ATLANTA — Consumers in the Southeast should start seeing Birds Eye Fresh branded fresh sweet corn this fall, thanks to an agreement between Country Best and Rochester, N.Y.-based Agrilink Foods.
In an agreement reached in mid-August, Country Best became the fifth company to market fresh produce under the Birds Eye Fresh label. By teaming up with Agrilink, Country Best joins San Clemente, Calif.-based Dave Westendorf Produce Sales Inc.; Coachella, Calif.-based Peter Rabbit Farms; Santa Maria, Calif.-based Fresh Kist Produce LLC; and Rexburg, Idaho-based Wilcox Marketing Group in providing fresh produce under the Birds Eye Fresh brand.
Westendorf provides tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers; Peter Rabbit provides carrots; Fresh Kist provides California vegetables; and Wilcox provides onions and potatoes.
“In my mind, this is the best example of a value-added product in the entire Birds Eye Fresh line,” said David Anderson, a spokesman for Agrilink. “You have a premium product that is already partially peeled in a consumer convenient pack. There’s not too much and there’s not too little, and it’s a product that people in certain parts of the country haven’t been able to get on a year-round basis until now.”
Country Best initially will provide three tray-packed products under the Birds Eye Fresh label: an eight-count family-pack of partially husked bicolor corn; a four-count of the same product; and an eight-count mini ear product, which is the same as the four-count but with the cobs cut in half.
“We thought the bicolor would be the best to start out with because it’s a newer, exciting product, combining white and yellow kernels together,” said Mike Haygood, the new vice president of sales and marketing for Country Best. Haygood came to Country Best this summer from Salinas, Calif.-based Fresh Express Inc. He had worked at Fresh Express for eight years, most recently as director of sales for the Southeast and New England.
Haygood said Country Best might roll out similar trays of white or yellow corn later.
Country Best plans to begin shipping the Birds Eye Fresh corn line in October. It will start in the Southeast and eventually expand up the Eastern Seaboard and into the Northeast, Haygood said. Further down the road, national distribution is foreseen.
“We believe the advantage of the partnership is the brand recognition and the quality perception of the Birds Eye Fresh brand,” Haygood said.