The grass-fed beef sector is a rapidly growing part of the overall U.S. beef market. Verde Farms has been one of the top names in this category, and its business has greatly expanded as a result. After expanding its product range and its headquarters, the company has taken the next step forward – it has opened a new processing facility in Mullica Hill, N.J.
Dana Ehrlich, CEO of Verde Farms, calls the opening a major milestone for the company.
“We felt that by investing in the capability to process some of our own products in-house, we’d emphasize our commitment to offer the highest-quality products while maintaining transparency, speed, and impeccable customer service,” he says.
A unique advantage of Verde's new facility is its co-location at Mullica Hill Cold Storage. Mullica Hill provides USDA ID services and is within drayage distance to the ports of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, making the facility especially ideal for import customers. Finished products can also be quickly distributed nationally by ground, rail, or air due to proximity to the New Jersey Turnpike.
Verde has been a happy customer of Mullica Hill Group Companies for more than 12 years, Ehrlich says, due in part to the companies’ shared values. He adds that building out its own processing capabilities at the facility was a natural extension of the relationship.
“Of course, the facility’s strategic location and level 2 SQF-certifications were important factors,” he says.
Through this arrangement, Verde now can process both frozen and fresh material into a variety of vacuum-packed Verde products, while also offering processing capabilities for a select number of its specialty meat customers. The processing will be dedicated to whole muscle and ground products; Verde’s line of sausage products that were introduced earlier this year will be continue to be produced by a third party.
The decision to expand into processing also helps the company make the most of its computerized sales system, as real-time data on production can be tied into the customer order requirements and timing. The company also brought on board a vice president of operations, Marc Broccoli, who has a wealth of processing experience.
“Marc actually started work as a teen in grandfather’s business as a third-generation meat processor, and went on to leadership roles at ConAgra, Sara Lee, Allied Specialty Foods, Rastelli Food Group, and Lorenzo Food Group,” says Ehrlich.
In the last four years, Verde has grown its management team and expanded its headquarters in Woburn, Mass. It has expanded upon its original product line of whole-muscle cuts to include gourmet sausages. Now, with a processing facility, the company aims to maintain its position as a leading supplier of 100-percent grass-fed, free-range, organic beef.