Ocean Mist® Farms' Chris Drew and Diana McClean Discuss the Gold Standard and Future Growth
CASTROVILLE, CA - The Gold Standard. It is amazing how these three small words can hold such a large weight. For Ocean Mist® Farms, the phrase is embedded into every aspect of its operations, extending not just to its artichoke portfolio, but to its facilities, fields, and beyond. I recently had the privilege of experiencing the Gold Standard firsthand when I visited the company’s headquarters, fields, and packing house in Castroville, California.
“One of our values is delivering quality in all we do,” Chris Drew, President and Chief Executive Officer, told me as we sat down for a chat in his office. “We’re known for our artichokes, and we’ve spent nearly 100 years developing the program we have. It’s only right that, as we’ve expanded our breadth of products, we go with the same standards of quality in all the things we do. The finest details are the ones that make the difference for the ultimate consumer.”
Throughout our discussion, we continued returning to the idea of continuous improvement. Ocean Mist is not one to rest on its laurels and works closely with its partners to ensure efficiency and excellence along the supply chain.
“As costs go up across transportation and shipping, we aim to optimize our footprint in order to best serve the retail community. We’re looking at different geographic locations, a wider variety of value-added items within our Season & Steam line, and ways to create a more consumer-friendly artichoke,” Chris stated.
Over the course of two days, my mind was filled with intricate artichoke knowledge, leaving me to wonder why this veg isn’t more widely consumed across the United States. Chris explained that the crop is almost exclusively grown in California, meaning many consumers across the Midwest and Southeast have little artichoke knowledge, if any.
“One of the deterrents may be that consumers simply don’t know what to do with artichokes. We want consumers to understand the vegetable and what they can do with it,” Chris relayed. “Artichokes elevate any dinner, and I think many consumers have fun eating them. We’ve used consumer outreach and platforms such as Goldbelly to help sell our artichokes to consumers in regions where they are not as readily available.”
As Diana McClean, Senior Director of Marketing, added, the grower is not just selling artichokes, but selling the Ocean Mist brand and the values that come behind it.
“It’s everything we stand for, and the trade knows our personality: top quality, a comprehensive product line, and high integrity as far as farming practices and artichokes. Communicating that brand personality to the consumer can be more challenging. We’ve focused our attention on this one goal—demystifying the artichoke—and that is what we lead with in our consumer marketing,” Diana explained. “By developing a trust between us and the shopper, we can tell the rest of our story.”
Shopper engagement is high when it comes to Ocean Mist’s marketing efforts. The company communicates regularly with consumers via targeted emails and its blog. Additionally, the brand has a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and is growing on TikTok through influencer partnerships.
As for the next 100 years, Chris’ vision statement is simple.
“I want to help Ocean Mist stand out as an industry leader, an innovator, and a sustainable steward of the land. We want to prepare our business to carry on to its 200th anniversary and beyond,” he concluded. “It’s about making a difference and telling our story. We can never lose sight of our heritage and where we came from. But in doing so, we have to make sure we’re aligning ourselves for future growth. We can’t be afraid to take risks.”
And take risks they will. The team at Ocean Mist Farms will continue innovating long into the future, and I cannot wait to watch it unfold. For now, I will leave my heart in an artichoke field.