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Titan Farms focuses on four pillars

South Carolina is home to a booming produce industry and is among the top five states producing watermelons, cantaloupe and leafy greens, and maybe more importantly, the second-largest peach producing state in the country.

“At Titan Farms, we are the largest producer of peaches in South Carolina, with more than 6,000 acres and also lead the state in bell peppers at 700 acres, broccoli at 600 acres and eggplant at 50 acres,” said Daryl Johnston, vice president of sales and marketing for Ridge Spring, SC-based Titan Farms.

Worker-Picking-2“We focus on our four pillars of performance with our partners: Quality, Consistency, Customer Service and Quantity,” he continued. “We try to be a consultant to our customers and not just a supplier. We feel we are able to offer both quality and size to drive growth in our industry.” 

While many growers in the state are leading the industry with technological innovation, Matthew Cornwell, account manager of Titan Farms, said Titan is leading the way with a state-of-the-art packing facility and investment in processing that includes capability to produce puree, IQF slices and dices and many other options for fruit that will not make it to the fresh market.    

Last year, the company lost 85 percent of its crop due to the late freeze, but this year Titan Farms expects to harvest 85 percent of its crop, so things are looking much more promising.

“We are seeing good demand for peaches and the weather this year has been nice for us,” Cornwell said. “We had a great winter with plenty of chill hours and then an early bloom period. We have been a little cooler than normal this spring which has slowed things down to a more normal time frame.”

Because of this, pricing will most likely see an increase vs. 2016 due to a demand higher than supply situation as consumers are excited to have Southern peaches back in stores around the country. 

With changes in the logistics industry, the company does see advantages for Eastern growers to capture more market share and provide added value to retailers due to lower transportation costs vs. the West Coast suppliers.  

On a promising note last year, 2017 did provide Titan Farms the opportunity to focus on its vegetable operations and it grew in acreage and will continue with that growth on the vegetable side this year.

Titan Farms continues to be an industry leader in packaging innovation as bags continue to grow as a packaging option and it expects to do more than 3.5 times the bagged fruit it did in 2016, with numbers approaching 4 million.

“Other trends are the continuing demand from consumers to know the growers producing their food — not only a local focus but many want to know who, how and where their food is produced,” Johnston said. “We like to focus on the story of our farm and our commitment to quality and safety whether the fruit and vegetables will be consumed here in South Carolina or anywhere around the country (even in Canada and Mexico).”

Like most in the industry, labor has continued to be a pressing issue for Titan Farms and it remains a leader in the H2A program, embracing it for the past 20 years. 

“We will employ over 820 H2A workers this season,” Cornwell said. “We had been around the 700 range but with the added acreage we have, we added some additional workers.”

From the peach innovation side, Titan works closely with Clemson University and other institutions to stay on the cutting edge of new varieties as well as cultural practices. 

“We utilize state-of-the-art technology in irrigation and other areas to be as efficient as possible and continue to focus on sustainability and efficient use of our natural resources,” Cornwell said. “We share this focus with our neighboring growers and other industry leaders.”