A longtime grower is launching several specialty produce items under its own brand.
Until recently, Rock Garden South, a Miami-based grower and subsidiary of Miami-based specialties distributor Coosemans Worldwide, has focused more on production, primarily, for foodservice customers.
Now, Rock Garden is stepping up its marketing efforts to grocery store chains across the U.S., said Bill Squire, retail development director.
It starts with the Rock Garden label with “Rock Garden Real Good” as part of its logo.
Marketers at Rock Garden are looking to cross-merchandise their various specialty products with coupons to be used within the brand during promotions.
The company is launching the brand with a number of items. Among them:
Fresh Herb “flexible clamshell” — A 1-ounce tamper-evident microperforated bag.
“This is the next-gen version of Rock Garden’s already successful microperfed herb bag but now with a footprint equal to a rigid clamshell, but uses 75% less plastic and is instantly merchandisable on any supermarket peg system,” Squire said. The product is available as organic or conventional.
Organic Go Micro! MicroGreens — “The 1-ounce tamper-evident clamshell replaces the current microperforated bag for ease of merchandising on spring-loaded rack systems or stacked on a shelf where sprouts once were sold, as Kroger has removed sprouts from all stores and replaced them with microgreens,” Squire said.
Organic BrusselKale — This item comes in a microwavable tamper-evident micro-perforated bag. Rock Garden describes it as “the first new vegetable to be introduced into supermarkets in over 10 years.”
It’s a cross between brussels sprouts and red kale, two of the hottest good-for-you veggies in the market today,” Squire said, adding that Rock Garden has trademarked the term “BrusselKale.”
Organic Salanova head lettuce grab-and-go bag — Salanova is a variety of lettuce developed in Europe in which the entire mature head is comprised of baby leaves. It is primarily used in bagged spring mixes. It will be available in the fall, Squire said.
Bok choy and napa filets — The product will be offered, starting in late summer or early fall, in 10-ounce resealable clear sleeves.
Pomegranate arils — The product will be available in 4.5-ounce tamper-evident, resealable bags.
“The leak-proof hang-able or shelf standing bags are easy to dispense and will fit in a vehicle cupholder — an improvement over the leaky and nonresealable trays currently seen in supermarkets,” he said.
Florganics — Rock Garden has blended the words “Florida” and “organics” to market a sub-brand offering a full line of Florida-grown organic commodities including iceberg, butter and leaf lettuces, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, and napa, as well as arugula, cilantro, curly parsley, dill, fennel and Italian parsley. Rock Garden owns or operates the farms that grow the products.
In May, Rock Garden started shipping its Go Micro MicroGreens to Kroger Co. stores, including Ralphs, Fry’s and King Soopers. The products, which retail at $2.49-2.99, were introduced earlier in Publix Supermarkets, Safeway Northeast and A&P Northeast.
“It has really taken off in a big way,” Squire said.
The popularity of microgreens — tiny, immature versions of vegetables, herbs and other plants harvested anywhere from a week to two weeks after germination and come with the stem and leaves still attached — has exploded, thanks to exposure on cooking shows and food publications, Squire said.
Rock Garden grows the product year-round and flies it out to Coosemans locations daily, for distribution to retail customers, Squire said.
The packaging is compelling, said James Macek, president of Coosemans Denver Inc., which is distributing the product to retailers in the western U.S.
“They’re quite fluffy and quite a bit of volume to them; they’re almost the size of a berry clamshell that has a nice full look,” Macek said.