Reflecting the strong growth of organic potatoes at retail, Farm Fresh Direct President/CEO Jamey Higham announced the appointment of Lonnie Gillespie as the company’s first Chief Organic Officer.
“It’s so appropriate to elevate Lonnie to this new C-suite leadership role in our organization,” said Higham. “It’s a reflection of the critical work she has done in developing our organic program. Her leadership has been key at every step, from working with growers in the fields, to inspiring our sales team to consulting with our customers”.
Right: Jamey Higham.
Higham noted that organic potato performance has been an area of strong growth for Farm Fresh Direct. “Over the last several years Lonnie has been a leader and advocate for our organic potato program, working with our team to generate record sales for our customers and increase returns for growers. In both our private label and branded products, Lonnie has the knowledge and vision to continue to develop organic leadership in the potato category.”
“I’m thrilled and humbled to take on this important leadership role for organics here at Farm Fresh Direct,” said Gillespie. “We’ve proven to our customers that organic potatoes can delivery strong sales. We see organics as being a driver of potato category volume gains in the coming years.”
“One of the strengths of our organic growth at Farm Fresh Direct has been our successful private label program,” said Gillespie. “According the Nielsen data over the past year, 55% of all organic potatoes sold at retail in the US were sold in private label packages. What’s even more impressive is that total organic potato volume has been flat while private label volume jumped by 8.1%. Their private label organic program has been leading growth for our retail customers.”
Right: Lonnie Gillespie.
Gillespie says that organic potatoes generate less than 2% of total category volume, less than half the volume level generated by organics in total produce.
“When you look at potato volume nationally, it’s obvious that organic potatoes are a high volume category poised for rapid growth at retail,” say Gillespie. A big part of the industry challenge has been just growing enough product. With expanding availability of organic potatoes here at Farm Fresh Direct, we think it’s very reasonable to expect significant volume growth over the next few years. We look forward to putting together plans with our retail partners to make that happen.”
“Organics have been among our highest priority segments for Farm Fresh Direct,” said Higham. “That’s due in large part to the retail growth generated by Lonnie in working closely with the Farm Fresh Direct sales team as well as our retail and wholesale partners around the United States. Our organic production continues to climb and we believe having Lonnie in this key leadership role positions Farm Fresh Direct to better help our customers accelerate organic sales growth.”