Expectations are high for the first-ever Ocean Spray® specialty berry pack which debuts this fall, backed by a trio of partners intent on elevating the category with a unique tabletop strawberry proposition.
New Wave Berry, LLC is a joint venture formed by grower, marketer and distributor Oppy, family-owned agribusiness Red Dog Management and agricultural investment firm Farmers Gate. Its new hydroponic tabletop strawberry line will be grown in a newly-constructed high-tunnel facility in Santa Maria, CA. Building upon Oppy’s exclusive partnership with Ocean Spray, the agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 farmer families, the venture looks to further advance strawberry production practices and bring a sustainable item to market.
In addition to sustainability improvements, the new venture is largely an opportunity to grow strawberries in a way that will handle volatility in the weather. On the retail end, it allows for offering a more consistent, high quality strawberry.
New Wave Berry, LLC is a joint venture formed by Oppy, family-owned agribusiness Red Dog Management and agricultural investment firm Farmers Gate.
“With such diversification across categories at Oppy, I couldn’t be more excited for this one in particular,” said David Smith, president. “This concept combines care for the planet with care for the people, and is poised to deliver an excellent strawberry experience for our customers and their shoppers. Berries have been an increasingly vital component of our product mix and I’m really proud to see our focus come to fruition with this new line.”
Requiring fewer inputs than field grown strawberries, hydroponics deliver the right nutrition at the roots of the plants to ensure the use of fewer chemicals and far less water. The lack of required groundwork by growing on tabletops also makes labor less arduous for those tending the plants and harvesting the berries while greenhouse efficiencies enable year-round work and production. The result? Healthy, flavorful, brightly colored berries.
Jason Fung (left), David Smith (right).
“It’s not every day we get to build something from the absolute ground up, or tabletop up, you might say in this instance,” says Jason Fung, Oppy’s vice-president of categories, berries and greenhouse. “Bringing a new item, a new brand extension and a new way of growing to the market, this is an opportunity to change the game really quickly. We see a future on a large scale growing in this way and will be able to do so with such great partners.”
Oppy and Red Dog Management have brought field berries to the market for several years. Fung says that this more environmentally friendly and sustainably sound way of growing is a major driver for all of the partners. It has garnered enthusiasm amongst the group as they pave a new path in their farm-to-store integration.
“We’ve been talking to Oppy about the prospect of tabletop growing and how it is going to be the future of strawberries for a long time. We’re ecstatic to be moving ahead,” said Greg and Donna France, owners of Red Dog. “These berries will stand out because they will be heartier with a longer shelf life. Coupled with an eye-catching extension of the Ocean Spray line, we’re excited to deliver in a different way for our customers and consumers will be very happy too.”
Oppy will exclusively market the fruit and reveal its classified packaging in fall 2021.