Goldenberry Farms looking to boost profile of its namesake fruit
Goldenberry Farms is looking to boost the profile of its namesake fruit in the United States while also improving the lives of the farmworkers who grow it. The U.S.-based company, which has an operations hub in Colombia, is a grower, packer and exporter of exotic and tropical fruit.
Christopher Palumbo, a director of Goldenberry Farms, who is based in Miami, said the company’s philosophy — “Where Good Things Grow” — reflects its mission of providing healthy foods in a sustainable manner while also having positive impact on agricultural communities and residents where the fruit is grown.
“Many rural areas in Colombia and Latin America have fertile land and a great climate, but not very much in the way of infrastructure for commercial agriculture operations,” he told The Produce News. “We became interested in investing into areas which could develop as rich agricultural zones and also would benefit from economic development. As such, Goldenberry Farms received ZOMAC accreditation from the Colombian government for their commitment to redevelop areas that were previously affected by armed conflict. ”
ZOMAC is a special program developed by Colombia and the United Nations to focus investment and development into specific regions that had been affected by the decades-long civil war.
Palumbo said working under the ZOMAC program has been especially rewarding, given the ability to witness the growth and development of farms and fields, as well as the turnaround of these afflicted communities, which now have the resources, education, and economic tools to prosper.
“Our field accreditation programs, which we call ‘Where Good Things Grow,’ help to teach growers and team members a better, safer and more productive way to work [in agriculture], while also advocating for them to be treated and paid well,” he said. “Investing in education, ‘smart soil’ practices, and sustainability can provide a healthy return, in all senses of the words. We hope to set an example for other growers across the world that sustainable farming can be profitable, especially where pay and working conditions are concerned.”
Goldenberry Farms has been growing to other regions as the company adds more tropical flavors to its lineup, included its trademarked Sweet Sugar mangos, which grow exclusively on the Caribbean Coast, in Magdalena and Santa Marta.
“In this case, it’s a different product but the same standards and values, which help to improve the conditions and ultimately the environment, soil, and fruit quality as well,” said Palumbo.
Goldenberry Farms began with a focus on goldenberries, due to their status as a superfruit and the enormous potential of that category.
“We know that goldenberries have multi-million-dollar potential, but they have to be marketed in the right way,” said Palumbo, who formerly was the owner of a large vitamin and supplement brand, and has been working in product marketing for 15 years. “With this fruit, it’s important to try to set the correct expectations, so people know what they are getting. We call goldenberries ‘Mother Nature’s candy’ because they are the natural version of a Sweet Tart — they are both sweet, and also tropically acidic. If people are expecting only a sweet fruit, they may be disappointed — so our marketing campaigns include educating consumers with press coverage, retail demos and point-of-purchase displays in store.”
Palumbo also said packaging includes a QR code that directs users to www.goldenberries.org, where they can garner information about health benefits and usage ideas for the fruit.
He added that Goldenberry Farms is encouraging retailers to price the fruit properly to encourage purchasing.
“We see some retailers selling the clamshells of this new fruit for $4-5, and we feel that price is simply too high for the market,” he said. “We recommend an MSRP of $2.79, and in fact we have seen strong movement at that price point. Even better, we like to see an offer of two for $5. When you introduce a new product like this, it is important to get the consumer to take the first step and try it, and they will at a lower price point.”
Palumbo added that Goldenberry Farms is also working on a foodservice angle to have goldenberries included in berry mixes, which he said adds a nice complement to the sweetness of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Goldenberries are grown on a year-round basis primarily in Colombia and parts of neighboring Ecuador, with October and February being peak production periods.
Over the past two years, Goldenberry Farms has been rapidly expanding to add other fruit and production zones, to include Sugar Mangos, passionfruit, guava and yellow dragonfruit, and expanding its base of production while staying true to the core values of the brand.
“Our brand philosophy is to collaborate with other companies,” said Palumbo, who added that while there are other growers and exporters of the fruit, Goldenberry Farms focuses on growing the overall market and new business opportunities, which benefits all quality growers of the fruit.
“We would like to see the category grow as a whole, and with our marketing expertise we are comfortable acting as a ‘category captain’ for some of these unique fruits,” he said.