CHICAGO — Infinite Herbs & Specialties, based in Miami, is expanding its Chicago presence.
Camilo Penalosa, the firm’s vice president of business development, said, “We set up a Chicago operation because we were servicing some retail clients in the region and we would like to also service some foodservice clients.” These firms are not only in Chicago, but are a diverse clientele within the perimeter of an Ohio-St. Louis-Minnesota triangle.
Infinite Herbs first officially entered Chicago a year-and-a-half ago with a small warehouse.
“We just moved to a larger warehouse and, depending on how the business evolves, we will grow from there. We like to go step by step. Everything takes time. Nothing is easy but I think if we are persistent and give good service and good quality, like which is what has characterized us in the Southeast and Northeast of the United States, this will allow us to penetrate and share part of the [Midwest] market in retail, foodservice and in terminal markets.”
In a May 26 interview, Mr. Penalosa, who works from Infinite’s offices and warehouse in Chelsea, MA, said that Chicago’s retail customers are being offered herbs and specialties in clamshell packaging ranging from one-quarter ounce to four ounces.
Infinite Herbs offers foodservice customers “anything from four ounces to pounds or kilos in bags, boxes and clamshells.”
Infinite Herbs supplies over 30 varieties of herbs and specialty vegetables. “We specialize not only on common herbs, like basil, rosemary and thyme, but also on specialty ones like edible flowers, chocolate mint, orchids, lemon grass, savory and others. Just to mention a few,” Mr. Penalosa said.
“In specialty vegetables we have such things as conventional and organic baby bok choi and sugar cane sticks. We also have a full line of baby lettuces from a special joint venture we have in Peru.”
Overall, he said, Infinite Herbs sources from its own farms or its joint ventures with farms in California, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
Mr. Penalosa said his firm welcomes customized service. Offering specialized packaging and produce helps Infinite’s customers “to differentiate themselves” from their competition. “If we can pack to help them differentiate, we are happy to do so,” he said.
This year brought a lot of bad weather for growing areas, he said. “The harvest in many areas has been difficult, but thanks to our diversity in growing areas, when one area is hit by something, then we generally have been able to have it in another area.”
Beyond marketing responsibilities, Mr. Penalosa focuses much energy developing a strong production network for Infinite. “We don’t like having to source from third parties. Our growth will be gradual, as we guarantee products from our own farms. The only way we can guarantee a constant quality and quality assurance” is to sell what comes from farms under Infinite’s control, he said.