Farm Fresh Direct Names First Chief Organic Officer
MONTE VISTA, CO - Organic potato provider Farm Fresh Direct is on the up and up as it recently announced a strategic addition to is C-suite. President and CEO Jamey Higham has released the news that Lonnie Gillespie will be the company’s first Chief Organic Officer.
“I’m thrilled and humbled to take on this important leadership role for organics here at Farm Fresh Direct,” said Gillespie. “We’ve proven to our customers that organic potatoes can deliver strong sales. We see organics as being a driver of potato category volume gains in the coming years.”
Gillespie went on to note that national retail scan data shows that growth rates for total organic potatoes have lagged recently due to supply shortages.
“One of the challenges for the potato industry has been consistency in the supply of organic potatoes. Developing reliable, top quality supplies of organic potatoes has been critical in building trust with our customers to expand retail distribution and leverage consumer demand,” she said.
Hingham speaks highly of Farm Fresh Direct’s latest leadership addition, noting that Gillespie has industry experience essential to her new role.
“It’s so appropriate to elevate Lonnie to this new C-suite leadership role in our organization,” he explained. “It’s a reflection of the critical work she has done in developing our organic program. Her leadership has been key at every step, from working with growers in the fields, to inspiring our sales team, to consulting with our customers”.
Additionally, Higham noted that organic potato performance has been an area of strong growth for Farm Fresh Direct.
“Over the last several years Lonnie has been a leader and advocate for our organic potato program, working with our team to generate record sales for our customers and increase returns for growers,” he continued. “In both our private label and branded products, Lonnie has the knowledge and vision to continue to develop organic leadership in the potato category.”
In a press release, Gillespie said that organic potatoes generate less than 2 percent of total category volume, less than half the volume level generated by organics in total produce.
“One of the strengths of our organic growth at Farm Fresh Direct has been our successful private label program,” she said. “According to the Nielsen data over the past year, 55 percent of all organic potatoes sold at retail in the U.S. were sold in private label packages. What’s even more impressive is that total organic potato volume has been flat while private label volume jumped by 8.1 percent. The Farm Fresh Direct private label organic program has been leading growth for our retail customers.”
Gillespie continued, saying, “When you look at potato volume nationally, it’s obvious that organic potatoes are a high volume category poised for rapid growth at retail. A big part of the industry challenge has been just growing enough product. With expanding availability of organic potatoes here at Farm Fresh Direct, we think it’s very reasonable to expect significant volume growth over the next few years. We look forward to putting together plans with our retail partners to make that happen.”
Hingham concluded by reinforcing why this new appointment is such a strategic move.
“Organics have been among our highest priority segments for Farm Fresh Direct,” he said. “That’s due in large part to the retail growth generated by Lonnie in working closely with the Farm Fresh Direct sales team as well as our retail and wholesale partners around the United States. Our organic production continues to climb and we believe having Lonnie in this key leadership role positions Farm Fresh Direct to better help our customers accelerate organic sales growth.”
Congratulations to Lonnie Gillespie on this exciting appointment!