Adam Bros. Produce Sales' Kevin Jordan Discusses New Organic Program, Shipping, and More

Thu. June 28th, 2018 - by Robert Schaulis

SANTA MARIA, CA - In the grand scheme of agribusiness, scale can be disorienting. Small doesn’t necessarily mean insubstantial—especially when you’re producing five million units of some of the finest fresh produce in central California. And that’s precisely where Adam Bros. Produce Sales, Inc. stands.

As a sixth-generation, vertically-integrated grower, packer, and shipper of broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and leafy greens out of the Santa Maria Valley, Adam Brothers may be “small” compared to some of its high-profile competitors, but the company has carved out an outsized presence in its categories and built a reputation among produce buyers in an increasingly competitive—and often challenging—market.

Kevin Jordan, Director, Adam Bros.“We’re a small family operation. We’re considered small even though we’re five million units. We’re not Dole; we’re not Tanimura & Antle,” Director Kevin Jordan tells me, mentioning two of the largest greens growers in the country, “but we do have a little bit of notice in the marketplace. And one of our mainstays is that we’re integrated from seed to sales. We have our own nursery. We own the cooler. We do the sales. We do the farming and we have our own labor force.”

Adam Brothers harvesting in the field

And though labor challenges have hit much of our industry hard, Kevin notes, Adam Brothers has managed to maintain the integrity of its longstanding operation despite hurdles, supplementing the company’s workforce with H2-A labor as required and staying modern enough to address a changing landscape and changing consumer demand.

“We just had our sixth generation come into the fold. We focus on our core items which are broccoli and cauliflower, year-round, celery, which we grow for ten months a year, and then our lettuce and leaf programs—red and green romaine, romaine hearts, and head lettuce—generally runs from April through November, and we trickle into December,” Kevin adds, noting that later in the year, Adam Brothers is planning its first foray into an increasingly popular segment of the market.

Adam Brothers fields in the Santa Maria Valley

“We’re going to start farming some organic romaine hearts,” Kevin says. “We haven’t done it in the past. It’s a new program for us. We’re just dipping our toes into the water. We’re just working on the final stages of certification. Romaine hearts is one of our biggest items and a very popular item throughout the country.”

With its first entry into organic growing on the horizon, excellent yield in terms of both quality and quantity on this years’ crops out of Santa Maria, and ELD legislation that could offer respite from what Kevin calls “outrageous” shipping rates, the future is looking bright for Adam Brothers.

Adam Brothers products being packed in the field

“We’re just focusing on every bit of this crazy business that we’re in—with labor shortages and trucking issues,” Kevin adds. “This trucking situation—not just in California but the country—it doesn’t make any sense. The rates are as high as I’ve ever seen them, and I’ve been doing this my whole life.”

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