Kings Food Markets knows how to move quickly with its local produce program. The Parsippany, N.J.-based retailer is entering its third year of its 24 Hour Just Picked Promise program, which brings in local produce to promote within 24 hours of harvest.
The program begins over Memorial Day weekend for most stores, said Paul Kneeland, vice president of produce, meat, seafood and floral. Initial items are mostly greens and lettuce, he said.
The company works with more than 25 growers in New Jersey and Connecticut through Plainsville, Mass.-based Red Tomato, a nonprofit organization that helps local growers with logistics and wholesale.
Kneeland said product is picked up and delivered to a local co-op where it is consolidated and put on a truck by 11 a.m. and delivered to the Kings warehouse by 2 p.m.
“It is never slotted in the warehouse,” he said. “It is cross-docked and put right on trucks to stores.”
Deliveries begin at 7:30 p.m. the same day and continue through the night, with the last one at around 10 a.m.
Some growers do direct store deliveries as well, he said.
“We are working on a few other crops like corn,” he said. “We have a great grower in New York State.”
So far customers have received the program well in the first two seasons. They can visit the Kings website and social media to see what’s in stores.
Produce is marked in store with a 24 Hour Just Picked Promise seal.
“We will be helping to educate consumers a little more this year through our associates and we are going to hold two farmers markets in June in two different locations,” Kneeland said.
Kings plans to run the program through Labor Day.