“They’re all talking about the desire to become more health-conscious in their menu offerings,” Freytag said.
“Some are already way down the road on that but others are not, so they’re trying to get up to speed. There’s opportunity in foodservice to say the least.”
About 15% of Crunch Pak’s business is in foodservice.
“Our goal is to have 30% to 40% in foodservice over the coming years,” Freytag said.
“It won’t happen overnight because we’re so heavily in retail. We always have been. Foodservice is a completely different market. You have to run a separate sales business to accomplish anything in foodservice. You can’t just dabble in it.”
HMC Group Marketing Inc., Kingsburg, Calif., is seeing strong growth in the school market for HMC Farms washed and destemmed grapes, said Steve Kenfield, vice president of sales and marketing.
“The U.S. (Department of Agriculture) school lunch, breakfast and after-school guidelines are calling for more fresh fruits and vegetables to be served, and we’re seeing some drive in that direction,” Kenfield said.
Crunch Pak is also eyeing schools.
“Foodservice grows on itself as people become aware of products they can put through their systems,” Freytag said.
“At a school system, it’s about what can we put through that works, that meets the cold chain they can manage. Apples need refrigeration, but they have a longer shelf life than many of the cut fruit items, so it’s a plus to have that luxury at times for the foodservice operators.”
Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Wada Farms sees modest growth in the school market, but continues to focus most of its energies on retail for its value-added potatoes, said Kevin Stanger, senior vice president of sales and marketing.
“Schools and institutions maybe don’t need to bake 400 potatoes all at once, but may need some small amount of microwave-ready or quick-baked potatoes. That area is just getting going, but it is slowly growing,” he said.