In the dizzying world of never-ending mergers and acquisitions, it’s been said that to survive in the business world you must grow or die. While this may be true in a growth sense, it absolutely resonates from a perspective of being on the cutting edge of industry trends and customer preferences. Companies who stagnate and fail to listen to their customers - and competitors – risk becoming irrelevant in the marketplace.
Jim Prevor, editor-in-chief of Produce Business, listed in the October 2010 edition the top 25 innovations that most shaped the produce industry in the past 25 years. Although many of the innovations listed don’t apply to an herb company (e.g. club stores and supercenters, and ripening technology, among others) it’s gratifying to report that HerbCo has been involved in many of the highlights on Mr. Prevor’s list:
- Clamshell packaging
- Currently carrying both PET and PLA clamshells. HerbCo was the first herb company in the United States to offer products in PLA, a polymer derived from corn, rather than oil.
- Started as single farm in Duvall, WA; now have purchased farms in MI, CO and TX.
- Food Safety/traceability
- Implemented GAP and GMP programs in all divisions (see the Food Safety section in this website).
- Greenhouse produce
- Growing Living Basil in all divisions
- Large scale organic farming
- Currently farming over 220 acres of land and 350,000 square feet of greenhouse space across the nation.
- Locally grown
- Our business model is to grow locally first and foremost.
- Every division is USDA certified organic.
- Private label
- We pack under many grocers’ labels.
- Sustainable farming means treating the land with respect. We keep the land productive by farming organically, replacing lost nutrients with compost, applying cover crops, and allowing the land to lie fallow as needed.
- Third party audits
- Every farm is audited annually by Primus Labs®.
- Value added
- Adding exciting, relevant new items provides value to the consumer and is part of our growth strategy.
So far, so good, but what are we working on now? One of our biggest projects is validating the movement to provide as much local product as possible in all of our sites across the nation. This includes expanding outside farming and greenhouse growing operations in Shelbyville, MI; increasing farmland acreage production in Rice, TX; and working with a contract farmer in Denver, CO to provide local organic greenhouse-grown herbs for our Rocky Mountain Herbs site. Additionally, a third living basil greenhouse is under construction in Duvall, WA to meet growing demand. Will the local-grown movement make it to the next Top 25 list? With the traction it’s gaining, we certainly wouldn’t be surprised.