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Dan Vega brings vast knowledge to Country Fresh Mushroom Co.

When Country Fresh Mushroom Co. brought on industry veteran Dan Vega as its director of produce sales last August, the idea was that he would help the company.

“Dan brings a lot to Country Fresh with his expertise in the industry and understanding customers’ needs when it comes to produce,” said Bob Besix, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the Toughkenamon, PA-based company. “We’re excited to have him and his produce knowledge.”IMG 8487Dan Vega

Besix explained that mushrooms are the No. 1 priority for the company, but Country Fresh has recently brought in certain produce products that it could offer to its customers, such as asparagus and cucumbers, ultimately becoming a one-stop shop.

Vega’s responsibility is to help make that value-added product service come to fruition, and he’s put programs together and rallied the team to make this a success.

“The company is obviously a mushroom grower and shipper,” said Vega. “My responsibility is to expand the offerings of produce commodities that meet the needs of our customers on products that are compatible with the storage temperature of mushrooms. The idea behind it is to work with the current customer base to look for solutions they might need with other items besides the mushrooms.”

Vega helps companies get the supplies they need — even if in some cases that means low-volume items — so they are not locked into buying bulk loads.

“I work with customers from Maine all the way down to Florida and talk with them about bringing in some items they can buy from us on a more consistent basis,” Vega said. “The same thing applies to the Southwest as we have a facility out in Arizona. We’re trying to put those programs together and take the product from the growers and bring it into the distribution side of things.”

Vega was born in Costa Rica and worked on his family ranch growing produce. He immigrated to the United States in 1982, and started working with tomato growers in Florida. Since then, he’s had opportunities to work with growers, packers, distributors and re-packers in various parts of the country, giving him a broad industry perspective of the produce industry.

He’s served as a committee member (Supply Chain Efficiencies) for four years with the Produce Marketing Association, and was a director on the Southeast Produce Council board for nine years, shortly after its inception.

Since coming to Country Fresh, Vega has enjoyed learning more about the mushroom category, and getting first-hand knowledge of the industry. This helps him better deal with the customers he works with, one of his favorite parts of the job.

“I have known this company for a long time and was presented with this opportunity to help grow these programs, and it was something I felt very comfortable doing,” he said. “I knew some of the customers already, so it gave me the understanding of what their needs might be.”

On the retail side, Vega would like to see more recipes and exposure for mushrooms, as the average American isn’t aware of the product’s capabilities.

“Grocery stores have big displays for different types of fruits, but mushrooms are stuck up in the refrigerated section, and there is very little advertising,” he said. “Foodservice does better because the chefs are driving the product and there are demands for different dishes.”