Wegmans Committed to Organics

Wegmans Organic

Take a look at this letter from Kevin Russell, Store Manager of the Wegmans in Burlington, Massachusetts, which was published in the official Wegmans blog “Fresh Stories.” The sentiment perfectly illustrates my belief that Private Brands extend beyond simple packaged goods to fresh produce, customer experience and in this case even an organic farm. Each example is a perfect expression of the BRAND that is Wegmans.

We’re Committed to Organic Produce Grown Closer to Home

Wegmans VeggiesOne of the reasons I love working at Wegmans is that we make a difference in every community we serve–and one of the ways we do that is by purchasing as much as we can locally! Here at our new Burlington, MA store, we’ve been getting to know local farmers who bring our customers the best from their fields–especially those who are growing organic fruits and veggies.

Organics are really important to us–after all, how many food markets would take on the challenge of building an organic farm so they could learn firsthand what it takes for farmers to grow organic produce in the Northeast? We did just that back in 2007 at the Wegmans Organic Farm, located on the rolling hills off Canandaigua Lake, in beautiful upstate NY. There, we’re learning about the challenges organic farmers face every day, and we can share what we’re learning with other local farmers. Customer preference has changed immensely in the past 10-15 years and Wegmans wants to make sure we have what our customers are looking for–these days, that’s organic produce grown closer to home. I think our customers would be surprised to know that we carry over 3,000 organic choices throughout the store…that’s more than many “natural” stores carry and it offers our customers choices they can’t find anywhere else. I’m proud of that!

For the past 10 years or so we’ve had an amazing relationship with family-owned Spiral Path Farms in Pennsylvania, a state where we currently have 16 Wegmans stores. The Brownback family is committed to organics and has been for many years. Just like we’re already doing at our Chestnut Hill and Northborough locations, we’ll be bringing Spiral Path veggies to this store and working on building the same types of relationships with local farmers in this area. A great example is Lanni Orchards, located in Lunenburg, MA. This family-owned farm has been worked by three generations; they supply us with an array of farmstand-fresh veggies and fruits like corn, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, apples, peaches, and cucumbers. Sounds like a great salad, doesn’t it?

Of course, we’re not at the point where all our veggies and fruits can be supplied by local farms so we often have to travel great distances to offer the best produce. Jason, our Perishable Manager, recently visited California to visit the supplier who sends us incredibly delicious strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches, plums and nectarines. And Will, our Produce Manager, recently traveled to Florida so he could see how the berries we bring you are doing. And I visited Florida recently also, to visit family-owned Pero Farms, where we get delicious green, red, yellow, and sweet mini peppers. These peppers are grown, harvested, packed and shipped from this farm that’s been producing great veggies since 1908!

By the way, if you’re a local farmer or have a local product you think we might be interested in carrying, we invite you to reach out and share what you have to offer. When you’re in the store, please feel free to connect with me. I’d love to hear from you.

Kevin Russell
Store Manager – Wegmans Burlington, MA
Incredible Service Since 1986

 



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Christopher Durham

Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan).

Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s.
Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago.

Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.