Driscoll's J. Miles Reiter Addresses Industry Regarding COVID-19
- by Chandler James
WATSONVILLE, CA - New relationships are forming and old partnerships are being strengthened as our industry works together to face COVID-19 concerns. During this challenging time, it is integral to celebrate the actions of people helping others, and berry grower Driscoll’s has tapped into this industry-wide initiative through programs like its One Family storytelling campaign. The company recently sent out a letter detailing Driscoll’s position in the current climate of fresh produce, aiming to encourage its fellow suppliers and buyer partners.
Below is the letter from J. Miles Reiter, Chairman and CEO of Driscoll’s:
"It is a challenging time for all of us. Now more than ever, we are a global community, all doing our part to limit the spread of this life-threatening virus. Although so much of life is put on hold, the safe consumption of fresh and healthy food must continue. We recognize our responsibility to continue delivering our berries without significant disruption. We are proud of everyone involved in our enterprise—the farmworkers, independent growers, transportation providers, and grocers—working tirelessly through this chaos so we can continue to feed the needs of the public. We consider everyone to be a part of One Family, all rooted in the communities where we work and grow; this is core to who we are. We support each other and contribute to a food system that is deemed essential by the government to operate during this difficult time.
While berries are one of many options at the grocery store, Driscoll’s does not underestimate the important part we play in the food system. For consumers around the world, fresh berries provide the necessary nutrition for balanced health and wellness. We serve consumers in North America, Australia, Europe, and China. Our utmost priorities during this critical period are focused on the following areas:
- We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all our employees and those in our broader enterprise. As the situation evolves, the entire food system is hyper-focused on protecting the health of our workers, from the fields to the offices. Driscoll’s is actively following all CDC precautionary measures from social distancing to the basics of hand washing that have always been fundamental to our food safety standards. Rigorous reinforcement of food safety and worker standards are already in place within our network of independent growers and throughout our supply chain. I admire our teams in China and their partners that worked tirelessly to contribute to the country’s food supply during the peak of the pandemic. Everyone went to great lengths to protect their workers from harm while fulfilling their duty to feed the country.
- We are committed to upholding our food safety commitments to deliver fresh, nutritious fruit to our consumers. Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirm there is no evidence of fresh produce or any other food, or product transmitting the virus. In general, because of poor survivability of coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days at ambient or refrigerated temperatures. We’ll continue to be advised by CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- We are deploying $1 million dollars in charitable funds to augment the health care services being provided in the regions where our berries are grown.
Every year, 2 percent of our profits are set aside for charitable donations in the communities where we work and grow. We are now anticipating an increase in demand at the public clinics in the four largest berry growing regions in California–Salinas, Oxnard, Santa Maria, and Watsonville. Thus, the below clinics will each receive a donation of $250,000 to prepare for, and respond to, the COVID-19 pandemic. Employee and independent growers’ donations to these response efforts will also be matched by Driscoll’s. We are continuing to assess ways that we can support our growing regions around the world.
- Oxnard: Clínicas Del Camino Real
- Santa Maria: Community Health Centers
- Watsonville: Salud Para La Gente
- Salinas: Clinica Del Valle de Salinas
To get through these difficult times, we must work together to keep fresh, healthy food coming to the marketplace. We owe this effort to ourselves, the public, and the families that love our berries. Stay safe everyone.
As our industry continues linking arms in solidarity, keep coming back for more on these industry-facing initiatives at AndNowUKnow.