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Markon Cooperative, Inc.  |  Salinas, CA

Markon Cooperative, Inc. | Salinas, CA

What is Markon?

markon bud logo

From its headquarters in Salinas, California, Markon Cooperative provides fresh produce purchasing, logistics, information, and marketing services exclusively to its seven member distributors and their foodservice customers. A leader in food safety, quality control and innovation, Markon is also mindful of the produce industry's impact on people—from field workers to consumers.

With over 30 years in the fresh fruit and vegetable industry, the company has accomplished many collective goals, including the creation of foodservice-specific marketing, products and packaging that meet the needs of restaurant owners from coast to coast.

The Genesis

The year 1985 saw the creation of Markon, a strategic alliance of North America’s most respected, independent, broadline foodservice distributors. By banding together as Markon, they were able to address the specific produce needs of their own foodservice customers. These member companies, all leaders in their field, account for over $24 billion in foodservice sales annually.

Confidence in Every Case®

From inception, Markon established partnerships with the finest growers around the world. Today they are not only responsible for purchasing, but also manage the transportation and delivery logistics, oversee product harvests, processing and packaging, and coordinate distribution to all members’ facilities from coast to coast.

The group is dedicated to delivering Confidence in Every Case—through Markon’s 5-Star Food Safety® program, a comprehensive system that encompasses every step of a produce item’s lifespan, including fields, grower facilities, transportation, distributor warehouses and customer kitchens. Their in-house inspectors, Boots in the Field®, walk the fields daily to gather real-time information on product quality, growing conditions and harvesting/processing, then pass that information on through a robust media program.

Additionally, Markon adds value by educating growers about the real-life needs of foodservice customers in the areas of packaging, pack sizes, product information, promotions and new products. By maintaining a dialogue with key industry contacts—including growers, shippers, operators, purchasing agents and chefs—Markon is uniquely positioned to anticipate and respond to the rapidly evolving demands of the foodservice industry.

Leading the Way

When clear direction is needed, Markon steps up. Over the years, the company has consistently demonstrated leadership across critical industry issues, including food safety and sustainability. Not only is Markon a founding member of the Center for Produce Safety at UC Davis, but its President, Tim York, was the first chairman of the board of directors.

They are also a founding member of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between producers, buyers and public interest groups whose goal is to create measurable indicators of sustainable on-farm performance. Other industry engagement includes Feeding America, The Canadian Produce Marketing Association, The Alliance for Food and Farming, National Restaurant Association, and the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association’s Food Safety Council, Ag Against Hunger, the Produce Marketing Association, and Labor of Love, among others.

People Matter

Markon is a tightknit group, not a huge conglomerate that must meet the demands of stockholders. Instead, member distributors are independently owned and can respond directly to the needs of customers and employees. Markon believes in collaboration and cooperation—it’s at their core—and why the group works hand-in-hand with every link in the supply chain to ensure that fresh produce is grown, harvested, packaged and distributed in a way that helps to set future industry standards.

Our Grower Family

Markon began working with many of our current growers way back when we started our cooperative in 1985. Yes, you read that right—that’s over 30 years of trust that has developed between specific family businesses and our team. Working so closely for such a long time means that our values are aligned and that we see eye-to-eye when it comes to what makes fresh produce as good as it gets.

Behind the Scenes

The formula is simple. Clean air, fresh water and rich soil equal better-tasting, more nutritious food and a healthier planet. From our inception, we made it a prerequisite to partner only with those growers who walk the talk and live by sustainable practices such as crop rotation, energy conservation, waste and water reduction, and recycling.

The Markon–grower partnership is successful at keeping fresh fruits and vegetables delicious and safe to eat because we work together. We take pride in a job well done and ensure Confidence in Every Case®. Our inspectors walk the fields, meet with harvesting managers, talk to work crews, and evaluate plant quality from the time a seed is planted until it is harvested, packed and shipped. Because we have this close bond and mutual goal, multiple sets of eyes are on the product through every phase of production.

People Matter

Markon cares about our employees—our own and those that work for our farmers. We only work with companies that share the philosophy that everyone deserves safe, legal working conditions, clean facilities and fair wages. By providing good jobs, we assure happy workers and enhance the lives of our local communities.

Please meet some of the farmers with whom we are proud partners:

05 02 markon 4 earth4Earth Farms

4Earth Farms supplies fresh conventional, organic, and specialty produce from their contracted and/or owned local farms and their grower-partners around globe. From Brussels sprouts to rambutan, they provide packaging, logistics, transportation and food safety from their 160,000 square foot headquarters in Los Angeles, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 


05 02 markon eagle eyeEagle Eye Produce

Eagle Eye Produce grows Idaho potatoes using their region’s rich soil, Snake River water and plenty of sunlight. On 20,000+ acres of farmland (that’s more than 30 square miles!), they plant, grow, harvest, wash, sort, pack and ship millions of pounds of Idaho’s finest potatoes each year.


05 02 markon grimmayGrimmway Farms

Grimmway Farms is a family affair started by Rodney and Robert Grimm back in the 1960s. The pair initially started by farming corn and selling at local roadside stands, but soon discovered that carrots were an ideal rotation for corn crops. From there the company blossomed into the largest and best-known carrot provider in the U.S. By hiring good people and developing healthy, delicious products, the founders’ descendants now grow, harvest and ship carrots, citrus, potatoes and a full organic line.

The Grimmway family and their employees take stewardship of the land seriously. Producing carrots on thousands of acres in four geographical areas around California—from the coast to the desert, Grimmway grows both conventional and organic crops with an eye towards what is best for the soil and the quality of the product.


05 02 markon churchChurch Brothers & True Leaf Farms

Steve Church founded Church Brothers Farms in 1999 with his brother Tom. The pair started back in high school working in iceberg lettuce fields where they gained a strong work ethic. Tom Church founded River Ranch in 1981, providing the foundation for what Church Brothers has become today. Their primary products include broccoli, cauliflower, celery and iceberg and romaine lettuce. In 2002 the brothers formed a partnership with the Gills, David and Steve, to create the processing company True Leaf Farm where they create pre-cut and mixed items with the commodity items grown by Church Brothers.


05 02 markon taylorTaylor Farms

Bruce Taylor followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became the third generation to work in Salinas Valley’s fresh produce business. In 1995, Bruce and several partners founded Taylor Fresh Foods, North America’s favorite maker of salads and healthy fresh foods. “From an early age my mom and dad, Joanne and Ted Taylor, ingrained in me the imperative of leaving the world a better place. One of the greatest pleasures of our success since I started Taylor Fresh Foods, has been the opportunities afforded to us to make a positive impact on a larger scale,” explains Bruce.

Taylor Farms truly believes in giving back to the community. They put their money where their mouths are by investing in the youth and education of the Salinas Valley region through scholarships that total over $100,000 per year.
The company is also a forerunner in the efficient energy sector, researching and utilizing bloom fuel cells, wind turbines and solar power for cleaner electricity. Taylor Farms hopes to serve as an example for other companies to follow and continues to invest in these forms of energy and others like it.


05 02 markon events

Markon Events

Markon has a wide variety of events and opportunities tailored for members' sales teams, foodservice customers and culinary chefs. From field and processing plant tours for operator customers, to the sales- and education-focused Markon Produce Summit, to the hands-on, creative Chef Summit, there is an event that can benefit every sales team. These events not only teach the benefits of a Markon produce program, they provide interaction and networking with others in the foodservice industry.

Customer Tours

Markon loves to connect with member-customers. Showcasing operations is a critical building block in establishing long-term partnerships with customers.

Attendees walk the fields as they are being harvested; they experience:

  • Where and how produce is grown
  • What it takes to harvest
  • The work force and machinery that pick specific crops
  • The food safety rules that are followed

Attendees tour production facilities to learn:

  • Where and how produce is washed, processed, packed and shipped
  • The personnel and machinery that does the work
  • The food safety rules that are followed
  • The practices that set Markon products apart

Markon Produce Summit

The Summit immerses sales staff in Markon’s produce program.

  • Tours of local suppliers’ fields and facilities
  • Grower presentations
  • Markon sales training
  • The Produce Expo—a mini food show where attendees spend one-on-one time with Markon-brand suppliers and get hands-on knowledge about key Markon items and supplier brands

Markon Chef Summit

Markon’s Annual Chef Summit is a unique event where chefs from across North America come together to share ideas, experience what it takes to deliver fresh produce to their kitchens, and gives them a stronger voice in the research and development of future products.

  • Member and operator chefs enjoy field and facility tours that demonstrate firsthand, where and how the products they order are grown, harvested, packed and processed
  • Attendees can network and participate in roundtable discussions with chefs from around the country
  • They may participate in a research and development session where the chefs use their creativity and industry knowledge to create new marketable products

05 02 markon new products

Markon New Products

Markon has a 30+ year history of creating innovative products specifically made for the foodservice industry. Back in the 80s we identified the need for measurable standards and so, created the first produce brand — Markon First Crop — that consists of traditional whole fruits and vegetables like apples, broccoli, lettuces, onions and potatoes. Next we developed packs of ice-free broccoli, cilantro, and parsley — saving kitchen crews the mess of melting ice and wet boxes. We moved forward with the first staple-free, recyclable packaging, then created the first pre-cut/table-ready brand for foodservice: Ready-Set-Serve® (RSS). In the 21st century, Markon remains fiercely dedicated to research and development, working closely with our member chefs and grower-partners to debut several new products each year.

05 02 markong caliRSS Cauli Creations™

The small, rice-like crumbles of RSS Cauliflower Creations are a nutritious, low carb and gluten-free ingredient swap for calorie-rich and high-carbohydrate favorites like pizza crust, potato dishes, tortillas, rice recipes—even baked goods. Cauliflower sales continue to rise—no surprise, as 64% of consumers say they want to incorporate healthier foods in their diet and a third of the population is trying to cut back on gluten.

This product is available year-round through our long-time supplier-partners in the U.S.—and is backed by Markon’s comprehensive 5-Star Food Safety® Program.

  • Triple-washed and ready-to-eat; no additional labor/prep
  • 100% usable, zero waste
  • Nutritious and low carb
  • All natural, no additives or preservatives
  • Good source of folate, vitamins C and K
  • GMO- and gluten-free

Reinhart# 11260

05 02 markon kaleRSS Kale Color Crunch

These four/two-pound packs are a blend of six nutrient-dense ingredients, including rainbow kale, shaved Brussels sprouts, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, radicchio, and carrots. The name and components were chosen with several trends in mind, including the facts that both kale and heart-healthy superfood sales continue to grow, chefs want to bring color to their recipes to please visually focused diners, and the crunchy nature of these ingredients adds texture to any dish. Its versatility is another great reason to highlight this product. It can be tossed raw with house-made dressings and served as a side with burgers, barbecued chicken, or on top of pulled pork sandwiches. It’s great cooked with garlic, ginger, mushrooms, and onions—or stewed in soups and chowders. It can even be added to mayonnaise-based salads for extra fiber and color.

  • Available year-round and harvested in the prime farming regions of Arizona and California by the most dependable growers
  • Triple-washed and ready-to-eat; no additional labor/prep
  • 100% usable, zero waste
  • Nutritious and low carb
  • All natural, no additives or preservatives; GMO- and gluten-free
  • Backed by Markon’s comprehensive 5-Star Food Safety® Program

Reinhart# 82916

05 02 markon urbanRSS Urban Blend

These two/two-pound packs are comprised of baby red chard, wild arugula, and three types of baby kale. This on-trend, hearty greens mix is a highly nutritious, versatile product that can be served raw or cooked—which means it’s not only flavorful, it is heart-healthy. It was developed and named by Markon member chefs, meaning it is a proprietary blend that is exclusive to Markon members and their customers. Ideal as a green salad or cooked in a sauté or stir-fry, this blend can also be added to green smoothies and grain-based soups.

  • Available year-round from by North America’s largest grower of hearty greens
  • Triple-washed and ready-to-eat; no additional labor/prep
  • 100% usable, zero waste
  • Nutritious and low carb
  • All natural, no additives or preservatives; GMO- and gluten-free
  • Backed by Markon’s comprehensive 5-Star Food Safety® Program

Reinhart# T6284

Moving Forward

Markon is proud of our collective drive for innovation. Our member chefs and suppliers are working together to develop more new and exciting fresh fruit and vegetable products that will help make the jobs within operator kitchens safer, easier, and more profitable so they can serve more delicious, nutritious, safe foods.