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Walter P. Rawl grows from humble beginnings to powerful produce purveyor

In 1925, Walter P. Rawl and his wife, Ernestine Price Rawl, started selling farm-canned fresh peaches and vegetables to local markets. That was the beginning of Walter P. Rawl & Sons Inc., now a major provider of fresh and value-added produce headquartered in Pelion, SC.

The company is a year-round grower, packer, processor and distributor of leafy greens such as kale, mustard, collards and turnips, and it also handles cilantro, parsley, green onions, beets, radishes, turnips and value-added greens. Seasonally, the company offers sweet corn, yellow and zucchini squash, eggplant, and variety peppers.

Rawl’s year-round value-added lineup under the “Versatile Veggies” brand features broccoli florets and slaw, sugar snap peas, blends of broccoli and carrots and broccoli and cauliflower, and a vegetable medley. There are also diced versions of red onions, green peppers, tomatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, rutabagas and a celery and onion blend. The company additionally offers bagged sliced green onions and pico de gallo and fajita blends.

Rawl features a line of value-added leafy green products, “Nature’s Greens,” previously sold under the “Rawl Brand.” The line includes collard, turnip, mustard, kale and variety blends of greens.

The firm has grown into a modern, vertically integrated operation, but it still produces, processes and distributes its products with family-farm care. A dedication to food safety and quality means integrated pest-management practices, daily on-site lab testing and third-party food-safety audits. Process-to-order procedures and a refrigerated distribution system ensure customers receive field-fresh produce.

The company has its own fleet of trucks and distribution facilities in Detroit; Chicago; Cleveland; Atlanta; Pittsburgh; Vineland, NJ; Washington, DC; Memphis, TN; Charlotte, NC; Birmingham, AL; and Florida.

Earlier this year, Rawl acquired a majority ownership stake in Mississippi Sweet Corn Producers Inc. in Indianola, MS, more than doubling its sweet corn volume.

The firm is environmentally proactive, practicing sustainable agricultural procedures including planting wildflower habitats for beneficial insects and recycling water, energy and other natural resources.

Rawl has been featured on Lifetime television’s “The Balancing Act” in which its products were used in a variety of recipes. The episode can be viewed by following a link at the bottom of Rawl’s web site and searching “Rawl” in the resulting page.

The company has also partnered with kid-favorite “LazyTown,” a children’s television program that airs in more than 100 countries and in a dozen languages. The main character in the show urges children to eat “sports candy” — his name for fruits and vegetables. So Rawl rolled out a line of “Sports Candy” treats: pre-packaged, ready-to-eat snack-sized servings of baby carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florets, celery, grapes, grape tomatoes, orange slices, pineapple chunks, sugar snap peas, and sweet potato chips. The packages feature characters from the show and other tie-ins with “Lazy Town,” which is seen in 65 million American homes. Currently, the “Sports Candy” line is only available in schools, but the company hopes to have the products in stores within six months to a year.