All packs are 12 ounces. Pero has about 20 more Steamy Cuts items in development, Sullivan said.
Pero focuses on retail packs but it offers larger foodservice and wholesale bags and tubs in a variety of sizes.
In addition to the Delray Beach location, the company has facilities in Omega, Ga., Benton Harbor, Mich., and Brant, N.Y., as well as alliances with growers in the Dominican Republic and Honduras, Sullivan said.
Pero’s customers are within 500 miles of at least one facility, which Sullivan said gives Pero the ability to quickly deliver locally grown fresh-cut produce to all of them.
“Locally grown is important in fresh-cut,” Sullivan said. “It needs to be as fresh as possible.”
Pero’s first value-added product line, Freshwrap overwrapped whole vegetables, which includes 16 conventional items and 12 organic items, was introduced about a year ago, Sullivan said.
Cutting out processing
George Foods, Pembroke, N.C., at least temporarily stopped processing fresh-cut sweet potatoes, said George Wooten, owner.
Wooten also owns sweet-potato grower-shipper Wayne E. Bailey Produce Co., Chadbourn, N.C.
In mid-February Wooten said the company was not producing fresh-cut sweet potatoes because it had not proven profitable.
Even when regional companies processed the sweet potatoes and Wayne E. Bailey co-packed them, the overhead expenses made it cost-prohibitive, he said.
Processors and distributors that carry multiple fresh-cut products are more likely to be successful.
“To be profitable, you need to run large loads,” Wooten said. “You need to run 125 items … and need to be dedicated to processing.”
Pero’s Sullivan agreed. A deep product line also is more interesting and easier to support, he said.
“A one-off product in the fresh-cut business is not very attractive at retail,” Sullivan said.
A multiple-product line means retailers might be able to take advantage of lower prices that result from the economies of scale.
“Mann Packing in California is doing a great job with it (fresh-cut sweet potatoes),” Wooten said.
Salinas, Calif.-based Mann Packing Co.’s fresh-cut sweet potato cubes and spears are good sellers and popular menu items, said Elena Hernandez, marketing coordinator. They are available year round.
“Sweet potatoes are very on trend,” Hernandez said. “Especially sweet potato fries in place of traditional french fries, due to their high nutritional counts.”