4Earth Farms brings value-added organic products to mix
4Earth Farms is a packer, distributor, and grower of fresh organic, conventional, and specialty vegetables.
The company was founded in 1994 by David and Deborah Lake and their partner Fred McConnel, who shared a passion for fresh produce and the vision of building a world class produce company.
“Initially, the company was focused on produce mixing, specializing in specialty produce and difficult-to-find produce items,” said Mark Munger, vice president of sales and marketing for the Los Angeles-based company. “David and Deborah bought the company from Fred in 2004 and continued to grow the company. As it developed, they began to work closely with farmers in California and Mexico and began to grow sugar snap peas and Brussels sprouts.”
Now, 28 years later, 4Earth has grown into a vertically integrated grower, processor and distributor growing a wide range of organic and conventional produce items.
“We have always found that the best offering 4Earth Farms provides our customers is a track record of reliably supplying year-round organic produce,” Munger said. “While individual SKU’s are vital to the category, having consistent high-quality organic produce 365 days a year is the most important offer a supplier can give to a retail customer. We hear every day from our customers that having organic produce on the shelf, with no supply gaps, day in and day out is the secret to successfully growing the retail organic category.”
Over the years, 4Earth Farms has worked hard to build a reputation for being that kind of reliable organic supplier.
“When it comes to specific offerings in the organic category, we have been excited to launch our new line of organic value-added items,” Munger said. “These include organic broccoli florets, organic cauliflower florets, our organic medley pack, organic cauliflower rice and organic halved and shredded Brussels sprouts. We launched these products in January and all of these SKU’s are gaining rapid traction with our customers, especially our organic broccoli florets.”
The company also prides itself on having built a world-class portfolio of growers in a geographically diverse growing region.
“We have been very successful ensuring diversity and overlap in our production plan in order to have that consistent year-round supply,” Munger said. “We recognize that each of our customers has a different go-to-market strategy and collaborate with our growers to design organic programs that are custom fit for each customer.”
These include providing various size packs, product mixes and pack types.
“We recognize that our retail customers know their consumers the best, we listen carefully and then deliver on our promises,” Munger said. “Our recent launch of our new value-added line has been a terrific complement to our existing offerings of organic Brussels sprouts, green beans, snap peas, mini sweet peppers, squash and mini cucumbers. We now offer a whole family line of organic products, making us a one-stop shop. We have also been flexible with our customers, offering our products in the 4Earth brand or working closely to pack them in their own retail brand.”
With organic produce, there are always many challenges, but the combination of recent supply chain challenges, inflation and new war in Ukraine have added additional complications.
“We are seeing a rapid rise in the cost of many of our farm and processing components,” Munger said. “Labor, fuel, fertilizer, packaging, transportation, and energy have all gone up dramatically and it’s clear that we will have more cost increases over the next several months. We are trying to navigate the inflation and are keeping in close communication with our customers. Fortunately, none of these challenges will impact our ability to grow and supply our customers with our products.”
Throughout the pandemic, 4Earth Farms has seen the organic category steadily grow and is optimistic that interest and demand for organics will continue to grow in the years ahead.
“Consumers are still very interested in eating healthy,” Munger said. “They are also still craving convenience and meal solutions, so value-added options will continue to be in demand. Super veggies, like Brussels sprouts and broccoli, continue to be in demand.”
The tag line at 4Earth Farms is “People, Produce, Planet,” and the company uses this as the pillars to its strategic plan as they frame its commitment as a company and a corporate citizen.
“Our plan this year is to focus on our new product launch, continue to grow or business with our core and most strategic customers, and seek as many ways as possible to manage the impact of inflation on our business,” Munger said. “We are planning to grow between 8 and 10 percent this year, with nearly all that growth focused on our organic program, so we have lots of work to do and the 4Earth team is very excited about what’s ahead.”