Located in the heart of California’s San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield, CA-based Top Brass Produce has a diverse portfolio of premium commodities, including table grapes, wine grapes, pistachios and almonds, and is currently promoting its portfolio of organic potatoes.
“We began the harvest on reds and yellows, and anticipate Russets the beginning of June,” said Brett Dixon, president of Top Brass. Dixon cites that while promotable volume may not begin until June, he anticipates those better yields forthcoming.
“Yields appear to be light in May, particularly on reds — however, we hope to see an increase in typical yields as we approach June,” said Dixon. Potato season for central California will ramp up through May, hitting its peak mid-June through July.
Anticipating the growing demand for organics, Top Brass moved completely away from conventional spuds a few years ago. “We have gone 100 percent organic for our potato crop as the trend continues to grow in this category,” said Dixon.
Dixon noted demand is not the problem, as retailers have had little issue converting organic potatoes into consumer sales. The challenge “appears to be not having enough product to meet demand in conjunction with the cost of freight to further destinations,” said Dixon.
The conversation around cost of logistics is nothing new to the produce world — a common refrain in 2022 across every sector. “Unfortunately, we also had to pay higher rates for all inputs to develop this year’s crop as you can imagine,” said Dixon. “Freight is a big challenge for the delivered cost to stores, as it has been for the materials we had shipped to us to plant the crop and package it.”
Even with the added costs of 2022, Top Brass reports demand for its organic potatoes is currently outpacing supply. Not a bad problem to have, as Dixon is optimistic that volume will only continue to grow as the calendar approaches June.
Adjusting for tighter margins is both a challenge and opportunity, driving innovation and best practices. Dixon noted Top Brass moved toward solar energy as a means for alleviating cost, demand on the grid and reducing its carbon footprint. “We have doubled our solar energy to continue our support of a sustainable environment,” said Dixon.
While there are no shortages of challenges for the year, Dixon and his team at Top Brass remain confident in meeting demand and getting their organic potatoes to retailers and in the hands of shoppers.
Kyle Eberth is new to the produce industry, but has grown up around it, in proclaimed “Apple Capitol of the World,” Wenatchee, WA. For the past 14-years he has worked in the non-profit sector with an emphasis on brand storytelling, community engagement, and donor relationships.
Kyle graduated from Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) in 2007. He and wife Kelsey were married shortly thereafter, when they moved to Wenatchee to launch their careers. Kyle is “Dad” to Brooklyn and Hudson, together the Eberths enjoy skiing, biking, their family and friends, and playing together in the beautiful place they get to live.
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