Good Roots™ Produce: A Good Name to Remember
The Best Fresh Produce is Rooted in Healthy Plants Nurtured to Perfection
More than ever before, fresh produce is the heart of foodservice. Studies have shown that consumers are making healthier choices when dining away from home, and fresh produce fills the bill with a tremendously positive health perception. Consumers are also becoming increasingly sophisticated and discerning in their tastes, and they are not willing to settle for less than the best in terms of quality and flavor in the produce they consume.
The best produce doesn’t happen by accident. Restaurant Inc spoke with Rob Ondrus, director of produce category management at Reinhart Foodservice, to get the straight story on fresh fruits and vegetables. Ondrus draws on more than 40 years of experience in the produce business.
Reinhart stakes its reputation on the quality of its produce. What happens behind the scenes to ensure quality, freshness, consistency and safety?
It all starts at the source, the grower’s field, with good manufacturing practices. The soil must be nutrient rich and properly irrigated. The plants must be strong, with good, healthy roots, carefully nurtured until the produce is at the peak of perfection. Also of critical importance is getting the produce to our customers at its freshest, when the flavor is perfect.
Reinhart has always been passionate about produce. Markon, our cooperative produce buying group headquartered in Salinas, Calif., has set a high bar for food safety and quality control with its 5-Star Food Safety program. Several years ago, we took our passion for produce one step further with the development of our Good Roots™ brand, which focuses on locally and regionally grown and/or repacked produce. The same exacting standards established in tandem with Markon apply to the Good Roots™ brand. In fact, Markon oversees parts of the program, such as field inspections and third-party audits.
RI: Our readers may not all be familiar with Good Roots. Tell us more.
RO: When a Good Roots fresh produce shipment is delivered to a customer, it comes with a commitment from Reinhart. A lot of art and science goes into the production process before the Good Roots name is stamped on the box. Supported by our strategic alliance with Markon, our certified food safety and quality assurance team has developed stringent Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) product specifications across the category. They have also forged partnerships with professional growers committed to the highest standards, best practices and continuous improvement.
Traceability can be tracked directly from the field to the fork. We can boast a miniscule return rate. In a nutshell, the Good Roots brand is sourced to give foodservice operators the freshest, safest, finest quality and most flavorful produce available in the industry.
“Our Good Roots growers are trusted local and regional family-run farms and re-packers located in the same regions of the country as our 28 Reinhart divisions.” – Rob Ondrus, director of produce category management at Reinhart
RI: Since produce is so perishable, how does the Good Roots program ensure freshness?
RO: The answer is very simple: Our Good Roots growers are trusted local and regional family-run farms and re-packers located in the same regions of the country as our 28 Reinhart divisions. The closer the proximity to the growing fields, the fresher the product upon delivery. Sustainability is also a factor. Reinhart is focused on making a difference in the communities we serve, as are most of our customers.
RI: Freshness is a relative term, isn’t it? In other words, isn’t it more critical to procure fresh, crispy lettuce than fresh potatoes?
RO: While it’s true that potatoes have a longer shelf life than lettuce, one inferior potato shipment can cause as severe a kitchen nightmare as a shipment of wilted lettuce. Roughly 70 percent of the fresh produce category is comprised of potatoes, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. These are the big four that nearly every operation uses in great quantity, and these four must be consistently perfect. In addition, chefs spend a lot of time and energy incorporating seasonal, on-trend and sustainable produce items into the menu mix. These too must be consistently perfect. From the fields to the packing facilities to our distribution centers to delivery at our customers’ kitchen doors, we’re committed to providing the best fresh produce solutions.
Through our exclusive Good Roots program, sales consultants in each Reinhart division are experts in sourcing the best seasonal, on-trend and sustainable fresh produce available to the foodservice industry at any given time.