GoodFarms, the Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce brand, was an early adopter of the Equitable Food Initiative’s (EFI) workforce development certification program which is aimed at helping farms produce safer food, reduce the use of pesticides and create better and healthier places to work. Now both organizations are being recognized as finalists in the upcoming Gateway to Innovation showcase at the Viva Fresh Expo on Saturday, April 27.
A panel of judges comprised of retail, foodservice, and produce industry veterans chose the Gateway to Innovation finalists from a large number of entries based on a strict set of criteria regarding the timing and nature of the innovation and its contribution to this Tex-Mex region.
“It’s exciting to be a recognized at Viva Fresh, especially since this awards program celebrates a much broader range of innovations from field to shelf,” stated LeAnne Ruzzamenti, director of marketing and communications for Equitable Food Initiative. “The Continuous Improvement Teams model provides a holistic way to address some of the industry’s biggest issues with labor conditions, food safety and labor shortages. There is no other solution provided to the produce industry that brings together compliance, assurance and business performance.”
To date, ten of GoodFarms’ growing operations in Mexico and California have been third-party certified by Equitable Food Initiative. "The path of innovation is not easy, but the rewards are well worth the investment, remarked Ernie Farley, Chief Operation Officer for A&W. Farley continued, “From our earliest introduction of the program, we recognized the value of the leadership training and certification program that has resulted in a higher quality product, a better working environment for our farmworkers, greater assurance with food safety and a more transparent relationship with our retail partners.”
The finalists will be displayed before and during the Expo on Saturday, April 27. All expo attendees will be encouraged to vote live from the show floor via mobile device, for their favorite innovation to receive the Best of Show Award, along with the second and third runners up. The award winners will be announced during the Expo.