Jerald Downs, President of Berry People, Dishes on Vision and Grower Commitment
HOLLISTER, CA - Many claim to have a vision, but only an elite group can execute. This is a strong sentiment that we observe in fresh produce as the industry stands out amongst retail food departments vying for a share of the consumer’s wallet. Jerald Downs, President of Berry People, is continuing to help elevate a wildly successful category and he knows, without a doubt, that vision matters—a vision for berry greatness.
“Berry People was born out of a convergence of interests and opportunity in the Mexican organic berry space. We saw the demand in the market for a dedicated supplier that could offer a unified berry program, so our shareholders, management team, and key outside growers decided to pool our collective experience, resources, and relationships behind one vision: to build an integrated full-line berry distribution platform,” Jerald shares with me, adding that everyone involved had known and worked with each other in various capacities over the years, creating the trust and dialogue needed to inspire a successful operation.
While Jerald tells me that the vision is simple in its conception, he also reflects that it is complex in its execution, noting that a strong sense of direction, drive, and agility were needed to reach Berry People’s vision. Luckily, this hard work paid off, with Berry People’s initial network of growers and outside partners able to establish an almost year-round supply of organic berries in the company’s first season.
This early success set the stage to build out the category, along with supporting Berry People’s sales and supply infrastructure. And, this foundational group of growers that Berry People has cultivated remains steadfast in an uncertain market and an even more uncertain time. If you ask Jerald, he might tell you that it is by design.
“At Berry People, we say that ‘one can only grow at the speed of trust,’ and I’ve heard it said elsewhere that a company can only grow at the capacity of its team,” Jerald expresses. “We have approached our buyer and grower relationships organically and earned trust by basing our business interactions and growth on the confidence and connections that follows from living up to our promises.”
These are strong words to live by and guiding lights for those that have been brought into Berry People’s fold. Trust is an ever-essential element that cannot be overstated in our industry, and the company realizes this in the approach and execution of a progressive and supportive vision to elevate the berry and its people.
“Our buyers chose Berry People with an expectation of continuity and quality at a competitive cost, and in our retailers’ case, a complete and consistent category solution, ultimately driving sales in our category by offering quality, attractively packaged product on the shelf,” Jerald shares with me.
Now heading into its fourth year in business, Berry People is seeing more and more supply and sales opportunities and is being deliberate in taking positions which allow it to honor buyer and grower expectations while also providing them the increasing volume and placement they need to grow their businesses.
As intrigued as I was to learn more? Glad to hear. Please stay tuned as we take a deeper look at what allows Berry People to cultivate value and loyalty—and you can bet that it all starts with a foundational team and grower network to rival.