“For example, corn in bags, bins, however they like it picked fresh that day — diverse packing, fresh and delivered into their stores within 24-48 hours,” he said.
“That creates that farm stand feel that chains are constantly striving for, but it does it in a cost-effective and efficient way and it does it on a scale and a volume that we can serve the large national retailers.”
Donio stressed that Frank Donio Inc.’s customer service and relationship with merchandising staffs is what helped make the company a stable force despite the recession.
“If we can partner with them through the 12 months of the year, then when times get tough, when, example, any particular crop is very difficult to get or in tight supply, we’ll be there for them,” he said.
Kurt Alstede, general manager for Alstede Farms LLC, Chester, N.J., has found his niche to be especially lucrative as families look to save money on expensive vacations by finding fun things to do closer to home.
“We’re a little bit unique because we’re only 40 miles west of New York city and everything we produce is retailed at a store open year round on our farm, 19 urban tailgate markets and an expansive pick-your-own business,” he said.
“Also, it’s an alternative to an expensive vacation — an agri-vacation with hay market rides, birthday parties, pony rides, an ice cream parlor, and we serve hot food.”
Donio said high food safety and sustainability standards also provides an added value in the eyes of their customers. Donio explained the more closely a company can work with growers and retailers in a cooperative way to stay ahead of state and federal regulations, the greater value they can provide to their produce.