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Dave Yeager sees Farm Fresh Direct in an ongoing 'growth mode'

by Kathleen Thomas Gaspar | January 11, 2011
From his Atlanta office, Dave Yeager, new vice president of business development for Colorado-based Farm Fresh Direct LLC, said in early January that he sees his role with the potato distributor as a busy one.

"It's definitely in growth mode," Mr. Yeager, who came on board with Farm Fresh Direct in November 2010, said of the operation. He will continue to work from his Georgia office.

“I will be working in sales and marketing,” he said, noting that he is responsible for directing all new business development. After more than two decades in the produce industry, Mr. Yeager brings experienced gained in positions at Chiquita, Del Monte and NewStar Fresh Foods to his role at Farm Fresh.

His educational background is in computer science and business, and the Midwesterner started his produce career with Chiquita. Later he was part of the Del Monte team and then moved to NewStar.

Regarding Farm Fresh, Mr. Yeager said that at the time of his 2010 hiring, he was “exited to join an organization with a track record of success with huge untapped potential.”

Jim Knutzon, Farm Fresh president and chief executive officer, said that Mr. Yeager has “strong relationships with key retailers that are second to none. We feel very fortunate to have him become a member of our senior management.”

In late December, Mr. Knutzon also addressed the current shipping season and told The Produce News that Farm Fresh Direct is “doing well with volume, pulling from other areas and from Colorado, which is our mainstay.”

Quality, he said, is good. “Last year we saw some frost damage, and this year there have been reports of pink rot, but it’s nothing that can’t be managed,” Mr. Knutzon said.

Organics are also faring well, he said. “We had a good crop, and we also have good supplies,” Mr. Knutzon said. Farm Fresh Direct ships certified organic potatoes out of Colorado from September though July.

The Colorado operation is in a joint venture with Idaho-based Wada Farms for retail category management, and Mr. Knutzon said that the remainder of the 2010-11 shipping season should see adequate supplies “if all the numbers stay where they are now.”

He added, “We’re not long. But if prices get too high, retail will slow down.”

Mr. Knutzon also touched on exports to Mexico. “It’s still a pretty strong market,” he said, adding that easing the 26-kilometer “frontier zone” could result in more trade.