Mr Greens Produce shifts gears to assist retailers

by Richard Turcsik | April 07, 2020

veggiesbunch As Florida supermarkets struggle to keep fresh produce on the shelves in the midst of the COVID-19 corona virus pandemic, Mr Greens Produce has stepped up to the plate to assist both large chain and independent grocers with needed commodities.

Historically, Mr Greens has been a leading supplier of produce to the foodservice channel, but in recent weeks that business has largely dried up as mandates forced the majority of Florida’s restaurants, hotels, resorts and country clubs to temporarily close.

“We are trying to transition as quickly as possible from foodservice,” Nick Politis, CEO of Miami-based Mr Greens Produce told The Produce News. “We’ve always done some wholesale and retail, but our biggest constraint in the past has been the lack of room.”

Expanding to service the retail trade has been on Mr Greens’ radar for some time, but was limited do to a lack of slots in its current warehouse. That is why the company plans on moving its Miami warehouse to a much larger facility later this summer.

“That additional space would have allowed us to move into more retail and stock more product tailored to retail, including prepackaged items and smaller quantities that are more appropriate for the retail channel,” Politis said, noting that growers such as B&W Quality Growers, have introduced smaller sizes of items like arugula and baby lettuces for the supermarket channel. “That is the sort of thing we are looking to bring onboard, as opposed to just foodservice size packaging, like a 2 X 1.5 case of arugula. A typical household can’t use that quantity,” he noted.

“Our constraint, up until our new building is ready, was not having the space, but now with foodservice virtually gone except for some takeout, we have freed up the warehouse space and some slots so we can now start looking to bring in some retail items before our move to our new facility,” Politis said.

Most of Florida’s big chains do their own buying, but the current rush on stores has sparked shortages and out-of-stocks. “The stores are coming to us if they have shorts. We’re on their radar now and have been approved for specific regions of the state. That’s a start,” Politis said. “We’re helping the bigger stores fill the gaps in their supply chain. At the same time, we’ve been aggressively trying to fill some of the small and medium size retailers with product that they need.”

During the crisis, Mr Greens is continuing its work of donating product to Feeding South Florida, the Pembroke Park-based food bank that services the greater Miami area.

“We want to make sure that people are still getting fed,” Politis said. “We’ve also been putting gift packages together for our employees to make sure that they have milk, eggs, produce and the basics because we want our employees to make sure their fridges are stocked during this time,” he said, adding that Mr Greens has also been donating product to local nursing homes and other care facilities.

Earlier this year Mr Greens expanded into Texas with the purchase of Cawoods Produce in Austin.

“Cawoods gives us a foothold in Texas. They are a great firm, kind of similar to Mr Greens in that they serve the higher end of the market with restaurants, hotels and similar clientele. That acquisition will help springboard other acquisition opportunities in Texas,” Politis said.

Students gain real world experience thanks to L&M internships
The future of the produce industry will depend largely on new people being introduced to the field, which is why L&M Cos. offers internships based on seasonal needs throughout the L&M farms, warehouses and sales teams. “Intern programs in fresh produce are great exposure for young people to be a part of a vital industry,” Read More ...
New Whole Foods Market features 75 local growers
Whole Foods Market recently opened a new 35,000-square-foot store in East Austin, TX. Special features of the new East Austin store include: Produce department offering a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, including selections from about 75 local growers throughout the year including fresh flowers, peaches and Read More ...
Retailer announces plans to rebuild
CUB and its franchise partner Jerry’s Foods announced its commitment to the Minneapolis community to rebuild its Broadway Avenue and Lake Street stores, both of which are owned by Jerry’s Foods. CUB also announced that while those two locations remain closed, CUB plans to open temporary community stores at each location to Read More ...
Sun World takes firm stance on IP rights breach
California-based variety development and licensing company Sun World International LLC has reached settlement of a dispute with a prominent Australian table grape producer (and associated entities) within the Sunraysia region. This follows breaches of Sun World’s intellectual property and contractual rights discovered Read More ...
Fall Creek names regional director for Mexico
Fall Creek Farm & Nursery Inc., a global blueberry breeding and nursery company, has announced that Alberto Medina-Mora has joined the company as regional director for Mexico. Most recently, Medina-Mora served as senior director of development and innovation at NatureSweet Mexico, a vertically integrated tomato grower, Read More ...