COVID-19A Message from Scott Grabau, President and CEO of Tanimura & Antle
SALINAS, CA – May 12th, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a tremendous economic impact to the entire agriculture industry. Since the pandemic started, foodservice orders have been cancelled and product on the road was redirected, resulting in produce still in the fields not having a home. Fortunately for Tanimura & Antle, foodservice is only one portion of our business and our retail orders held strong in the first few weeks. In the weeks that followed, volumes dropped at the retailers and were followed by pricing. Produce previously grown for the foodservice industry by our competitors was being redirected towards our retail customers, which saturated the market and dropped the price. For our commodity products, the USDA reports daily prices based on supply and demand. While some customers choose to buy on contract pricing to eliminate the volatility, many customers choose to buy on the open market. Since the nationwide shutdown, our open market sales are far below the cost of growing our premium fresh produce. The current business environment is not for the faint of heart when you are selling a perishable product that takes up to three months to grow and then has a window of just a few days to be harvested, sold and consumed.
Tanimura & Antle is a fully integrated family and employee owned company. Fully integrated means that our employee-owners manage everything from our seed program, planting our crops, farming, harvesting, selling and shipping directly to our customers. Financial results of COVID-19 are felt by the company as well as our employee owners who also have a financial stake in the business. These same employee owners have created Tanimura & Antle’s reputation for an innovative and entrepreneurial culture that thrives on challenges. Today’s environment is no small challenge.
Our first priority has been the safeguarding of our employees. Over 13% of our employees have been with the company for over 20 years and some of those have been with us over 30 years. From the beginning of the pandemic, our teams have been working tirelessly on creating safeguards, implementing procedures and actively monitoring the guidance issued by local, state and federal agencies. I am very proud of how quickly we have been able to adapt to the current working environment that has enabled us to ensure that we can continue to produce and ship premium fresh produce during a time when the nation needs it most.
Our second priority is focused on how to react in the current business environment. We are looking at our assortment of products and anticipating the needs for the future, not just today. It is not a question of “if we continue to plant the same number of acres”, it is a question of “what do we plant in our acres”. Supplying our loyal customers with the right produce items is key to the success of our company and our customers. We have been leveraging years of history of buying patterns and the products that do well during recessions coupled with the changing eating and buying trends with the consumer’s desire to be more engaged with the food they eat.
Aligning with our history of being committed to innovation and product development, amid the COVID-19 environment, we continue to look to the future and have recently launched a new mixed box product offering called, HarvestSelect, as well as additional whole head products joining our greenhouse grown family at our Livingston, Tennessee facility. During a time when more consumers than ever before are cooking at home, we are committed to provide them with a diverse, premium fresh produce selection.
It is not in our nature to quit and 38 years of operating a successful company is not by accident. It is an honor to work for a produce company and support the nation, alongside our industry partners, with premium fresh produce, daily.
- Refer to the websites for the CDC and your local health department for guidance on self-care and for caring for others that may be sick. While these directives allow people to commute to jobs deemed essential, including those employed in the food and agriculture industry, there are precautions issued for those that are at higher risk of developing more serious complications from the COVID-19 illness. Educate yourself and make informed decisions.
- Local Services Please go to your local health department’s website for more information.
- Free On-line Doctor Visits in Monterey County. For residents in Monterey County, the Montage medical group is providing FREE online doctor visits regarding the COVID-19. If you believe that you are suffering from symptoms of the COVID-19, go to montagehealth.com and select Free COVID-19 eVisit.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resource Page
- FDA-Food Safety and the COVID-19 Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- FDA Consumer Advice
- PMA COVID-19 Food Safety FAQs
- United Fresh COVID-19 Resources for Industry
- Western Growers COVID-19 Resources for Industry