NOTE: Dutch agriculture is to be watched. This is one small country making very LARGE contributions to growing food.
US: Oppenheimer helps provide freshest herbs
Steve Pelton started a business with the goal of providing consumers with the freshest herbs possible. His journey has lasted six years and has taken him to Holland and back many times, but with the help of The Oppenheimer Group, he’s much closer to reaching his goal.
When Pelton founded Kitchen Pick Living Herbs, he knew that to provide the freshest herbs, they’d have to be living. With that in mind, he had special greenhouse equipment engineered and manufactured in Holland and with technical automation, he was able to cut down production costs and improve uniformity. And since he could grow 12 months out of the year, he had steady supplies. The final piece of the puzzle was distribution.
“Marketing and distribution logistics, especially in Western Canada where there’s a sparse population covering a lot of territory, can be hard for a small company like ours,” he said. “So we’re working with Oppenheimer to handle the logistics because they have a much greater reach.” The partnership has been very beneficial, but there are still hurdles ahead, said Pelton.
“The biggest threat to our company has been lack of knowledge about our product,” he said. The herbs he grows are packaged and shipped so that they’re still alive and growing when they reach consumers. This aspect, though highly beneficial in the areas of quality and taste, can make it tough for both retailers and consumers to know how to handle the product.
“Though we make it very clear that these herbs are produce, some retailers still don’t know whether to put them in the produce section or the floral section,” he noted. “So we need to do more to educate retailers in this regard. On the other side, some people are not accustomed to using herbs in cooking, so we also need to educate consumers.” But despite these challenges, Pelton is making headway. Same store sales are increasing every year and new stores come on board each month.
“In the past, herbs have not been widely used in Canadian kitchens,” he said, “but thanks to their use by celebrity chefs, that’s been changing, and people are becoming aware of the health and taste benefits of fresh herbs.” So far, they’ve been so well-received that he plans on expanding them into the food service sector and introducing a living salad line in the future, and his partnership with Oppenheimer has helped those plans along.
“We have everything in place,” he said, “and with Oppenheimer’s marketing and distribution expertise, we can get our products in to more people’s hands to enhance their dining experience.”