Oppy and Eco Farms partnership destined for greatness
Oppy and Eco Farms have joined forces, and leaders of both companies are incredibly excited about the partnership, becoming a stronger entity together. With Eco Farms bringing nearly five decades of experience and being among the first to grow and market organic avocados in the U.S.— truly veterans in the avocado world — and Oppy importing fruit from all over the world for 163 years, this combination in experience is expected to create massive expansion opportunities for all customers.
“Combining the complexities of expertise from both companies, it’s not one plus one equals two, it’s one plus one equals five,” said Rodrigo Lopez, Oppy’s category director of citrus and avocados. “Becoming a domestic player with access to avocados from California, is all thanks to this partnership with Eco Farms. Our team is thrilled to keep our customers supplied year-round with many countries of origin.”
Gahl Crane, sales director for Eco Farms, noted the company has seen strong growth in the category and in its business the last decade, and this partnership has solidified that growth with retailers and foodservice operators across the U.S. and Canada.
"I am excited to see business and life return to normal as COVID-19 gets under control so that retailers and restaurants see increased demand from consumers,” he said.
Despite the market emerging from unstable times due to COVID-19, both companies saw a big increase in demand in 2020. “Business has been very good with mostly stable prices and over 200 million more pounds from Mexico,” Crane said. “That has helped keep the market well supplied and retailers have been supporting the category with strong ad support. Overall, very good.” Eco Farms saw a major increase in retail business last spring as demand increased significantly with relatively low prices for much of the year.
“This helped grow consumption and kept fruit moving well,” Crane said. “We have also evolved our packing business to assure our employees’ safety is prioritized as well as our staff. That remains a company policy even as things open up.”
Lopez added that Oppy managed the challenging times by anticipating to cover all of its customers’ needs in a challenging time.
“It was an interesting year,” he said. “The closure of foodservice created a drift in consumption to retail, so we worked closely to meet that shift in demand.”
With avocados being one of the fastest growing fresh produce items in the industry, Eco Farms is equipped with a sustainable steady supply, and growing.
“We have plans to expand beyond our current mix from California, Mexico, Chile, Columbia and Peru to keep the market fulfilled year-round,” Lopez said. “We also see a trend of people eating healthier by incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diets, with avocados being a fan-favorite. There is more awareness on the different ways to consume avocados. This boost in demand will require supply from our current regions and beyond.”
Eco Farms recently rebranded its logo and brand with a fresh new look and are committed to implementing that brand on its PLU stickers and bagged avocados.
“We also have seen immense collaboration with the Oppy team as they have welcomed us as part of the family,” Crane said. “Having a marketing, business development, innovation and massive sales team has been very complementary to our team. With Eco Farms leading the category for the organization, we have had great feedback and excitement from retailers across the U.S. and Canada.”
Lopez added that consumption is absolutely trending up, with avocados becoming a top-performer the last few years. Demand in new markets like China and India is also trending upward, which he said will make for an interesting next decade.
“Avocado sales are increasing as are the growth of SKUs for retailers — many are carrying two or three sizes of both organic and conventional avocados including multiple bag styles,” Crane said. “In addition, we are seeing increased business from online grocers and from direct to consumer retailers — that will not go away even post-pandemic.”
Oppy also made an exciting move in further integrating, developing and supporting this partnership by promoting 16-year sales veteran Mark Smith to director of sales and strategy for Eco Farms in early 2021, further building a unified Oppy-Eco Farms sales team.