UPDATED: Specialty, herb growers unite in Diamond Direct

07/12/2012 08:38:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

(UPDATED COVERAGE 2:45 p.m.)  A group of specialty produce and herb growers is forming a marketing organization to increase retail sales.

Diamond Direct Farms is marketing for Los Angeles-based California Specialty Farms, Miami-based Crystal Valley Specialty Produce and Rock Garden and Jessup, M.D.-based Lucinda’s Specialty Produce.

Representing longtime suppliers to a variety of customers including Coosemans Worldwide Inc., Miami, Diamond Direct is a separate entity supported by — but not a part of — Cooseman’s, said Chick Goodman, Diamond Direct’s vice president of sales and marketing.

Coosemans’ terminal market owner members may share in ownership of the standalone marketing firm, Goodman said. He declined to discuss specifics of Coosemans’ relationship with Diamond Direct. Former vice president of sales and marketing for Cooseman’s, Goodman now works for Diamond Direct, which operates on its own independent of Coosemans’, one of the world’s largest specialty produce growers, packers and shippers, he said.

With its Miami offices separate from Crystal Valley and Rock Garden, Diamond Direct is selling for the regional grower-packers-shippers that look to expand nationally, Goodman said.

Goodman points to similar consolidation in the herb industry.

“We are trying to put the whole thing together nationally,” Goodman said. “We’re listening to the retailers who have consolidated from regionalized to national centralized buying. We have strong wholesale brands, like Crystal Valley, but they never did a retail label before because they were doing everything behind the scenes to sell to many customers.”

Diamond Direct plans to expand the Lucinda’s brand, now distributed in the Washington, D.C., area, to retailers across the U.S.

One of the first items Diamond Direct is introducing is MicroGreens. The varietal blends of Kale Combinations, Veggies Galore, Spicy Selection and Italian Blend are marketed in 1-ounce modified atmosphere bags.

Diamond Direct’s companies sell a variety of gourmet vegetables, herbs, asparagus and specialty produce including french beans, sugar snaps, snow peas, baby squash, baby carrots and baby lettuces.



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