Frontera Produce's Amy Gates and Sostena's Timothy Collins Discuss Golden Crush
EDINBURG, TX - How do you revitalize a category? For the Frontera/Crescent Fruit and Sostena teams, it’s a matter of consistent, premium flavor. I had the pleasure to speak with Amy Gates, President of Frontera Produce, and Timothy Collins, President of Sostena, to learn more about the creation of Golden Crush and the first-of-its-kind tech seen in ProducePlan.com.
“With Golden Crush, I was looking for a melon that I felt was going to be commercially viable, first of all,” Tim shared with me, as we dial into the beginnings of this gorgeous melon. “In order for it to be commercially viable, it has to work for the grower, as well as the retailer and consumers.”
The development of Golden Crush was a cooperative effort by Sostena and Origene Seeds, in direct response to declining consumer consumption and sales of cantaloupes at retail. Golden Crush is the first melon in a family of Crush melons to be introduced soon.
“Golden Crush has a great flavor, but if it isn't also a high-yielding variety that growers can work with, eventually the supply chain will break down and growers will discontinue growing it because it is not profitable,” Tim continued. “So, we look for flavor, and then we look for a balance in the supply chain. And in order to have flavor, we have to be able to tell when the melon is ready.”
With its clear harvest indicator—turning a lovely golden color just as it’s ready to be picked—cutters and harvesters have been trained to know exactly when to cut the melons from the vines. And since Golden Crush is essentially the first melon grown on a digital platform—ProducePlan.com—harvest need only happen once a week. ProducePlan.com helps to ensure all key stakeholders have a coordinated supply chain by building supply plans based on demand plans, no more “plan and pray.” And with the precision irrigation technology of GroundSight, the companies have been able to help growers get increased yields and better quality, all leading to a better, more consistent consumer eating experience.
“A big part of what ProducePlan talks to is the sustainability side of our supply chain. This creates the opportunity for top-down planning, and the top can be as high a retailer or Frontera. It’s a fully-integrated digital supply chain tool that enables growers to effectively plan for an indefinite period of times,” he stated.
Amy added, “The waste management and crop utilization is awesome. I’m able to communicate to my growers that they’re going to be growing just the right amount to go to the right locations. It’s all pre-programmed, so I’m not dumping cantaloupes and I’m not short. It makes my growers happy, it makes the shipper happy, and it makes me happy! Like all new cutting-edge technologies, Sostena continues to adjust and refine ProducePlan. However, it is changing the produce supply chain and we are thrilled with what we are seeing.”
With the promise of putting close to a million cartons of cantaloupes into the market that have been digitally planned—and grown—from start to finish, I can’t wait to see what other innovative solutions Frontera/Crescent Fruit and Sostena may bring.