MCL Fresh Inc., Los Angeles, is turning the spotlight on its organic category.
Until recently, the company has focused on providing a year-round supply of value-added products and branding — private-label and its own conventional brands.
Organics were kind of an add-on, as they are with many organic suppliers, said David Lake, president and chief executive officer.
About 18 months ago, MCL shifted its attention and energy to a commitment to organics.
Since MCL Fresh contracts its growing, it controls the crops, arranges for the certification, builds private-label programs for retailers and foodservice and distributes its own Real Organics brand, mostly for retail, Lake said.
The majority of the firm’s business is spread throughout North America, which is somewhat unusual for Los Angeles-based distributor, he said.
“We bring to the table a lot of history with a different kind of service level,” he said.
The company runs 24/7 except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
“We’ve got the flexibility to do value-added, private labeling, and we’re really focusing on the growing side, much like we’ve done on conventional products,” he said.
Some of MCL’s main products are apples, stone fruit, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes, sugar snap peas, avocados, citrus and green beans, said Anthony Innocenti, vice president of organic sales and head of the company’s organics division.
“We have a pretty solid mix,” he said.
“MCL has always had a really good position on organics. We’re just taking it to a whole other level.”
The change is a reaction to the marketplace and what the primary focus is of national retailers, he said.
“When you walk into a store, you see more organics than ever,” Innocenti said.
“Being a responsible citizen in this world” also is part of the organic program, Lake said.
“Even our conventional growing programs are focusing more on how to grow with less chemicals and increase sustainability.”