Duda Farm Fresh Foods' Rich Uchida Discusses Transition From Salinas, California
SALINAS, CA - The celery and lettuce categories are of key interest as Duda Farm Fresh Foods makes its transition from Salinas, California, to ensure its retail partners have the high-quality vegetables they need to meet steady demand. Diving into the grower’s dynamic operation, I recently got in touch with Western Sales Manager Rich Uchida, who gifted me the details of the supplier’s transition.
“We are currently transitioning our celery crop from Salinas, California, to Oxnard, California,” Rich begins. “Our lettuce items, including Iceberg, Romaine, Romaine hearts, green leaf, and red leaf, as well as broccoli and cauliflower, are also transitioning from Salinas to Yuma, Arizona.”
Weather conditions have posed challenges on the company’s lettuce and celery seasons, however, Duda Farm Fresh Foods reports that volume of both commodity items and value-added offerings are looking steady, with good quality across the board.
“Mother nature is always a factor that we have to deal with and learn from,” Rich continues. “This season, we experienced some warmer weather conditions in Yuma, as well as in Oxnard and Salinas, which impacted lettuce and celery production. Our fresh-cut celery season ended earlier than anticipated in Salinas, and matured early in Oxnard.”
In addition, Rich notes that COVID-19 protocols and current truck shortages have also contributed to the pressures in both categories.
“This season, we’ve noticed less activity than in previous years as buyers are being more conservative with their ordering. COVID protocols combined with the current truck shortages and supply chain challenges have made it difficult to gauge and project customer demand,” Rich points out.
As it consistently overcomes these pain points, the company has made key plays to bolster its growth and expand its reach, including the investment in a new online purchasing tool to meet evolving consumer expectations.
If there’s anything I know about this industry, it’s that leaders are constantly harnessing dedication and innovation to continue pushing the industry forward and get more fresh produce into the hands of consumers. Regardless of the hurdles it may face, Duda Farm Fresh Foods is doing just that.