(Oct. 22, 11:57 a.m.) A value-added baby vegetable shipper on the West Coast has boosted its East Coast presence with the addition of a North Carolina packer.

Los Angeles-based A.M.S. Exotic LLC has forged an alliance with sweet potato specialist Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C., said Scott Lehmann, A.M.S.’s director of sales and marketing.

Under the agreement, Bailey’s fresh-cut division, Pembroke, N.C.-based George Foods, will pack and ship A.M.S.’s Earth Exotics line of value-added baby vegetables.

Product began shipping from the George Foods facility Oct. 20, Lehmann said.

It was Bailey’s experience and expertise that made them a natural fit for A.M.S., Lehmann said.

“They’ve been around 75 years — they’re a good solid company, and they’re experts in their field,” he said.

Location was another big plus, Lehmann said.

“They had a facility in the East that fits our needs,” he said. “It will allow us to focus on our customers in the East, and to reduce costs through economies of scale.”

In addition, both companies are small and entrepreneurial-minded, similarities that appealed to A.M.S., Lehmann said.

George Foods will ship the entire Earth Exotics line, which features more than 30 different value-added baby vegetable products, Lehmann said. Haricot verts French beans, zucchini and squash are A.M.S.’s top sellers, he said.

All vegetables come in 8-ounce bags that can be microwaved, steamed or boiled.

Convenience and food safety have been the top two factors customers list when asked what they like about the line, Lehmann said.

For A.M.S., the deal with Bailey will help it to maintain its rapid growth rate in recent years, Lehmann said. The company has seen 40%-50% annual growth since 2004, the year Earth Exotics was launched, he said.

The line, which already includes a diced sweet potato product, could add additional sweet potato products now that George Foods is on board, Lehmann said.

A.M.S. Exotic, George Foods unite on packing deal
A new alliance between A.M.S. Exotic LLC and Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co. will have Bailey division George Foods packing and shipping A.M.S. Exotic's entire Earth Exotics line of baby vegetables from Pembroke, N.C.