Farmers across the state are taking a vertically integrated approach to their operations, going straight to consumers and maintaining control of their entire supply chain.
As a result, these farmers can often reduce their costs while increasing profits, and they can ensure the quality of their products.
“Because we’re vertically integrated, we control our supply and pricing more directly,” says Scott Seddon, Pero Family Farms’ brand manager and corporate chef. “We also control the quality of our crops, and we get to market much faster because we are the farmer, quality control team and sales team. With everyone working together in a vertical format, you can get your product from the field to the market more quickly.”
Pero Family Farms
While Pero Family Farms began in Brant, N.Y., in 1908, the company relocated its headquarters to Delray Beach in 1980 in order to maintain a year- round operation. Today, the company grows green beans, bell peppers, mini sweet peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, squash and cucumbers on nearly 20,000 acres in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Michigan and New York.
As a vertically integrated company, Pero Family Farms handles its own seed research and internal testing, as well as its packaging, transportation to market, marketing, and launch and merchandising programs. Its products are available at most supermarkets east of the Rocky Mountains, into Canada and throughout the Caribbean.
“Our products are fresh, nutritious, safe and healthy, and we have a 100-year reputation standing behind us,” Seddon says.
Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market
Located in Boynton Beach, Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market grows 80 acres of corn, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, onions and beets, and it includes a U-pick operation with strawberries, tomatoes and peppers. Its products are available at Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market, which opened in 2011 and is just steps from the farm, as well as its retail operation in nearby Delray Beach’s Pineapple Grove district.
In addition to Bedner’s Farm products, both stores sell merchandise from other local farmers and producers including herbs, raw honey, and more.
“Our products don’t sit in a cooler,” says Marie Bedner, operations manager for Bedner’s Farm. “We pick them, bring them in and they’re on the shelf. Our customers have become very educated and can taste the difference in the quality of the produce. Also, we’ve basically eliminated our carbon footprint; all we’re doing is bringing our products from the back of the farm up to our market and just across town to our new location.”
DD Family Farm
Owned by Delvey Dicks, a fifth-generation farmer and rancher, and his wife, Cindy, DD Family Farm maintains a 1,275-acre operation in Lake City that includes corn, peanuts, hay, pasture-raised cattle and a variety of small grains. The company directly sells its North Florida Natural Black Angus Beef Cattle – which contains no added hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products – to consumers at its retail location, a fresh foods market called Fifth Generation Farms, while its remaining products are sold through brokers and to local producers.
Delvey and Cindy say their company benefits from its vertically integrated practices because they do not have to depend on the traditional commodity market; they have more control over their marketing; their products have a higher value; and they can ensure their cattle have top-quality feed, which provides consumers with premium beef.
Plus, they say, “More independence builds more sustainability for the future.”