Pamela RiemenschneiderLocal berries are a hit last fall at a west Seattle Thriftway.Consumers in the Pacific Northwest want to know where their fresh produce comes from, and shippers are making an effort to tell the story.
“We ship all over, but most of our stuff stays in the Northwest,” said Ron Escene, Seattle manager of Clackamas, Ore.-based grower-shipper Botsford & Goodfellow Inc. “Local is the biggest thing going — everywhere. The local push from retailers is a big deal.
“Everyone wants to advertise locally grown. We’ve done photo shoots with all our growers over the past couple of years for retailers to use in their stores.”
The push, however, isn’t limited to retailers. David Rinella, owner of Rinella Produce, Portland, Ore., said restaurants and other foodservice clients often highlight local products on their specials boards and menus.
“They’re all about supporting local farmers — customers, restaurants, retirement homes and other foodservice accounts,” he said. “When I write ‘local’ on the price list, they love it. We’re doing as much local business as we can.”
Rinella said his company carries a wide range of locally grown items with volume peaking from July through September. He said local growers offer him six-day service and greater flexibility in order quantities compared to buying from growers in other regions of the country.
“Local farmers are great to work with,” he said. “They’re like family. In some cases, my father worked with their fathers.”
Tom Robb, sales director for Sterino Farms, Puyallup, Wash., said multiple factors contribute to the local craze.
“The younger generation wants to eat healthy, and it starts there,” Robb said. “They want stuff that tastes good that’s also good for them. Transportation costs also play into the demand. You can’t put your finger on any one thing.”