Sunny Valley is building ties with the market
Sunny Valley International views the relationship with its growers, retail partners and consumers as a partnership — one that will ensure they not only get the best quality fruits on the market, but also guarantees a continuity of product to make it easier to do business.
While the Glassboro, NJ-based company was founded in 1986 as almost exclusively an importer of Chilean table grapes, it became much more involved with the New Jersey agricultural market in 1994 when it became the exclusive marketing agent for the Jersey Fruit Cooperative, New Jersey’s oldest and largest fruit cooperative. Sunny Valley also markets New Jersey peaches for Larchmont Farms, the state’s largest peach grower by volume and has a significant South Carolina peach program with Ridge Spring, SC-based Dixie Belle Peaches.
“Our goal is to work harder and more tirelessly for our growers and customers than anyone else,” said Tom Beaver, director of sales and marketing for the company. “When retailers align with us, they know that they will be getting premium quality fruit. We view every relationship as a partnership, so our goal is to ensure the continuity of supply and identify peaks throughout the season for targeted ads and promotion. We want the final customer to have a tremendous experience whenever they buy our products from one of our customers. That benefits everyone.”
Beaver said there is a lot of interest throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas for New Jersey’s fresh fruit offerings. “Our ‘Jersey Fruit’ and ‘Just Picked’ labels are widely recognized by consumers and have become synonymous with fresh, local fruit throughout the summer months,” he noted. “We’re also fortunate to be able to leverage the ‘Jersey Fresh’ logo and attendant marketing campaign. This is the state-run produce marketing and branding program. It was the first of its kind nationally, and has been a major value-add over the years for New Jersey growers and their customers. That we can tap into this marketing powerhouse is huge for us.”
He is quick to add that company officials are well aware that consumers are looking for New Jersey blueberries and stone fruit throughout the summer and Sunny Valley can fulfill those needs. “This summer, we’re anticipating excellent crops for both blueberries and stone fruit, so there should be terrific opportunities for promotion at the store level,” Beaver added. “Building produce sales is driven at least, in part, by creating excitement. What’s more exciting for consumers than seeing product that was picked, packed and shipped within 24 to 48 hours of hitting store shelves?”
Sunny Valley packs blueberries exclusively under the “Jersey Fruit” label. For stone fruit, the company packs under the “Jersey Fruit” and “Just Picked” labels, offering stone fruit items in specialty packs ranging from consumer friendly 2-pound bags to club packs with 4- to 6-pounds of premium fruit in each single sale unit.
“Our goal is to give our customers the tools they need to be successful. Increasingly, special packs seem to be a key sales driver at retail,” said Beaver. “We’re always open to talk with our retail partners about custom packing and private label opportunities.”
How comfortable is Beaver about New Jersey produce in the future? “We’re fortunate to have terrific customers who recognize these benefits,” he said. “Going forward, as it relates to New Jersey produce specifically, we feel confident that New Jersey’s reputation as a produce powerhouse will remain intact. We have incredible growers producing outstanding fruit. It’s our job to continue to leverage these built-in advantages.”