Craig Slate Dishes on the Advantages and Benefits of a SunFed Mexican Produce Program
- by Jordan Okumura
RIO RICO, AZ - Discipline and vision are the two things Danny Mandel established with SunFed over 25 years ago—two coveted values often spoken of, but rarely executed with the diligence and drive that gives SunFed its unique position in the industry.
“This discipline, along with our vision, is what gives us an edge—especially when the world pivots and we have to pivot overnight to meet our partners’ needs,” Craig Slate, President and CEO, shares with me. “We have adapted our programs to the demands of the market, the retailer, and the consumer, allowing us to lead by example in some of the produce department's top-performing categories.”
As SunFed looks to the beginning of May, the team has its boots on the ground across Mexico’s agricultural regions as the company's growers work passionately to bring the best produce to the SunFed program.
“Our production teams are working around the clock to bolster the market and the supply chain. We are primarily in the Mexican state of Sonora for most of our current production,” Craig says. “There is still production coming in from Sinaloa and we are just getting underway in Central Mexico.”
Currently, the company is growing and shipping conventional cucumbers, squash, Roma tomatoes, eggplant, euros, colored bells, watermelon, and cantaloupes. On the organic side, SunFed is also offering cucumbers, mini cukes, squash, and a limited supply of eggplant as well.
Both Texas and Arizona ports of entry are going strong for retailers across the U.S. as SunFed ramps up its Mexican produce distribution footprint for retail partners.
“Mexico is always essential for vine-ripened Romas, since over 90 percent of the annual production comes from Mexico,” Craig adds. “Where we are this time of year is an ideal place for perfect quality and taste.”
In addition, SunFed watermelons and cantaloupes are just across the border from the company’s Rio Rico headquarters. This is the closest production to the U.S. before the desert gets underway, Craig notes.
“Squash, cucumbers, and eggplant from Mexico are essential because most of the U.S. local deals have yet to start up. The Southeast has some production, but not enough to meet the retail demand,” he reflects. “The advantages and benefits of partnering with SunFed are that we believe we are the same today as we were yesterday, and as we will be tomorrow—loyal, innovative, and forward-thinking. Because of recent global events, those benefits are more impactful now than ever.”
With the times a-changing and excellence in supplier partnerships even more in demand, companies like SunFed will be helping to raise the bar for all and answering the retail call.