Baker Farms LLC, a south Georgia grower-shipper of leafy greens, is entering the fresh-cut processing business.
On Sept. 15, the Norman Park, Ga.-based Baker Farms plans to open a processing plant.
When production starts, the enclosed 20,000-square-foot building plans to pack 2,500 1-, 2- and 3-pound bags an hour on the production line.
It includes the capability to expand to a second line with up to three additional baggers, said Richard Baker, food safety director.
The operation will produce triple-washed ready-to-eat greens using modern food safety practices, including stainless steel lines.
It has achieved supreme certification through Santa Maria, Calif.-based PrimusLabs and received Global Food Safety Initiative certification, Baker said.
The supreme certification means it achieved Primus audit scores no lower than 98, he said.
Constructed alongside a refrigerated packinghouse, the facility was two years in the making and the company broke ground on it in January.
Baker Farms’ owners decided to expand from shipping bulk cartons to distributing value-added products to retail and wholesale customers throughout the East Coast, Texas and Minnesota and Canada, Baker said.
The entrance into the fresh-cut arena should also help increase volume.
In 2000, the company shipped 65,000 cartons of greens, including kale, collard greens, Chinese vegetables, bok choy and napa.
This past year, it distributed 1.3 million cartons, Baker said.
“We’ve put out a lot of product and we’ve grown these last 15 years,” he said. “We’re getting bombarded with calls every day asking when we’re going to start shipping (the new product) to the Northeast. We have good name recognition in these other markets. This will expand our volume.”
Baker Farms was founded in 1970 by Terry Baker, company president and father of partner Joe Baker, who joined the business in 1987.
In addition to leafy greens, Baker Farms grows cabbage and small amounts of squash.