Oppy Announces First-Ever Specialty Berry Pack in the Happy Berry™ Label; Jason Fung, Greg France, and Donna France Comment
SANTA MARIA, CA - This is an exciting week for Oppy, as the fresh produce purveyor was not only recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers but has also announced that it will launch its first-ever specialty berry pack in the Happy Berry™ label. Come mid-December, the hydroponic tabletop strawberries, a concept developed by New Wave Berry, will be debuted after being rooted on elevated tables under the Ocean Spray® license during the first week of October.
“Berry consumption continues to rise, outpacing the growth of other fruit items,” said Oppy Vice President of Categories and Strategy Jason Fung. “While we’re very encouraged to see this, macro level trends facing the industry like land availability, labor, water, sustainability, and beyond continue to raise challenges. We seek to do better, and this new way of growing is really going to change things—we believe it represents the future of strawberry growing.”
New Wave Berry is a joint venture that was formed by Oppy, agricultural investment firm Farmers Gate, and family-owned agribusiness Red Dog Management, according to a press release. Currently, Red Dog Management is the one growing the specialty strawberry crop in Santa Maria, California, in a newly constructed high tunnel facility.
The new facility grows protected strawberries on tables raised to chest height, making labor more ergonomically friendly for those planting, tending, and harvesting the berries. By growing hydroponically, it also requires fewer inputs than field-grown strawberries, and because they are elevated, the ground beneath the plants does not require the intense fumigation between planting cycles that is traditionally applied.
“It’s been a really exciting project to get off the ground; we’ve had great support from our team and from the industry. We’re thrilled to be working with Oppy to differentiate a mature category and add value for customers and consumers,” commented Owners of Red Dog Management Greg and Donna France in a joint statement.
The Frances also noted that there has been remarkable interest from domestic workers to be a part of this new line, considering labor is less tasking for those tending to the tables. Through this new process, the berries also receive the perfect amount of nutrition at just the right time, dramatically reducing water use, and greenhouse efficiencies enable these benefits for year-round production.
A recent study from Measure to Improve revealed that the equipment and materials used in the production of a pound of Happy Berry strawberries entails 20 percent less plastic than field-grown strawberries. As consumers search for sustainable products, the tabletop-grown berries will meet this rising demand. They will also help mitigate ongoing water challenges caused by drought, especially in California, using seamless troughs with precise irrigation systems that safeguard water reclamation and optimization.
“Even with all the benefits of hydroponic strawberries, we know it can be difficult to introduce something new that consumers aren’t typically familiar with,” shared Fung. “Trust goes a long way to motivate a purchase decision, which is why the licensing of Ocean Spray’s logo helps encourage consumers to pick up a new item. Happy Berry was the perfect fit for this pack, building a memorable, positive, and inviting brand around Ocean Spray’s already established positioning.”
Oppy has been holding onto the Happy Berry sub brand for a number of years, saving it for a berry concept worthy of the name. Having received positive reviews in consumer testing, the majority of respondents indicated willingness to pay a premium for the hydroponic strawberries, citing key attributes such as high quality, fresh taste, sustainability, and more.
I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on these new strawberries, and I know berry lovers out there are anticipating their arrival in stores.
For more updates on this specialty variety and Oppy’s Happy Berry brand, keep clicking on AndNowUKnow.