Homegrown Organic Farms builds on its success
As one of the largest grower-shippers of organic citrus in California, Homegrown Organic Farms plays an important role in the winter citrus season; a role the company takes very seriously.
“We were actually one of the first organic citrus players, at least as far as a commercial scale,” said Craig Morris, category director for citrus at Homegrown Organic Farms, based in Porterville, CA. “We’ve been growing and marketing organic citrus since 1998, so we started transitioning ranches before 1995. That doesn’t sound very long for our produce industry but for organic citrus, that’s about as long as it gets.”
He added that Homegrown Organic Farms and the produce industry overall have learned a lot about organic growing over the years.
“The more we learn, the more we understand what we need to learn,” Morris said. “Organic farming is extremely difficult, it’s extremely challenging and extremely expensive. There are no quick fixes in organic farming, and that’s something we’ve learned to deal with versus the conventional side, where because of the different synthetic measures that they’re able to utilize, they’re able to have some quick fixes that we don’t. It’s a difficult prospect to go down that organic path.”
The winter citrus season is important time Homegrown Organic Farms, as the category represents about 30 percent of the company’s business.
“So, obviously being a third of the business, it’s pretty critical overall,” Morris said, adding that some of the fruits that are at their peak at this time are navel oranges, lemons, grapefruits, Cara Caras, mandarins and blood oranges.
Homegrown also grows blueberries, grapes, kiwis, and all stone fruit varieties, but Morris said growing organic citrus is particularly difficult.
“Citrus is one of the most challenging, and that comes down to getting nitrogen into the tree at the most difficult time,” he explained. “It’s easily done with synthetic measures, but organically it’s extremely difficult.”
Thanks to Homegrown’s team of experts, consumers are enjoying delicious organic citrus fruits. Morris said that this year’s crop has been good, and that the company is ahead of schedule with its harvest and is seeing healthy sales.
“We’ve been in this deal for a long, long time, and we’re committed to it and have continued to plant more and more trees,” Morris said. “We’re growing every year by about 10 percent and some of our varietals even a higher percentage than that. So, we’re poised to continue to feed the organic-growing trend, and there are a lot of opportunities. We’re only about 30 percent into our season as of yet, so there are plenty of promotions across the board on all citrus varietals from now through April.”
Homegrown Organic Farms also prides itself on being a retail centric company that is dedicated to building strong, productive relationships with its retail partners.
“It’s what we do,” Morris said. “For communication with our retailers, we develop advertising material directly with their marketing teams. We do private label packaging, we do everything we can to make their jobs as easy as we can.”
The future certainly looks bright for Homegrown Organic Farms, as Morris noted that the company is growing each year, and that with its array of categories, it’s supplying organic fruits 52 weeks a year.
“We’re so strategic that we want to make sure we’re in front of our customers and that we have year-round continuity with them,” he said. “We’re growing in all facets of our business.”