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Flavor 1st Growers & Packers understands secret of success

By
Keith Loria

Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, with more than eight generations of history behind it, knows what it takes to be successful in the produce industry. The company grows and packs more than 30 different varieties of produce — all tracked from field-to-fork using state-of-the-art distribution programs, labeling and procedures.

And 2023 has seen the company’s successes continue.

“Business has been strong,” said Seth Grant, who works sales for the Mills River, NC-based company. “We typically see a big volume push around January or February when people focus on healthy eating, and that push was there again this year.”

As of mid-April, Flavor 1st Growers & Packers were planning plantings, local programs for its summer deals, and getting ground-ready on its summer farms, pulling plastic and doing all that’s necessary to ensure a profitable summer.

Georgia is an important piece of the year-round supply puzzle for Flavor 1st Growers & Packers, as it bridges the gap in the spring and fall.

“As Florida crops wind down, and we start to transition up to the mid-Atlantic and northern growing regions during the summer, Georgia covers a very important transition period,” Grant said. “The same is true when the summer crops wind down, and we transition back to south Georgia for the fall season. We also have a unique local Georgia program in the summer, as we have a grower in the north Georgia mountains. He is able to fill the gap between the spring south Georgian season and the fall south Georgian season, giving us Georgia Grown tomatoes and vegetables from mid-May to early November.”

Flavor 1st Growers & Packers has grown in Georgia for more than 30 years, and plans to continue to grow there.

“Georgia is a very important state in the produce industry,” Grant said. “As we are coming out of Florida, and the late winter and early spring season, we look to Georgia. It allows us to have U.S. product 52 weeks out of the year.”

Squash has started minimal volume in South Georgia and over the next two weeks, beans and more squash volume will come off. Cucumbers and peppers will start toward the middle of May, along with the tomatoes.

“Fingers crossed for good weather between now and then, and we’re all looking forward to a strong south Georgia season,” Grant said. “I think the competition between everyone ends up making everyone better, and in the end, benefits the customer with fresher, better tasting produce.”

Like most in the industry, Flavor 1st Growers & Packers is facing some common challenges, but that’s nothing new for the produce business and the company knows how to work with partners to work through the challenges whether it is weather related, picking gaps or freight issues.

“We are going to continue to focus on what makes us successful,” Grant said. “Getting great tasting, quality produce on the store shelves for our neighbors to enjoy; and a high level of customer service and communication with our retail partners. With that being said, we are looking at machinery and materials to move some of our packaged items to a more sustainably-minded end package.”

One of the keys to the company’s retail partnerships is communication and that’s been something that has helped it thrive though the years.

“With all of the uncertainties that we deal with in produce, unexpected issues do happen,” Grant said. “The key to maintaining strong partnerships is constant communication from plantings all the way through delivery. I’m proud of our strong history and farming heritage, along with our eyes on the future. Remembering where you came from, and where you are going, while trying to improve along the way.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

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