“A really strong year of growth” likely will result in seven-day-a-week deliveries for Earl’s Organic Produce in the not-too-distant future,” said Robert Lichtenberg, director of purchasing.
The wholesaler, based at the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market, already delivers six days a week.
Expanded weekend deliveries — 90% of which are via the company’s own trucks — will benefit retail customers with limited refrigeration and backroom storage space, he said.
“The stores that are really rocking need more frequent deliveries now,” he said, “so we’re trying to meet that need.”
“The days of people coming to the market are kind of gone,” he said.
The firm’s delivery area is pretty much all of Northern California, he said.
“It’s a pretty wide area of distribution.”
Earl’s Organic Produce employs more than 100 people, many of whom are involved in receiving, loading and delivering product, he said.
The company also has added a number of large and small growers and has upgraded its food safety program in order to be fully compliant with requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act, he said.
About 90% of the company’s business is with retailers, he added.
Earl’s is different from other wholesalers because the company is not a commodity-based buying and selling operation, Lichtenberg said.
“When you look at our price list, it doesn’t just say ‘broccoli,’” he said.
As a result, the company might have as many as four different broccolis listed at four different price levels with different attributes.
The company does not have its own label.
“We feel that we want to tell the story of the vendors — of the farms,” he said.
Year-round availability of organic fruits and vegetables is becoming more common as gaps between seasons and various growing areas narrow, Lichtenberg said.
The company tries, through its website and marketing efforts, to “educate people in terms of varieties, seasonality, where things are grown and who the growers are,” he said.
Most of the people who work at Earl’s Organic Produce are really into organic food and produce, he said.
“It’s not just a job, it’s part of a lifestyle that they have.”