Classic Salads rolls out Nordic blends

10/19/2012 04:27:00 PM
Mike Hornick

SALINAS, Calif. — Watsonville-based Classic Salads continues to cover the bases with increased product offerings.

For foodservice, the grower-shipper started shipping Nordic Blend and Nordic Spring in 2.5-pound bags in September. Conventionally grown, Nordic features four red and green baby lettuces — green leaf, red leaf, tango and lolla rosa.

That mix is similar to other offerings on the market. The curly leaves tend to enhance plate volume.

“The blend tastes more like the crunch and sweetness of a romaine salad than like spring mix,” said John Burge, vice president of sales and marketing.

Nordic Spring, however, combines 12 varying spring mix components with the basic blend.

Classic Salads also introduced a pair of organic products — baby kale and Super Mix Superfood — in 5-ounce and 10-ounce clamshells for retail in September. The same products came out in 2-pound foodservice clamshells earlier in the summer, part of a five-mix line in that size.

Super Mix Superfood combines baby kale with red and green chards, spinach and beet tops.

“That’s your real health mix for vitamins and antioxidants,” Burge said of Super Mix. “The beet tops give it a redness.”

About 75% of the company’s business has been in foodservice. Burge, who had started retail programs at Taylor Farms and Earthbound Farm, joined in 2010 with a mandate to grow the retail side of the business.

The company has tasted double-digit retail growth in the past 12 months over the previous 12, Burge said. It’s a pace more easily set by one of the industry’s smaller players — smaller, that is, than Dole or Fresh Express.

“It’s easier to grow and launch new products when you’re smaller,” he said.

Classic Salads does about $100 million in business. Because it grows as well as processes, the company maintains a seasonal presence in Yuma, Ariz., in addition to the Salinas Valley.



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