Ernst van Eeghen and Loree Dowse Open Up About Church Brothers Farms’ Newest Products at 2023 IFPA Foodservice Conference
SALINAS, CA - Take a look at the Church Brothers Farms menu, and you’ll see your Tuscan Original, Organic, and Farmer’s Selection salad options. Pretty soon, three new blends will be thrown into the mix as the grower expands its lineup of tender leaf salads. I chatted with Ernst van Eeghen and Loree Dowse ahead of the International Fresh Produce Association’s (IFPA) Foodservice Conference on the new Scarlet Butter, Color & Crunch, and Supreme Green blends giving culinary professionals the creative play to spice up their menus.
“We’ve seen much success within this category, especially as it relates to traditional spring mix sales, that we felt in order to become the category leader in tender leaf items, we had to beef up and make our portfolio more robust and all-encompassing,” explains Ernst, Vice President of Foodservice Business Development. “Our team looked at the category and the needs we saw from customers, and we decided to rebrand our existing Tuscan tender leaves and Tuscan lettuces to create the new Tuscan Salads subcategory, which we’ll be highlighting at IFPA Foodservice.”
Original, Organic, Supreme Green, Scarlet Butter, and Color & Crunch were made specifically to bring more variety to menus. Coming in 3 lb and 4 x 3 lb sizes, each variety brings fresh, loose, and tender leaves to the back of the house to make it easier for chefs to add value to the plate.
The one variety that stood out to me was Farmer’s Selection, which is a repositioning of the Tuscan Baby Lettuces and comes in an 8 lb pack with whole heads of lettuces, including Red and Green Tango, Oakleaf, Gem, and Lolla Rossa. This allows chefs and creators to mix and match the leaves to create their own dishes and provide a unique offering on the menu.
“We named the line Tuscan Salads because we wanted to evoke the personality of these blends and how it reminds us of the Tuscan road. It’s friendlier, has more flavor, and brings a dynamic addition to the category,” continues Ernst. “Items such as the Organic and Farmer Selection were born from our clients’ needs, and the whole lineup answers to a craving every consumer has: flavor and nutrition on the plate.”
All the items come from a superior variety base that the vertically integrated grower personally searches for and vests. If you’re curious to see these blends up close and personal, have no fear, for IFPA will be just the stage to get the opportunity.
“IFPA gives us the opportunity to interact with our customers in a way that we don’t normally; it’s a very personal experience,” chimes in Loree, Director of Marketing. “We also do field tours, host our famous Ranch Party, and showcase what goes on behind the scenes to bring quality leafy greens to the forefront. The whole week is really a chance for us to really share ourselves and the resources we can provide when it comes to marketing and promotions, such as teaming up with local chefs to create recipes and get their feedback on our products.”
If you’re already excited about IFPA, just wait until I tell you about the seventh item being added to this lineup—Church Brothers will also be releasing a 4 x 1 lb Rustic Kale blend in the near future.
“It’s a blend that’s dominated by a deep green, nutrient-dense, earthy kale in combination with the Original Tuscan Salad,” shares Ernst. “We’re looking to launch closer to the fall in either August or September.”
For a deep dive into the fields, check out the video above, and be sure to check out Church Brothers Farms at booth #201. See you at IFPA, industry folks!