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Eli & Ali’s launches co-branded locally grown certified-organic program

Peter Kroner, business development and sales consultant for Eli & Ali’s, a major distributor of organics and high quality conventional produce in Brooklyn, NY, told The Produce News that the company is very excited to announce a new growing partnership that will provide its customers with locally grown, certified-organic products in the Northeast region.

eli-Ali-post-hepworth-sin“This is a very exciting time for Eli & Ali’s,” said Kroner. “We have always been known for our creativity and diversity, and our packaging and serviceability are always above reproach. Now we’re taking a major step that will raise our company to a new level.”

Eli & Ali’s has partnered with Hepworth Farms, a Hudson Valley certified-organic producer that is a sixth generation operated business. In the new partnership, Hepworth will be producing organic tomato varieties including mixed heirloom, mini heirloom, Mountain Magic, mixed cherry, red cherry, red grape, mixed raindrop and red beefsteak.

The vegetable line it is producing for Eli & Ali’s includes green and mixed zucchini, slicer and mini cucumbers, mixed variety eggplant packs, green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers, mixed color mini bell peppers and chili peppers.

The products will be seasonally available from June through October.

“The demand for locally grown organic produce is huge,” said Kroner. “And this company, which is owned and operated by sisters Gail and Amy Hepworth, has some of the finest infrastructure that I have ever seen. Its growing system provides the moisture, nutrients and anything else needed to produce amazingly high quality organic produce.

“Hepworth Farms represents about 2,000-acres of open field certified organics,” he continued. “Its premier growing practices enabled the company to contract with high end major retail chains.”

Kroner approached the Hepworth sisters with the request to contract grow with them last year. They liked his proposal and Eli & Ali’s thinking, and they agreed to allocate a portion of their acreage specifically to it.

“This partnership now puts Eli & Ali’s in the growing end of the business, which has been a long-term goal,” Kroner added. “Besides certified-organic, which is our expertise, it also fills the strong and growing demand for locally grown.”

Eli & Ali’s contracted for the design of a number of labels that cobrand its company with Hepworth Farms. The program is also being supported with point-of-sale materials, such as index cards that illustrate the logos and gives produce departments a perfect place to put product names and pricing.

Subsequent to developing the concept, Mr. Kroner submitted the new labels to a number of Eli & Ali’s retail customers, and they were all approved. Buyers will be purchasing the products on their listing, resulting in consistent pricing with peak seasonal volumes for promotional opportunities.

“We are now working on producing photos of the farm, its owners and workers,” Kroner noted. “These will be blown up poster size and will go to retailers to feature the locally grown aspect. This program provides an outstanding category opportunity in produce departments.

Hepworth Farms has trialed over 100 individual varieties of tomatoes and as many as 150 pepper varieties to find the precise ones that are suitable to be included in the Eli & Ali’s program.

“This is very exciting from several standpoints,” said Kroner. “Eli & Ali’s will have local product that is exceptional quality and flavor and is certified organic. And the partnership puts our company in the growing side, which is perfectly suited to our growth strategies for the future.”