can be assured of that.”
Photo: New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher (center) with Ryan Flaim (holding his son, Robert) and Robert Flaim.