Over the last few years the tree fruit industry has seen some drastic changes in growers, shippers and marketing companies. Separation continues to widen between progressive, growing companies and those struggling to stay in business. Read on to make sure your suppliers are in check for the long haul.
1. Does your supplier have consistent quality and supply throughout the season?
Yes. Suppliers that have invested in season long programs of each commodity have shown their dedication to retailers. While some suppliers only focus on high production varieties to maximize their return to ranch, this does not equate back to a consistent program for a retailer and leads to gaps in availability of product. Vendors who have a consistent supply, without gaps, will give the best opportunity to secure season long product.
2011 HMC Supply
2. Does your supplier invest in new varieties?
Yes. It costs thousands of dollars an acre to develop new varieties. By doing this your vendor is showing that they are focused on the future and better eating varieties. Every year there are dozens of new varieties available from several nurseries available to growers. Even though there are new varieties available, it does not guarantee they are “winners”. Growers still run the risk of these new varieties not setting a crop or tasting as good as the one piece of fruit they tested before planting.
3 new varieties amongst the 8 new varieties HMC Farms planted in 2010
3. Is your supplier vertically integrated?
Yes. Even if a supplier has consistent supply and a few new varieties the most important question to ask your vendor is if they are vertically integrated. Balanced vertical integration is control and ownership of all aspects of the product life from land ownership to shipment. Without balanced vertical integration sales departments can control harvest (this can lead to unripe/”green” fruit because of market pricing) or growers can control sales supply (growers plant only high yield varieties to maximize boxes per acre which lead to oversupply in the market, or gaps as we spoke about earlier). Balanced vertical integration leads to one vision. In HMC Farms’ case our vision is good tasting fruit. We own and control every factor leading to good tasting fruit, from the land to varieties, farming practices, harvest, packing and shipping.