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Innovative business approach fosters success at Farm Fresh Direct

Farm Fresh Direct LLC, headquartered in Monte Vista, CO, is one of Colorado’s premiere suppliers of premium potatoes. Dave Yeager, vice president of sales based in Atlanta, said that the company’s innovative approach to business continues to foster its growth and success.

“Farm Fresh Direct is a vertically integrated, grower-owned, sales and marketing corporation comprised of 24 growers only,” he told The Produce News June 29. “We grow over 99 percent of the volume we sell, so customers are dealing directly with the source. We are not a broker, marketer, repacker or cooperative.”

The corporation began operations in Colorado’s San Luis Valley in 1999. Mr. Yeager said that Farm Fresh Direct grows and markets russets, reds, yellows, fingerlings and organics. “We grow and sell over 8 million hundredweight annually,” he said of the corporation’s volume.

In addition to its conventional manifest, Farm Fresh Direct is one of the larger organic potato growers. “With over 50 years of growing organics, we maintain two organic packingsheds, dedicated organic storage, new packaging and full-time organic sales and customer service personnel,” Mr. Yeager said.

Farm Fresh Direct packs product under the “PotatOH” and “Grower’s Reserve” labels and has numerous private-label programs in place for its domestic customers.

Facility improvements are keeping pace with the times. “We’ve just completed the first of three multi-million dollar retrofits of our packing facilities,” Mr. Yeager noted. “All our facilities will have state-of-the-art packing and sorting equipment. The other two facilities will be complete in time for the new crop season.”

Innovation is a way of life at Farm Fresh Direct. The company’s value-added product line includes the “Express Bake PotatOH” and “Sweet PotatOH.” Use of “Savor Seal” wrap allows for quick cooking times while locking in natural flavor and moisture.

“We introduced the microwavable potato to the industry, and we’ve just introduced the first ‘Express Baked Fingerling Tray’ this year,” Mr. Yeager stated.

Category Partners

Farm Fresh Direct also provides its customers with an impressive category management program. Category Partners was created in late 2008 as a joint venture between Farm Fresh Direct and Wada Farms Marketing Group in Idaho Falls, ID.

“We formed Category Partners to work alongside our retail partners, providing national and regional retail data analysis, promotion, merchandising and SKU performance analytics and fact-based decision support metrics,” Mr. Yeager said.

“Since then, we’ve guided many of the national and regional chains to double-digit sales growth and millions of dollars in cost savings,” he added.

In 2009, Farm Fresh Direct received the Award for Excellence in Exporting from former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter. The award recognized the corporation’s achievements as the top state exporter for its marketing of Colorado potatoes in Mexico.