Church Brothers Farms delivers produce with passion
The arrival of spring after a long, dark winter is stirring cravings for a bounty of crisp, fresh, enticing salads. With time, you could pile the produce selection grown by Church Brothers Farms into an enormous bowl and dive into pure veggie paradise -- and we definitely think you should -- but only after learning why the pride of California's Salinas Valley is a preferred supplier to retailers and foodservice providers across North America.
For over two decades, Church Brothers has produced a full line of fresh vegetables year-round. The family owned and operated enterprise features multiple processing plants that move seasonally between California and Arizona. From there, the company’s fresh, value-added produce is washed, cut, processed, packaged and shipped to customers.
Church doesn’t only grow and process the basics, they also grow delightfully delicious variants of the typical, for example, producing a hybrid “Sweet Baby Cauliflower” a golden, tender, and mild-tasting hybrid of kale and cauliflower that brings out the best of both staples. The company’s most recent retail introduction, Ready Sides™ blends fresh veggies such as carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with seasoned butter sauce and herbs (and oh yes, even bacon) in a scrumptious, right-sized offering that goes from microwave to table in three minutes. A recent rise in home-prepped meals inspired the company to develop new value-added products that allow consumers to cut back on prep time and improve their overall cooking experience.
Hearts as big as all outdoors make for big business
Being a highly sophisticated, vertically integrated agribusiness hasn’t reduced the care and devotion the family and its workers have for farming. As company CEO Brian Church put it, “We have the scale, product offerings and logistics capabilities of a large grower and shipper while still maintaining the relationships and service that customers expect to find from a smaller family farm. … Church Brothers Farms has a family feel, with many employees who have been with us since the inception of the company. We are focused on innovation and working together to continuously improve across all areas of the organization.”
That vertical integration allows for high degrees of transparency and quality control. “We can trace quality and food safety measures from field to fork, allowing us to monitor each step of the process to ensure our customers get the best quality and freshest possible product,” he said. From field selection to harvest to processing and shipment, this enables them to meet strict food safety and quality requirements.
“We have a family legacy in the produce industry and have built strong relationships with our employees and our customers. Because of these connections we are even more motivated and committed to continually improve our processes and products, find ways to succeed and innovate, and grow exponentially in both the retail and foodservice channels,” Church said.
Keeping foundational salad ingredients such as leafy vegetables, florets, and other specialty vegetables fresh and right from the field to the store shelf is a challenge these ambitious producers meet with vigor -- and state-of-the-art technology. “We have strict and thorough food safety and quality standards and measures in place for our harvesting and cooling,” Church explained.
“All of our vegetables are brought to our cooling facilities within 4 hours of harvest and are stored at the optimal temperature to ensure longer shelf life and best quality. Our highly skilled production managers oversee the entire process and make sure that our storage and processing facilities are running smoothly and adhering to our strict standards. Having multiple cooling facilities helps to ensure geographical proximity to our fields which cuts transportation time and helps preserve the freshness of our products.”
Flavor from nature, and a natural embrace of ingenuity
Church Brothers continues to look for ways to improve products, packaging and processes. In the last two years they have ramped up their efforts to expand their footprint in Mexico. This expansion has enabled them to grow their business to keep up with the needs of their customers while maintaining competitive pricing.
Church Brothers takes to time to ensure the varieties they grow are of the best quality with the best characteristics. For example, the Church Brothers Little Gems are a unique, hand selected gem lettuce variety that has the crunchy texture characteristics of a romaine and the softer frill texture of a butter lettuce. They selected the best tasting, highest quality gem variety available.
These Little Gems are the perfect choice for a variety of applications. Little Gems can be used as whole leaves, chopped, halved or quartered for appetizers, side or main dishes and can even be grilled, which brings out more of their sweet flavor. The flavor, texture, visual appeal and versatility are unmatched by any other item in the leafy green category.
To ensure the Little Gems make it to the consumer in the best possible condition, Church Brothers recently launched a new, custom designed, 4 count clamshell, made to fit this unique product. The new clamshell protects the Little Gems while giving consumers better visibility and since it is stackable, it is easy for retailers to merchandise on shelf or in the well. In support of their sustainability efforts, the new clamshell is 100% recyclable and made with over 70% post-consumer material.
The products Church Brothers brings to market are convenient, versatile, help minimize labor and prep time, taste delicious and create a draw for consumers.
“We thoroughly regulate our product quality processes and requirements, and work tirelessly to implement safety mandates for our employees and our products,” he continued. “During the pandemic it has been even more critical that we are enforcing health and safety measures within our workplaces, further heightening the standards we had in place before the pandemic. In order to accommodate everyone across all departments and locations we’ve held safety and health training sessions, installed new equipment for sanitation, and we are continually making improvements and adjustments where needed.”
As you’d expect, Church Brothers products are held to the highest food safety standards. Because sanitation and cleanliness is vital for freshness and processing, produce goes through a seven-point food safety program that is reviewed and assessed throughout the year. “At the end of each year we review all our categories, which helps us make adjustments for the coming year and structure our harvest program accordingly; this includes our robust sustainability program, through which we strive to reduce our carbon footprint and use efficient and ecologically-friendly materials, processes and equipment,” Church said.
“We are truly a single source solution for our customer’s fresh produce needs. We have extensive commodity and value-added product lines and the scale to be able to meet the needs of our customers year round. From consolidation to cross-dock, we can help customers procure items that could be outside of what we normally offer and consolidate all items on one order,” he remarked.
“We want to make the fresh produce buying process easier for our customers, while ensuring our high standards are met for all aspects of our products and operations. Our objective is to provide our customers a single source solution.”
Now if you’ll excuse us, it’s time to salute the pride of the Salinas Valley the best way we know how -- by making an epic salad.
Church Brothers Farms is a vertically-integrated family owned and operated company that produces a full line of fresh vegetables year round with an in-house farming/harvest program and state of the art processing plants.
We are a grower-owned processor, farming the majority of our raw product ourselves; adhering to industry-leading food safety and quality standards.
The Church family has a legacy of service and innovation; we deliver produce with passion.
Church Brothers Farms
19065 Portola Drive, Suite C
Salinas, CA 93908
Email [email protected]