San Diego-based Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce continues to grow aggressively in all areas of its operation, said Mark Munger, vice president of marketing, but the growth is well planned.
“It’s really customer-driven growth,” Munger said.
“We’ve been really successful in building strong relationships with our retail and foodservice customers.”
The company has added a great deal of strawberry acreage in Baja California over the past couple of years, he said, and will see a 15% boost in acreage in Baja and Southern California this season.
The firm’s strategy is to sit down with customers, discuss their needs, and then plant the volume necessary to meet those needs rather than just planting and then trying to find buyers, Munger said.
“It’s understanding the market needs and growing our berry program to match the needs of the market,” he said.
Andrew & Williamson formed a strategic partnership with Sundance Berry Farms a few years ago, and now Sundance handles production of the company’s strawberry and tomato deals, while Andrew & Williamson handles sales and marketing.
The two firms have become so closely integrated that, for all practical purposes, they operate as a single company, Munger said.
Growing strawberries during the winter can be a challenge, but Munger said it’s a challenge the company is able to meet.
The firm now complements its Baja California and Oxnard deals with strawberries grown in the Zamora region of Michoacan in central Mexico.
That way, in the event of weather interruptions or supply gaps in one area, the company can source from the other areas and meet its customer commitments, Munger said.
The Zomora region comes on earlier than Baja and finishes earlier, he said, and provides “a nice segue from fall to winter.”