BrightFarms' Abby Prior Discusses Salad Program and United Fresh Plans
IRVINGTON, NY - A salad is a year-round feast, in my opinion, creating a palette for seasonal produce ingredients, diverse protein options, and inspiring new dressing flavors. Over the last few years, BrightFarms has established its company as a leader in local salad greens production for supermarkets and this June is bringing those greens to United Fresh 2019 with the same vision and passion in which the team goes to market.
"We’ll be showcasing the power of our brand and products to buyers from around the country and working with them to develop programs for this demand-and-sales-driving category in produce, for locally grown products and beyond," Abby Prior, Vice President of Marketing, shares with me. "BrightFarms delivers commercial scale year-round local produce."
Abby adds that the innovation that BrightFarms is bringing to the salad category doesn’t stop with local.
"We’re constantly trialing new and unique varieties of salad greens. We were honored that one of our recent innovations, Happy Beet, made the shortlist for United Fresh’s 2019 Innovation Awards," she says.
Happy Beet combines sweet and juicy beet greens with baby spinach. While full-grown beet greens are bitter, they are delightful at baby-size, and I for one have an itch for anything beet-related. The company will be showcasing Happy Beet as well as Sunny Crunch, another new, highly-demanded variety.
"BrightFarms strives to provide consumers access to the freshest, tastiest, and most responsibly-grown local produce. We do this for the health of Americans and the health of the planet," Abby tells me with fervor. "That mission leads all of our decisions at BrightFarms. We grow with the power of the sun, just outside of city limits where land is plentiful. We grow without pesticides and keep our produce as local as possible at prices consumers can afford."
Local produce is far from a trend with consumers - it is an age-old way of staying connected to the land where we lay our roots.
"However, it’s been nearly impossible for most of the country to source local produce outside of the summer months. Demand for local produce continues to rise each year, even as other categories like organic have started to slow," Abby reflects. "What we’re doing with our retail partners is turning local into a permanent segment of the salad category. With over three years of sales data from some of the nation’s largest retailers, the results we're seeing are tremendous. When you launch a BrightFarms local program, the salad category grows, even as other tender leaf segments are stagnant or on the decline."
Abby shares that The Food Marketing Institute’s 2019 Power of Produce report found that local produce matters to 84 percent of consumers shopping for fresh produce, and 44 percent of them specifically seek it out and buy it whenever possible. That same report also found that local is particularly important to both younger and older millennials, which means that in the coming decade, the trend is going to grow enormously. This is a segment that can’t be ignored.
"Retailers will need to develop robust local programs to successfully compete for the best consumers," Abby notes thoughtfully. "Our partners can also feel good about the safety of our produce. We provide cleaner, safer, and pesticide-free greens that were grown indoors in a controlled environment with the best-in-class food safety standards. Our sustainable practices minimize waste, and since we use fewer resources by growing locally, we’re able to pass those savings on to consumers."
And the team behind the product is truly passionate about their vision.
"We like to call ourselves BrightFarmers!" Abby smiles and says. "We are a team of passionate, diverse, and caring true believers who stand behind the vision and mission of BrightFarms. We work hard every day and feel tremendously grateful to do work that is meaningful. We like to develop leaders from within our optimistic culture."
Sounds like a program, product, and team that is easy to get behind. But find out for yourselves! Checkout BrightFarms in Chicago at United Fresh booth #6005 and enjoy the Windy City!