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Foodservice Adds To Demand For Locally Grown Produce

(June 2, 2011 - The Packer)—Promoting locally grown produce is no longer a retail phenomenon.

“Years ago we started getting demand from retail,” said Sean McFadden, sales manager for Parker Farms, Oak Grove, Va. “Now it’s getting big in foodservice. They’re aggressively looking for local product, and they’re promoting it on their quote sheets to customers.”

McFadden said direct sales to chain stores represent two-thirds of Parker Farms’ sales. Foodservice now represents one-third of the company’s business.

While retailers were quick to embrace the local craze because of consumer demand and reduced freight costs, McFadden said it took longer to get foodservice operators on board.

“Foodservice guys don’t want to do it,” he said. “It’s a pain to have a slot for California romaine and a slot for local romaine, but the high-end chefs and institutions — like college cafeterias — are demanding local stuff. They’ve been forced by their customers to offer local product.”

Leanne Dubois, Virginia Grown program manager for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said colleges such as Virginia, Virginia Tech, James Madison and William & Mary are hiring sustainability coordinators in their foodservice operations.

Read more on THe Packer's website: http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/foodservice/Foodservice-adds-to-demand-for-locally-grown-produce-123036743.html

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