SALINAS, Calif. Locale, a strawberry brand that links California consumers to local growers via smartphone, has begun its second year with expanded volume and a new exclusive marketer, Fresh Roots LLC.
"It"s our first year marketing Locale," said David Gattis, owner of Fresh Roots.
"We definitely like the technology behind it, and we like supporting the smaller farms. We"ve got the QR codes on every single carton. You can scan it with ShopSavvy and trace it to the farmer, lot, seed variety and the crew which harvested the fruit."
A small group of growers, most of them in Salinas, Watsonville or Aromas, supplies about 200 acres of strawberries.
"The acreage in the program is double last year"s, and we are expanding the traceability program into foodservice," said John Bailey, executive director of Top 10 Produce and brand manager.
Last year"s volume was about 500,000 cartons.
"We"re working on a year-round program after the Salinas deal," Gattis said. "We"ll have an Oxnard deal, potentially Santa Maria, and we"re also looking for ground in Florida."
Healthy Harvest Farms, Royal Oaks, is also stepping up for Locale.
"Healthy Harvest packs for a number of labels and sells Salinas Valley strawberries to Whole Foods and Trader Joe"s," Bailey said.
"They will be packing the Locale label for the first time this season."
Healthy Harvest is also a grower.
Fresh Roots also markets the Got Strawberries? and Fresh Roots labels, plus some private labels. Got Strawberries? has been on the market, primarily in retail, since 1997.
Fresh Roots is in just its second year and is predominately foodservice.
Fresh Roots is a grower-shipper, consolidator and repacker whose commodity mix also includes grapes, melons and citrus.
"We"re big on PTI and want to be in the front of that," Gattis said, referring to the Produce Traceability Initiative.
"Not just strawberries, but every single item will have the QR code even down to repacks. We"re in a full press on implementing PTI 100%. We"ll bring in lemons or limes and be able to trace them all the way to the ground."
Fresh Roots products will include a certification mark called Blanco Black, Bailey said.
Smartphones scanning Locale codes display profiles controlled by each grower. They include information about the grower, a map and links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts.